Google Hangout is one of my new favorite things. It is so much fun, especially when your friends are spread out all across the country. That about sums up my knowledge of Google+. Also, it may not be that cold here but it sure is nice to hang out with friends from the comfort of your home. I've been in total hibernation mode this month. Spring must be around the corner!
Read and Reading:
As a diehard White Sox fan, I didn't know what to expect from a novel centered on a Cubs fan and yet I couldn't put The Comeback Season down. Five years after Ryan's father dies, she's still adrift and searching for where she belongs when an unexpected friendship begins at Wrigley Field. Given the start of Spring Training, it was fun to relive the 2008 season, even if it was from the wrong side of town. Smith's breakout YA novel got me thinking about jinxes, luck, and what I really believe in. Trigger warning: also deals with pediatric cancer.
I shamelessly asked Dani Pettrey to send me a copy of Shattered. And she did, what joy! But now the agony of waiting for the third book in the Alaskan Courage series. But what joy in learning there will be 5 books altogether! I've enjoyed learning about Alaska and various outdoor activities through this series. Submerged, the first book, was a refreshing change from what we typically think of as Christian fiction. Shattered was a bit more Christian-y BUT I hasten to add this did not detract from the story. It's clear Piper and Landon will eventually admit they have feelings for one another but Pettrey thoughtfully approaches their transition from lifelong friends to something more. Piper's determination occasionally translates as recklessness but I liked the character overall. I especially like how Pettrey builds her mysteries with unexpected twists and turns. It's rare for me to not figure out the ending. I also found the brief discussions on premarital sex to be an interesting change for Christian fare and hope Pettrey will address it more fully or at least with a more nuanced approach.
Author Robin O'Brien of The Unhealthy Truth has been described as the Erin Brockovitch for food. Thoroughly researched, O'Brien presents her findings on the way genetically modified and genetically engineered food affects us to our detriment. Her writing style grew tiring and the book is clearly directed toward mothers but the information is hard to ignore.
Fans of Romeo and Juliet will likely enjoy the YA/paranormal take in Juliet Immortal and Romeo Redeemed. Although I must note, Romeo Redeemed's ending didn't make much sense to me. Still, I liked the examination of good and evil and the sometimes thin line between the two.
I get to read an advance copy of Shauna Niequist's Bread & Wine! Review coming soon.
(I read 16 books this month.)
Must-see TV: Once Upon a Time, Revenge, Vampire Diaries, Real Housewives of Beverly Hills
The Americans is clearly a cable show. A few scenes in the pilot were definitely hard to take. But I love the show's premise and the acting is superb. As a child of the 80s, it's fun to see the fashion and old technology. Plus, I know hardly anything about the Cold War and it's fascinating to see the Russian take. Plus also, Keri Russell.
The Vampire Diaries has been blowing my mind lately. No character is safe, no plot twist too unlikely.
(Whispers: not really watching The New Girl or The Mindy Project. The last few episodes were meh.)
Twilight: Breaking Dawn Part 1 is one of the best comedies I've seen in some time. Teen girls everywhere are glad I didn't see it in the theater.
Resolution: go to the theater more often. I only saw one Best Picture nominee this year and that is shameful.
I am love, love, loving Erin McCarley's latest album. Especially the song What I Needed.
Most Uplifting Video:
I'm kind of obsessed with Kid President.
Amazing, beautiful, must-see video by Shane Koyczan. "We grew up learning to cheer on the underdog because we see ourselves in them. We stem from a root planted in the belief that we are not what we were called." Warning: it might make you cry.
New In My Reader:
In her own words, Christena Cleveland "attempt[s] to integrate social psychology research, faith, current events and my own experience as a reconciler. My goal is to demystify cultural divisions in the church (and beyond) and help leaders acquire the skills to overcome them." Her thoughtful posts on race relations and reconciliation are must-reads.
This Roasted Vegetable and Rice Salad is going to be a staple from here on out. Mercy.
Easter Candy is back! This means I'm adding Cadbury Creme Eggs to my Mug Brownies again. Hello, decadence.
Dinner Club headed to blvd, a new restaurant by Arnold Myint. We were greeted at the table by a basket of savory waffles and a giant soft pretzel. An auspicious start to any meal.
Elora Ramirez and Preston Yancey of The Story Unfolding are offering a great deal to the HopefulLeigh community. Through Friday, schedule a story-coaching session with them and pay-what-you-can, no strings! Go here and under "package desired" put "Leigh's offer." Be sure to check out their other offerings. I can't wait to start Preston's Sacramental Baking e-course. (Note: the special deal applies to story-coaching only.)
My friend Arianne Segerman has started Mabel & Riv, a shop of handmade jewelry and accessories. She's unveiled the blog so readers can journey along as she gets the shop ready to open. I'm so proud of her for taking this leap!
In the Blogosphere:
Links for the month are here.
On The Blog:
The amazing response to The Morning After goes to show the scariest stories to publish are often the ones we most need to tell. Thank you to Rachel Held Evans, Joy Bennett at the Guardian, and Kristen Howerton and Elizabeth Ester's So Totally Relidge discussion, Deeper Story, and so many others for linking to the post.
On the HopefulLeigh FB page, I shared about a troubling sentiment I've recently come across linking abortion as a reason for so many singles. Great discussion resulted. We also crowdsourced solutions for SAD. And I thanked you all many times for being so amazing during my Morning After vulnerability hangover.
What I'm Into Link Up Guidelines:
1. Today’s link-up will stay up for one week. The next What I'm Into link up will be Friday March 29.
2. Link the unique URL of your post, not your blog's home page. Readers peruse link ups months after the fact and you want to make it easy for them to find your What I'm Into post.
What have you been into this month?