Reading Journal ~ July 16, 2018

Good morning, friends!  If you follow me on Instagram, you saw that I made a library run midweek, and came home with eight – eight! – books.  Some had been on my TBR list for a year or two, and a few were brand new.  I usually have a few books going at a time – one fiction, usually from the library; one non-fiction, usually one that I own either in paperback or on my Kindle; and a “light” book on my Kindle (for reading between appointments, or when I can’t sleep, which is becoming increasingly common!)  Even so, this is a lot for me!  Fortunately, I had some extra reading time this week and finished up two good books.



The Nature of the Beast by Louise Penny       Called to Create by Jordan Raynor


The Nature of the Beast by Louise Penny

07/23/18:  # 57     5 Stars     You know by now that I love Louise Penny’s writing.  Honestly, I think her books keep getting better and better.  This one, # 11 in the Inspector Gamache series, caught me from the first page and surprised me at the end.  If you decide to read this series, I recommend that you start at the beginning so that you can get to know the characters.  I promise, you will soon feel as though you know each of them personally – truly the sign of a great book, right?  Also – I just peeked at Louise Penny’s page on Amazon, and even though she just released this book, # 13 in the series, in May, she is releasing this one in November!

Called to Create:  A Biblical Invitation to Create, Innovate, and Risk by Jordan Raynor

07/21/18:  # 58     3 Stars     An author who I respect made a list of books-to-read-for-writers, and this book made that list.  Jordan Raynor’s book reminds us that we were created by a creative God – and because He created us in His image, we are creators as well.  I remember listening to a podcast when the interviewer first understood that, although she had not ever thought of herself this way, she was actually creative.  I resonated with this so much, and I believe this is why this book captured my attention.  I thought it was very well-written, and I especially loved the stories the author shared about the lives of several creative Christian entrepreneurs.  I would recommend this book to anyone who is just beginning to understand herself as a creative person, as well as to the experienced creative who would enjoy reading about how others use their creativity to make the world better.


Currently Reading:

The Perfect Mother by Aimee Molloy

The Memoir Project:  A Thoroughly Non-Standardized Text for Writing and Life by Marion Roach Smith

Fail Until You Don’t:  Fight, Grind, Repeat by Bobby Bones




Reading Journal ~ July 9, 2018

This was another slower reading week for me, but I truly enjoyed the one book I finished.  Here it is!



The City Baker’s Guide to Country Living by Louise Miller

07/13/18:  # 56     4 Stars       I remember first hearing about this book on a podcast, but I don’t remember which one.  The description intrigued me – the book is set in Boston and Vermont (I used to live in both places); it focuses on a bed-and-breakfast (I always wanted to own one, until I looked into all that would involve!) and the author is a chef from Boston.  One of my favorite genres is food memoir, so this book was a treat for me.  (Also?  The cover is simply charming).  I’m hoping to pick up her second book, The Late Bloomers’ Club, at the library later this week.


Currently Reading:

Called to Create: A Biblical Invitation…       The Memoir Project: A Thoroughly Non-St…       The Nature of the Beast (Chief Inspecto…


Called to Create:  A Biblical Invitation to Create, Innovate and Risk by Jordan Raynor

The Memoir Project:  A Thoroughly Non-Standardized Text for Writing and Life by Marion Roach Smith

The Nature of the Beast by Louise Penny

Reading Journal ~ July 2, 2018

I overscheduled myself this week.  Simple as that.  I was out too much during the day, which meant in the evenings, instead of reading, I was catching up on chores and other household duties.  I missed my reading time!  So this week, my goal is simply this:  be home more.


Not That I Could Tell by Jessica Strawser

Not That I Could Tell by Jessica Strawser

07/06/18:  # 55     4 Stars       Another mystery!  This has definitely been my genre of choice lately.  I have loved mysteries for as long as I can remember; my two favorite series when I was growing up were Nancy Drew and Trixie Belden.  This is the first book I have read by Jessica Strawser; her debut, Almost Missed You, is on my TBR list.  This book is about a woman who disappears with her young children, and the impact that her disappearance has on her close-knit neighborhood.  I won’t say more – no spoilers here – but if you love the works of authors like J. T. Ellison and Megan Miranda, this book is for you.  (Also – Strawser has a new book scheduled to release in February, 2019!)


Currently Reading:

Called to Create: A Biblical Invitation…

Called to Create:  A Biblical Invitation to Create, Innovate, and Risk by Jordan Raynor


*Additional Note:  For the first time in a while, I stopped reading a book about 1/3 of the way through.  Because I had so little writing time last week, I decided to delete The Last Anniversary by Liane Moriarty from my Kindle.  This is in no way a commentary about this author’s writing (it’s Liane Moriarty!).  I just couldn’t get into the story, so I stopped trying.  Guaranteed I will pick up her next book as soon as it comes out – I always do.


Reading Journal ~ June 25, 2018

This was a pretty normal reading week for me.  I finished up one book that I had been reading for a while, and I flew through another novel that I had really been looking forward to reading.


I Know How She Does It: How Successful …       The Wife, the Maid, and the Mistress

I Know How She Does It:  How Successful Women Make the Most of Their Time by Laura  Vanderkam

06/28/18:  # 53     4 Stars       I’m a bit of a geek when it comes to time management and productivity, so I love Laura Vanderkam’s books.  I have read three others by this author (What the Most Successful People Do Before Breakfast and 168 Hours:  You Have More Time Than You Think ) and both are really good.   In I Know How She Does It, Vanderkam refers to blocks of times as mosiac tiles; we are free to organize our individual tiles in any way we choose.  This image has stuck with me, and I have shared this concept with my husband as well as we are both currently trying to maximize both our work and our rest in our new season of empty-nesting.  I hadn’t realized it, but Laura Vanderkam’s newest book came out a few weeks ago (Off The Clock:  Feel Less Busy While Getting More Done)– I’m off to pick that one up now on my Kindle!

The Wife, The Maid and The Mistress by Ariel Lawhon

06/30/18:  # 54     4 Stars          Ariel Lawhon is a co-founder of the popular online book club  She is also an excellent writer!  I had heard about this book from several different people and I was able to find it at the library last week.  This book is inspired by a real-life mystery:  the disappearance of a judge in New York City in 1930.  The judge was never seen again, and in this book Lawhon imagines what could have happened to him.  It reminded me of a similar tale that I first heard of when I lived in New Hampshire:  D. B. Cooper hijacked a Boeing 727, parachuted from the plane mid-flight, and vanished.  I do love a good mystery!  In all honesty, The Wife, The Maid and The Mistress was sitting at a solid three stars in my head until the very, very end.  No spoilers here – but those last few pages bumped it up to a solid four.


Currently Reading:

The Last Anniversary       Not That I Could Tell       Called to Create: A Biblical Invitation…

The Last Anniversary by Liane Moriarty

Not That I Could Tell by Jessica Strawser

Called to Create:  A Biblical Invitation to Create, Innovate, and Risk by Jordan Raynor

Reading Journal ~ June 18, 2018

This week, I was determined to finish up a few books that I had been reading on my Kindle for several weeks now.  I had stalled out at about 75 % on both, and just needed to make some time to finish them both up.  They were both good books, but both happened to be in the theology genre, and I don’t usually read more than one book in the same genre at a time.  I ended up getting the two books confused in my head at times!  So after dinner on two nights this week, while my husband worked on his music, I settled onto the window seat in our loft and finished one of the books each night.  I also finished up my current fiction read, by one of my favorite authors.  Here is a quick summary!


Water To Wine by Brian Zahnd       The Sacred Enneagram by Christopher L. Heuertz       The Long Way Home by Louise Penny

Water to Wine:  Some of My Story by Brian Zahnd

06/20/18: # 50     3 Stars         I first heard about this book from Emily P. Freeman; I believe she mentioned it in her weekly newsletter.  Emily wrote of a new (to her) morning ritual involving prayer, and it intrigued me because it was liturgically based.  I grew up in the Episcopalian church, so reading about things such as the Book of Common Prayer and the Weekly Collects touch some sweet memories for me.  When she attributed the prayer practice to Brian Zahnd and this book, I picked it up on Kindle.  I gave it 3 stars because I couldn’t personally relate to everything in the book; had I simply rated the section of the book that I had been seeking, in which he talks about beginning his morning in prayer, I would have given it 5.  Again, my star rating system helps me remember how much I like the book – not necessarily how well it is written – which makes it easier for me to recommend it (or not) to my friends.

The Sacred Enneagram:  Finding Your Unique Path to Spiritual Growth by Christopher L. Heuertz

06/22/18:  # 51     3 Stars          I find the Enneagram intriguing (Type 2 here).  I read Ian Cron’s book The Road Back to You last year, and picked up The Sacred Enneagram to learn more.  I found the end of this book the most interesting; here, the author suggests ways for people of each Enneagram type to grow in their spiritual life.  I found the author’s ideas both practical and thought-provoking, and I recommend this book to those of you interested in going deeper in your understanding of the Enneagram.

The Long Way Home by Louise Penny

06/25/18:  # 52     4 Stars          Another book by Louise Penny!  I discovered this author on Anne Bogel’s podcast “What Should I Read Next”.  This book is the tenth in her Inspector Gamache series, and it is excellent.  One of my favorite aspects of Penny’s writing is the dialogue she creates; somehow she manages to be witty and tender at the same time.  Although you don’t have to read these books in order, the stories do build on each other so I would recommend beginning with her first book, Still Life.


Currently Reading:

The Last Anniversary       I Know How She Does It: How Successful …       The Wife, the Maid, and the Mistress

The Last Anniversary by Liane Moriarty

I Know How She Does It:  How Successful Women Make the Most of Their Time by Laura  Vanderkam

The Wife, The Maid and The Mistress by Ariel Lawhon

Reading Journal ~ June 11, 2018

I was able to read more than usual this week, primarily because I was sick for a few days and basically spent Saturday afternoon and all day Sunday on the couch.  While I’m not a fan of summer head colds (!) I didn’t mind the extrI Was Anastasiaa reading time at all.  Fortunately, I had gone to the library on Monday so I had plenty of reading material to choose from.


On Writing Well: The Classic Guide to W…       The Perfect Stranger       Send Down the Rain       I Was Anastasia

On Writing Well:  The Classic Guide to Writing Nonfiction by William Zinsser

06/17/18: # 46     5 Stars          I LOVED this book.  Several people have recommended it to me over the past few years, but I didn’t begin to read it until early this year.  Once I started reading it, I realized just how good it would be – and I decided to savor it.  I read a few pages each day, which is why it took me almost six months to finish!   I highly recommend this book to anyone who seeks to learn more about the process of writing non-fiction – even if you are not a writer, I think you would still find it very interesting.  The author’s style is engaging and informative.  My two biggest takeaways?  Write like you talk…and keep it simple.  I have already been able to put these two suggestions into practice in my own writing.

The Perfect Stranger by Megan Miranda

06/16/18:  # 47    3 Stars          This book was good.  I first heard of this author from Anne Bogel’s website Modern Mrs. Darcy about two years ago.  The author is known for her skill in the suspense genre (if you have not read All the Missing Girls yet, that is also a good story).    My star-rating system merely indicates how much I, personally, enjoyed a book – so I assure you, even though I only gave this one three stars, it is certainly still worth your time.  I am already looking forward to reading Miranda’s next novel when it comes out.

Send Down the Rain by Charles Martin

06/17/18:  # 48     5 Stars          I have been a Charles Martin fan for several years now.  A good friend of mine first recommended him – at the time, she and Martin were neighbors!  Since then, I have read every book that he has written, and I eagerly anticipate each new release.  I don’t give 5 star ratings haphazardly – only to those books that I love and highly recommend.  Two of my other favorite books by this author are When Crickets Cry and A Life Intercepted.

I Was Anastasia by Ariel Lawhon

06/17/18:  # 49     4 Stars          This is the second book by Ariel Lawhon that I have read.  Her first one, Flight of Dreams, was also excellent – and her other book, The Wife, the Maid, and the Mistress, is next on my reading list.  I recommend I Was Anastasia to anyone who loves historical fiction and mysteries.  Lawhon writes both well.

Currently Reading:

       The Sacred Enneagram: Finding Your Uniq…       The Last Anniversary       I Know How She Does It: How Successful …

Water to Wine:  Some Of My Story by Brian Zahnd

The Sacred Enneagram by Christoper L. Heuertz

The Last Anniversary by Liane Moriarty

I Know How She Does It:  How Successful Women Make the Most of Their Time by Laura  Vanderkam


Welcome!  My name is Deb Alexander, and I am so glad that you are here.  Let me share a bit about myself and some of the things I love.

I love being married. My college sweetheart, Jerry, and I married almost 28 years ago; we have been together since my freshman year of college 32 years ago.  He says he saw me on my first day on campus, and he was smitten.  🙂  We live in Bloomington, Illinois, having just recently moved into town after living in the country for almost 12 years.

I love being a mom as well as a mother-in-law.  Jerry and I have two children, Caitlin and Will; more about them, and our son-in-law, Luke, in a minute. 

I love books.  I have been an avid reader since I was very young.  One of my earliest memories is running errands with my mom – I would always bring along two books, in case I finished the first one. 

I love to learn, and I love to share and teach what I have learned.  That, right there, is why I write.  Homeschooling our two kids for 16 years, and now running my tutoring business, has allowed me to nurture both the learner and the teacher in me.  

And speaking of kids – I love ours.  🙂  Caitlin is almost 23; she married Luke two years ago, and now Jerry and I are very thankful in-laws to that wonderful young man.  I can honestly say that he is the spouse for whom we have prayed since our daughter was little.  Together, Caitlin and Luke run the wedding photography business that Caitlin began when she was 16 years old. They are gifted photographers, videographers, and small business owners who love their clients as though they were family.  Our son Will is 20 and a sophomore in college. He is an incredible drummer and plays at church as well as in the local campus college ministry.  Jerry and I love having a front-row seat to cheer on our kids as they pursue their passions.

And most importantly, I love Jesus.  I fell in love with him 23 years ago.  He is my strength and my story.

Thank you for stopping by!