13 Books on My TBR List for 2019

For 2019 I’ve set myself the (hopefully) doable goal of reading 35 books in 2019. Just a couple more than I ended up reading in 2018!

I feel like I’ve gotten very far behind on all of my series and fiction reading because I mostly read non-fiction this year. As such, there are some new releases I’m excited about…but then I realize I haven’t even read the book the previous book in the series. So instead of doing a list of new releases I’m excited about, I’ll just going to highlight some books that are on my TBR list for 2019, regardless of whether they’re a new release or not.

13 Books on My TBR List for 2019

The Gilded Wolves by Roshani Chokshi

Paris, 1889: The world is on the cusp of industry and power, and the Exposition Universelle has breathed new life into the streets and dredged up ancient secrets. In this city, no one keeps tabs on secrets better than treasure-hunter and wealthy hotelier, Séverin Montagnet-Alarie. But when the all-powerful society, the Order of Babel, seeks him out for help, Séverin is offered a treasure that he never imagined: his true inheritance.

To find the ancient artifact the Order seeks, Séverin will need help from a band of experts: An engineer with a debt to pay. A historian who can’t yet go home. A dancer with a sinister past. And a brother in all but blood, who might care too much.

Together, they’ll have to use their wits and knowledge to hunt the artifact through the dark and glittering heart of Paris. What they find might change the world, but only if they can stay alive.

This one IS actually a new release for 2019 and I’m so, so excited to get my hands on it. It sounds like a mix of everything I love in books and I think I am going to thoroughly enjoy it.

Talk Triggers by Jay Baer

Word of mouth is directly responsible for 19% of all purchases, and influences as much as 90%. Every human on earth relies on word of mouth to make buying decisions. Yet even today, fewer than 1% of companies have an actual strategy for generating these crucial customer conversations. Talk Triggers provides that strategy in a compelling, relevant, timely book that can be put into practice immediately, by any business.

The key to activating customer chatter is the realization that same is lame. Nobody says “let me tell you about this perfectly adequate experience I had last night.” The strategic, operational differentiator is what gives customers something to tell a story about. Companies (including the 30+ profiled in Talk Triggers) must dare to be different and exceed expectations in one or more palpable ways. That’s when word of mouth becomes involuntary: the customers of these businesses simply MUST tell someone else.

Consumers are wired to discuss what is different, and ignore what is average. Talk Triggers not only dares the reader to differentiate, it includes the precise formula for doing it.

I saw Jay Baer talk about Talk Triggers (say that five times fast) last year at Social Media Marketing World and just recently got around to ordering a copy of the book. As referral marketing is my very favorite type of marketing, I’m super excited to dive into this book because his talk was one of the best at the conference last year!

Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell

In this stunning new book, Malcolm Gladwell takes us on an intellectual journey through the world of “outliers”–the best and the brightest, the most famous and the most successful. He asks the question: what makes high-achievers different?

His answer is that we pay too much attention to what successful people are like, and too little attention to where they are from: that is, their culture, their family, their generation, and the idiosyncratic experiences of their upbringing. Along the way he explains the secrets of software billionaires, what it takes to be a great soccer player, why Asians are good at math, and what made the Beatles the greatest rock band.

I finally got around to reading The Tipping Point in 2018 so I’m itching to read the other Gladwell book I have. Love him or hate him, Gladwell’s books are interesting and entertaining reads that, if nothing else, should prompt you to do your own research and deepen your understanding of the topic that is presented.

Children of Blood and Bone by Tomi Adeyemi

They killed my mother.
They took our magic.
They tried to bury us.

Now we rise.

Zélie Adebola remembers when the soil of Orïsha hummed with magic. Burners ignited flames, Tiders beckoned waves, and Zélie’s Reaper mother summoned forth souls.

But everything changed the night magic disappeared. Under the orders of a ruthless king, maji were killed, leaving Zélie without a mother and her people without hope.

Now Zélie has one chance to bring back magic and strike against the monarchy. With the help of a rogue princess, Zélie must outwit and outrun the crown prince, who is hell-bent on eradicating magic for good.

Danger lurks in Orïsha, where snow leoponaires prowl and vengeful spirits wait in the waters. Yet the greatest danger may be Zélie herself as she struggles to control her powers and her growing feelings for an enemy.

This is a carry-over from last year’s list of new releases I was looking forward to 2018. I finally got a copy of this book after Christmas! Super excited to finally jump in and read the book that’s been super buzzed about over the last year!

The Stand by Stephen King

This is the way the world ends: with a nanosecond of computer error in a Defense Department laboratory and a million casual contacts that form the links in a chain letter of death. And here is the bleak new world of the day after: a world stripped of its institutions and emptied of 99 percent of its people. A world in which a handful of panicky survivors choose sides — or are chosen.

I’ve actually had a copy of this book for a few years now and have had every intention of starting it, but it’s absolutely massive so I’ve been putting it off. Hopefully 2019 is the year to change that!

Girl, Wash Your Face by Rachel Hollis

Founder of the lifestyle website TheChicSite.com and CEO of her own media company, Chic Media, Rachel Hollis has created an online fan base of hundreds of thousands of fans by sharing tips for living a better life while fearlessly revealing the messiness of her own. Now comes her highly anticipated first book featuring her signature combination of honesty, humor, and direct, no-nonsense advice.

Each chapter of Girl, Wash Your Face begins with a specific lie Hollis once believed that left her feeling overwhelmed, unworthy, or ready to give up. As a working mother, a former foster parent, and a woman who has dealt with insecurities about her body and relationships, she speaks with the insight and kindness of a BFF, helping women unpack the limiting mind-sets that destroy their self-confidence and keep them from moving forward.

From her temporary obsession with marrying Matt Damon to a daydream involving hypnotic iguanas to her son’s request that she buy a necklace to “be like the other moms,” Hollis holds nothing back. With unflinching faith and tenacity, Hollis spurs other women to live with passion and hustle and to awaken their slumbering goals.

This was a book that was EVERYWHERE in 2018. And love her or hate her, Rachel Hollis is really good at doling out the inspiration. I’m excited to see what the buzz is about and hopefully, finish the book feeling a tad more inspired about life!

Something Wicked This Way Comes by Ray Bradbury

A carnival rolls in sometime after the midnight hour on a chill Midwestern October eve, ushering in Halloween a week before its time. A calliope’s shrill siren song beckons to all with a seductive promise of dreams and youth regained. In this season of dying, Cooger & Dark’s Pandemonium Shadow Show has come to Green Town, Illinois, to destroy every life touched by its strange and sinister mystery. And two inquisitive boys standing precariously on the brink of adulthood will soon discover the secret of the satanic raree-show’s smoke, mazes, and mirrors, as they learn all too well the heavy cost of wishes – and the stuff of nightmare.

As I’m about to close out another draft of Shadow of the Magician and believe I’m finally just months away from starting to query agents, I’ve been looking at books to consider for possible comp titles for mine. This was a suggestion from a friend and I have to admit, this book just sounds good.

A Map of Days by Ransom Riggs

Having defeated the monstrous threat that nearly destroyed the peculiar world, Jacob Portman is back where his story began, in Florida. Except now Miss Peregrine, Emma, and their peculiar friends are with him, and doing their best to blend in. But carefree days of beach visits and normalling lessons are soon interrupted by a discovery—a subterranean bunker that belonged to Jacob’s grandfather, Abe.

Clues to Abe’s double-life as a peculiar operative start to emerge, secrets long hidden in plain sight. And Jacob begins to learn about the dangerous legacy he has inherited—truths that were part of him long before he walked into Miss Peregrine’s time loop.

Now, the stakes are higher than ever as Jacob and his friends are thrust into the untamed landscape of American peculiardom—a world with few ymbrynes, or rules—that none of them understand. New wonders, and dangers, await in this brilliant next chapter for Miss Peregrine’s peculiar children. Their story is again illustrated throughout by haunting vintage photographs, but with a striking addition for this all-new, multi-era American adventure—full color.

After reading the first three books in The Miss Peregine’s Home for Peculiar Children trilogy, I’m interested to read this new book and see how the story continues. There’s always a bit of nerves involved when you hear that a series that has supposedly wrapped up is getting new books. Will the new book do the original series justice? Will it be just as enjoyable? We will find out…

Origin by Dan Brown

Robert Langdon, Harvard professor of symbology and religious iconology, arrives at the ultramodern Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao to attend a major announcement—the unveiling of a discovery that “will change the face of science forever.” The evening’s host is Edmond Kirsch, a forty-year-old billionaire and futurist whose dazzling high-tech inventions and audacious predictions have made him a renowned global figure. Kirsch, who was one of Langdon’s first students at Harvard two decades earlier, is about to reveal an astonishing breakthrough . . . one that will answer two of the fundamental questions of human existence.

As the event begins, Langdon and several hundred guests find themselves captivated by an utterly original presentation, which Langdon realizes will be far more controversial than he ever imagined. But the meticulously orchestrated evening suddenly erupts into chaos, and Kirsch’s precious discovery teeters on the brink of being lost forever. Reeling and facing an imminent threat, Langdon is forced into a desperate bid to escape Bilbao. With him is Ambra Vidal, the elegant museum director who worked with Kirsch to stage the provocative event. Together they flee to Barcelona on a perilous quest to locate a cryptic password that will unlock Kirsch’s secret.

Navigating the dark corridors of hidden history and extreme religion, Langdon and Vidal must evade a tormented enemy whose all-knowing power seems to emanate from Spain’s Royal Palace itself… and who will stop at nothing to silence Edmond Kirsch. On a trail marked by modern art and enigmatic symbols, Langdon and Vidal uncover clues that ultimately bring them face-to-face with Kirsch’s shocking discovery… and the breathtaking truth that has long eluded us.

I was supposed to see Dan Brown when he came to San Diego on tour for this book, but after the event was canceled, it took me a bit to get around to buying a copy. Not because I was upset or anything, I just tend to put off buying books because I know I really, really have a lot. I actually thought about buying another bookshelf from IKEA to match the one I have, but then I remembered my original bookshelf was discontinued and the new version, though similar, is not an exact match. Being that the bookshelves will go next to each other, my OCD can’t handle that. So I continue to have piles of books on the floor. Annnddddd this has nothing at all to do with Origin.

Walk on Earth a Stranger by Rae Carson

Lee Westfall has a strong, loving family. She has a home she loves and a loyal steed. She has a best friend—who might want to be something more.

She also has a secret.

Lee can sense gold in the world around her. Veins deep in the earth. Small nuggets in a stream. Even gold dust caught underneath a fingernail. She has kept her family safe and able to buy provisions, even through the harshest winters. But what would someone do to control a girl with that kind of power? A person might murder for it.

When everything Lee holds dear is ripped away, she flees west to California—where gold has just been discovered. Perhaps this will be the one place a magical girl can be herself. If she survives the journey.

The acclaimed Rae Carson begins a sweeping new trilogy set in Gold Rush-era America, about a young woman with a powerful and dangerous gift.

A friend told me about this series and when I looked it up, it sounded like something I would like. Also, absolutely love the title. And the cover is gorgeous. But I recently started thinking this book could also be a comp for my book so it’s moved up my TBR list.

The Darkest Minds by Alexandra Bracken

When Ruby woke up on her tenth birthday, something about her had changed. Something frightening enough to make her parents lock her in the garage and call the police. Something that got her sent to Thurmond, a brutal government “rehabilitation camp.” She might have survived the mysterious disease that had killed most of America’s children, but she and the others emerged with something far worse: frightening abilities they could not control.

Now sixteen, Ruby is one of the dangerous ones. When the truth comes out, Ruby barely escapes Thurmond with her life. She is on the run, desperate to find the only safe haven left for kids like her—East River. She joins a group of kids who have escaped their own camp. Liam, their brave leader, is falling hard for Ruby. But no matter how much she aches for him, Ruby can’t risk getting close. Not after what happened to her parents. When they arrive at East River, nothing is as it seems, least of all its mysterious leader. But there are other forces at work, people who will stop at nothing to use Ruby in their fight against the government. Ruby will be faced with a terrible choice, one that may mean giving up her only chance at having a life worth living.

This book was recently made into a movie which I haven’t seen yet. I hate watching the movie first because I never enjoy the book after. But after seeing the trailer, this book also moved up my gargantuan list.

The Last Days of Night by Graham Moore

New York, 1888. Gas lamps still flicker in the city streets, but the miracle of electric light is in its infancy. The person who controls the means to turn night into day will make history–and a vast fortune. A young untested lawyer named Paul Cravath, fresh out of Columbia Law School, takes a case that seems impossible to win. Paul’s client, George Westinghouse, has been sued by Thomas Edison over a billion-dollar question: Who invented the light bulb and holds the right to power the country?

The case affords Paul entry to the heady world of high society–the glittering parties in Gramercy Park mansions, and the more insidious dealings done behind closed doors. The task facing him is beyond daunting. Edison is a wily, dangerous opponent with vast resources at his disposal–private spies, newspapers in his pocket, and the backing of J. P. Morgan himself. Yet this unknown lawyer shares with his famous adversary a compulsion to win at all costs. How will he do it?

In obsessive pursuit of victory, Paul crosses paths with Nikola Tesla, an eccentric, brilliant inventor who may hold the key to defeating Edison, and with Agnes Huntington, a beautiful opera singer who proves to be a flawless performer on stage and off. As Paul takes greater and greater risks, he’ll find that everyone in his path is playing their own game, and no one is quite who they seem.

Another entry on the possible comp title search. But being that Nikola Tesla is actually a character in this book, this one will probably be a sure bet. I’ve put off reading it because I didn’t want to do anything to include my own writing. So this one will not be read until I’m absolutely done done.

Iron Gold by Pierce Brown

A decade ago, Darrow was the hero of the revolution he believed would break the chains of the Society. But the Rising has shattered everything: Instead of peace and freedom, it has brought endless war. Now he must risk everything he has fought for on one last desperate mission. Darrow still believes he can save everyone, but can he save himself?

And throughout the worlds, other destinies entwine with Darrow’s to change his fate forever: 

A young Red girl flees tragedy in her refugee camp and achieves for herself a new life she could never have imagined.

An ex-soldier broken by grief is forced to steal the most valuable thing in the galaxy—or pay with his life.

And Lysander au Lune, the heir in exile to the sovereign, wanders the stars with his mentor, Cassius, haunted by the loss of the world that Darrow transformed, and dreaming of what will rise from its ashes.

Another carryover from last year’s list, I’ve had this book since it came out, but haven’t gotten around to reading it yet! Can’t wait to dive back into the Red Rising world!

So tell me: what’s on your TBR list for 2019? Any new releases you’re looking forward to buying? Any books you’ve had forever that you’re determined to finally get around to ready? Leave me a comment below!

 

 

2018 in Review

It should come as no surprised to anyone who’s been paying attention that this year was incredibly BUSY! If you needed a marker to go by though, I read less than half as much as I did in 2017. I made my Goodreads goal, but only after I adjust it a time or two or six. Apologies in advance for a pretty boring book year in review, but I’ve done one of these for the last seven years and now I’m not about to stop now!

Yep, my blog is seven years old!! I started it at the end of 2011 and here we are getting ready to round the corner into 2019!

Honestly though, it’s probably a miracle I managed to read anything at all this year, let alone 31 books. I pretty much credit any reading progress I did this year to the Miracle Morning. Most days those 5-15 minutes in the morning were the only time I had to read. This was also the first year I read far more non-fiction than fiction….which is basically all because of the Miracle Morning.

Definitely hoping for better in 2019, but we shall see how it goes! Missing my fiction for sure, but at the same time I feel like I got a lot smarter year from all the non-fiction reading and podcasts so it’s not all bad I guess.

HOW MANY BOOKS READ IN 2018?

–32 books

FICTION/NON-FICTION?

–  10  Fiction /    22 Non-Fiction

MALE/FEMALE AUTHORS?

–    20  Male /   7 Female

OLDEST BOOK READ?

The Tipping Point by Malcolm Gladwell (2000)

NEWEST BOOK READ?

Leapfrog: The New Revolution for Women Entrepreneurs by Nathalie Molina Niño (August 2018)

LONGEST BOOK READ?

War Storm by Victoria Aveyard (662 Pages)

SHORTEST BOOK READ?

Yuletide Lords by Gama Ray Martinez (16 Pages)

ANY IN TRANSLATION?

Not this year!

BEST BOOK READ IN 2018?

If 2016 was the year of the good book and 2017 was a year of books that were pretty evenly divided between really good or didn’t like it, then 2018 was the year I actually gave the crown to a work on non-fiction. Educated by Tara Westover was the best book I read this year! Riveting story, stunning writing, a book you couldn’t put down – a must read!

MOST DISAPPOINTING BOOK IN 2018?

Dropping a note here to say this question will be retired after this year. See this blog post for why I’ve stopped writing reviews for books I didn’t like.

MOST BEAUTIFULLY WRITTEN BOOK IN 2018?

Educated by Tara Westover

MOST SURPRISING (IN A GOOD WAY!) BOOK OF 2018?

The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society – check out the review for the reason why!

MOST THRILLING, UNPUTDOWNABLE BOOK IN 2018?

I didn’t read too many books you’d classify as “thrilling” but here’s a few I had trouble putting down:

Educated by Tara Westover

Ghost Bully by Brian Corley

S.H.E. by Shannon Hogan Cohen

BOOK THAT HAD THE GREATEST IMPACT ON ME IN 2018?

Maybe an unconventional entry, but How to Break Up With Your iPhone by Catherine Price. I’ve been consciously trying to put some space between me and all my devices. Seems weird for someone who does marketing and in particular social media marketing, but it’s the truth. I changed all my notification settings around for the better and have been religiously trying to start my day with the Miracle Morning (my me time!) before I do anything.

BOOK THAT HAD A SCENE IN IT THAT HAD ME REELING?

This is kind of a fiction question and because I didn’t read too much fiction this year, I got nothing.

BOOK I MOST ANTICIPATED IN 2018?

-War Storm by Victoria Aveyard

Kingdom of Ash by Sarah J. Maas (Currently Reading)

MOST MEMORABLE CHARACTER IN 2018?

-Jazz Bashara in Artemis

-Juliet Ashton in The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society

HOW MANY RE-READS IN 2018?

None

BOOK I READ IN 2018 I’D BE MOST LIKELY TO REREAD IN 2019?

Deep Work by Cal Newport, Will It Fly? by Pat Flynn, Building a Story Brand by Donald Miller

BOOK I RECOMMENDED TO PEOPLE MOST IN 2018?

Tribe of Mentors, Educated

FAVORITE NEW AUTHORS I DISCOVERED IN 2018?

Tara Westover

MOST BOOKS READ BY ONE AUTHOR THIS YEAR?

2 novels by Marie Lu and 2 books by Gina Wickman

FAVORITE COVER OF A BOOK I READ IN 2018?

FAVORITE PASSAGE/QUOTE FROM A BOOK I READ IN 2018?

“Who you are, what you think, feel, and do, what you love—is the sum of what you focus on.”  – Cal Newport, Deep Work (I actually liked this book a lot, I just never got around to reviewing it!)

“The entire universe is not just outside, but also within us. We have unlimited power – the power to solve any problems facing us or facing others. We get to create our realities. It’s a simple and small belief, but it can change the course of humanity. Being mini gods mean we never lack. We know we already have everything. We don’t need a million dollars. We don’t need a trillion followers. We are complete. We are full. So full that we can give without counting. The day we will all start acting like mini gods is the day there will be peace in the world.” – Jerome Jarre, Tribe of Mentors

DID I COMPLETE ANY READING CHALLENGES OR GOALS IN 2018?

Yes, but I cheated on this one. I can’t remember what my original goal was, but I kept downsizing it throughout the year.

BOOK I CAN’T BELIEVE I WAITED UNTIL 2018 TO FINALLY READ?

The Tipping Point by Malcolm Gladwell mainly because I think I’ve had it on my shelf for eight or nine years…no joke. This is why I have so many books and won’t get rid of them. I usually get around to reading them eventually!

War Storm

War Storm by Victoria Aveyard

Victory comes at a price.

Mare Barrow learned this all too well when Cal’s betrayal nearly destroyed her. Now determined to protect her heart—and secure freedom for Reds and newbloods like her—Mare resolves to overthrow the kingdom of Norta once and for all… starting with the crown on Maven’s head.

But no battle is won alone, and before the Reds may rise as one, Mare must side with the boy who broke her heart in order to defeat the boy who almost broke her. Cal’s powerful Silver allies, alongside Mare and the Scarlet Guard, prove a formidable force. But Maven is driven by an obsession so deep, he will stop at nothing to have Mare as his own again, even if it means demolishing everything—and everyone—in his path.

War is coming, and all Mare has fought for hangs in the balance. Will victory be enough to topple the Silver kingdoms? Or will the little lightning girl be forever silenced?

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This will be a pretty short review for fear of spoiling much for this book (or the series), but wanted to share my review since I did finally finish reading this.

I’ve noticed that when I know I’m reading the last book in the series, I really drag my feet reading it. It takes me forever. Usually this is because I love the series so gosh-darn much that I know if I start reading, I won’t get anything done. Or get to sleep. And sleep is precious to me and time is in short supply right now.

So I did finish reading War Storm this fall and I was very, very happy with it. It’s no easy feat to wrap up such a massive story and really, no matter what you do some of your readers are going to be unhappy with you. I couldn’t imagine having to write a series with so much hype around it, knowing you’re kind of damned if you do, damned if you don’t with your story decisions.

I am glad this series is wrapped though. The Red Queen series was one I loved with such an intensity that it actually made the reading experience kind of exhausting. There are few books that really get in deep enough that my thoughts tend to drift back to them over and over again, to the point where it feels consuming and obsessive. Throne of GlassRed Rising, The Passage, The 5th Wave, and Game of Thrones have all been that way for me and there’s honestly only so many of these series I can take at a time.

I am looking forward to the book of short stories I know are coming in the Red Queen universe and I know Aveyard is working on another project that looks super intriguing. I do hope she’ll come back to this universe…so much world-building was done for Red Queen that there’s a lot of story to be mined here.

And yes, I still really, really want to be best friends with the author…she’s kind of my spirit animal!

The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society

The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows

January 1946: London is emerging from the shadow of the Second World War, and writer Juliet Ashton is looking for her next book subject. Who could imagine that she would find it in a letter from a man she’s never met, a native of the island of Guernsey, who has come across her name written inside a book by Charles Lamb…

As Juliet and her new correspondent exchange letters, Juliet is drawn into the world of this man and his friends—and what a wonderfully eccentric world it is. The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society—born as a spur-of-the-moment alibi when its members were discovered breaking curfew by the Germans occupying their island—boasts a charming, funny, deeply human cast of characters, from pig farmers to phrenologists, literature lovers all.

Juliet begins a remarkable correspondence with the society’s members, learning about their island, their taste in books, and the impact the recent German occupation has had on their lives. Captivated by their stories, she sets sail for Guernsey, and what she finds will change her forever.

Written with warmth and humor as a series of letters, this novel is a celebration of the written word in all its guises and of finding connection in the most surprising ways.

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I’ve almost bought this book so many times because I thought the premise sounded good, but I always stopped when I saw it was a WWII book. I almost bought it again when I saw the trailer for the Netflix movie. But I didn’t pull the trigger until my book club decided to read it this fall.

To me this is a funny book because I’m honestly surprised I liked it as much as I did. It has elements I normally don’t really like in books, but somehow in this instance it worked for me.

I didn’t care for the main character though I liked the actions she took and her behavior. But I loved all of the Guernsey inhabitants and some of the other characters she writes to like Sidney.

To me, this book is a good bookclub read because it contains a multitude of things that could appeal to a group. The style and subject matter are unique. It’s easy to read. And the large cast of characters means that there are a lot of subplots going on that you can follow.

This letter (epistolary) format made it easy to keep turning the pages and the book is not too long. And for the most part, it is pretty lighthearted. Certainly the most lighthearted WWII book I think I’ve ever read.

But it did have its moments of levity. This book did a good job educating the reader about an overlooked piece of history. I had no idea that any of the British Isles were ever occupied during WWII. And I didn’t know much about Guernsey in general, but even with the letter style, I feel like I could really picture the island and its people. Now I want to go visit (of course). I should plan a Europe trip to visit the various book settings I’ve read about. Maybe someday…

The experience of this book is honestly like sitting down for a cup of tea with a couple of good friends to exchange news and stories. The time passes quickly, you leave happy and warm, but you can’t quite remember the main thrust of the conversation or everything you talked about. But you leave thoroughly satisfied just the same.

On Gratitude

It feels very cliche to be writing a blog post about gratitude on Thanksgiving. But nonetheless, I’ve been wanting to do this blog post since the beginning of October so I’m taking advantage of an enforced day off to finally do this.

Yesterday I posted an exercise to Facebook and Instagram asking my friends to comment on what they thought my superpower was. (I took the exercise from Pat Flynn’s book, Will It Fly) One response I got struck me and stuck with me throughout the day. One friend commented that they thought my superpower was the ability to keep myself centered.

I think that struck me most because it is something I have consciously worked on for the past ten years of my life. As a natural worrier, falling off the cliff into anxiety and despair requires a very short runway. And as anyone who’s battled their own demons knows, you never really win. Rather, you fight the same battles over and over again, but you get better at fighting them through repetition.

In the months since I’ve started my business, I’ve become obsessed with mindset. James Wedmore’s Mind Your Business podcast is my favorite and it’s a good thing he puts out three episodes a week because I really can’t get enough of it! But my obsession with mindset isn’t a new thing. I got introduced to the concepts of mindset and manifestation several years before, I just didn’t realize how influential those discussions has been in my life.

The thing about mindset and the thing about gratitude, is you don’t get “there” and stay “there”. It requires constant work and realignment to pull yourself back to center. Staying positive, staying grateful, staying open, believing in abundance…all of these things are under constant attack in daily life. Whether produced in the mind, encountered in the words of a trusted friend, or affirmed by the less-than-pleasant stuff we all face everyday, we find ourselves having to choose gratitude, choose positivity, choose abundance over and over again. And exhausting as it all is to constantly be fighting the same battles, I think it’s the best and most worthwhile fight there is.

All that is to say, that as I sit here on Thanksgiving morning, I wrote this as a reminder to you that gratitude isn’t a daylong affair. It’s not a month or even a season. Gratitude is a 365-days-a-year knock-down, drag-out fight to stay centered and keep focused on what truly matters.

Of course I can’t close this post out without writing my own list of things I’m grateful for today (and every day). So without further adieu and in no particular order,  I am grateful for:

-My boyfriend who has continued to come with me on every journey I’ve taken in the last five and a half years though most of the time he’s had NO idea what’s he’s in for. No idea. Case in point, he recently spent over three hours with me wandering around downtown Puerto Vallarta as I searched for un caballo huichol. Three hours in high humidity. That’s love folks.

-My parents who have always supported me in whatever obsession or fancy has currently diverted my attention. Always supported me.

-My boyfriend’s family who I’m spending Thanksgiving with – my first Thanksgiving without my own family! I’m looking forward to an out-of-the-ordinary day to round out my out-of-the-ordinary year. #ReadyfortheGenRave

-My friends who are somehow still my friends even though I take more than a day to text them back or sometimes forget to respond at all. Love you guys, you’re the real MVPs.

-My lovely menagerie of animals. There’s no love like theirs. And as I am a magnet for difficult creatures, I am grateful for all the lessons I learn in loving and caring for them. Everything I know about working with people I learned from loving the animals that others would give up on. Elliot. Ham. Cheese. Escobar. Pia. #SquadGoals

-A business that has grown so much over the last six months and keeps me so busy I hardly have time to keep up with this blog. (But don’t worry, I’m not giving up on this blog. No way, no how.) I’m eternally grateful for the endless support I’ve received and all of the people who have appeared or reappeared in my life exactly when they needed to. It honestly feels a little like seeing my life flash before my eyes in reverse except I’m not dying. This journey of starting and managing a business has really reaffirmed for me that one of the best pieces of advice I could ever give is to be kind to everyone you meet and always do your best to do right by them. When you need it most, you’ll see those efforts repaid tenfold. Twentyfold. One hundredfold.

-The new faces and friends I’ve met over the past six months. Before starting my business, it felt like my circle had grown to capacity and stabilized. People would leave, people would join, but it was stable. Little did I know that a circle actually has the endless potential to grow and expand, to include new connections, new friends, and new partners. I’ve been blessed beyond measure to have already found so many wonderful, wonderful people to add to my circle.

-My writing group who is helping me whip Shadow of the Magician into fighting shape. It’s going to be done guys. Done soon and for real this time. This is the last time around and I couldn’t be prouder, even though half the time I feel like giving up and throwing in the towel because this book has been so damn hard and has taken so many years of my life. But what keeps me going is that one day I hope to point to it and say, This was the book that made me. This was the book that taught me to write and to write well. This was the book that changed everything.

-Being alive at this moment in time. (You can read this in Gary Vee’s voice) Seriously, we are so blessed to be alive right now. For all the terrible stuff that happens, for all that we feel that social media and the internet are ruining our lives, there has never been another time where we have had so much control over our own futures and had so much ability to shape our own destiny. It is absolutely magical that I can turn on my phone, select a podcast, and have the wisdom of the world’s best teachers delivered to me on-demand. I can learn about any subject I want to, any subject at all, and all I need is a wifi connection. Our potential for growth and development are limitless and it’s because we are lucky enough to be alive right now. Not one hundred years ago. Not a thousand. Right now. And if that doesn’t give you perspective and make you fucking grateful, I don’t know what will.

To close out, I hope you have a wonderful Thanksgiving and use this day as an opportunity to make gratitude a lifestyle choice, not a momentary celebration.

Oh and one more thing: Be Safe, Skip the Salad, Eat the Damn Pie.

Mastering Fear

Mastering Fear: A Navy SEAL’s Guide by Brandon Webb

Brandon Webb has run life-threatening missions in the world’s worst trouble spots, whether that meant jumping out of airplanes, taking down hostile ships on the open sea, or rolling prisoners in the dead of night in the mountains of Afghanistan. As a Navy SEAL, he learned how to manage the natural impulse to panic in the face of terrifying situations. As media CEO and national television commentator, he has learned how to apply those same skills in civilian life. 

Drawing on his experiences in combat and business, along with colorful anecdotes from his vast network of super-achiever friends from astronauts to billionaires, Webb shows how people from all walks of life can stretch and transcend their boundaries and learn to use their fears as fuel to achieve more than they ever thought possible. “Fear can be a set of manacles, holding you prisoner,” writes Webb. “Or it can be a slingshot, catapulting you on to greatness.”

The key, says Webb, is not to fight fear or try to beat it back, but to embrace and harness it. In the process, rather than being your adversary, your fear becomes a secret weapon that allows you to triumph in even the most adverse situations. In Mastering Fear, Webb and his bestselling coauthor John David Mann break this transformation down into five practical steps, creating a must-read manual for anyone looking for greater courage and mastery in their lives.

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Though I haven’t been keeping up with my weekly Week in Review updates, consider this a mini one wrapped up in a book review.

Up until August I was sailing along. And I mean sailing. Everything was great, nothing was too hard.

And then August happened and I got so damn busy. I also realized I didn’t take my business plan out far enough. That niggling fear I I had that my 2-year plan was on track to collapse into a 6-month plan, became a 4-month plan. And oh boy, did I have to make a lot of decisions quickly.

And I’m still making decisions quickly, hoping they are the right ones. And if they aren’t the right ones, well hopefully they’re pretty fixable.

I picked this book up in the midst of one of the few afternoons I’ve had off lately. I was at the Amazon bookstore, which I actually really like if I just need a book and not something in particular. Because everything they stock is highly reviewed so you can be pretty sure if the book sounds good, you’ll probably like it.

Anyway. I was looking at the self-improvement and business books and when I saw the title, I knew I had to buy it. Because if there is one thing I have been trying to strongarm into place, it’s my fear.

If there’s any advice I can give to would-be entrepreneurs at this point in my journey, it’s that every day is really about your mindset and shoving yourself back in line when your fears, your desires, and your ego are trying to take over. Entrepreneurship (at least for me) requires a level of cool, unconcerned detachment. And that is not a level I naturally operate at.

So anyway, a book about mastering fear sounded like something I needed to buy and read. The fact that it was written by a Navy SEAL sold me on it.

I really liked this book and thought it was helpful. It’s one of those books that kind of pulls together all the things you know on some level and packages it up into an easy-to-read guide. I know all these things; I just need someone else to tell me in a way that will hopefully stick.

The writing style is very conversational. I don’t know the author, but I feel like I know him after reading the book. He reminds me of a few of the more charismatic military guys I’ve met. Which means he kills it at the motivational speaking.

This is a pretty short book so I won’t summarize it too much since you should just go and read it. But I do want to share the one point that has really stuck with me: the story you’re making up about the thing you’re afraid of is almost always worse than the reality.

I feel like this is true. I’ve seen it be true in my own life. So as I keep plunging forward and heading for new horizons, I’ll keep reminding myself of that.

 

One Horn to Rule Them All

One Horn to Rule Them All: A Purple Unicorn Anthology

Unicorns, with their single ivory horn, are elusive and magical creatures of myth. Yet even more elusive are the purple unicorns. First sighted at the Superstars Writing Seminar, their legend has grown year after year until it could only be contained in this anthology. Nineteen storytellers, including Peter S. Beagle, Todd McCaffrey, and Jody Lynn Nye, as well as new and rising authors, invite us into worlds both near and far, across a desert oasis, a pet shop, a Comic-Con exhibition floor, and more, and show us the many variations of purple unicorns, from the imaginary to the actual—and one very memorable half-unicorn, half-potato. One Horn to Rule Them All is an unforgettable collection of imagination and creativity. So, saddle up, and take a ride beyond the rainbow. 

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I didn’t mean to start reading another anthology so soon on the heels of Undercurrents. But while taking care of my neighbors’ cat, I found myself having to wait for the cat to come out from behind the bookshelf. Picked up one of their books to pass the time and wanted to choose something I actually owned…because you know, it would have been too much work to walk back across the street and get my own book.

Anyway.

Purple unicorns it is!

If you follow me on social media, you know I kind of have a thing for unicorns. And kind of absolutely love that unicorns are a hot trend right now. Which makes One Horn to Rule Them All an anthology that was years ahead of its time.

Overall, I really liked this anthology and not just because of the unicorns. I thought all of the stories inside were great in their own way and there were a couple that got me interested enough to look up the authors to see what else, if anything, they had written that I could buy. There were also some very, very imaginative stories in this mix which was neat. I liked the stories in Undercurrents, but I felt like there were some genuinely wacky concepts that worked amazing well in One Horn to Rule Them All.

As another fun treat, my friend (and neighbor) has a story in this anthology that she’s been expanding on…and we got to read it in writer’s group over the summer!