So, BIG news this month.

**Drumroll….**

I have now learned that you can rent library books directly onto your e-reader!

(Haha, you should see the look of disappointment on your face right now. Like, Liz, come on! That is definitely NOT big news. Quite the opposite. We’ve been renting books for years!)

Fine. Not big news for you but it is HUGE for me. This discovery resulted in me finally tip-toeing out of the “paper books only” camp and casually crossing over into the “e-readers are okay too.” As a die-hard, “readers are for overseas travel only,” sort of person, this was a big deal.

And since it’s February and I didn’t feel like tramping through the snow to the library, I therefore promptly stole my husband’s Kobo and irritated the heck out of him by messing up his reader stats. (Honestly, he should just be grateful I improved his reading speed.)

Long story short, guess who ended up with a new Kobo reader for Valentine’s Day?

This girl.

So while I figure out my new device (and spend way too much money on “bargain books,”) here are four of my February reads. As always, this is part of my 2019 Reading Challenge: 52 Books in 52 Weeks. It’s not too late to join us, so check out the Facebook Group and get reading!

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“Once We Were Strangers” is a story about the blossoming friendship between two men: Shawn and Mohammad, a writer and a Syrian refugee. This book is a tangible response to the age-old question, “Who is my neighbour?” and “How do I love them?”

We live in a world where fear presides: where reports about shootings and bombings and murder and hurt dominate the news cycle. With such uncertainty and fear, it can be difficult to know how to respond to global issues like refugees and immigration. Instead of reacting with compassion, our gut response is often to turn away in fear or to simply ignore the problem, thinking that it’s too big for any one person to solve. That’s why stories and conversations like this are so important to share.

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My son loves to read (almost as much as I do) and was so excited when I told him we got to review a book together. We spent the past week hovering by the mailbox and when this sweet story finally arrived, he was all too eager to dive in!

It’s not often that you want a book to lull you to sleep. But this lovely, little bedtime story aims to do just that!

“Don’t Close Your Eyes” is a beautifully illustrated, rhyming book that is the perfect way to end the day with your littles. Using some reverse psychology, young listeners are challenged to keep their eyes open — even if those eyelids are feeling heavy! Written by Bob Hostetler and illustrated by Mark Chambers, this “silly bedtime story” is sure to be a hit for toddlers and preschoolers alike.

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The first month of 2019 is drawing to a close and I can’t help but wonder where it’s disappeared to in such a hurry. So far, January has been full of cozy blankets and the remnants of my Christmas candy — a month of sugary fingers and good books.

This year’s 2019 Reading Challenge has started off to great success (the Facebook group has more than doubled in size) and my to-be-read pile grows longer daily. It’s a happy problem to have more books on your wish-list than you could ever hope to read. This year, I’ve decided to log my 52 books here on MommyMannegren. In addition to my reviews, I hope to jot down a few other suggestions for each of the categories if you’re looking for ideas for yourself.

Here are my January choices:
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Ever since I was young, I’ve loved a good mystery. I still remember the feel of a new Nancy Drew book in my hand: soft and smooth with unbound excitement lying in wait. There was nothing like the familiar creak of those yellow-spined stories as I’d bury my nose into their fresh pages.

Mystery. Suspense. Thrillers.

These are still the genres I gravitate towards the most; the books I pluck from library and bookstore shelves most often. That’s what drew me to this new book, Mind Games by Nancy Mehl — the allure of a rollercoaster ride of mystery and suspense.

And I have to say, I was not disappointed.

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As we welcome the new year, it’s the perfect time to take a few moments to look back at our accomplishments over the past twelve months. What did we do? What did we see? And most importantly for us book-addicts, what did we read?

I, for one, set two goals for myself at the beginning of this year:

1. Have a baby. (CHECK.) 

and

2. Complete the 2018 Reading Challenge. (CHECK.) 

Over the past twelve months, I read my way through over 150 books and can happily say that I enjoyed a vast majority of them. The genres and authors were broader than usual, particularly since I participated in and completed my first reading challenge: 52 books in 52 weeks. (For a full list of said books, click here.)

And now, with January right around the corner, our 2019 Reading Challenge is set to begin in just a few days. For those planning on joining in, I am excited to share with you a few book recommendations to get you started!

In no particular order, here are FIFTEEN of my favourite reads from this past year:

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Doesn’t this title just say it all?

As a bookworm… (or should I say, book addict?)… even the cover of this book just gives me a little thrill of delight. Books, books, books, everywhere!

**Happy sigh to find someone who just SO gets me.**

From the author of the popular blog, Modern Mrs Darcy, this book is filled with dreamy quotes and personal-essays for the most obsessive of readers. Each page explodes with warmth and charm and the kind of secret joy that can only be found when ink meets paper.

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With the arrival of a new little one, my reading has dramatically decreased over the past few months. It’s also been increasingly difficult to read anything that requires a lot of brain power. That’s why this trio of “romantic suspense novellas” was a perfect read for this sleep-deprived mama. Short and light, this book was an easy, entertaining read by three different Christian authors.

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It’s that time again!

After the huge success of last year’s challenge, I am beyond excited to announce that the 2019 Reading Challenge is here!

This year’s challenge will take on the same format as last year as we attempt to read our way through 52 books in 52 weeks. In the graphic below, you will find fifty-two different categories. Some of my favourites from this year include: “a one-word title,” “an author who uses a pseudonym,” and “a family member’s favourite book.” Many of these categories were suggested by readers who participated in last year’s challenge and I can’t wait to dive in!

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Every town holds secrets but only a few remain potent enough to wound and destroy a century later. The Reckoning of Gossamer Pond by Jaime Jo Wright illuminates the hidden parts of human nature — our desire to keep sin and shame hidden — as stories collide in this dual-narrative, century-crossing mystery.

From the Publisher:
“For over a century, the town of Gossamer Grove has thrived on its charm and Midwestern values, but Annalise Forsythe knows painful secrets, including her own, hover just beneath the pleasant facade. Yet her strange and sudden inheritance of a run-down trailer home–full of pictures, vintage obituaries, and old revival posters–leaves her wholly unprepared for how truly dark and deadly those secrets may be.

A century earlier, Gossamer Grove is stirred into chaos by the arrival of controversial and charismatic twin revivalists. The chaos takes a murderous turn when Libby Sheffield, while working at her father’s newspaper, receives an obituary for a reputable church deacon hours before his death. As she works with the deacon’s son to solve the crime, it becomes clear that a reckoning has come to town–but it isn’t until another obituary arrives at the paper that they realize the true depths of the danger they’ve waded into.

Two women, separated by a hundred years, must unravel the mysteries of their own town before it’s too late and they lose their future–or their very souls.”

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Overwhelmed.

It’s a word that is probably all too familiar to most of us. From school and work, to relationships, societal pressures, inner pressures, anxiety, and general feelings of unworthiness — there are so many things that can bring us to the place of feeling overwhelmed.

And that’s why the premise of this book, “Not the Boss of Us” by Kay Wills Wyma, intrigued me: “Too much to manage and not enough time or energy to do it? What if instead of being overwhelmed with life you could be overwhelmed by Truth with its grace, hope, peace, and love?”

Sounds like a much needed reminder, right?

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This year I was super excited to introduce a new reading challenge on my blog! I called it “The 2018 Reading Challenge: 52 books in 52 weeks” and was blown away by the reaction. With hundreds of shares on Facebook and thousands of re-pins on Pinterest, the response to this challenge has been phenomenal and staggering at the same time. This was my most viewed post of 2018 (so far) and I’ve been super excited to see so many people passionately dive into reading!

A book a week sounds daunting to some people but the goal of this challenge was really to inspire people to read more and to read different. With fifty-two different categories, I hoped that participants would stretch out of their comfort zones and pick up books that they might not ordinarily read. Many of those who have been participating have excitedly shared new authors and new genres that they’ve discovered and were surprised by.

So far, my personal book tally for this year is hovering in the 120’s. Not all the books I read were for the challenge and I tried to limit myself to just one challenge book each week. However, with a new baby on the way, I knew that my reading time was going to be limited over the next few months and wanted to make sure I finished before October.

With that being said, I have completed my 52 challenge books for the year and wanted to share them you. There’s probably only two or three books on this list that I didn’t enjoy and wouldn’t necessarily recommend. (Cough, cough, Three Cups of Tea, cough…) But even so, this was a really fun challenge and I hope YOU ALL join me in the upcoming 2019 MommyMannegren reading challenging.

That’s right. A 2019 Reading Challenge is on it’s way! The full challenge and details will be released in NOVEMBER! So be sure to stay tuned!

I am also taking category suggestions for the new challenge. If you haven’t already joined the 2018 Reading Challenge Facebook Group, I encourage you to do so! If you have a brilliant idea for next year and want to see your category included in the 2019 challenge, the Facebook group is the place to share it!

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