What I'm Into {November 2013 edition}

01 December 2013

I'm in complete denial that the end of the year is inching ever closer. This year has been a lifechanger for us - literally - and I'm kind of sad to think of it being over, of starting anew. And you know how I get absolutely melancholy in the month leading up to Christmas. But all that's still to come. For now, we celebrate November and what a mad month it was in our little house (hint: cold & flu season).


Bird by Bird, by Anne Lamott, is a continuing source of inspiration and encouragement. I often laugh to myself reading it, and then upon Matt's queries, find myself rereading section after section aloud to him. I'm still working on this book (months after first mentioning it) because at the end of every chapter, I just have to dig into a keyboard or notebook.

The Crimes of Charlotte Bronte by James Tulley seemed promising. What really happened to all those lonely sisters? A handsome young man and mysterious poisonings? But the narration lagged in starts and turns every chapter and I found myself righteously indignant on behalf of the Bronte sisters for being subject to caricatures in someone else's sad stories.

The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman. This book was just... wow... I'm still ruminating on it. It's dark and clever and light and terrible and all told from the perspective of the bravest, saddest 7 year old boy I've ever come across. I was afraid to come back to this book after putting it down, and yet I couldn't not turn the page. I have a feeling the myth of the Hempstocks and all that happened on that lane will stay with me for years to come.

Sharp Objects by Gillian Flynn. I want to love Flynn, as a fellow native Kansas Citian turned Chicago transplant. Like Gone Girl, I struggled with the personalities and motivations of every character, but was drawn into the dysfunction and the depth of murder in this scary small town. With only 30 pages left, I had to sneak a peak at the end just to quell the anxiety that seemed to rise within my chest with every turn of the page. Flynn is an amazing storyteller, even if her stories are of the devastatingly twisted variety.

Allegiant by Veronica Roth finally released and I gobbled it up in a day and half, and then spit it out. Oh, young adult fiction. You just aren't gonna match up to Hunger Games. Give your young people something new to chew on, not just governmental conspiracy after governmental conspiracy after governmental conspiracy. Oh, and what lies beyond the cruel fence beyond a post-apocalyptic Chicago? O'Hare Airport, of course! Sillies. Though I loved much of the Divergent series and especially appreciated the Chicago setting and complex family dynamics, I struggled to maintain an attachment to the narrative in the final book. The narrator changed nearly every chapter between two characters who were so alike I had to keep checking who was actually telling the story. And I found Four/Tobias sadly underdeveloped after a particularly promising start in Divergent. What say you?

In the queue: The Eyre Affair by Jasper Fforde, the Wool series by Hugh Howey and Jesus Feminist by Sarah Bessey (I'm late to the party on this one, but waiting until its release here in Ireland so I can underline the heck out of it and share it with my lady friends). 


Did anything else happen this month besides the Doctor Who 50th anniversary special? Since we don't get BBC we indulged our inner nerds and saw Day of the Doctor in the cinema with 3D glasses and loads of adorably cute older men (and little boys) in bow ties. It was fantastic, as I knew it would be, and a fun cultural experience to be a part of. We've also been watching Spooks (aka MI-5) on Netflix, only furthering our belief that British dramas win at everything (Matt says it's like a British Alias, but better, to which I responded: "How dare you?!" and haven't spoken to him since).


I saw Blue Jasmine in the cinema, even though I'm not predisposed to Woody Allen. But Clate Blanchett, like always, was brilliant and the film left my heart achingly frustrated. And my friend Bronagh indulged me by participating in my annual viewing of You've Got Mail. Other than saving myself for Catching Fire (not yet seen as of this posting), our library loot includes The Conspirator, Lincoln and Despicable Me 2


Last week we finally cashed in my last birthday present and saw The Lumineers live in Dublin. It's slightly concerning to be of the mid-30s mindset where you wonder if you'll be the oldest at any particular thing. Nevertheless I put on my hipster shoes and skinny jeans, reminiscing about the good ole days where my sister and I would stand in line for 12 hours in the freezing rain for a chance to be "in the heart" for U2 in Kansas City, clapped with my man to Big Parade and sang loudly to Stubborn Love. They put on a great live show. My only complaint: their music is so succinct, many songs were over just as you started stomping your feet. :)

On iTunes repeat starting today: Sufjan Stevens Songs for Christmas and Silver & Gold, Arcade Fire's Reflektor, and revisiting a favourite: Everyone's Beautiful by Waterdeep.


  • Seeing Matt realize a life-long dream of visiting Berlin
  • Autumn's final song, nearly 3 months after the first red leaves dropped
  • Matt and I sharing chips and a burger from a food cart while queuing for a show
  • Getting our hibernating Christmas tree out of the attic
  • My very first time hosting Thanksgiving, especially for the lovely time with our American friends and colleagues here in our home.
  • Remembering CS Lewis on the 50th anniversary of his death. Of the two Irishmen who died on November 22 1963, I defer to Lewis, every time. His words have influenced the trajectory our life, our understanding of love and the hearts of our children who recognize the spirit of God in Aslan.
  • Road trips to familiar places
  • My new blog design
  • Writing class... so thankful for the people I met and the push I needed to try something new and risky
  • Trying my amateur hand at fiction
  • Skype dates and coffee dates and Ikea dates with friends, so many friends, everywhere. 
  • When the fever breaks and the smiles of the little ones return
  • Babysitters who love my kids
  • Studying, praying, learning peace for our 50 days of peace experiment
  • This post by Shauna Niequist on motherhood, calling and being fully alive in God: “What’s so sad is that when women fail to take their lives seriously, nobody wins. Our kids didn’t win. They got a devoted, conscientious mother, who picked up after them and made sure they got their homework done. They got a mother who adored them, prayed for them, always wanted the best for them. But they didn’t get a happy mother. They didn’t get a fun mother. They didn’t get to see, up close and personal, a woman fully alive in God."

For other things I love, make sure you visit me at Twitter, Facebook or Instagram. I never take pictures of food; that's a promise.


Most read post this month :: Doing the math :: thoughts on Jenkins, gambling and wealth
My favourite post this month :: How stupid gets washed away


Turn your back on sin; do something good. 
Embrace peace - don't let it get away!
Psalm 34:14 {the message}

Linking up with...

What's been on your plate this month? Any good, new Christmas music out there?


  1. Creepy stalker comment of the day: We're basically twinsies. I loved Gone Girl so much that I'm too scared to read Sharp Objects because what if it's not good and it makes me view Gone Girl differently? I can't lie, Casual Vacancy took just the tiniest bit of the magic out of HP. I thought Allegiant was one of the dumbest books I've read. EVER. And Divergent? I thought Divergent was one of the best books I've read. EVER. How can that be?!?!
    And most importantly, being the President of the Stephen King Fan Club (not really, obvi) and lover of the entire HP series and The Head Promoter for the Passage Series (which technically isn't a trilogy as book three hasn't been written...) I can say without hesitation that the Wool series is the best trilogy I've ever read. (I have to say Trilogy that way HP and the Dark Tower books are safe. Phew.) But seriously. SO GOOD. I can see why a lot of folks weren't into Shift, but I tore it up, I thought it was fantastic. And Wool and Dust were just EXQUISITE. There's really no other word I can think of to describe them. Dust was the way a trilogy should be finished, for reals. Just so good.
    Also? Went to see the Lumineers on Thursday. So that's weird. Also weird? Stood outside with my dad in eighth grade (although not for twelve hours) to get tickets to see U2 in New Orleans.
    Anyway. I thought it was quite strange how many points lined up on the post. Weird, right?

    1. Hahaha. That is so funny :) I haven't read Casual Vacancy, but thought of reading the other one - in her psuedonym - as I heard it was better. I wrote this post last week and then read Wool this weekend in like 2 days. Woah. And yeah for Lumineers! Hope you enjoyed it, too!

  2. I love the Lumineers and would die to see them... in Dublin of all places especially. God bless.

    1. Thanks for the comment, Tacy! We definitely didn't want to miss Lumineers, as we had to forego a U2 gig in '09 here due to me being 8 months pregnant and not really into jumping around freestyle in GA. ;)

  3. Being a Kansas Citian myself, I'm curious as heck how you ended up in Ireland.

    Love the Lumineers, and looking forward to the Gaiman and Bessey books!

    1. Hi Shana! Thanks for visiting and I'm so excited to "meet" another Kansas Citian. We came to Ireland in the most roundabout way, which I guess is apropos for life around here. :) But essentially we work for a Europe-wide Christian non-profit. Our homebase is still KC though and we'll be there in May for my sister's wedding! So nice to meet you!

    2. So very interesting, Karen. I look forward to keeping up on your adventures in Ireland, you lucky girl :)

  4. Hi Karen...I found you from Leigh's "What I'm Into". It's my first time linking up and your beautiful image for your blog jumped out at my straight away. I'm extremely jealous that you aw the Lumineers LIVE. I love them and missed their show when they came to Seattle.

    I couldn't read your little ditty about Allegiant, because I am going to begin reading Divergent for my book club in January! EEK! I feel so behind the times, but I'm so excited as my husband has been speeding through the book.

    So nice to meet you. You have a beautiful blog!

    1. Hi Keri, I don't blame you for skipping over that bit. I should be careful to issue spoiler alerts. :) Thank you for your sweet words about my blog, too. I'm so glad you popped over!

  5. You're a fellow mid-westerner? I didn't know that! :) Oooh...so many similarities in our book lists! I read Gone Girl earlier this year, but haven't tried Sharp Objects yet. I want to pour over Bird by Bird again, too. How cool that you were able to visit Berlin - wow! And trying your hand at fiction - me, too! Hoping that you have a most lovely December and Christmas!

    1. Hi Ginger! Thanks for stopping by. Sadly, I did not get to go to Berlin this time. My husband went for work, but sent back these lovely photos, so I was happy enough. :) And well done trying out fiction. I am both loving/hating it. ;-)

  6. I just finished Gone Girl today. Good to hear I wasn't the only one slightly disturbed. And I agree Bird by Bird is made for note taking. Happy Wednesday!

    1. Thanks for the comment, Alissa. Glad to hear I'm not alone!

  7. The Lumineers! C.S. Lewis! So much goodness here.

  8. Oh, Karen. So much to discuss. When I was reading Ocean at the End of the Lane, it was so eerie that I knew I needed to put it down and wait until I had a weekend afternoon to read it in full. Otherwise, I would have been up reading all night! That story haunted and captivated me in the best of ways. I loved Gone Girl but I haven't read anything else by Flynn for similar reasons- I'm going to need to read it in one day or else my nerves will be shot, as I've heard her other books are much darker. We are at odds when it comes to Allegiant. I loved it. Like LOVED it. I enjoyed Divergent but I could've taken or left it. I thought each book got better as the trilogy progressed. Whereas Hunger Games was the best book of that trilogy, by far. I hated Mockingjay. I still recommend the trilogy but Mockingjay leaves a sour taste in my mouth. (Not that I have strong opinions about this. Ha!) So fun that you got to see the Lumineers! Really loving your new blog design, too.

    1. Haha, I knew we would have to square off on Allegiant! I had to skype a friend in the states for a debrief, too. I agree about Mockingjay, though I guess as a trilogy, still defer to HG over Divergent. Ah well... I'll still go see the movie! :) Thanks for the Gaiman recommendation... didn't even realise he wrote one of our favourite eps of Doctor Who, as well ("The Doctor's Wife"). And thanks for your kind words about the site. I can take absolutely no credit for it! :)

  9. I love your blog design! And how wonderful that Matt reached a dream. I have yet to read Allegiant, but it is waiting patiently. I can't wait until the break to pick it up. I love Bird by Bird too. I am working my way through her memoir Traveling Mercies. Have a wonderful rest of the year... Amy