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3 Books I Finished Recently


Welcome to my book update post where I share what books I finished recently + my honest thoughts and star ratings of them.

My Reading Goals for 2021

For 2021, I set a goal of reading 3 books per week —  1 fiction book, 1 non-fiction book, and 1 audiobook each week. I know this is an audacious goal, but reading is something I love and it’s a way I learn, challenge my mind, improve as a writer and communicator, and am refreshed and encouraged through inspiring stories.

I have a few shelves full of books (mostly that I’ve gotten free), so I decided to choose 52 books from off my shelf to read this year (see my list of 52 books I plan to read in 2021 here). I’ll also read other books that I find/am sent that pique my interest. Plus, I plan to go through a lot of audiobooks (I get mine free from the Libby app).

Here are three books I finished recently…

Don’t Miss Out: Daring to Believe Life is Better With the Holy Spirit

If you feel like something is missing in your spiritual walk, if you have always struggled with wondering what you believe about the Holy Spirit, or if you are tired from trying to power through life in your own strength, I think this book this book will encourage and bless you.

I appreciated Jeannie’s honest words of how she’s wrestled through what she writes in this book. As someone who — just in the last few years — has began to truly understand the Holy Spirit and what it means to live life relying upon upon Him, I resonated with so much of this book. I highly recommend every Christian read this book and take it to heart… it just might completely change your entire life!

Verdict: 4 stars

Night Fall

This book caught my eye because it had some foster care themes in it AND it was set in Wichita, KS (my home town). It was definitely a different genre of fiction than I usually read and I feel like I sort of slogged through a lot of it. Some of it felt sort of tedious and repetitive and some of it I found a little clunky and hard to follow.

If you like FBI-related fiction with a strong Christian perspective, that also has some fairly dark themes, then this might be your type of book. Personally, I didn’t like that so many details of the plot were revealed right from the get-go. I also figured out the ending pretty quickly and found that the book was fairly predictable and didn’t draw me in and make me want to meet the characters (which is always the mark of a really good fiction book for me).

Verdict: 2 stars

A Walk to Beautiful

I felt like this book had so much promise — and it started out strong. But it fell flat for me after that.

I thought that the story could have been told in such a compelling and engaging way as it seemed like it had the potential to be such an interesting story. But the way that the book was written seemed to jump around and share a lot of mundane details and then skip over other important details or character development.

I was still inspired by how one person had such a profound impact on the course of Jimmy Wayne’s life, but I just wanted so much more from this book than it delivered.

Verdict: I’m giving it 2.5 stars — but am rounding up to 3 stars to be generous, especially since I appreciated how it raises awareness for foster care.



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Reebok Boy’s Mesh Athletic Shorts for just $8 each, shipped!


This is a great deal on Boy’s Athletic Shorts!

Do your boys need some new shorts for the summer?

You can currently get 3 pairs of Reebok Boy’s Mesh Athletic Shorts for just $24 shipped when you use coupon code MSM612-24-FS at checkout. That’s only $8 each!

Choose from four colors in a variety of sizes.

Valid through June 18th, while supplies last.

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GetUpside App: Get Cash Back on Gas!!


Looking for ways to save a little money? Try the GetUpside app to earn cash back on your gas purchases! It’s super easy to get started!

{Looking for more ways to save with your phone? Be sure to check out Swagbucks, Shopkick, Ibotta, and Fetch Rewards!}

GetUpside app for gas savings

If you’re looking for some creative ways to save money, be sure to check out the GetUpside App for gas savings!

What is the GetUpside app?

GetUpside is a mobile app that provides cash back offers at gas stations, grocery stores, and restaurants. It’s free to download on iOS or Android.

Right now, their primary focus and main way to earn is at gas stations (but they are in the process of adding more grocery stores and restaurants!).

I tried this app out and it’s super easy to use! I’m really excited to start earning cash back on all of my gas purchases!!

how to claim a cash back gas offer

How exactly does it work?

To save money on gas, just follow these steps:

  1. Go HERE.
  2. Sign up. Be sure to use code MSM20 to get a bonus $0.20 per gallon on your first fill-up!
  3. Look at the map for offers in your area.
  4. Claim an offer near you.
  5. Fill up within 4 hours to redeem it.
  6. There are two ways to redeem: either by submitting a receipt or by providing your card number at locations with a blue lightning bolt.
  7. Print the receipt and submit it. Or select which card you’re using for instant processing without the need to submit a receipt. (Look for the blue lightning bolt — only available at select locations.)
  8. That’s it! You’ll receive your cash back in 2-4 days!
cash back at Shell gas station through GetUpside app

I used the app today when I filled up on gas. I filled up at a Shell station that had the blue lightning bolt, and it was SO easy. Now it shows as processing in my account and I’ll see the cash back in just a couple days!

Is the GetUpside app available everywhere?

The GetUpside app is available in most cities across the U.S. and has over 25,000 gas stations participating nation wide.

In my area, I had TONS of choices of gas stations. I was very impressed, and I didn’t have to go out of my way even slightly!

map with gas savings locations

How much can you save on gas?

For the gas rewards, you’ll typically earn up to $0.25/gallon depending on the location. So if you fill up 15 gallons, that’s $3.75 savings per fueling! Not bad!!

PLUS, if you sign up through this link and use code MSM20 during sign-up, you’ll get a BONUS $0.20/gallon on your first fueling — which means you could earn up to $0.45 off per gallon! Wow! (That would be $6.75 for 15 gallons!)

But that’s not all! They have a really great referral program, which allows you to earn even more. You’ll earn a $0.15/gallon bonus when you refer a friend (and they’ll also receive an extra $0.15/gallon bonus on their second fueling).

Also, referrers will continue to earn an extra $0.01/gallon every time their referral redeems a GetUpside gas offer. Pretty cool!

gift card options for cash out

How do you cash out with the GetUpside app?

You can cash out via paypal, gift cards, or paper check (which will soon change to bank deposit).

You’ll need to reach a $15 threshold to cash out via PayPal, a $50 threshold to receive a check, and gift cards vary slightly from brand to brand.

And they have a big selection of popular gift cards to choose from, including Apple, Amazon, Starbucks, Dunkin, Panera, Kohl’s, Home Depot, Target, CVS, Ace Hardware, Walmart, and more!

Whichever way you choose to cash out, I have a feeling these gas savings will add up VERY quickly — especially if you commute to work a lot!

Have you ever tried the GetUpside app? I’d love to hear your thoughts, if so!



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