52 New Books in 2016 | 43


Moving right along in my 52 New Books in 2016 personal reading challenge with my 43rd new book already read this year. Averaging six books a month I should be done with this challenge by the end of September, easy.

I have a stack of books on my bookshelf in my bedroom to choose from, too.

This, The Secret Servant, was another Daniel Silva's book 7 in the Gabriel Allon series. The series is one that has become a favorite of mine in the world of Israeli spies (teaming with American intelligence at times) and counterintelligence. The Secret Servant did not disappoint. While not as fast paced it was, however, meaty with a good plot, applicable world situations for today, and it delved into the political handling of a diplomat family kidnapping. 

Rating: 9.5

52 New Books in 2016 | 42


The Storied Life of A.J. Fikroy

Such a quaint, likable, and quotable book. I laughed out loud quite a bit the first half of the book, although not so much after as the characters had less to laugh over and as the book revved through time. Yet, it is the passing of time, and people aging and evolving; and evolve as they age because they experience - life. All the very warm,likable, endearing characters experience such transitions from the main characters A.J., his adorable sweet adopted daughter, and each supporting cast member. While I truly liked this book there were just enough hiccups, when I went from laughter to - huh; or the first time I got caught flying through time. And the next time - that I cannot give it a 10 rating. But, a rating of 8 will do.

Read a book published before you were born (and 52 New Books in 2016 | 41)


One of the categories of Modern Mrs. Darcy's 2016 Reading Challenge is to "read a book published before you were born". I knew this would be a difficult category so I intentionally made it my first selection within the challenge. I do have several titles on hand in my library of growing book titles I haven't read yet. This is also another new book in my 52 New Books in 2016 challenge with less than 10 new books to read before I accomplish that goal. Pretty cool!

For my first selection of this challenge and for this category I chose the beautifully sweet, The Little Prince by Antoine De Saint-Exupery (translated by Katherine Woods). It was originally published in 1943, twenty years before I was born. At almost 53 years old and reading for the first time this slim 83-page treasure is fraught with profound pearls of wisdom of what really matters in the course of life, friendship, and, of course, love. While I am sure there is specific meaning to each of the vignette's offered within the story, I believe each person can find a piece that is their own, meaning within the meaning: time spent on others is what makes the time spent and the others, both, valuable and not wasted; we see things as they truly are if we see them from the inside out, "One sees clearly only with the heart. Anything essential is invisible to the eyes"; is a desert beautiful (or anything) only if someone sees it in its' deserted glory; grown-ups are strange, they only care about numbers (grown-up things) and they lose their sense of wonder, a seeing things as a child see them (have you ever read a picture book to a child and you'll see what I mean). "And no grown-up will ever understand how such a thing could be so important."

I loved the lessons gleaned on leadership from the visits to the planets near the Little Princes' planet; and since we will all be a leader in some way through our life, these short pieces are fitting for everyone. For instance, "I know a planet inhabited by a red-faced gentleman. He’s never smelled a flower. He’s never looked at a star. He’s never loved anyone. He’s never done anything except add up numbers. And all day long he says over and over, just like you, ‘I’m a serious man! I’m a serious man!’ And that puffs him up with pride. But he’s not a man at all!" Oh, pride! How sneaky are you, pride?

This book is a healthy, reminder to look at things from a different perspective. As a Christian, its a good reminder to look at the world and its people through the eyes of God.

Rating: 10

Digital products used: One Little Bird


52 New Books in 2016 | 40


A.W. Tozers', A Crucified Life...A-mazing! A page was not turned without a note written, a line underlined, a paragraph bracketed, or an entire page dog-eared. This book. Life-changing. It has moved swiftly to the top of my all-time important Christian non-fiction books, hugely impacting the way I approach life, relationships, loving, being, and God. This book is hard-hitting and confrontational. I will come back to this book again and again. Plain-spoken, tell-it-like-it-is, non-religious, but very Christ-focused, Tozer speaks about what the Church, the Bride of Christ, is supposed to look like to the world as a whole and individually.

Without an reservations I can give this book...

Rating: 10

52 New Books in 2016 | 39


The Messenger by Daniel Silva

Just thirteen books shy of my goal of 52 New Books in 2016 and it is only the middle of July. I'd say, barring a catastrophic event, I'll meet and exceed my goal. Thankfully, I've added a reading challenge to mix things up.

The next book, book 6, in the Gabriel Allon series by Daniel Silva was phenomenal! From beginning to end the pace and flow of The Messenger is fast, yet unhurried; an intricate plot, yet flows swiftly, beautifully with perfectly- crafted, unexpected sharp turns. One of the best in the series so far. Silva, again in the Messenger, writes smoothly, effortlessly, yet believable with intricate knowledge, of the turbulent, chaotic, volatile political, economical, intellectual, and terrorist climates plaguing the world today.  

This series has quickly become an all-time favorite series. 

Rating: 9.5

on reading.


What began several years ago as a challenge to myself and to get out of the habit of only reading J.D. Robb's In Death series, interspersed with some W.E.B. Griffin, and a rare library find, I believe I have noticeably, decidedly moved into the world of reading books. I can truly call myself a reader. Yes, I can. I am a reader. True, I'm nowhere in the realm of reading as the likes of Modern Mrs. Darcy, and honestly, I never will, nor even my very own mother who can quite literally read anything; and because nowhere, in either of my college degrees, is English, Literature, or even History, prevalent within my transcripts, but I have learned through these personal challenges that I've come to love books, more and more. 

But, I have also realized, while much of the reading world will like a certain book, if I read it, I often will not. Maybe it is the genre that I can't appreciate. I haven't quite figured out how to enjoy a book without allowing my personal morality, judgments, ethics, biases, or, I guess, tastes, to cloud my views of a book. For instance, I read The Girl On The Train. Rave reviews far exceeded negative reviews.  Yet, I hated the book. Hate may be a strong word but I didn't get all the hype, especially since I figured out who the killer was in the beginning and there were absolutely zero redeeming qualities in any of the characters. Or, The Book Thief; frustrating literary devices that others raved about and because they are probably, within the literary realm understood as clever, I, however, was left mystified and frustrated. More recently, I read What She Knew. Again, rave reviews and I absolutely hated it. Zero redeeming character qualities - again.

However, I am loving the Harry Potter series. So, I'm not completed whacked, right?

I guess it could be varied tastes that leads me to dislike something while many in the literary world love a certain book. And, that's the beauty in the world of literature - everyone's tastes are different; if, they weren't then we would have far less variety of books published. Our hearts could not be moved and our minds challenged. We'd have little room to grow emotionally, ethically, morally, or intellectually. Thank God for our individuality! Thank God for books!

My favorite books are still J.D. Robb's In Death series. Even after all these years of reading new books more. I pick up one of those books and it's like I'm snuggling under the covers on a chilly winter's night in front of a blazing fire drinking a cup of steaming coffee. But, I am finding I love Christian non-fiction (Glory Days, The Daniel Prayer, etc.). Some good, by the Book (Bible) non-fiction. I can appreciate those self-help, simplifying, life essential, life-growing non-fiction books, too (The More of Less, Simply Tuesday, etc.) . I have also found another series, Daniel Silva's Gabriel Allon, that I have fallen hard for. There are only 15 in the series thus far and I'm trying not to read them one right after the other so maybe Book 16 will come out as I'm finishing that last book. Each one is rich in storyline, or plot, and have substantial character development with proceeding books. The character, Allon, is an art restorer come Israeli intelligence spy. Since I'm a fan of Vince Flynn's Mitch Rapp, I'd say spy thrillers are (some of) my 'cup of tea', too.

52 New Books in 2016 | 38


What She Knew by Gilly MacMillian

While it is a New York Times Bestseller and reviews are pretty good, I am in the did not like column. One of the most depressing books I've read in a while. Again, one of those books with little to no redeeming qualities for any of the characters, just, painfully - painful. I'm beginning to realize quickly that this genre, these psychological thrillers, are not my cup of tea. It was fast-paced which I appreciate but man, I just can't believe the insanity that was this book. Anyways...

Rating: 1 


52 New Books in 2016 | 37


Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban by J.K. Rowling

This is Book 3 of the Harry Potter series, of which I have all of them and am plowing through them fairly regularly as part of my summer manifesto - or what should have been included. So far, so good is what I say regarding this children's series that has become a classic. Each book takes place over a school year, perfect for lots to happen at the Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry and Harry Potter and his sidekicks Ron and Hermoine are right in the middle of it all. These books are seriously fun and easily engrossing. A few slow parts, after the beginning for quite a bit but still good - just slow, so I'm giving this book a lower rating.


52 New Books in 2016 | 36


I am seriously loving Daniel Silva's Gabriel Allon series and book 5, the Prince of Fire, comes through a winner, as well. Smoothly done how Silva is shifting Gabriel's character from spy in the field to something else all together: Art restorer and sometime spy Gabriel Allon is back in Venice, when a terrible explosion in Rome leads to a disturbing personal revelation: the existence of a dossier in the hands of terrorists that strips away his secrets, lays bare his history. Hastily recalled home to Israel, drawn once more into the heart of a service he had once forsaken, Gabriel Allon finds himself stalking an elusive master terrorist across a landscape drenched in generations of blood, along a trail that keeps turning in upon itself, until, finally, he can no longer be certain who is stalking whom. And when at last the inevitable showdown comes, it's not Gabriel alone who is threatened with destruction - for it is not his history alone that has been laid bare (Amazon).

I think Silva handles the delicate balance between truth and fiction and confronts the Middle Eastern upheaval, politics, hatred, and war-wrought countries with skill and aplomb without sounding overly preachy towards Israel. But, as a Christian who firmly believes God's chosen people - the Israelite's - have a rightful place in the future order of things, I am overjoyed at Silva's stance and protection of Israel.

A bit morose and melancholy at times I'm still giving Prince of Fire,

8 stars

52 New Books in 2016 | 35


The Liar by Nora Roberts

Shelby Foxworth lost her husband. Then she lost her illusions …
The man who took her from Tennessee to an exclusive Philadelphia suburb left her in crippling debt. He was an adulterer and a liar, and when Shelby tracks down his safe-deposit box, she finds multiple IDs. The man she loved wasn’t just dead. He never really existed.
Shelby takes her three-year-old daughter and heads south to seek comfort in her hometown, where she meets someone new: Griff Lott, a successful contractor. But her husband had secrets she has yet to discover. Even in this small town, surrounded by loved ones, danger is closer than she knows—and threatens Griff, as well. And an attempted murder is only the beginning …(Amazon)

While J.D. Robb, Nora Roberts' nom de plume, is my all-time favorite book series, I've never been much of a fan of Nora Roberts books. Her The Witness was exceptionally good and when I came across The Liar in Walmart so I thought I'd give Roberts another shot. Unfortunately, I guessed the ending at the very beginning - first chapter even. Rather disappointing there. But, it isn't a total loss or disappointment. It had 'cutsie' characters centered in a quaint little town, but maybe just a bit too cute, overdone - unrealistic. As someone who has gone through tremendous difficulty - relationally - in an abusive marriage, and how long it took me to get over the baggage that ensued, and that was resting in the strength of the Lord, there is no way the character in the book can bounce back from disillusionment and emotional abuse, as quick as the female lead bounces back, a tad bit unrealistic - even for fiction. And, and, I even guessed where the goods were. It was either in the picture frame or Fifi? Not very original!

What I did like (well, not like but found to be really good work) was how Roberts' carried out or portrayed a young, impressionable, gullible, unsuspecting female at the hands of a controlling insidious sociopath - and how it is so very possible to be deceived so effectively. While the world may think it might be obvious, to a clever, dastard sociopath, they are renowned illusionists.

So, all this to say, I give The Liar,

Rating: 2 Stars