what I've been reading | november


Today I'm sharing what I've been reading lately...

Anxious for Nothing by Max Lucado. Sooo good! I'm not a very anxious person but when Lucado digs deep into anxious things I found there are a few things I could use a little work on. Not just for the anxious at heart but the stressed and the concerned and while this is typical Lucado book speak, as always, he speaks words of truth in a relatable, practical, and inspiring way. I don't think there isn't any of his books I haven't learned something, gained wisdom from. 77/100 books read.

Unspoken by Francine Rivers. A novella of historical fiction of the life of Bathsheba, one of the five women in the lineage of Jesus Christ who changed eternity. Rivers shows the unlimited grace of God given Bathsheba as testament and what we can learn from Bathsheba and the mercy of God even today. We have limited information in the Word of God regarding Bathsheba yet I can envision her story being this. 78/100 books read.

A Thousand Pieces of You by Claudia Gray. A young adult book that delves into the world of multi-dimension travel. Besides being quite frustrated in wanting the story to resolve, and in some ways it does, but in others we are left hanging, I blazed through A Thousand Pieces in one sitting; my favorite parts are when the protagonist, Marguerite, with the aid of the Firebird, is transported into another dimension, and another, and another...It is an intriguing storyline, unique from anything I've read - definitely held my attention and worth the read. I'm sharing the cover because this fulfills Modern Mrs. Darcy's 2017 Reading Challenge, a book you chose for the cover. Because it is a YA book, I wouldn't normally give it a shot (although this past year I've read quite a few YA books that have begun to change my mind - maybe) so, I definitely chose the book for the cover. I love the abstract painting underlain with two cities, different dimensions? In fact, the entire Firebird series by Claudia Gray has the same abstractness that I love. 79/100 books read.

You and Me Forever by Francis Chan & Lisa Chan. After reading this book if you give it even an ounce of effort you will not walk away unchanged. Case in point: One 'marriage' quotes from the book that rocked me to the core, "The one who wins the argument is usually the one who acts less like Christ." Boom! Because it is about becoming more like Christ, isn't it? An Amazon reviewer summed up my feelings for this book, exactly, "You And Me Forever by Francis and Lisa Chan is the best kind of bait-and-switch. It looks like a marriage book, and it sounds like a marriage book, but it’s not REALLY a book on marriage. It’s really a book about having the eternal view of every aspect of life, including marriage and parenting. It’s a book about seeking first the Kingdom of God and everything else, including a healthy marriage, flowing from that. And it’s about seeing everything you have, including your marriage, as something to be used for the mission of God in this world.

I estimate only about 25% of this book directly addresses marriage and marriage issues. I’m reluctant to let that cat out of the bag, because the best-case scenario would be someone beginning this book with their guard down, expecting some “tried-and-true marriage tips,” and getting creamed unawares by the Chans’ amazing vision of living a life focused on God and His mission.

This book rocked me like none I’ve read in a long time. It’s unquestionably the best book I’ve read all year, and the best marriage book I’ve ever read—if it indeed qualifies as a marriage book. This book is a manifesto of daily discipleship, in light of eternity. It was simultaneously water for my parched soul, and painful, jolting stab of conviction to my heart.

This is a book for married people, single people, people with kids, and people without them. The American church desperately needs the message of this book.

Francis and Lisa Chan do an excellent job of narrating the book. At first I found the narration a little dry. However, as the book goes on, both of them speak with deep conviction and seriousness, practically pleading with the listener to repent of their small view of God and His mission...Highly, highly recommended.
" - Nick Duffel, on Amazon. 80/100
books read.

A Rule Against Murder by Louise Penny. As I am only on the fourth book in the Chief Inspector Armand Gamache series, it is inevitable that at least one book in the series will be read each month over the next few months. I am enjoying this series immensely, and look forward each book to the next. With a different setting A Rule Against Murder takes us to a mountainous resort where the Gamache's are vacationing for their wedding anniversary and where, of course, murder rules the day. Another "Spot" on book. Now, let me go count my sums. 81/100 books read.

Hallelujah Anyway, Rediscovering Mercy by Anne Lamott. Something of a memoir - of sorts. But not really. Maybe testimonies? Whatever it is supposed to be, I struggled through the first half of the book begging myself to finish but I could not find the mercy. The chapters were full of - fluff - is about all I can call it and, maybe, one line or so at the end of the chapter and coming out of nowhere, a sort of fill in the blanks of how mercy applied to the chapter. This book was: all. over. the. place. I felt like I was drowning while I was reading it. That's a horrible feeling. It was totally disjointed. Ms. Lamott is definitely not someone I would go to for spiritual guidance. 82/100 books read. 

High Heat by Richard Castle. Interesting story (at least to me). Jeff and I finished watching the television show Castle this year. We never saw it on television, but I purchased Season 1 to check it out and we were hooked. In that first season you hear about the novels, the Nicki Heat novels, the character (on the show) Richard Castle writes. For some reason I missed that the show was based on those novels (although the names are changed in the show). High Heat is a later book in the series and probably about Season 8 on the show. This was a very quick read and moved along without any lag. Not a lot of character developing as I imagine (or hope) it is done in earlier novels. I enjoyed the book enough to pick up the first three in the series and see how it goes. 83/100 books read.

A Brutal Telling by Louise Penny. Oh, Louise Penny! I love your books! Another brilliant, rich, complex story - of murder. I fall harder for Chief Inspector Armand Gamache with each novel, as well as, his trusty sidekick Jean Guy Beauvoir, and the numerous cast of characters in the quaint, secluded town of Three Pines, Canada. Imagine every good thing you can say about a murder mystery then apply it to A Brutal Telling and - well - all of Penny's novels thus far. 84/100 books read.

The Visitor's Guide to the Afterlife by Annie Pigeon. A co-worker, who I've known for many years handed me this little book. And, honestly, I only read it because he said his belated wife, who was a closer friend, had read it. I knew from the title and because my friend and I don't have similar tastes in reading material, it would be like young Tantor's saying from the Disney movie, Tarzan, "...It looks questionable to me!" It is a tad [and I use the term loosely] questionable and sarcastic, but it is a clever-humor take on heaven. Some form of spiritual and biblical awareness is necessary so as not to take the guide seriously or believable and to catch much of the humor. 85/100 books read.

Humphrey's First Christmas by Carol Heyer. This is a beautifully illustrated story of the camel carrying the gifts of the three wise men to Bethlehem. I bought 24 Christmas books for my oldest daughter's kids, but also to give them a new tradition: a Christmas book Advent, unwrapping a book a day and reading it aloud. This one, and the following two, were in the stack of books I wrapped in brown paper packaging or snowflake paper wrapping, tied each with a string, and tagged with a day of December. A sweet story. 86/100 books read.

The Polar Express by Chris Van Allsburg. A 1986 Caldecott Medal Winner. Although I think it's popularity peaked when the book was made into a movie, starring Tom Hanks. When I began reading the story, I didn't realize it was such a short story. Some of the books pages were illustrated quite beautifully, while I was unimpressed with other pages, the story, however, was sweet. 87/100 books read.

Christmas Day in the Morning by Pearl S. Buck. Yes, that Pearl S. Buck. Pulitzer and Nobel Prize winning author Pearl S. Buck wrote this beautiful and heartwarming story about the gift of love. When love is given and love is received. It will be a favorite Christmas book of mine for a long time to come. 88/100 books read.

what I've been reading | October


I'll be linking up with Modern Mrs Darcy for her monthly Quick Lit. Of course, I gathered the book titles together that I read this past month and made my monthly scrapbook page for our Stories 2017 album. You can find everything I've read this year(plus a monthly scrapbook page) under 100 New Books in 2017. As you can see below I'm getting closer to reaching my 2017 goal of 100 new books read. However, I am definitely going to have to up my reading game if I'm going to read 24 titles over the next two and a half months.

The Butterfly Hours, Transforming Memories into Memoir by Patty Dann. Inspiring. I had begun the #100days project in April writing short, 'memoirs', and had made it to day 45 / 100 when I ran out of steam. My project was using one word prompts to tell short stories/memoirs. This book, an unpretentious little gem, a short 124-pages, and easily read in short bursts was invigorating and inspiring to my world of journaling, whether current stories - or memoirs. At the end of the book is a list of one-word prompts to get you started. Before I even made it halfway through the book I began my #100days project again picking up where I left off and wrote #46/100 using the one word prompt: paper. I'm telling you, you'll be inspired to write! 69/100 books read in 2017.

A Fatal Grace by Louise Penny. The second book in her Chief Inspector Armand Gamache series and another intriguing whodunit all the way until the end. This, and the other Gamache stories are set in Three Pines, Quebec, a charming and quaint town with lively, delightful, and fascinating characters and of those we have met before Penny continues development of each one. I am thrilled to have found another series I can sink my teeth into and enjoy from cover to cover. 70/100 books read.

The Cruelest Month by Louise Penny. And - the third book in her Chief Inspector Armand Gamache series. The continuing character development of the Three Pines towns people being re-visited and grown in each book, thus far, with all their flaws and nuances is tremendously brilliant. The additional storylines deftly woven into the talk of murder is intriguing and on-the-edge-of-my-seat suspenseful, but not scary. 71/100 books read.

Reading People, how seeing the world through the lens of personality changes everything by Anne Bogel. What to say? I walked away completely satisfied. Anne writes beautifully. I listened to the Introduction and first chapter on her podcast but I prefer reading to listening. What listening to the beginning pages did? It allowed me to hear her voice as I read. Quite a bit of what Anne shares in her book was familiar in an acquaintance sort of way. But, even the familiar was made clearer and even better, more understandable. Although, Kersey's temperaments went over my head and no matter how many times I re-read the chapter, it wasn't clicking. I particularly appreciated the theme throughout the book that learning our personality types should be life-changing (and not just sit our knowledge of what are personalities are on a shelf collecting dust). Gathering all the information about our personalities and making actual life-changes. Become more of who we are and less of, well, who we'll never be because it isn't our personality framework. This is one of those books you will need to continue to refer back to again and again. 72/100 books read.

The Fix by David Balducci. The Amos Decker series is by far my favorite of Balducci's main characters. This was another intriguing plot with twists and turns that kept me guessing until the end. The cast of characters is growing slightly and Balducci is developing them nicely. The book is fast paced without any lag and absolutely zero boredom. 73/100 books read.

Reflections on the Psalms by C.S. Lewis. I ever-so-slowly, nightly, before turning out my bedside lamp, made my way through this thin little book by the wizened, spirit-filled C.S. Lewis and in typical C.S. Lewis fashion, analytical, and sometimes goes where my mind cannot wrap itself around. Yet I still dog-eared the stirring and heart-reaching discourse for further contemplation and review. 74/100 books read.

Tier One Wild by Dalton Fury. Always looking out for a book my husband would like. Think W.E.B. Griffin and Brad Thor. He has read them all. It is rare he'll navigate away from his favorites, though. He finds little time to relax and read. But, Tier One Wild and Dalton Fury's Delta Force novels just might be the ticket. This book was fast-paced, the read - and the action within, and I know he'll like the SPEC OPS (Special Operations) lingo and storyline. As retired military and married to a former special operations soldier, I too enjoy a good counter-terrorism black operations this-could-happen-in-real-life storyline. 75/100 books read.

Braving the Wilderness, the quest for true belonging and the courage to stand alone by Brené Brown. The Huffington Post writes, "“[Brown’s] research and work have given us a new vocabulary, a way to talk with each other about the ideas and feelings and fears we’ve all had but haven’t quite known how to articulate. . . . [She] empowers us each to be a little more courageous.” I agree. Because of that the book was heavy talk on politics as this is generally where we have such difficult discourse. I took copious notes in the margins and underlined quotes I agreed with and things I'd like to discuss over with my husband. While it was quite evident where her political leanings stand, except for one paragraph, I didn't feel she was bashing the other side, so I was comfortable to continue reading - but more importantly - listening and learning others views. 76/100 books read.

what I've been reading | june


  I am continuing to document what I am reading right here on my blog as well as linking up with Modern Mrs. Darcy's Quick Lit reviews. In addition, I create a digital scrapbooking page to include in our annual album. I am scrapping Project Life, yes, but I also am telling individual stories, like this page - what I've been reading lately. 


The Weight of Glory by C.S. Lewis. a hefty, philosophical read brimming with challenging applicable truths. 41/100







The Me I Want to Be: Becoming God's Best Version of You by John Ortberg. Meaty. Ortberg confronts some difficult concepts simply which enlightened those oft misunderstood concepts regarding peace, studying/reading the Word, and even freed me from possibly incorrect thinking. 42/100 



Responding to the War Against Black Bodies by Zakiya N. Jackson. An essay in the Digital Commons, Pepperdine University, Volume 24, Issue 3 Manifestations of War. Powerful and thought-provoking, I am on a lament and a quest for Christ-like justice. I opened my heart to listen to Zakiya Jackson's words; be vulnerable and accountable. 43/100



God's Chosen Fast by Arthur Wallis. Recommended by my favorite pastor at our church, I found this spiritually-minded yet extremely practical guide to fasting an easy read and profoundly helpful. 44/100 




Peace Like a River by Leif Enger. From page one there is so much to pay attention to as Enger brings the fictional life of the scarred but breathlessly endearing Land family to life; and, compelling the reader to believe in miracles in the everyday just by being compassionate. Narrated by the middle child, Reuben Land who has no trouble carrying the story to a crescendo so intense it too leaves you breathless. Loved this book from start to finish. My favorite character was Swede and her beloved poems. Definitely will hold a top spot in favorite books of the year. 45/100 


It Starts With Food by Dallas and Melissa Hartwig. Oh my! From chapter one and the reason behind their Whole30 journey hit me like a ton of bricks. I've set a start date as you are encouraged to do and I'm beginning preparations for my Whole 30 - month. 46/100 





The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas. Phe-nom-e-nol! A-mazing! Blown away by Thomas' words. My favorite of so many great lines, "He was more than any bad decision he made," Bam! If you want to get an inkling of understanding out of Black Lives Matter and racial tensions with the police and whites then read this book. 47/100



 ...and the other books I've read so far in 2017: JANUARY  |  FEBRUARY  |  MARCH  |  APRIL  |  MAY

Finally, this is where I stand in the MMD 2017 Reading Challenge:



what I've been reading | may


 I'm linking up with Modern Mrs. Darcy for What I've been Reading Lately - the new and the notable in which everyone shares where the literary world has taken them.

This has been a fun reading-filled month. I desperately needed a reading-plenty month if I hope to reach 100 New Books in 2017. Thus, five months down and I've read 40 of 100 books. Not too shabby if I do say so myself. I haven't lost hope I will reach my goal, now.



Once Upon a Prince by Rachel Hauck. Except for the first several chapters I actually enjoyed this book. It is no literary masterpiece but wholesome, clean and Rachel handled the Christian fiction aspect superbly. Some authors think they have to apologize within the novel for their characters 'saving themselves for marriage' but Hauck simply made it a non-issue, a given for her characters. I applaud this because she handled a budding relationship, upholding it well through their godly character. While the story line is somewhat overused and the ending anti-climatic it was a couple hours of enjoyment. 28/100

51UK3HRRyVLLoving My Actual Life by Alexandra Kuykendall. I understand the format used for the book was probably necessary for the 'experiment' the author was undergoing and the premise for the book and with another book it might have worked well but I labored through the book, grudgingly, and found it painfully slow and frustrating that I rarely find in 'Christian' non-fiction. From day to day I found no loving of her actual life, simply discontent. If it was her experiment to find contentment she failed. Or, maybe she found it but it definitely wasn't clear through her writing. Suffice it to say I got absolutely nothing out of the entire book. Any spiritual truths were drowned out by discontentment and it certainly doesn't seem like she 'loves' her life. 29/100


61dAlLVm3yLStories I Only Tell My Friends by Rob Lowe. As part of the Modern Mrs. Darcy 2017 Reading Challenge Reading for Fun - a juicy memoir I read Lowe's autobiography and enjoyed every juicy minute of the book. It was an engaging memoir of Lowe's life before and during his life as an actor. I particularly enjoyed those times he encountered stars, and how he encountered them, and the lessons he learned from them - before they were stars; some truly big name entertainment people. He's done some pretty stupid stuff in his life but he really grew up and is someone his mom could be proud of. Because I know he is a  liberal and he is influenced heavily, by many I have little respect for, I was pleasantly surprised at his respect for bi-partisan politics and politicians, truly inspiring that he appreciates hearing the messages from both party sides. 30/100



His Word in My Heart by Janet Pope. Amazing! I've memorized some scripture but Pope's book His Word in My Heart has spurred me on towards a more meaningful: "...a vantage point from which to view the world," "...a life centered on His kingdom, not mine," "if my soul thrived everything else would fall into place," "the keystone in memorizing is reviewing," "If our knowledge of God is shallow, can our love be deep?" Just to name a few quotes that struck at my heart and moved me back into the valued task of hiding His word in my heart. 31/100


51NYppzf+aLHave You Filled a Bucket Today? by Carolyn McCloud. I read this to Jarrod this weekend. He endured the torture of me reading a children's book aloud. Just kidding. Reminiscent of Gary Smalley's concept of filling your spouses and children's buckets, meeting their needs or their love languages, Have You Filled a Bucket Today, invites this concept to children, in the language of children. This is a precious book that I cannot wait to read to my grandchildren. 32/100


The Escape by David Baldacci. Another in the John Puller series, The Escape was fantastic! After a misstep from his previous John Puller novel I was thrilled that this one turned out so good. There was plenty of uncertainty and misdirection and 'I did not see that one coming' that the book was thrilling and frustrating at the same time. Unbelievably, it also, fixed a wrong that has bothered me from the beginning of the series. 33/100





Quiet by Susan Cain. A plethora of information in an easily readable communique. An intriguing bounty into the world, or rather - mind, of an introvert. I saw myself scattered throughout and even saw, without realizing it, how I 'overcame' some of my introvert-ness (I'm still fully introvert but I've adjusted my sails in order to navigate unchartered waters of extrovert living). 34/100 





Saving Faith by David Baldacci. Parts of this I really loved. Baldacci seems a master of governmental conspirators and spies, counterintelligence, and suspense and intrigue and Saving Faith was exceptional when handling these areas of the book. But. But, he horribly fumbles when it involves the male-female relationship. If he had kept it 'budding' I would have liked it much better but where he took it and where those chapters went were unnecessary - to me. 35/100




Fear Fighting by Kelly Balarie. Chapters I related to immediately, took copious notes, underlined, annotated, - loved and that drew me in; and, chapters that seemed mindless, endless, ramblings and left me frustrated. 36/100





71yg3JyYa9LSteal Like An Artist by Austin Kleon. I only recently picked up this little gem, and devoured it in just over an hour of uninterrupted reading pleasure. This book is for creative. I'd like to believe I am a creative and I walked away from this book inspired to - well - create. And, steal like an artist! I loved his pages on keeping a log book and a calendar, 'the slow accumulation of little bits of effort over time,' plus, many more great quotes- to- live- by. 37/100



Legend by Marie Lu. Another in Modern Mrs. Darcy's 2017 Reading Challenge Reading for Fun - a book in a genre you usually avoid. Not normally a YA fiction kinda' gal, although I have read both hit YA series trilogy's, The Hunger Games and The Divergent, out loud to my sons when they were in high school and I enjoyed them, probably more than they did (they prefer YA myths and fantasy over dystopian). But, I enjoyed this book immensely. So much so, I've already ordered the last two in the series, Prodigy and Champion. 38/100





Killing Lincoln by Bill O'Reilly. Superb. The detailed, historical research is unbelievably thorough, and impressive. It reads as an engaging story rather than a piece of historical non-fiction. This is my first of the 'killing' series by O'Reilly and I will definitely pick up other historical stories. 39/100 






Portraits of Courage, a Commander-in-Chiefs Tribute to America's Warriors by George W. Bush. The portraits, the faces of the American warriors Bush chose to represent, are raw. But, many of them are still living in the raw. Yet, their stories, those Bush chose to tell, show indubitably a warriors spirit. A truthful, and inspiring collection or portraits and words that also shows Bush's heart, compassion, and genuine empathy for his warriors. 40/100

what I've been reading | april


 Today, I'm linking up with Modern Mrs. Darcy for her What I'm Reading Lately: the new and the notable. I cannot say enough how thankful I am that I found MMD's website, a site based almost entirely on reading, because she provides seriously useful insight on a host of potential good reads. I'm not sure how many I've found from her site, added them to my Amazon cart, have them on my bookshelf, or have already read. Scores of them I'm sure.

Now, I know what you're thinking. If I plan on meeting my reading goal I really need to up my reading game. This is true. But, I'm not worried in the least and comfortable I'll hit 100 New Books in 2017. Without further ado...

51ogx3ScyxLThe Emperor's New Clothes by Hans Christian Anderson
. I'm not sure I've ever read this sweet tale, but the illustrations are adorable, especially when the Emperor dresses in his new clothes and parades about his town. This is one of many books, hopefully, that I will add to my basket of books I'm putting together for when my grandkids come to visit. 21/100




51o5F8FpkRLThe Women of Easter by Liz Curtis Higgs. I read this beautifully written, conversational, - and lovely book as part of my Lenten reading. I'm so glad I picked it up at the last minute (I already had another book I was reading for Lent). Bring tissues. You'll want to let loose with fresh tears when you meet three women who are forever changed when they meet a loving, forgiving, and tender Savior. 22/100





81D1td7KPlL40 Days of Decrease by Alicia Britt Chole. Because I'm also studying the book of John for Lent I kept my readings to the devotion, the reflection, and the coming-at-us-from-a-unique-perspective kind of fast: fasting from comparison, fasting from neutrality, from being an armchair Jesus follower, from stinginess, from spectatorship... this is a spirit-filled book and I love how reflecting on the liturgical season of Lent, and Christ, in this manner, through an intentional and disciplined study has been invigorating for my spiritual growth. 23/100 




51wG7x-S+0LAll the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr. Gorgeous! Exquisite! I adored every page from beginning to end of this skillfully written and truly believable literary masterpiece that primarily takes place in Nazi-occupied France during WWII. I loved the short chapters told in alternating character voices that swiftly moved the story through time rather than laboriously moving through the 500+ pages. As I read I kept saying to myself, "the words Doerr crafted together are so beautiful! Every word is perfectly placed, perfectly stated." I felt like I was experiencing first hand, walking beside the characters, drawn in to their experiences. Just beautiful! 24/100



51hIEmkYV7LGenerous Justice by Timothy Keller. It is a book that looks deeper into the Bibles call to justice. Statements such as, "Radical generosity," "One's heart attitude toward the poor reflects one's heart attitude toward Christ,"  "If people obey God as they should there should be no permanent poverty that exists." Keller reminds us that there is common grace given to all by God, thus non-Christians (and Christians, both) will make acts of kindness and self-sacrifices because of common values and God will display his glory and goodness through general revelation. And then there is the chapter on who is your neighbor... 25/100



51LYW5KGxSLLast Stop on Market Street by Matt de La Peña and Christian Robinson. This is the second children's book I read this month. This one was a little short but it did get its message across. I just wanted - more, I guess. Loved the colorful pages and I cannot wait to read this to my grandkids. I'm collecting books to read aloud to my grandkids, as three of the five will be moving close enough I'll probably get to see them a couple times a month. I want to have books on hand to read to them. It holds a Coretta Scott King Award and is a Caldecott Honor and Newberry Medal book - definitely worth of awards! 26/100


51H3wrGIkfLShe Reads Truth by Raechel Myers and Amanda Bible Williams. A spiritual memoir slash devotional in the spirit of their devotions on their website www.shereadstruth.com. I've always loved their writing voices so, honestly, I knew I would enjoy their book and I did. 27/100





Now, digitally speaking, I created a 12 x 12 digital pocket page filled with product from Ali Edwards' Story kit READ, and One Little Bird Designs High Street Stories. I'm not making a separate album this year as I've done in past years but I will include all of my What I've Been Reading Lately pages will go in my Stories 2017 album

what I've been reading lately | march


 Once again I am linking up with Modern Mrs. Darcy for What I've been Reading  - the March edition (see all my other editions here). This is the time where I share 1) a scrapbooking page of what I read over the course of a month (this is how I am documenting what I am reading over the course of the year, besides here on the blog) and, 2) what I actually read with a short synopsis, overview, or mini-review about the book. Some of these titles you might have already seen here because they've made the list for my 2017 Reading Challenge which I share, as well.

91k5yUp1X7LEchoes in Death by J.D. Robb. It's curious that I am not a Nora Roberts fan at all but Nora Roberts' pseudonym, J.D. Robb, the author of my all-time favorite series with Echoes, her #44 title in the series does not disappoint. Robb has superbly grown her main character, Eve Dallas, the sharp but very smart-aleck female Lieutenant of the NYCPD in the year 2062, along with her billionaire husband,her trusted female detective partner, and a host of growing favorite characters over the course of this series. Readers are not given an endgame to the series, but fans of the In Death series would be disappointed should the series end anytime soon. The ease with which I settle into reading this book is like an old pair of well-worn gloves, the book(s) and I fit perfectly, together. 16/100 


718Y9ftcIhLThe Rembrandt Affair by Daniel Silva. Number ten in the Gabriel Allon series, the renowned art restorer and even-more-renowned Israeli spy on the side, sets out to reclaim a stolen Rembrandt and gets caught up in another save-the-world intelligence operation pitting the evil against the...good (but slightly bad because they have to be if they want to save lives and restore what went wrong). I continue to enjoy this series, immensely, as I have already pull the next one, Portrait of a Spy, off the shelf. 17/100





51KtrZbp0iLWomen of the Word: How to Study the Bible with Both our Hearts and our Minds by Jen Wilkin. Phenomenal! If you are new to studying scripture or even if you have some time under your belt this book is totally, completely applicable and worth your time. Jen is cut and dry, no holds barred, and gives the goods on how to study the Bible. You'll be glad you read this little 152-page book. Now, go study the Word! 18/100




51nnz1HL7+LThe Forgotten by David Baldacci. This is the second in the John Puller series. I didn't like it as much as the first one, not in the least. It felt somewhat disjointed, disheveled and I found myself saying "Huh?", "I'm totally confused!", or "Move on, already." The last 1/3 of the book was redeemed but it was a struggle to get there. That being said...I like the character John Puller and really am looking forward to reading another in the series. 19/100





41vf-iaOjlLNone Like Him by Jen Wilken. Know God, knowing who God is matters, and changes the way I see myself, and know how God is different from me is imperative to finding out who I am in Him - and how to be a God-fearing woman. One thing I love about Jen's writing is she does not conform to the patterns of the world as I see many Christian authors doing. She speaks God's truth. 20/100




For the digital scrapbooking layout: I used a 12 x 12 digital template by Cathy Zielske, modifying it by enlarging the 3x4 boxes to cover the entire page; pieces of a Little Lamm Co. digital kit and from Ali Edwards Design Story kit READ chipboard/word art.

what I've been reading lately | february


My reading goals for 2017: Modern Mrs. Darcy's 2017 Reading Challenge and read 100 New Books in 2017. I'm also linking up, monthly with Modern Mrs. Darcy's What I've Been Reading Lately. The following list are the books I've been reading from 15 January - 15 February 2017.

41DNuJfahyLThe Martian by Andy Weir. I will admit I watched the movie first. And, I'm glad I did. Truly, I am not sure I would have made it through the fictional journals of fictional astronaut Mark Watney while stranded on Mars without having the visual representation the movie offered. Granted, this is a hugely entertaining novel, funny in fact in many places, gripping, on-the-edge-of-your-seat-what-is-he-going-to-have-to-deal-with-next suspenseful intensity, but the scientific lingo would have been tough to swallow without having 'seen' it for myself. This is one time I am so glad I watched the movie first. While I couldn't be certain, I believe it made the book better. Some of my favorite lines when I laughed out loud: "Everything went great right up to the explosion!" "Damn it Jim, I'm a botanist not a chemist!" This one was in the movie too, " It's awesome to have a bunch of dipsh*ts on Earth telling me, a botanist, how to grow plants. I mostly ignore them. I don't want to come off as arrogant here, but I'm the best botanist on the planet." The Martian also earned favorite of the month.

51TkHNogRMLBeautiful Bastard by Christina Lauren. Ah - no! I should have known by the title but I was sent to a blog raved about by another reading blogger I love. I went through the bloggers favorite books of 2016 and this one was on the list along with some really good books. There was way, way to much s*x. I suppose the writing was okay but honestly it was hard to tell from all the steamy scenes I had to skim by. There was little story and read like a steamy harlequin romance. Definitely will not be buying anymore of these types of books. Not my cup of tea.




51+fIKU-U2LZero Day by David Baldacci. This is the first in the John Puller series. I am a brand new reader of Baldacci and after reading The Memory Man I hoped I would like more of his books. I absolutely do! This was an intricately woven criminal-investigator suspense thriller. I love the main character, an Army Criminal Investigator who handles specialty cases, who has done multiple combat tours and is a Ranger. I'm positive I'll pick up many more of his books in this series and anything else he has written. Since this is my Mom's favorite author [I think] - all the better.




41vD932YKVLA Million Little Ways by Emily P. Freeman. I loved Emily's Simply Tuesday. One of my favorite books in 2016 even. I struggled to connect with this one though. I think books, even some non-fiction books, are meant for us for seasons, or at a particular time. I'm not sure this one is for me at this time. Although, I find myself desiring something more in my life. Hoping I'll find in me what it is God has designed - for this season. Yes, the book was somewhat endearing and yes, I took notes and marked up pages and dog-earred others. But, I didn't come away from it feeling like it meant something for me.



51UsUob-5ULVeronica Mars and The Thousand Dollar Tan Line by Rob Thomas and Jennifer Graham. Amazon says, "Ten years after graduating from high school in Neptune, California, Veronica Mars is back in the land of sun, sand, crime, and corruption. She’s traded in her law degree for her old private investigating license, struggling to keep Mars Investigations afloat on the scant cash earned by catching cheating spouses until she can score her first big case. Now it’s spring break, and college students descend on Neptune, transforming the beaches and boardwalks into a frenzied, week-long rave. When a girl disappears from a party, Veronica is called in to investigate. But this is no simple missing person’s case; the house the girl vanished from belongs to a man with serious criminal ties, and soon Veronica is plunged into a dangerous underworld of drugs and organized crime. And when a major break in the investigation has a shocking connection to Veronica’s past, the case hits closer to home than she ever imagined. In Veronica Mars, Rob Thomas has created a groundbreaking female detective who’s part Phillip Marlowe, part Nancy Drew, and all snark, with sharp plots and clever twists.  Yep, I agree. I like it! Extremely easy to read while at the same time cunning and piercing. It's not a literary masterpiece but lots of fun.

517I2RO8x+LWatership Down by Richard Adams. Wonderful! I listened to this after reading Modern Mrs. Darcy's post on Audible. My Kindle Fire already had the Audible app loaded so that is how I listened to the free gift. I loved this book (audio). The author used to make up stories for his daughters during long car rides in the English countryside and this tale is one of those stories. True, it is about rabbits but these rabbits have thoughts and can speak, yet their actions and behaviors, how they live are solely - rabbit. There is death, and fear, and love within the story, Watership Down.




51eYqSeYwdLIsaac's Storm by Erik Larson. I read this for the 2017 Reading Challenge: a book about a topic you already love. It's is meteorology at it's barest, earliest, and roughest forms. The investigative techniques and narrative in which Larson crafted from thousands of sources of the killing hurricane in 1900 that besieged the thriving, busting gulf city of Galveston, Texas, and translates them into a gripping story, is truly inspiring. It is a ripping account of the United States Weather Bureau in it's infancy, with a wondering, "how did we (meteorologists and me) finally gain ground?" But, the telling of the storm from the accounts of a ships log, to the description of the storm as it set its sights on Galveston was detailed and exciting reading. Although not my favorite book of the month it was definitely in the top five.


51GesqDmCBLThe Last Mile by David BaldacciConvicted murderer Melvin Mars is counting down the last hours before his execution--for the violent killing of his parents twenty years earlier--when he's granted an unexpected reprieve. Another man has confessed to the crime.
Amos Decker, newly hired on an FBI special task force, takes an interest in Mars's case after discovering the striking similarities to his own life: Both men were talented football players with promising careers cut short by tragedy. Both men's families were brutally murdered. And in both cases, another suspect came forward, years after the killing, to confess to the crime. A suspect who may or may not have been telling the truth.
The confession has the potential to make Melvin Mars--guilty or not--a free man. Who wants Mars out of prison? And why now? But when a member of Decker's team disappears, it becomes clear that something much larger--and more sinister--than just one convicted criminal's life hangs in the balance. Decker will need all of his extraordinary brainpower [he has hyperthymesia] to stop an innocent man from being executed - Amazon. So, so good. When I can use the words, "I DID NOT SEE THAT COMING!" at least once in a book - yes! Baldacci's books are rapidly becoming favorites and I can't wait to read more! 

41o7yXZPwfLCold Tangerines by Shauna Niequist.
I think this is Shauna's first book. It's, to me, a collection of stories, a spiritual memoir of sorts about everyday life, but, that everyday life and God woven in...and out...and in. I was most encouraged by Shauna's real life personal experience with God, not Shauna on a pedestal but the Shauna that makes mistakes, sometimes for a long time, and then gets it right. It is honesty and hope and redemption. It is really good reading.

what I've been reading lately | january edition


Crafting a page every month of what I've read for our family scrapbook album. Besides reading...and swimming... scrapbooking is my other love and keeping a record of everything I've been reading is inspiring me to read more.

Slim readings this month...only six books read...but almost all of them were winners. I would never have reckoned my heart around some of these titles if not for the countless other readers willing to share their reviews - well, and my desire to read new books.

81jQzNuvy4LA Man Called Ove by Fredrick Brackman. A beautiful book full of laughter and tears, love and friendship, and connections(ing). And leaving a legacy. This was my first book of the new year and a 2017 Reading Challenge selection reading for growth: a book in translation. You can see my thoughts on A Man Called Ove here.





51Q+CphZ7rLBread & Wine by Shauna Niequist. Shauna's collection of essays are intimately personal and inspiring. In the least, I can't wait to make some of the recipes she's shared. At the most I am looking forward to how my One Little Word for 2017, NOURISH, will work itself out in my life with Shauna's book as part of the backdrop of the story. I have no doubt this will be tucked into a favorite's list for the year and one I will revisit again - soon. This book is for my 2017 Reading Challenge also: a book of poetry, a play, or an essay collection.




71MT0ceUanLThe Westing Game by Ellen Raskin. Um, not so much...I could probably count on both hands paragraphs - yes, paragraphs - I liked and the remainder of the book - um, not so much. This book, however, fulfilled a reading challenge (insert smiley face): a Newberry Award Winner or Honor Book for my 2017 Reading Challenge. We were talking at church, a couple of us ladies who serve together, all pretty heavy readers, plus homeschooling moms, when we had some downtown and I mentioned The Westing Game. Had anyone read it? Did they like it? When I shared my experience one mom said emphatically, "listen to the audio!!" I'm going to do just that and see how I like The Westing Game after listening to it read aloud.


51PTExXeL7LEndurance: Shackleton's Incredible Voyage by Alfred Lansing. Un-put-down-able! From the first page to the last this brilliant account of Sir Ernest Shackleton's incredible voyage to Antarctica where he planned to cross the last uncharted continent and how his plans failed and yet, Shackleton and his crew endured the unstoppable elements of nature to return home. This will surely be at the top of my list of favorite books in 2017. Beyond amazing!




81ghwLdY9LLThe Defector by Daniel Silva. I have enjoyed Daniel Silva's Gabriel Allon series immensely. This one is definitely not my favorite but the parts that held my attention (most attentively), far outweighed those that were ho-hum. As this is book 9 in the series of 16 I've come too far to allow minor ho-hum to stop my forward momentum. The main protagonist(s) have certainly evolved, with increasing depth and character through the series' progression.






510mwjJ6sELThe Penderwicks: A Summer Tale of Four Sisters, Two Rabbits, and a Very Interesting Boy by Jeanne Birdsall. Superb! And I'm planning on buying a second copy to send to my granddaughter Ella who is in the 4th grade. I think she'll adore this book, too! This is also a 2017 Reading Challenge selection: a Pulitzer Prize or National Book Award Winner and book 6  |  100 New Books in 2017.

what I've been reading lately | december edition


Present over Perfect by Shauna Niequist. I have mixed emotions, convoluted views about this non-fiction book on leaving behind the frantic life for a simpler, more soulful way of living. The caveat that makes the book good is the reminder that she, like all of us seeking a deeper, yes simpler, more spiritual and soulful way of living, are a work in progress. This book really is how Shauna came face to face with a reality that was breaking her, and what she did about it. I guess, because I am a fairly mature Christian, yet still very much a work in progress, I can see her spiritual journey weaved throughout the book but she doesn't write about the nitty gritty of her relationship with Jesus before her realization, nor is she hard core 'this is where I'm at now'. This is not a self-help book. But, it can help someone if they are facing similar realities of being overwhelmed.

It was me all Along by Andie Mitchell.  I first read about Andie from her food blog where she shared how she'd lost 135 pounds and how she was keeping it off. I felt [feel] her pain. She is inspiring. I heard her memoir that came from writing her blog was good - real good. Good does not due it justice. Exceptional. Inspiring. I feel like my weight is not a lost cause and that I can do something about it. Seriously.

Unashamed by Christine Caine. I've lived with shame for much of my adult life. And, while I've tried often to leave my shame behind I seem to always be confronted with more shame to be had. It is debilitating, painful, and - well - shameful. I'm seriously tired of it! Caine hits shame hard, right between the mountains of hurt that have taken a lifetime to build and she comes at it straight from the word of God. This book is filled to the brim with scripture-based answers to my (your) shame. Phenomenal!

Animal, Vegetable, Miracle by Barbara Kingsolver

In memoir, narrative form, Animal, Vegetable, Miracle chronicles a family's adventure and commitment after moving to a Virginia rural farm to live off locally grown foods - eating local, buying local, and a slow food movement (versus fast food). The book offers a wealth of informative and enthralling journalistic investigation to the old adage, you are what you eat. Long-winded at times, good information, got off on tangents that weren't in the least memoir-form, thoroughly enjoyed the parts that were strictly living off the land, eating off the land, buying local, etc.; it was the 'other' stuff that clouded the memoir.

The Greatest Gift by Ann Voskamp

For my Advent devotional this year I am reading, and reflecting, The Greatest Gift, by Ann Voskamp and it is amazing. I wanted this Christmas season to be filled with reflection, and peace and joy and giving and remembering Jesus is the reason, always. I knew an Ann Voskamp book would set firmly in - Jesus. And her prose...oh my! Simply beautiful!

The Broken Way by Ann Voskamp

Seeking, daring to find, the abundant life in Christ we were meant to have. Sometimes, the way Ann writes is difficult to understand. I had to read this very slow and often re-read sentences or paragraphs multiple times. That being said, this is a wonderfully gut-wrenching, difficult, beautiful book.

and one piece of fiction in the breadth of non-fiction...

A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens

Shall I confess something? This is, truly, the first time I have ever read A Christmas Carol. Loved it!


This is my third month participtating in Modern Mrs. Darcy's What I've been Reading Lately link up. Here are: November | October

You might have noticed I have been making a 12 x 12 scrapbooking page of what I've been reading. After completing my 52 New Books in 2016 project I wanted another way to document what I've been reading. I decided to make a page of each months reads. I love this kind of documentation. Plus, I'll tuck them into my yearly album. For this page I used almost 100% Ali Edwards Design Story Kit READ.


what I've been reading lately | november edition


Again this month I am linking up with Modern Mrs. Darcy for What I've been Reading Lately...

This has definitely been a month of reading. It has been glorious. 12 new books. It has to be a lifetime record. I've never read so many books in one month.

I've enjoyed every minute. I tried to keep a good mix of fiction and non-fiction; read a non-fiction followed by a fiction, keeping this up almost through all 12 books. I crossed genres, as well, delving into science fiction, young adult, and true murder mysteries. I'm giddy with excitement at the books I read and just that fact that I've had the opportunity to read a bountiful.

Looking for Lovely by Annie F. Downs

Beautiful spiritual memoir that at its simplest Downs is looking for lovely - everywhere - and she intimately shares how her and her heart finds it, but in the deepest reaches of this book it is a journey of the heart, mind, and soul, one in which every believer who struggles with any self-worth issues needs to read. And somewhere in the midst of her journey, while not the same, I saw mine. Exquisite book.

A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine l'Eingle

Another lovely and beautiful read. While it doesn't surprise me that I've never read this book as a child or as a student, now that I have I realize how thankful I am for the opportunity to homeschool my twin boys from their 7th grade through high school because it grew in me a desire to read more classics, broaden my horizons, challenge the status quo of my reading repertoire. Thus, I'm blessed to have read books such as A Wrinkle in Time.

Outlander by Diana Gabaldon

What an amazing story! All 850-pages of this Scottish tale between two centuries of time was magical. The sheer breadth of the novel kept me from pulling it off my shelf any sooner but reading reading blogs whereby so many have read Outlander and shared rave reviews I decided I must jump in. It's a fitting story for fall, curling up with a cup of pumpkin spice coffee and escape. Escape to the highlands of Scotland, of clans and war and strong valiant warriors.

The Listening Life by Adam S. McHugh

Listening, choosing to be obedient. Wow! Centering not only your ears but also your mind, heart, and posture on someone or something other than yourself. Again, wow! In our present-day me-centered society the art of listening has definitely been put on the back burner. I have learned to listen better over the years, recognizing poor listening in others and even when I am flagging in - obedience. This book will turn you toward listening and toward obedience and be walking listeners.

The Memory Man by David Baldacci

Wow! Oh, my. What a great detective novel. The main character, Amos Decker, is the most unusual of detectives with an 'memorable' skill set. This first book involving Decker introduces the life impacting story behind the character and multiple murders that hit close to home. It's a deeply involved storyline that kept me guessing until the end. My only caveat was that it seemed to come to a screeching halt, but then that maybe in perfect tract with someone who finally remembers what he - remembers. I'm definitely going to be checking out more Baldacci novels.

Happier at Home by Gretchen Rubin

I've never read Rubin's The Happiness Project and after reading Happier at Home I don't plan on picking it up. I drudged through this book and I put it down feeling heavy and  - unhappy. It offered 'nothing new under the sun'. I believe it could serve many who have need of guidance in the little things of being happier at home but my spiritual walk has already led me down those roads. Simply, the book was not for me - at this point in my journey.

The Murder of Roger Ackroyd (A Hercule Poirot Mystery) by Agatha Christie

I did not see that coming! A brilliant, intricate murder mystery in the hands of a delightful, yet peculiar private investigator. But, here is the deal. You cannot skip a word of the book. You cannot skim through the book. You must read every word to retrieve the subtle nuisances and pertinent details. Very good and worth the time. 

Code of Conduct by Brad Thor

What I loved about Thor's book is the topic of peril the intelligence community around the world was facing. A cleverly-twined counterintelligence thriller. Some of the 'intimate' paragraphs are quite choppy and definitely not Thor's strong-suit and if it's all the same could leave it out as unnecessary to the storyline.

The Screwtape Letters by C.S. Lewis (Read by Joss Ackland)

My first complete audiobook reading. An ingenious and diabolical script of letters of instruction between a senior demon (uncle) and his protégé (nephew) of how to keep someone from growing as a Christian or keep someone from salvation and showcases the ways Christians are of the world and easily distracted from the things of Christ. It is quite humorous, but ultimately, it is truly NOT a funny subject but instead, one Christians should take seriously.

The Great Divorce by C.S. Lewis (Read by Robert Whitfield)

Another audiobook reading. Having never read The Great Divorce I was quite intrigued at the title. I read this perfect review on Amazon: "A man takes a bus ride through Hell, then Heaven and witnesses the choices made by others in their lives. The vivid stories within the story show that indecision is still a decision... it underscores the petty things in our lives that we allow to dominate us, things that will still plague us in Hell for eternity if we don't abandon them. Lewis' concepts (fantasized, of course) of the substance of spirit versus the substance of flesh and blood are incredibly thought provoking. There are mental images I got from reading this book that I will never forget. It is basic truth - you choose life, you choose death, or you choose not to choose. You will either give up the things that are holding you down (whether they be bitter resentments, anger, material gain, control, etc.) or you will cling to them until they become your master and you their slave. The book presents these concepts in such a non-threatening way that you've gotten a life lesson that you don't realize until you've finished this short, yet vibrant book" - Shelley Gammon, Amazon. 

The Ender's Game by Orson Scott Card

I could not put this book down. Fantastic science fiction at its best. But, it is way more than sci-fi. It causes you to ask questions. Superb piece of fiction.

I'm Proud of You by Tim Madigan

Bring tissues. Be prepared to take notes, feel good, and want to live better. While the entire book is not solely about Madigan's friendship with Fred Rogers, it does however reflect the impact - and the friendship - Rodgers had with Madigan. Beautiful friendship. I knew there was good reasons to love Mr. Rodgers.