So many good reads this month. It's been such a pleasurable time. And, yet - difficult because - life. You know? I began the month reading The End of Me and even read it a second time through aloud to my husband. Three - count 'em - three books on reading and books: The Read-Aloud Family, I'd Rather Be Reading, and Book Girl. And, I loved every minute of them. Invigorating for my reading life. Just thrilled by all three - what a combination! Several J.D. Robb's from her In Death series; I am re-reading this series (I have them all except the latest in the series) this year. In fact, I am anxiously awaiting my SIGNED copy of Leverage in Death that my daughter - ahem - bought for me in Boonsboro, MD where Nora Roberts (a.k.a. J.D. Robb) lives. Hope in the Dark was a recommendation from an acquaintance who was hoping to start a book club with this book for those needing - well - hope in the dark and because I was planning on joining if my schedule aligned I read the book - perfect timing for my current life struggles. I finished off the month with another non-fiction Christian book - my favorite genre - Letters to the Church by Francis Chan. Umm, can I say - amazing! Thought-provoking! The Church needs to read this book.
And, of course, I documented my good reads for my All About Me album with another digital 2-page, 6 x 8, using digital products: journal cards, embellishments, and templates from Ali Edwards and Paislee Press.
The End of Me by Kyle Idleman. A trusted friend posted a quote from the book on Facebook. Then I saw that the author is a pastor at the church of one of my all-time favorite pastors. So - I bought the book. Reading it in the middle of a life crisis, sharing it with my husband by reading it word for word, aloud, a second time through, The End of Me was in a word - life-changing. To quote Anne Bogel from her lovely little book, I'd Rather Be Reading, "Sometimes I feel compelled to read a book - or someone feels compelled to recommend it - for reasons I can't discern, and only later do I find it's essential to me, right then." Yep. The End of Me. Essential to me. Right now. My non-fiction Christian stack of highly regarded books that have shaped me - or more truthfully - re-shaped me to become more Christ-like is growing. It didn't hurt that Idleman has a snarky humor that gives me a chuckle even amidst the tears as I am confronted with the next paradox that is the Jesus way to finding the end of me. Blessed are those who mourn. For all those who exalt themselves will be humbled and those who humble themselves will be exalted. Greatness is humility. The first shall be last and the last first. When I am weak then I am strong. Conversational, engaging, hard-hitting, applicable, right now, gut-wrenching, tear-jerker - and that's all in the first two chapters - and the remaining chapters just as powerful. 66/100.
I'd Rather Be Reading, The Delights and Dilemmas of the Reading Life by Anne Bogel. A favorite quote from the book: "Part of the fun of reading is planning the reading." A resounding yes! Reading confession: I've never read Where the Red Fern Grows. Even though I am in a difficult season of life and crying often I still added it to my Amazon cart. And, The Divine Conspiracy has been moved to my metaphorical nightstand (metaphorical, because another one of my reading confessions is: I don't grab a book from my nightstand to read because I don't have books on my nightstand except for - show - and, I don't read in bed, another confession, - because I believe bed is for two things and two things only and one of those two things is not reading in bed - and neither is the other thing). I'd Rather Be Reading - whimsical. Charming. Delightful. Eagerly anticipated - because - it's Anne and her writing is always eloquent and concise. Supremely satisfied (except for the chapter Hooked on a Story - expressly disappointed that it just stopped). Otherwise, thanks Anne for the lovely read. P.S. The cover of the book, a watercolor of Anne's own home library, is to die for. 67/100.
The Read-Aloud Family by Sarah Mackenzie. I have no young children or even teens left at home. Wandering the short halls of my home are two 21-year old twin young men who work and go to school. But, once upon a time, from their 7th grade year through 12th grade, I homeschooled those boys and we read everything they had to read, aloud. That very first year of homeschooling, when I had no idea what I was doing, when I purchased the Sonlight curriculum for their history and literature, I began reading to John and Jarrod aloud. It wasn't the first time I'd read aloud to them, nor to my two older girls for that matter as I recall reading The Chronicles of Narnia at the dinner table and to the boys every night for many years growing up. So, I'm not sure why I picked up this title. Maybe, for affirmation. Maybe, because I have grandchildren and opportunities are still on the horizon. Maybe, because I want to reclaim those magical moments with my twins when we voraciously read The Lord of the Rings, The Hunger Games trilogy, the Divergent series, American classics, those historical fiction offerings that the Sonlight company brilliantly includes in their curriculum - and for so many more reasons. The why and how to reading aloud is in the first eleven chapters of The Read-Aloud Family and a selective list of read-a-louds by age group are in the last four chapters; helpful for those parents who have no idea where to even begin reading aloud. It was those why and how chapters I found intriguing. They sparked the possibility...my sons take forever doing dishes in the evening...I wonder if I read aloud to them they would work with a purpose and we can prolong, or maybe, re-capture a hint of those days when our favorite part of homeschooling was reading aloud. 68/100
Indulgence in Death by J.D. Robb. Eve fascinates me. She's a hardened New York city police lieutenant who has seen a lot of action, yet still quite naive in many respects, though far from innocent, who is navigating the unknown world of marriage and friendships and partnership. It is an intriguing story woven within each and every In Death book and the primary reason I return again and again. I love watching the characters take on life, grow in spite of their flaws; it is resiliency lived out (even though they come from a life no kid should ever have to face). In the beginning chapters Eve offers a gift to Roarke that just slays him. And, me too. I love those tender moments where Eve is so unsure of herself at the personal level, but, as a cop she commanding and courageous. In Indulgence, there's a cheeky little story in Ireland, Roarke's home - and a murder, too, even before Eve is thrust into another, back in NYC. The two murders are decidedly - different. And, the snarky humor that is splashed throughout the book(s) because even though it's murder - there is still life. Indulgence is disgusting in many ways but Robb found ways to weave in beautiful. 69/100.
Book Girl by Sarah Clarkson. Simply. A. Joy. I enjoyed every minute I spent delving into the world of reading and books and being a book girl. While it is true this book won't be for everyone. If you love books, seriously love to read, or if you wish you loved to read or envy those who do read (or what others read and you wonder how you can too) then this book is for you. And, it is so good. I enjoyed it immensely. Truly. It's a treasure trove into the life of a reader - a book girl. I love to read. This book inspires me to read even more. I love how Sarah inspires the practical applications of how to read more but also how a girl can make even more of her reading life - be a learning experience, a journey. What to read, how to read, why to read...such wonderful, thought-provoking, yet proactive, exhortations...I'm starting now, even, to implement some of her suggestions. Sarah is never preachy or condescending - if you're not already a book girl but simply discusses how books shaped her life, fueled her imaginations, helped form her morality and character. Books gave her a clear understanding of what brave is, what truth is, what kindness is. She offers lists of books to read but why she read them, and why they made those lists (so intriguing). I adore this book and will refer back to it offer for a swift kick to my reading life. 70/100
Treachery in Death by J. D. Robb. Definitely one of my favorite In Death books in the series. It is hardcore girl against girl, good against evil that invades the home of what is supposed to be good. Eve Dallas rocks the role of champion but it is her trusty sidekick, Peabody, who gets top bidding in this book for bringing to light corruption and sticking to her guns. She holds fast the thin blue line without wavering even as Dallas and Peabody confront corruption in the ranks head on. No one likes to hear of bad cops and we'd like to think cops are above reproach but cops are human and unfortunately many humans are just. plain. bad. This is how good cops confront bad cops and should be required reading for every cop who thinks they should 'cover' for a bad cop. No political statement here; just obvious to me that the bad should receive due justice. 71/100
Hope in the Dark: Believing God is Good When Life Is Not by Craig Groeschel. Some of my book reading, in particular this one, I picked up because I am living in crisis mode and I am voraciously consuming mind-changing works so I don't become entrapped in despair. I heard about this book on Facebook. Actually hoping to join a book club studying the precepts of the book but since that hasn't materialized I decided I needed to read it on my own with the hopes of reading it again with a book club in the future. In a word: timely. Some other attributes: applicable; easy read, yet meaty; well-written and thought provoking, but more importantly mind changing. And, personally, for me, life-affirming. If you are living in a dark place right now and struggle with the question of whether God is good in the bad this is a must read. 72/100.
The End of Me by Kyle Idleman. You might be saying to yourself, "She already posted this one." You would be right. However, I decided to post it twice because I read the book twice. The second time through I read it aloud to my husband. It is one way we are moving forward. Changing our ways. And, our minds. Even better the second time through read aloud to my husband, when we need words like these the most, when we need time like this together. Be forewarned. When you read this aloud or to yourself - bring tissues. Because this is Christian non-fiction there will be application involved if there is to be any life-change involved. 73/100.
Let's all be Brave by Annie F. Downs. A few years ago I read Downs' first book Looking For Lovely, a truly lovely book that is one of my favorite books of all time. And it is still in that stack of 'keepers'. I wonder, now, if Looking For Lovely wasn't one of those perfect little books for such a time as I read it. I had high hopes for Let's all Be Brave. I have deduced that Brave isn't one of those books for such a time as this. I wasn't so much disappointed as perplexed. I took a few notes, underlined a few highlights, had a few laughs (the half-marathon 'training' was particularly laugh out loud worthy) but overall I felt a huge disconnect with the book; between the chapters, and the intent of the book. The book was neither inspiring nor particularly soulful and I felt as if I was plodding my way through, in an Eeyore-like fashion. 74/100
New York to Dallas by J.D. Robb. A revealing story with much-needed answers plaguing the series, fraught with emotion, and beyond gut-wrenching, New York to Dallas was amazingly satisfying even if a hard-charged emotionally, and brutal [content] read! When I first read NYtD I wondered at the decision to depart from the typical In Death title, but having read it I can see the subtle shift in the growth of the characters; sort of before New York to Dallas and after New York to Dallas. 75/100
Letters to the Church by Francis Chan. This is an in-depth look at what the Acts 2 Church is supposed to look like, how the Church is supposed to BE. Always remember the power of 'go, make disciples of all nations' is in the GOSPEL of Jesus Christ. Amazing how Chan can write sternly [to the Church] yet still come across as gracious when speaking of how we as the Church are getting it wrong. Cast aside what you believe the Church is and, instead, through Chan's Letters to the Church, be shown through Scripture, what the Church is and what the Church should look like. Simply, Chan is calling the Church, individually and collectively, to return to the Word, to prayer, to fellowship, and to the breaking of bread together. 76/100