Today I am sharing what I've been reading in February. Besides the following, Jeff and I are reading aloud the book Cherish by Gary Thomas. We finished Love Does by Bob Goff this month and are now reading through a more concentrated book on marriage. Reading aloud together is one of my reading goals for 2019. Because we both get up at 4 am every workday morning, we've added reading aloud together as part of our morning routine. We are also reading the Bible together. Jeff recommended we add in Bible reading when our church began a New Testament challenge #NT2x2019 (read the New Testament through 2 times in 2019).
Each year I document what I've read in various ways (You can find them here, here, and here) I am documenting what I am reading this year in a traveler's notebook (TN). I create the individual pages, digitally, and then adhere the printed pages directly into the TN. I am enjoying this process, and the TN size, immensely. I don't necessarily read a book and then create a page but I do have all of the pages created for all of the books I've read by the end of each month. I've included my created pages for each book I've read this month, below.
Unshakable Hope, Building our lives on the promises of God by Max Lucado. Coming off a huge disappointment from Lucado's book, Grace, where he put together excerpts from all his other books, I still had hope for something new, refreshing, and encouraging. I was not disappointed with Unshakable Hope! While it was still an easy-to-read book it was quite a bit more substantial than Max's signature style and while I love his style of writing - in quick, punchy quips that say a lot - I was, still, pleasantly surprised at this engaging, thought-provoking, heart-changing, and spiritually sound book. Each chapter is based on a promise of God that we can stand on, rest in, and find hope when our faith is shakened. I checked this one out from the library but I will definitely purchase my own copy. 8/120
Love Does by Bob Goff. Jeff and I have been enjoying this little jewel over the past month or so, chapter by chapter, essay by essay as I've read a chapter aloud in the early routines of the morning before I leave for work. The essays, as I'd call them, are not deep theological discussions but they all point to a simple truth about God and be inspired to do - because love does. Over the month of reading, if I've thanked Jeff for doing something for me: making my coffee, carrying my briefcase, folding the clothes, his simple response hasn't been you're welcome but - love does. It has made me smile, each, and every time. You could easily read this engaging, humorous, thought-provoking-to-action book in one day, but we have enjoyed it immensely, together, read slowly and purposefully. 9/120
Connections in Death by J.D. Robb. Can I just say how disappointed I am in the trajectory the In Death books have been going recently. There is considerably more unnecessary foul language (and coming out of the mouths of those who don't normally, it isn't part of their character to). In addition, as in Connections in Death the entire book is dialogue. If the dialogue was witty, sharp, intelligent and actually said something important, or had the beloved characters snarky humor, it might have worked but this dialogue was a case study in drool. Connections contained numerous character errors, blatant, easily identified errors any reader who has been reading the In Death series from the beginning could have recognized instantly and which is totally unacceptable. Again, Robb (or whomever is writing the In Death books now - because it does not seem like Robb is writing them) once again introduced a quality character only to drop her like a rock before she could get off the starting block. Even the story line was crazy messed up. Gang bangers supposedly difficult to catch and convict but Eve walks in and wraps them all up in days. Just irritatingly unbelievable. Sad where these books, which have been my favorite series for so many years, are heading. 10/120
Interpreter of Maladies by Jhumpa Lahiri. Winner of the Pulitzer Prize, this elegant collection of short stories, each written with both Indian and American connections, have such depth of character and are so full of engrossing story they read much like individual full length novels and ones that are un-put-down-able. While they all captured my attention, even the story that claimed the title, it was A Temporary Matter that pricked at my heart the most. Such a brilliant beloved collection deep into the heart of Indian life. 11/120
Cozy Minimalist Home, More Style Less Stuff by Myquillyn Smith. Smith's take: Cozy doesn't have to mean cluttered and minimalist doesn't have to mean cold. Perfect. I'm a cozy minimalist, too. I knew I was something like it even before I cracked the spine (which, by the way, is not well-made - the book spine, I mean). What I liked? Appropriately placed photos plus words for a 'design' book. Engaging reading. I wasn't bored. I never felt I had a horribly designed home, or a wrong decorating style, even though I might have a few spaces in my home that needs - some work. Smith is down-to-earth and you feel like a friend is chatting up your design choices with you. What I didn't like? While photos were appropriately placed MANY of the photos were fluff and gave me zero 'pin-worthy' ideas. Once I made it to the 'this is how I changed up that one room in the house' Smith was redecorating for the sake of the book, I was disappointed in the disjointed and staged photos, rather than the actual potential designs or design avenues one room might be able to take on. Speaking of photos, there just weren't enough oohs and aah's (actually, none) for my skirt to fly up. 12/120
Last Christmas in Paris by Hazel Gaynor and Heather Webb. Hesitant to read in February because of the title I dove in anyway especially when I opened to the first pages and realized it was written in my beloved epistolary style (two of my favorite books over the last couple years are written in letters: The Guernesy Literary and Potato Peel Society and Dear Mr. Knightley). This unforgettable romantic novel takes place when England is fighting the Great War. Through letters, Evie Elliott, who is the star of the story, and her pen pals, her brother Will, her brother’s best friend Tom, Evie’s best friend Alice, and a supporting cast of characters share their very different life-changing experiences during the war. Growing love and gut wrenching loss, women’s suffrage, freedom of speech, enduring friendship, post traumatic stress, and the horrors of war are themes deftly woven and upfront, in and through the letters passed to each other over the years of war, when they first thought as they were heading off to war (Will and Tom) they would have been home for Christmas, only to find many more years pass - and at least one who doesn’t come home. The authors did a superb job researching the war, character development, and the various threaded themes which added so much depth and richness to the story and seamlessly wrote as one. This novel will most definitely be going on my top books of 2019. 13/120
The Railway Children by E. Nesbit. Deemed one of C.S. Lewis’ favorite children’s books, The Railway Children will forever be a favorite of mine, as well. It always amazes me how I missed out on so many wonderful books as a child when reading was not a priority for me. An endearing and enduring story, a children’s classic, of a wealthy family suddenly, and without knowing the rest of the story, is thrust into poverty forcing the family into an unscheduled move to the countryside. While the mother deals privately with the horrendous blow fate has dealt her family, her children are forced to fend mostly for themselves while their mother, who always schooled them, played with them, and had unending time with them, grieved alone. Left alone, however, the children flourished. They made unusual friends wherever their ramblings took them. When they got into ‘scrapes’ they found their way out. When they were dealt unfairness they picked themselves up and remained kind, anyways. I am so thrilled with this book. It would make a wonderful read-a-loud to children! I am definitely sending a copy to my granddaughter. I think she’ll love it! 14/120
This Present Darkness by Frank Peretti. I read This Present Darkness as a fairly new believer in Jesus Christ, almost 30 years ago and when I had little understanding about the battle raging and the place of angels and demons in the spiritual realm, in the unseen world of spiritual warfare. It was then, and even now, eye-opening and revealing. Unforgettable, really. I was completely enthralled, captivated, and on the edge of my seat reading the book again even after years of spiritual growth and understanding into the battle that is not against flesh and blood. It was a vivid, and visual reflection and reminder of the book of Ephesians, Chapter 6, in the life of a Christian. 15/120
The Dinner List by Rebecca Serle. A book recommended by someone who reads a ton of books, who I admire, especially for her reading reviews, I placed The Dinner List on hold at the library and it was in a stack of four to pick up. I was intrigued enough because - Audrey Hepburn made the dinner list. Have you ever been asked, “If you could have dinner with anyone, who would you invite? We meet our protagonist as she is meeting her best friend at a restaurant for her 30th birthday dinner. To her surprise everyone who had made the dinner list that she had created many years previously while in college were now seated at her birthday table. What ensues is a back and forth replay of the dinner conversation between her best friend, her ex-fiance, her deceased father, a former college professor, and none other than Audrey Hepburn - and her life surrounding her ex-fiance. It is a book on navigating relationships, finding them, keeping them, a book on the various kinds of loss - and grief, and unfulfilled dreams. I was rooting for Audrey Hepburn to be the star of the show, and while the author gave her a supporting role, it was evident she did her research and truly could have given her a starring role. Besides being given some of the inside look into Hepburn, we are shown the character of Sabrina, our protagonist, fairly well. However, with just a glimpse at the remaining guests, who all are introduced with such potential for depth of character, it was disappointing we weren’t given more. I was surprised by the ending and while it was good, I’m not a fan of bittersweet. But we were offered possibility and hope. 16/120