What I Read in January

There’s nothing like waiting until you’re a week into a new month to share last month’s reads, right? Well, I hope you’ll excuse my tardiness, because I am excited to share what I read in January with you. So, let’s get to it!

I managed to read two nonfiction books and three fiction books in January. I generally try to keep a balance between fiction and nonfiction, though admittedly the scales tip lower on the fiction side most of the time nowadays. As a busy mom of two, escaping into another reality, if only briefly, is often a much needed reprieve! However, I thoroughly enjoyed both of my nonfiction reads this month. Here they are:

Enjoy: Finding the Freedom to Delight Daily in God’s Good Gifts by Trillia Newbell. This book is a refreshing dose of encouragement in an otherwise dark and depressing world right now. Newbell tackles tough topics like sex, relationships, food, money, work (among other things in life) and examines, through the lens of the gospel, how they are meant for our joy and, ultimately, should lead to a deepening worship of the One who created all things. I found Enjoy to be so refreshing because, sometimes, Christianity is known more for what you can’t do or you’re not supposed to do. Rather, Newbell susses out how, as Christians, we should be people who live in freedom, and that freedom should lead us to joy and delight in the good things God has given to us. I particularly found her chapter on intimacy to be a good word to me, personally, for the season of marriage I’m in, and I would recommend it to anyone for that chapter alone.
Note: I received this book from Blogging for Books for this review.

The Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls. I picked this book as research for writing my own memoir, and I am so glad I did. I had read a brief synopsis of her story, and I was drawn to it because I felt like we had parallel themes from our past. Walls is masterful at taking the events of her childhood and crafting a narrative that is gripping and heartwrenching. She eloquently weaves devastating childhood atrocities with humor and wit, and you find herself laughing at one vignette then crying at another within a few paragraphs of each other. The Glass Castle is a piece of verbal art.

Now, onto my fiction reads!

In the Woods by Tana French. As you may know, this book is the first in a series of mystery novels, each told from the vantage point of a different character and primarily centering on the Dublin Murder Squad. I wanted to give a glowing review of this book, because I couldn’t put it down. I consumed it in less than two days, and I loved it until the last 50 pages or so. I can’t say much more without revealing important details, but just know that the ending was extremely unsatisfying for me. I’ve read interviews with French since finishing it, and I get her perspective and motivation for making the authorial decisions that she did. That doesn’t mean I like them.

Everything I Never Told You by Celeste Ng. This story is an interesting portrayal of the people we are inside our own heads that we may not share with others, especially those people closest to us. Ng explores the separation between the internal reality of our thought life versus the external reality of our words and actions. I found it to be a fascinating commentary on human nature – that we are all a little deceptive in who we claim to be on the outside, and that ultimately our lies catch up with us.

Eligible by Curtis Sittenfield. The premise of this book captured my attention immediately: a modern retelling of Jane Austen’s classic Pride and Prejudice. As a devoted Austen fan, and a lover of all things P+P, I wanted this book to be a fair homage to the original but strong in it’s own right – think 10 Things I Hate About You, only as a novel instead of a movie, and Austen as opposed to Shakespeare. It was not, unfortunately. I really don’t have positive things to say about it, and I ultimately didn’t finish it because I just couldn’t get my mind to embrace the modernizations Sittenfield chose.

Have you read anything good lately? I’m always looking for recommendations! Share them in the comments!

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Unpopular Book Opinions

Unpopular Book Opinions

It’s been a while since I’ve done a book post, and I hope to have some reviews up soon, but for now I’m sharing my take on something I saw over on Amanda’s blog that I thought was fun and interesting. So, here are some of my unpopular book opinions, and please leave your thoughts/responses in the comments.

1. A popular book or series that you didn’t like.
I recently read Eligible, which is a modern retelling of Austen’s Pride & Prejudice. I picked it up because I’d heard rave reviews about it and it had a pretty high rating on Goodreads. However, I didn’t make it to the end because I really didn’t care for the author’s choices in modernizing it. Maybe I’m being a puritanical snob about it, but I don’t care. Liz and Darcy hooking up for hate sex? No thanks.

For a series, I’d say Divergent. I held on through the first two books, but I hated it by the third one.

2. A popular book or series that every one else seems to hate but you love.
I’m not sure if this book is hated, but Austen’s Mansfield Park seems to be one of her books that is the least liked, and I love that one. I think it’s because I identified with Fanny Price in many ways, which made the story appealing to me.

3. A love triangle where the main character ended up with the person you did NOT want them to end up with.
I know this isn’t a love triangle, but I thought Harry and Hermione should have been together. DON’T @ ME.

4. A popular book genre that you hardly reach for.
I can’t do YA books, generally. I loved HP and Hunger Games, but in general this genre is hard for me to get into. I started reading the first book in The Selection Series recently and stopped after a few chapters, because I found myself eye-rolling at the main character. This tends to be my response to most YA books – I just can’t connect with the characters.

5. A popular or beloved character that you do not like.
Katniss Everdeen. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoyed THG trilogy generally, but I wanted to smack Katniss on more than one occasion.

unpopular book opinions

6. A popular author that you can’t seem to get into.
Stephanie Meyer because see #7.

7. A popular book trope that you’re tired of seeing. 
I’m with Amanda on this one, vampires and werewolves can just go away. It’s way overdone at this point, and I feel like most writers are trying to ride on Stephanie Meyer’s coattails, who was really piggybacking on Anne Rice.

8. A popular series that you have no interest in reading.
Anything related to a shade of grey.

9. The saying goes “The book is always better than the movie”, but what movie or TV show adaptation do you prefer more than the book?
 Though I love Austen’s original work, I really love the both the BBC adaptation as well as the Kiera Knightley movie of Pride and Prejudice. And maybe I love them because they do such a good job of bringing that beloved book to life. But also because Colin Firth is so swoon-worthy.
And I think I can say confidently that I liked the Hunger Games movies better than the books – primarily because Katniss was less annoying in the films since you weren’t inside her head so much. And Gale is pretty nice on the eyes. Ahem.
Do you have any unpopular book opinions? Share them in the comments!
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Hope Unfolding – A Good Read + a Giveaway!

Hope Unfolding Giveaway

One of my goals for the month of May is to finish reading 5 books, and since that’s a rather ambitious goal, I decided to let the books I started reading in April count towards my goal. One of those books was Hope Unfolding: Grace-Filled Truth for the Momma’s Heart by Becky Thompson. I was drawn to this book initially because Becky is an Oklahoma girl and a blogger. Also, the book is about faith and motherhood, so of course I had to read it.

Becky has an easy-to-read writing style that is relatable and endearing. She unashamedly shares about the messiness of motherhood and she invites you in to share the mess with her. Mamas deep in the trenches of caring for little ones will find this book a refreshing and encouraging read, because Becky’s stories and insights are drawn primarily from this stage of motherhood.

This book will not only provide encouragement for weary mamas, but Becky weaves scripture and biblical insight into her writing to give Hope Unfolding spiritual value, as well. She incorporates a time of application into each chapter through which readers are able to connect that chapter’s themes to their personal experience. She also includes thematic prayers for each chapter, which makes this book a beneficial resource for a small group, especially for moms groups.

Here are some of my favorite quotes from Hope Unfolding:

God is with us in the most ordinary parts of our day. That thread of His presence that ties all of our moments together weaves through each one, leaving none untouched by His grace.Hope Unfolding Scripture reminds us that He is the beginning and the end. And friend, I think He must also be everything in between. (p.80)

God doesn’t see things as they are but as He calls them to be. And that means just like He reached into the mud and pulled out [Adam], Jesus reaches into our messes and pulls out miracles over and over again. (p.120)

Sometimes we pray for a miracle.We pray to be delivered from a season or a situation. And while God is able to do all things, often our rescue doesn’t look like getting off the boat. It looks like being pulled from the fear and finding peace despite the storm. Because even if the boat gives way, even if everything that keeps us feeling safe suddenly breaks beneath us, we don’t have to fear…it was never the boat that kept us from drowning. It was never the security of where we placed our feet that kept us from being swallowed by the deep waters. (p.161)

When we look to our kids to find security in our parenting, we will only be left feeling disappointed. Not because they are a disappointment, but because their need for a perfect Savior does not indicate our failure as mothers. (p.193)

 

Hope Unfolding reads like having a cup of coffee with a friend and sharing about the joys and challenges of mom life. So, I want to give you that experience by offering this giveaway: one copy of Hope Unfolding by Becky Thompson + $10 Starbucks gift card! To enter the giveaway, just follow the link below. This giveaway is only open to U.S. residents, and you must be 18 to enter. The giveaway starts May 9th and will end on May 13th.

Note: This giveaway is not sponsored by Becky Thompson or Starbucks. It is just my special treat for you. 

Hope Unfolding Giveaway

I received this book from Blogging for Books for this review.