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2017 Reading List Reviewed

November 30, 2017
2017 Fall Reading List Reviewed

Well, Thanksgiving has passed, so I think we can consider Fall to be over. I’m sure it’s not technically over, but everyone is going crazy about Christmas, so it feels like Winter. I made quick work of my Fall Reading List and then some! I’ll talk about the “and then some” later, but I wanted to give a recap of the books of my Fall Reading List and let you know how I liked them!

2017 Fall Reading List

Dreamland Burning by Jennifer Latham

10/10, Do recommend. Dreamland Burning switches perspectives between past and present, highlighting racial tensions in Tulsa, Oklahoma. I thought that Dreamland Burning was thoughtfully done. It was well written and did not shy away from complex and difficult situations. This book would be really interesting to see taught in a classroom setting. That being said, it will definitely piss off whatever rascist old relative you have, so read and recommend thoughtfully.

2017 Fall Reading List

Uninvited by Lysa TerKeurst

I expected this book to be a good ol’ Christian Woman Encouragement Book, and I was right. Uninvited deals with those who feel a little distant from others and handles those feeling of not fitting in. It was nice and obviously close to the author’s heart. You can see her passion for reaching the left out. It’s sweet and encouraging but not a bit of it stuck with me. It’s a nice read where you’re in need of encouragement, but it probably won’t change your life.

2017 Fall Reading List

The Nest by Cynthia D’Aprix Sweeney

This book did not do much for me. The Nest revolves around four (wretched) siblings and their separate hopes and dreams for their nest egg inheritance. When one sibling wrecks their dreams by using up the money, they all have to deal with the consequences. I found this book to be tiring. Everyone in it is irritated, all the time. They’re all fairly selfish and perhaps that is the point. It just came across to me as a book that is trying hard to be an Adult Book for Grown Ups because nobody is happy and everyone drinks. Also, I found that there were a lot of characters to follow, especially since I didn’t care what happened to any of them.

2017 Fall Reading List

Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children By Ransom Riggs

I enjoyed the concept of this book as well as the addition of vintage (creepy) pictures. Riggs does a fairly convincing job of integrating this fantasy into the normal world. The characters are interesting and complex for children. The only issue that I have with this book is the cliffhanger ending. It’s really more of a chapter ending than a book ending. I know the author does this on purpose, but it’s still annoying to me and seems cheap. I’m reading the second book in the series, so I’ll let you know how it goes.

2017 Fall Reading List

The Murder at the Vicarage by Agatha Christie

Agatha Christie is always delightful. I have no complaint here. Her stories are like good rainy day reading. They are comforting, despite the facts that at least one person is usually dead. They don’t require a ton of emotional investment and they don’t stress me out. I usually give up on trying to guess the murderer, because I’m always wrong. I think that I prefer Christie’s Poirot mysteries to Miss Marple, but that didn’t stop me from enjoying this book one bit.

2017 Fall Reading List

North and South by Elizabeth Cleghorn Gaskell

Think Pride and Prejudice, but with a lot more class consciousness. Margaret Hale must adjust her county sensibilities to a new life in a manufacturing town. Margaret is much more of a proper lady than Elizabeth Bennet. She is less snarky, a little more noble and long-suffering, but every bit as tenacious. I enjoyed North and South, though it got a little slow in a few sections. A lot of depressing things happen to Miss Hale, which can be a bit of a downer, but I like that Gaskell didn’t shy away from the darker parts of manufacturing towns. 

2017 Fall Reading List

Serafina and the Black Cloak by Robert Beaty

This is a kids/young adult book that takes place at the Biltmore Estate. Since I’ve visited the Biltmore, I found that this was extremely interesting. Even if you haven’t seen the actual setting, this book was fun and engaging. It was not overly simplistic for a kid’s book. The suspense felt read and I enjoyed the main character, Serafina. I would recommend this to a younger child or any adult who is young at heart.

2017 Fall Reading List

Emma by Jane Austin

I am officially a good Austinite again, as I have read Emma. And man is she annoying! I think that’s the point, that Emma is a bit of a know-it-all, but she’s definitely a harder character to root for than Pride and Prejudice’s Elizabeth Bennet. But it’s still Jane Austin, and even if Emma is kind of annoying, so still want her to end up happy. Emma is humorous without compromising real emotion, and I still enjoyed the read.

2017 Fall Reading List

All is Grace by Brennan Manning

Brennan Manning is a broken man who still proudly proclaims his message that God loves you just as you are, not as you should be. I found his memoir to be honest and endearing. It is clear that Mr. Manning does not have any illusions about who he is as a person. He is brutally honest throughout the memoir about his alcoholism, his denial of it, and the effect that it had on his loved ones. He does not hide his selfishness as his tells his life story, and I appreciate the complexity of his journey. Brennan Manning would be the first to tell you that he is a walking contradiction, but he would also be the first to tell you that peace from that can be found with God.

2017 Fall Reading List

You are Free by Rebekah Lyons

I’ll admit, I tried to read this on the plane on the way home from San Francisco, but I couldn’t do it. It was too much. It found it to be too trite, too sugar coated. Maybe at another time it will be a good fit, but I didn’t jive with me.

Along with these books, I have read scores of others. I may include my favorites in a separate post, because I’m not exaggerating when I say that there have been at least three separate series and a few other unrelated books. I just recently got a library card since moving to my city over a year ago, so let me know if you have recommendations! I’m currently into young adult fiction, because I’m tired of adult books needing to seem so grown up and cynical about everything. What are your favorites?

Books Lifestyle Seasonal

2017 Fall Reading List

September 21, 2017

Tomorrow is the first day of Fall! Sure, it’s still 90 degrees and I killed a mosquito in the bathroom today, but it’s the thought that counts! Recently, I shared about finishing my Summer Reading List. Now that I’m finished with it, I’ve started looking towards fall. I’ve compiled a Fall Reading List to share with you. Fall is my favorite season, so I’ve decided to celebrate with lots of fun fiction. I’m sure I’ll add a few other books, but here is what I have so far.

2017 Fall Reading List

Dreamland Burning by Jennifer Latham

While I am aware that the 1921 Tulsa race riots were some of the worst riots in US history, I know very little about them beyond that. Dreamland Burning is a novel that discusses the Tulsa riots and their context today. When a skeleton is discovered in Rowan Chase’s back house, she is plunged into the racially fraught history of her hometown, and struggles to navigate her own place in those same racial tensions. This book was highly recommended by Anne Bogel of A Modern Mrs. Darcy, and so I bought it when the kindle version went on sale.

2017 Fall Reading List

Uninvited by Lysa TerKeurst

I heard a lot of buzz about this book earlier in the summer. The full title is Uninvited: Living Loved When You Feel Less Than, Left Out, and Lonely. Since all I want for Christmas is some decent self-esteem, this sounded like it could be a good book for me. I’m not expecting it to solve all my problems, but it will probably fall into the Christian Lady Encouragement genre on my bookshelves. Who knows, maybe it will be a great small group read someday, when I have friends…

2017 Fall Reading List

The Nest by Cynthia D’Aprix Sweeney

This book was also recommended by Anne Bogel of A Modern Mrs. Darcy. I’ve seen a lot of favorable reviews about this book online, so I’m excited to see what the fuss is about. I’m going into this one blind, though, because I have no idea what it’s about or when or where it’s set. The cover art is not particularly telling either. It could be anything! I just know that I’ve heard a lot of good things about The Nest and so I am intrigued.

2017 Fall Reading List

Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children By Ransom Riggs

My background knowledge for this book is that Ransom Riggs is a friend of John Green, and I like John Green. Also, it has interesting cover art.  I would like it to be acknowledged that I used the original cover in this post and not the movie cover, because original is better. Thank you. Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children was recently made into a movie, but I haven’t seen the movie yet. It looks a little bit like vintage X-Men, so we shall see. I’ve been interested in this book for years, so I’m finally going to work on reading it.

2017 Fall Reading List

The Murder at the Vicarage by Agatha Christie

You know I’ve got to have a good murder mystery in here somewhere! I grabbed Murder at the Vicarage when it was a Kindle deal (are you noticing a trend here?).  It features Miss Marple, rather than the mustachioed Hercule Poirot, but I have no doubt that it will be equally delightful. For books about murder, the moods of Agatha Christie’s books are always so charming. This is one of the guilty pleasure books of my reading list and I’m excited to dig into it.

2017 Fall Reading List

North and South by Elizabeth Cleghorn Gaskell

Am I solely reading this book because of the TV series featuring Richard Armitage? Perhaps. I’ve seen enough snippets and gifs of the series to be seriously interested in it. But, of course, I must read the source material first. North and South follows the story of Margaret Hale, a middle class lady from the South of England, who is forced to move to an industrial town in the North of England. During this transition, she learns more about the working class, industrial life, and the brooding Mr. Thorton. This book is pretty much guaranteed to be full of sexual tension of the restrained period drama type, so I expect to enjoy it thoroughly.

2017 Fall Reading List

Serafina and the Black Cloak by Robert Beaty

I bought this book a long time ago when is was reviewed on Epbot. Serafina and the Black Cloak is a children’s/young adult book suitable for the 10 to 14 year old crowd (or older, like me!). It takes place at the Biltmore Estate, which I actually visited a few years ago. I thought it was an incredible place, and think that everyone should visit if they can. I can’t wait to see how it works as a fictional setting. Serafina lives in the basement of the Biltmore as their Cheif Rat Catcher, but when a man in a mysterious black cloak starts stealing children away from the estate, Serafina finds that she has much more than rats to catch. 

2017 Fall Reading List

Emma by Jane Austin

I am here to confess that I am a bad Austenite. I have never read Emma before! I’m sorry. I attempted to read Emma once in high school, but for some reason I never got very far. My interest was re-ignited by the Pemberly Digital youtube series: Emma Approved. I loved the Lizzie Bennet Diaries, so I want to watch Emma Approved, but I knew I couldn’t do it without reading Emma first. It’s time. Also, the classic is free to read on kindle (yay, public domain!) so I really have no excuse.

2017 Fall Reading List

All is Grace by Brennan Manning

I had never heard of Brennan Manning before, but his book was a Kindle Monthly Deal a while back. At first, I passed it by, but then he was quoted in another book I read ( I think it was At Home in the World) so I went back for another look. I suspect it is going to be the kind of book that I read slowly. At least, it’s  the kind of book that I probably should read slowly.

2017 Fall Reading List

You are Free by Rebekah Lyons

I actually saw a bunch of girls reading and discussing this book at Panera. They girl were my age and having a deep discussion. It made me curious. I can definitely dig the cover art and style. Again, I suspect this is another Christian Lady Encouragement book, but I figure I need a few of those every now and then, right?

Do you have any exciting reading plans coming up? I was at Knit Night earlier this week and we spent practically the whole time talking about books. I have a ton of new recommendations up my sleeve! What else should I add to my list?

Books Lifestyle

2017 Summer Reading List Reviewed

September 7, 2017
2017 Summer Reading Review

Now that it’s September, Summer is officially over in my book. If someone could please inform the state of Texas, that would be great, because I’m ready to go into basic-white-girl-who-love-fall mode. I refused to be ashamed of it either!

I’m wrapping up all of my summer projects and lists now that summer is ending and I am desperately looking forward to fall. However, I wanted to give you a follow up on my summer reading list to let you know how I, and the books, did. I am pleased to announce that I accomplished my summer reading list and then some! I’m not just going to leave you with that, though. I’ve got to tell you how I liked them all. You ready? Hold onto your kindle, here we go!

The Favorites:

The Blue Castle by L.M. Montgomery (Finished 05/23/2017)

The Blue Castle was, hands down, my favorite book from my summer reading list! Call me a romantic. I loved it. The Blue Castle tells the story of a young woman named Valancy who receives a startling diagnosis. Even though the diagnosis a death sentence, it frees her to finally live her life on her terms. I think deep down we all love it when the shy character bursts out in confidence (Hello, Neville Longbottom!), and Valancy giving zero shits is delightful. Think Elizabeth Bennet levels of attitude. And of course, there’s a little bit of romance for our heroine as well. This book is easily accessible for a high school level reader, and can be found online for free! I do wish I had it in print though, because I like it that much.

Murder on the Orient Express – Agatha Christie (Finished 06/14/2017)

I might be a sucker for Agatha Christie, but I loved this book! It goes without saying that this is a murder mystery book. After an unsavory character is found dead on the snowed in Orient Express, Hercule Poirot must determine the killer before snow thaws and the killer escapes. I’ve read a lot of Sherlock Holmes and Agatha Christie, so I like to see if I can figure things out on my own, but this book totally got me! I never would have guessed the ending, and it was delightful. This book is being made into a movie this fall so you should totally read it. It’s a totally satisfying, easy little read.

At Home in the World by Tsh Oxenreider (Finished 08/15/2017)

I loved this book. It was definitely the most summer reading-esque book on my summer reading list. In At Home in the World, Tsh Oxenreider chronicles the 9 month trip that she and her family took around the world. In it, she finds a delicate balance between the love of constant travel and the need to be a homebody. Besides making me want to travel to all the places (especially New Zealand) and eat all the things, At Home in the World wisely makes the point that sometimes restlessness says more about who we are than where we are. I thought this was a great summer read, but if you don’t have any travel plans before you read it, you’ll wish you did by the time that you are done!

Food for Thought:

Hillbilly Elegy: A Memoir of a Family and Culture in Crisis by J.D. Vance (Finished 08/06/2017)

Hillbilly Elegy sticks out as one of the more meaningful reads on my summer reading list. J.D. Vance is both nostalgic and brutally honest about his upbringing in America’s rust belt. He does not flinch away from deeply troubling scenes of poverty and abuse, but he also doesn’t assign them more meaning than they deserve. In telling the story of a poor, white, American boy who pulled himself out of poverty, Hillbilly Elegy could have come out as self righteous and pious; but J.D. Vance is a humble and thoughtful narrator. He does not shy away from his message, but never gets preachy about it either. Hillbilly Elegy is a complex, thoughtful memoir and I highly recommend it.

 The More of Less by Joshua Becker (Finished 08/11/2017)

I love a good minimalist book. It makes me want to clean out my closet. And then actually do something with the clothes other than bad them up and leave them on the floor of my closet…

Joshua Becker is my go to minimalist writer. He doesn’t over romanticize it and promise that you’ll never struggle. Instead, he encourages you to think about what your ideal life looks like, and asks you to eliminate the barriers to that. I enjoyed his biblical perspective, which was approachable to Christians and non-Christians alike. He wasn’t preachy, but used biblical stories more like parables or fables. Did this book totally change my life? No. I find it hard to reconcile my minimalism with my this-could-be-used-in-a-craft-3-years-from-now. But for someone wanting to know more about the mentality of minimalism, this is one of the better books I’ve read.

Hannah Coulter by Wendell Berry (Finished 07/21/2017)

Both Tsh Oxenreider and Sarah Bessey have recommended Hannah Coulter to their readers so I had high expectations for this book.  Honestly, though, I found this one to be a bit slow. Hannah Coulter is comes from the perspective of an old farmer’s wife looking back on her life and her decisions in the fictional town of Port William. It’s got the same dreamy, personal narrative style of a Laura Ingalls book, but with a touch more regret. The writing is beautiful, bittersweet, and full of wisdom. However, it’s best read a little bit at a time and digested. 

Chasing Slow: Courage to Journey Off the Beaten Path by Erin Loechner (Finished 06/23/2017)

In her book, Chasing Slow, Erin Loechner of Design for Mankind is totally honest about her frequent inability to chase slow. Chasing Slow allows Erin to feel back the instagram perfect facade on her life and talk about the pressures we all face to look like our idea of success. Chasing Slow is the kind of book that tells women to have grace with women, including themselves. I happen to think that is an important genre, and I like books like this when I feel like I’m in a slump. I did think that this book lost some of it’s presentation on the Kindle, so I recommend getting the physical copy if you read this book.

The Fluff:

The Woman on the Orient Express by  Lindsay Jayne Ashford (Finished 05/26/2017)

The Woman on the Orient Express is a book about Agatha Christie that is not an Agatha Christie book. Agatha is grappling with the end of her marriage and fighting off a breakdown when she decides to book a ride on the Orient Express under a different name. On her way, she encounters some complex women with secrets of their own. The Woman on the Orient Express is part drama, part historical fiction and part travel book. I found it difficult to track with the multiple characters at times and definitely skimmed some parts. The ending was dramatic, but I found that some of the character’s story lines were a little contrived. It’s a nice mindless summer read, but I wouldn’t pay more than $5 for it.

 

For the Love: Fighting for Grace in a World of Impossible Standards by Jen Hatmaker (Finished 06/07/2017)

I’ve mentioned before how much I love Jen Hatmaker. This is still true. However, I found For the Love to be a bit scattered and unfocused.  I didn’t see a lot tying the chapters together, and that make them feel too much like blog posts. It’s not that I disagreed with anything that she was saying, but I can’t really tell you anything about the substance of the book either, except that Jen’s got opinions about the leggings-as-pants situation. Jen is such a smart and heartfelt woman that I believe that she can deliver a more polished, meaningful (that’s “impactful” in church speak) message than this. I’m hoping that’s what has happened with her most recent book, Of Mess and Moxie.

In Praise of Women’s Bodies by Gloria Steinem (Finished 06/13/2017)

This is more of an essay than a book. I wish that I had read it in college, so I could have discussed it with others. I do think that it’s important to see women’s bodies as something other than attractive, but capable, strong and powerful.  Gloria Steinem points out that women’s bodies can be important in different ways for different women. It’s easy for feminists to put as many limitations on women as others so, and so I was glad to see Gloria Steinem calling out and praising diversity among women.

The Extras:

Simply Tuesday by Emily P. Freeman (Finished 08/30/2017)

 This would make a great book club/small group/bible study book, but it was a little slow on its own.

Frederica by Georgette Heyer (Finished 06/12/2017)

Enjoyable. Good for Jane Austen lovers. Predictable is a good, comforting way. Read it when it’s raining, with tea.

The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry by Gabrielle Zevin (finished 08/16/2017)

Meh. Reliant on too many tropes. I’d skip this one.

Call the Midwife by Jennifer Worth (Finished 08/17/2017)

Do not, I repeat, do not read this book while your sister-in-law is in the hospital with post-partum pre-eclampsia. You will give yourself a panic attack. Other than that, it’s great. 

Percy Jackson and the Lightning Thief by Rick Riordan

Young adult book about the child of a Greek god. Funny and enjoyable, I want to read the rest of the series now. A little biased towards western civilization, but I can suspend belief for a young adult novel.

That’s the end of my summer reading list! I’m a little impressed at how much I was able to finish! Now you know I’m already lining up some books for Fall. I’m taking recommendations! What did you read this summer that blew your mind?