What I’ve Been Reading Winter/Spring 2017

Short-ish reviews of what I’ve read so far in 2017!

Jane and the Twelve Days of Christmas by Stephanie Barron

A book I couldn’t resist from an MMD Kindle Deals email around the beginning of the year. I love mysteries but have to avoid them because of an overactive imagination and inability to forget creepy details when I’m home alone. If Jane Austen is involved I figured the murder couldn’t be too gruesome. I enjoyed this and would read others in the series.

What Women Fear: Walking in Faith that Transforms by Angie Smith

We are fans of Audrey Bunny in my household (I can’t read it without tearing up), but this is my first experience with Angie Smith as an author for adults. I listened to the Audible version read by Pam Turlow which was a little stiff (Angie’s sense of humor came off flat) but was still very engaged by this take on fear. Angie is real with her struggles with fear (that are definitely more than the average – she was hospitalized as a young girl because of anxiety). Tied with Unafraid: Trusting God in an Unsafe World by Susie Davis for most impactful books I’ve read about fear/anxiety.

A Portrait of Emily Price by Katherine Reay

I’m a huge fan of Katherine Reay. She expertly weaves classic literature into her own narratives, creating page turners that will effect you deeply. Dear Mr. Knightley is still my favorite of her four novels, but Emily Price delivered Reay’s signature subtle spiritual themes around the enjoyable framework of food, Italy, art, and romance.

Prayer: Finding the Heart’s True Home by Richard Foster

One of my 101 things in 1001 days was to read five books about prayer. Richard Foster’s was book number one! With similar accessibility to The Celebration of Discipline, Foster’s guide describes 21 types of prayer that help move us inward, upward and outward. I loved this book.

Coming Clean: A Story of Faith by Seth Haines

A fascinating peak in the mind and heart of a man who realizes he’s an alcoholic and journals through his journey to sobriety. Slim and well-worth the read.

Praying in Color: Drawing a New Path to God by Sybil MacBeth

The second of my five books about prayer was a complete departure from Foster, though I think he would approve of this practice. As someone whose perfectionism often stifles their prayer life, using a kinesthetic activity to focus your mind and heart on the subject of your prayers was intriguing and welcome.

The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald

Another of my 101 things in 1001 days is to read the favorite book of 10 readerly friends. (This has lead to the discovery of gems such as The Penderwicks and Code Name Verity.) The Great Gatsby is one of the favorites of a friend I’ve had since childhood. I hadn’t read it since high school and then heard this podcast where Megan Tietz (of the Sorta Awesome Podcast) raves on an on about The Great Gatsby. I may have understood it better on this second read, but I’m still not a huge fan.

Radical Spirit: 12 Ways to Live a Free and Authentic Life by Joan Chittister

Picked this up because the MOPS theme for next year is Free Indeed and my Input strength (yay StrengthsFinder) now compels me to consume everything within reach about freedom. Radical Spirit explores the 12 steps of humility laid out in the Rule of Benedict. Humility, to Joan, is the key to ultimate freedom in faith.

After reading the first few chapters, I realized I only needed to read the section addressing the spiritual implications of that step of humility to grasp all the concepts laid out in the entire chapter. And even those could have been said in a couple sentences. I did come aways with a few chewy nuggets but wonder if just reading the Rule of Benedict would have been more productive and insightful.

(I received this book from Blogging for Books for free but all opinions are my own!)

Winter Garden by Kristin Hannah

Previous to reading this, I knew nothing about Russia’s involvement in WWII. Winter Garden explores mother-daughter relationships and the hardships endured by inhabitants of Leningrad before and after Germans laid siege to the city. The narrative flits back and forth between past and present. Fantastic read.

The Coincidence of Coconut Cake by Amy E Reichert

I was (and still am) in the middle of four non-fiction books and needed a light fiction read to break things up a bit. This was definite fluff. I enjoyed learning more about the Milwaukee food scene as the food writer gets shown the city by a chef, but the rest was unremarkable. A good diversion, tho!

Twitterature – January 2014

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I get so excited when the middle of the month rolls around and I get write my Twitterature reviews! Two things to note in January’s edition: 1. I read Embracing Beauty at the very end of December, thus it eluded my December 2013 Twitterature but is not technically a book I read in January. I’m choosing to bend the rules :) 2. My husband, Tim, wrote the review for Know When To Hold ‘Em. On Emily Freeman’s recommendation, I gave it to him for Christmas. He read many chapters aloud, so I can attest that it is a wonderful book!

This post contains affiliate links. Read my full disclosure here.

(Also, Quiet by Susan Cain is STILL $2.99!! Such a steal on one of my favorite books from last year…)

Embracing Beauty: Practical Style for Every Shape and Season of Motherhood by Trina Holden

Fun fashion advice combined with an encouraging and realistic look at the way a woman’s body changes during pregnancy and motherhood. I needed this fresh perspective on beauty!

Know When To Hold ‘Em: The High Stakes Game of Fatherhood by John Blase

(from the hubs) This whimsical, authentic look at #fatherhood made me laugh, cry & desire to be a dad who honors God, family & the time we spend together.

Here Burns My Candle by Liz Curtis Higgs

Another installment of Christian fiction set in Scotland. Slow to develop plot and characters. Not the best showing of her writing, which I normally really enjoy. #Iwillreadthesequelanyways

When We Were on Fire by Addie Zierman

A beautifully crafted and poignant memoir about faith lost and faith found. Went from 4 stars to 5 when I read the “conversation with the author” in the back of the book. #mustread

I decided to break another Twitterature rule because I just have more to say about When We Were on Fire but I’m not sure it’s enough for a whole post. I’ve only had a day to fully process the book, but these were my initial thoughts:

The book was truly fantastic and I would recommend it to virtually anyone.  Addie is four years older than I am, but we still grew up in a similar church culture. I resonated with many of the experiences she relayed in the first part of her story – the books, the clothes, the music, and the attitudes. That being said, the remainder of her story stirred up so many complicated emotions. Addie is a talented wordsmith and I felt her anger, her bitterness, her depression as she recounted the turmoil her soul was experiencing.

However, our similar experiences had not produced those kinds of feelings in my life and I began to feel a bit guilty that, for the most part, I’m thankful for having grown-up in the type of environment that I did. (I certainly didn’t come out unscathed, but my faith has been stretched and molded in less evidently scarring ways, it seems.) This is why I initially gave the book only 4 stars. It was a wonderful read that gives lots of valuable insight to my generation’s faith, gives one pause to consider how they represent their faith and the God they serve, but I was left wondering if she would dismiss the beauty found in each of our unique stories. THEN, I read the conversation with Addie in the back of the book and was impressed by her heart and humility. She expressed a sensitivity and tenderness towards the faith journey’s of others that wasn’t fully apparent to me in the book. Five stars it is!!

Linking up with Anne!