One of my goals for 2021: become an avid reader!
Far too often I use the excuse, “I don’t have time” or “There are so many other things I could be doing.” But this year I’m prioritizing my thirst for reading and learning. I’m choosing to make reading a part of my routine. Now that my schedule is a bit more flexible at work, I feel like I have the freedom to read more. Looking forward to dabbling in a variety of different genres this year to broaden my horizons.
Do you ever feel caught in the noise of this world? Consumed by the hurry and fast-paced nature of having to be more, do more, buy more, perform more, and achieve more? If you answered yes, this book is perfect for you.
This past year has prompted me, like many, to reflect more on how I’m living my life. I’ve been forced to reassess whether my routines are in line with a gospel-centered life. This book is a fabulously convicting read for Christians trying to figure out how to do life amidst a world fueled by hurry.
How can I prioritize Sabbath?
What does it look like to live within my means?
How can I be a better steward of my things?
How can I live life without being materialistic or consumeristic?
John Mark Comer tackles these and many more topics about our current culture’s pitfalls and how to be people of faith in American culture.
This books is an incredible read especially at the beginning of the new year when momentum for change is at an all time high. James Clear focuses on FOUR laws of creating good habits and breaking bad ones based on scientific evidence and a slew of anecdotal references.
The FOUR laws include
1. Make it OBVIOUS
2. Make it ATTRACTIVE
3. Make it EASY and
4. Make it SATISFYING.
By following these four laws he simplifies the process of making/creating/continuing good habits, as well as saying goodbye to bad habits. One of the biggest takeaways I learned was that our systems for change determine our success in achieving our goals. A bad or broken system won’t help you reach your goal, so be intentional in creating systems that lead to success. His writing style is lighthearted, informative, and engaging. I wasn’t able to put this book down, and it made me excited for the possibility of routine change in my own life. Highly recommend this for anyone seeking to achieve new years goals/resolutions or simply needing a swift kick in the pants to make a change.
A striking portrayal of the complexity of race, family structures, and coming of age. I thoroughly enjoyed this read espeically in light of #BlackHistoryMonth. Brit Bennett did a phenomenal job bringing each multi-faceted, tortured character to life.
This book centers around a multi-generational family saga set between the 1940s-1990s following the lives of two black identical twins, Desiree and Stella Vignes. Born and raised in Mallard, LA, a small town that doesn’t even exist on a map. But wanting more for themselves, the twins run away to New Orleans to find a better life without even telling their mother of their plan. However, once in New Orleans, Stella disappears without a trace. Come to find out, Stella left her life of being black and fabricated an entire life built on the lie that she was white. Years go by, both sisters marry and have children, but the heart tug of family never lets up. I don’t wanna spoil the ending for you, but this book is truly captivating. It explores poignant themes about race, gender, family, and upbringing.
This book frames around the nighttime Anglican prayer of Compline. Tish Warren, an Anglican priest, walks through each line of the prayer while also highlighting personal stories that tie into the challenging themes of human vulnerability and God’s seeming absence. By the end of the book, I found a renewed sense of hope and awareness in the power of praying with “other people’s words.”
As someone who was raised in the Anglican church, this book was particularly meaningful and refreshing. However, you do not have to be Anglican to enjoy the encouragement and wisdom that this book offers. For this particular season of life that I am walking through as a healthcare provider amidst a global pandemic, feeling waves of isolation, doubt, and grief, her words of God’s truth were like a salve for my weary heart. I read this book mostly at night and I think that only intensified the depth of her words.
If you’re walking through a particularly heavy season and nighttime is hard for you, I challenge you to read this book. It may even reignite you prayer life and give you hope what all hope seems lost.
As an avid Kristin Hannah fan and follower, I came into this book with exceptionally high expectations and hopes. I usually love her historical fiction, however this book left me wanting more. The character development was terrific as per usual, however the plot felt lacking and monotonous in my opinion.
But this American epic delves into the themes of love, heroism, motherhood, and hope, set during the Great Depression and Dust Bowel Era, a time where our country was in crisis and at war with itself. The land itself seemed to turn against its own people. The story centers around Elsa Wolcott and follows her allow on her journey to finding her voice amidst one of the most devastating eras in American history. Against all odds, Elsa finds a way to remain positive and never lose hope. The challenges of poverty, marital discord, agricultural devastation and loneliness reveal the scrappy, grit of Elsa Wolcott.
Overall, it was a captivating read, but it didn’t meet my lofty expectations for Kristin Hannah. I love a good KH tear jerker, but this wasn’t it.
Written by wife, mother, singer-songwriter, and worship leader, Christy Nockels invites you to discover your place in God’s heart and let him set the pace for your life. Abandon the notion of hurry and hustle for a life and heart rooted in rest!
With warmth and grace, she shares her story of how she let go of a life of hustle and outside-in identity, because it was holding her back from what God truly wanted for her: REST! There is glory to be had in the mundane moments of life and in the foiled plans that didn’t happened as we’d anticipated.
I absolutely loved this book! It spoke to the deepest parts of my heart and consoled me. We are God’s Beloved sons and daughters, and in Him, we are whole. When we remember in whom our identity lies, we are better able to love and serve those around us. “The most beautiful and effective way to change lives around you is to let God change you. The best way that you can love others is to let God love you.” Christ is in you and you are in Christ and Christ is in the Father. Hold fast to that truth knowing that you are God’s Beloved sealed for good works and glorifying the Father, but cultivating rest is a spiritual discipline that attunes your heart to God’s.
A harrowing memoir of one woman’s journey to being “educated”. Tara was raised in the mountains of Idaho by a Mormon survivalist family ridden with brokenness and mental health issues. This story walks through her childhood, adolescence, and adulthood as she comes to terms with the differences between her world in Buck’s Peak and the world outside.
I couldn’t put this book down! The stories she recounts about her parents, siblings, and the radical ideologies that her family instilled in her feel other-worldly. It’s hard imagining this happening in our own country let alone within my generation. So many themes at play within this one book, including the instability of memory, the power of knowledge, and the difference between devotedness and delusion. I loved how her voice throughout the memoir felt naive, because it was coming from a place of sheltered uncertainty and general lack of awareness. Her point of view felt raw and real in a way many books I’ve read recently have felt flat.
This book far exceeded my expectations and really helped me see how vital it is to storytell and share one’s own story. But also that education isn’t always learned in the classroom (albeit it’s often important in broadening our understanding), education is also learned through the bitter struggles of life itself.
If you’re looking for a fun, lighthearted read that feels reminiscent of a conversation with a friend, this book is for you. In these pages author, podcast host, and speaker Annie F. Downs masterfully highlights the joys of being an amateur, the power of falling in love, and why you need to get a hobby.
For a girl who is always having to keep her predilection for perfection in check, this book was a warm welcome. I often fall into the trap of not pursuing things because of a deep-seeded fear that I won’t be good at them. But what if rather than allowing fear to dictate my decision, I pursued things in pursuit of pleasure rather than perfection?
This book opened my eyes to the beauty of being an amateur. It’s such a simple mindset change but it has tremendous implications on how we live and savor our lives. I love Annie’s quippy turn-of phrase and how familiar her writing feels as a reader. You aren’t just reading her words, you’re engaging with her as she shares stories and anecdotes like you and a friend would. Excited to pursue more hobbies adventures with the intent of connection and delight!
This is the prequel to “The Hate You Give” told through the lens of Maverick Carter, Starr’s father. As he maneuvers through boyhood into adulthood, you see the coming-of-age struggles of Black males and how nothing is more important than providing and protecting your family.
Maverick Carter is just your average seventeen year-old trying to survive high school until he finds out he is a father. To his best friend’s girlfriend. In light of his new role as dad, he is forced to grow-up and take on new responsibilities. But part-time jobs just don’t pay the bills. So he resorts to dealing for the King Lords to help his momma pay rent and keep himself out of debt. But at what cost?
This book details the journey Maverick takes in overcoming his father’s delinquent past, coming to terms with his own dreams, and choosing to make for himself a better future. Without giving too much away in regards to plot, this book is a terrific read and particularly poignant to all races. There is so much strife and grit in the telling of his story, and I loved how Angie Thomas brought his character to life. I couldn’t put this book down. However, I liked “The Hate U Give” a little bit more than “Concrete Rose”, so that’s why I gave it four stars instead of five.
It can be difficult to live out and apply the truths of scripture in the culture we live in. We want more of Jesus, but we find ourselves looking to our own lives and accomplishments for our worth and identity.
Gretchen Saffles, creator Well-Watered Women, tactfully displays what it means to experience the fullness of God when we are rooted in Him. She talks about three caveats of the Christian faith walk (the Well of fullness, the Word of freedom, and the Way of faithfulness) and uses growth analogies throughout to bring her vision to life.
I loved all of the stories of growth interweaved into this book. So many perfect examples of faith that can be seen in the beauty of succulents, wildflowers, vines, and more. She shares a handful of personal stories and reflections intermingled with biblical truths to encourage hungry women thirsting to enjoy Him, seek Him, and follow Him into freedom. If you’re walking through a season of uncertainty or questioning, this book is a great resource to turn your eyes back to Jesus. Thankful for these words in this particular season of my own faith walk!
On an island off the Irish coast, guests gather for the wedding of the year – the marriage of Jules Keegan and Will Slater. Two A-listers bring their old friends, past grudges, and hidden jealousies together for a weekend to remember. What could go wrong?!?! Thirteen guests and one body. Everyone is suspect.
The intrigue. The mystery. The secrets. This book is full of it! It’s been a while since I’ve read a murder mystery novel, so I really enjoyed the plot development. The story is told through a nonlinear narrative, which helps build the suspense and allows you to enter into each character’s psyche.
I gave this book four out of five stars, because of the language and the abruptness of the ending. I enjoyed the character development and how everyone was suspect in the eventual murder. Also, the setting isn’t too shabby. Each guest had plenty of motive and I loved how by the end you realized just how intertwined each character was with the next. But I likely wouldn’t read it again, but it’s a fast, fun murder mystery perfect for the summer time.
A striking fictional portrayal of how race and privilege are hard to comes to terms with in our everyday lives. I loved the plot, writing style, and the way this book made me think. The book centers around a young black babysitter and her will-intentioned white employer, and a surprising connection that threatens to undo them both. Without spoiling too much of the plot, this story opens up the conversation about race, authority, white supremacy, and privilege in a non-confrontational way. Its piercing social commentary seeks to explore the obscurity of transactional relationships and the complexity of growing up.
The social and racial dynamics made me use my noggin, which I loved! It’s not often that a fictional novel can boast that type of thoughtfulness. If you’re looking for an easy read with drama, intrigue, and tact, add this to your TBR list.
Talk about a page turner! Finished this one in about 5 days, couldn’t put it down. It kept me guessing until the very end and then my mind was blown! Add this to your summer reading list ASAP.
I don’t typically read mysteries or thrillers, but this one is psychological, thoughtful, and intriguing in all the best ways. The story centers around a woman named Anna Fox, who suffers from agoraphobia after experiencing intense personal trauma. She lives a reclusive life in her large New York City home. And to pass the time, Anna drinks too much, plays online chess, chat with other recluses online, watches old movies, and meets with her shrink. She also spends time spying on her neighbors. But when she accidentally witnesses the stabbing oof one of her neighbors, her world comes to a screeching halt. Did it happen or was it just alcohol-induced hallucinations? Will anyone believe her side of the story? Is she crazy or is she the only sane person in her neighborhood? Find out for yourself when you read this haunting tale!
Originally heard about this book on Emily P. Freeman’s podcast and after reading a short synopsis, I knew this book’s message would speak to me. After the events of the past year, this book was a fresh reminder of why showing self-compassion isn’t just good, but necessary for growth.
Aundi Kolber is a license professional counselor in Colorado who specializes in trauma and body-centered therapy. This is her debut book, and it’s a terrific source of encouragement for those who are used to white-knuckling their way through overwhelm and exhaustion.
She proposes that by TRYING SOFTER (showing self-compassion, quieting the inner critic, setting emotional boundaries, moving through our emotions) we more wholly become who God intended for us to be. Our bodies were created to think, process, overcome hardships, and grow. This book gives tangibles ways and resources to do just that. If you are feeling overworked, undervalued, overwhelmed, exhausted, or numb, take heart and read this book. We all could use some of this wisdom moving forward into post-pandemic life.
Mysteries are such a great genre to read in the summertime, and this book is no exception. I will say the ending and climax came on fairly suddenly, but I was very surprised by the ending. Great book to read if you want a page turner and love a good psych ward setting!
Alicia Berenson, a famous painter, is charged guilty for the murder of her husband photographer Gabriel Berenson. Due to a plea of diminished responsibility, she is admitted to a secure forensic unit called The Grove. Theo Faber, a forensic psychotherapist, successfully applies for a position at The Grove with the hope of treating Alicia. He is placed in charge of Alicia, who has not spoken since the day of the murder. This mystery centers around Theo’s relentless pursuit and treating the “Silent Patient”. It’s a pretty disjointed story of love, loss, revenge, and psychosis, but it comes together by the end.
Couldn’t put this book down! Highly recommend if you love a surprise ending and some fictional psychotherapy at work.
This book is nothing short of enchanting. TBH I actually really disliked the beginning because the scene is set around a depressed female who is questioning whether or not to end her own life. But her journey or self-reflection shows the main character just how sacred life is and that despite the struggles, pain, and grief, life IS worth living.
The main character, Nora, is a thirty-something woman who is regretful about her life and feels alienated and unneeded in this world. In the depths of her wallowing, she comes across the Midnight Library. In it, each book represents a portal into another variation of what her life could have been. As she reads the volumes, they allow her access to different versions of her life – relationships she could have stuck with, careers she could have pursued. She has to come to terms with what SHE wants for her life, and it’s a beautiful journey of self-discovery.
She also quickly finds that it’s not what you do or who you do it for in life that’s important. What matters is living life to the fullest. Loving deeply. Living selflessly. Acting courageously.
A daring story about love, loss, survival, and the wildness that lives in both man and nature. I absolutely loved this book! I can see what all the hype is about: 1) Kristin Hannah wrote it! 2) The storyline is a stay-up-all-night-reading kind of plot. After reading The Four Winds, I was truthfully worried to read this one. But this brought me back in love KH’s storytelling.
Set in 1974 Alaska, the Allbright family sets off for a new life off the grid to experience the last true frontier. Ernt Allbright, a former POW, comes home from the Vietnam war a changed and volatile man. After losing his job, he makes an impulsive decision: to move his family to Alaska.
And 13 year old Leni, is a girl coming of age in a tumultuous time, caught in the chaos of her parents’ passionate, stormy relationship. She is desperate to belong and to have a friend. Thankfully she finds a friend and confidante in Matthew Walker.
In this portrait of human frailty and resilience, Kristin Hannah reveals the character of the modern American pioneer and the spirit of a vanishing Alaska―a place of incomparable beauty and danger.
Every female who is a follower of Christ should read this liberating book! Rooted in gospel truth and bursting with hope and freedom, Jess Connolly tactfully goes to combat with the lies the enemy has led us as women to believe. Our bodies are good. Our bodies are not an indicator of our faithfulness. Our bodies are not meant to be esteemed by worldly standards. Our bodies are created to glorify our God.
If you yourself are struggling with body image or body shame, take heart & read this book. I’ve never been more empowered to go to the war with the enemy’s lies about my body. There is hope and freedom to be had for us as females, we need only pray for redemption and revival both in ourselves and in our culture.
Let me leave you with this quote: “If by grace through faith you are a follower of Jesus, you are a daughter of the Most High God. You were made with intention and creativity, celebration and excellence. Your body was made and pronounced good by the ultimate creator, judge, Savior, and hero of the world. He mourns the mess of sin and brokenness that we live in, but he doesn’t leave us – He brings redemption and restoration to these bodies of ours. And he promises us a day when our earthly shells will be a distant memory, a shadow, a vapor that used to be. Your body is good. The world is wrong. The enemy is a liar. Rest and restoration and revival are yours for the taking. Let’s get after it.”
Popular blogger and viral TED Talk speaker, Hannah Brencher, shares personal stories of developing daily rhythms and sustainable faith in a culture of hustle. With a heap of hope, each chapter is a power-ballad essay meant to encourage you. You will learn to savor the milestones you’ve already reached, root yourself in the next small steps, welcome healthy routines into your day, and apply grace like sunscreen in the process of your own becoming.
Hannah Brencher is such a gifted writer! I loved each of her many analogies and the tactful way she combats challenging topics of the Christian life with ease. We all need fight songs in our life. Truths that we can repeat as we champion and overcome fear, failure, and the devils schemes. And in “Fighting Forward” she demonstrates that each fight song starts with a single note. With trust and a little time, each note and every small step adds up to a victorious anthem of showing up to this life and staying in the fight to become who God made you to be.
This season is purposeful.
You are mightily gifted by a creative God for good things. Your journey is going to be different than your neighbors. You are God’s glorious creation intended for his ultimate glory. Don’t give up on yourself on the God who created you.
A beautiful coming of age tale of two girls finding friendships when they needed it most. Albeit turbulent and tense at times, their relationship spans more than three decades. Full of heart, soul, and grit, this tale is another Kristin Hannah hit!
In the turbulent summer of 1974, Kate Mularkey has accepted her place at the bottom of the eight-grade social food chain. Then, to her amazement, the “coolest girl in the world” moves in across the street and wants to be her friend. Tully Hart seems to have it all – beauty, brains, ambition. They make a pact to be best friends forever; by summer’s end they’ve become TullyandKate. Inseparable.
For thirty years, Tully and Kate buoy each other through life, weathering the storms of friendship – jealousy, anger, hurt, resentment. They think they’ve survived it all until a single act of betrayal tears them apart…and puts their courage and friendship to the ultimate test. Will their friendship weather the toughest storm yet?
TRIGGER WARNING: this book contains storyline of PHYSICAL ABUSE, DEPRESSION, and SUICIDE.
The story centers around Eleanor Oliphant, a 30-year old woman who lives and works in Glasgow as a finance clerk at a graphic design company. She’s social misfit, quirky and untamed with a traumatic past. She lives for routines and avoids unnecessary human contact whenever possible, but everything changes when she meets Raymond. Raymond’s big heart will help Eleanor find the way to repair her own profoundly damaged one. This out-of-the-ordinary heroine whose deadpan weirdness and unconscious wit make for an irresistible journey.
Admittedly, this book took a while for me to get into. The protagonist is beyond quirky and outlandish. But in light of her dark past, with time you find her strangeness endearing. I loved the setting #anglophile and the British references and slang make for a fun change of pace. Not at all the read that I expected, but it exceeded my expectations.
Are you afraid of the future? Are you anxious about what lies ahead? We often hold our dreams close to our chest. But our passions have a purpose—they were engineered for God’s greater plan and he intends for us to use them for his glory and purposes. What if this feeling of restlessness and unease wasn’t a bad thing? It could be a longing for more of God!
In this book, Jennie Allen, author and visionary for IF:Gathering, explores how to identify the threads in your life and how to weave them together to discern God’s purpose for you. Our gifts, passions, talents, experiences, locations, and relationships are not random. They were deliberate and meaningfully orchestrated by our creator. Heck, even our suffering is intentional. Because each element of our lives and story fit into God’s greater story. We were created for a purpose. And our purpose is rooted in God’s greater glory. As Saint Augustine said, “Our hearts are restless until they rest in you.”
Loved this book! As per usual, Jennie Allen knows how to convict and encourage simultaneously while spurring you on to surrender it all to God.
A historical fiction novel about packhorse librarians in a remote area of Kentucky set in Depression-era America. This book tells the story of five extraordinary women and their journey through the mountains of Kentucky and beyond. How they overcome obstacles of gender, race, abuse, and misogyny and learn that friendship grows stronger through trial.
The British protagonist, Alice Wright marries American Bennett Van Cleve hoping to escape her stifling life in England. But small-town Kentucky quickly proves equally claustrophobic. So when a call goes out for a team of women to deliver books as part of Eleanor Roosevelt’s new traveling library, Alice signs on enthusiastically. She meets Margery, a sassy, self-sufficient woman, and they and three other singular women become known as the Packhorse Librarians of Kentucky.
If I’m being honest, I really expected more from this novel. I enjoyed the history and the setting, but I think the hype surrounding it made me think it was going to be a page turner. Unfortunately, it left me pining for more depth of character and better writing style. I’ve read other Jojo Moyes novels and thoroughly enjoyed them, but this one left me wanting more.
A compelling collection of relatable essays that will help you embrace and cultivate beauty in your life. Along with healthy recipes and cozy home images, “Satisfied” will provide you with the knowledge that you are not alone in your fight to be fulfilled. Alyssa shows you the ways in which you are enough—not only for those around you, but for yourself.
Initially heard about this book through the Behind The Bliss podcast when Alyssa Bethke was a guest. Loved the effortlessness with which she shared her heart, spiritual walk, and personal struggles while also giving wisdom and whit. Loved the incorporation of family and friend recipes at the end of the book too!
It’s obvious that the Bethke family is a light for Christ in their Maui community. I devoured this book! As I struggle through being a healthcare provider and a woman of faith amidst a global pandemic, this book’s truths rooted in biblical truths spoke life over the weary parts of me. The things of this world are never meant to satisfy us. They were always and forever meant to point us back to our creator! Highly recommend this beautiful book for women of faith who lack soul satisfaction in their current season.
Every con artist has a mark. Everyone has an angle, and everyone has a façade behind which they hide the wounds of their past. This novel follows two brilliantly, damaged women as they try to survive the greatest game of deceit and destruction they will ever play.
Nina once bought into the idea that her fancy liberal arts degree would lead to a fulfilling career. When that dream crashed, she turned to stealing from rich kids in L.A. alongside her wily Irish boyfriend, Lachlan. Nina learned from the best: Her mother was the original con artist, hustling to give her daughter a decent childhood despite their wayward life. But when her mom gets sick, Nina puts everything on the line to help her, even if it means running her most audacious, dangerous scam yet.
Pleasantly surprised by this story of deception. The years of intrigue, lies, and coverups come to a hedge by the end of the novel in a brilliant way! I felt the ending was a bit abrupt, but the storyline overall kept me interested. Not my typical novel, but I enjoyed it none the less.
TRIGGER WARNING: this book contains storylines of SUICIDE/MURDER and INFERTILITY
This twisty, compelling novel about one woman’s complicated relationship with her mother-in-law that ends in murder. From the moment Lucy met her husband’s mother, Diana, she was kept at arm’s length. Diana was exquistiely polite, and properly friendly, but Lucy knew that she was not what Diana envisioned…
Now, Diana has been found dead, a suicide note near her body. Diana claims that she no longer wanted to live. Who could possibly want Diana dead? Why was her will changed at the eleventh hour to disinherit both of her adult children and their spouses?
This book was a bit disappointing. The plot had good bones to be a stellar novel, however the nonlinear narrative and unrealistic characters ruined the book overall for me. Expected more and was left wanting by the end of it. Unfortunately, wouldn’t recommend this book.
Gave this book three stars just because it was pretty flat and predictable. I did however enjoy how they brought “Bachelor Nation” to life in this thoughtful portrayal of what it would be like if we had a plus-size starlet on reality tv. Very easy to read, would definitely make for a good summer/beach read
Bea Schumacher is a devastatingly stylish plus-size fashion blogger who has amazing friends, a devoted family, legions of Insta followers-and a massively broken heart. Like the rest of America, Bea indulges in her weekly obsession: the hit reality show Main Squeeze. The fantasy dates! The kiss-off rejections! The surprising amount of guys named Chad! But Bea is sick and tired of the lack of body diversity on the show. Since when is being a size zero a prerequisite for getting engaged on television? And when she is offered to be the next “Main Squeeze,” her world is rocked!
Cute and playful (but very predictable) like most of reality tv, this book is a fun read which makes you think about how we idolize “skinny” as a culture. Also that to give and receive love, we need to first love ourselves.
Kendra Adachi, the creator of the Lazy Genius movement, invites you to live well by your own definition and equips you to be a genius about what matters and lazy about what doesn’t. Everything from your morning routine to napping without guilt falls into place with Kendra’s thirteen Lazy Genius principles
This book was balm for my soul. As a fellow enneagram 1, I can wholeheartedly relate to her systems and way of thinking. I love how she emphasizes doing what matters to you most rather than doing what’s expected of you or what you think is expected of you. We all value different things so it’s important when we are trying to simplify and essentialize our lives to remember and cultivate what matters to us most.
This book and her tips/tricks to getting stuff done will speak into whatever season of life you are walking through. Whether you’re single as a Pringle or married with a gaggle of kids, this book will provide you with practical ways to take the mess out of your day-to-day chaos. Highly recommend!