This month had a healthy mix of real winners and total duds, but I’m proud of how many books I got through in this shorter month! (Why does it feel like February is WEEKS shorter than other months, instead of just a few days?!) I’m still going strong on A RAD Reading Challenge picks, and I added Sarah Bessey’s Field Notes book club into the mix too (sign up for her email newsletter — it’s an exclusive thing for subscribers, but a great variety of BIPOC faith writers!). I also purged my bookshelves approximately 13 times this month (BE PROUD OF ME, MARIE KONDO) and I’m really trying to be more mindful about what I purchase/acquire so things stay more manageable. We shall see.
Anyway. Time for reviews!
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review: I was given a free copy from BookLook Bloggers in exchange for my review! If you’re a believer feeling burned out or a bit lost in your faith, this book is a helpful return to the basics of Christianity and the heart of what life could and should look like as a follower of Christ. It didn’t personally really grab me in this season, but there were a lot of good and thorough thoughts shared that I’m sure will resonate with and encourage many!
I Owe You One by Sophie Kinsella
review: Thank you Random House for the free book — it was my first book of February and I wanted it to be a fun one, but it didn’t really do it for me. I ended up getting halfway through before finding myself uninterested and ready to move on. I skimmed the second half and got the gist and called it a day. Not my fave! Anybody read and liked other books by Kinsella? It was my first by her but I know she’s written a lot!
Parables and the Enneagram by Clarence Thomson
review: I found this little gem to be a really eye-opening read as a believer. I had never truly thought about how my personality type as an Enneagram 1 influenced my reading of Scripture, but this book did a great job of illustrating some of that. The focus on specific passages from the Bible and on certain people was really helpful. (Like, I don’t know why I never connected that Pharisees illustrate 1-ness SO CLEARLY.) I really just read the intro and the chapter on my type, but I think other types would find it interesting as well!
Golden Child by Claire Adam
review: Thanks to Crown Publishing for this free book! I did not like this one. At all. I’m struggling to find a constructive angle to share, honestly! It didn’t seem well written to me, it was slow (which i get that novels more about place can be, but it didn’t do that well in my opinion), I couldn’t relate to or understand or empathize with the characters (twin brothers are compared against each other as the center of the story— one as a genius and one as “retarded”— but none of the family dynamics felt authentic or believable to me), there seemed to be a lot that was left vague which didn’t help me connect with the story or characters... and the ending was AWFUL and made me so angry and sad. I’m a little baffled by the hype around this one and SJP’s choice to publish this on her imprint. Wouldn’t recommend it at all, but would love to hear if anyone felt differently about it! At least the cover is stunning?
The Vanishing Stair by Maureen Johnson
review: Gahhh I’m so glad this one came out quickly after I read Truly Devious, but I have SO MANY QUESTIONS STILL. These books are so layered and the mystery is so nuanced and I love that, even if it’s so frustrating to not be able to figure out what’s happening! I got way more into this one than the first, which makes me even more hopeful for the final book in this trilogy. Love that it focuses on teens, and flashes between the past mystery and the present one, and doesn’t follow patterns I’m used to. These are so fun and so intriguing! Definitely a trilogy worth reading.
American Spy by Lauren Wilkinson
review: Thanks to Random House for the free book! I FLEW through it during a Silent Reading Party — I read the first few pages at home when deciding what books to take with me, and almost couldn’t put it down to drive to the party itself! Loved this of espionage and sisterhood and history and family and romance and more, as told from a mother to her sons throughout changing periods of time. It was inspired by true events which I think gave it extra oomph, and I found it thoroughly engaging and enjoyable.
Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens
review: I would give this one more than five stars if I could. I adored it— the story, the stunning way Owens writes about nature, Kya and her complex character, the dynamics and tension between the characters, the way a story of a girl growing up flawlessly wove together with a murder mystery, the layers that built upon one another beautifully throughout the pages... I didn’t want this one to end but also couldn’t put it down. It will be a favorite for the year (and years to come) for sure.
On the Come Up by Angie Thomas
review: Yep, Angie Thomas has done it again, writing an unputdownable book that is relevant and timely and crackles with energy and feels fresh and powerful and deep while still being fun and such an enjoyable reading experience. She’s a powerhouse. Loved the rap focus of this one, and the strong young female protagonist, and the fiery stances woven so flawlessly throughout the dialogue and plot... it’s just SO GOOD.
review: I have always been pretty meh about Rob Bell’s work, but just intrigued enough to keep reading his books to see what I think... and I’m still meh after reading this one. Pretty egotistical, shallow, cliche, and felt like it was trying too hard. Lots of chapters started with “I had this idea for _____” and it was like, OKAY WE GET IT you have ideas!!! Maybe this is just me being sick and tired of entitled white dudes feeling like they’re super awesome… but I’d pass on this one. There are way better books with similar themes out there!
Rad American Women A-Z: Rebels, Trailblazers, and Visionaries who Shaped Our History . . . and Our Future! by Kate Schatz
It’s not just because my initials are RAD that I loved this one! Big fan of this short but mighty book— it highlights incredible American women (some I knew and some I didn’t!) and gives brief bios highlighting their accomplishment and impact. It would be a great one for kids elementary aged and up, but I loved it as an adult too. More her-stories in our history books, plz!
Four Gifts: Seeking Self-Care for Heart, Soul, Mind, and Strength by April Yamasaki
review: Read this one for Sarah Bessey’s Field Notes Book Club (sign up for her email newsletter!) and have to say, I sadly was underwhelmed by it. I wanted to love it, but I just didn’t really connect with the writing style (it felt super direct and not very personal, and I just didn’t really resonate or find it engaging). There are helpful thoughts here about self-care (focusing on heart, soul, mind, and strength as in Mark 12:30) that go beyond just massages and bubble baths into things like healthy boundaries, sleep, etc. Not a must-read, but definitely helpful for those needing to work out a better balance of loving God and others while still taking care of self.
Remember God by Annie F. Downs
review: This is every bit as good as you all said it would be. Read it cover to cover this morning (perks of actually waking up at 5:30 instead of snoozing!) and was CRYING by the last few chapters. I’ve long been a fan (and felt like a friend) of Annie and I’m just so dang grateful for the way she shares her heart so vulnerably, honestly, and bravely in this book. This is her best work by far, and I don’t think it’s a surprise that it was also the hardest for her to write — it feels raw and real in the most mighty and stunning ways and it’s just such a gift to this world. I need to daily if not hourly if not EVERY DANG SECOND remember God and His kindness, and I’m just so moved by Annie’s story of learning to do the same. OOF THIS BOOK IS SO GOOD, JUST READ IT AND FEEL THE FEELS WITH ME OKAY