In 2022, I’m setting monthly reading goals. You can see the 9 books I picked to read in January here.
So far, I’m very excited to say that I’ve already finished two from the stack + an audiobook and I’m in the middle of reading three others and hope to have them finished next week! YAY!
My Honest Reviews From This Week
Here are my honest reviews of the the three books I read this past week:
Note: You can follow along with the books I finish this year and my star ratings over on GoodReads. Also, books are rated on a 1-5 star scale. I basically won’t finish a book if it’s one star (not worth my time!) and I’ll rarely give a book a 5-star rating unless it was just absolutely amazing or life-changing.
A friend encouraged me to read this book as it’s the story of a mom who gives birth to a baby with Down syndrome and her honest first year of processing this unexpected news — grieving, learning, and finding joy in it.
In reading it, I thought a lot about Baby D’s mom and what it must have been like for her to find out her son had Down syndrome after he was born. It’s given me a lot more empathy and compassion for her and many other moms who have walked and are walking a similar road.
The said, I felt like the book had a lot of fluff — like she was supposed to hit a word count given to her by her publisher, so she had to add in a bunch of not-very-related side stories and superficial anecdotes just to hit that word count. I ended up skimming some sections because of this.
In addition, it was not written from a Christian perspective or the belief in God’s sovereignty or faithfulness. I think a huge piece was missing because of this.
And finally, there was a lot of cussing in the book. It felt excessive and unnecessary and overly dramatic to me. Thus, my 2-star overall verdict.
Verdict: 2 stars
The Story of You
I have loved other books by Ian Morgan Cron and was excited about this book because it goes into the narrative and stories we often tell ourselves from childhood that shape our beliefs, actions, responses, and baggage — often without us even realizing it.
While I did find a lot of helpful nuggets in it, especially when it came to understanding and relating to others, the book fell mostly flat for me. I think the biggest reason was that it wasn’t Gospel-centered or grounded. While it acknowledged the Lord and a relationship with Him in parts, it was a very watered-down version of what I believe the Gospel is.
True heart change and true wholeness and true changing of our negative narrative can only come from understanding whole we are in Christ. THAT is what allows us to change from the inside out and step into the fullness of all God has called us to be.
For those who are Christians, I believe it is impossible to step into who God has designed us to be (what I believe is the correct definition of “our true self”) without a remarkable work of grace in our hearts and without relying fully and wholly on the finished work of Christ on the Cross. In addition, it comes from that deep awareness of how much we are loved by God and how much we are forgiven by Him. When we grasp the depths of this, it changes who we are and how we live.
Verdict: 3 stars
The Way it Should Be (audiobook)
This book was recommended to me by a follower who said she had listened to it on Libby (my favorite app for downloading free audiobooks). I promptly checked Libby and it was available — so I downloaded it. Within just a few chapters, I was invested in the story.
It’s a fictional account of a mom whose children end up in foster care and are placed with her sister, who she is estranged from. It chronicles multiple viewpoints of the foster care system — and I thought it did a really beautiful job of bringing to light what biological parents walk through, what children in foster care walk through, what it’s like to be a foster parent, how hard it is to break free from addiction, and how we all need to be extending more grace and kindness and believing the best of others.
If you want an inside look into foster care and aren’t into reading a non-fiction book, I’d highly recommend this one. I think it will help you have a better understanding of what the foster care system is like (it’s messy and flawed), the emotions that foster parents go through (also messy and flawed — and one big emotional roller coaster!), and how difficult it is for biological parents who are struggling with addictions (there aren’t simple solutions or pat answers — especially if there are years of unhealthy relationships and layers upon layers to their stories, which there usually are).
My only beef would be that I felt like a few of the characters were a little too perfect and some of the character and story development felt like it was lacking. But for the most part, it was raw and real and not sugar-coated, and I was honestly surprised by how I could personally relate to so much of the story and the emotions with what we’ve walked through in foster care.
Verdict: 4 stars
A Movie We Watched This Week
Clifford: The Big Red Dog
I’d seen some trailers for this movie and thought it would be a fun family movie — especially one that Kierstyn might be able to enjoy as she loves dogs. Overall, I thought it was a pretty good movie, as far as kid’s/family movies go. I felt like it was probably geared toward grade school kids.
It had some funny parts, it wasn’t completely predictable, and it kept me wanting to watch (which is often not the case for me!). Do note: there are a few scenes where kids are not kind to one another and some “slapstick violence” (read more here). If you have kids who are sensitive, it’s probably not a good choice as it has some scenes that could feel intense or upsetting.
Victoria Huizinga says
I finished listening to Olympic Marathon runner Bryan Hall’s book “Run The Mile You’re In Finding God In Every Step” in the Hoopla app my library provides. I found it really inspiring. It helped me set a few stretching goals for 2022. But, now it appears that what I thought was just a sprained ankle is a fractured fibula so some of those goals might have to be put on the back burner for a while.
Crystal Paine says
That sounds like a great book! Thank you for sharing!
We watched clifford the big red dog movie a couple of weeks ago with our 3 children (7,5,2). They all enjoyed it. Specially my 2 year old. It was basically his first time in the teather and he sat the whole time and watched the movie. Considering he’s not very much into TV at home!
Crystal Paine says
Oh! I’m so glad your family enjoyed it!
I read In Order to Live. It’s about a girl who escaped North Korea. It was really good. Heartbreaking and inspiring.
Crystal Paine says
Thank you so much for sharing! That sounds like a good read!