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Tag Archive: 2020 Books

Two Books I Finished This Past Week

Welcome to my weekly book update post where I share what books I read this past week + my honest thoughts and star ratings of them.

A Word on My Star Ratings

The star ratings I give the books I read are based on a 5-star rating system. I rarely will ever give a book a 1-star rating (maybe never?), because my philosophy is that if a book is only worthy of one star, I’m more than likely going to quit reading it. 🙂 In the same vein, you’ll also notice that I’ll rarely give a 5-star rating as I reserve those for only my very, very favorite books.

Want to see all of the books I’ve read so far this year? Check out my Good Reads page.

In the last two weeks, I finished two books and here are my reviews…

Catch Me If You Can

I can’t stop talking about this book! It is the fascinating story of Frank Abagnale who was a daring con man and imposter. I listened to the audiobook and kept having to stop it to share yet another unbelievable story with Jesse of something that he did.

Frank traveled all over the world posing as a pilot, cashed 2.5 million dollars in forged checks, and even worked as an attorney and medical doctor (when he hadn’t gone to school for either!).

If you need a good listen of a story that is almost so crazy that you can’t believe it’s true, I recommend this book. It’s also a good reminded that not everything is like it seems and we shouldn’t take everything at face value! It also was such a telling tale about how money can’t buy happiness.

I’m giving it 5 stars because I couldn’t stop talking about it. I’d love to hear your thoughts if you’ve read it/listened to it.

Note: There is some language and some PG-13 topics in it.

Verdict: 5 stars

You Who?

Y’all, I wanted so badly to like this book. It came highly recommended to me by a number of people. However, the book just missed the mark for me for a lot of reasons.

First off, I didn’t feel like it had a strong outline. It felt like each chapter was just a sort of separate essay and it didn’t really build on one another.

Secondly, it felt like it was written from a place of legalism rather than grace. Much of the content seemed like it would encourage you to set up rules and have a critical spirit toward others for their choices and decisions, instead of pushing you to rest in the finished work of Christ on the cross and to wholeheartedly rejoice in His great love for you.

Almost the entire book felt like the author was tired, worn out, and worn down. Like the Gospel was a heavy burden she was called to bear instead of the greatest love gift ever given. It just seemed to lack joy and life.

Finally, I wholeheartedly disagreed with chapter 20 where she discusses feelings. In fact, in one section, she said, “We Christians need to stop thinking of our feelings as insights. Our feelings are instead something that we need to manage.” She goes on to say, “Christians should be far more inclined to view our feelings like a bunch of monkeys that we are responsible to keep in cages, train, and disregard completely when they are acting up.”

I think we do a great disservice to our emotional health when we don’t see the value that can come by paying attention to our feelings. I believe that feelings are not right or wrong. They are just feelings. It’s how we act on them that is either healthy or unhealthy, sinful or God-glorifying.

To say that we should, in essence, disregard or stuff down our feelings can be so detrimental to our health and well being. I believe we should pay attention to and acknowledge what we are feeling — sadness, anger, joy, frustration, etc. — and then seek God for wisdom as to how to process these feelings and act (or not act!) on these feelings, and ask God to lead us in how we need to heal or deal with those root issues that might cause us to want to act in unhealthy ways as a result of our feelings.

That said, I think probably the author and I would agree on a lot of things if she and I were to have a conversation over coffee (and I kept wishing I could as I read the book). Her method of delivery and the foundation from which she came from just felt very grace-less and legalistic instead of grace-filled and Gospel-centered. However, because I come from a very legalistic background, I tend to be much more sensitive to these things. 🙂

Verdict: 2 stars

What have you read recently? Let us know in the comments!

2 Books I Finished Last Week (+ what I’m reading right now)

Welcome to my weekly book update post where I share what books I read this past week + my honest thoughts and star ratings of them.

A Word on My Star Ratings

The star ratings I give the books I read are based on a 5-star rating system. I rarely will ever give a book a 1-star rating (maybe never?), because my philosophy is that if a book is only worthy of one star, I’m more than likely going to quit reading it. 🙂 In the same vein, you’ll also notice that I’ll rarely give a 5-star rating as I reserve those for only my very, very favorite books.

Want to see all of the books I’ve read so far this year? Check out my Good Reads page.

Last week, I finished two books and here are my reviews…

Fully Alive: Learning to Flourish — Mind, Body, and Spirit

This book is the author’s story of struggling through anxiety and health issues and what helped her break free from from crippling fear. It is filled with reminders of how connected our spiritual, physical, and emotional health is. I especially loved her quote, “What happens in our souls, happens in our cells.”

Fully Alive is filled with Scripture and practical application. At the end of each chapter, there are some workbook pages to help you process through the insights in your own life.

While I thought there were some pieces of wisdom in the book, I didn’t find that I personally connected with a lot of the author’s stories or fears. However, I’m sure many women would.

Verdict: 3 stars

A Very Bavarian Christmas

I was asked to endorse this book, so I got a pre-release copy to read! It’s not currently available for sale online yet, but should be in October. I’ll try to let you know when it is. Here was the endorsement I wrote:

If you are looking for a holiday-themed read that will warm your heart but also make you think, A Very Bavarian Christmas is the perfect pick! The storyline and characters draw you in from the get-go and you’ll find yourself relating to their struggles, cheering for their victories, and being reminded that everyone is in need of grace and kindness, because we never know what it’s been like to walk in their shoes.

Verdict: 3 stars

Picture Book: Sing a New Song

This isn’t exactly a picture book, per se, but we’ve been using it so much with the babies that I just have to share. This is a hymn book my mom gave me when Kathrynne was born and we’ve used it almost every day since we brought Champ home from the NICU. I also used it with the three older kids, too. We just sing one or two of the songs every day. I’m a big fan of hymns and love teaching them to my kids, too!

What I’m Currently Reading

Here’s what I’m currently reading: Atomic Habits, You Who, The White Rose Resists, and 25 Lies Twenty Somethings Need to Stop Believing.

What have you read recently? I’d love to hear! Tell us in the comments!

The One Book I Read Last Week (+ what I’m reading right now!)

Welcome to my weekly book update post where I share what books I read this past week + my honest thoughts and star ratings of them.

A Word on My Star Ratings

The star ratings I give the books I read are based on a 5-star rating system. I rarely will ever give a book a 1-star rating (maybe never?), because my philosophy is that if a book is only worthy of one star, I’m more than likely going to quit reading it. 🙂 In the same vein, you’ll also notice that I’ll rarely give a 5-star rating as I reserve those for only my very, very favorite books.

Want to see all of the books I’ve read so far this year? Check out my Good Reads page.

Last week, I finished one book and here is my review…

You Be You: Why Satisfaction and Success Are Closer Than You Think

I wasn’t sure what I was going to think of this book when I was sent a pre-release copy. The title felt like it could be one of those self-help books that might just encourage women with platitudes like, “Be your best self” or “If you hustle hard enough, you can be anything you want to be.”

I was hopeful that wasn’t the case — and I was thrilled to discover that this book wasn’t anything about worn-out cliche phrases or vague platitudes. Instead, it was packed with encouragement to seek the Lord, live into our callings, and glorify Him with our lives.

In fact, I love how Jamie Ivey addresses the motivational sayings at the beginning of the book and says,

“That’s the danger in these sayings. They can’t hold up under the pressures of the world. Because, no, you’re not enough, girl. You ain’t got this. You can’t hustle enough, can’t get enough things done. You can’t do everything you set your mind on, no matter how badly you want to do it. You don’t control your own destiny, because the One who made you has the days of your life already numbered, planned, and written for you. And sometimes, life can be so hard that there aren’t enough bootstraps in all the world to pull yourself up with.”

The book is filled with Jamie’s personal stories, practical advice, and spiritual insights to help us, as women, use our gifts and talents to make a difference in this world.

Here was one of my favorite quotes from the book:

If you struggle with knowing what God has called you to do, you’re wanting to make a difference but you just don’t know how to do that, or you wrestle with how to use your gifts and talents for the glory of God, this book will be an encouragement to you. I’m excited to get to have Jamie on my podcast soon and we’ll dive deeper into how to walk this out.

Verdict: 4 stars

Picture Book: Ten Little Night Stars

This is a sweet and colorful book that the author sent to the babies. It’s a fun counting book that is great for reading before bedtime!

What I’m Currently Reading

I may have bitten off more than I can chew when it comes to books this week. I just can’t help myself!! I have shelves of books I want to read and now that I have more time to read since the babies are a little older and the kids are back in school, I just want to read all the books!

Here’s what I’m currently reading: Atomic Habits, Fully Alive, You Who, A Very Bavarian Christmas (pre-release copy), The White Rose Resists

What have you read recently? I’d love to hear! Tell us in the comments!

A book on racial reconciliation I read last week

This post may contain affiliate links. Read my disclosure policy here.

Welcome to my weekly book update post where I share what books I read this past week + my honest thoughts and star ratings of them.

A Word on My Star Ratings

The star ratings I give the books I read are based on a 5-star rating system. I rarely will ever give a book a 1-star rating (maybe never?), because my philosophy is that if a book is only worthy of one star, I’m more than likely going to quit reading it. 🙂 In the same vein, you’ll also notice that I’ll rarely give a 5-star rating as I reserve those for only my very, very favorite books.

Want to see all of the books I’ve read so far this year? Check out my Good Reads page.

Last week, I finished one book and here is my review…

Be the Bridge by LaTasha Morrison

This past week, I listened to Be the Bridge by LaTasha Morrison. This book had been highly recommended by multiple people, but I went into it fairly apprehensive.

You see, about two years ago, I listened to I’m Still Here by Austin Channing Brown. And while the book was eye-opening and stirred up a lot inside of me (which was good), it also left me feeling frustrated. I wrote about it here, but here’s one thing I said in that post:

I want to do the best I can to raise my children with eyes and ears and a heart to see and love ALL people and I want that so much for myself, too. But she only gave example after example of what not to do — which I really appreciated. But I ended the book feeling like, “Well then what should I do?”

I felt like the author of I’m Still Here gave story after story after story of racial injustice and how she and other black people had been mistreated and misjudged over the years. But she didn’t give any solutions or provide any suggestions for what a white woman like me could do to love people of color well or what we should say or ask. And for awhile after I read it, I felt scared that I would unknowingly do or say something hurtful to my black friends.

In fact, it took me months to not feel like I was totally walking on pins and needles around my black friends and any black people I met — which I’d never been doing before. And I hated that! I wanted to just freely love well instead of always worrying that I was missing the mark.

I did end up having some uncomfortable conversations with some of my POC friends about it and I asked a lot of questions and had my eyes opened even more. And I’m grateful for that.

But I kind of was scared to read another book on racial reconciliation. However, I’m so glad I ended up listening to Be the Bridge as it left me feeling so much more encouraged and hopeful.

In Be the Bridge, LaTasha Morrison paints a beautiful picture in this book for ways that Christians can come alongside others who have different skin colors and/or come from different backgrounds and cultures, have uncomfortable conversations, and ultimately love well. She shares story after story of how this can beautifully play out and gives practical examples of how to take the first steps.

I also really appreciated how she shared about her own racial biases, her own struggles to overcome racial differences, and how she is seeking to walk out these principles in her own life.

While I don’t agree with everything in the book and definitely had my toes stepped on in many places, I finished this book feeling so excited about what the future could hold for relationships in my own life and how I can more effectively be a bridge builder and raise my kids to do the same.

Verdict: 4 stars

Picture Book: Guess How Much I Love You

This was a picture book that I read so many times to Kathrynne when she was a baby. It’s where we coined the phrase that we say all the time, “I love you to the moon and back.”

So, of course, we had to introduce the babies to this sweet book. I’ve read it to them pretty much every night before bed for the past week.

What have you read recently? I’d love to hear! Tell us in the comments!

My Honest Review of The Giver

Welcome to my weekly book update post where I share what books I read this past week + my honest thoughts and star ratings of them.

A Word on My Star Ratings

The star ratings I give the books I read are based on a 5-star rating system. I rarely will ever give a book a 1-star rating (maybe never?), because my philosophy is that if a book is only worthy of one star, I’m more than likely going to quit reading it. 🙂 In the same vein, you’ll also notice that I’ll rarely give a 5-star rating as I reserve those for only my very, very favorite books.

Want to see all of the books I’ve read so far this year? Check out my Good Reads page.

Last week, I finished one book and here is my review…

The Giver by Lois Lowry

It’s rare that I re-read books, but every once in awhile, I enjoy a book enough to re-read it. The Giver was one such book. It’s intriguing and makes you think at a deep level.

I don’t know that “enjoy” is necessarily the word I would use to describe my feelings on it. Maybe “genuinely thought-provoking” would be a more accurate phrase.

Kaitlynn and Silas actually suggested that I read it aloud to them, so that’s actually what motivated me to pull it out. Silas hadn’t read it before and it sparked so many great discussions. And when I ended the book this time, I had a different take on the conclusion than I did last time.

Here’s my review that I wrote when I read the book back in 2017 and it’s still valid:

Finally, I read The Giver for the first time. And you guys, I don’t quite know what to say about this book. At first, I was so frustrated by the ending. That’s it?!?! No! There has to be more!

And then I had to ponder and ponder over the book. I couldn’t get it out of my brain. What am I missing? Why is it haunting me?

The more I pondered, the more I really started to love the book and the powerful way it reminds us that without pain and suffering, we can’t experience emotional connection or truly feel at a deep level. If we took all of the pain away from the world, it would also take away so much depth and the ability to experience life in full color.

I wished I would have read this book with a book club. And I totally understand why some people love it and some people don’t like it at all. Have you read it? If so, I’d love hear your thoughts on it.

Note: This book talks about things that could potentially be disturbing or upsetting to sensitive kids. I’d recommend reading it ahead of time and possibly reading it with them.

Verdict: 4 stars

Picture Book: Pat the Bunny

Jesse’s parents gave Kierstyn this book recently and we’ve loved it. I guess it’s sold over 6 million copies… but I’d never even heard of it! It’s a sweet and interactive book and one we’ve read again and again to the babies in the few weeks we’ve had it.

What have you read recently? I’d love to hear! Tell us in the comments!

Two Books I Finished & One Book I Didn’t (+ a favorite picture book)

Welcome to my weekly book update post where I share what books I read this past week + my honest thoughts and star ratings of them.

A Word on My Star Ratings

The star ratings I give the books I read are based on a 5-star rating system. I rarely will ever give a book a 1-star rating (maybe never?), because my philosophy is that if a book is only worthy of one star, I’m more than likely going to quit reading it. 🙂 In the same vein, you’ll also notice that I’ll rarely give a 5-star rating as I reserve those for only my very, very favorite books.

Want to see all of the books I’ve read so far this year? Check out my Good Reads page.

The last few weeks, I finished two books and here are my reviews…

Show Up For Your Life

This book, by Chrystal Evans Hurst, is written to encourage teen girls to live with more intention and purpose. As the Amazon description says, it’s “a book that empowers young women to appreciate their divinely-created uniqueness instead of comparing themselves to others.”

The chapters are short and easily digestible and the book is packed with lots of stories and practical ways to walk out the lessons it contains. I especially loved how the author was so honest in sharing her mistakes and short-comings.

As someone who has teen daughters and who helps lead a small group of high school girls in our youth group, I thought it was a worthwhile read. Not all of it was relatable currently (it delved into certain things that my girls haven’t dealt with or struggled with yet), but I picked up some words of wisdom as a mom and youth group leader, plus inspiration in my personal life.

Verdict: 3 stars

The Way I Heard It

I’ve never listened to Mike Rowe’s podcast by this same name, but I really enjoyed this book. It shares little known stories of well known people…  but he doesn’t tell you who the individual is until the very end of the story.

In addition, he shares a more personal reflection at the end of each story. These were often my favorite as he’s had such a fascinating life and journey.

Mike Rowe is a fantastic storyteller and I get so personally inspired as a writer just by paying attention to how he weaves words and stories together in a masterful way. I especially loved that this audiobook was narrated by him. I loved some of the sections so much that I had to have Jesse listen to them!

Note: If you’re familiar with Mike Rowe’s show, Dirty Jobs, you’ll know that he tends to be a little crude at times and there was definitely some innuendo in the book. So if that type of thing bothers you, this book is definitely one you’ll want to pass. I’m giving it a high star rating based upon the vibrant storytelling in this book.

Verdict: 4 stars

Book I Didn’t Finish: Where the Crawdads Sing — I’ve seen this book mentioned so many places and it has often been recommended. I made it halfway through the audiobook and just couldn’t keep listening. While I found the story engaging and it was so good to remember that you never know where people have come from and what it’s like to walk in their shoes, I just felt uncomfortable that it was starting to give too many details about intimate scenes.

Picture Book: Goodnight Moon

I thought it would be fun to start sharing some of the picture books we’re reading to the babies. Goodnight Moon was one of Silas’ favorite books when he was little and he was so excited to get to introduce it to them babies.

They love this book already and we’ve read it over and over again. I think this is a perfect book to introduce to little babies because the pictures are so engaging (plus it has some black and white pages), the story is short, and it’s fun and rhyming.

What are your favorite picture books to read to little ones?

What have you read recently? I’d love to hear! Tell us in the comments!