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Tag Archive: 2020 Books

3 Books I Read Last Week + 1 Classic Movie Watched Watched

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 Year of Less

Full disclosure, I’d never heard of this book until I happened to see it on Libby. The subtitle (How I Stopped Shopping, Gave Away My Belongings, and Discovered Life Is Worth More Than Anything You Can Buy in a Store) intrigued me so I downloaded it.

I almost turned it off during the first few chapters, but I’m actually happy I went ahead and finished listening to it. Why? Because the author is so different than me and it was truly insightful to help me understand more what it’s like to be a spender or to have an addiction to shopping/spending.

(I could not relate to most of any of her struggles, but it really gave me such a helpful look into what it’s like to feel such a need to shop/spend money.)

The book shares a lot of the author’s story and background, so some people might not enjoy the memoir-ish parts of it if you’re just looking for practical advice and encouragement to live with less. However, if you enjoy reading about how someone is seeking to make radical changes in their life and the resulting struggles, temptations, and triumphs, this might be a good read.

Verdict: 3 stars

Originals: How Non-Conformists Move the World

This is a much more head-y and data-driven book that I usually enjoy. But I’m glad I listened to it because it made me think deeply about various aspects of my life.

There are so many different things I could share from the book, but a few that really stood out to me were:

  • The conversation about how birth order can affect whether you are a rebel or a conformist.
  • The author’s insights on how procrastination can actually be a positive, helpful thing. (Yes, for real!)
  • The section on how it’s important to produce a lot of work if you want to produce a few really great works.
  • And the encouragement to acknowledge cynicism people would feel versus trying to pretend it doesn’t exist (this was in the context of a business pitch, but it could apply in many realms.

Verdict: 3 stars

Not So Perfect Mom

A lot of this book was repeat material I’ve read/heard elsewhere, so I didn’t get many new insights from it. I also felt like it stayed rather surface-y in sections (which surprised me considering the author is a licensed counselor) and bordered on being a little legalistic in others.

That said, I did appreciate the author’s insights on how a mother’s love can deeply affect her child in such positive ways. I also gleaned from her encouragement to really invest in your kids when they are little and how that impacts the rest of your child’s life.

One of my favorite quotes was: “You cannot have lifelong, heart-connected relationship with someone if they feel like they are a failure when they are with you.” (Such a good reminder and it goes along with something I’ve been trying to practice in my parenting.)

Verdict: 2 stars

Classic Movie We Watched This Week

The kids decided — all on their own — that they want to start watching one old classic movie per week together as a family in 2020. They are helping me choose the list of movies and I’ll be reporting here what we watch each week and their thoughts on it.

I plan to do a big classic movie round-up post at the end of the year with their verdict on the best and favorites of the ones we watched. (Thank you for all the great suggestions for must-watch classic movies!)

This week, we watched the original That Darn Cat movie. I had never heard of it, but a bunch of you recommended it, so I figured we’d give it a try.

Now here’s the full disclosure on it: I fell asleep 20 minutes into the movie. Not because it was boring, but because I was exhausted. However, our kids + the 10-year-old girl we were fostering last week all enjoyed it. And the parts I saw had some genuinely funny moments.

I want to watch the newer movie (well, after I go back and actually stay awake through the original one!), but I heard from some people that it wasn’t as good. Have you seen it? Would you recommend it?

What did you read this past week? Any books you think I really need to add to my long to-read list??

5 Books I Read This Past Week (+ 1 classic movie we watched)

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.

Okay, I’m absolutely giddy to tell you that I finished 15+ books in January. Honestly, I am pretty shocked by this number!

I think some of it has to do with setting weekly goals and some of it has to do with prioritizing audiobooks again (and the fact that they no longer make me nauseous now that I’m further along in my pregnancy, reading aloud again, and switching from being on my phone (answering comments/messages) while on the treadmill to reading/praying while on the treadmill.

It seems like tiny tweaks and additions have added up to big results. And this is so encouraging to me.

No promises that I’ll keep up this pace for the rest of the year! However, considering how full January has been, it seems like it truly might be possible to at least keep reading 2-3 books/week most weeks. We’ll see!

If you want to see what I’m currently reading or what I’ve read so far this year, you can check out my GoodReads account.

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.

Before and After

I was so excited about this book as it’s the real-life stories of the children who survived the Tennessee Children’s Home Society. (If you have read or listened to Before We Were Yours, you’re familiar with that heart-breaking story.)

While I think these stories need to be told and while I found some of them fascinating, the book as a whole was a let down when compared to Before We Were Yours. Maybe it’s because I was expecting more cohesiveness in the book as opposed to a lot of individual stories with only what felt like a thin plot string holding them together.

If you loved Before We Were Yours, you might enjoy this book for more real-life biography/backstory for the novel. However, if you’re only going to read one of the two books, definitely read Before We Were Yours.

I decided to give this book 3 stars because 2 stars felt like I was doing a disservice to the families and children and lives that were wrecked by the Tennessee Children’s Home Society. But for the writing and overall level that the book engaged me, I’d probably only give it two stars.

Verdict: 3 stars

100 Ways to Love Your Husband + 100 Ways to Love Your Wife

If you are looking for some practical ideas and inspiration for ways to love your spouse, these small books are a great starting place. They are filled with 100 different ideas to speak love to your spouse.

Now, I’ll say that not all of these ideas will work for every couple. There are some that would most definitely not really be our “thing” at all. But there were other ideas that I hadn’t thought of before that provided some highly motivating and inspiration sparks of inspiration for ways I can practically show Jesse love.

If you need more encouragement, be sure to check out this week’s podcast episode with the authors, Matt and Lisa Jacobson!

Verdict: 3 stars

Live Love Now

I was sent a pre-release copy of this book in order to write an endorsement. Rachel Macy Stafford’s books have deeply impacted me and it was an honor to get to write an endorsement for her.

Here was what I wrote:

If you are the parent or grandparent of a pre-teen or teen or if you have any interaction at all with teens or tweens, you need to read this book. It is packed with powerful reminders of how our words, actions, attitudes, and availability (or lack thereof), leave indelible marks on the next generation.

I was inspired, convicted, and challenged by Rachel’s gentle message of how to guide, encourage, and impact young adults to live with less stress and more joy. And I took away so many practical applications I plan to immediately implement in our home and parenting.

Note: I likely would have given this more than 3 stars, but I felt like the writing was a big choppy at times and it sometimes felt more like reading a collection of essays or blog posts. However, the underlying concepts in so many of the chapters were really, really good.

Verdict: 3 stars

The Whole-Brain Child

This was, by far, my favorite book this week. I honestly cannot stop talking about it. Poor Jesse has had to listen to me rave again and again about it all week long! 🙂

This was highly recommended to by one of our kids’ counselors and and one of their therapists in the past few years and I finally read it. It is packed with great suggestions and strategies for helping our kids process the world, relate better with others, and feel more loved and secure.

It is not written from a Christian perspective, but I found the sections on brain science to be fascinating and really enlightening. If you are a parent or work with kids in any capacity, I highly recommend this book to help you better love, understand, teach, and nurture the kids in your life.

Note: I would have given it 5 stars, but I disagreed with some of the points (and felt a few were not entirely Biblical) so I only gave it a 4-star rating.

Verdict: 4 stars

Classic Movie We Watched This Week

The kids decided — all on their own — that they want to start watching one old classic movie per week together as a family in 2020. They are helping me choose the list of movies and I’ll be reporting here what we watch each week and their thoughts on it.

I plan to do a big classic movie round-up post at the end of the year with their verdict on the best and favorites of the ones we watched. (Thank you for all the great suggestions for must-watch classic movies!)

This week, we watched the original Cheaper by the Dozen movie. I had seen it once before but it’s been a long time! While it’s a little slow moving and ends on a sad note, it has some genuinely funny moments throughout it.

By the way, the movie is loosely based upon the real-life story as told in the book by the same name. I read it years and years ago and remember liking it. Have you read it before? I was wondering if it would be worth reading to the kids or not? I can’t remember it well enough now!

What did you read this past week? Any books you think I really need to add to my long to-read list??

5 Books I Read This Week (+ 1 classic movie we watched)

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.

If you want to see what I’m currently reading or what I’ve read so far this year, you can check out my GoodReads account.

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.

Here are the 5 books I finished last week…

No Better Mom for the Job

I really loved this book! While it was written more for moms of younger kids, it was great to read as I gear up to be the mom of a baby and toddler and preschooler again!

If you sometimes question whether you are really cut out to be a mom or you sometimes wonder if your kids are getting short-changed because your mothering style and strengths are so different than other moms you know, I think this book will really encourage your heart.

Becky writes from the trenches as a mom who has experienced the exhausting stage of mothering three young boys who were very close in age. In this book, she shares what she has learned as a mom. She shares her story to embrace her gifts, lean into her strengths, and rely on the Lord in the middle of the mundane and messes of motherhood.

For more on how this book inspired me, read this post I wrote based upon one of the quotes in the book.

Verdict: 4 stars

100 Words of Affirmation Your Wife/Husband Needs to Hear

These books, by Matt and Lisa Jacobson, are a quick but impactful read. If you need some practical ideas and encouragement to speak words of life to your spouse or you just would love to glean from the wisdom of a couple who have raised 8 kids and been married for 27 years, I think you’ll find these books insightful.

I think it would be especially fun to read them together as a couple and to compare notes. (Some of their suggestions sparked good conversations between Jesse and me the past two weeks!)

These books were a good reminder to me of how important it can be to take the little bit of extra time to express how much we appreciate our spouse. It doesn’t cost any money, it takes very little extra effort, but it could make a huge difference in our marriage.

My only complaint? They were really short and I wished they had been a little more in-depth.

Verdict: 3 stars

Great Escapes of World War II

I read this book aloud to the family last week. It’s fairly short and each chapter covers one specific story of POW escape during World War II.

While some of us knew parts of some of the stories, we all learned new things. And it was one of those books that made you want to dig deeper into the stories shared.

It also was interesting to read at the same time I was listening to Killing the Rising Sun. The contrast between how different countries treated POWs was really sad and fascinating.

I think the thing I was most struck with was how much effort the POWs expended to try to escape. And in almost every case, dozens (or even hundreds!) of POWs worked together for just a few to escape. It was an inspiration to think of their sacrifices on behalf of others.

Verdict: 3 stars

Killing the Rising Sun

Last week, I told you how I didn’t enjoy Killing Patton. Well, this book certainly redeemed that reading experience.

I listened to this book on the free Libby app and am so glad I did. It is well worth listening to — especially if you enjoy history.

This book chronicles the backstory leading up to the end of World War II. A lot of the content surrounds the creating and dropping the atomic bombs.

While it mostly focuses on facts and history, it does bring up a lot of valuable ethical questions surrounding the use of atomic bombs. It made me think long and hard about these decisions people made and the longterm ramifications of them.

Verdict: 4 stars

Classic Movie We Watched This Week

The kids decided — all on their own — that they want to start watching one old classic movie per week together as a family in 2020. They are helping me choose the list of movies and I’ll be reporting here what we watch each week and their thoughts on it.

I plan to do a big classic movie round-up post at the end of the year with their verdict on the best and favorites of the ones we watched. (Thank you for all the great suggestions for must-watch classic movies!)

The Sound of Music

This movie was on our list from the get-go this year. I have watched it a few times in my life, but it’s been a long time.

The girls had watched it once before, but they had forgotten parts of it. Silas just kept having his eyes grow wide when they’d start singing one of the songs. “Whoa! That song came from this movie, too??” he’d say. (I think the songs were actually originally from the musical that was turned into the movie, right?)

Many years ago, I read the true story account that the movie/musical was based on. The kids enjoyed hearing me share what I remember was fact and what was added to the storyline.

While the movie is long and a little slow moving in parts, we overall enjoyed it. And now I’ve had all the Sound of Music songs in my head all week!

What did you read this past week? Any books you think I really need to add to my long to-read list??

3 Books I Read Last Week (+ the classic movie we watched)

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.

In the spirit of keeping my goals smaller and in bite-sized chunks in 2020, I decided to just pick the next few books I’m planning to read instead of trying to sort of plan out the whole year!

And then I’m planning to do a book update post every week or every other week here with reviews and thoughts on the books I finished. It’s very possible that some weeks I won’t finish any books, so I’m giving myself permission to skip a week here and there if I don’t have anything to report! 🙂

If you want to see what I’m currently reading or what I’ve read so far this year, you can check out my GoodReads account.

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.

1. Awful, Beautiful Life

I love Katherine Reay’s fiction works and picked this book up solely based upon that. I wasn’t familiar with the story otherwise but I thought it sounded intriguing.

Unfortunately, the book fell flat for me. It felt like the story drug out longer than it needed and that there was a lot of filler information included just to reach a word count.

Honestly, while I think there were some encouraging things throughout the story, it seemed to get bogged down by all of the legal and financial information that kind of went on and on. Or at least that’s how it felt when I read it.

While I think it would make for an interesting article or 3-part series, I didn’t feel like there was enough meat to make it a book length work.

Verdict: 2 stars

2. Killing Patton

I was excited to listen to this via the Libby App as I had loved the other books in this series. However, I found this book harder to follow. Maybe it was because I was not at all as familiar with Patton’s story so it didn’t draw me like the stories of Reagan and Lincoln.

In addition, the book starts out by kind of giving away some of the basic facts of how Patton was killed. I felt that this ruined some of the build up and engagement that I found with the other books.

Currently, I’m listening to Killing the Rising Sun and it’s so much better and engaging than this audiobook. If I were to be asked, I’d say to skip this one and listen to Killing the Rising Sun instead (review coming next week!)

Verdict: 2 stars

3. Romancing Your Child’s Heart

Okay, lest you think I just had a really negative attitude all week when it came to life and thus the negative reviews, I saved the best for last! 🙂

Romancing Your Child’s Heart is a book I think every Christian parent should read. In fact, it’s one of the best parenting books I’ve read.

While some of the illustrations might seem a little outdated or not something that are relatable for your family (the author is very much an outdoorsman type of person and he and his wife raised their kids in the same vein), the premise of the book is something I think we all need to hear.

It’s so easy for us as parents to focus on rules-based parenting and spending our days correcting our kids instead of cheerleading them and learning to communicate well with them. And while boundaries and parameters are important, we can miss relationship in the process, if we’re not careful.

I love how the author really challenges parents to take the time and make the effort to build relationships with our kids, to listen to them, to embrace them for who God created them to be, and not to try to make them into something they aren’t or that we think they are supposed to be.

Verdict: 4 stars

Classic Movie We Watched This Week

The kids decided — all on their own — that they want to start watching one old classic movie per week together as a family in 2020. They are helping me choose the list of movies and I’ll be reporting here what we watch each week and their thoughts on it.

I plan to do a big classic movie round-up post at the end of the year with their verdict on the best and favorites of the ones we watched. (If you have suggestions of must-watch classic movies, leave them in the comments!)

This week, we watched 7 Brides for 7 Brothers. The girls thought they may have seen it before, but if so, it had been a really long time.

While it was somewhat cheesy to a few of us, everyone said they were glad that they watched it. We also loved seeing how they were creative with backgrounds back before modern movie technology!

(Kaitlynn did take issue with the references to the Sobbin’ Women bit from Plutarch’s story of the Sabine Women. “Mom, do you know what they did to those women?? It was no laughing matter!” I haven’t read Plutarch, but she has, so she helped us all understand more of the story where this originated. Which led to a great discussion on this… I love it when movies and books lead to great family discussions on important topics.)

If you like lighthearted, old musicals and can overlook some things, you’ll likely enjoy this movie. That said, I will warn you that the songs will get stuck in your head for DAYS!

What did you read this past week? Any books you think I really need to add to my long to-read list??

4 Books I Read This Past Week (+ the classic movie we watched)

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.

In 2020, I decided not to put together a list of all the books I plan to read like I did the past few years. In the spirit of keeping my goals smaller and in bite-sized chunks, I decided to just pick the next few books I’m planning to read instead of trying to sort of plan out the whole year!

And then I’m planning to do a book update post every week or every other week here with reviews and thoughts on the books I finished. It’s very possible that some weeks I won’t finish any books, so I’m giving myself permission to skip a week here and there if I don’t have anything to report! 🙂

Full disclosure, I did pick out a bunch of books I really would love to read this year and put them on three of the shelves in our library. And I plan to mostly pick the books I’m reading next from those shelves.

I also picked out about 25 books on parenting that I plan to read while I’m writing my book. (My manuscript is due in July 2020 and I am hopeful that I’ll be able to read one parenting book per week. I’ve been reading 1-2 chapters every morning on the treadmill while I’m walking and, at that rate, it’s pretty easy to get through a book per week. We’ll see if I can keep it up!)

If you want to see what I’m currently reading or what I’ve read so far this year, you can check out my GoodReads account.

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.

Here are the books I finished last week:

1. An Invisible Thread

This book was recommended to me twice in the same week by people I respect, so I figured I should get a copy and read it! An Invisible Thread is the story of a seeming chance meeting between an 11-year-old pan handler and a busy executive and how it changed both of their lives.

This book is written from the perspective of the busy executive, Laura Schroff, and her thoughts on how this young boy impacted her life in ways she couldn’t have dreamed. I thought it did a good job of fleshing out some of the very real problems and struggles with children born into poverty.

I think so many of us live very sheltered and safe lives that it’s hard to imagine what it would be like to grow up and never know where you’ll be living, to have to figure out how to fend for yourself from a young age, to always be hungry, and how hard it would be to break the cycles of poverty and drug addiction when that’s all you know.

On the flip side, I cringed at some of the decisions Laura made and how hurt this young boy — often with her being completely oblivious. It made me examine my own life and thought processes over things and decisions, especially in light of fostering.

One of the parts of the book that I didn’t expect was that it wasn’t wrapped up in a neat bow and it didn’t have a perfect Hallmark movie ending. But I appreciated that it was real and gritty and the author was honest about her struggles.

That said, I felt like the author shared a lot more about her background and life than maybe was necessary and sometimes it felt more like her memoir than the story that is promised in the subtitle. In some ways, it felt like she was trying to fill a word count for her manuscript. And yet, some of her story was very interesting and insightful.

Verdict: 3 stars

2. The Rock, The Road, and the Rabbi

I had seen this book advertised or mentioned so many different places, but I had no idea what it was about. I was looking for some new books to listen to on my Libby audiobook app and it was available to borrow from the library, so I started listening to it.

Honestly, it seemed a little dry in the beginning and the introduction was kind of long and drawn out. But I’m glad I kept listening, because I learned so much and it opened so many passages in Scripture in a new light.

Kathie Lee Gifford shares her journey of traveling to Israel and learning under a Messianic Rabbi. He helped her write many parts of the book and, as someone who has read the Bible from cover to cover many times in my life, I couldn’t believe how much I learned.

I think that it helped that I visited Israel a few years ago and had gone to many of the places mentioned in the book so I could picture them in my mind as I was listening. And it made me anxious to go back again!!

If you haven’t been to Israel, I think you’ll still find this book insightful, it just might not come alive as much if you can’t picture the sites and places in your mind. (However, this book might make you really want to visit there!)

Verdict: 4 stars

3. Parenting: 14 Gospel Principles That Can Radically Change Your Family

I can’t tell you how many times people have recommended this book to me! Since I’m working on a book on the topic of parenting right now, I figured I should really read it.

It was interesting to me how much of the book mirrored some of the lessons and journey God has had me on as a parent in the last 3 years. Much of it was refresher type of encouragement, but it was so good to read.

I appreciated the author’s strong emphasis on the Gospel as that is often missing in parenting books. It’s so easy to focus on prescriptive parenting tactics instead of getting to the heart — pointing our kids to Jesus.

In addition, I loved the underlying message that we won’t doing this parenting thing perfectly and that’s the point. If we were perfect parents, we wouldn’t need Jesus!

While I didn’t agree with every tiny little thing in the book and I truly was irritated by the layout of the book, I am very glad I read this and think it’s a worthwhile read for every Christian parent!

(A note on the layout: I think it needed more spacing and better breaking up of paragraphs, maybe some callout quotes, and possibly a different font? Yes, I’m weird in that book layouts can really make or break my reading experience. I’ve even been known to not read a book just because I felt like the layout was so poorly done!)

Verdict: 4 stars

4. A Single Shard

We’ve had this book on our shelf for a few years and I finally picked it up to read aloud to the kids. It’s the fictional account of a master potter, a homeless boy, big dreams, dashed hopes (literally), and how perseverance pays off.

Truth be told, I really enjoyed the story and found it pretty engaging (even though I had mostly guessed what the ending was going to be!),  but the kids didn’t enjoy it. They said it was hard to follow and not super engaging.

I think some of the was likely due to the fact that we’ve gotten way out of the habit of reading aloud (should I confess that it’s been almost two years — I think! — since we’ve read a book other than a devotional or the Bible out loud together??) and it’s going to take some time to get back into it. I also think that they’ve changed so much in the few years since we stopped reading aloud, that it’s going to take some trial and error to figure out what kinds of books will engage them now that they are older.

Regardless of it not being a big hit, I’m going to celebrate that we read it, finished it, and learned some things about potters and ancient pottery and 12th century Korea. That’s a win, right?? 🙂

Verdict: 3 stars

Classic Movie We Watched This Week

The kids decided — all on their own — that they want to start watching one old classic movie per week together as a family in 2020. They are helping me choose the list of movies and I’ll be reporting here what we watch each week and their thoughts on it.

I plan to do a big classic movie round-up post at the end of the year with their verdict on the best and favorites of the ones we watched. (If you have suggestions of must-watch classic movies, leave them in the comments!)

This week, we watched the 1960’s version of Swiss Family Robinson. I hadn’t seen it in a long time, so I wasn’t sure if it would stand up to my childhood recollection of it being a great movie. And I had no idea what the kids would think since it definitely doesn’t have all the modern technology of big budget films now.

Well, we all really enjoyed it! The kids laughed a lot through it and we all decided it’s definitely one of the classic movies worth watching!

Note: Silas (10) was a little scared in a few parts and covered his eyes with the blanket. I told him that the ending was sort of like Home Alone, only pirate style, and that helped him enjoy it more to know that was coming. He ended up really liking it overall and said it helped that I gave him a little taste of what was coming. (It’s funny, because I do not like to know how a movie is going to end up. He, on the other hand, prefers to know that everything is going to be okay and then he can enjoy it a lot more.)

What did you read this past week? Any books you think I really need to add to my long to-read list??