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4 Books I Finished in February

Every month this year, I’m sharing what books I finished and what my honest thoughts were on those books. If you love books, you don’t want to miss this post! (You can see all of my book reviews for this year here.)

girl holding a stack of books I've finished

I set a goal to finish 80 books in 2019 and a second goal that 40 of those books will be books I already own. (You can see which books I picked to read from those I already own here).

By the way, I’m truly loving using GoodReads to track my reading. You all were right! It is really motivational to see my progress!

(It’s also motivating to realize I’m currently 5 books behind schedule when it comes to my 80 books goal. Oh well! I’m hopeful I’ll make that up come summer!)

I finished 4 books in February. Here’s what I read + my honest thoughts on each of the books:

A photo of Brush of Wings, a book I finished in February

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#1: Brush of Wings

I listened to the first two books in this series last month (Angels Walking and Chasing Sunsets). So of course, I had to listen to the third book this month! (I was able to get it for free from the Libby app.)

This is a fictionalized series of how angels are walking amongst us and helping to protect us on a daily basis (based upon verses like Psalm 91:11 and Hebrews 13:2).

I disagreed with some of the theological implications and don’t know that I agree with some of the ways that she presented angels as humans. However, I found it so good to remember that there are spiritual forces — both good and evil — around us at all times and that there is power in the name of Jesus.

I also found it encouraging to be reminded how God sometimes uses really hard things in our life to turn into some of the most beautiful things. It’s easy to forget this.

The audiobooks are narrated by two different voice actors (depending upon who was narrating each chapter in the books) and I thought they were well done.

That said, I felt like the third book was slower than the first two. It seemed to drag on and be really predictable. In fact, it almost felt like she was supposed to write a third book so she had to include quite a bit of filler content in it just to make it long enough.

My verdict: 2 stars

A photo of Sacred Ground, Sticky Floors, a book I finished in February

#2: Sacred Ground, Sticky Floors

I picked up this book on the recommendation of a blog reader. And then I put it on my list of 40 books I plan to read — and so many of you commented and said I MUST read it right away so I bumped it to the top of the list.

The subtitle for the book is How Less Than Perfect Parents Can Raise (Kind of) Great Kids. I love that… because it feels like it’s actually doable and not like a book that is going to make me feel like I’m just not measuring up as a mom.

Jami’s humor and candidness in this book was a breathe of fresh air to me. Her writing is so down-to-earth, so raw, and so real. She makes you feel less alone, but she also does such a good job of pointing you to Jesus and encouraging you to lean in and love your kids — even when it’s really hard.

If you are looking for a parenting book that isn’t about formulas or perfection and doesn’t make you feel like you need to overhaul your schedule and life and chore charts in order to be a better mom, definitely check out Sacred Ground, Sticky Floors.

This book reads more like a memoir, but it’s packed with powerful truths, too.

(By the way, I loved this book so I asked Jami to be a guest on next week’s episode of The Crystal Paine Show! Stay tuned for that!)

My verdict: 5 stars

Etched in Sand by Regina Calcaterra, a book I finished in February

#3: Etched in Sand

My sister recommended that I read this book… and she basically never fails me with her book recommendations! This book is the true story of five siblings who survived a pretty horrific childhood of abuse.

It is sad and honest and has a lot of crass language in it, but I thought it was a really insightful look into the foster care system from the perspective of a child. It displays so clearly that there are no easy solutions or quick fixes and that we who haven’t experienced what these kids have experienced truly have no idea what it would be like to walk in their shoes.

My heart hurt so much for the heavy weight of guilt that the author carried around because of feeling like she didn’t protect her younger sister — even though she tried so hard to do so and took many blows and beatings from her abusive mother in order to protect her siblings.

This is a sad and haunting story and it might be too difficult for some to read. I’m grateful to have read it because it gave me fresh eyes of compassion for others who are hurting and for friends who have experienced abuse and abandonment in their childhood and how much it likely has wounded them emotionally.

My verdict: 4 stars

Only Love Today by Rachel Macy Stafford, a book I finished in February

#4: Only Love Today

I had planned to read this book, but it became available on the Libby app, so I downloaded it and listened to it. I love Rachel’s encouragement to make the most of everyday moments, to savor life, and to slow down and really invest our time and energy into people.

One part of the book that will stick with me for a long time was when she talked about the power of six seconds. How we all have six seconds that we can stop and say, “I love you” or, “I’m sorry.”

To really look into someone’s eyes and listen to them. To smile. To hold a door open.

We might not have hours to devote every day, but we can all take six seconds to make a difference in someone else’s life.

While I appreciated so many aspects of the book, I did feel like it was pretty repetitive and there was a bit of a strong undertone of self-love that could easily turn into selfishness. I’m not saying that is what the author was encouraging; I’m just saying it could be interpreted in an unhealthy way.

As a Christian, I see that one of my primary reasons for existing is to glorify the Lord and to love others well because I am so loved by God. I read the book and the parts that seemed a little heavy on the self-love through this lens.

My verdict: 3 stars

Books I Started But Didn’t Finish

I started both Start With Why & Chase the Lion in February but didn’t finish them. Not because they weren’t really good, but because I was listening to them on the Libby app and I had to “return” them before I was finished listening. I hope to re-check them out again in the next few months and finish them.

Bible Reading Progress

I started January 1, 2019 with my commitment this year to begin every day with 30 minutes of time in God’s Word. I’m reading through the New Testament using the She Reads Truth Bible plans at the beginning of each book of the Bible.

So far, I’ve finished all of Matthew, Mark, and Luke.

What did you read in February? Are there any books you really think I should read in 2019?

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  • Katy says:

    I just finished Why Motherhood Matters and I really loved it and would recommend it!
    I’m reading Answering Your Kids’ Toughest Questions
    And also reading The Secret of the Dessert Stone and the book of Esther (daughter’s request) to the kids

  • Tammy says:

    I would really appreciate it if you actually shared about what you are reading in the bible – not just saying what you finished (checking it off). I am sure God is speaking to you, teaching you, encouraging you and challenging you as you read through His word. Please share with us!

    • Thank you for asking about this. This might sound weird, but I long ago made a commitment that when I read God’s Word, it’s for me and my own spiritual growth; not to teach others/share with others.

      I don’t know if that makes sense, but I think that when someone like me is giving out so much (I typically write a blog post, an Instagram post, multiple FB posts, multiple instagram stories, multiple live videos, an email newsletter, and some course-writing every day + answering hundreds of emails and comments), I need to have spaces that are just for me. If I was reading God’s Word knowing that people were expecting me to share what I was learning, it would become something different than just my time between me and God for my own spiritual growth and would become about me looking for what I could give out to others.

      I do sometimes share little glimpses on my Instagram Lives and Instagram posts, but I usually save what I’m learning for sharing with my kids/husband, writing in my journal, pondering quietly with God, and talking over with close local friends.

      I hope that helps explain why I don’t share that in these posts nor really anywhere online. It allows it to be a really sweet time of quiet and sitting at the feet of Jesus for me.

  • Erin says:

    I finished Chasing Excellence today and you were soooo right! I would never have picked up a book about Cross Fit athletes but you spoke so highly of it that I decided to give it a shot. It was so inspirational and it deeply impacted me. Time to start really showing up, taking action, and giving my full effort every time! Thanks so much for the recommendation.

  • Melissa says:

    First, I have to thank you for recommending Eat Cake, Be Brave. I had spotted the book a few months back, and kept going back and forth about whether or not to read it. After seeing your review and listening to the podcast, I decided to dive in – I did the audio version and binge-listened in just a few days – I LOVED it.

    Have you read Cold Tangerines: Celebrating the Extraordinary Nature of Everyday Life? I just started it but it had been recommended to me a few times, I’m really enjoying it.

    I would recommend Church of the Small Things: The Million Little Pieces That Make Up a Life – I read it a few months back and really enjoyed it.

  • Pamela Reed says:

    I noticed you have Tara Westover’s Educated in your photo – I just finished it myself recently. It is an amazing story, but there is SO MUCH physical and mental abuse in there that I found it really really hard to read. I personally wasn’t prepared for that – I knew she’d had a hard life and all but abuse just wasn’t on my radar. So anyway, just FYI in case that stuff is hard for you to read too.

  • Jay says:

    I’m not sure if I read about Kisses with Katie here but I’m enjoying her second book Dare to Hope. It’s a story of a young American girl that moves to Uganda and stays ministering and eventually adopts 13 girls. It’s really amazing.

  • Emily says:

    I highly recommend The Tattooist of Auschwitz. It’s based on a true story, and it was written very well.

  • Kendra Wasberg says:

    Yes, you should definitely read “The Miracle Morning (The Not-So-Obvious Secret Guaranteed to Transform Your Life Before 8 am) by Hal Elrod. I am reading it now and half way through. It’s got so much wonderful information.

  • Jill says:

    I read Where the Crawdads Sing. It was so beautifully written from a nature perspective.

  • Your book reviews for each month are my new favorite posts! Thank you so much for taking the time to do this.

    Is there an easy way to find each monthly book review list?

    I’m reading Chase the Lion (sequel to In a Pit with a Lion on a Snowy Day) and Amon’s Adventure for Lent.

  • Marilyn says:

    A quick comment about your daughter. Hasn’t that happened to all of us and we wonder why, BUT so much harder when it happens to our child. My niece was in forensics. Did well most of the time, and at times had “those moments” but she persisted. When she had the opportunity to really shine, as your daughter will, is when she got to college. In large classrooms when she needs to give presentations, she will be able to focus on the topic rather than stressing on the presentation. It is a wonderful skill that will help her throughout her life! I am so glad your daughter has a loving family to encourage her!

  • Jessica says:

    I love to see what you are reading and have gotten many good recommendations from you!

    Two totally different book recommendations for you:
    1) Boys Without Names (novel set in present day India, engaging and eye-opening)
    2) Messy Beautiful Friendship (book on friendship among women, very encouraging)

  • Crystal, I enjoy reading your book review articles, and I’m currently reading e-books about learning how to blog.

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