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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!

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  • Erin Welch says:

    Where the Crawdads Sing is SO worth it to read to the end! Push past the uncomfortable parts and keep going. I promise it’s worth it!

    I recommend This Tender Land. Historical fiction that is so good.

    • Amy says:

      I agree! I can see how some parts were a little uncomfortable to read but it was an excellent book and I’m glad I finished it!

      • Monica says:

        Children’s books!! Oh so many good ones!!
        Mrs Wishy Washy
        All Better
        Moo Baa La La La
        Pat the Bunny
        5 Little Monkey’s
        Brown Bear Brown Bear
        Dear Zoo

      • Sarah says:

        I totally agree- the end is the best part! Skip the uncomfortable parts.

      • Christine says:

        The audio book is really annoying. The woman reading has a terrible southern drawl when she’s trying to sound like the young girl. I stopped listening.

    • Nancy says:

      Erin, This Tender Land just came through on my library hold list today. I can’t remember a thing about it and don’t know why I requested it (other than that it was recommended to me LOL). So I’m glad to see your recommendation—can’t wait to start it!

    • Flo says:

      I never engaged with the characters when I tried to read ‘Where the Crawdads Sing’. I am sure it was partly due to trying to read it to pass the hours while my husband was in the ICU after suffering a TBI in May 2019, but I have still not had the urge to pick it up and try again (even though he is back to 99% of normal in August of 2020!)
      I had read about half of Daniel Kahneman’s ‘Thinking, Fast and Slow’ and returned to it as soon as we returned home despite the amount of effort it took to understand all of his ideas. It was tremendously helpful in understanding what was going on with his brain as he began the recovery process, and to avoid freaking out and seeing nothing but gloom ahead. God had provided information that I had no idea I would need in the months ahead and at just the right time!!! Anyhow, ‘Thinking, Fast and Slow’ will be worth the time and effort to read, even if you just bite off a section at a time (each of the five sections is about 100 pages) and come back to it later several times. It really helps us see where our thinking has taken the easy way out (the ‘fast’ system) and where we need to engage the deeper processes that take more time and think more clearly (the ‘slow’ system). Another one I appreciated during that same period was ‘The Organized Mind’, by Daniel Levitin, how to deal with the immense amount of information we face all the time.

    • Jan says:

      I couldn’t get past the 30 plages, my limit on books whether to continue or stop. Too much stuff that wasn’t necessary.

  • Dianne Ewin says:

    Where the Crawdads Sing keeps getting better and better. I understand your opinion on the intimate scenes. They weren’t as bad as some books that I quit reading because of the sex. The few scenes in this book I was able to skim over. You need to pick it back up. I really think you’ll be pleasantly surprised. The few intimate scenes set the stage for an engaging story that just keeps getting better and better. In fact, I have a feeling you have already read past the scenes because there are actually very few in the book. I don’t think you’ll be sorry to pick up where you left off.

  • Tessa says:

    My favorite little kid books are The Big Red Barn and On the Night You Were Borm. Can’t remember authors and am nursimg the baby so I can’t get up to check but those are the two books I give as part of a baby gift package to every new mom I know.

  • Denise says:

    I’m partial to Brown Bear, Brown Bear 🙂

    • Nancy says:

      Brown Bear, Brown Bear was a favorite for us too! Another oldie: Barnyard Dance by Sandra Boynton.

      • Kristy says:

        Agree – Barnyard Dance is so good! There is actually a Sandra Boynton CD/Book collection that puts a lot of her books to song. We made up a few songs of our own, but also used ones from the CD.

        On another note, if you wanted to play some fun music for the babies, we’ve enjoyed Andrew Peterson’s Slugs and Bugs CD’s. They are catchy, silly, and many of them are about God/Jesus.

        • Kristy says:

          Also, going to throw out the “Baby Lit” series. They take classic stories (think Pride and Prejudice, etc) and turn them into primers for counting, colors, emotions, etc. We got a few for my niece and she loves them.

  • Sarah says:

    I’m reading through Evidence Not Seen by Darlene Deibler Rose that my mom lent me. It’s about a missionary in the East Indies during WWII and her captivity. I’m also slowly reading through Calm My Anxious Heart. Both I’m hoping will help me trust God more completely.

  • Diane says:

    Goodnight Moon was my favorite story when I was a toddler. I have loved reading it to my kids, too.

    Sandra Boynton has written so many fun picture board books (Snuggle Puppy, Little Pookie series, But not the Armadillo etc), Each Peach Pear Plum. Eric Carle’s books. Mother Goose, Beatrix Potter, so many good ones!

  • Megan W says:

    You should check out Peggy Rowe’s two books (Mike Rowe’s mom). I enjoyed them both!

  • Lisa says:

    God Gave Us You by Lisa Tawn Bergen.

    • Janet U says:

      I agree with Megan – check out Peggy Rowe’s books as well. Also, The Way I Heard It podcast series is really great. They are short and so interesting.

      I enjoyed Where the Crawdads Sing because my grandparents and great grandparents grew up poor in the south. They were industrious like the main character.

    • Sarah says:

      Have you signed up for Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library? I’m not sure if it would work for Champ but Kierstyn would get a free book in the mail every month until she’s 5. And they’re such good, diverse books!!!

  • Kaitlyn says:

    I totally agree with Where the Crawdads Sing. I read it all hoping it would get better but it was honestly one of the worst books I’ve ever read..

    • Heather says:

      I thought something was wrong with me, but I did not like this book either. One of the worst I’ve ever read.

    • Sally says:

      i guess i never got far enough into it but honestly I had the same outcome as you Sarah. i was also listening to in on Audible and it just drug in and on! i get impatient if a book takes a long time developing the story. And then when it got to detailed for me with uncomfortable parts I had to turn it off! i have a moral conscience that just is too sensitive!

    • Aimee says:

      I didn’t like Where the Crawdads Sing either. I’m a voracious reader and just found it dull and boring, didn’t find the characters likable. One of those times I didn’t get why there was all the buzz.

  • Rachel says:

    We loved Bear Snores On by Karma Wilson. We also like The Going to Bed Book and Moo, Baa, La La La by Sandra Boynton. Hand Hand Fingers Thumb by Al Perkins. We have a lot of favorites ☺️

  • barb says:

    My very personal opinion is that just that some books require violence and sometimes swearing to tell their story ( a whole bunch of classics come to mind) so do some require the s word. This is a coming of age story. I would suggest maybe you read it rather than listen? Some books translate better to Audio than others.

  • Susan says:

    I am happy to hear that I am not the only one who couldn’t embrace Where the Crawdads Sing, and I don’t think I got nearly as far as you did in the book. I tried, I really did, but I just couldn’t continue.

  • Meagan says:

    You should finish Crawdads! Skim past the intimate part and the rest of the book is so, so good!! Totally worth it!

  • Laura says:

    Our favorite picture book is Jamberry. Such fun!

  • Jen L. says:

    One of our favorite picture books when my daughter was a baby was Big Red Barn. It’s a great bedtime book! Also, books by Sandra Boynton and Jan Brett were some of our favorites.

  • Meg C says:

    Quick note re: Crawdads – I’ve heard from multiple ppl that the audiobook is awful due to the narrator’s voice. This from ppl who prefer audiobooks. One friend quit the audiobook but then chose to read it and ended up loving it.
    Personally, I read it and enjoyed the prose but didn’t “love” the story. It is beautifully written, imo, though.

  • Brandette W. says:

    Oh my gosh, you are SO missing out on not finishing Where the Crawdad’s Sing. It is by far the very best book I have read in a really long time. Just breeze through those parts if you are offended, because the book and story are so very worth it!

  • Meredith says:

    I hated Where The Crawdads Sing! I know I’m in the minority, but I’ll never get that reading time back. 😂

  • Suzanne says:

    I just finished Ordinary Grace by William Kent Kruger and it was SO GOOD!!!! I loved the characters and the story telling was fabulous. 💗

  • Katie says:

    Charles Martin is my favorite author. His writing is unique and he just came out with a new book The Water Keeper. I highly recommend him as an author!

  • Meredith says:

    Don’t listen to Crawdads- pickup a hard copy! It is so so good!!

  • Ruth says:

    I read “We were the lucky ones” by Georgia Hunter this week. The story is based on her family in Poland in World War 2. It was heart wrenching and full of details I never realized. I am thankful that the author wrote this account on paper for future generations to understand.

  • Jenny says:

    Your book recommendations are what keep me coming back to your site! I put the Mike Rowe book on hold at the library just now. Thank you!! (P.S. I agree about Crawdads!)

  • Colleen Harper says:

    We loved Jamberry, by Bruce Degen. The rhymes are memorable and flow so well, and the illustrations are beautiful!

  • Marianne Hardy says:

    I think it’s great you did not finish where the Crawdads Sing. I really don’t want to read books with sex scenes. I got too caught up with the story and the descriptions of nature. Do you know of a list of really awesome books but with no sex scenes and swear words? Do you have a list of fiction you’ve loved or perhaps another IG person…

  • Ann says:

    I tried Where the Crawdads sing and couldn’t read it either For other reasons…I just can’t read books where a child is suffering in a way.

  • Rebecca Puckly says:

    I have been reading little parts of Stories From Grandma’s Attic to my baby girl. She isn’t old enough to pay any attention to what I am actually reading so for now it is stories that I loved in grade school and can handle reading now with no engagement. I also love Usbornes very first touchy feely colors and animals books. She is finally starting to feel the book yay!

    Ps: I loved following your pregnancy as I am a ftm who is just a few weeks behind in the journey. When I feel tired I just think of you and know if you can handle two plus older kids I can handle my one for now 😉

  • Vinod P J says:

    I liked Roald Dahl but can’t find them in stores.

  • Aimee says:

    Our favorite books for littles:

    – Sandra Boynton – anything, really, we love her!
    – Harold and the Purple Crayon
    – The Story of Ferdinand (side note but we watched this on Disney this weekend and it was SO GOOD!)
    – Corduroy
    – Chicka Chicka Boom Boom (super fun book to learn ABCs)
    – The Little House
    – The Rainbow Fish
    – The Pout Pout Fish
    – The Day the Crayons Quit
    – Peas and Thank You
    – The Kissing Hand
    – Madel

  • carissa says:

    Kid books:
    -really anything by Sandra Boynton
    -someone gave us Goodnight Gorilla and it ended up being a favorite…there’s a balloon in the book that you can watch drift away a bit more on each page
    -Karma Wilson is good…Bear Stays Up is a fun Christmas book
    -That’s Not My (Bear, Train, Monster, etc.) board books. Lots of things to touch and really cute
    -Eric Carle, of course
    -Eating the Alphabet by Lois Ehlert, the pictures are gorgeous and it’s a fun way to start learning vocabulary of different fruits and veggies
    -Anything by David Weisner…mostly wordless books with gorgeous watercolor illustrations and a great sense of humor, Mr. Wuffles, Flotsam, and Tuesday were our favorites
    -Mr. Brown Can Moo was our favorite Dr. Suess…fun sound effects

  • Emily says:

    I completely agree. Where the Crawdads Sing was the worst book I read all year. I couldn’t believe it was so highly rated.

  • Beth says:

    We recently bought a board book called Dinosnores by Sandra Boynton. The grandkids are huge Sandra Boynton fans, because of her hilarious smartphone book apps. I bought them a couple of years ago for somewhere around $5, and we’ve had more fun playing them. I might also recommend, if you’re a fan of Goodnight Moon, the phone app for it, which has lots of fun activities, including hunting for the mouse throughout each page.

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