We all go through challenges and struggles that occasionally wreck us. If it hasn't happened to you yet, it will. That's the way life works sometimes. We have to live through a pain that we never expected or a challenge that restructures our entire life plan and sometimes that brings us to a place we can't handle, can't face, or simply just don't want to.
I read Let Hope In over a weekend and highlighted so many passages, I should have just highlighted the whole book. Though I'm not currently in a place of need, this book spoke to me through my past experiences and I know it will help so many readers through dark places.
Wilson focuses on four specific choices that can change your outlook on your situation and allow you to truly let hope in.
1. Choosing to Transform Instead of Transfer 2. Choosing to Be Okay with Not Being Okay 3. Choosing to Trust Rather than Please 4. Choosing to Free People Rather Than to Hurt Them
The book is Scripture-based and uses Biblical references in an excellent way. The point is made, but it's not overkill. The text is very readable and made for a quick read -- minus all the time I spent highlighting.
This is one I'll keep on my shelf to reference when I have a friend in need (or myself!). The writing is excellent and the subject matter always necessary to have on hand.(less)
Luke Brandford never imagined he would land in Watervalley, a tiny rural town nestled in the mountains of Tennessee. When he became a doctor, he always imagined he'd remain in a large city, conducting research to help find cures for the diseases he'd been taught to treat, yet the offer of a practice in this town made the ability to pay down the student loan debt he'd built up and Watervalley was where he landed.
Adjusting to small town life proved difficult, with one mishap after another, typically ending in embarrassment on Luke's part and leaving the people of the town laughing at their new doctor. Challenge after challenge confronts him and though he does see the charm in Watervalley, it takes a long time before he's not wanting to run back to the big city.
The residents of the town truly make this book what it is and I was reminded the entire time I was reading of Jan Karon's Mitford novels. Jeff High really hit some high points with his quirky cast of characters and their charming small town life, which was just what I needed in this reading slump. I found myself chuckling on most pages -- always a good thing when reading a book like this.
My few criticisms really had to do with the chapter transitions. I hate to call them corny, but that's exactly what they came off as. I also felt the actual medical jargon sometimes felt forced. Jeff High has a background in the medical field and he obviously knew what he was talking about, but in the midst of this particular plot, the language didn't quite feel authentic.
I was definitely charmed by the story and the characters, despite the few flaws I found, and I'm anxious for the second book. Sometimes I really need a book with a homey feel and this fit the bill perfectly. (less)
In our house, Ashley Wolff's Baby Bear Sees Blue is a daily read. When it first showed up in my mailbox, I fell in love with the sweet illustrations and the unique way of teaching colors and just recently E started enjoying it too. He's finally getting to the point where he'll sit through longer books and it's definitely a favorite.
Though usually pretty informed when it comes to new releases, I had no idea a companion book was being published! I was thrilled to see Baby Bear Counts One show up at my door and it's just as fantastic as its predecessor.
A beautiful autumn theme is woven through the pages as Baby Bear discovers different things around him. There's one woodpecker, two squirrels, three beavers, and so on, all getting ready for winter to come.
We're working on counting with E and this book is a wonderful way to point out new animals, while learning to count them. He's obsessed with squirrels, so I was very happy to see those acorn-gathering animals on one of the very first pages! Ending with snowflakes was perfect and is a great gateway to talking about the next season.
I love Wolff's illustrations with their beautiful lines and the soft color palatte. I know Baby Bear Counts One will be another popular book on our shelves. (less)
I'm quite obviously not a guy, but I think the Josh's emotions were spot-on. The writing was beautiful and intriguing and Josh was a great main charac...moreI'm quite obviously not a guy, but I think the Josh's emotions were spot-on. The writing was beautiful and intriguing and Josh was a great main character. He was hurting from his decisions and his loss, yet didn't want to exhibit those feelings to the world. He just wanted to be alone with his thoughts. The secondary characters were perfectly done and the plot was relevant. One of my favorites this year.
I loved the concept of the novel, but unfortunately the main character was written in a way that forced me, as a reader, to be distanced from her. I w...moreI loved the concept of the novel, but unfortunately the main character was written in a way that forced me, as a reader, to be distanced from her. I was unable to invest myself in her story and therefore didn't really care for the book overall. Using the Loteria cards as a chapter starter was unique and interesting, but when the main point of the story revealed itself, I still felt detached. Unfortunate. (less)
I wasn't sure what exactly the plot was supposed to be identifying as. Quirky romance? Fun love story abroad with a mystery? Political romance? Hate-o...moreI wasn't sure what exactly the plot was supposed to be identifying as. Quirky romance? Fun love story abroad with a mystery? Political romance? Hate-on-all-things-Russian? Parts were super light and others were incredibly heavy, without having a great blending or balance.
I loved How to Say Goodbye in Robot, but was left really confused about this one. And not that it matters, but I really, really hated the guy on the cover. He was not at all realistic. (less)
Bread & Wine is my new "it" book. It's the book that I'm going to buy for best friends, family members, graduates, new moms, and mom-pros. It's the book for every woman, despite your faith background or your cooking experience. The stories Shauna Niequist writes about are incredibly relatable -- you'll find your own life on these pages -- and she had me both giggling and crying within a few pages of one another.
I've already made the Blueberry Crisp and brought it to a friend who had just had a baby. We shared it (generous friend!) and it was simply divine and SO easy. I can't wait to give the other recipes a try, though I imagine I'll love them all. It's easy to love food that was created with friendship and hospitality in mind.
One of my greatest takeaways from this book is the idea of being hospitable, despite the size of one's home. We've always loved to have guests over and have food and drinks, but have stayed away from larger crowds , because of the small size of our house. With Shauna's urging, I know people will be thrilled to be invited, even if it means cushions on the floor and plates in laps.
I cannot possibly say enough great things about this book. It will definitely be a favorite of the year... a favorite of all-time.
Cia is thrilled to be graduating and after being chosen for The Testing, she both terrified and anxious to begin her future. It a position everyone in her life both covets and fears.
Upon arrival, Cia quickly learns the Testing is unlike anything she could have ever imagined -- and she was right to be scared. She can't trust anyone and must simply believe her intelligence will get her through to the end alive. Right and left both friends and enemies are dropping and she's never quite sure when her turn to fail will come.
I had a bit of trouble getting into this one, but ending up really enjoying it. With the rise of the dystopian genre over the past few years, every book seems to be compared to The Hunger Games and I did feel like it had a few mirroring qualities. Once Cia began the actual Testing process, I was totally hooked and rooting for this pretty amazing female main character.
Tomas was probably my least favorite character -- he came across flat and without much emotion. I didn't have the connection with him that I did with Cia and almost didn't care what happened to him in the end. What he lacked though, Cia made up for, because I really did end up loving her character.
I think I walked away from this one thinking it's a hybrid of The Hunger Games and Divergent. If those two books had a baby, The Testing would be it. I'm absolutely ready for book 2! After a slow start it ended up being a quick read that I was anxious to finish and know what happened with Cia.
Five characters, each separated by decades, deal with their own idea of marriage and what it means to have a true relationship with another individual. It's the story of how each couple have come to know each other and how their vision of marriage has been formed and molded and, ultimately, what love actually means to them.
I realize that isn't the most detailed of plot summaries, but seriously, I've sat here for 45 minutes, attempting to do justice to this fabulous book and I simply can't. It's just that multilayered, that complex, and THAT GOOD. It's so beautifully done, I just want to gush!
I loved that we were presented with four incredibly different couples, along with the woman who created the famous "A Diamond is Forever" slogan for De Beers. That plot point alone made the story unique and interesting, hooking me and keeping me interested. I wanted to read this one all day -- and slowly -- in order to soak up all the beautiful writing.
Though Frances was the driving force for me, it was impossible not to become totally entangled in each of the other relationships. Getting a behind-the-scenes look at the copywriting business was much more intriguing than I ever could have thought and Frances was such a well-rounded character, she was ultimately the one I became most involved with.
I'm recommending it to everyone -- man, woman, book clubs, etc. It was a great read.
With his "Chaos Walking" series, Patrick Ness earned a spot on my favorite authors shelf. Then came A Monster Calls and I loved that almost as much as the series. Now, with More Than This, Ness has really solidified his place and is one of the YA authors I recommend the most to both adults and teens looking for awesome reads.
I loved the mystery of this latest book and how the reader isn't quite sure where Seth is, just as he isn't. He believes he's dead, remembering himself drowning, and quite possibly in hell, but when he finds two others in the same place he is, a place that appears to be the same town he grew up in, after days and days alone, he's unsure if hell is really where they are. Until the Driver shows up. He's crazy-pants.
As Seth starts making discoveries of his surroundings -- it looks just like a decimated version of the town he grew up in and oh yeah, the fact that he woke up in a coffin in his old bedroom -- I needed to turn the pages faster and faster. The writing is beautiful and lovely to read, which almost makes it seem a little cruel to make such a heart-pounding story, but that's exactly what it was.
There are so many layers to both Seth and his back story that it was a great experience to uncover those, while being totally riveted by Seth's current circumstances. Another absolute winner from Patrick Ness! (less)
Despite being a bit "romancy" (not usually my thing) this one still had a serious subject at the heart of it and brought me to tears more than once. The main character, Jude, has a huge responsibility taking care of her father and it broke my heart to watch him slowly fade away from her and his family.
As she falls for a boy who is definitely NOT on her older sisters' list of approved boyfriend material, the confusion Jude is facing over so many aspects of her life makes this read really emotional. So many teens face a lot of pressure at such a young age and Jude was a great character to exhibit that.
The multicultural details were a fantastic surprise and I loved that Ockler wrote a story from the perspective of a girl that wasn't white, but didn't make a huge deal out of it. It was just how Jude's family was meant to be. More teen authors should take a page from Ockler's notebook!
Teddi Overman has loved restoring antique furniture since she was a girl. Her mother always thought it was a huge waste of time, even if Teddi sold every piece she touched almost immediately. After graduating high school, Teddi decides to take a chance and move away to pursue her dream, landing in Charleston working for an antiques dealer.
Fast forward a few years and Teddi owns her own successful shop and creates beautiful pieces of art, salvaging broken furniture from yard sales and scrap piles. Even with her success, Teddi is still drawn back to her home in Kentucky when she learns her brother Josh, who disappeared years before, may still be alive.
This has got to be one of the best books I've read this year. Teddi was a quirky main character with a fun and unique passion, making for an easy hook in the beginning. There was enough humor to occasionally make me chuckle, despite the heaviness of portions of the story, and Southern culture just dripped from the pages. I wanted to be friends with Teddi about as much as I wanted to buy a piece of her furniture.
Though definitely a stand alone story, I almost wish Hoffman would create a series around Teddi's shop, like Marie Bostwick's quilting books or the knitting series by Debbie Macomber. The book was charming and lovable and I want to hand it to everyone I know! Now, I'm off to read Saving CeeCee Honeycutt.
Evaline Stoker comes from a long line of famous vampire hunters and Mina Holmes is the niece of the famous Sherlock. These young women have been gifted talents necessary to continue the family businesses, yet both struggle with their tasks. Evaline can't stand the sight of blood and Mina is totally awkward in social situations and rather bossy.
These girls are thrown together, on a mission to figure out why society girls are disappearing and committing suicide. An unlikely pair, this combination definitely provides humor along with the mystery.
Oh and did I mention the time traveling hottie? There's one of those too.
2 things bothered me about this book, so let's get those out of the way first, shall we? It's definitely a plot-driven novel. Totally fine with that, except the characters really fell flat for me. I've always preferred books that have a character-driven focus, so it could totally be personal preference, but both Mina and Evaline had the chance to be deep characters -- laced with humor -- and neither really were. I felt as if they were constantly just being described, rather than actually living out the roles the author created for them.
I also didn't care for the inclusion of the time-traveling Dylan. I felt his part of the story was unnecessary and didn't add to the plot for me. It was almost annoying when he was having to describe his smartphone or when Mina became fascinated with his rubber tennis shoes. I thought the main characters being related to the Stoker and Holmes lines was enough of a punch and made for fun mystery reading.
Those things aside, I really did enjoy the story. Told in alternating points of view, we were able to see exactly what Evaline and Mina were thinking about each situation in turn, though Evaline was definitely overshadowed much of the time.
The mystery elements were interesting and the link to Egyptian culture was cool. I'll give the 2nd book in the series a try when it comes out, though I do hope the time traveling portion is done!
Once I picked up the book, I did not want to put it down for a second. Forget chasing my toddler around (ok, I didn't really forget, I promise), I wanted to just turn the pages as fast as I could and find out the real deal behind Amelia's death.
Though I don't quite understand the comparisons to Gone Girl, I do love a good page-turner and would recommend this to those that are looking for a great read to keep them guessing. I just think Gone Girl was more of mind-play with a whole lot of vulgarity. A great story, but not for everyone. This one would make any mystery/thriller lover happy.