I cannot believe it is already another month and time for another booklist! I also cannot believe I am blowing my 23 book goal for 2023 out of the water! I’ll tell you, when I switched from podcasts to audiobooks, my book count skyrocketed! HAHA! I am excited to share April’s books with you because some of them were really great (and others were not so much 😉 ) As you read this post, keep in mind:
- As we started doing last month, books are shared in order of stars and not the order read in the month. However, I encourage you to keep reading all the way to the bottom because someone has to be last even if they are all five stars.
- When I add a * by a title it means I listened to it instead of reading. I think that is important to note.
- Only 4/5 stars are added to my Amazon lists here and my Goodreads shelved books so you can also always look there for more recommendations.
- And in this post, I waited until the end of the month to photograph the group and then I took all the photos for each book in the same place. Previously, I was taking photos when I finished the book but then still waiting until the end of the month for the group picture. It was just a lot of unneeded extra work and it made the blog posts feel a bit scattered and less cohesive. This new method is clean, pretty, and much simpler.
When Twilight Breaks by Sarah Sundin*
My first WWII book of the year and I’m so glad to be back! When Twilight Breaks was everything you want in a WWII historical fiction – great characters, real & authentic drama, high stakes, historical accuracy, and of course a love story 😉 I enjoyed the perspective of Americans (& Germans) living in Germany as the war was ramping up. Obviously we know what happened next, but it was personal and moving to be in the minds of these characters dealing with what they were seeing and experiencing! Also VERY much appreciated the characters grappling with their faith in response to what they saw around them. This was my first Sarah Sundin book and I cannot wait to read more! (5 stars)
The Word in the Wilderness by Malcolm Guite
After having this book recommended from several different sources over the last couple years, I finally ordered it in time for Lent this year. My husband and I read it out loud together after getting the kids to bed each night. It was so good. I loved being creatively, intellectually, and spiritually challenged by each day’s reading. It was my first Malcolm Guite book and I want to read more! I loved his poetry as well as many of the selections he brought in for each day. I was also grateful for his meditations on each poem – breaking down sections of the poems and helping to illuminate their meanings. It was helpful to read this with my husband and discuss each poem after the reading which helped me to get even more out of the experience that I would have on my own. I’ll reread this next year – it’s a great Lent/Holy Week/ Easter companion! (5 stars)
Becoming Free Indeed by Jinger Duggar Vuolo*
Wow! Hands down five stars. This book is so engaging and captivating. This is my kind of biography/ memoir that tells a story and makes a difference. I knew some about the Duggars and very little about Bill Gothard going into this book. It was not only interesting and eye-opening, but also very encouraging. Jinger shares her story about discovering the true gospel of Christ. Instead of deconstructing her faith and abandoning Christianity when man-made religion let her down, she shares how she disentangled the Truth of the gospel from the false teaching she was raised under. It’s like one of those cult documentaries but with a hopeful ending and a plea for people alike to know Jesus and the true gospel. My takeaway – read your Bible, know Jesus, and make sure what you are being taught/ believing lines up with scripture.
Audio book is voiced by the author and it was great listening to her tell her testimony! (5 stars)
Mothering by the Book by Jennifer Pepito*
This was an encouraging, inspiring, convicting, and refreshing read on homeschool/ parenting. By puling in lessons from literature as well as Biblical truth, Jennifer shares in a unique way her journey. I’ve been reading a lot of books in this genre lately and I honestly enjoyed reading a different perspective / presentation of the content unlike any other books I’ve read! It is definitely more of a memoir on how books impacted her life than a how-to /why-to read out loud to your kids so just keep that in mind. (I was pleasantly surprised by this but other people have been disappointed by this fact! Haha!)
This book is mostly a memoir but she also includes scripture and lots of practical advice for overcoming fear that readers are able to apply to their situations as well. I didn’t love the study guide questions at the end of every chapter – they felt a bit basic. But I’ll be honest, I never really like those or read them. I did however LOVE all the book recommendations for each chapter and I added dozens of books to my goodreads “to read” list throughout this book.
In reading some reviews from other readers, I was surprised to see people questioning the theology of this book (saying it’s “me-ology) and I really didn’t see that or feel that at all (and I’m typically pretty sensitive to that!) While there may be some views that we disagree on (ex. She liked the book One Thousand Gifts by Ann Voskamp) , I felt like she again and again pointed back to scripture and the Gospel in her ongoing journey to fight fear in her life – repenting, seeking the Lord, taking thoughts captive, scripture memory, the work of the Holy Spirit, etc. Her desire is for the reader to know Christ and have her relationship with the Lord impact her daily life and mothering. I enjoyed it. (4.5 stars)
Say the Right Thing by Carolyn Lacey
This quick, encouraging read is a good reminder and a focus on our words! What is the most right thing to say? He is worthy!! But so many practical tips with Biblical Truth and personal stories! I was convicted in the words I use in my mothering and encouraged to not just try to “say the right thing” but keep my eyes on Christ and have Him change my heart. And to also always have an answer for the hope I have! Some quotes I liked:
“It’s about letting our speech be shaped by God’s Word rather than the world.” (p11)
“When do you most often find yourself speaking rashly or impatiently? Who do you tend to speak to aggressively rather than with consideration and gentleness? … Ask God to change your heart and make it pure and peace loving so that your words will be full of mercy and good fruit and so that your tongue will not bring harm but healing.” (p22)
“But as those who know the one who is the source of all beauty and the one to whom all beauty points, we should be on the lookout for every hint of beauty we can find.” (p47)
“Vague sentiments do little to inspire but affirming specific actions behavior or character can have a lasting impact. This means we should be on the lookout for good things to praise. Our beauty and goodness antenna should be up ready to notice and celebrate the good in those God has placed in our life.” (p114) (4 stars)
Glory in the Ordinary by Courtney Reissig
First off this cover is gorgeous obviously. Secondly, while I don’t necessarily agree with all the assumptions she makes (especially in the opening chapter), the content of the book is pretty good. I’m not sure if it is her location (she mentions New York a lot) or age group (I think the author is Gen X?) but some of the mommy wars and assumptions about chores/ family & husband involvement/ community felt a bit dated and not as relevant. Possibly it is just the culture change that has happened since COVID in 2020? I don’t feel shame or pride at being a stay-at-home mama. I have plenty of friends who are in a similar role and plenty who work out of the home in different capacities. I know it is all hard in different ways and each family makes choices that at best for their family and if they are seeking the Lord and following His leading, they all can bring God honor. The book often felt like the readers were not in this middle ground, we could only be in the extremes.
Being a stay at home job is hard but creating a healthy, happy home that my family (including my husband) can thrive in and my kids can learn, grow, discover, and nurture their relationship with the Lord is Kingdom work. And that is a joint effort – not just a mom thing. I have a great community, family nearby, an involved husband who all also speak into the lives of my children. And while I am not perfect at it, I look to God for my identity and purpose – not the things I check off a to-do list or how much I make. All this is assumed I don’t already believe in the writing. So maybe I just wasn’t the target audience?? I also felt like the writing was a bit basic and repetitive at points. Getting past that, I did enjoy the history of homemakers/ housewives over the last several decades and I thought it was interesting how we as a culture went from the term housewife to stay-at-home mom.
While nothing felt really new to me, I did enjoy some quotes:
“But I want to reclaim a Biblical understanding of beauty for us. Not so that we can garner likes on Instagram or pins on Pinterest. We want God to get the glory and people to feel loved. The curse makes us want to glory in our beautification efforts. But a redeemed heart points to the beautiful Redeemer.” p59/60
“The work of the home creates a safe refuge for all who walk through our doors.” p60
“Martin Luther is known for saying that if our work is not done for the good of our neighbor, then it is of no real value.” p66
“When you feed your husband and children, you tangibly remind them that we have a God who meets all of our physical needs. When you open your home to others, those you know and those you don’t, you show your guests that God is a God who welcomes people into his home. When you take out the trash, you declare with your actions that the curse may rise up all around you, but it will one day be defeated once and for all. These things may feel routine, and they are at times, but they are important; they allow others to see that God is involved in even the routine details of the world that he has made.” p136
3.5 stars because there was good truth in there that some moms may really need to hear if they don’t know it already. (3.5 stars)
I received this book for free from Crossway in exchange for an honest review.
Home: A Memoir of My Early Years by Julie Andrews Edwards
I wanted to love this book more than I actually did. I think I’ve discovered that biographies are not really my thing. I first started listening to the audiobook and it was so lovely to hear Julie Andrews tell me stories about her childhood. But the book is just soooo loooong that I couldn’t continue to listen to her slow, melodic voice read the whole thing. I ended up skimming the rest of the physical book to get to the end. I think what just bothered me was that there was no point. There was no inspirational journey or motivating story. It was a year after year account of her childhood – definitely personal and detailed but wasn’t really going anywhere? I also feel like some tough times were glossed over and mentioned in a matter of fact way which felt dry and unhuman? I don’t know – I finished the book but it didn’t win me over. I love Julie Andrews, felt pretty meh about this biography. I was planning on reading her other ones but I think I’m over it and this genre. (3 stars)
Book Lovers by Emily Henry*
I’m convinced this would have made a much better PG13 movie. I’d 100% prefer that to the 12 hour audiobook with several overly descriptive sex scenes, waaaay too many awkwardly placed f-bombs that don’t feel natural for well-educated, literary-loving characters, and drawn out story. It just takes so long for the characters to grow up and Nora is so oblivious for someone who supposedly is apparently aware of what is going on.
I also was disappointed in the lack of actual book references. Lots of general Hallmark tropes but very little engagement and connection to actual classic literature/ popular stories. I felt like the author missed out on an opportunity to make these characters feel like real book lovers and connect with us readers who also love books.
The playful banter is fun (sometimes), storyline is okay, pacing is long, end is predictable but happy. And I’ll be honest, predictable & happy is what I want in a chick flick so that is the best part! Would have given it 1 star if they didn’t end up together. Overall, I feel like it was a waste of time? A 90 minute movie with a bowl of popcorn would have been much better!
Picked up this book at a little free library and I’ll be returning it back, not a keeper for the bookshelf. (2 stars)
There you have the eight books of April! I hope you enjoyed reading my reviews and maybe even added a couple to your wish. What did you read this month? Anything I need to add to my list? Leave a comment below!
Katie Cook says
Loved reading these! I’m excited to read Jennifer Pepito’s book. Are you planning to homeschool? I just finished my first year with Avonlea and I learned so much (aka what not to do and what I enjoyed haha)! And I’ve heard the Julie Andrew’s biography wasn’t that great either. What a shame because I love her!!
Kim A Ridings says
Until leaves fall in Paris is anther WW2 Sarah Sundin book and there are even some cross over characters to the other book. It a good read too.