Thursday, January 30, 2020

January Reading Wrap-up

My reading year is off to a good start with 10 books read in January from a variety of genres.  I was able to cover some categories from my challenges as well as read on a whim.  Here are the genres I read from:

Mystery: 3
Historical fiction: 2
Romantic Comedy: 1
Classics: 1
Non-fiction: 1
Thriller/Suspense: 2

My favorites were:

Death on the Nile (Hercule Poirot, #17)

Death on the Nile by Agatha Christie

 The House on Foster Hill

The House on Foster Hill by Jamie Jo Wright

Image result for The Dating Charade

The Dating Charade by Melissa Ferguson

The majority of my reading came from the library, which is typical for me.  Somehow, when I buy a book for my own shelves, that virtually guarantees I won't read it.  The allure of roaming a building full of books, pulling books off the shelf to look at and bringing home whatever I want for free wins out over selecting a book from my own shelves.  I have become very intentional with my book buying and would like to cultivate the habit of reading my new purchases before buying more.  Except for the ones that I have already read and would just like a copy of to reread at a future date or the ones that I am adding to a collection or the ones I just don't feel like reading right now...  So you see the problem I run into.  I purchased several new books in December and received some for Christmas.  I have not read any of them yet and would like to read at least one in the month of February.

Also in February I would like to read a biography or memoir and a children's book.  Other than that, I hope to cover some more categories from my challenges as well as read serendipitously.

How was your January reading?  What do you hope to read in February?

Wednesday, January 29, 2020

Book Review: Promised Land by Robert Whitlow

Promised Land (Chosen People #2)

Promised Land (Chosen People #2)
Author:  Robert Whitlow
Publisher:  Thomas Nelson (2020)
400 pages

"For now, America is our promised land."

Hana and Daud are Israeli citizens who are living in the United States.  It is no longer safe for them to live in their homeland because of a terrorist ring with a bounty on Daud's head.  Previously, Daud worked for the Shin Bet, the Israeli equivalent of the FBI.  Currently, he is freelancing with the CIA.  Hana is a lawyer working for a law firm in Atlanta.  She speaks four languages so much of her work involves translating documents and acting as interpreter in meetings.  Hana is perfectly content living in the United States.  Daud, however, longs to return to Isreal.  

On Daud's most recent job with the CIA, his identity may have been compromised.  He is working with his CIA contact to cover his tracks.

Hana is contacted by an old friend and fellow litigator who would like her help on case involving ancient artifacts stolen near the end of World War II.  Meanwhile, her boss at the law firm has asked her to speak at an interfaith forum about Isreal.  Hana has a unique perspective as a Christian Arab and Israeli citizen.  After speaking with Daud, she agrees to take part.  Daud is hired to provide security for the event.  This will be a tough job as the potential for terrorist activity is high.  Will Daud be able to provide the security needed?  Will the terrorist ring who is after him be able to locate him?

This is the second book in the Chosen People series.  I would definitely read the first book, Chosen People, before reading this one.  Promised Land continues the story started in Chosen People.  One of the things I really enjoy about this series is the peek into a different culture.  In both books, some time is spent in the Middle East.  But also, the heritage of the characters is shown in their daily lives in America.  I especially enjoy the descriptions of the food eaten.

"The granola included rolled oats, multiple kinds of chopped nuts, coconut flakes, apricots, raisins, dried pineapple, and diced dried dates as a sweetener.  Dates were Hana's childhood candy.  She ate her granola mixed with plain organic yogurt." (pg. 93)

"Hana dumped cut up peppers and onions into a saucepan of olive oil..."
"Hana waited until the last minute to add the thinly cut pieces of Kobe steak to the onions and peppers sizzling in the pan.  She didn't want to overcook the expensive steak strips." (pg. 110)

"Daud hadn't eaten lunch and fixed a sandwich of salami and spicy Italian ham on ciabatta bread topped with provolone cheese, hot pickled peppers, and a sauce made with lime juice, garlic, and oregano that Hana kept in the refrigerator. (pg. 139)

The deep faith of both Hana and Daud comes through in the author's description of Hana's prayer times in the middle of the night, as well as the prayer times they have together.  The faith aspect is a very natural part of the story as it is just part of who Hana and Daud are.  The author's attention to the details of daily life make the characters really come to life.  This was a satisfying read.

Monday, January 27, 2020

Book Review: The Secrets of Paper and Ink by Lindsay Harrel

The Secrets of Paper and Ink

The Secrets of Paper and Ink
Author:  Lindsay Harrel
Publisher:  Thomas Nelson (2019)
326 pages

Sophia Barrett, a women's counselor, has spent the last three months doing little more than reading and napping.  This was how she was healing after having a mental breakdown in a grocery store on the one year anniversary of her fiancee's death.  Her best friend and boss, gave her three months' paid leave from work to heal.  But now she's ready to get back to work.  At least she thought she was until her first client is an abuse victim.  The client lied and said she was seeking counseling for anxiety.  Not only did Sophia's fiancee die, but he had also been abusing her.  The client's story brings back far too many memories and she flees the counseling session.  When her boss finds her at a book store, she encourages her to take the summer off.  That is the last thing Sophia wants to do, but realizes it is what she must do.  But, she can't spend every day for the next three months napping and reading.  As she is rereading one of her favorite books that takes place in Cornwall, England, she spontaneously decides to spend her three months there.

Ginny Rose and her husband Garrett moved to Cornwall, England five years ago to realize Garrett's dream of opening a book store.  Several months ago, Garrett decided he needed to find himself and went to live in London for a while in order to do so.  Ginny was left to run the bookstore.  Rosebud Books is in financial trouble.  After being denied a loan from the local bank, Ginny is desperate to find a way to bring in more money.  There is a flat above the book store that has been sitting empty.  She cleans it up and puts an ad on a vacation rental site.  

When Sophia sees the ad for the flat, it sounds perfect to her.  She books it for the summer and makes her way to Cornwall.  Sophia and Ginny connect instantly.  While Sophia is helping out at the book store she comes across a notebook in a box of donated books.  It is a story about a woman named Emily who lived in the late 1800's.  Who wrote it?  Is it real or fiction?  Sophia wants to discover all she can about the notebook.

The novel follows three story lines; Sophia's, Ginny's and Emily's.  The chapters alternate between the three voices.  It was so interesting to see the three stories come together showing the beautiful way God can work in our lives.  The importance of story was illustrated in the way Sophia used books to heal.  She would read her favorite books over and over and this brought her comfort.  She also deeply connected with Emily's story and felt compelled to find out more about it.  This also helped her heal.  While this is a story about healing, it is also about friendship and family dynamics.  There is some romance and the mystery of the notebook.  The descriptions of the small village of Port Willis in Cornwall were delightful and made me want to visit.  The one weakness in the novel for me was the faith theme.  There was very little mention of the place that faith played in any of the characters lives in the first part of the book, or maybe it was just very subtle.  So, I found it unrealistic when later in the book Sophia, after reading a few sentences written by Emily, realizes that what has been missing in her life is faith in God and that she is "slowly opening myself back up to that childlike faith I had once upon a time".  I didn't realize she previously had a "childlike faith".   But, even with that weakness, this was a delightful read.

Sunday, January 26, 2020

Book Review: Counter Culture by David Platt

A Compassionate Call to Counter Culture in a World of Poverty, Same-Sex Marriage, Racism, Sex Slavery, Immigration, Abortion, Persecution, Orphans and Pornography

A Compassionate Call To Counter Culture in a World of Poverty, Same-Sex Marriage, Racism, Sex Slavery, Immigration, Persecution, Abortion, Orphans, and Pornography
Author:  David Platt
Publisher:  Tyndale House (2015)
267 pages

"'If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me' (Luke 9:23).  Talk about countercultural.  In a world where everything revolves around yourself - protect yourself, promote yourself, comfort yourself, and take care of yourself - Jesus says, 'Crucify yourself.  Put aside all self-preservation in order to live for God's glorification, no matter what that means for you in the culture around you.  And isn't this, after all, the main issue in any culture?  Maybe better stated, isn't he the main issue in any culture?  What if the main issue in our culture today is not poverty or sex trafficking, homosexuality or abortion?  What if the main issue is God?  And what might happen if we made him our focus instead?"

David Platt hopes to compel Christians to not "quietly sit and watch evolving cultural trends", but rather to "courageously share and show our convictions through what we say and how we live".  He readily admits that he has seen a tendency in his own life to engage in certain social issues, while neglecting others.  In this book, he invites us to explore some of these issues in light of the gospel.  

The book has 10 chapters covering different social issues:
1.  The Gospel and Culture
2.  The Gospel and Poverty
3.  The Gospel and Abortion
4.  The Gospel and Orphans and Widows
5.  The Gospel and Sex Slavery
6.  The Gospel and Marriage
7.  The Gospel and Sexual Morality
8.  The Gospel and Ethnicity
9.  The Gospel and Religious Liberty
10.  The Gospel and the Unreached

In each chapter he gives examples of the particular issue in our country and around the world, includes Scripture about the issue and expands on what the Scripture means, and shares how the issue has impacted his own life.  At the end of each chapter is a section called "First Steps to Counter Culture" where he includes bullet point lists of steps we can take.  He includes things to pray for, actions to take and truths from Scripture.

I found the book easy to read and very helpful.  It will make a great reference book to keep on my shelf when I need to be reminded of what Scripture says on these issues.  

Wednesday, January 22, 2020

Book Review: Death on the Nile by Agatha Christie

Death on the Nile (Hercule Poirot, #17)

Death on the Nile
Author:  Agatha Christie
Publisher:  Harper Collins (2001, first published 1937)
373 pages

"The book has a lot of characters and a very elaborately worked out plot.  I think the central situation is intriguing and has dramatic possibilities, and the three characters, Simon, Linnet, and Jacqueline, seem to me to be real and alive."  (Agatha Christie, from the Author's Forward)

I think this quote sums up Death on the Nile nicely.  The central story line is a love triangle involving Simon, Linnet, and Jacqueline.  Simon and Jacqueline were engaged to be married when Jacqueline asks her best friend, Linnet, who happens to be the one of the richest girls in England, to give Simon a job as a Land Agent.  He is out of a job and has no money and Jacqueline loves him so.  Somewhere along the way Linnet steals Simon from Jacqueline.  The next we meet them, they are on a honeymoon trip to Egypt, cruising down the Nile.  

Hercule Poirot is on holiday in Egypt and definitely not working.  Only, he can't stop his brain from noticing things.  Simon and Linnet are on their honeymoon and Jacqueline has followed them.  She has been hurt and wants to cause trouble for Simon and Linnet and her presence seems to agitate them.  Hercule Poirot notices her and has a conversation with her where he says this, 

"It is deeper than that.  Do not open your heart to evil."

"Poirot went on gravely;  'Because - if you do - evil will come... Yes, very surely evil will come... It will enter in and make its home within you, and after a little while it will no longer be possible to drive it out.'"

Before long a murder has occurred.  There are plenty of other characters on the cruise who have their own secrets, but the obvious murderer seems to be Jacqueline.  But that seems too simple...  And so begins the investigation.  

This was my first time reading Death on the Nile and I thoroughly enjoyed it.  I love the meticulous way Hercule Poirot works through the case and then finally explains it to the other investigator (and the reader) who can't quite figure it out.  

Monday, January 20, 2020

Book Review: The Solace of Water by Elizabeth Byler Younts

The Solace of Water

The Solace of Water
Author:  Elizabeth Byler Younts
Publisher:  Thomas Nelson (2018)
359 pages

It's April 1956 in Montgomery, Alabama.  It has been a month since Delilah Evans buried her 4-year-old son.  She wears her grief like a cloak.  The entire family is grieving, but Delilah thinks she deserves to grieve more than the rest.  She can hardly look at her 15-year-old daughter, Sparrow.  She blames her for the death of her son.  She should have been watching him.  Malachi Evans has decided his family needs a change.  He grew up in Sinking Creek, Pennsylvania.  An old friend asks him to come and take the job as pastor of the church.  Delilah doesn't like the idea of being so far from the grave of her boy, but is looking forward to starting over somewhere new.  As they drive into the town, Malachi points out that there are no signs here saying "Whites Only" or "Colored Only".  Delilah can't imagine what it would be like to use the same door or the same bathroom as the white folks.  Maybe things will be better here.

At their new home, the Evans' closest neighbor is an Amish family,  John and Emma Mullet and their teenage son, Johnny.  The lot had fallen to John Mullet to be head deacon of their church.  However, John and Emma have their own secrets.  John is a drunk and has been using the communion wine to support his dependency.  Emma knows his secret.  In fact, she helps him by slipping some alcohol in his coffee cup when they have company so John can get through the meeting.  She knows it is wrong, but she loves her husband and wants to help him do the important work that he does.  Emma has her own secret as well.  She has been taking herbs for years to prevent her from becoming pregnant.  

Delilah and Emma come from such different worlds.  Will they be able to overcome their differences and become friends?

This novel is beautifully written.  It is not an easy read however.  The story deals with several weighty issues.  The main theme is grief and how people deal with it in different and often destructive ways.  Delilah is holding tightly to her grief.  She is no longer the person she used to be, but is cold and angry especially to those she loves the most.  She can't forgive her daughter, Sparrow.  She blames her for the death of her son because she was supposed to be watching her brothers, but had left them and gone further into the woods with a boy.  Sparrow feels her mom's unforgiveness every day.  On top of the grief of losing her brother, she feels the weight of being unwanted by her mother.  She just wants to pain to go away.  Soon she begins hurting herself as a way to relieve some of the pain.

Emma lost a daughter through still birth.  It was then that she started taking the herbs to prevent pregnancy.  She couldn't bear the thought of losing another child.  And, after John started drinking, she didn't feel he would be a good father to another child.  Emma is grieving her daughter, but also the life that she could have had.  She feels she is drowning in secrets and sin.  

The chapters alternate between Delilah and Emma and sometimes Sparrow.  It was easy to follow and gave the reader good insight into the characters.  The time in history adds another aspect to the story.  It was interesting to see how the issue of segregation was handled in two different parts of the country.  The novel ends in hope, but takes a long time to get there.  If you are looking for an uplifting read, this is not the book for you.

Saturday, January 18, 2020

Book Review: Sweet Tea and Secrets by Joy Avon

Sweet Tea and Secrets (A Tea and Read Mystery #2)

Sweet Tea and Secrets (A Tea and Read Mystery #2)
Author:  Joy Avon
Publisher:  Crooked Lane Books (2019)
288 pages

In this second book in the Tea and Read Mystery Series, Callie Aspen has left her job as a travel guide to move to Heart's Harbor, Maine to help her Great Aunt Iphy at Book Tea. She continues to question whether she has made the right decision. It all seems so final. She really liked her job as a travel guide, but she is looking forward to helping Aunt Iphy at Book Tea and in the preservation of Haywood Hall, a rambling old house on the outskirts of Heart's Harbor. She is also looking forward to growing her relationship with Deputy Falk. However, she is not sure if they have a relationship as he didn't respond to the emails she sent him.

Aunt Iphy is thrilled to have Callie living in Heart's Harbor and has arranged a cottage for her to rent. The cottage has been uninhabited for several years and could use some updating. So, Iphy took the liberty of posting a notice at the community center looking for help with the updates. When they arrive at the cottage, they find a man with a clipboard inspecting the outside of the cottage. He tells them he is answering the notice from the community center and thought he would get started right away. He introduces himself as Quinn. Although it seems a little odd that he would show up this way, he seems like a good fit for the job. While Quinn is looking around inside the cottage, Aunt Iphy tells Callie she would like her to arrange something spectacular about the history of Heart's Harbor to present before the fireworks at the Fourth of July party they are planning on the grounds of Haywood Hall. Quinn overhears and suggests that the newspaper archives would be a good place to start and offers to go with her. Who is this mysterious man? Why is he being so helpful?

While at the newspaper archives, Quinn mentions the mystery of the movie star who disappeared from Heart's Harbor over thirty years ago. Callie decides that would make an interesting presentation and decides to find out more. Their first stop is to see the Editor-in-chief of the local newspaper. He was a reporter when the disappearance occurred. They don't learn much from him, except that he doesn't want to talk about the disappearance. The next morning, he is found dead at his office. Who would want to kill him? Is it related to the disappearance?

There are several mysteries at play in this story. One is Quinn. Is he really who he says he is? Why is he really in town? The second is the disappearance that was never solved. And the third is the murder of the Editor-in-chief. By the end of the story, after several twists and turns, all three are solved. As well as the mystery of why Deputy Falk didn't return Callie's emails. Aunt Iphy has a small part in this story. Very little time is spent at Book Tea or Haywood Hall. Much of the story is spent on building the character of Quinn. At first Callie is suspicious of him, but once she sees some of the truth behind his motivations, she becomes a good friend to him. I hope to see him in future books. The cute Boston Terrier, Daisy is back. And some of the other characters from the first book as well. This was an entertaining read that ends on a hopeful note. 

The Winter's Tale by William Shakespeare

Image result for the winter's tale arkangel audio

The Winter's Tale
Author:  William Shakespeare
A fully dramatized recording by Arkangel (2007)

On my reading list for 2020 is a play by Shakespeare.  I chose The Winter's Tale because The Literary Life Podcast will be discussing this play soon.  I decided to listen to an audio version of the play, but also use a written version along with the audio.  The audio version I chose was the dramatized recording from Arkangel.  This was very easy to listen to.  I have tried other dramatized versions that were difficult to listen to because there was too much going on at once.  The Arkangel version generally had just one person speaking at a time.  Sometimes there was background music, but it didn't distract from the dialogue.  Before beginning the audio version, I read the cast list and opening scene from the written version.  This familiarized me with the setting and the characters and the general direction of the play.  Then I would listen to the audio.  After listening to a portion I would sometimes go back to the written version and read parts or get clarification if I was confused about who was speaking or what was happening.  This worked really well for me.  I was able to follow the characters and the story without much trouble.  

Thursday, January 16, 2020

Book Review: The House on Foster Hill by Jaime Jo Wright

The House on Foster Hill

The House on Foster Hill
Author:  Jaime Jo Wright
Publisher:  Bethany House (2017)
364 pages

Kaine Prescott has been through a lot in the last two years. Her husband died two years ago in a tragic accident that Kaine believes was intentional. The San Diego Police Department, however, thinks she should "see someone". On top of that frustration, someone seems to be stalking her. Sneaking into her home when she is not there and moving things or leaving a single daffodil on her table. The police tell her there isn't anything they can do. She wants to start over in a place where no one knows her. Her late husband had a dream of moving back to the midwest and buying and restoring old houses. In his honor, Kaine buys an old house in Wisconsin near where her grandmother was from after only viewing it on the internet. When she arrives at the house, she is shocked by the condition of the house. It is much worse than the pictures made it look. In addition to that, she hears from locals that it has been abandoned for years and has always been associated with strange occurrences.

Along with Kaine's story, the novel alternates chapters with Kaine's grandmother, Ivy. In 1906, Ivy lived near Foster Hill House with her father who was a medical examiner. One night a body was found stuffed into a hole in a tree near the house. Ivy is used to examining dead bodies as she has assisted her father for many years. She began keeping a death journal where she tries to keep the memory of the dead alive by writing extended obituaries focusing on the positive things she knew about the person. But this girl who was found in the tree is a stranger, no one in town knows who she is.  Ivy feels deeply that she deserves to be known and remembered.  This unknown woman deserves justice for what happened to her.

Ivy's story unfolds along with Kaine's discoveries at the house. There are so many mysteries in this story which kept me turning pages! It was not difficult to keep up with the two story lines and it was interesting learn the history of the house while also following along with Kaine and her attempts to restore the house and discover the mysteries of it.  Both Ivy and Kaine develop love interests, but this is a minor part of the story.  This was Jamie Jo Wright's debut novel and I look forward to reading others by her.

Book Review: The Dating Charade by Melissa Ferguson

Image result for The Dating Charade

The Dating Charade
Author: Melissa  Ferguson
Publisher:  Thomas Nelson (2019)
336 pages

Cassie Everson is tired of the dating game, specifically the online dating game. She is 33 years old, so she has been at this a while. When her latest date turns out to be married, she decides to delete the dating app from her phone. Just before deleting it she notices one more message. When she begins reading it, it sounds like all the rest, so she doesn't finish it and deletes the app. She figures she will just throw herself into her work as director at Girls Haven, a center for disadvantaged girls. Cassie's best friend, Bree,  is skeptical about her spontaneous decision to give up on the online dating scene. After all, it has been sending men her way. Bree thinks Cassie is overreacting and wants to see for herself if things are really as bad as Cassie claims. So, Cassie give Bree her account ID. Bree takes it upon herself to answer that last message and sets up at date for Cassie with Jett.

Jett, a firefighter, remembers Cassie from high school. Although, he is not sure she will remember him. He can't believe his luck, Cassie Everson has agreed to go on a date with him. When Jett shows up, Cassie is waiting outside Girls Haven.   She is a little alarmed when he approaches her bearing flowers. But, then she realizes that Bree has set her up, lets Jett know this and excuses herself. Jett gets in contact with Bree and she agrees to help Jett get a real date with Cassie.

This is a feel-good story, full of hilarious moments that had me laughing out loud. However, it also deals with some weightier topics such as; abandonment, addiction and adoption. Both Jett and Cassie have such big hearts for others. They both desire to do what is right, no matter the cost. It was interesting to see inside the life of a firefighter as well as the ins and outs of working with disadvantaged girls. After secrets, misunderstandings and an accident, it all turns out in the end. This was an enjoyable read.

Wednesday, January 15, 2020

Book Review: Still Life by Louise Penny

Still Life (Chief Inspector Armand Gamache, #1)

Still Life
Author: Louise Penny
Publisher: St. Martins (2005)
293 pages

Chief Inspector Armand Gamache is called away from his family on Thanksgiving Day to a suspicious death in a small village outside of Montreal. Life in the village of Three Pines is generally quiet. As is common in small villages, most of the residents know one another. Some have lived in the village for generations, while others are new to the area. Jane Neal, the reason for Inspector Gamache's visit to the village, had lived there for decades. When it is discovered that the cause of her death is a hunter's arrow, many assume it must have been an accident. But, if so, why has no one come forward? As Inspector Gamache and his team begin their investigation, they find that things are more complicated than they first appeared.

This series by Louise Penny has been recommended to me by several people. So I had to try it for myself. The book was well written and the characters well developed. I especially liked Inspector Gamache and I detested agent Yvette Nichol. Louise Penny's insight into why people do what they do was fascinating. The mystery itself was interesting and we got to learn something about bow hunting along with Inspector Gamache and his team. However, when the story was finished I did not feel a sense of satisfaction, but instead I was left feeling unsettled.

My List of Books to Read in 2020

This is my own personal challenge of books I want to be sure to read this year.

I will record my progress here.

1.  Winter Solstice by Rosamond Pilcher - read July 2020

2.  Still Life by Louise Penny - read Jan. 2020
3.  84 Charing Cross Road by Helene Hanff - read June 2020
4.  A Winter's Tale by Shakespeare - read Jan. 2020
5.  Beartown by Frederick Bachman - read July 2020
6.  A Harvest of Hope by Lauraine Snelling - read August 2020
7.  A Fall of Marigolds by Susan Meissner = read November 2020
8.  A Jane Austen Novel - Persuasion by Jane Austen - read June 2020
9.  Some Sherlock Holmes - Sherlock Holmes, Master Detective - read May 2020
10.  Gilead by Marilynne Robinson - read October 2020

The Literary Life Podcast 20 for 2020 Reading Challenge

The Literary Life Podcast 20 for 2020 Reading Challenge is hosted by Angelina Stanford and Cindy Rollins at The Literary Life Podcast website.  You can listen to Episode 31: Our Year in Reading to hear them talk about the challenge and give some suggestions for the categories.  I will record my progress below.

1.  A Shakespeare Play - The Winter's Tale
2. A Classic Detective Novel - Death on the Nile
3. A Classic Children's Book - Pollyanna
4. A Contemporary Novel - The Saturday Night Supper Club
5.  A Historical Fiction Novel - The Solace of Water
6.  An Ancient Greek Play - The Trojan Women by Euripedes
7.  A Collection of Short Stories - Fidelity by Wendell Berry
8.  A Biography or Memoir - Safe Passage by Ida Cook
9. A Devotional Work - Feminine Appeal by Carolyn Mahaney
10.  A Book about Books - The Book Thief by Markus Zusak
11.  A Foreign (Non-Western) Book - Malice by Keigo Higashino
12.  A "Guilty Pleasure" Book - Two Steps Forward
13.  An Intimidating Book You Have Avoided - The Great Divorce
14.  A Satire - 1984 by George Orwell
15.  A Book of Essays - The Way of Ignorance by Wendell Berry
16.  A Book by a Minor Author - Delta Wedding by Eudora Welty
17.  A Classic Book by a Female Author - Persuasion by Jane Austen
18.  A Complete Volume of Poetry by a Single Author - Songs of Innocence and Experience by Wm Blake
19.  An "Out of Your Comfort Zone" Book - Beartown by Fredrik Backman
20.  Reread a Book You Read in High School (book by an author I read in hs) - Cannery Row by Steinbeck

Tuesday, January 14, 2020

Visual Theology 2020 Christian Reading Challenge

The Visual Theology 2020 Christian Reading Challenge is hosted by Tim Challies at his website.  It is composed of 4 lists of books,  which you are meant to move through progressively.  

There are several levels to the challenge:

*The Light Reader - with a goal of 13 books
*The Avid Reader - with a goal of 26 books
*The Committed Reader - with a goal of 52 books
*The Obsessed Reader - with a goal of 104 books

Reading Challenge 2020

I have participated in this challenge for several years and usually just use it to see where my reading takes me by seeing if the books I am reading fit into the categories.  However, this year I am planning to complete the Light Reader list and then see where my reading takes me.  If you would like to join the challenge, click the link above to get a copy of the list.  I will record the books I read for the Light Reader list below.

1. A book recommended by someone else - Still Life by Louise Penny
4. A book about history - Safe Passage by Ida Cook
5. A book targeted at your gender - Two Steps Forward 
6. A book about Christian living - Counter Culture
7. A book with at least 300 pages - Death on the Nile
8. A book about theology - The Great Divorce
9. A book from a "best of 2019" list - The Secrets of Paper and Ink by Lindsay Harrel
10. A book more than 150 years old - The Winter's Tale by William Shakespeare
11. A book on the ECPA Bestseller List - The Fifth Avenue Story Society
12. A biography for children or teens - The Story of Edith Cavell
13. A book of your choice -  Cape Light

Read 52 Books in 52 Weeks

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January 1, 2020 - December 31, 2020

This is my first time joining this challenge.  The rules are simple.  Read a book a week for a total 52 books in a  year.  I will list the books I have included in the challenge below.  If you would like join too, just click the link below the picture.

4.  The Secrets of Paper and Ink by Linday Harrel

Monday, January 13, 2020

Favorite Reads of 2019

Here are my favorite reads from 2019, in no particular order:

The White City

1.  The White City by Grace Hitchcock - this is historical fiction about the serial killer H. H. Holmes and the Chicago World's Fair

Murder with Lemon Tea Cakes...

2.  Murder with Lemon Tea Cakes by Karen Rose Smith - cozy mystery with great characters

Wooing Cadie McCaffrey

3.  Wooing Cadie McCaffrey by Bethany Turner - contemporary romance, just plain fun!

Gaudy Night (Lord Peter Wim...

4.  Gaudy Night by Dorothy Sayers - classic detective novel

To Be Where You Are (Mitfor...

5.  To Be Where You Are by Jan Karon

Northanger Abbey

6.  Northanger Abbey by Jane Austen

Brain on Fire: My Month of ...

7.  Brain on Fire by Susannah Cahalan - non-fiction, well-written, fascinating story

To Everything a Season (Son...

8.  To Everything a Season by Lauraine Snelling - historical fiction

A Severe Mercy: A Story of ...

9.  A Severe Mercy by Sheldon Vanauken - non-fiction, story of coming to faith, beautiful

Apple Cider Slaying (A Cide...

10.  Apple Cider Slaying by Julie Anne Lindsey - cozy mystery, loved the characters, writing and setting