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What I’m Reading – July 2019

It’s been a bit since I’ve shared what’s in my reading pile. Sitting by the poolside in the summer is often one of my favorite times to get some light recreational reading. Focusing on anything that requires more brain power is hard with the kids running (well, walking…) around and wanting to spend time chatting with friends. 

My bag was full of books to read on our trip overseas, but we were fairly busy during our time there, so I didn’t read as much as I expected, especially since the kids were with me on the plane. I have read a few great books lately (see below) and have a few I’d like to finish up as well. 

My 2018 Reading List  has had several books added to it. I’m still slowly working through the books I wanted to initially read, but there have been some newly released books I immediately added to my “must read” pile. So technically, I’m doing well! I absolutely LOVED both Just Open the Door and Raising World Changers. Both books offer much discussion around the dinner table and their focus is right where my heart is at the moment. 

Feed readers can click here to see my books for July

  • Prison Letters by Corrie ten Boom
  • The Tea Girl of Hummingbird Lane by Lisa See
  • Comfort Detox by Straza
  • A Family Shaped by Grace by Morland
  • Eve by Wm Paul Young
  • Cherish By Gary Thomas

So far, Comfort Detox has giving me some great “thinking points” on what I turn to when things get tough. I’m also determined to get through Cherish this month – it’s good, but I keep leaving it all over the place and forget about it! 

What I Read the Last Few Months (and Quick Thoughts)


The Lost Vintage – A friend handed this off to me as some poolside reading, and I finished it in about 24 hours. For me, that’s a great read. :) Lately I have been loving books that flip between present/past and intertwine the stories of a present day family with the past – and keep you guessing until the end. This story follows a present day wine maker in France and had flashbacks to their family during WW2 and the secrets that have been hiding for over sixty years with their involvement in the war – both good and bad. (5/5 rating)

The Life-Giving Parent – Another great book from the Clarkson family. This one is written more by Clay Clarkson, but offers some great wisdom for parents. (5/5 rating)

Just Open the Door – So many words of encouragement and gentle nudges to help us get over our fears of inviting others into our spaces and sharing the gift of hospitality. It doesn’t have to be a scary and overwhelming thing! Jen shares practical insights, each chapter is full of heartfelt advice and ways to “elevate the ordinary” in our hosting adventures. I love that it is chocked full of honest looks into their family (mistakes and laughter), making it relatable and do-able. So many great ideas and ear-marked pages and inspiration to invite others in. (5/5 rating)

Raising World Changers – One of the things I love most about Kristen’s writing is she doesn’t shy away from sharing about the struggles that exist in situations – she is real. Authentic. Something I struggle with (and many other families do as well) is finding that balance in protecting/sheltering our kids and preparing our kids to do GREAT things – and be in situations that are tough. At times that means going against the “norm” in making a difference. Throughout the book, Welch offers practical advice and activities for family members to get started serving (and get out of your comfort zone) to make changes in the world around you. The books doesn’t leave you with an overwhelming feeling of judgement, but rather inspiration. Raising World Changers is a book that will leave you mulling thoughts, revisiting passages, underlining a lot, but most importantly – raising world changers. (5/5 rating)

Also read the following: 

  • The Hiding Place – Corrie ten Book (5/5 rating – I cried)
  • The Lost Girl of Astor Street  (4/5 rating)
  • On Mystic Lake – (4.5/5 rating)
  • Giver of Wonders by Roseanna White-  (5/5 rating)
  • The Weaver’s Daughter by Sarah Ladd – not my favorite by her by far. Actually a bit disappointing since I have loved her other work. (3/5 rating)
  • The Summer Before the War – a new to me author (not Christian), but fairly clean and sweet (4/5 rating)

You can follow along with me via the Goodreads app where I share my reviews and additional thoughts. What have YOU been reading this month? 


What I’m Reading (and the Kids too)

What have YOU been reading this month? 

This month I did branch out a little genre-wise, but also ending up adding some last minute finds to my book stacks. I’m a sucker for a soft cover, great title, and authors I love! 

Despite traveling this month, it wasn’t a huge chance to read since I was driving 9 hours each direction. I will say I miss plane flights with uninterrupted time to read! :) And lately – sleep is my buddy and I’m falling asleep within a few pages of reading. 

One of the books (All the Light We Cannot See) has been great, but somehow seems to be a bit long. It could be because I keep falling asleep while reading (with my Kindle). I’m honestly not sure how I found the book, but it is set in WW2 time and two different countries (France and Germany) telling the story of two different individuals. I haven’t quite figured out where it is headed yet, but seeing the war from two opposing perspectives has been interesting as well. 

Even though I haven’t put as big of a dent in my 2018 Reading List,  I’m adding a few books to the stack – I’m telling you, I’m a sucker for a new release! I’m also excited to be a part of the launch teams for both Just Open the Door and Raising World Changers. Both of the authors are ladies I know (and love), so reading and hearing their heart makes the books even more special! 

Feed readers can click here to see my books for April

  • Just Open the Door (finishing)
  • Raising World Changers
  • The Lifegiving Parent
  • The Great Alone
  • All the Light We Cannot See

I’m very much enjoying Just Open the Door so far, and really can’t wait to dig into Raising World Changers and The Lifegiving Parent

What the Kids are Reading

I’m so looking forward to finishing up reading with Kaleb – not because I don’t enjoy it, but because it will be such a huge milestone for him. Zachary and I also decided to change our read-aloud this month to include The Hiding Place, since we are hoping to visit her home when we visit the Netherlands in May. 

Read aloud – The Hiding Place

McKenna – The Importance of Being Earnest

Zachary – A Day No Pigs Would Die by Robert Newton Peck (we got sidetracked with another book last month)

Kaleb – All About Reading Level 4  (we’re halfway thorugh!!)

What I Read in March (and Quick Thoughts)

The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society – Oh MY WORD. Written with so much humor, description, and at times sobering views, The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Society gives readers a glimpse into a post WW2 community after a German-occupied English island shares their stories with Juliet, a writer contemplating her next book topic. As the letters travel back and forth between the members of the society and Juliet, readers are drawn into life on the island as well as the back stories of the various characters. I honestly had no idea what to expect reading this book, but as I finished it I found myself wishing the story would continue. Literal laugh-out-loud moments while reading. (5/5 rating)

Blessed are the Misfits – Hansen writes in such an approachable way that his books are easy to read, digest, and apply practically. So much food for thought in this book – and even if you aren’t sure you are a “misfit” – it’s likely you are. So many dog-eared pages in the book I need to go back to and re-read. (5/5 rating)

Orphan Train – Some tough content at times, but an interesting look at the life of an orphan in “modern” times paralleled with an orphan from about 80 years prior. The friendship between an 18 year old with a troubled past and a 90+ year old with hidden secrets develops and blossoms as the story progresses. (4/5 rating)

Also read the following: 

  • Romancing Daphne – sweet story and love this author (4/5 rating)
  • The Innkeeper’s Daughter – newer to me author (3.5/5 rating)
  • The Truth According to Us (by one of the authors of Potato Peel Society) – not worth the read. A disappointment after the other (2/5 rating)
  • My Sister’s Intended – a new to me author (not Christian), but clean and sweet (4/5 rating)

You can follow along with me via the Goodreads app where I share my reviews and additional thoughts. What have YOU been reading this month? 


What I’m Reading (and the Kids too) – March 2018

What have YOU been reading this month? 

I’ve been trying to branch out some in my reading genre (i.e. I’m a huge historical fiction fan and tend to get stuck in an era or genre). There are some books coming to movies and also a few that people have been raving about, so I added a few of those to my February reading list. 

One of those, The Girl on the Train, is a title I read incorrectly, and consequently read The Girl  FROM the Train first – and the two are very, very different. The second title was a translation and I believe there were some things a little lost in translation. Overall it wasn’t bad (and honestly I enjoyed it more than the one all the fuss is about), but when I realized I’d read the wrong book – oy. 

I honestly don’t feel like I read a lot during February (in comparison to my normal book intake), but overall finished six books – five fiction and one non-fiction and started a few others.  While my Kindle is my “go-to” at bedtime, I’ve literally been falling asleep almost as soon as I’m in bed, so reading is a moot point. For this upcoming month, I’ve picked one additional book from my 2018 Reading List to focus on along with finishing one I started last month, and have at least two non-fiction books I’d like to read as well. 

Feed readers can click here to see my books for March

  • Blessed Are the Misfits
  • With All Due Respect
  • Just Open the Door
  • Eve
  • Romancing Daphne
  • The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society

I’m very much enjoying Blessed Are the Misfits so far, and really can’t wait to dig into Just Open the Door by Jen Schmidt! 

What the Kids are Reading

Something has truly “clicked” with Kaleb over the last bit and reading has been less of a struggle – which is beyond thrilling (really, truly). February had us going back and forth a lot in the afternoons, so we didn’t accomplish a lot of reading aloud at all, hence the reason we are still reading Gregor together. :)

Read aloud – Gregor the Underland Chronicles

McKenna – Ivanhoe

Zachary – A Day No Pigs Would Die by Robert Newton Peck

Kaleb – All About Reading Level 4

What I Read in February (and Quick Thoughts)

Godspeed by Britt Merrick – This book still has me mulling over so many things. The overarching theme is that we are called to “mission” in our lives – and it doesn’t necessarily involve a going out all over the world, but can mean little things (mission vs. missions). It isn’t that it’s super earth shattering, but it’s practical and presents topics in a way that you really stop and re-think the why behind some of your beliefs. Honestly one of my favorite books read to date. 

For Love or Honor by Sara Eden – if you love period dramas, this was another fun book in the Jonquil brothers series by Eden. I read it in a little over a day and a sweet story. Not my favorite in the series, but still fun to read and see past characters. 

The Pearl Sister by Lucinda Riley – fourth book in the series of six adopted sisters who lost their father. Each book chronicles the life of one sister in the months following their father’s death as they search deeper into their birth heritage. This has been a really interesting series as it flips back and forth between present time and back sometimes a hundred years or more to share history (one included Beatrix Potter). This one had a little more ‘edge’ to it, but nothing explicit. 

I’m trying to balance out my reading genres a little, but bedtime is typically my “pick up a piece of fiction” time, sometimes via Kindle and other times a good ol’ paperback book. Here are links to four of the six books I read in February. 

You can follow along with me via the Goodreads app where I share my reviews and additional thoughts. What have YOU been reading this month? 


What I’m Reading (and the Kids too) February 2018

The first part of January had me curled up in the living room with a blanket rather frequently. We’ve had some rather chilly days, so a warm fire and cozy blanket seemed the perfect opportunity to squeeze some reading in. The last week though felt a bit overwhelming and I didn’t have as much time to sit down and read between dentist appointments and a few other commitments that needed my attention…and not a book. :(

All of the books from my 2018 Reading List are on the bookshelf and waiting for me, so I pulled off three fiction books to read and managed to get through all but half of one along with a few from my non-fiction list. Two were ones that I normally wouldn’t have picked up, but ended up really enjoying! 

Feed readers can click here to see my books for January

I’m very much enjoying Godspeed so far, but this is one that is requiring a little more focus for me as well (not just a light read). It is very good though! 

What the Kids are Reading

Laurianna has been a little busy with her schoolwork and hasn’t had as much time for fun reading the last bit, but the three others are getting in their reading time with the following books. One thing I am really enjoying is seeing Kaleb branch out a little in his reading as well, so finding books that he enjoys makes my heart happy. 


Read aloud – Gregor the Underland Chronicles

McKenna – Julius Caesar by William Shakespeare

Zachary – The Bronze Bow

Kaleb – AAR Level 3-4, What is the Superbowl? and Who Was Jackie Robinson? 

What I Read in January (and Quick Thoughts)

I’m trying to balance out my reading genres a little, but bedtime is typically my “pick up a piece of fiction” time, sometimes via Kindle and other times a good ol’ paperback book. Here’s a look at the eight books I read in January. 


You Learn by Living: Eleven Keys for a More Fulfilling Life by Eleanor Roosevelt – a friend suggested this one to me, and quite honestly, it was almost as if this book could have been written recently, rather than over sixty years ago. So much of it practically applied to today, although I did find myself at times wondering how Mrs. Roosevelt would view all the busyness that we have in our society today in comparison to the timeframe from which she was writing. 

Reading People by Anne Bogel – again, another book that I wouldn’t normally have picked up, but it was rather interesting. Bogel looks at the various personality tests and how different personality types interact and may react. It does have me rather curious about a few. My hubby and I were talking about how our personality types have shifted over the twenty or so past years. I am definitely more outgoing/extroverted, but during the last ten years have really pulled closer to home and what is familiar, rather than wanting as much energy from others. I’d much rather curl up with a book and recharge quietly. An interesting read! 

A Name Unknown and A Song Unheard by Roseanna White – these are both by one of my favorite historical fiction writers and a newer series from her. I absolutely LOVED both of them. The main characters are part of a group of pickpockets that have adopted each other over the years and become a family. One by one they are approached to do specific “jobs” for a mysterious man and in the process find both love and relationships with God. Both books were well-written and I can’t wait for the next book (and sibling) in the series. 

The Shadow Sister by Lucinda Riley – this is a random series I picked up at the library last year to start reading and they are still in process of being released. Each book in the series follows one of six adopted sisters and their search to discover their roots after the death of their father. This one follows Star as her clues lead her on a hunt stretching back 100 years and to a different country. 

You can follow along with me via the Goodreads app where I share my reviews and additional thoughts. What have YOU been reading this month? 


My 2018 Reading List

The last few years I have shared my “focused” reading list with you all. I love the suggestions you all have made via Facebook and commenting (some great suggestions!) and the accountability it has given me. There’s something about putting your goals out there for everyone to see that helps you kick into overdrive when it comes to meeting those goals. 

Each year I’ve tried to push myself a little bit more in what I am reading for non-fiction, and try to cover several different topics: parenting, personal growth, marriage, spiritual, and then there are those things that just catch my eye. 

I’m a sucker for a pretty cover. And texture – how it feels when I hold it in my hand makes a difference. I know it sounds odd. Call me crazy. :) 

While I only have fifteen books listed specifically for 2018, keep in mind this doesn’t list all of the fiction that somehow manages to make it to my list. My overall goal is to finish the 15 “growth” books and leave a little wiggle-room for new books that catch my eye over the course of the year.

One of the easiest ways I’ve found to track my reading over the last few years has been via the GoodReads app.   Following friends, seeing what others are reading, and being able to quickly rate a book I’m reading – love that (because my memory isn’t what it used to be!). Join me there and let’s read along together!

The Main Reading Pile

“If There is Time Pile”

Fiction Books/Series to Look At

So, a lot of my books do tend to gravitate to historical fiction, but at times I pepper in teen lit (to stay on top of things before the kids read them) and lately more contemporary fiction. I personally have been a bit picky about much of the stuff I read, because for me too much language or other graphic stuff is a ‘trigger’ for me – so I tend to err on the side of books that aren’t raunchy or full of whatever.

Last year there were a few that I read (Lianne Moriarty, for starters) that were out of my comfort zone in some ways, but overall not bad (language mainly) – but generated conversation on topics in the books with friends for sure. All that said, I haven’t vetted all of the below series, so they may be complete busts! 


If you’re interested, here are my 10 favorite books I read last year (a mix of fiction and non-fiction). I’d love to hear what books you have on your shelf for the 2018 year and and recommendations for me to add to my list! 

Happy reading!


My Top 10 Favorite Books from 2017

Overall my reading goal for 2017 was 70 books, specifically 12 non-fiction (since those are hardest for me) and then a whole lot of fiction (because that’s my favorite). 

All of you that read non-fiction without a problem – I’m jealous. 

For me, it’s been a work-in-progress over the years to step back from the “I can only read one chapter a day and need to thoughtfully contemplate all that I have read and take it to heart,” to reading through as I would any other book and marking areas that I would like to review in the future. I’ve also started a quotes book where I can note any things that really impacted me (and why). 

My book total for 2017 was 88: non-fiction – 21 and fiction – 67. You can see the full list of books I read here on Good Reads. 

Many of you have asked how I manage to read so much. My goal is one non-fiction a month and I try to set aside 20-30 minutes each afternoon to rest and read. At night, I literally fall asleep with a book (or Kindle) in hand. I’ve been like that since I was a little girl and don’t see it changing anytime soon. :) 

Top 10 Favorite Books from 2017

That said, there are ten books that I especially enjoyed reading this past year and would highly recommend. The list is a mix of both non-fiction, fun reading, and even a book I found very helpful in homeschooling. 

1. Come and Eat

Come and Eat was written by a lady I know (and love to death) in real life, Bri McCoy. While I know her from Compassion International, her personality and humor SHINE through in this book. 

Mixed in with her rich storytelling and humor, Bri challenges us to open our homes and tables to develop relationships with friends, strangers, and more. Rick and I will be leading a small group, and one of the things I really wanted to add in was a meal with one family each time we meet – because so much happens around the table (food is a fabulous neutral ground). 


2. Crazy Love

This book has been recommended to me multiple times over the years and it took me a bit to get moving on it. Crazy Love is both easy-to-read and one that will make you think/contemplate at the same time. There were quite a few spots of personal challenge for me (which I definitely need to happen). The book has been added to my shelf to read again in upcoming years – and pass along to my hubby as well. 


3. A Fall of Marigolds

Absolutely LOVED this book. The lives of two women, nearly 100 years apart, are paralleled through the journey of one colorful marigold-patterned scarf. Though living in different times, both have experienced deep losses and learn valuable lessons on life and love. 

Another thing I loved (because it is rare to find in current fiction) – no language or other content that is inappropriate, and still and amazing story was woven. Cannot recommend highly enough.


4. Finish

Finish is written in Acuff’s typical style – a lot of tongue-in-cheek humor and really something I needed to read in this moment because it focused a lot on how we set unrealistic/unattainable goals for ourselves and then don’t end up finishing things because our goals can’t be met, then drop the ball on that and more. For people who are perfectionists (hello, me), this ends up being a huge issue. Just read it! :) 


5. Growing Up Social

Some sobering information, but the book is also packed with practical tips and advice on maneuvering technology with kids, provides alternative ideas to get off technology, and also some great parenting helps overall. 


6. The Nightingale

This was probably my FAVORITE fiction read of the year. It focuses on the time period of WW2 and the lives of women left behind as their husbands go off to war and they are left to fend for their families in a country occupied by the Germans. There is some mature content, but sadly appropriate for the topic and storyline.  Overall it’s real, raw at times, and incredibly moving.


7. How to Teach Your Children Shakespeare

if you have ever doubted your ability to form a way to work on Shakespeare with your kids, you need to check out this book. Yes, you will have to read the actual book itself, but it has a plethora of information inside (I promise, it’s worth it). Technically, there are a few chapters you really want to read first and the remainder you could skim through unless you are studying those plays (definitely read the intro and chapters 1 – 6, 10, 14, 21, 31, and the epilogue), but I would recommend reading the entire book.

Ludwig believes the younger you start kids learning and memorizing the better. While memorizing seems daunting, he breaks down the process, making it manageable and even something young children can work on. In addition to memorization techniques, Ludwig talks about Shakespeare’s life and history, components of Shakespeare’s plays (imagery, humor, poetry/prose, metaphors), and so much more.


8. Never Unfriended

Even though it wasn’t on my 2017 reading list, this book was one of those that I definitely wanted to add the moment I saw it, and I loved it enough to order copies for a few friends who I knew could use the encouragement and words as much as I did. This mom thing is hard, homeschooling adds another layer to that, and protecting the friendships I have is very important to me – I want to BE the best friend I can and also foster healthy relationships along the way.   


9. The Auschwitz Escape

Joel Rosenberg is one of my favorite thriller/suspense authors to read. They can sometimes take a bit to get into, but once you are pulled in, they are hard to put down. The Auschwitz Escape tells the story of a man who assumes the identity of another man as he is sent to Auschwitz and then works toward escaping the camp. It is a very sobering story, but extremely well-written. 


10. The Magnolia Story

While this isn’t a super in-depth read, it’s a great peek into Chip and Joanna Gaines’ life and how they built their business and incorporate family-life into their busy days. I loved this quote from the book, because it’s something I’ve repeated to myself frequently over the last few years: 

“It all came down to a mind shift in which I asked myself, “What am I going for in life?” Was it to achieve somebody else’s idea of what a perfect home should look like? Or was it to live fully in the perfection of the home and family I have?”


Honorable Mention: Seven Sisters

I feel I should at least give an honorable mention to The Seven Sisters series by Lucinda Riley. However, I will give a bit of a warning: if you struggle mild sexual content, you will either need to skip (like I did) brief sections, or not read these books. The plot of the books kept me reading into the week hours of the morning with both books I’ve read so far. None of the added content is necessary for any plot issues in the book (which irritates me that it even needs to be included), but they have definitely been page turners. 


That’s it for 2017! What have you read this year that you would recommend for others to read? I’d love to hear from you and add a few more books to my 2018 pile!