Book Review: Brooklyn by Colm Toibin

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Colm Toibin’s quiet and introspective novel Brooklyn delivers a beautiful character driven story about an Irish immigrant who lands in New York. Young and ready to work the job her sister and pastor helped her secure, Eilis adjusts to life in a new country. Sometimes she stands out due to her nationality, and others she sticks out because she upholds a higher level of ethic than her housemates. Her experiences feel so real, I believed I really could see through her eyes. The uncertainty she faces, the joy and love she discovers, and the hope she holds all keep me rooting for her. Realistic and raw, this story shares a universal optimism.

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In case you were wondering about the movie, this is one of those few times where the film is as good as, or maybe even better, than the book. Somehow it made a quiet entrance at the box office and appearance at the Oscars, but it deserves to be noticed as much as Eilis does.

 

Book Review: What You Wish For by Katherine Center

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As usual, Katherine Center delivers an uplifting and sweet story in her latest release What You Wish For. Set in Galveston, Texas, the story follows school librarian Sam as she faces significant changes in her workplace, the most significant involving the reappearance of an old, massive crush. However, love worthy Duncan seems different than Sam last saw him. Together, they learn how to open their hearts to trust and love. The school changes seem not to be the only change in this story. Center alters her balance in character growth in this story, and it makes the development a little off kilter. The focus seems to rest on Duncan, and Sam takes a backseat even though she experiences growth too. That said, it still makes a sweet story and I still recommend it. Katherine Center books always get bumped to the front of my TBR pile when I get them.

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This hits shelves in July, so add it to your summer reading list!

Book Review: Dreaming with God by Sarah Beth Marr

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I received a copy of Dreaming with God: A Bold Call to Step Out and Follow God’s Lead by Sarah Beth Marr from BakerBooks in exchange for a review.

Sarah Beth Marr shares her story of becoming a successful dancer and learning to follow God’s lead no matter the obstacles encountered. Her experience yields examples of how to trust God when it seems like the path to which you’re called may be impractical or even impossible. Faith comes into play as we trust God’s lead with our dreams and callings. This particularly reminds me that I need to believe God has a plan for me and following His lead ranks higher than what society expects. Even if it contradicts the cultural norm, God has a path marked. Marr experienced numerous setbacks and odds seemed against her, yet she honored God’s calling on her life and glorified Him through her discipline and stage presence. May we all learn to develop greater trust and discipline to follow where God leads.

Book Review: When We Left Cuba by Chanel Cleeton

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Chanel Cleeton’s historical fiction novel When We Left Cuba delves into a world of intrigue with its look at the United States during Kennedy’s presidency, Cuba during its tumultuous time under Castro, and young woman spy. Beatriz finds herself in Florida with her family after they left during the Cuban Revolution. Upset about the politics behind her transition, she consents to help the CIA. Secrets and dreams grow as Beatriz matures. The story holds interest with its historical and cultural aspects, and it has its engaging plot with espionage. The spy angle veered from my usual fare, but I enjoyed the thrill and especially appreciated Beatriz’s personal evolution.

 

I look forward to reading Cleeton’s backlist title Next Year in Havana and her upcoming new release.

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Book Review: Save the Date by Morgan Matson

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Morgan Matson’s young adult book Save the Date makes a quiet yet humorous and heartfelt story surrounding a family gathering for an upcoming wedding. Charlie faces numerous common adjustments many readers may find familiar, and she faces them with an expected trepidation yet also with strength. It gets off to a slow start but becomes better as the events unfold and more of Charlie’s character gets revealed through her reconsidering how she views and engages in her relationships. The themes of family bonds, personal growth and reflection, making adjustments, accepting change, and moving forward all made positive messages.

 

Book Review: The Most Important Women of the Bible

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I received a copy of The Most Important Women of the Bible: Remarkable Stories of God’s Love and Redemption by Aaron & Elaina Sharp from Bethany House in exchange for a review.

 

Through simple yet insightful vignettes about numerous women in the bible, each chapter portrays a realistic picture of the character. They include historical and cultural context to give a good understanding of what the woman experienced. This makes the biblical narrative more accessible and the characters easier to see as models. Just like you, me, and everyone else, they do not possess perfection. Some stand pretty far from it. Yet they find redemption and love through connection with God. The message that we too can have that remains clear. It makes a good reminder that all the various struggles we see today have plagued women throughout history. Just as they did, we too can overcome.

Midweek Article Roundup: January 22, 2020

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This Medium article outlines how to stop someone gaslighting you.

The New Yorker shared some of Flannery O’Connor’s diary.

NPR highlights how creating art can improve mental and physical health. As professor and art therapy researcher Girija Kaimal describes, “This act of imagination is actually an act of survival.”

This article about family estrangement shares this more common than realized phenomenon’s causes and potential cures.

Book Riot shared a list of Harry Potter pick up lines. I laughed the entire time I read this. They suit my cheesy Valentine heart just fine. I’m here for the Valentine celebration already.

View at Medium.com

Reading Recommendations: January 2, 2020

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The New Yorker shared Shirley Jackson’s eerie short story The Lottery.

This Mayo Clinic article shares important insight regarding self-esteem and the importance of identifying negative thoughts.

I recently have read my first Nancy drew mystery. This Book Riot article examines the history of the series and its writers as it has evolved.

 

Taylor Swift’s “Welcome to New York”

I enjoyed some reading time in the New York area as I read the wonderful The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald, Rules of Civility by Amor Towles, and Brooklyn by Tolm Toibin. I highly recommend all three.

Book Review: Silencing Insecurity

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I received Silencing Insecurity: Believing God’s Truth about You by Donna Gibbs from Revell in exchange for a review.

The insecurity topic had me at first glance when this appeared as a review option. As someone who started fighting an inner negative and untrue voice years ago, I knew I needed as much guidance in my battle as I could get. This book made great armor in its knowledge, application, and truth. Accessible, it finds a great balance between enough information to gain a greater understanding an insight for reflection and application. I found myself yearning to sit down with my journal at the end of each chapter so I could write out my reflections on the questions. The content included a lot that I already knew, but I found it pertinent and appreciated that it added to my understanding. Gibbs gently reminded her readers that adjusting a mind involves a lot more than a simple flip of a switch. Renewing the mind requires daily work.

Meeting Autumn

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autumn dream

 

The rain falls before

the trees set aflame

a fresh cleansing

for love’s claim

 

For sunlight’s ease

shortens like the days

but remains steady

through this phase

 

The light awoke up

made us believe dreams

fears retreated, doubts cleared

and reality ripped seams

 

As we shift seasons

taking a step forward

we shed a dead layer

knowing what we move toward

 

Lively green sets aflame

beauty before death crunches

a shedding, a preparing

for fruit’s new bunches

 

 

 

 

September 23/24, 2019