Skip to main content

Posts

My Favorite Books of 2021

New Year’s Day 2022 propelled Goodreads beyond their server limits as over five million existing users reviewed last year’s reading challenge and new users signed up to join them in setting new reading goals. I love the Reading Challenge, with its ratings and reviews to remind me what I’ve read and what I liked - or didn’t like – each year.  I added 45 books this year. Several were Texas Bluebonnet Award nominees, which I read with my son each year. Other titles come from review copies from publishers, previews through NetGalley , or titles that caught my eye while browsing through a bookstore. A few came from Once Upon a Book Club . Another reliable source for new titles is The BookPage , a monthly independent recommendation guide offered at our local public library.  My 2021 Top Ten  In reviewing the 45 books I added to Goodreads this year, I discovered 17 standouts. From those I chose these ten books as my “top reads.” Here they are in no particular order: 1. Finding Sanctuary:
Recent posts

St. Dymphna's Playbook: Finding Mental and Emotional Well-Being

Author and therapist Tommy Tighe states in the introduction of his new book that he wants us to feel heard, loved and supported as we work together to heal from mental health experiences.  He accomplishes that and more in his book, St. Dymphna's Playbook: A Catholic Guide to Finding Mental and Emotional Well-Being .   The book is broken up in sections with different mental health and emotional experiences we might be living through and then the sub-chapters delve deeper into each one.  The format of each chapter first talks about and defines the mental health issue of the chapter, then covers; •    So What Do We Do? •    Is there Healing and Relief Out There? •    What the Bible Says about …. •    What the Saints Say about …. •    Summary •    Closing Prayer When I read a certain section and exact chapter that I have personally experienced the mental health topic, I felt heard, loved, and supported.  Immediately, I knew I'm not alone.  There are other good, solid people of fait

Three Girls from Bronzeville: A Uniquely American Memoir

I've been reading quite a bit lately, picking up and putting down various titles and genres. Most of my reviews are posted via Goodreads , but every once in a while I stumble onto a 5-star book that demands to be shared here.  Three Girls from Bronzeville:  A Uniquely American Memoir of Race, Fate, and Sisterhood  debuts on Sept 7, 2021 and is available to pre-order. (I received a digital Advanced Review Copy via NetGalley.com .) After a career of writing about other people, author Dawn Turner tackles her own coming of age story, skillfully choosing what and how to share her personal experiences growing up in the 1970s with her younger sister and best friend in this powerfully written memoir. Living in the historic Bronzeville section south of Chicago, these three children of working class parents are inseparable until life draws them on separate paths to adulthood. Although I recognize the historic people associated with Bronzeville (Ida B. Wells, Louis Armstrong, Bessie Coleman,

The Chosen: Get Used to Different

Are you watching The Chosen?   This past year our family began watching “television” more separately than together, with the youngest watching DVR recorded shows while the older teen, my husband, and myself binge watch our own series on our individual devices.  But last week, my husband insisted we watch episode one of The Chosen as a family and it drew us all  back to the couch together interested in the same show.  Now we’re gathered each night for an episode or two, occasionally scrambling to get the Bible and find the Gospel passage used in that episode.  (Not all the Scripture because there is a LOT of Scripture in each episode. If you’re curious how much, check out this The Chosen Season One Scripture Index compiled by Peter Chattaway over at Patheos.) Post-episode discussions even pop up the next day or later in the week as we process the portrayal and development of characters within the story and the world they lived in. One thing the show does particularly well is create a

Finding Sanctuary: How the Wild Work of Peace Restored the Heart of a Sandy Hook Mother

  I did not want to read this book. T he review copy of Finding Sanctuary: How the Wild Work of Peace Restored the Heart of a Sandy Hook Mother  by Jennifer Hubbard arrived in my mailbox and after a glance, I determined it would be too painful to read and set it aside. But something about the beautiful cover with its active, yet soothing, colors, the butterflies, and that “ sanctuary ” script kept drawing my eyes. Curiosity finally got the best of me, as I wondered, how? How does someone survive losing a child at Sandy Hook and go on to write a book about finding Peace? Too many people experience the loss of a child, through accidents, illness, suicide, drugs, and for Jennifer Hubbard, the unthinkable – a school shooting. What could she write that would help others understand and walk forward from that kind of pain? So I started reading it, even though I was afraid of that first chapter – the one that holds our own worst nightmare. I’m not going to lie, that was an ugly cry moment. How

Joy in Community During Pandemic

During the height of the pandemic, my long running Moms of Teens Book Club attempted to continue meeting virtually. We missed each other so much, but we found taking turns to talk in a Brady Bunch style box was restrictive for intentional sharing and fellowship. Although we found it awkward and less than ideal; it was better than not gathering at all. When it was time to start a new book, we offered to create two different meetups – one to continue online and one to meet in person outdoors. We discovered all our book group preferred to see each other face to face so the idea of two groups was dismissed. Before our first meeting back in person we weren’t sure what to expect, or the comfort level of each woman. There were so many questions – Masks? Food? Seating distance? Would it be as awkward as meeting virtually?  Moving forward with so many questions still up in the air, we selected a new book and scheduled our weekly time.  At that first meeting, what we found was that we simply wan

Make Reading Come Alive (A Review)

While searching for gift ideas last Christmas, I stumbled across a subscription box that sounded interesting.   Once Upon a Book Club claims to provide a “unique reading experience” and they deliver on that promise. Their monthly box includes a newly published book (sometimes hardcover, sometimes paperback), a 5”x7” card printed with an inspirational quote, and a glossy bi-fold brochure containing a “Conversation with the Author,” book club discussion questions, and opportunities to participate with online discussion communities across social media formats. But what makes this unique and fun is that the bright pink book box also contains 3-5 custom gifts of varying interest and value that directly correspond to the story plot . Each gift is wrapped and includes a page number telling you when to open it. And in case you get so wrapped up in the storyline you forget, the page includes a sticky note reminding you to Open Your Gift! One minute you’re engaged in a conversation between two