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September Books and Reviews

Fall weather makes me want to read! There’s nothing like snuggling up under a puppy on a drizzly, cool day with an excellent book. As this past month was mostly all a steamer though, but I still managed to sweat and a read a few excellent (and a couple rather mediocre) book.

Thank you to the amazing Instagram community for allowing me to share their photos. Follow these reading ladies! (And me, FarmFreshJessica, if you don’t already!)

The Alice Network–⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️– Seriously, meet your next favorite book. Raw. emotion, humor, love, betrayal, passion, pain, beauty-this book has everything. Historically accurate and based on real people, some of whom are quoted word for word, and beautifully narrated from two diametrically opposes perspectives, you won’t be able to put it down.

Mr Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore–⭐️⭐️–Normally, I don’t even finish books that I like so little, but this was an audio book, so I could read while doing laundry, and I wanted to knock off my prompt for the 2018 Pop Sugar Reading Challenge, “A book which takes place in a library or bookstore.” Suffice it to say, the premise had potential, but it was boring and pat, and I didn’t even understand what was going on half the time. The setting wasn’t developed and the characters even less so. Find a different book to fulfill that prompt, please.

The Good Daughter–⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️– An intense book from page one, it just keeps getting deeper. Filled with emotional drama and family trauma, this story isn’t as much psychological thriller as I thought it was, but more a mystery to be solved. The twists and turns are brutal and heartbreaking. You truly feel for even the minor characters in the story, which is a sign of an excellent tale. I was repulsed by the repeated graphic descriptions of the horror Sam and Charlie underwent, but I can see how it was necessary to help you really empathize with what they’d overcome. A fierce novel-one I had to stay up late to finish.

It’s All Under Control–⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️– This book speaks right to my heart. I was flabbergasted to find the author knows me! As in, she wrote this for herself and for women in general, but it was as if she knows me personally and sees my struggle. She brought tears to my eyes several times with her poignant encouragement. She offered real ideas and solutions and understands how hard this sense of control is to let go of. She never once seemed condescending, but always loving. Highly recommend.

The Giver–⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️– The Giver fascinated me. I was plopped down in the middle of a world for which I have no understanding or concept for. I am able to make judgements based on my experience and memories, as it were, but the characters in The Giver don’t have that capacity. Jonas eventually does and he realizes that with that knowledge comes understanding and with understanding wisdom and action. I recommend you read this book for you and with your kids. Lots of good conversations to be had and introspection to be done.

Kabul Beauty School–⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️– I wasn’t sure what to expect as I’ve read several books similar in nature which were badly written and not at all interesting, even though the story SHOULD have been a winner. Kabul Beauty School is nothing like that. Debbie can tell a story that helps you visualize it and feel what she felt. She helps you understand, as much as any western person could, what these women in Afghanistan are tied to. It’s hard for us to comprehend at all.

She shares her mistakes and is very real with the reader, and at the same time feels proud of what she has helped accomplish. This book is a vital read for all of us in the West to take to heart.

George Muller–⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️– We read this as a family and LOVED it! Just enough detail to get an excellent idea of this incredible man, but not too much that it didn’t hold the children’s interest. We love learning of all of God’s miracles and pray for George’s faith ourselves!

1984–⭐️⭐️⭐️– Fascinating. Disturbing. Thought provoking. Even haunting. I took quite a while to read this book because my brain just didn’t want to go back inside that world. I didn’t want to give it four stars as I didn’t really like it enjoy it but I think it almost deserves five. That this book was written 70 years ago and is still completely relevant today is awful. I would not want my kids to read Orwell’s “future” but I feel they should. Obviously, I’m conflicted about 1984.

Revolutionary Road–⭐️⭐️⭐️(⭐️)– Truly the writing deserves five stars. As for my personal taste in books though, I can only dole out three. It was a grim and morose tale of two people who thought very highly of themselves and found out they really didn’t have what it took to live their lives unselfishly and freely. They were stuck in so many constraints, in the past, and in doubt of their meaning here on earth. It was beautifully written and aroused compassion and curiosity for them. I want to see how they depict it in the movie.

In a personal tidbit, I was interested especially because it was written a year before my in-laws got married and the ideals and modes of society would have been their life song too. It helped me see how their mentality and upbringing and time affected their thinking, and thereby my husband’s.

I can see why this is considered an American classic, it just wasn’t for me. Finding out the ending makes me doubt I can stomach the movie, although I’ve heard it’s superb.

Behind Closed Doors–⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ — What a page turner!!
The writing seemed a little trite at times but I could easily overlook it because the concept was so strong. Suffice it to say it was completely believable even as it was out of the realm of every day understanding. I loved the idea of telling the story in the present and the past and bringing the past ever closer to the current present. I LOVED the ending. It literally gave me goosebumps.

What was the best book you read last month?

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Books I Read: Honest Reviews

When I read book reviews, I just want the reviewer’s opinion. I don’t need a synopsis of the book because if it looks appealing, I’ll find that out for myself. I give you what I myself prefer, which is just straight up an honest review. Pretty much, nothing I read is less than three stars because Mama ain’t got time for bad books!

Besides, I link all my books to Amazon so you can easily purchase the book if it appeals to you. (And if you do, I’ll get a little sumpin’ sumpin’ out of the deal because they are affiliate links–win, win!)

Incredible Story of Redemption 

I watched Tiffany open a Fab Fit Fun box knowing nothing about her and laugh-crying by the end of her FB live. I promptly then watched several more of her videos. When I told a friend how much I enjoyed them, she told me Tiffany was in recovery. I bought the book that night.

Her honesty and raw real-ness was breathtaking. I was awed by her story and how much she could remember! She has lived a powerful life already and I’m excited to follow along as she continues to help change lives. 

Adorable photos.

Lots of sweet and cute ideas. I love the Japanese flair. Many of the ideas were quite simple and I’ve actually done, but still, this book is worth picking up for a peaceful afternoon read.

Riveting 

I never expected a book that was half about CONSTRUCTION to be interesting, but it was! The chapters flipped between the incredible construction of the amazing World’s Fair and the destruction of human lives at the hands of a psychopath. I also enjoyed learning several tidbits of trivia about Chicago and every day items that for their start at the 1893 World’s Fair.

Wow.

I wasn’t sure what to expect when I chose a book about such a difficult topic, but this author knocked it out of the park just like his beloved Giants. I was blown away by the love and pain and passion that came through his words. Thank you both for honoring us with your story.

Well done!

Herein you’ll find lots of novel and actually implementable ideas for a beautiful home.  I like the mix of DIY projects, thrift store finds (you KNOW I LOVE THAT!), and elements they hired done. The colors are delightful, and even though a lot of it isn’t my style, I still gleaned a lot of ideas. The writing is humble but with the sense of humor I love it an author.  Lots of inspiration!

What!? Mind blown

I am usually pretty good at figuring out twists in the plot before they’re revealed but I LOVE an author who keeps me guessing! And how!  I was puzzled by the very last couple of pages though. It was almost as if the author thought, hmm, what can I just throw in there to throw everyone for a loop. Based on the reviews on Good reads, I’m not the only confused one either. I liked all of it up until then. If you like psychological thrillers, this is a do not miss.

I can’t stop thinking about it

I loved the truth telling In the story. I loved how it was told from start to finish in the Deep South vernacular and still painted beautiful word pictures. This tale made me laugh and cry, and wanted to know more about the rest of the story. I can’t wait to read the sequel.

Literally a cozy book: just what I needed.

I LOVED this book. The suggestions for crafts were adorable and easy to implement. Some of the food recipes were “highbrow” but not so much so that I felt intimidated. I loved the thoughtful suggestions for ways of interacting with your world. She even had a page with directions on how to “do nothing”. I pretty much understand how to do nothing, as I’m sure you do as well, but what was novel for me, was putting it on your calendar. I NEED to do that! The pictures drew you in and gave you peace. I want to get to know the author better and follow her blog and buy all her things. She did an outstanding job with this book. It was perfect.

What books have you loved recently? What kind of book reviews do YOU like?

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Books You Need to Read (and a couple you may not)

I hate when people waste my time describing a book in their review. That is not the point of a review. I want to know if it was good and if the book will be worth reading. That’s what I do in my book reviews.  I don’t really have time to finish less than three star books anyway,  so you won’t find a bad book (at least in my opinion) here.

Here’s what I read in April.

This post contains affiliate links, which help me keep my kids stocked with books and food, all at no cost to you!

Oh my gosh. I read a book about hockey, and I loved it. My reading a book about hockey, which isn’t really about hockey, is a feat in and of itself, but loving it, even while I hated it, was incredible. It’s beautiful and tough and real and gritty. I was filled with despair and hope and satisfaction.

The quotable material and phrases and words I want to remember forever filled several notebook pages. I couldn’t make it five stars because of the depth of detail about some of the awfulness that can happen to people, but it will still be one of the best books I read this year. You must read this book.

**Check out spoiler reviews on Goodreads though if you feel you might have certain triggers about any of the difficult topics addressed. **

 

 

 

 

 

 

This is the Queen of Mystery in excellent form. If you’ve never read her, I recommend starting with this one or And Then There Were None. It’s dated, obviously, so you do need to prepare yourself for that. I generally like Miss Marple better than Hercule Poirot, as far as Agatha’s detectives go. We have integrated one of his phrases from this book into our family lexicon as a joke, with an exaggerated French accent; “Because sir, I do not like your face.”

I would have liked to have a handy French dictionary with all the pronunciations for the many French phrases. Maybe when she wrote this, it was expected that the general public spoke French, but it certainly isn’t the case now!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Oh my goodness! The entire first half of the book made me want to gnaw my arm off! I hated being kept in suspense about what had happened the day of the ding-dong-dang barbeque! But once we got into the second half, it was a wonderful thing. It was so real, so healing. I cried in several different places. It was a phenomenal ending with so many good things.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

As guide to motivate you and explain why you should pursue your dream of an internet based business, this book is on the mark. As an actual how-to do that, it is seriously a fail.  It does help to get you motivated and it does make you believe that you can leave the regular workaday life and start something you’re passionate about via the internet. He does a good job of outlining how people seem to make money from a variety of sources via social media and the web. He describes it’s possible for you to take your blog from basic, to a full time income. And possibly that’s all the book is supposed to be. Maybe it’s not meant to get into detail of how to actually make that dream happen.

My understanding was that it was supposed to though. It was disappointing that he didn’t get into the nitty gritty or the actual how to. I got this book because one of my favorite YouTubers recommended this as a life changing book. I definitely wouldn’t go that far, but it was encouraging. It was a fast read, so I didn’t feel like it was a lot of time wasted.

 

 

I love World War II stories, there  is something so powerful about the triumphs and tragedies that happened in my grandparents’ and in-laws’ life times. This book was especially compelling. I seriously found it to be one of the best books I’ve ever read. It contained such interesting and incredible perspectives and intersections. Wonderfully well researched, Lilac Girls was enjoyable and heart touching, as well as awful to contemplate. I can’t recommend highly enough.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 



I was fascinated by this book. It is written in an anthropological style, so it is just a report of people, their stuff and how they interact with it. No judgement, no assessment, just details. I loved being invited into these families’s homes and peeking around at their belongings and  home life. It’s an aspect we often, if ever, are not privy to. If you’re as interested in other people and how they live as I am, you need to get a hold of Life at Home. It’s real life, y’all.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 It was intriguing enough to make me want to keep reading but I had already forgotten the title by the time I came to put in in Goodreads a few days later. The title was why I picked it up in the first place. I wasn’t even sure I liked the main characters and didn’t know whether I wanted good things to happen to them. I was also irritated that being thin and good looking was emphasized so much in the main character’s transformation into becoming more confident.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

What an amazing book! I couldn’t put it down. I stayed up until the early hours of the morning because I had to finish this story. It’s been ages since I have been that engrossed in a book, or that affected by a story for that matter. There aren’t words to describe the emotions you feel while reading this.

Awed that the author was able to impart such an unvarnished, yet grippingly beautiful story of life in Virginia in the late 18th century, the plight and powerlessness of both slaves and women, the interesting turns in fortune, I rate this book unputdownable.  I should tell you, that I read Alex Haley’s Roots and Queen at a young impressionable age, so my bar for this type of story is pretty high.  I felt like I could genuinely SEE each of the characters in my mind as I read, which, frankly, doesn’t really happen to me all that often. So much tragedy happens to so many people that one does start to get a little numb, but I still couldn’t stop reading. I felt as if I were an unfortunate witness to their lives. Nearly everyone in this story is admirable, and even those who aren’t, you still feel anguish for the things they went through to make them be as they are. This is a book I will remember for years to come.  I highly recommend you block out some time and pick up this book.

**Check out spoiler reviews on Goodreads though if you feel you might have certain triggers about any of the difficult topics addressed. **

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Book Review (March Edition)

March Book Reviews

March was a great book month! I read a lot of winners. I rate books on 1-5 stars, but it’s really kind of silly because I never finish books less than three stars, and have trouble even when they are perfectly average. And then when I realized I could use the emojis to make the stars, I thought to myself, as anyone would, “I’m going to rate these books on a scale of 1 to 5 tacos!”

Happy Handmade Home 🌮🌮🌮

A Beautiful Mess Happy Handmade Home: Painting, Crafting, and Decorating a Cheerful, More Inspiring Space

I’ve been using A Beautiful Mess’s filters for years, so when I saw they had a book out, I jumped on it. It was easy to read, lots of beautiful photos, much inspiration. If you like home decorating books, check it out! If you don’t like home interior books, this would be a good one to read and change your mind.

Into the Water. 🌮🌮🌮🌮

Into the Water: A Novel

I read this for Paper and Glam bookclub. I was halfway through before I even realized this is the same author as Girl on a Train, which I really loved. I’m a huge fan of quality mystery, and turns of the plot, as well as strong leads. This one was a bit confusing because it had so many different people’s points of view telling the story, as well as many different flashbacks, it was intriguing though, and because I was riveted, I still gave it four stars.

Rosemary: The Hidden Kennedy Daughter

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Rosemary: The Hidden Kennedy Daughter

This book was filled with all of the Kennedy drama and tragedy, but honestly it was pretty boring. It was mostly a litany of day to day list type writing. I wish the author would have helped me feel more sympathetic and compassionate toward Rosemary, or any of the characters. I wanted to feel their pain, feel for them more deeply, but the matter of fact style of telling the story was completely devoid of emotion.

A Wrinkle in Time 🌮🌮🌮

A Wrinkle in Time (Time Quintet)

Although it fit the category of “A Childhood Classic You’ve Never Read” for the 2018 PopSugar Reading Challenge, I didn’t really love it. My 13 year old said it’s one of her favorite books, so maybe it’s just very much a children’s book, which is disappointing because there is lots of other so-called children’s lit I love to come back to. I’m not a huge sci-fi or fantasy fan either, so maybe that’s part of it. It was very simplistic, with very little character development. It reminds me of a book I would have written in the 6th grade.

The Woman in the Window 🌮🌮🌮🌮

The Woman in the Window: A Novel

Reminding me frequently of the Hitchcock classic, Rear Window, Woman in the Window was filled with plot twists. I loved that I guessed some of them, but not to the extent they were written. I fell in love with the spirit of the protagonist. I couldn’t put this one down. Highly recommended: I almost gave it 4 ½ stars.

Safe With Me 🌮🌮🌮🌮

Safe With Me: A psychological thriller so tense it will take your breath away

March must have been the month for un-put-downable thrillers. This one had me hopping as well. This one had twists I never saw coming, as well as a hard to love, but still adorable narrator.

Night Road 🌮🌮🌮🌮

Night Road: A Novel

In my opinion, Kristin Hanna can do no wrong. I love how every book of hers is a different time period and about a different topic all together, and still hits me in all the feelings, and makes me cry, teaches me something new, and still has a happy ending. When you have to work through a lot of crud for that happy wrap-up, it makes the end all the sweeter. I do so love a happy ending.

Underground Railroad 🌮🌮🌮🌮🌮

The Underground Railroad: A Novel

This is the best book I’ve read all year. I loved all of it—the gritty, hardness of it. The truth of it. The absolute fantastical aspects of it. The spirit of the main character. The heartbreak of it. The beauty of it. Just read it.

Little Fires Everywhere 🌮🌮🌮🌮

Little Fires Everywhere
I will just come right out and say I was completely unsatisfied with the ending, but up until then, everything about this book was stellar. I was riveted the entire time. I loved the backstories by way of explanation of certain characters’ behavior, I loved all the different, yet intertwining plot lines, I genuinely loved the characters. Despite everything still being at loose ends at its conclustion, this was a book I was disappointed to have end.

What were your favorite books in March? I have a never ending TBR (to be read) list; I’ll be happy to add your recommendations!

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KonMari Life

I read The Life Changing Art of Tidying Up in January, and have watched several YouTube videos about the KonMari Method, and minimalism in general. I have been incentivized to change my life!

I haven’t done her program to the letter exactly how she describes, but what I have done has been fantastic!

I’ve done most of the kids’ clothes, mine and Kevin’s clothes, all the books in the entire house, a lot of our homeschool supplies, and some of the kitchen. As a mom of many, it would be impossible to do it exactly as she lays out in the book, and knock out all of the “odd and ends” for example, in one day. I try to tackle one category of things or a room every other Friday.

I had the goal of fashioning a creative environment to use as an office. I want to blog more. I want a space of my own. I also am taking on a job within our Classical Conversations community which requires more responsibility and record keeping, so I needed a spot for that.

I’m lucky enough to have a studio already. Sort of a glorified closet, it’s a small room on the south side of the upstairs. I love the natural light in here. I used to scrapbook in here, and I still sew and make cards. My needs have changed considerably, and all of the things I’ve been keeping have inched their way farther and farther from the wall until there wasn’t much room at all. And, with all the clutter, it does not invite creativity.

After a hard day’s work, I ended up with this: 

Much better, but it was still sort of cluttery, especially on top of my drawers, and with the sunlight I loved so much, I couldn’t see my computer screen due to the glare.
I made a few purchases to decorate it a bit, AND cleaned out our entire storage room to make room for Kevin’s steel guitar you see in front of the window. 
Now I truly have a Fortress of Serenity. I have a room I love to be in and a room that is once again useful and welcoming.

If you need motivation to change your life, I highly recommend The Life Changing Art of Tidying Up!
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