I couldn’t let a month go by and not share some reads with you. First of all, I just wanted to thank you for your kind words this month. It’s been a challenging month personally and professionally for me, but I’m trying not to lean in on the diagnosis and only use it as an ability to understand more how to stay strong going forward. I’m living at the gym and working hard on strength training and working on better form.
You will even find me in the kitchen doing hand strengthening exercises (you should see my pencil baton twirling!) to try and keep my digits going while I’m stirring pots.
I know we have a road ahead, but each day I’m feeling a little better and I am so thankful to you all for all the words, blog posts to sustain the site, prayers, and offerings for our family! You truly discover your people when things like this happen and I am so thankful for mine.
Here are also 7 great books I enjoyed this month that I think you will love too!
“The main message of Jesus, I believed, is that mercy trumps justice every time,”- Paul Kalanithi
At the age of thirty-six, on the verge of completing a decade’s worth of training as a neurosurgeon, Paul Kalanithi was diagnosed with stage IV lung cancer. One day he was a doctor treating the dying, and the next he was a patient struggling to live. And just like that, the future he and his wife had imagined evaporated. When Breath Becomes Air chronicles Kalanithi’s transformation from a naïve medical student “possessed,” as he wrote, “by the question of what, given that all organisms die, makes a virtuous and meaningful life” into a neurosurgeon at Stanford working in the brain, the most critical place for human identity, and finally into a patient and new father confronting his own mortality.
This book is an incredibly moving story of the fragility of life and death told through Paul’s incredible medical career working as a neurosurgeon and then as a patient facing the end of his own life. Even after a cancer diagnosis, his ability to train and put his own needs aside while still working tirelessly in an operating room are nothing short of miraculous and his words echo the poetic strength of a life well lived.
Lucy’s closing to the book brings it all together in such a beautiful and memorable way that reminds us that all we should ever strive for in our life is to be and give unconditional love.
5 Out of 5 Stars
I received an ARC from NetGalley. All thoughts & opinions are my own.
I am a big fan of Suzanne Redfearn (be sure to read her first book Hush Little Baby and our interview with the author) and this book does not disappoint. In this quick page-turner, a single mother’s daughter is discovered after a YouTube video goes viral of her singing and dancing, at the tender age of four. She is immediately picked up for commercial work and then auditions & wins a lead role in a television show. Going from having nothing to having everything, you follow this mother as she juggles the demands of being a stage mom, the intrusive media, and protecting her children from Hollywood & her ex who just wants the biggest piece of the financial pie.
Redfearn effectively utilizes other famous stars and their stories to craft a compelling piece on the many pitfalls of growing up a child star and the rarity of survival in the industry.
Suzanne will be joining us this month for a Sundays With Writers about this book and I can’t wait to share more about her inspiration for this story!
4 Out of 5 Stars
Alli is a great friend of mine and she shared a copy of her book with me this month which was such a treat. I can always trim some excess from my life so I was excited into this one.
Alli tackles the topic of busy by guiding us through her own busy struggles and missteps that has lead her to a more peaceful life. With candid humor and a whole lot of scripture, she shows how God desires for us to slow down for Him.
The way this book is set up, with thought starters and questions at the end of each chapter, it would lend itself well to a personal morning devotion or a great book to work through as a Bible study. Additional online resources are also made available to assist with prioritizing and decision making and to reinforce your habits of breaking busy. I would recommend this one for fans of Jen Hatmaker, thanks to the humor and honesty that is peppered throughout this book!
Alli will be joining us in a future Sundays With Writers and I look forward to sharing more behind her book soon!
In a heartbeat, everything changes…
Rachel Jenner is walking in a Bristol park with her eight-year-old son, Ben, when he asks if he can run ahead. It’s an ordinary request on an ordinary Sunday afternoon, and Rachel has no reason to worry—until Ben vanishes.
Police are called, search parties go out, and Rachel, already insecure after her recent divorce, feels herself coming undone. As hours and then days pass without a sign of Ben, everyone who knew him is called into question, from Rachel’s newly married ex-husband to her mother-of-the-year sister. Inevitably, media attention focuses on Rachel too, and the public’s attitude toward her begins to shift from sympathy to suspicion.
Macmillan delivers a solid thriller that left me guessing right up until the final pages. Narration is done well through the eyes of the detective, the mother, and social media outlets who tell the story of an eight year-old boy who goes missing on a walk with his mother in the woods.
The author weaves enough loose ends to create a well curated variety of suspects that lead you down the wrong trails in the woods yourself and creates great tension as the stability of the child’s own mother comes into question.
The book could have been edited in length as the story did drag a bit, but I still really enjoyed it!
I’m thrilled that Gilly will be joining us this month on our Sundays With Writers series to share more about her story behind this incredible debut novel! You won’t want to miss it!
4 Out of 5 Stars
The Immortals (Olympus Bound #1) by Jordanna Max Brodsky
I received an ARC from the publisher. All thoughts and opinions are my own.
The Immortals is an ambitious modern day retelling of Greek mythology set in the city of Manhattan. Selene, also known as Artemis, is a woman intent on making men pay for crimes against women. Amidst her vengeance on these men, she stumbles upon the body of a young woman washed ashore, who has been gruesomely mutilated and wreathed in laurel. She finds her ancient rage returning and forms an unlikely partnership with the woman’s former lover as they try to figure out who this serial killer is that is performing ritualistic killings in their city. Fans of Greek mythology will swim in this fresh retelling of these ancient stories.
Jordanna will also be joining us this month in a future Sundays With Writers and I look forward to sharing more about the research and travel she did to recreate Greek mythology with this modern spin!
4 Out of 5 Stars
Disclaimer, disclaimer, disclaimer- do not read if you cannot handle graphic sexual abuse or violence against women!
More than twenty years ago, Claire and Lydia’s teenaged sister Julia vanished without a trace. The two women have not spoken since, and now their lives could not be more different. Claire is the glamorous trophy wife of an Atlanta millionaire. Lydia, a single mother, dates an ex-con and struggles to make ends meet. But neither has recovered from the horror and heartbreak of their shared loss—a devastating wound that’s cruelly ripped open when Claire’s husband is killed.
The disappearance of a teenage girl and the murder of a middle-aged man, almost a quarter-century apart: what could connect them? Forming a wary truce, the surviving sisters look to the past to find the truth, unearthing the secrets that destroyed their family all those years ago . . . and uncovering the possibility of redemption, and revenge, where they least expect it.
As a lover of horror films and fiction, I can say that this book is the first book that has absolutely terrified me and kept me up at with nightmares at night…and I loved it. Slaughter perfectly crafts each character so well that it is as though you are watching a film. Dark, psychologically twisted, evil, and graphic, the tale is gruesome and horrific and kept me on the absolute edge of my seat from the opening page. Fans of Gillian Flynn will appreciate this twisted thriller, but be prepared for the nightmares…they will be coming!
5 Out of 5 Stars
Centered on two dynamic, complicated, and compelling protagonists—Truman Capote and Babe Paley- The Swans of Fifth Avenue is steeped in the glamour and perfumed and smoky atmosphere of New York’s high society. Babe Paley—known for her high-profile marriage to CBS founder William Paley and her ranking in the International Best-Dressed Hall of Fame—was one of the reigning monarchs of New York’s high society in the 1950s. Replete with gossip, scandal, betrayal, and a vibrant cast of real-life supporting characters, readers will be seduced by this startling new look at the infamous society swans.
You can really tell that Benjamin is passionate about this era and the telling of the story of Truman Capote and his swans. I think the challenge with this story is that many of these characters are so unlikable and not easy to relate to. Benjamin beautifully adds depth though in her fictional retelling of Capote and the ladies that grew to love him, that shows that all he wanted in life was the love of his mother.
As someone who was unfamiliar with his life story, I had a great time reading all of the stories and hunting for the pictures of all these elite ladies after I finished this one. There is lots of glamour and backstabbing that reads a bit like a good gossip magazine.
Be sure to catch our Sundays With Writers with Melanie Benjamin this month!
4 Out of 5 Stars
Read With Me This Year:
January 2016 Must-Reads
What should I be adding to my library bag? Leave your suggestions in the comments below! Looking for book ideas? Check out our entire Book section of the site! Don’t forget to friend me on GoodReads! xo
*this post may contain affiliate links- I only recommend what I love though.