Gospel Centered Mom – A Review


I just finished a new book where I felt like it was written specifically for me!   And there’s now underlining and stars (that’s when I really want to remember something) on every page because yes, I’ve dealt with the same issues and have had the same feelings of despair and worries over these hard-to-handle boys I love so dearly but just can’t understand, and to be honest, can’t control? Has anyone else felt this way about a book?

In Gospel Centered Mom,  Brooke McGlothlin guides the reader through 10 freeing truths we should strive to embrace as we raise our children. She begins with introducing what she calls a ME Gospel – where we “worship ourselves instead of God, to believe God exists for us instead of us for Him.” And then she continues with reminding us why theology (the study of God) is so important for ALL Christians.

But theology is actually of the utmost importance to everyone — deep-thinker, academic type or not — because what we believe affects what we do, how we behave, and how we treat others. What we believe influences the way we understand ourselves, and, most of all, shapes our understanding of God. (pg. 39)


The stories that the author told were sometimes painful and embarrassing – hard but true stories that made me feel sick to my stomach because I’ve felt the same way at times too.  And yet they gave me hope to continue doing the hard work of loving my children, even when it’s easier to just give up.

As parents, we tend to view our relationship with our children as an us-versus-them situation. Changing our perspective just slightly and taking the time to learn to fight for our children instead can restore hope, peace, and unity to our homes. (pg. 200)

Each chapter ends with nuggets of truths that I want to put up on the fridge – hard truths that sting, and then beautiful responsive truths that send us back to resting in God. One example, which I’ve especially needed to hear recently :

God isn’t necessarily most concerned with our child’s happiness, health, wealth, freedom, or safety. When we make Jesus our priority, we release to Him the burden of responsibility for our child’s future. (pg. 154)

I can’t wait to recommend this book to other moms – I received this book from Blogging for Books for this review, BUT would buy it for another struggling mom in a heartbeat.

Book Reviews, Fiction, Mysteries, Thrillers, Uncategorized

Magpie Murders – A Book Review

 Magpie Murders: A Novel, by Anthony Horowitz, is a perfect example of why I started this blog. I absolutely loved it, and kept thinking throughout that I had to recommend it other mystery readers. But since I’m not one to give unsolicited book recommendations (too often), I’m on the blog instead!

Anthony Horowitz wrote another favorite of mine, Moriarty: A Novel, so I was pretty certain I’d enjoy Magpie Murders as well. A little background on my reading habits… I’m a quick reader, averaging three to four books a week. I have so many books on my nightstand and kindle that I want to read, and I feel pressure to get through as many as I can before they’re due back to the library. Does anyone else feel that way? Magpie Murders is due TODAY, with no holds left (should I put a post-it note in for the next reader that they’re going to love it?!) and there was no way I’d leave it unfinished. So I started it Saturday, thinking I’d finish it on Sunday. I checked the page number at the end, 236, and thought for sure that wouldn’t be a problem. And then I got into the story, and realized how wrong I was — the book is, in fact, 496 pages. And it’s not just one book, but a mystery novel within a mystery novel. If you like smart English crime fiction, Magpie Murders is definitely a book to check out. Here’s the description from the inside cover:

From the New York Times bestselling author of Moriarty and Trigger Mortis, this fiendishly brilliant, riveting thriller weaves a classic whodunit worthy of Agatha Christie into a chilling, ingeniously original modern-day mystery.

When editor Susan Ryeland is given the manuscript of Alan Conway’s latest novel, she has no reason to think it will be much different from any of his others. After working with the bestselling crime writer for years, she’s intimately familiar with his detective, Atticus Pünd, who solves mysteries disturbing sleepy English villages. An homage to queens of classic British crime such as Agatha Christie and Dorothy Sayers, Alan’s traditional formula has proved hugely successful. So successful that Susan must continue to put up with his troubling behavior if she wants to keep her job.

Conway’s latest tale has Atticus Pünd investigating a murder at Pye Hall, a local manor house. Yes, there are dead bodies and a host of intriguing suspects, but the more Susan reads, the more she’s convinced that there is another story hidden in the pages of the manuscript: one of real-life jealousy, greed, ruthless ambition, and murder.

Masterful, clever, and relentlessly suspenseful, Magpie Murders is a deviously dark take on vintage English crime fiction in which the reader becomes the detective.

Let me know your thoughts on the book if you read it! What books have you been devouring this month?

Fiction, Monthly Reads, Non-fiction

September Reads

I have a big, audacious goal to read 200 books in 2017, which is ironic since I only read about 80 in 2016. But last year I read less because I was participating in a reading challenge with categories – mostly all theological. It’s kind of hard to speed read a book like that and retain anything from it.  So this year I gave myself more grace and read whatever kept my attention and put down the books that didn’t. I doubt I’ll keep this up in 2018 but it’s been enjoyable to read fun books for awhile and keep up with the current bestsellers.

I ended up reading 15 books in September alone. Here are they are, in order of when I finished… (Click on the book if you’d like to read descriptions and reviews from Amazon)

If you got this far, thanks for reading! What books did you enjoy in September, and what’s on your TBR for October?

Book Reviews, Uncategorized

The Other Alcott – A Review

The Other Alcott: A Novel is a beautiful debut novel written by Elise Hooper. Here’s the description from the back cover:

There is nothing more complicated than the relationship among sisters, and the one shared by the Alcott sisters of Concord, Massachusetts, was no exception. This inspired Louisa May Alcott as she wrote her classic novel Little Women, but while everyone cheers on Jo March, a character based on Louisa herself, Amy is often the least favorite sister. Now, it’s time to learn the truth about the real “Amy,” Louisa’s sister May.

Stylish, outgoing, creative, May Alcott grows up longing to experience the wide world beyond Concord. While her sister Louisa crafts stories, May is a talented and dedicated artist, one who takes lessons in Boston, turns down a marriage proposal from a well-off suitor, and faces scorn for entering what is very much a man’s profession.

Life for the Alcott family has never been easy, so when Louisa’s Little Women is published, its success eases the financial burdens they have been facing for so many years. Everyone agrees the novel is charming, but May is struck to the core by the portrayal of the selfish, spoiled “Amy March.” Is this what her beloved sister really thinks of her?

So May embarks on a quest to discover her true identity, as an artist and a woman. From Boston to Rome, London, and Paris, this brave and determined soul forges an amazing life of her own, making her so much more than merely “The Other Alcott.”

I would recommend The Other Alcott to those who enjoy: historical fiction, absorbing stories that develop slowly, artists from the 1800s, and are fans of Louisa May Alcott’s books. Although I haven’t read Little Women all the way through, I knew enough about the March family (I was named after Meg, after all) to understand the underlying tension of May being portrayed as the spoiled Amy March.

I also enjoyed reading the author’s notes at the end – sometimes when reading historical fiction I wonder how much creative license an author makes (which might be why I disliked The Other Einstein so much), but Hooper based a lot of the story on facts she accumulated from multiple sources. So not only was it a great book, I learned a lot about the Alcott family as well!

What historical fiction novels would you recommend? Post your recommendations in the comments!


Series Favorites

Babysitters Club… Mandie… Christy Miller… Sweet Valley High… These are series that I grew up on and helped develop a love for books. As a mom, I used the same approach to finding books for my sons. Magic Tree House… My Father’s Dragon… Dog Man (a current favorite)… Redwall… Warriors… Mysterious Benedict Society… These series are just a few that my boys have devoured over the years and have a permanent spot on our bookshelves. So I thought I’d list a few of my favorite series that I’ve enjoyed as an adult and hope to get recommendations from you as well in the comments!

Series Worth Binge Reading:

  • The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafón – This was my introduction into gothic literature, which surprisingly became my favorite genre in fiction! At some point I’ll write a post about my favorite gothic books to convince you just how good they are…
  • Harry Potter And The Chamber Of Secrets Harry Potter (of course!) These books are so well-loved in this family that the covers have fallen off. If you think the first book is too juvenile, skim it and move on to the next – the books get better with each one you read.
  • The Hunger Games (Book 1) The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins This is a series where the movies are better than the books. The story is creative, but the writing was definitely geared for a YA/middle grade audience.
  • On the Edge of the Dark Sea of Darkness (The Wingfeather Saga) The Wingfeather Saga by Andrew Peterson – This YA fantasy series was hard to start. It had been recommended to me so many times that, after two earlier failed attempts, I plowed through the first 50 or so pages not understanding the world he was creating (I needed the imagination of my 13 year old) and then couldn’t put it and the three following books down after that.

Series I’m currently soaking up:

  • Still Life (The Chief Inspector Gamache Series) by Louise Penny
  • Jabber Crow (Port William) by Wendell Berry – This technically isn’t a series, but a set of books based on different characters in the town of Port William.  So far I’ve read Jayber Crow and Hannah Coulter and have about 5 others waiting for me on my Kindle.
  • The House of Silk: A Sherlock Holmes Novel -Sherlock Holmes Series by Anthony Horowitz – I picked up the second book on a whim because Moriarty is hands down my favorite character (sorry, Benedict Cumberbatch!) of Sherlock on BBC. In 2011, Anthony Horowitz received the first official endorsement from the estate of Arthur Conan Doyle to write new Sherlock Holmes novels.
  • The Invisible Library (The Invisible Library Novel) by Genevieve Cogman – Librarians with magical powers go through portals in an invisible library to solve mysteries and save important books. How could you go wrong with this one? Such a fun book!

Series in my I-promise-to-read-soon pile:

Series that I started and loved, and then abandoned (Classic Enneagram 9 tendency?):

Series with only the first one written:

  •  Sleeping Giants (The Themis Files)by Sylvain Neuvel – A large piece of metal is discovered by a child, which turns out to be part of a giant robot. The first book is all about find the rest of the robot’s body and dealing with the consequences of putting it back together.
  • Lu. by Beth Troyer – A new author on the scene! I plan to post a review on the book soon, but if you like books about a broken, slightly sarcastic and snarky woman searching for God, this one’s for you.
  • Aaron Falk (The Dry: A Novel) by Jane Harper – The Dry was so good, with a satisfying conclusion, so I’ll be interested to see how she’ll tie in Force of Nature: A Novel.


What are your favorite series? What book do you wish was part of a series? My to-read series pile is seriously lacking – what do you think I should add?


September Reads

Here are the books I’m reading in September! Some I’ve already finished (look for reviews soon on The Two-Family House and Lu.!), some I may abandon after a few (or fifty) pages, and thankfully some will be quick reads. I’m reading and enjoying three of these right now – Side by Side: Walking with Others in Wisdom and Love, American War: A novel, and Smarter Faster Better: The Transformative Power of Real Productivity. And if you didn’t notice, there are a lot of library books in my piles – my library is the best! They’ve bought every book I’ve requested (I’m telling myself it has to be because I have good taste in books) and they have no checkout limit, which is good for my family. Since school is back in session we only have 50 checked out right now.




The Marsh King’s Daughter – A Review


The Marsh King’s Daughter, by Karen Dionne, was a book I found browsing through my library’s new books section. I knew nothing about it, therefore had low expectations, and then absolutely loved it. I naturally gravitate toward psychological thrillers, especially over summer break, but over the last year have felt that many authors of this genre tend to copy storylines of other bestsellers. You’ll see on these covers, “If you liked [insert bestseller of last year], you’ll LOVE this book!” After awhile, I noticed that often these new books end up being poor imitations of the original books that deserved their popularity.

So I was pleasantly surprised to find that The Marsh King’s Daughter was unlike any thriller I had read this year and was quickly sucked in. Here’s my quick, hopefully non-spoiler(!) review of this book…

Helena was born, raised, and unknowingly held captive by her father in an abandoned cabin surrounded by a swampy marsh in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. She loved and idolized her father, disliked her mother (who had been kidnapped by the father as a young teenager), and grew up emulating his strength and ruggedness while overlooking his monstrous, brutal side.

Fast forward 15 years… Helena escaped from her father and has her own family. She’s changed her name to escape the sensational-loving press and yet lives on her father’s parent’s land. [Side note: Helena had no family ties to this land, other than the fact she inherited it – why not sell it and move across the country to start over??] Her father escapes from the prison she sentenced him to, and he’s out to find her. Helena has to stay one step ahead to figure out his next move and what his motive was for escaping.

I would recommend this book to someone who likes suspense, engrossing narrative fiction, originality, and an unexpected climax. I think it could also be a great book club pick.

Let me know what you think after reading it, and if you have other suggestions in this genre!



My First Post Written – Check!

It’s intimidating writing a first post, and wanting to make it PERFECT. Instead, I’ll make this one short and sweet…

I started this blog because I love to read books – from classics to the latest bestseller, from non-fiction (theology is my favorite!) to beach reads. And yet after a summer of reading fairly mind numbing beach reads (it’s hard to concentrate with four boys running around) I’m ready to get back to reading better books.

What are better books? They are books that cause me to pause, think, and want to recommend it to others. They could be classics that I should have read in high school and want my sons to appreciate, to new books that haven’t been published – expect to see NetGalley/ARC reviews here.

Thanks for reading!