recent reads

It's been so long since I've done one of these because I was eyebrow-deep in the Anne of Green Gables series for months. I finished them awhile ago, and I'm honestly grieving it. The last, Rilla of Ingleside, was by far my favorite. I can't wait to read it again one day, and I'm not a re-reader by nature. Other than that, I've read a strange assortment of books this summer. A little bit of everything! It's been nice to throw myself into some good fiction as well as some interesting nonfiction.

Confessions of a Domestic Failure by Bunmi Laditan--5 stars: I followed the Honest Toddler twitter account long before I was ever pregnant. Even when I had zero interest in all things kids, I found it hilarious. As a mom of a toddler, I still find it wildly hilarious and horrifyingly accurate. All that to say, I love Bunmi Laditan, so I had to read her novel. The subject matter and humor is certainly not for everyone, but I LOVED it. I know some people will find the whole thing dumb, but it was exactly what I needed. I laughed so hard the whole way through the book and talked about it to everyone around me. It's about a first time mom who had planned to be a perfect Pinterest mom but turned out to be a hot mess instead. She was honestly insufferable and definitely a caricature, but I could still relate on many levels and felt more than a little validated. The way she spent money nearly gave me a hernia. She joins a bootcamp to be a better wife/mom/housekeeper, and chaos ensues. If you have ever rolled your eyes at the moms on Instagram who make life with kids seem like a walk in the park, this book is for you. It pokes fun at all sides and the mom wars, and it's just a genuinely enjoyable book to read. Ridiculous, yes. Exaggerated, yes. But so good and funny.

For fans of: Honest Toddler, sass, not feeding your kids all organic food, wearing stretchy pants, waking your husband up from laughing

Villette by Charlotte Bronte--3.5 stars: Ah Villette, the little melancholy sister to Jane Eyre. She could never quite measure up and was forever overshadowed by her older sister's triumphant accomplishments. Kind of life the relationship with Charlotte and Emily, but now I'm just getting back into my literature essay mode and this is not the time nor the place. I loved Jane Eyre so fully and deeply that I was dying for anything else written by Charlotte. I loved it, and yet I didn't. Lucy Snowe finds refuge in a boarding school in France and winds up a teacher. She has a toxic relationship with her colleague and mentor, goes a little crazy, and yet tries to find her own way in the world though the odds are against her. It has a touch of The Bell Jar with a dash of Wuthering Heights. I loved the writing and some of the plot, but I walked away feeling very confused. Was I crazy? Was Lucy crazy? Was I completely misreading parts of it? It wasn't until I read Charlotte's biography that I realized how intensely autobiographical it was. Her inspiration for Paul Emmanuel is straight up freaky and sad. I have to read it again knowing what I know now. I think it will change everything.

For fans of: Sylvia Plath, confusion, french dialogue with no translation, chilling endings, Heathcliff 

Charlotte Bronte: A Fiery Heart by Claire Harman--4 stars: This biography was FASCINATING. It should be mandatory reading for any Bronte fans. I'll admit, it was very long and you do have to trudge through some boring details, but I now need to reread Jane Eyre and Villette with fresh eyes. It answered so many questions I didn't even know I had. The way Charlotte wove so many details of her life into her novels is fascinating. The biography also touches very heavily on her parents and siblings. It's more a biography on the whole family than it is just Charlotte. I had completely forgotten she was first famous under the pen name Currer Bell. I loved reading the inspiration for her books and how she rubbed shoulders with the likes of Charles Dickens. Her life was far more tragic than I knew, which was sad to discover. Charlotte was my partner in crime with HG. It's nice to add her to my exclusive club with Kate Middleton, though not nice because IT KILLED HER. Praise the Lord for Zofran and Diclegis.

For fans of: Victorian literature, Charlotte Bronte--duh, any of the other Brontes, Elizabeth Gaskell, life in Victorian England

12 Ways Your Phone Is Changing You by Tony Reinke--5 stars: The first time I saw this book, I wanted to add the tagline "A Massive Guilt Trip." I started to see a lot of people I trust and respect give this book rave reviews, and with my own turbulent thoughts about smartphones and social media, I decided to read it. It absolutely blew me away. It's a look at the way phones change our lives, but from a gospel perspective. It doesn't bash phones or social media, but strongly pushes the need for solid boundaries. I think we could all benefit from frequently redrawing the lines regarding our phones. The ties he made between scripture and how our phones distract us from things that matter was MASSIVELY convicting, but in a good way. It changed my perspective on a lot of things and has made me think harder about social media than ever before. I plan to read it again soon, because there was so much wisdom in it that I feel like I only skimmed the surface with one read. I would love to hear what other people think about this book as well. Social media lovers might feel differently.

For fans of: deactivating your Facebook account on a weekly basis, conviction, looking for further proof that we should all be Amish, basically anyone who uses social media and reads The Bible

Smokejumper: A Memoir by One of America's Most Select Airborne Firefighters by Jason A. Ramos--4 stars: This book smokejumped out at me immediately. My uncle was a firefighter. I grew up in wildfire country. Every summer was spent anxiously checking our surroundings for smoke. I remember being able to count 6 different wildfires at one time in the hills surrounding Reno when I was a kid. During the summer of 2000, we nearly lost our home to a fire started by lightening. It came up to our backyard, and by the grace of God, our house was spared. I have vivid memories of planes dumping retardant on the house and yard and the helicopters dipping buckets into the lake a few streets away. I have so much respect for firefighters as well as a ridiculous fear of fire, which made this book a little bit of a horror story that I couldn't tear myself away from. Jason Ramos started off in a little fire station in California, and quickly worked his way up to hotshot and then the elusive smokejumper. The training they go through is absolutely insane, and they literally jump out of helicopters right next to wildfires. He talked about what it was like to go through training, jump out of helicopters day in and day out, and work right next to blazing infernos. He goes into the kinds of equipment they use, the history of wildfires and fighting fire, and even how fires are changing with so many people moving into fire-prone areas. I glazed over a bit when he talked about the pros and cons of different kinds of parachutes, but he went on a diatribe about fire shelters that was horrifying. They don't even work half the time! Firefighters lay under a foil blanket while fire BURNS OVER THEM. I couldn't sleep after reading about that. The writing wasn't that impressive, a few parts were very hard to read, and there is some mild crudeness and foul language, but this book will stay with me for awhile. It is...wait for it....BURNED in my memory forever. You're welcome.

For fans of: fire, horror movies, the history of parachutes, reading the term "fire line" 500 times but never having a full grasp on how it works or what it does, pyromania 

My Not So Perfect Life by Sophie Kinsella--4 stars: I feel hesitant to even bring this book up.  And how dare I post about it in the same post as Charlotte Bronte! In some ways it reminded me of The Royal We--a snappy little 20-something in London and all her friends and cute boys and her many issues. I adored The Royal We and I was LAMBASTED for it publicly and privately and honestly, GOOD GRIEF. Sometimes a girl just needs some chick lit on a bad day, ok? In my opinion this was not as good and a very different plot, but I really liked it. I went to bed early a few times just so I could lay down and read it for a few hours. Katie Brenner moved to London and tries to prove herself to her boss and trick everyone into thinking she's handling life. She's all of us. She posts pictures on Instagram to make her life in London seem perfect (eye rolls). Everything falls apart and she moves back home to her family's home to help them run a new business. Chaos and trickery ensue. It's cheeky, it's cute, it's a bit cringey, it's great entertainment after a long, stupid day. There are some vague s-e-x-y moments (writing that makes me think of my girl Miranda Hart and now I need to stop and laugh for 10 minutes) for those who would like to know that's in there. It's completely unrealistic and borderline predictable. It's exactly what I needed when Gracie put a hole in the wall. SUE ME.

For fans of: chick lit, British things, books that end with everything tied up in a pretty bow, The Devil Wears Prada 

The Innkeeper of Ivy Hill by Julie Klassen--3.5 stars: Imagine it's the early 1800s and your husband dies. To your shock, he leaves you his family's inn in the English countryside to run all by yourself. You have no idea how to run an inn, your employees are questionable, and your MIL hates your guts. Welcome to the life of Jane Bell. Not a lot happens in this book, it's not fast-paced or riveting, but I was genuinely bummed to finish it. It was slow going, yet interesting. I became invested in the characters and their situations. The plot doesn't just center on Jane and her attempt to get a handle on the inn and save it from ruin, but on several other women as well. The book focuses heavily on the plight of unmarried/widowed women back during the early 1800s, and how hard it was for them to get ahead without a father or husband to provide for them. I really wasn't quite sure where the book was going and often didn't know who to root for, but it had the coziness and comfort of watching a PBS period drama. The sequel comes out in December and I've already placed a hold on it at the library.

For fans of: Downton Abbey, books that are good but not so riveting that you can actually put it down at night, PBS, historical fiction

Eve in Exile and the Restoration of Femininity by Rebekah Merkle--5 stars: This is not going to be a book that most of you will want to run and buy. In fact, a lot of people will probably hate me for reading it and loving and agreeing with it. That's ok. This is an absolutely incredible book about biblical womanhood. Are you clutching your pearls yet? Merkle spends much of the book explaining why feminism has gotten it wrong from the beginning of time even though, yes, they have accomplished good things along the way. She also explains why ultra-conservative women who think their place is ONLY in the home are way-off base as well. She beautifully and elaborately explains the role for which we were created and how it's so much more than working v. staying at home v. women's marches, etc., and the way we bring glory to God through whatever it is we do. It's powerful, it's Biblical, it's important. I challenge you to read with your defenses down and chew on it.

For fans of: the Bible, women

At the moment I'm reading everyone's go-to light hearted pick-me-up, Schindler's List. I've never seen the movie (gasp) so I figured I may as well start with the book. I went to grab it from the library the other day and also came home with a stack of novels, which is unusual for me. I grabbed another Kate Morton (it's been months since my last KM novel, so I think I'm emotionally prepared), a historical fiction about Queen Victoria, and something about a Christmas Knit-Off. What can I say? It sounded cozy. I'm always looking for more cozy in my life.

What are you reading these days?


  1. I'm going to have to pick up Eve In Exile, it sounds like my kind of book! And I totally understand just needing some not-too-serious/chic lit/slightly ridiculous books sometimes. Ex: last three books on my Goodreads.

  2. I was wondering when you would do another one of these posts!! :D
    That Christmas Knit Off book sounds cute- I need something festive.
    In addition to ordering the Eve book I ordered one all about the Bronte Letters- you can borrow when I'm done!!!
    I also want to read the Bonhoeffer book (I know you are a fan). I basically have the rest of this year's reading planned out LOL

    1. Ooo YES I want to borrow that! You can borrow Bonhoeffer if you want! It took me a year to get through it, but it was so worth it.

  3. The book about smartphones looks so interesting. I'm going to have to pick that up. People gave you a hard time for liking The Royal We?! Holy cow. People need to lighten up!!

  4. Yay! I always look forward to hearing what books you recommend :) That Domestic Failure book sounds like my cup of tea, and the technology/phone book sounds really good, too. For Lent last year, my husband and I didn't do any "unnecessary" technology once a week until nighttime, and our lives got so much more peaceful! My husband actually suggested that we re-start the practice, so we've been doing it again for a few weeks. It's so nice to routinely unplug from our phones and computers :)

    Eve in Exile sounds really interesting! And it's nice that it sounds like she gives a good balance and doesn't berate women who work away from home. This also makes me want to re-read a letter that Pope John Paul II wrote, called Mulieris Dignitatem-it's all about the dignity and vocation of women and looks at the biblical women and Scripture in light of woman's calling. It's a great topic that I really don't think we can every be done discussing!

  5. Oh goodness. The heck with people book-shaming you. Read what you want girly; don't let anyone bully you into "serious" novels and non-fiction.
    I'm actually always impressed with the amount of non-fiction that you read. I wish it'd capture my attention like that. Very rarely do I find something that doesn't totally bore me.

  6. I love chick-lit. Of course it's absurd, but so is cake for breakfast, and they're both equally as delightful.

    I have never read any Bronte but I think I need to try. Maybe I'm mature enough to get through it. I slogged through Pride and Prejudice but that was in high school.

  7. Rilla of Ingleside is by far my most re-read of all the Anne books. I love it, and it breaks my heart. I like alternating a bit between more serious and educational and then plain old "cozy" reads.

  8. I think I'll pick up the Bunmi Laditan book. Whenever I come across her I think she's hilarious.

  9. I'm so intrigued by Eve in Exile!

    I think I'm the only person who read Confessions of a Domestic Failure and didn't like it. I have this weird thing, though...if I don't care for the main protagonist, I don't care for the book as a whole. There were definitely a few laugh-worthy sections but overall I just thought Ashley was kind of insufferable. I also started reading it thinking it was an autobiographical book and was THOROUGHLY confused for at least three chapters. But that's on me. ;)

    I'm currently reading Glory in the Ordinary and really liking it so far, and after that I think I might try out a Little House on the Prairie book. I used to watch the show all the time when I was a kid but I've never actually read any of the books.

  10. Adding Confessions to my list the phone one sounds interesting too. I always enjoy your reviews!

  11. I think I am about to add every one of these books to my TBR! I read Jane Eyre last month for the first time (I had watched two different film adaptations and thought I knew the story... NOOOO WAAAY. The book was a million times better), and have thought about starting Villette but maybe will read the biography first. Have you read The Madwoman Upstairs? I have been wanting to but decided to read some actual Bronte before I read a spinoff.


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