reading rainbow

On a Cold Dark Sea by Elizabeth Blackwell--3 stars: I have a lot of thoughts on this book. It centers around the sinking of the Titanic, a topic of which I've been mildly obsessed with since elementary school. I mean, I still have a children's Titanic book on my shelf full of charts and diagrams of the ship that I read religiously as a kid. This novel was focused on three passengers, all of different social classes. It follows their story before, during the sinking, and years later. I loved one of the stories, but the other two didn't sit well with me. There was a LOT of lying and infidelity that was totally glorified and justified. At the end of the book, the author wrote that she wanted to write about the darker types of people who were on the ship and not just the famous millionaires that became famous after. I get that, but still. This book had so much potential, and honestly I'm probably being a bit generous with three stars. However, the scenes of the sinking were absolutely chilling.

For fans of: historical fiction, the Titanic, being totally cool with cheating on your husband

We Met in December by Rosie Curtis--4 stars: The reviews for this one are all over the map, but personally I really enjoyed it. It's not necessarily a Christmas book, though it begins and ends in December. Jess moves into a house with her friend and a handful of roommates she's never met before. She quickly develops a crush on one of her roommates even though he's possibly seeing one of the other roommates. DRAMA. They build a solid friendship over the course of the year and things get ~interesting~. It was such a cute, heartwarming, lighthearted book made 200% more charming because it takes place in London.

For fans of: One Day in December, British charm, Knotting Hill

Nine Perfect Strangers by Liane Moriarty--4.5 stars: This is another one that I've seen people either love or hate. I LOVED IT. I could not put this sucker down. Nine strangers, all with their own issues, stay at a health resort together with no idea what's in store for them. They get to know each other well while things get crazy. Seriously crazy. About halfway through, the book takes a ridiculous turn that could turn some people off, but honestly I was just dying to see how things turned out. I've read a few other books with sort of similar plots so I guessed a few things but still felt genuinely entertained. Her humor is just fantastic and I love it.

For fans of: Fitness Junkie, Waisted, ridiculous twists, delightful wit 

Comfort & Joy by Kristin Hannah--2 stars: I read this over Christmas and really wanted to love it, but I didn't. Joy (of course her name is Joy) decides to take a last minute trip for Christmas. Her plane crashes in the woods and things get ridiculous from there. She stays at an old hotel and befriends a grieving little boy and his grumpy dad. I was totally engrossed in the first few chapters, but then it just got weird. If a Hallmark Christmas movie had a fever dream and then wrote a book about it, this would be it. I just could not get past the twist and I'm still trying to make sense of it. Please read this so we can discuss because I almost threw the book. It's typical Kristin Hannah in that it's well-written and you have no clue what's going to happen next, but she missed this mark on this one in my opinion.

For fans of: wondering if you're on drugs, sad Christmas stories, the PNW, stories with precocious little kids, Lost

American Royals by Katherine McGee--3.5 stars: I'm a little embarrassed by how much I enjoyed this. In this alternate universe, America is ruled by a crown and not a president. This definitely feels like a play on the British royal family--if William & Henry were women and in line for the American throne instead. The story is told from multiple POVs including the royal family and one of their close friends. There are love triangles, drama, and it's basically the equivalent of a Bravo reality show. Totally mindless and super entertaining. I typically want nothing to do with YA, but this one sucked me in regardless. I loved the way she fleshed out the idea of America being under a monarchy. I'm glad we're not, but it was an interesting way to think.

For fans of: The Royal We, the British royal family, reality tv

The Best Christmas Pageant Ever by Barbara Robinson--5 stars: this short little children's chapter book was recommended to me by several people this year. I had never even heard of it! It was adorable and so funny. A family full of rowdy, disobedient kids takes over the annual church Christmas pageant and make it their own. It was heart-warming and witty and one I'll definitely read with G when she's a little older. I loved the sweet message in it as well.

For fans of: cheeky kids, A Charlie Brown Christmas

The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis--5 stars: Don't yell at me, but this is my first time reading the Narnia series. I don't remember much of a desire to read it as a kid, and if I'm being honest I'm not even sure I was allowed? I've NEVER been into fantasy. It just doesn't work for me. With that said, I was hesitant to read this, but I was immediately swept up in the story and loved it. The allegory is so beautiful it nearly made me cry. This is Lewis at his finest. It's so beautiful and wonderful, and I can't wait to keep reading the series.

For fans of: beautiful writing, good vs. evil, fantasy

Introverted Mom by Jamie C. Martin--4 stars: Ok, buckle up because I have A LOT of thoughts on this. I'm going to copy and paste my Goodreads review and expound upon it because I don't have the mental stamina right now to form more thoughts on it. Overall, this book was life-giving to me. I know how to manage my life well and create boundaries as an introvert, but as a mom with a young child and another on the way, it’s a struggle. There is no quiet, especially with an extroverted child. I love the way she tied in classic literature and introverted female authors, though I take issue with the fact that she ascribes Meyers-Briggs labels to people she's never met who died a long time ago.

Since this is a Christian book, I’m going to judge it through that lens, and I did have a few theological issues. She goes a little too self-care/Rachel Hollis at times. She says it’s perfectly natural to be angry when we don’t have enough quiet. Sure, that’s our human response, but it doesn’t make it right. Yesterday I went way past my introvert limit and found myself snapping at G just because I was so over the constant questions, and that was wrong of me even though it was my human response to be frustrated after a day of socializing. And yes, boundaries are important to maintain some sanity, but as Christians we’re also called to die to ourselves and lay ourselves down for others. I didn’t see any of that in this book. We can’t always hide behind our introvert nature (and I’m an extreme one, so I get it) to get out of things. Sometimes we are called out of our comfort zones which means doing something contrary to our personality. Spending time with God will fill us up much more than sniffing essential oils (🙄) and laying in bed will. We needed some more gospel in this book and less “do what makes you happy” crap. There's a lot of good in taking a few moments for yourself to reenergize, but there was a huge lack of balance.

With that said, I really did love this book. It was a great reminder that God hardwired us this way for a reason, even if it goes contrary to culture. I wouldn’t go to it for correct theological advice, but more for solidarity that we aren’t the only ones at home with buzzing heads from the constant noise.

For fans of: introversion, personality types, praising the Lord every time the park is empty

Happy 2020 friends! I hope this year is treating you well so far. I had to adjust my reading goal last year since my nausea forced me to take a 4 month break, but I still did pretty well with 61 books. I have NO idea how reading is going to go this year with all the changes coming our way, but so far I'm off to a strong start and on my fourth book already. What are you reading these days?


  1. I am so thrilled for you that you finally have experienced Narnia!!!!! I love those books so much. Definitely read them in the publisher's order (I think that's the order where the Lion, Witch, and Wardrobe is first?) instead of chronological order. I first read those books as a little kid and loved them, and it's been neat revisiting them over the years and seeing how I grasp so much more meaning and depth from them as I mature (for instance, when I first read through the series, I wasn't a huge fan of The Last Battle, but when I re-read it late in high school, I fell in love with it).

  2. Comfort and Joy!!! Same reflections as you. Kristin Hannah is such a good writer she draws you in but then weirds you out, lol. I've read 4 of hers but none has been as good as Nightingale sadly. The Great Alone was painful but had to keep reading. The end left me feeling awful. Just tried Winter Garden and same thing but ending was a bit more redemptive. Liked it a bit more than Great Alone and Comfort/Joy. Not sure when I'll have the stamina to try another one of hers, ha.

    I love Titanic books too, although maybe I won't read that one. Not Titanic but still ship-related, I liked the YA novel Salt to the Sea. A bit heavy at times and sticks with you...but still kinda liked it.

    Narnia will brand itself into your soul beautifully. Aslan continues to bring me closer to God.

    Super interesting review of Introverted Mom. Liked that you are willing to call out the fluffy self-care stuff...you are so right in that trend today to treat yoself instead of die to yoself. ;)

  3. I read What Alice Forgot last year and it made my top 5 favorites for 2019, so I have been wanting to read another Moriarty book... Nine Perfect Strangers may be it! And I really appreciate your discernment and Christian perspective you share about books labeled or marketed as Christian, especially when they don't fully fall in line with Scripture. I am excited to read Introverted Mom but I will be watchful for the valid and wise observations you made. I totally agree that although we may be introverts and that helps explain certain tendencies as well as helps us know what rejuvenates us and what exhausts us, this does not excuse us to withdraw from society (though at times that feels soooo nice) or to sin through anger or even annoyance when people intrude on our quiet time. I have been thinking about this a lot. I want to be aware of my personality type and learn how to be healthier emotionally, which can be aided by digging into personality typology like enneagram and MB but in no way should that give me license to do anything contrary to God's word nor to be closed off to any change or challenge because "that is just the way I am". Christ is bigger and more important than our comfort and our personality. We can surely praise him through our personality but too often we spend too much time praising our personality.

    1. I love everything you said and I completely agree!


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