I haven't done a reading recap since the end of February. So, today, I bring you a look at the books I read in February and March. These are all books that I'm super excited about for one reason or another. I haven't read a TON of books lately, but the quality has been such that I almost always seem to have a book in my hand.
I realize that these reviews are LONG. Feel free to skip around or to only read the ones that interest you most. These are all four and five star books that captured more than just my attention and filled more than the hours I spent reading them.
Ready? Here we go...
Harry Potter #5 by J.K. Rowling // There is so much I could say about this book. It's my least favorite because of Umbridge. I absolutely despise that woman. I sank right to the depths with Harry because of what he had to endure. During the last third or quarter of the book, Rowling's writing took off. I was coming upon quote after quote of SOLID truth and making my own escape. It reminded me of reading through the Chronicles of Narnia last year and realizing that the book I enjoyed the least was going to be the one that left the biggest impact on me.
So, it gets four stars. It disturbed me. It bothered me. It nearly sunk me into depression (yes...I was that sickened over Umbridge). And yet, it was full of truth and beauty and victory and I kind of loved it.
Lunch in Paris by Elizabeth Bard // Honesty in literature always makes for a first rate book. Bard put everything into the pages of this memoir and while I'm not sure I would have been so brave, I admire her for it. She may be Jewishish. She may have spent the better part of her adult life living in countries she was not familiar with. Her language and relationships and decisions may have been far different from my own, but this woman's story reminded me of the whole purpose of being alive. That one way or another everything always works out. That what you've got to do is stick with it. Keep living, and loving, and cooking, and writing. Eventually it all adds up and you realize that you've made it.
This is one woman's story of doing just that. Of making it even when she was sure that she never would unless she turned back. If you're wondering how she made it or if she turned back or just exactly how things turned out, then you'll just have to pick this one up for yourself.
Harry Potter #6 by J.K. Rowling // You guys, this book is my FAVORITE in the series so far. This is the book where events force each character to act and to act quickly. We learn which ones we misjudged. We celebrate with the ones who triumph. We cry as reality sinks in.
God is not part of the world of HP, but He is very much a part of my world. I can relate to Harry and Mrs. Weasley and Hagrid. The ways they express their anger and worry and sadness and fear make me think back on specific times in my life that left me acting and feeling the same way. They fight on and I fought on. Other than defeating Voldemort, I'm not sure what their hope is. I used to think I had to "fix" things. To "hang on tight" and "never let go". And sometimes I still sink back into that. I'll never forget what it was like to learn that God was my only hope and that my hope in Him was surer and stronger and more secure than any other hope I have ever and can ever know. The twists and turns and darkness ARE frightening...Harry doesn't have God to look to, to trust in, to hope in, but I do. Reading through these pages helped me to take a few more steps toward CLINGING to the hope that I have in Him.
There you have it...Six is my favorite because of the places it takes these characters we have come to love and hate and admire and fear. When you've read this far, you can't help but jump into the pages and live the story right alongside of them.
I Let You Go by Clare Mackintosh // This is a book cannot recommend because of content. However...It was soooo well written. It's pure thriller. You're never quite sure what's happening even though you THINK you know. The author's attention to even the most trivial details works the kind of magic that means you must keep reading.
Without spoiling the plot, I will tell you that the struggles the characters face are faced and described in such a way that is not only accurate, but hauntingly so. For people who have faced similar circumstances, this book will strike chords that cause them to wade through how they've dealt with them.
It's beautifully written. The plot is well-crafted. She lets things get more graphic than I am comfortable with, but it certainly wasn't done for the sake of "entertainment". I appreciate that.
Out of the Silent Planet by C.S. Lewis // I am NOT a sci-fi junkie. That said, I thoroughly enjoyed this book.There is more to it than space travel. I truly believe Lewis used this story and the worlds and creatures in it to develop, explore, wrestle with, and explain some DEEP themes about the meaning of life and intelligence. Ransom is a very likeable character. It was actually fun to read about his time with strange creatures in a place so unlike anything most of us can imagine. His relationships with the creatures were actually touching. The way Lewis portrayed Divine and Weston should cause every reader to pause in order to consider their own evil intentions.
The last few chapters and postscript sealed my fate. I can't wait to read more of this story! If you can read any part of this book in an airplane shortly after sunrise, that ups the ante. There's something about being in the clouds above the earth that helps set the scene in a way that few other situations could.
Unashamed by Lecrae Moore //I've been listening to Lecrae since he released his first album. I didn't grow up in the ghetto, but I always found his lyrics and his story relatable. The pain he experienced was the same pain I was still wrestling with when that first record made its way into my collection. When I found out Lecrae had a book deal, I was excited for him but SCARED to pick it up. I wasn't sure if it would be a collection of lyrics that he expounded on or a poorly done take on the life of an artist or worse. I saw the book. I checked to see if my library had it (they do). And I decided that MAYBE someday I might read it. And then I found myself in Shauna's kitchen on the first night of my visit. We devoured giant bowls of salad and skipped the small talk. It had been six years since we'd seen one another in person, but facetime and Bible study and book club and FB kept the friendship going and we picked up right where we left off. She offered the book and I decided I'd get to it before I left.
This is the story of birth to NOW. It tells the whys and whats of WHO Lecrae is and the how of his journey to this point in his life. You'll learn about Reach and his hip-hop story. You'll learn about the sins he struggled with all along the way and the grace God sent his way. This is the story of a man who has been led by and taught by God. Whether you are a fan or not, this book will be encouraging, challenging, and inspiring. It's the story of the hand of God at work in the lives of His people.
What have you been reading?