January Book Review

We’re at the end of the month so it’s time for the first (of twelve) edition of Books Megan Read This Month! I’m sure you’re quite excited (wish I had a sarcasm font). I realize I may be the only one who ends up reviewing these pages but I’m okay with that as it will be a handy refresher for me.

1. Raising Grateful Kids in an Entitled World: How One Family Learned That Saying No Can Lead to Life’s Biggest Yes by Kristen Welch

Full disclosure: I applied for and was selected to be part of the launch team for this book. I applied because the title was quite appealing to me as a mother. I LOVED this book! I have a more detailed review of the book in a different post but I highly recommend this book to all of my parent friends out there. In addition to being encouraged that it is possible to teach our children gratitude and contentment I was also reminded that I am not responsible for my children’s entertainment every waking hour of the day (which, as a SAHM, I sometimes feel like that’s part of the job description and can feel guilty about trying to get housework or errands done instead of playing with my kids non-stop). Here’s a favorite quote:

I bought into the lie that it’s my job to make my kids’ childhood magical and fun, to guarantee that every day will be an adventure all about them.                                         Our children need to be bored. They need to kick their feet and wait outside of bathroom doors, unanswered. They need to be sent outside or to their rooms to play. They need to turn over the bag of tricks and find it empty.                                                               Because that’s when they will discover they don’t need stuff to fill their time. They don’t need a plan for entertainment. They can create their own. p.74 

2. A Girl’s Guide to Moving On: A Novel by Debbie Macomber

 It seems like I’ve read something else by her because her name is familiar but I’m not certain. I did a quick search and learned that this book will not be officially released until February 23rd. I think I found it on NetGalley, a book site where you can submit a request to read books in digital versions before their official release. Anyway, I found it to be quite an engaging read. It was fairly predictable in its rhythm and conclusion but I like books with positive endings so I was okay with that. It’s a good fiction read about a woman and her mother-in-law helping each other get through their divorces and start fresh.

3. Song of the Meadowlark (Intertwined Book 1) by Sherri Wilson Johnson

I have previously read all of Sherri’s “Hope of the South” historical Christian fiction novels and thoroughly enjoyed them. We are friends so I am working on reading all of her books. This was the fourth of five for me. This one is contemporary Christian fiction. It is a very engaging story about a young woman trying to move on from her past who gets stranded in a small town in Georgia on her way to visit her parents in Florida. If you like books with an encouraging message and positive ending, check out this book.

4. Time Management Mama: Making Use of the Margins to Pursue Your Passions by Sarah Korhnak and Beth Anne Schwamberger

This was a quick and helpful read. I have wanted to figure out how to make more time to work on my blog without casting my other responsibilities aside. This book is written by two entrepreneurial women with families who have plenty of experience in the trenches. The chapters offer helpful tips and advice for various avenues of a woman’s life – family, household chores, business needs, personal aspirations, etc. The end of each chapter has a synopsis of suggestions for using your time wisely in that particular area. The book helped me to define my passions and come up with a measurable goal to work on this year in each of them. It reminded me that I don’t have time to do everything so I need to focus on what’s most important to me right now. Perhaps there will be time for my other goals next year or when I complete one of my current goals. My time is valuable and I want to use it the best way I can. If you feel like there’s no time in your schedule to pursue activities that are important to you, check out this book. You may find ways to be more productive that allow you to free up some time for your passions.
5. The Girl on the Train: A Novel by Paula Hawkins
I didn’t know much about this book other than it was popular last year. It sucked me in quite quickly and reminded me a bit of Gone Girl which I read last year. A woman (Megan – kind of weird to read about someone with the same name) goes missing and a woman (Rachel) who used to watch her in her yard from the train she road nearly daily wants to figure out what happened. She knows she was in the vicinity the night Megan went missing and wonders if perhaps she knows something but can’t remember (because she is a heavy drinker and has blackout periods where she has no recollection of large chunks of time). I spent the majority of the book trying to figure out what happened and whether Rachel was involved. The book shifts between time periods (before and after the disappearance) and the point of view of Rachel, Megan and a third woman, Anna. This is a book that can be read in a day if you are able to sit and read without distraction (I have two kids so this isn’t possible for me). It was very engaging and had my mind trying to solve the mystery throughout. I did not find it predictable in the least.
6. King of the Comics by Stephan Pastis
This is a book containing a bunch of Pearls Before Swine comic strips. I have read this comic off and on. My parents introduced me to it. The zebra and crocodile story line is generally quite entertaining. Pig is one of my favorite characters because of his innocence and naivety. Stephan uses a lot of puns in his strips and also makes fun of this use. It’s a clever and entertaining comic.
7. Guilt Free Motherhood: A 5 Step Guide to Reclaiming Your Time, Health and Well-Being by Amber Khan
I don’t know any mom who doesn’t have something about motherhood that she feels guilty about. It could be not spending enough time with her kids, not contributing financially to the household, spending time on her health and well-being, not keeping the house clean enough, not being like the other moms. It could be any number of things. This book addresses just about anything you could be feeling guilty about and offers suggestions to help you in your particular struggle. The author is British so some of the sayings and words are a bit unusual. It’s a fairly quick read which is good as most moms don’t have a ton of free time. 
8. Secrets Among the Cedars (Intertwined Book 2) by Sherri Wilson Johnson
This is the second book in the series. I know there is at least one more planned. This book is about a district attorney in Cedar Key, Florida who is trying to find a key piece of evidence for a murder trial she is prosecuting. She meets a man who used to be a defense attorney and he ends up trying to help her while protecting her from threats she is receiving. There is suspense, danger and a little romance. A fun read.
9. Prayer: Finding the Heart’s True Home by Richard J. Foster
This was a wonderful book! A very in depth guide to various types and practices of prayer. The book is broken into three sections: Inward, Upward, and Outward prayer. I enjoyed gaining a better understanding of what various prayer focuses consist of. Part way through the book I felt like I was a terrible prayer because I feel like most of my prayers are self-focused (but, I was assured, that is also an acceptable type of prayer). I also am a perfectionist so I struggle with wanting each prayer time to consist of ALL the various types of prayer, which is impossible and a little ridiculous. I’m glad I kept reading because I was comforted to know that it’s okay to be where I am in my prayer life. God will continue to guide me as I consistently spend time in prayer. This is a book I would like to keep as a reference for when I am struggling and in need of direction. Unfortunately for me, this is a borrowed book so I will have to acquire my own copy. If you are desiring to grow in your prayer life I highly recommend this book.
10. The Rosie Project by Graeme Simsion
This was a very quick and engaging read. The main character reminded me some of Sheldon Cooper from The Big Bang Theory. A genetics scientist and professor, Don Tillman, has decided that he is ready to find a life partner so he begins “The Wife Project”. He enlists help from his friend, Gene, to sort through the completed questionnaires for matches. He mistakenly thinks a woman named Rosie, whom Gene sends to his office, is a match from the questionnaire and asks her on a date. Chaos and humorous circumstances ensue from there. I quickly became endeared to Don and Rosie and hoped that they would both find what they was searching for. I would recommend this as a good fiction read that really sucks you in and takes you for an enjoyable ride.
Wow! Ten books! I doubt I will have such a high count in future months. Five fiction, four non-fiction, one comic. Not a bad distribution. I attribute the high number to the fiction. I can read multiple chapters in one sitting whereas with non-fiction I usually have to put the book down after each chapter to ruminate on what I’ve read. I’m excited that I’ve found so many engaging fiction books already this year. That’s usually my biggest challenge. 
If you have read any engaging fiction, I’d appreciate a recommendation!

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