March Book Review

We’re now three full months in! I realized that I needed to read a little more than four books each month to achieve my goal of fifty books this year. January gave me a big advantage with the completion of ten!!! In February I finished three, which is below my desired average but I’m chalking it up to the month missing at least one day compared to the rest of the months (like my excuse?). March is over and I finished seven books! Below are a synopsis/review in case you might be interested in reading any of them.

1. A Million Steps by Kurt Koontz

I had downloaded this book to my kindle a looong time ago but had forgotten what it was about so it took awhile for me to open it up and check it out. As soon as I began reading it I knew instantly what had attracted me to it. The book is about a man who walked from France to Santiago de Compostela, a city in Spain. It’s the Camino de Peregrino (Pilgrim’s Walk) that has been occuring for hundreds (if not thousands) of years. There are different trails from all over Europe that end at a church in Santiago de Compostela that is believed to have the remains of St. James (as in the apostle of Jesus, James). The Camino is generally a spiritual as well as physical and mental journey.

I studied abroad in Spain in 2002 and one of our stops was to Santiago de Compostela to view the end of the Camino. We stayed in an old convent and walked through the cathedral and saw where pilgrims end their journey. There’s a statue of St. James in the cathedral where people touch his head. The stone is very smooth and has indentions of fingers from all of the people who have touched the same spot. The idea of walking 500 miles across Spain sounds very intriguing. There are shorter and longer mileage options depending upon your desire and ability. We saw a number of people with the telltale scallop shell on backpacks marking them as peregrinos.

I enjoyed Kurt’s record of his adventure. It definitely has piqued my interest in perhaps attempting at least part of the trail someday. I know I want to return to Spain with my family someday, and this could be part of that adventure. Another interesting thing (to me) is that the author lives in Boise, which is where my parents live. We could have unknowingly crossed paths somewhere on the Green Belt during one of our many trips to visit.

2. Lovable Livable Home: How to Add Beauty, Get Organized, and Make Your House Work for You by Sherry and John Petersik

I was perusing the nonfiction section of the library and this book popped out at me. We are a little ways into the second year of living in our current home and there are projects I want to do but have not yet done (mainly painting). I thought it would be a fun book to perhaps give me some ideas or at least jump start my motivation to paint and spring clean.

The book was well-organized, with chapters divided into parts of the house. There were lots of pictures to accompany the many suggestions, ideas, and DIY projects listed in the book. I bookmarked a lot of ideas (as you can see) and will have to make a picture file of them, I suppose, as it’s a library book I’ll have to return in a few weeks. Their website has a lot of great ideas as well and could probably substitute for the actual book.

3. The Mission of Motherhood: Touching Your Child’s Heart for Eternity by Sally Clarkson

A friend loaned me this book several years ago. Part of my reading goal for the year is to read and return all of my borrowed books. Parenting is one of the three main categories of nonfiction I read for obvious reasons. This book was very informational and full of useful content for me as a mother, and especially as one who is at home. Sally shared a lot of what she has learned is important in raising children who love Jesus and have a heart for service, two things that are important to me. 
I was a little overwhelmed at all of the material covered in the book and was on the verge of feeling like a failure in the parenting department (in the same way that I feel like a failure as a woman when I read Proverbs 31:10-31) but was reminded that habits take time to develop and parenting is a marathon that requires consistency and determination. There were several things that I feel like I have been making an effort and some progress toward. 
One topic was introducing children to culture – art, music, literature, performance – that is of interest to me because I like all of those things and have been exposed to a lot of cultural experiences throughout my life (and is one thing I like and appreciate about my own childhood). Per Sally’s suggestion I checked out some non-fiction children’s books on art, women in history and photography. My daughter found several of the books very interesting. After I read her a book about Georgia O’Keeffe, she felt inspired to create her own art. It felt good to see her interest sparked through a new genre of books. As a family I do think we do a good job of exposing the children to a variety of activities and experiences but I appreciated the reminder that books are another form of exploration.
If you are looking for a book to encourage you in your parenting pursuits and perhaps give you new ideas to engage, interact and instruct your children, I would recommend reading this one.
4. The Rosie Effect: A Novel by Graeme Simsion

This is the follow up book to The Rosie Project, a book I read and thoroughly enjoyed. I was curious to see how married life would be for Don Tillman, geneticist. He and Rosie are now living in New York (from Australia) and working/attending Columbia University. He finds out that Rosie is pregnant and sets about to try to prepare for fatherhood in an orderly and rational way. His attempts to do this cause some issues and lead to tension in his marriage. I was very fond of Don and Rosie by this time and was anxious to find out what happened. It was a very interesting and engaging read and I would recommend it, especially if you liked the first one.

5. What Alice Forgot by Liane Moriarty

Last year I read The Husband’s Secret per my mother-in-law’s recommendation. I enjoyed it and decided to read some of Liane’s other books. This one I thoroughly enjoyed. In the book a woman named Alice wakes up after hitting her head in a spin class thinking that she is 29 and pregnant with her first child. In reality she is 39, has three children and is separated from her husband. She finds all of this information very difficult to process. She discovers that so much has changed in the past ten years and sets about to figure out where things went wrong in many of her relationships while bringing the innocence of her younger self into the equation. I was thoroughly engaged and wondering whether things could return as she remembered them or if they were irreparably damaged.

6. The Longing in Me: How Everything You Crave Leads to the Heart of God by Sheila Walsh

I applied to be on the launch team for this book and was accepted (it officially comes out April 5th). I read the title and felt like it was a book I needed to read, so I was happy when I received the acceptance email. I haven’t read any of her other books for adults (I have read some of the Gigi ones with my daughter) but I was in the middle of reading Beautiful Things Happen When a Woman Trusts God (courtesy of Jen Hatmaker) and was enjoying it and the rest is history. I thoroughly enjoyed the book (a longer review will come later). In it she walks us through the story of David in the Old Testament and his story as “a man after God’s own heart” as she helps us understand that our longings are for God. We feel our longings for something and tend to believe that there’s something in this world that can satisfy them – people, relationships, success, possessions, etc. Each time we try one, we learn that they are not truly what we are longing, not what will give us rest and satisfaction. The reality is that only God will fully satisfy us and we need to place our trust and hope in him and allow our relationship with him to fulfill our longings. It was such an encouraging read! If you are weary of pursuing things and continuing find that they do not satisfy, I recommend picking up this book and being reminded of God’s heart for you filled with love, grace and acceptance.

7. Kissing Frogs by Rich Amooi

I think I got this book off of BookBub suggestions. It’s a quick read about a woman who moves into a new house after a failed relationship and quickly meets and develops chemistry with her new next door neighbor. She is determined not to get involved with him but he is not helping as he is interested in dating her. It was a fairly predictable love story but I usually enjoy those as light reads. If you are looking for something fun and light for vacation, this could fit the bill.

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