April Reads 2022!
Yours Cheerfully by A.J. Pearce: this is the sequel to Dear Mrs. Bird set in London, November 1941. Emmeline Lake is given a second chance at Woman's Friend magazine after a disastrous start (see first novel). When the Ministry of Information calls all women's magazines to help recruit workers to the war effort, Emmy decides to shadow women already working in the war effort to better inform possible new recruits of what to expect. Unfortunate circumstances bring to light the desperate need for war factories to provide nurseries for mothers and war widows. Their shifts do not accommodate regular working hours. I loved the first installment of the Emmy Lake Chronicles, and this was just as charming! The British humor is fantastic, it's heartwarming even while dealing with hard times. Highly recommend, but start with book 1!
Love and Olives by Jenna Evans Welch: Liv's dad left her family when she was eight years old to supposedly search for the lost city of Atlantis. At 17, she suddenly receives a postcard from him asking her to come to Santorini to help with his search. And to her even greater surprise, Liv's mom forces her to go. Liv's journey of reconciliation with her father is wonderful and full of challenging truths, things she was too young to understand at the time of her dad's departure. This reconciliation is the main focus of the book, although there is a love story on the side. I have loved all three of Welch's books. They are clean, funny, sweet, and have full story lines.
The Cartographers by Peng Shepherd: fiction, magical realism. Nell Young's entire life has been cartography. Her greatest dream was to work alongside her father in the cartography section of the New York Public Library--the two Dr. Youngs. All that changes in an instant when her father loudly has her fired while also destroying all her chances of continuing as a cartographer. All this over a seemingly worthless gas station map. Several years later, her father is found dead at his desk, with the same map hidden in it. Why? Nell's relentless desire to discover the truth leads her to a heart-wrenching story of her own family history. This book surprised me! I thoroughly enjoyed it. There is a good bit of cartographical verbiage, but I loved that. Recommend!
Safely Home by Randy Alcorn: Christian fiction. Two college friends reunite in China after twenty years. Ben is living an affluent, comfortable life in corporate America. Quan is boldly living for Christ under intense persecution in China. Ben is confronted repeatedly with how little he knows about China despite having done business in Shanghai for years. Quan wakes up each morning asking if today will be the day he dies. Despite being fearful, his faith perseveres. Part of the book is written from the point of view of martyred Christians who have come before. This was such an interesting imagining of the intermediate heaven! (Read Heaven by Randy Alcorn. Five stars). I cannot rave enough about this book. It was convicting and inspiring. I have never prayed as much for persecuted believers as I have since finishing this book. A must read for Christians in my opinion. All proceeds of this book go to supporting persecuted Christians. This book may have been written over a decade ago, but persecution of Christians in China is still rampant. For more information check out Open Doors. Plus, this article from the Heritage Foundation talks about Chinese human rights violations against several groups of people. The book was named in response to this painting.
She Reads Truth: Holding Tight to Permanent in a World That's Passing Away by Raechel Myers and Amanda Bible Williams: cofounders of She Reads Truth write their testimonies of how they surrendered their lives to Christ and share stories of God's faithfulness throughout the hardest, darkest moments of their lives--five miscarriages, crippling anxiety, depression, extreme financial stress, etc. I felt that this book was very Biblically sound and presented the Gospel truthfully. I have never done any of the She Reads Truth studies however, so I cannot review any of those. I did feel that some of the chapters were repetitive which is why it took me longer to read, but in all it was a good book.
Beneath the Scarlett Sky by Mark Sullivan: this based-on-a-true-story book follows 17 year old Pino Lella as he finds himself in the right place at the right time during some of World War II's most historic moments. Leading Jews to safety through the Alps, driving the top-ranking German general around Italy, spying for the resistance, translating between said general and Il Duce, etc. His life was astounding and almost unbelievable. I think this book is definitely worth a read simply because it depicts Italy during WWII and I haven't found many books about this topic. The writing style seemed somewhat odd with a changing point of view (first person, third person). It was not my favorite WWII novel, but it did keep my attention.
Aggressively Happy: A Realist's Guide to Believing in the Goodness of Life by Joy Marie Clarkson: I loved Joy's blurb on the back of this book. My summary of it--Life can be painful, bitter, exhausting, and full of despair, but we as followers of Christ don't have to be. As a caveat, I would say that this book is written for professing Christians. Joy encourages readers to choose happiness unclouded by guilt. It is okay to find joy in life. This really was such a good read, and Clarkson is a great storyteller. I especially loved that the end of each chapter gives recommendations of songs, movies, articles, books, and paintings to peruse in the vein with each chapter's topic. Very encouraging book.
Joshua: All God's Good Promises by Kathleen Buswell Nielson: a Living Word Bible Study. I really enjoyed this study with my PWOC (Protestant Women of the Chapel) group. I have been reading through the Bible chronologically the last four years, but have never studied the book of Joshua in detail. Joshua is a great review of God's faithfulness thus far to the Israelites in the Old Testament, and it is full of God's promises being fulfilled. There was no accompanying video with this study, but that allowed plenty of time for some great discussions!
Sir Andrew and the Authoress by Sally Britton: the 3rd installment in this regency series. This series was written specifically as escapist literature during the pandemic, and Britton has done a great job with it. Two childhood companions who love to verbally spar with one another, are surprised and confused to discover that their feelings toward one another are changing. When Josephine's brother invites a school friend to visit as her potential suitor, Andrew must decide whether or not to throw his hat into the ring. The story is set during the backdrop of the social/political/economic upheaval of the Industrial revolution. This was a fun read with great dialogue,
Maid and Minstrel by Kate Stradling: a novella-length retelling of King Thrushbeard. After discovering that her 18th birthday party is a sham, a coverup where her hand in marriage is up for bid, Rosalind successfully insults each 'suitor' to his face, including the man she loves and her childhood friend, King Philip of Malinae. In retaliation, her father forces her to marry the first beggar that visits their estate. I have loved everything I have read by Stradling, and this is no exception. I wish it had been longer!