August 2023 Book Reviews
The Love and Honor series (Word of Honor and Honor's Refuge) by Hallee Bridgeman: Christian fiction focusing on military life and all that can come with it. All three books in this series focus on different members of a specific Army Special Forces unit. Different topics dealt with in these three books include: pacifism, losing a limb in service, PTSD, domestic abuse, and, of course, some romance. I really enjoyed them. Usually I roll my eyes at books depicting military life, but I did not find these cheesy or inaccurate. Of course, I am not as familiar with Army life as opposed to Air Force and National Guard, so there is that. I would recommend them!
Correct, Not Politically Correct: About Same Sex Marriage and Transgenderism by Frank Turek: this book was originally published in the mid-2000s, I believe, but was recently updated to include a section on transgenderism. I was not paying attention very closely to the court cases that were famous at the time, so I learned a lot from Frank's well-reasoned arguments against same-sex marriage, LGBTQ rights, and now the issue of transgenderism. The way some people can effectively lay out great, true, (obvious) arguments from a Biblical worldview is fantastic. Frank lost his job over the publishing of this book over a decade ago, even though he was great at his job and well-liked. He warns fellow Christians that they should be prepared to have the same happen to them if they choose to stand by God's truth in today's society. Such a good read. It is free on Kindle Unlimited right now.
The Vicar of Wakefield by Oliver Goldsmith: The Vicar's family is enjoying a happy, rich existence when he gets word that his financial advisor has absconded with his fortune. With that, the high society family begins a descent into poverty. Calamities befall them, almost to a humorous degree. But don't worry, there is a happy ending! I picked up this book because it was mentioned in a favorite of mine--The Last Bookshop in London by Madeline Martin. I had never heard of Oliver Goldsmith prior to that. This novel was first published in 1766, and it was so humorous that I could not help but grin while reading. It was also interspersed by long soliloquys by the Vicar which were rather long winded, but other than trying not to skip over those, I liked the book!
The Household and the War for the Cosmos: Recovering a Christian Vision for the Family by C.R. Wiley: this book was a recommended read from Bright Hearth, a podcast on rediscovering the lost arts of homemaking. Wiley's thesis is that the home should be a safe haven for your family, where your children learn a God-centered vision of the world, and a command center for your family's spiritual growth. This was a relatively short yet challenging read that has caused me to rethink what the term 'homemaker' actually means and entails. The world degrades and vilifies women who choose to stay home, so much so that even Christian women feel the need to defend their decision to do so. It has been completely swallowed up in worldly terminology. I very much recommend this. It is also free on Kindle Unlimited.
The Innkeeper of Ivy Hill by Julie Klassen (Book 1 of 3): Christian fiction written in a Jane Austen style. Jane has been widowed for a year when she comes out of her mourning to discover that the coaching inn bequeathed to her by her husband is financially failing. Her husband had always handled all the business matters, so Jane turns to her estranged brother-in-law and mother-in-law for help. This is a slow, relaxing read with a great deal of focus on female friendships, relational reconciliation, village life, and a little bit of romance thrown in. It was a lovely read.
Grace Abounding to the Chief of Sinners: A Brief Account of God's Exceeding Mercy through Christ to His Poor Servant, John Bunyan by John Bunyan: this memoir (one in a series) focuses on how Bunyan came to Christ, his 12 year imprisonment during which he wrote Pilgrims Progress, and his internal struggle with surrendering to the LORD and believing that God had forgiven him his sins. I love finding memoirs written long ago that are still so relatable. It was frustrating to read about his back-and-forth between trusting God and falling into doubt and sin. It is like reading about the ancient Israelites as they wander through the desert for 40 years. Or how those of us who are Christians will look back on our lives as well.
The Metropolitan Affair by Jocelyn Green: set in 1925 NYC in the middle of the King Tut craze. Met Egyptologist Lauren Westlake is contacted by her long-lost friend Detective Joe Caravello to help uncover an Egyptian artifact forgery ring. With her estranged father and offended, wealthy patrons thrown into the mix, things are not as they seem with betrayal lurking around every corner. This was so good! I loved reading all about Egypt and mummies growing up, so this was such a pleasure to read. Recommend!
The All American by Susie Finkbeiner: it's 1952 and Bertha Harding is living the life with a loving family, her hopes for making it onto a girls' baseball league, and her first romance. Then her author father is called out as a Communist sympathizer in the McCarthy trials and life changes in extreme ways. Not only is Bertha questioning her father's ideals, but she has lost all the good things she loved in life--relationships, baseball, a sense of community, safety. This novel really caused me to think about what life must have been like for those called out during the McCarthy trials. Women's baseball plays a large role throughout the novel, and that was fun too. Recommend!
The Vanishing at Castle Moreau by Jamie Jo Wright: Castle Moreau in Wisconsin has had a thrilling, infamous history for over a century regarding women who vanish nearby. The novel follows three different timelines: a young girl who is visited by a woman with a crooked hand, orphaned housemaid Daisy, and Cleo--a girl on the run from her past. Cleo takes a job under the table organizing the home of an eccentric, wealthy octogenarian. Hired be the grandson, she has no idea what she's getting into, but is determined to help uncover this mystery. Okay, this novel starts out so creepy! Without giving anything away, it is not as creepy as you would assume upon reading the first chapters. It would be a great atmospheric read leading into October. It's a clean read, and really quite uplifting in the end. I have already been reading more by this author.
A Long Walk to Water by Linda Sue Park: this true story follows two 11 year old Sudanese children--a boy named Salva fleeing for his life and a girl names Nya fetching water two hours from her home each day. I was immediately drawn into these stories. Salva experienced so much horror at so young and age, and Nya was traveling distances and doing hard work that most children that age could not imagine. I read this short book in a few hours and cried. It was heartbreaking and heartwarming. Loved it.
Dear Mr. Knightley by Katherine Reay: Sam has always dealt with the abuse, neglect, and insecurity in her life as a foster child by disappearing into books, specially Jane Austen books. She has a hard time relating emotionally to others and often resorts to quoting her books instead. When Same receives a grant to attend grad school, her benefactor asks only that she send progress letters during her time there. This book is written almost entirely in letter format, something I love. It was such a pleasure to read this book. I had a book hangover after finishing. So lovely.
Better Together: Strengthen Your Family, Simplify Your Homeschool, and Savor the Subjects That Matter Most by Pam Barnhill: Pam shows how to create something called 'morning time' in homeschool. It essentially incorporates subjects that your family finds most important to instill in your children. For instance, mine includes subjects like Bible, catechism, apologetics, read-aloud, art, different music styles, etc. It is a time when the whole family can sit together to learn before splitting off into individual subjects. I found Pam's advice and resource lists highly helpful, and I also enjoyed the different families she interviewed showing their own individual morning time routines. It would be a great read for homeschooling moms.