November and December 2022 Reads!
We are officially stateside again! It's been a pleasure to relax after the last few stressful months of moving overseas. I couldn't find the time to post my November reads, so enjoy this longer installment. I hope you all have a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!
The Bullet That Missed: A Thursday Murder Club Mystery by Richard Osman: the Thursday Murder Club is going about business as usual investigating a decade old cold case when Elizabeth begins to receive threatening text messages. The former MI5 agent knows it's killed or be killed as the case heats up! I love this series. I love that the main characters are English pensioners in a well-to-do retirement home. I love Osman's humorous writing. And have I mentioned that I love the characters? These are some of my favorite books and I highly recommend them! Definitely want to read them in order though.
Just Tyrus: A Memoir by Tyrus: I first heard of Tyrus when I saw him as a guest on Fox News' popular show Gutfeld! back in 2019. He was funny, engaging, and sparked my curiosity. I borrowed this memoir from my mom after arriving back in the US. There is a lot of language in it, but I appreciated the growth, common sense, and self-awareness Tyrus expressed. He had a very hard childhood, worked as a bouncer in various venues, a bodyguard for Snoop Dogg, and finally a wrestling star. I was invested right away in his life story. If you enjoy reading memoirs, pick it up!
All Things Wise and Wonderful by James Herriot: this installment of Herriot's famous series jumps back and forth between his service during World War II and flashbacks to former veterinarian visits back home. Some of these stories were hilarious, others very sad, and some seemed like repeats from previous books in the series. I'm not sure if they were, but they seemed familiar when reading them. Regardless, I have thoroughly enjoyed Herriot's books, something that has surprised this somewhat squeamish reader.
Crown and Crest Series, Books 1-4 by Shari L. Tapscott: clean, fantasy romance series. Henrik and Clover cannot stand each other. Henrik is single-mindedly pursuing his goal of knighthood and hopeful romance with the princess, and Clover, a lady-in-waiting, wants nothing more than to marry the crown prince and rub her higher status over her ill-tempered princess. When shady events throw them together repeatedly, dislike turns into something quite the opposite. All four of these books are very quick reads. I feel as if some content could have been condensed into three rather than four books, but overall it was still an enjoyable read!
Fair Sunshine by Jock Purves: originally published in the 1950s. Each chapter in this volume biographically covers a different Scottish covenanter who was martyred for his or her faith. This "terrible yet glorious" period of the Scottish church started with he restoration of Charles II and ended with the ascension of William III. This was an incredibly interesting book to read, especially since I knew basically nothing about it. Purves writes with a lyrical quality that makes it a pleasure to read. I was struck by the heavenly mindset these faithful men and women had in the midst of immense torture and suffering. Their common response upon hearing of their impending execution was--I will see Christ with my own eyes in less than 24 hours. What an example to read about and emulate!
In the House of Tom Bombadil by C.R. Wiley: this relatively short book focuses on the character of Tom Bombadil from the Lord of the Rings trilogy. Who was he? Who was his wife Goldberry? What do they represent and why are they included by Tolkien, a notoriously picky writer. I was rather fascinated by all these questions and the different rabbit holes that they led to. This is definitely more of a niche read. If you love LOTR, this may be a fun read for you.
Bluebeard and the Outlaw, A Villain's Ever After by Tara Grayce: this was a short, fun fairytale retelling. Robin of the Greenwood is portrayed as a woman who determines (against her brothers' wishes--the merry band) to perform the ultimate coup by marrying the Duke. It's said he murdered his last two wives, taxes the peasants without mercy, and is universally hated/feared. All is not as it seems. I enjoyed this! I think I read it in an evening.
The Beekeeper's Ball by Susan Wiggs: Chef Isabel returned to her grandfather's hacienda in despair, but the healing powers of being home have encouraged her to open up a destination cooking school. As she prepares for their first major event, Isabel is thrown off kilter to discover that her grandfather has agreed to be interviewed by a (very handsome) journalist for his involvement in the Danish resistance during World War II. I was not hugely invested in this story, even though it had elements that usually catch my attention. There was a great deal of language, and I would rate the romance at PG-13ish. Eh, I've enjoyed other Wings' books better.
Robyn Hood: A Girl's Tale, Books 1-2 by K.M. Shea: Robyn isn't brave or bold. She has become the face of resistance without meaning to and now she has men coming from near and far to join her merry band and fight against their oppressors. With the arrival of Little John and Will Scarlett, the group ups their ante from small robberies to complex ones. The camaraderie is great, helping the townspeople not starve is fulfilling, but the Sheriff of Knottingham has a new assistant who is not easily thwarted. Add to that surprise confessions of love, and Robyn has her work cut out for her. This was my second retelling of Robin Hood and it was just as enjoyable to me. This one is longer and the supporting characters are well-thought out. I loved it!
Lord Farleigh and Miss Frost, Clairvoir Castle Romances #4 by Sally Britton: Isleen Frost is accompanying her Irish politician brother on a trip of goodwill and political connections at Clairvoir Castle. Upon arrival she meets the Duke of Montfort's heir Lord Farleigh, Simon Dinard. Although they initially start things off on the wrong foot and misunderstandings abound, Isleen and Simon begin to let down their defenses. With emotions high between the English and the Irish, can these two forge a relationship that lasts? I always enjoy Birtton's novels. They are lovely and free of stress, and this one is no exception.
Aftermath by Terri Blackstock: a terrible explosion at a presidential candidate's rally leaves many attendees (and the political candidate) dead. When Dustin Webb is pulled over on the highway due to an anonymous tip, he is shocked and scared to see bomb-building contents in the trunk of his vehicle. He places a call to old friend Jamie Powell for help. Together they must work against the clock to prove Dustin's innocence and find the real killer. Throw in a mentally-disturbed survivor from the bomb, and the suspense is thick. I think Blackstock is a wonderful Christian suspense writer. I cannot remember ever reading a book by her that disappointed me. Highly recommend!
The True Love Bookshop by Annie Rains: Tess's husband died a few years ago while in a town he had never mentioned to her. She has put it out of her mind and gone about life as a widow until River Harrison, her late husband's former best friend, wanders into her bookshop bleeding out. River tried to stop her wedding years ago and Tess has never forgiven him. Agreeing to watch River's dog while he is hospitalized, Tess discovers a photo at his house that causes her to question everything she thought she knew about her husband. She puts her differences with River aside to hire him as a PI to uncover the truth. This book took me by surprise. It was clean, sweet, dealt with hard issues, and left me feeling happy afterwards. Recommend.
Martin Luther by Eric Metaxas: this highly researched biography dives into the famous Martin Luther, his highs and his lows. Metaxas takes the time to distinguish between commonly held myths about Luther from the truth. It was a fascinating book to listen to, although the sheer length of it made this a months-long project. It was fun to listen to this audiobook while living in Germany--it made the events seemed more real and more relatable. This book is definitely a time investment, but if biographies are your thing, check it out!
The Well-Watered Woman: Rooted in Truth, Growing in Grace, Flourishing in Faith by Gretchen Saffles: part memoir, part Christian-living, Saffles takes readers on a journey through the hardest times in her life and how the Gospel has equipped her and grown her faith in the midst of them. She includes descriptions of what it means to live in one's own power versus living surrendered to God. We are not enough in life and we shouldn't be, but God is. This book is a call to all women to live a life of freedom in Christ rather than one of striving that ultimately leads to discouragement and longing for something more. We read this for our women's Bible study in December and it led to some great discussions! I enjoyed it!
The ESV Study Bible: for the last four years I have been reading through the entire Bible chronologically. I just finished my fourth consecutive read-through following the Bible Recap with Tara-Leigh Cobble. She has a short mini-podcast episode each day recapping and sharing interesting Biblical information about the Scriptures read that day. I cannot rave enough about this experience. It has changed my life completely for the better. If you have never read the Bible all the way through, this is your sign to find a plan that suits you and give it a go. Over the past year I have been harboring a growing desire to dig deep into individual books, so I am going to try Sean McDowell's approach. Prayers for that are much appreciated!