Recent Reads


I get about 90% of my book recommendations from people online, so I hope you enjoy my book review posts and maybe get some ideas for ones to add to your shelves (or ones to avoid!). I love chatting books, so please please leave a comment if you've read any of these too and what you thought!

When God Made Light by Matthew Paul Turner // 5 stars (children's book!)
This is the last book I'm going to get from Blogging for Books because they are shutting down! I'm so sad about this. I've loved it so much over the years. Anyway, I chose this as my last book because I thought R might enjoy a new book to read! This is the second book written by this author, and I think it's really great, especially if you are looking for a book with children of color as the main characters. R has enjoyed reading it, and I love the message about God making light and God's light being inside each one of us. The illustrations are very colorful, and there's lots to look at. Definitely check out this book and the author's first book When God Made You. (affiliate links)

12 Ways Your Phone is Changing You by Tony Reinke // 5 stars
This book takes a look at social media and smart phone use from a biblical and Gospel-centered approach. It was so good. A lot of what I loved about this book is everything I did not love about Growing Up Social (see below). The author does not take a straight anti-technology approach. So many books on this topic seem to just suggest that we avoid technology when at all possible, but the author of this book offers specific questions to ask yourself about your use of your phone and suggests reasons why we need to carefully consider and be aware of our use. There was so much to highlight and quote from this one. I've copied out three of my favorites for you just from the last few chapters.

“The bigger challenge for us in this digital age is not the mental pollution of information overload, but the nutritional deficiency of the content that has been engineered, like modern snacks, to trigger our appetite. Online information is increasingly hyper-palatable, akin to alluring junk food. Breaking news, tabloid gossip, viral memes, and the latest controversies in sports, polities, and entertainment all draw us to our phones as if they were deep-fried Twinkies held out on sticks at the state fair. Digital delicacies are eye-grabbing and appealing, but they lack nutrition.” p.146-147

"Am I entitled to spend hours every month simply browsing odd curiosities? I get the distinct sense in the Scripture the answer is no. I am not my own. I am owned by the Lord. I have been bought with a price, which means I must glorify Christ with my thumbs, my ears, my eyes, and my time... I do not have 'time to kill'--I have time to redeem." P.180

“If I consider my phone only as a tool to ‘instantly express’ my life, then my phone use is vain. I must ask: Am I lazy and careless with souls, ignorant of the power of words, images, and links on others? Or am I using my digital chitchat as a way to build into someone (or some online community) with a larger relational goal of edification? These questions determine whether my texts, tweets, and images are thoughtless fragments or purposeful strategies to point others to find their joy, meaning, and purpose in God.” P.184-185

For fans of: being convicted, love/hate relationships with your phone
Should you read it? YES IMMEDIATELY GO NOW

Beartown by Fredrik Backman // 4 stars
The book opens by telling you that one night in a small town, a teenager went into the forest and put a gun to another teenager's head and pulled the trigger. Then it backs all the way up and tells how they got there and who they are. The setting is a small town in the forest where hockey is king. I sometimes had a hard time believing that adults would really act like the adults in this book do (maybe I'm just too optimistic about people), but I read a review where someone compared Beartown to the town in Friday Night Lights except with hockey not football, and that gave the setting more context for me.

The story is a slow build toward the climax, but once that hits the second half went quickly. I applaud the author's ability to keep up with so many characters in a way that wasn't confusing for a reader. I became really invested in the outcome of this story, and the topic felt timely in relation to current events. I would recommend this book with the caveat that it is based on an event that might be a trigger for some people. There is also language.

For fans of: Friday Night Lights, teenage drama, hockey, small-town sports, powerful moments, characters you want to root for
Should you read it? Yes!

Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein // 3.75 stars
In October 1943, a British spy plane crash lands in Nazi territory. The passenger is taken into custody and tortured for codes and information about the war effort. I had a semi-hard time getting into this book, but the second half is very good and moves quickly if you can get there. The first half wasn't bad, it just felt a little slow. But I loved the story and characters (two female leads!), and although at first I wasn't a fan of the writing style, it's unique and turns out to be extremely clever. I also appreciate the author's research and attention to historical details, which she outlines in her author note at the end.

For fans of: WWII, girl power, spies, best friends forever
Should you read it? Yes

Eleanor and Park by Rainbow Rowell / 3.5 stars
I listened to this on audio book. I rarely listen to books on CD, but the readers did such a great job, and this was a good one to listen to on my commute to and from work. It is the story of Eleanor and Park (duh), two teenagers who meet on the bus one day on the way to school. At first they don't like each other, but--shocker!--they eventually fall in love. There is some language, so I didn't read it before or after I'd picked up the kids from daycare. I think had I read this this one in physical form, I would have found it much more cheesy and teenage-angsty than it felt listening to it read. This would definitely not be a book I would actually recommend to a young adult reader. Lots of language, as I said, and some sexual stuff (although nothing graphic). I loved the slow build of the character's relationships and just how sweet they were with each other. I've seen mixed reviews about the ending, but I personally was fine with it.

For fans of: teenage love, cheesiness, rooting for misfits
Should you read it? I recommend the audio!

Parenting with Love and Logic by Foster Cline and Jim Fay // 3.25 stars
I had no idea when I started reading this that the "Love and Logic" phrase is a style of parenting. They have classes and DVDs and workshops... it feels like the Babywise movement a little bit. I'm really not interested in trying to "do" the love and logic method, but this book did have a lot of good advice. And then there was some... odd advice. Not bad, just odd. 

I didn't find the book's made-up scenarios entirely useful since my oldest is only 2. Many of the book's practical tips in the second half felt like something I'd need to come back to in 5-10 years. Also sometimes I didn't feel like what they were suggesting was realistic of how a child that age would actually act. Like, just one example is a section about asking your toddler (they specifically said a 2-year-old) to go to their room. "A statement--I want you to go to your room, and I want you to go now--spoken firmly and with index finger pointing toward the room will usually get results." um... no. That would not get results in our house. (Not all of the examples felt that far fetched, however.) 

My main takeaway was what they had to say about offering choices and speaking positively rather than getting upset and stating that the child do something we can't enforce. These are things we are already trying to do, so it was helpful to see more suggestions of how to do that in the home. This book is worth a "skim," specifically the first half. But this wasn't one where I felt like I was highlighting every page, and I didn't always agree with what the authors were suggesting.

For fans of: parenting advice, sometimes unrealistic scenarios relating to toddlers
Should you read it? Yes, it's worth a skim at least

Good As Gone by Amy Gentry / 3.25 stars
I literally read this in two days. It moved quickly and was for sure a page-turner. This would be a perfect book for the beach or a plane flight or something. A thirteen-year-old girl is kidnapped from her home. Eight years later, she randomly appears at her front door. Her family is thrilled, but her mother starts to have doubts that she is who she says she is. There is some sexual content and language, just be aware. As a mom, reading about a child who was kidnapped and what she went through was pretty unsettling to read. It's well written, but I have mixed feelings on the plot itself, specifically as it moves toward the conclusion. There's a whole thing about religion in there that I felt was odd, but I don't want to say more without spoiling anything. You wouldn't be wasting your time to read it (again, maybe at the beach!), but this will not stand out in my mind as a true suspenseful thriller.

For fans of: kidnapping, Elizabeth Smart, mom love
Should you read it? Yes, on a plane or at the beach

Growing Up Social: Raising Relational Kids in a Screen-Driven World by Gary Chapman and Arlene Pellicane // 2.5 stars
The title says it all, so I won't write a summary of the book here. This book was fine. I couldn't specifically relate to most of it because my oldest child is only 2.5 years old, but I think something like this is a good refresher to solidify my own feelings about screen time with my kids. It did not tell me anything I didn't already know, so if you're looking for a book that is offering new advice or research, this isn't it. The authors say they aren't negative about screen time (TV, phones, iPads, etc.), but aside from a few token statements here and there lauding some of the benefits, they seem to basically be saying that you should avoid all screen time as much as possible. Which is okay, but I guess I don't know if that is completely realistic. A book with practical advice/tips for how to include technology in our lives while also continuing to making in-person relationships is something I'd be interested to read. (See 12 Ways Your Phone is Changing You above!)

For fans of: obvious parenting tips, throwing away your TV, in-person conversation
Should you read it? You can skip this one.
Lauren said...

Eleanor and Park was the first Rainbow Rowell book I read. I thought it was well written, but it was too sad/rough for me to really love. However, please read Rainbow Rowell's book Attachments. I've read it twice, and it's one of my favorite books from the last five years.

The Lady Okie said...

It was sad and rough, I'll agree to that. I think listening to it on audio helped bc I was driving and kind of but not totally concentrating. haha.
Yes I will! This was my first Rainbow Rowell book, so good to have another recommendation. Thank you!

K said...

Laughing about the "Go to your room" scenario. Honestly, my 2.5yo WOULD go. I often tell her she needs to go get something from her room or put her binky back in the crib (it's only for sleeping), and she'll do it. If I said "And stay there for 3 minutes," now THAT would be ridiculous, haha. She glues herself to me, so she'd go to her room and then, like a boomerang, return to my side. Thankfully we still have her crib, which keeps her in one place for timeouts. :)

After reading your book reviews, I'm feeling convicted that I need to read more parenting books. I don't really do that, probably to my child's detriment . . .

Maureen @ Maureen Gets Real said...

I loved Beartown! Fredrik Backman has some amazing reads. I recommend A Man Called Ove by him if you have not read that yet. It was actually the first book by him that I read.

Eleanor & Park and Code Name Verity are both on my to read list so I liked hearing your thoughts on both of them.

Laura Darling said...

Thanks for posting about When God Made Light because my nephew's baptism is this weekend and I have been thinking about what to get him! I've seen posts about that book on instagram but had forgotten about it!

The Lady Okie said...

Haha! R would go get something from her room, but that part was from a chapter about gettting to stay in their room! She does not stay in her room for anything. Bedtime is terrible right now! I wouldn’t feel bad about the parenting books, though! We are just in a hard toddler stage and unsure how to deal with it, so I’m trying to read up on different ideas so we can figure out what will work best for us and her :)

The Lady Okie said...

Yes I’ve read Ove! I thought it was really good. I tried to read Backman’s “My Grandmother told me to tell you she’s sorry” and couldn’t get into it, though.

Amy @ A Desert Girl said...

I listened to a sample of Good as Gone and thought it was okay. Have you heard of Two Girls Down? I wrote a brief summary of it in my recent reading post (Nose in a book). Speaking of, you write such good summaries! I struggled to write descriptions without giving too much away.

I remember liking Code Name Verity pretty well. Thanks for the recommendation to listen to Eleanor & Park - I have it on my to-read list but have thought it may be heavy on the teenage-angst.

Amy @ A Desert Girl said...

I really like Attachments too! I recommend reading versus listening just based on the format. I also recently read Landline and it was okay. Not as good as Attachments but an easy, quick read.

Kaity B. said...

Eleanor and Park is probably one of my favorite YA books ever. I was an adult when I read it, but I wish it had been around when I was a teen. Eleanor’s home life so deeply resonated with me and I thought the author did an amazing job of helping the reader to understand what it’s like to grow up in that environment 💔

Carolann Chambers said...

Good As Gone sounds like the kind of book I would like to read on the beach! I loved so much about Code Name Verity although I did take a while to get into it. Right now I am reading The Bean Trees by Barbara Kingsolver, which my friend sent to me in a deployment care package!

Jen said...

I definitely don't think it's realistic to get rid of screen time altogether for kids. There are just so many different variables that influence that. As a psychology professional, I'm always intrigued by books that talk about social topics like that.

Nadine said...

I really loved Eleanor and Park and Beartown was pretty good. I had gotten When God Made Light for Zoe and the author's other book that was on there and we loved both books. Such a great message.

Unknown said...

I enjoyed Eleanor & Park also. My problem with the ending was not that it was bad per se, but I just dislike ambiguous endings. I want to know exactly how it all turns out, not just have a guess or get a feeling, you know?

Audrey Louise said...

Code Name Verity and Beartown have been on my radar for a while. I read my first Backman book this time around and I think his writing is very easy to comprehend and digest. I'm definitely looking to read another of his soon.

The Lady Okie said...

I don't think it's very realistic either! Plus there are benefits to it also for learning and such :)

The Lady Okie said...

Yes! I totally get that. I usually like things tied up more. I think I was okay with it because we do know it's a happy ending. It says that Park's face lit up. I read a response from the author about the ending on a Goodreads feed, and it helped explain her reasoning a bit too.

The Girl who Loved to Write said...

I 100% agree with Good As Gone being a good beach or plane read! That's a great way to put it!

Rach said...

I just saw "When God Made Light" today for the first time! It really is such a cute book! And I'm still waiting on the "12 Ways" book to be available from the library. Looking forward to reading that one!

Kristen @ See You In A Porridge said...

yay beartown! glad you liked it. i have the second on my kindle from netgalley and i am so curious to see how it compares. i'm glad you enjoyed code name verity, i have noticed a theme where people say they enjoyed the second half more, i think i enjoyed the first half more and i don't know why.