recent reads // 06

Hello hello! Happy Tuesday! Although We are well into 2017, I wanted to recap the last of my reading list for 2016. I read 53 books last year, which feels crazy, and also awesome. I am living proof that you truly can MAKE time to read, if it's something you enjoy. Even with a very full life and very small children!

Here's what I read in the last few months of 2016...

Anne's House of Dreams, Anne of Ingleside, Rainbow Valley // the final books in the Anne Shirley series (which starts with Anne of Green Gables.) Heartwarming and sweet, and I loved reading through Anne's story all the way through her growing-up years. A classic series, for sure.

Circling the Sun // I loved this recommendation by my mama. Five stars! The based-on-a-true-story account of Beryl Markham, a pioneer for women both in horse training and aviation, who lived her life in modern-day Kenya. Really interesting if you love historical fiction, and I love the change of setting (I haven't read many books about this era set in Africa!)

No More Lone Ranger Moms // This is an older book, from the early 90s, that my mom gave to me to read when I was struggling with the notion of being a SAHM in the fall. I mostly skimmed it, because much of it talks about how to set up a mom's group or co-op, which isn't something I'm necessarily interested in right now. I did like and was encouraged by the way it talks about how in past generations, women lived much more in community and did their homemaking and mothering tasks together. It encouraged me to seek out more community with mamas in my own life.

Inferno // This was a book club book, and I was totally unimpressed. I don't like Dan Brown's writing anyway, and almost didn't read this, but decided to after being convinced by a couple other girls in my book club. I thought the whole thing was far-fetched (the story takes place in just over 24 hours, which I thought was unrealistic) and I didn't like the lack of character development or story structure at all. One star, maybe. Skip this one if you're on the fence.

In Praise of Stay At Home Moms // My mama gifted this to me, again, because I was struggling with being a SAHM and felt like Xavier would be better off with someone who was trained in early childhood development, or could engage him and do activities with him. If you're familiar with the author and talk-show host, Dr. Laura Schlessinger, you know that she has very strong opinions and can come across as very harsh. I would say the same is true of this book. It was really encouraging to me as a SAHM, to boost my morale, but it definitely is not everyone's cup of tea.

Everyone Brave is Forgiven // What a beautiful book. That's all I can say to describe this one. Chris Cleave writes masterfully, the characters come alive and it's set during my favorite time period, WWII. Highly recommend.

The Magician's Nephew, The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, The Horse and His Boy, Prince Caspian // I can't believe I skipped over these as a child, because they are so captivating! I'm reading through the Narnia series for the first time right now and I love them so much. Although they were written for children, they're well worth a read even for adults. So much deep meaning and symbolism woven throughout the stories!

The Christmas Box // This was our December book club book and was a super quick read. Although it's heartwarming, it was predictable and drawn-out - I felt like it could have been a three-page essay instead of a book. 

Sarah's Key // I had read this before, but revisited it, as it was the book club pick for my mom's book club, which I attended while visiting my parents over Christmas in Mexico! I thought I loved this one but once I re-read it, I realized I did not. The modern-day storyline feels too contrived and cliche, there's a far-fetched love twist at the end that I thought was dumb, and most of all, I was left longing for some redemption, something hopeful to cling to, but there's none. Two stars for this one, maybe.

Esther // I knew nothing about the story of Esther (of the Bible) before reading this, and I was blown away by the courage and strength of this real-life woman! It was super interesting to get a peek at what life might have been like for women chosen to be concubines for the king back in Bible times, and I was drawn into the story from the start. Highly recommend this one!

And that rounds out my 2016 reads! I'll be back on Thursday sharing my top ten from the 53 books I read this year - five favorite non-fiction and five favorite fiction. Can't wait!