Reading Challenge Update – Natalie recaps 5 new reads 

A couple of weeks ago, my family of five expanded to a family of six – and busy is our new phase. But before that event, I was trying to get through a big chunk of my 2017 reading list. My list included 24 books, and I’ve managed to make it 1/3 of the way through. Since my reading time is limited, I chose books that I thought had the best chance of making it to the finished pile rather than the discarded pile. So far, 7 out of 8 have been big winners, so read on to find out more.


Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore by Robin Sloan. 

You can read my review here. This is a great weekend read, with a quick pace and an engaging plot line.

513shwrvdlA BOOK YOU WERE EXCITED TO BUY BUT HAVEN’T READ YET: Elizabeth is Missing by Emma Healey. 

This was a fantastic, unconventional mystery (possibly my favorite genre). Read my review here.


llA BOOK ABOUT THEOLOGYA Loving Life by Paul E. Miller. 

Read Meg’s review here. I’m currently reading this book on my Kindle, and I wish I had bought a paper copy of it to write in the margins. I usually read for comfort and relaxation, and this book is making me uncomfortable in a good way. Ruth’s continued love for Naomi despite Naomi’s lack of appreciation is profound. 

51Qs-KEJnFLA BOOK BEING MADE INTO A MOVIE: The Light Between Oceans by M.L. Stedman. 

I bought this book used, so I didn’t have a choice really on the cover art which led me to believe it was a romance novel. The original cover is a picture of a lighthouse and the night sky, but the newer cover is a still shot from the movie. I do not care for romance novels – At All. But this is not a conventional romance, and I couldn’t put the book down.

Tom is a lighthouse keeper on a tiny, uninhabited (other than himself) island named Janus off the coast of Australia. Just before taking up his post, he meets Isabel who breathes life into Tom, a man internally scarred by a difficult childhood and by battle in World War I. Tom and Isabel marry and begin their life together on Janus.

Their happiness is soon interrupted by miscarriages and a stillbirth. While kneeling at the graves of her three babies, Isabel hears crying. Thinking she’s going mad with grief, she follows the crying to the beach and discovers a boat bearing a baby and a dead man. Isabel instantly bonds with the baby and convinces Tom to bury the man and raise the child as their own. The three live happily together until a trip to shore leads to the devastating discovery that the baby’s mother is still alive. I don’t want to give away any more, so I’ll just say that two major themes of this book are forgiveness and resilience of a marriage in extreme circumstances.

51ICl9FOMxL._SX330_BO1,204,203,200_ A BOOK CHOSEN BASED ON THE COVER: The Man Who Loved Books Too Much by Allison Hoover Bartlett. This book was a fascinating true story about a rare book thief and the book dealer who caught him. What I found most interesting about this story was that John Charles Gilkey didn’t steal the books to profit from selling them. He stole them to create a persona of a cultured gentleman surrounded by a vast library of rare books. Stay tuned for a future full-length review of this book. 

51c4EbuBIOL._SX333_BO1,204,203,200_A BOOK PUBLISHED THIS YEAR:  The Bear and the Nightingale by Katherine Arden. 

My school library had a section of fairy tales – everything from the Brothers Grimm to Hans Christian Andersen to a collection of fairy tales from around the world. And I read them all. I still love fairy tales and fantasy literature. This book appealed to me because the author takes several Russian folk and fairy tales and crafts a new, exciting, and beautiful story. I’ll also be reviewing this one at length in the future.

51Rq4omr+5L._SX329_BO1,204,203,200_.jpgA THRILLER: The Trespasser by Tana French 

(Note: You won’t be able to put down her thrillers. The Likeness is my favorite.). This book was somewhat of a disappointment. While I enjoyed the crime story, the language was quite rough, rougher than previous books. I’m no prude, but it got to be too much. If you don’t mind being in the head of a foul-mouthed Irish cop, then you may enjoy it. French is a master of plot twists, and the storyline is brilliant and exciting.

214Z6Z+LgGL._BO1,204,203,200_A BOOK SET IN YOUR STATE: The Bean Trees by Barbara Kingsolver (She’s best known for The Poisonwood Bible, but this is her debut novel and it’s set in AZ.). 

I LOVED this book. Even though I picked up another book immediately after finishing this one, I couldn’t stop thinking about the story. Twenty-something Taylor decides to leave her native Kentucky for a job and adventure. Halfway through her trip, a woman leaves a child in Taylor’s car. Sensing the child was in danger, Taylor decides to keep the child and continues her journey, ending up in Tucson, AZ. This is a story about sacrifice, community, friendship, and love.

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