In 2021, I read over fourteen books. It is more than I expected to read considering we were in the middle of retiring, moving from city to country, and starting to build a guest cottage for temporary living quarters. In addition, I was in the middle of writing one book while marketing another.
In this stack of books, there are three books missing: the first one, Try Dying, is in e-book format only; the second, Living in Heaven’s Earth, is in my morning meditation stack as I am still reading it (the only one of the bunch I didn’t finish in 2021); and, the third book, The Three Questions, I leant to a sister when she was visiting back in November.
Nine of these books are written by some of my writer friends whom I have met while being a part of the Writers Bridge. I found the Writers Bridge through a blog by Allison K. Williams, Social Media Editor, of Brevity’s Nonfiction Blog here on WordPress.
I have listed these books below in the order in which I completed them. Each one has along with it a link to purchase it, as well as a link to the author’s website.
James Scott Bell
Genre: Fiction; thriller.
My Review: I absolutely loved the main character in this series. If you love mystery-suspense, this book is for you. Gripping from beginning to end, I look forward to reading the next two books in this series.
ACTS OF CONTRITION
Genre: Nonfiction; short story.
My Review: I was quite impressed with Acts of Contrition….Each story drew me in and let me share in the unfolding of events, as though I was right there with each protagonist….If you enjoy short stories which call you to view life just a little bit differently, then I highly recommend Acts of Contrition: Short Stories to you. Each story is well worth the read.
My Review: Transformation. From beginning to end, SWING is all about transitioning from the person we think we should be at different stages in our life to the real, authentic person we are meant to be. From a young child, Ashleigh Renard invents and reinvents herself on her journey toward discovery of her true self. If you are not fond of steamy scenes or a strong female lead, then this book may not be for you. Otherwise, SWING is filled with humor, love, compassion, hope, and so much more.
BURYING THE NEWSPAPER MAN
Genre: Fiction; suspense.
My Review: I love a good mystery, suspense…and Burying the Newspaper Man did not disappoint. From the moment I read the interesting title and saw the beautiful colorful cover, I wanted to read this book. I found the main character fascinating as he warred with himself between right and wrong. The author, Curtis Ippolito, did a wonderful job of capturing his main character’s story through his supporting characters and flashbacks. The detail was just right; I felt there were no unanswered questions unless they were meant to be answered later, and they were. What I loved best was that Burying the Newspaper Man was more about digging up the dirt and then burying the past for good. I am looking forward to more books by this breakout author!
My Review: From the moment I started reading Emma’s Laugh through to the very end, I felt a part of Emma’s life. Diana’s amazing way of including her readers in her daughter’s story had me in tears, empathizing, laughing, and cheering right along with her. I could feel Diana’s every fear, joy, victory, and sorrow. Her raw emotion pulled me right in, and I was loving Emma as much as if she were my own daughter. Like every person whose life Emma touched with her unique personality, she has left an indelible mark on my soul with her unique laugh and her ability to see only the important things in life. Emma’s life may have been a short one, but her laugh and fighting spirit was certainly far-reaching!
5 STEPS TO FACING SUFFERING
Genre: Nonfiction; self-help.
My Review: Experiencing loss at an early age and suffering through certain situations later in my life, I have found “5 Steps to Facing Suffering” illuminating. In this book, Geraldine Guadagno offers insights through quotes, scriptures, and real-life stories. These steps have helped me better understand suffering in general and my own sufferings. I can now be more fully in my present and be more open to being there for others as they experience suffering in their own life. I believe “5 Steps to Facing Suffering” can help anyone deal with their own suffering: understand it, embrace it, and then move onward to a fuller, loving, and rewarding life.
MOMENTS OF GRACE
Mary Olivia Patiño
Genre: Nonfiction; poetry.
My Review: Moments of Grace is a wonderful collection of faith-inspired poems ideal for morning or evening reflection time. Mary Olivia Patiño conveys a fresh perspective to many topics bringing on a thought-provoking ponderance, deepening one’s own outlook on life, love, and faith. I particularly enjoyed San Juan Capistrano and Ancient Crannies. If you like to be inspired or pushed to deeper contemplation, Moments of Grace is worth your while. It will be a beautiful addition to your personal library’s shelf of inspirational readings for any moment of your life.
30 DAYS OF MOVEMENT
Genre: Nonfiction; fitness.
My Review: Hannah Setzer’s book, 30 Days of Movement is a must-have! If you want a flexible way to get in shape – or just move more, then this book is for you. I found it to be inspiring and motivating. I absolutely love how Hannah writes as if she is speaking right to you wherever you are working out. Each day is filled with doable exercises that rotate and are varied. If you get bored, like I do with the same old routine, this book will be worth your time. The exercises come with a picture(s) and description. There is even a rest day built in every seventh day, where you are encouraged to move in a way that you find right and enjoyable. I loved the flexibility, how exercises could be adapted or alternated depending on fitness level. And I loved how Hannah is so personable; inspiring, encouraging, and motivating. I will be repeating this book again. Yes, that’s how much I benefitted from, enjoyed, and loved it! Get yours today!!
Genre: Fiction; contemporary.
My Review: From the start, I could tell the main character of The Difference, Rachel, was like me and many people I know. All those head thoughts! I enjoyed how the author, C. D’Angelo, portrayed Rachel with depth and with an “unbalance” since her grandfather passed away. It was interesting to follow her search for that missing part of herself, that his loss left, through emotions and head thoughts as she searched for her familial identity – all the way to Italy. Best of all, I loved how Rachel “found” herself in all the surprising twists – and the food she ate, lol – as she discovered her grandfather’s past and her family history. Truly an inspiring read that will keep you turning the pages – from beginning to end!
THE THREE QUESTIONS
Don Miguel Ruiz
Genre: Nonfiction; self-help.
My Review: There was so much to love about this book. The Three Questions were interesting and worth reading about what the authors had to share on each question. Being an avid and lifelong personal-development reader, I was pleased to read new information about how the mind works in relation to me. If you struggle with head thoughts, this book will be a game-changer for you. Despite finding parts of the book, about a third of the way in, somewhat disconnected and repetitive in areas, I highly recommend it to anyone who is searching for ways to understand how the mind works in relation to self and the world around them. I will more than likely read this book again.
WHEN SHE COMES BACK
My Review: I was hesitant to read “When She Comes Back.” Having watched a movie about a cult in the late 1970s and learning about cults and subcultures in a college sociology class, I was nervous to read a book about someone who was close to one and had a story to tell about it. However, I was quite impressed with Ronit Plank’s retelling of her life, always waiting for her mother to choose her, her own daughter, over the cult leader which her mother seemed so enamored with. And reading the last few pages of Ronit’s memoir was heart-warming. All her searching, all the agony she felt as a child, brought her to her full self, to the family she had always dreamed of, and to a relationship with her mother. Through her search for understanding, she found the knowledge that we are not our parents but our own person, free to make our own decisions, be who we are, love who we choose to love, and come out of our struggles with a fierceness that no one else can take away.
THE BRIGHT SIDE OF BROODING
Genre: Fiction; military romance.
My Review: This book was my first military romance, and I absolutely loved it. From start to finish, I loved how the main characters interacted, how their chemistry flowed, and how they gave each other space when things turned a little confusing between them. Being a writer and letter-writer myself, I was especially smitten with Nick’s journal entries and his letters to Summer. Throughout the book, I love how the author kept the pace interesting by going back and forth between each of their perspectives, not veering off in areas that were irrelevant, and how she transitioned into her next story. I’m afraid I just might be hooked on her books! That’s a good thing, right?
WAIT FOR GOD TO NOTICE
My Review: I loved this memoir. Sari Fordham has a wonderful writing style. It was easy to see her as a child, experiencing life as the second daughter of a missionary couple. I found the details she shared to be interesting and looked forward to reading each chapter with eagerness. I loved how Sari captured the details of life in Uganda, focusing on the merits rather than the obvious deficits of war, poverty, and the ever-present danger in more than just snakes or driver ants. I was sad when the book, her story came to an end. I was left with the feeling that there was so much more to learn, so much more that I wanted to know. I was especially focused on her perspective of her parents – particularly her mother, and how Sari was shaped into who she is today by her takeaway of their life as a missionary family. Wait For God To Notice is a book I would recommend to anyone, and one which I will read again.
Please note: The reviews I published and included here, are available online on my Instagram account and wherever these books are available for purchase (Amazon, Barnes & Noble, BAM!, and/or Goodreads).
“Books are the plane, and the train, and the road. They are the destination, and the journey. They are home.”