Sunday, June 2, 2013

Month in Books: May 2013

Hardcover book gutter and pages
Hardcover book gutter and pages by Horia Varlan, Flickr

If you're like me, you enjoy reading but often find yourself in need of good material to read.  I hate making a trip to the library--or worst yet, purchasing a book--only to find I've wasted my time or money on a novel or book I don't enjoy.  That's why I LOVE my friend Catherine's blog, A Spirited Mind.  Not only does Catherine have a spirited mind, she has a brilliant mind, so I frequent her blog for recommendations.  Not kidding, I keep her site open and open the library's site in another tab and start placing holds on books I want to read.  AND because I only recently learned of her blog, I have YEARS of reading recommendations to catch up on.

I love her Year in Books reviews with her top five-ten recommendations from the year, so I've decided to do a monthly post to recap what I've read that month.  Hopefully you'll find this list useful in helping you find something good to read, and if my list doesn't help you, surely you can find something at A Spirited Mind.   

May 2013 Reading List

Nonfiction

Carry on, Warrior: Thoughts on Life Unarmed I actually came across this book because I recently began following the Glennon Melton's blog Momastery.  I enjoy Melton's brutal honesty and flew through the first half of the book, but by the end I felt like telling her to get over herself.  Because each chapter is an individual writing (some which appeared first as blog posts), the book can be read in small doses, and I think I would enjoy it more that way.  I appreciate that, too, since some of them were especially meaningful and worth rereading.  Overall rating: 4 out of 5 stars.

The Prodigal God I'm not sure why it took me so long to read this one since it's been recommended by numerous people, but it's one that really is a game changer.  Timothy Keller's mind works in unique ways, and his retelling of the parable of the prodigal son will change the way you view yourself and the Heavenly Father.  This quick read is worth purchasing and reading at least once a year.  Overall rating: 5 out of 5 stars

Crazy Love  This is another book that's been recommended by several people, and I had actually tried reading it two years ago but couldn't "get into it." Now that I've read it, I think it's pretty telling of the condition of my heart two years ago.  Francis Chan is not afraid to say it like it is and call out the comfortable, lukewarm Christian and challenge him/her to a radical life marked by risk and devotion to the Lord.  Definitely worth your time and thought.  Overall rating: 4 out of 5 stars.

The Gifts of Imperfection: Let Go of Who You Think You're Supposed to Be and Embrace Who You Are  I really don't enjoy the self-help genre, and despite Brene Brown's claim that "self-help" doesn't aptly describe her book, I would beg to differ.  Brown is a shame researcher who through her work stumbled upon trends amongst people who were living "wholeheartedly" (her term).  She describes ways in which we can all strive for wholehearted living, and while I could appreciate her research-based approach and advice, I found myself skimming by the end, but that is probably more because of my low tolerance for self-help than her writing style or content.  If you are into self-help books, this is probably a good one for you.  My personal overall rating: 2 out of 5 stars.

Adoration: The Untold Story of Mary of Bethany  Can I just say I've not been so emotionally moved by a piece of nonfiction that I cried?  Well, this one did it.  This book delves into the lives of Mary and Martha, the famous sisters of the Bible.  Martha was chided for being a busy body, Mary praised for living in the moment and worshiping at Jesus's feet.  I was so touched by Martha Kilpatrick's portrayal of Mary and her relationship with the Lord, though I do question if she took some liberties in her interpretation of scripture (perhaps there are more historical texts that helped provide some of her facts?).  Regardless, her poetic style of writing left me worshiping while reading and desiring to fall more deeply in love with Jesus.  Overall rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars


Fiction

Thanks to Catherine's recommendations, I began reading my first Bernard Cornwell novels and started with The Warrior Chronicles/Saxon Series.  If you enjoy historical fiction (these particular novels are set in medieval England) and battle scenes (think Braveheart), this series is for you.  I've flown through the first four novels in the series within a week and hope to finish the final two this week.

The Last Kingdom  We meet our protagonist and warrior hero as a young boy.  Son of an "ealdorman" and Lord, Uhtred is captured by Danish invaders and raised as one of their own, and though he loves his adopted family, his loyalty lies forever divided between Saxon England and the Danes who raised him.  Nevertheless, he fights amongst the Danes as they raid England and capture all but Wessex, the last kingdom.   Overall rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars.

The Pale Horseman  Uhtred regains his English roots and fights alongside King Alfred the Great to defend Wessex from the Danes.  Overall rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars

Lords of the North  Uhtred returns to Northumbria, England's northern kingdom and home to his boyhood home.  In order to recapture his rightful inheritance, he must defeat the "Lords of the North" but in the process is betrayed and loses sight of his dreams.  Rating: 4.5 stars

Sword Song  Uhtred returns to Wessex and is again Alfred's man who must defend London from the Northmen and rescue Alfred's daughter who has been kidnapped.  Rating: 4.5 stars


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