What I’m Reading Right Now: September Book Review

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Things stay pretty full around here until our college retreat in mid-October, so I’m excited to see that I was able to get 6 books read in September. But because I know some of you think audiobooks don’t count as reading (they totally count.), full disclosure: I listened to 3 of these.

I can’t really pick a favorite non-fiction this month, I LOVED all three, for totally different reasons. I think you should read them all.

Fiction is easier, Garden Spells was a DELIGHT. Like last month, I set aside part of my Saturdays specifically for rest and reading, trying to care for my soul in the midst of this busy time of year. Garden Spells was my book date on one of those Saturdays and I read it in that one day, practically in one sitting.

Read on for more specifics!

The Jane Austen Project

 

The Jane Austen Project by Kathleen Flynn

This one was a holdover from the books I chose from Modern Mrs. Darcy’s summer reading guide (more on her in a minute!)  And to be honest, it was my least favorite from that list, the only one that I didn’t L-O-V-E, which is why I just finished it in September.

Our library only had it digitally, so I started by listening to this one. Had a hard time sticking with it, so it got returned and I had to wait for it a few times. I finished this on my Kindle (again, from the library.)

When I reviewed this on Goodreads, I had a hard time deciding between 3 and 4 stars. I finished this book with really mixed feelings, though I love Jane Austen and time travel books, so I was expecting to enjoy it.

What I liked: I loved how Jane Austen was written as a character, I found her the most realistic and consistent character (by a lot). I loved the challenge and suspense of watching the main characters travel back to the regency era as a brother and sister and attempt to ingratiate themselves to the Austen family. I enjoyed the romance and was rooting for it, even though parts were problematic. I love the framework of the story, the concept, and what the author does with probability fields and changing the future stuff. The ending was satisfying, if confusing?

What I didn’t like:

  • I found Rachel inconsistent as a character. I think the author was trying to show the contrast between modern woman-hood and womanly expectations in Jane Austen’s day. But more often than not, if felt to me like she was swinging widely between modern woman and regency woman rather than wrestling as she was both.
  • There were a lot of things (especially about Liam) that were mysterious and foreshadowy, and none of that really played out, for me?
  • And Something about the juxtaposition of the Regency setting and some of the explicit words and sex scenes were a little weird for me.

Overall, I think maybe my biggest issue is that this was more sci-fi than I was expecting. And once that settled in – I’m reading a science fiction book set in another reality – I found the world building a little light. I don’t really understand or believe the world Rachel and Liam came from, though the Regency world felt real and believable.

If you’re interested in checking this out, it is currently $1.99 on Kindle. I’m not sad I read it, but it won’t make my best of the year list…

Of Mess and Moxie

Of Mess and Moxie by Jen Hatmaker

I pre-ordered this in hard cover before really thinking about how much I enjoy listening to Jen’s books (and without thinking about how many other books were in my actual TBR pile.)

It was free on the Hoopla app this month, which shot it to the top of the list because I could listen to it. This book is perfect in audiobook form (except weirdly, I feel like JHat pronounces the H in wHen and wHy and wHite…)

I enjoyed this book a lot, it’s really worth the read (listen.) As usual, Jen Hatmaker makes me laugh and cry and trust Jesus more and feel more grateful to be a woman.

Sometimes the way Jen talks about friendship and mission ends up being discouraging for me, or making me feel less than (I am sure this is the baggage I bring to those conversations, and my response shows that these are areas where I need to do some processing.) That makes chapters like “Makers and Dreamers” and “Bonus Moms” hard for me.

But I love the way she approaches conversations about God and faith and suffering and sovereignty. So my favorite chapters are those, “We Live”, “No strings attached”, “Sanctuary”, “Forgiveness School” and the lovely “Rewoven”, which might be one of my favorite JH pieces ever.

Like so much of Jen Hatmaker’s work, Of Mess and Moxie is real, deep, funny, and accessible. I think women from many backgrounds and perspectives will be encouraged by this fun book.

The Kitchen Counter Cooking School

 

The Kitchen Counter Cooking School by Kathleen Flinn

I read this book like a “real book”, a chapter at a time, mostly sitting on my back porch while the kids did their homework, as a little break in my days (another attempt at self-care!)

“Kitchen Counter Cooking School” is way more interesting than it has any right to be, considering the subject matter: Le Cordon Bleu trained chef gives weekly cooking lessons to 12 women who feel helpless in the kitchen. Yet I was fascinated, watching the transformation as students moved away from dependence on boxed dinners and canned soup, just through simple things like knife skills and basic flavor combinations.

I am a confident cook, and lean hard toward whole food over pre-packaged nonsense but I still learned a lot from the lessons, and was inspired to try some new things. The chapter about food waste was especially enlightening.

My favorite chapter is at the beginning though: Watching each of the volunteer students go through their fridge and pantry, and then cook for this trained chef. The shame and control issues that hover over women and food is so clear, you can see it throughout the book but especially in this chapter. This theme doesn’t play out as clearly in the end as I wished, but it was fascinating to think about.

Garden Spells by Sarah Addison Allen

Garden Spells by Sarah Addison Allen

This was my first Sarah Addison Allen, I gave her a try because I tend to like magical realism (which I didn’t even know was a genre, but it is: Books set in the real world, our world, but with magical elements.)

This was my best (fiction) of the month, and as I said, I read it in 1 day, after several very busy weeks with little down time. This sweet book was just what I needed, a happy story about sisters and romance and magic and a small town. becoming who you were meant to be, and being ok with it.

I checked out two Sarah Addison Allen books at the same time, but I returned The Sugar Queen after finishing Garden Spells. I’m sure I’ll get to it eventually, but I was worried about jumping into another of Allen’s books when I was still so attached to the sisters in Garden Spells. I learned there’s a sequel that continues the story of the Waverly Sisters and their people, so I checked out First Frost and that’s on my October stack.

Reading People by Anne BogelReading People by Anne Bogel

I told you we’d be talking about Modern Mrs. Darcy again – this is her new book, released this month. And I actually ended up buying this book twice. Three times? I’ve lost count. That’s a long story, maybe I should share it sometime – but this post is already too long.

I really intended to wait and read Reading People after finishing one of the five books I was already in the middle of…

I don’t know why I thought I could wait, since all of Anne Bogel’s various output (podcast and blog) is at the top of my reading and listening list every week, AND she’s writing about personality frameworks and personal growth, a topic I am practically obsessed with.

I ended up blazing through this book, and really enjoyed it. I am familiar with all the personality frameworks and have taken nearly all the assessments she discusse. But I still learned something about each one. And I LOVED the personal touch Anne adds, giving a glimpse of someone working through the various processes and hearing what she learned from each.

In the end, this is a book about knowing yourself and understanding the people in your life, and we can all use more of that! I am glad I have access to the written form of this book as well as the audio, because I want to revisit some of the information about the Kiersey Temperament Sorter and the Meyers Briggs framework. But this is so great as an audio book, like sitting down with a good friend and talking personality over a cup of coffee. Which is one of my favorite things to do.

Shalom Sistas by Osheta Moore

 

Shalom Sistas: Living Wholeheartedly in a Brokenhearted World by Osheta Moore

I was on the launch team for this book, which is out October 3, so I can finally see it in the hands of my friends! Yay!

I loved this book and have talked about it quite a bit, here and on my social media.  I really want help seeking wholeness right here where I am, for myself, those in my life, and the rest of the world – and Osheta has written a great guide.

Because Osheta is so funny and a great story teller, I was expecting to fly through this book. It is an easy read for sure, but I kept slowing down to think about how to live out what Osheta is talking about in my particular life.

I highly recommend this book for readers who:
– Want to really live out Jesus’ Kingdom commands, not just argue what they mean
– Like practical, down to earth, lived-out Christianity (her theology is sound, but her point is the practice.)
– Enjoy their faith, justice and compassion with a side of snark and humor
– Are looking for a book to encourage trust in Jesus in our own hearts and bodies AND in our relationships AND out in the world.

That was my September, what did you read last month?

I have a couple of good fiction books I’m looking forward to in October (a few more Sarah Addison Allen books, plus I want to try some more Joshilyn Jackson, since I loved The Almost Sisters so much.) And I have 2 more non-fiction books I’ve been reading off and on for MONTHS that I’m making myself finish before I jump in to the new Brene Brown (which I’m actually carrying around with me, I am SO EXCITED to get started. But I promised myself I’d finish – or quit – everything I was in the middle of before starting!)

 

5 thoughts on “What I’m Reading Right Now: September Book Review

  1. We have such similar tastes in nonfiction. Brene’s book was SO good, and frankly, I was glad it was a bit on the smaller side because I just have too many books to read. LOL. I’m totally going to check out Shalom Sisters and Kitchen Counter.

    • I love that our tastes are so similar! I am chomping at the bit to get at Brene Brown! And I think you will really like both of those books, for totally different reasons.

  2. Thank you for your list, I am always looking for new books.

    As for Audio Books, did you know that some people (especially those in the dyslexia community) call it ear reading. You can read books with your fingers (Braille), your eyes, or your ears. Audio books definetly count!

    • I certainly agree that audiobooks count! I think some people think of it as lesser because the book doesn’t have your full attention (I listen while driving, folding laundry, cooking dinner.) Mostly I have heard this objection from people when they hear how many books I read in a month or year. But I certainly think it counts!! And my taste in audiobooks is different than my taste in physical books – there are books I need to read with my eyes and others I would never make it through unless I were listening…

      • I hear ya. I too listen to books while I do other things, how else could anyone get through all those wonderful books? It is interesting that the only person that I know (IRL) who doesn’t think that audio books count is my dyslexic kid who NEEDS to listen in order to understand. I guess I an now on a campaign to level the playing field for her.

        Oh, did you know that you can get overdrive (is that what you use to listen to audio books?) to read an e-book to you on the iPad? Well, it is not Overdrive that does the reading, but a feature on the iPad. I am finding it helpful in getting through some long and boring e-books.

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