Book Review: Between Heaven and the Real World

Between Heaven and the Real World
by Steven Curtis Chapman with Ken Abraham

My rating: 4.5 / 5
Genre: Memoir

Singer and songwriter Steven Curtis Chapman shares the story of his life so far—childhood, romancing his wife, the road to becoming a household name in Christian music, and the loss of his young daughter. Chapman does not hold back as he tells of doubt, uncertainty, even anger, but also of learning to trust God, to believe He’s working even when we can’t see it, and to let Him lead the way.

I went into this book knowing that there would be tears involved, considering the circumstances around his loss (I don’t know if spoilers are an issue for an autobiography, but I’ll still avoid it, just in case), and I’d imagine it would be even more difficult for those who have experienced a similar loss. The emotion is raw, unfiltered, and there’s no attempt to cover it up and say “God’s got this,” since that would be disingenuous to how they were feeling at the time. One thing Chapman points out in this book is that you can know and fully believe that God is good all the time, and that His plan and timing are perfect, but that won’t necessarily keep you from feeling completely devastated by a loss, especially when in the immediate moments, days, months, when you’re still in shock, reeling, trying to process and figure out how you even take another step forward. This book is certainly not a how-to on picking yourself back up after a devastating loss, trusting in God, and moving forward firmly in His plan, but more a picture of one family’s muddled, messy attempts at finding daylight in the utter darkness.

And of course, this was just one chapter of Chapman’s and his family’s lives (several chapters in the book, though). I appreciated reading about how his earlier life led him to be the man he is and write some of the songs he’s written. I was fascinated by some of the stories behind songs that are well known to me. I do wish some of the theology had been delved into a little more deeply, for example the foundational reason that a loving God allows bad things to happen, but in the end, he was sharing his life, not trying to preach a sermon. I was also often disappointed with the picture placement, because pictures would come too early and sort of “give away” something that was coming. It might have just been an issue with the Kindle version, but then some pictures came on time or a little later than the event was discussed, so who knows. (I fully enjoyed the pictures themselves, though.) Overall, it was a deep, at times dark, fascinating read, and think that fans of Steven Curtis Chapman’s music will enjoy it, as well as people interested in the behind the scenes of the Christian music industry.

Find out more about Between Heaven and the Real World and Steven Curtis Chapman

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April in Review

I read 8 books last month, an overall light month of reading for me, compared to the rest of the year. I think it was a combination of reading a few books that took longer to get through and working more at my job lately, as well as working more on my own writing. Plus, my audiobook-listening time has been diminished of late, so I only finished 1 last month. I also got pretty lazy at writing the reviews and thus am ending the month with two that I haven’t written yet, which is pretty unusual for me.

Here are the books I read in April:

The Silver Chair by C.S. Lewis (5 / 5)
Treasure Hunters by James Patterson & Chris Grabenstein (3 / 5)
Behind the Lights by Helen Smallbone (4 / 5)
The Alamo by Roland Smith and Michael P. Spradlin (3.5 / 5)
The Last Sin Eater by Francine Rivers (4 / 5)
Gospel Reset by Ken Ham (4 / 5)
Between Heaven and the Real World by Steven Curtis Chapman with Ken Abraham (review pending)
A Study in Scarlet by Arthur Conan Doyle (review pending)

This list includes 1 ARC. My favorite book from April was The Silver Chair. I started 1 series, continued 3 series, and finished 0 series. My ever-changing short list of to-be-reads, as well as a flag for the book I’m currently reading and an ongoing list of those I’ve read and posted about can be found here.

I’m also keeping my Goodreads page updated with a more extensive list of to-be-reads. Despite my almost too-long TBR list, I’m always looking for more to add. Feel free to offer suggestions of your favorites or just recent reads you enjoyed.

Book Review: Behind the Lights

Behind the Lights
by Helen Smallbone

My rating: 4 / 5
Genre: Memoir

Helen Smallbone is the mother of seven children who are all adults now, three of which are well-known in Christian music—Rebecca St. James and brothers Joel and Luke of for KING & COUNTRY. In this book, she shares the story of her family, from moving from Australia to the US where everyone pitched in to keep them all afloat, to working together to put on Rebecca St. James’s shows once she got into the music industry, and to how for KING & COUNTRY got started.

One of the things I liked about this book was that way it was so conversational, like she’s telling her story in person. And she’s not afraid to talk about the mistakes made by her or anyone else in her family. I appreciate the way she ties every lesson learned into God and the Bible. Though very little of her incredible life is very relatable to me, I was still quite immersed in the book and was carried along with the ups and downs.

I’ve seen hints of at least Joel & Luke’s involvement in Rebecca St. James’s concerts, but the overall story of the entire family working at their oldest sister’s concerts and growing into their roles was the most interesting to me. It gives a lot of insight into what I’ve said since pretty much the first time I saw fK&C in concert—they put on some of the best live shows I’ve ever been to. And now I can see how their talent as performers had early roots. I’m really glad I read this book, and think that fans of Rebecca St. James and/or for KING & COUNTRY will enjoy it, as well as people interested in the behind the scenes of the Christian music industry (though I was fairly disappointed by some of what I read about that).

Thank you to Netgalley and K-LOVE Books for providing me a copy of this book to review.

Find out more about Behind the Lights and for KING & COUNTRY
Publication date: April 12, 2022

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March in Review

I read 9 books last month, a little lower than the first 2 months this year, but I’m not surprised. I was away for a week during March, and even after coming back, didn’t manage to get back to normal for almost another week. Though I did bring plenty to read while I was gone (and during the long travel times), it was difficult to focus on it like I’d expected. What’s sad, though, is that my average rating of books was really low—just above 3 stars, and that’s considering that 2 of the books were my own that I re-read, and, of course, I gave 5 stars to.

Here are the books I read in March:

Pithea by Kristi Drillien (5 / 5)
Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince by J.K. Rowling (4 / 5)
The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald (2 / 5)
Outcast by Kristi Drillien (5 / 5)
Journal 29 by Dimitris Chassapakis (2.5 / 5)
The Flatshare by Beth O’Leary (2 / 5)
The Carnivorous Carnival by Lemony Snicket (2.5 / 5)
The Conference of the Birds by Ransom Riggs (3 / 5)
Islands and Enemies by Marianne Hering (3.5 / 5)

This list includes 1 ARC and 4 re-reads. I started 0 series, continued 3 series, and finished 0 series. My ever-changing short list of to-be-reads, as well as a flag for the book I’m currently reading and an ongoing list of those I’ve read and posted about can be found here.

I’m also keeping my Goodreads page updated with a more extensive list of to-be-reads. Despite my almost too-long TBR list, I’m always looking for more to add. Feel free to offer suggestions of your favorites or just recent reads you enjoyed.

February in Review

I read 12 books last month, the third month in a row with that number, and almost the exact same amount of pages as last month too. I’ve been listening to a lot of audiobooks lately, which is pretty much the only reason I’m sustaining a slightly higher-than-average number of books per month lately.

Here are the books I read in February:

In Search of a Prince by Toni Shiloh (3.5 / 5)
Things We Couldn’t Say by Diet Eman with James Schaap (5 / 5)
Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire by J.K. Rowling (4.5 / 5)
Winnie-the-Pooh by A.A. Milne (4.5 / 5)
The Vile Village by Lemony Snicket (3.5 / 5)
The Canyon Quest by Jim Ware (3 / 5)
Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix by J.K. Rowling (4 / 5)
Already Gone by Ken Ham & Britt Beemer with Todd Hillard (5 / 5)
Swept into the Sea by Chris Brack & Sheila Seifert (3 / 5)
Crocodile on the Sandbank by Elizabeth Peters (4.5 / 5)
The Hostile Hospital by Lemony Snicket (3.5 / 5)
The Mayflower Bride by Kimberley Woodhouse (2 / 5)

This list includes 2 ARCs and 4 re-reads. My favorite (fiction, since nonfiction can’t really be compared) book from February was Crocodile on the Sandbank. I started 2 series, continued 3 series, and finished (or caught up on) 1 series. My ever-changing short list of to-be-reads, as well as a flag for the book I’m currently reading and an ongoing list of those I’ve read and posted about can be found here.

I’m also keeping my Goodreads page updated with a more extensive list of to-be-reads. Despite my almost too-long TBR list, I’m always looking for more to add. Feel free to offer suggestions of your favorites or just recent reads you enjoyed.

Book Review: In Search of a Prince

In Search of a Prince
by Toni Shiloh

My rating: 3.5 / 5
Genre: Christian romance

Content as a 25-year-old middle school teacher in New York City, Brielle Bayo never planned to move to an island off the coast of Africa and rule a nation. But that’s just what she’s asked to do when her mother informs her that she’s heir to a throne, and that the king, her grandfather, doesn’t have long to live. Uncertain about whether she can be a queen, or even wants to, she is then also faced with a requirement to marry before her grandfather dies, in order to be legally allowed to reign. It’s too much to handle alone, but maybe it’s a chance for Bri to learn to let God be in control.

This story shows that finding out you’re a princess isn’t always the fairy tale little girls might dream it to be. But it can be a blessing, especially if you can see God’s hand at work throughout. Though it takes Brielle a while to fully trust that “God’s got this,” it’s one of the biggest themes in the book. I’ll admit, it was a little disheartening to see the main character be reminded of God’s sovereignty often, and continue to be stressed and question whether she’s made the right decision. I also feel that she puts way too much stock in the world’s definition and view of love, which is more about passion, attraction, and the feeling of “falling in love,” even when she’s reminded that that’s not what love really is, especially from a biblical standpoint. Fortunately, another character was a lot more grounded overall, but I’m not sure it ever fully rubs off on Brielle.

I think the title of the book does an injustice to the story, as it focuses on Bri’s requirement to marry, and the romance side of the story, when there’s really so much more to it than that. Or at least, it seemed like there was trying to be more to it than that. Bri’s desire to help the people of her ancestral home, the fictional island of Ọlọrọ Ilé, to bring them into modern times, and to be the ruler God designed her to be, is the primary plot, with the romance a large side plot. And I liked that part of the story overall. The love interest (only not mentioning his name in case it’s a spoiler to anyone) was almost too good to be true, with only perceived faults that the reader can see aren’t really true. However, he was still one of my favorite characters.

Contemporary romance books are often less enjoyable for me, due in part to me feeling fairly detached from the modern world, and this was no exception, as dialog was very modern and full of slang (even from some of the Olorans). My bigger frustration with the writing, though, was the tendency for the main character and one major side character to talk almost solely in murmurs to each other for a good chunk earlier in the book. For one thing, it was a gross overuse of a single verb in a small space (seems like it should have been caught by editors), but for another…well, how often do people really murmur in normal conversation? It made me feel like there was just a lot of mumbling going on for a while, and was peppered here and there later in the book too. This is more personal preference, though; overall, the story was good, and I think most fans of contemporary Christian romance will enjoy this book.

Thank you to Netgalley and Bethany House for providing me a copy of this book to review.

Find out more about In Search of a Prince

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If you’ve read this book, or read it in the future, feel free to let me know what you think!

January in Review

I read 12 books last month, the same amount as the previous month, and a little higher than average for me. It was several hundred total pages more than the previous month, though, and a good amount higher than my average. I owe this larger-than-normal reading month to being more organized with audiobooks I want to listen to.

Here are the books I read in January:

A Map of Days by Ransom Riggs (4 / 5)
Weave a Circle Round by Kari Maaren (3.5 / 5)
The Austere Academy by Lemony Snicket (2.5 / 5)
The Ladies of Ivy Cottage by Julie Klassen (4 / 5)
Genius Camp by Chris Grabenstein (4 / 5)
Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban by J.K. Rowling (re-read)
The Cat Who Knew Shakespeare by Lilian Jackson Braun (4 / 5)
Until Leaves Fall in Paris by Sarah Sundin (5 / 5)
Project Hail Mary by Andy Weir (re-read)
Kitty Hawk by Roland Smith (4 / 5)
The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes by Arthur Conan Doyle (4 / 5)
The Ersatz Elevator by Lemony Snicket (review pending)

This list includes 2 ARCs and 3 re-reads. My favorite book from January (that wasn’t a re-read) was Until Leaves Fall in Paris. I started 1 series, continued 6 series, and finished (or caught up on) 1 series. My ever-changing short list of to-be-reads, as well as a flag for the book I’m currently reading and an ongoing list of those I’ve read and posted about can be found here.

I’m also keeping my Goodreads page updated with a more extensive list of to-be-reads. Despite my almost too-long TBR list, I’m always looking for more to add. Feel free to offer suggestions of your favorites or just recent reads you enjoyed.

Book Review: Until Leaves Fall in Paris

Until Leaves Fall in Paris
by Sarah Sundin

My rating: 5 / 5
Genre: Christian historical romance

Lucie Girard, American ballerina living in Paris, decides to quit ballet and buy the English-language bookstore run by her Jewish friends, allowing them to escape to America before Hitler’s noose closes around them. While she struggles to keep the store running with so many English speakers fleeing France or being interned, she discovers that members of the local resistance are using her store to pass messages, and she wants to help. Meanwhile, Paul Aubrey, widower with a very creative 4-year-old daughter named Josie, runs a factory that produces trucks for civilian use. Because he sells those trucks to the Germans, he’s seen as a collaborator by all of his friends, who shun him and his daughter. He can’t tell them about the work he’s doing to help the US military, especially after it grows into other work for the local resistance. When the time comes for American’s to flee or be interned as well, Paul and Lucie will have to trust each other in order to get themselves and little Josie to safety.

This book was beautiful and touching, heartbreaking and uplifting, and I don’t think I can say enough about how much I loved it. The symbolism of leaves and the color green is woven throughout the entire book in a way I enjoyed—not always subtly, but I still appreciated how the author built a theme around it all. I adored Josie and the relationship between her and Lucie, as well as Paul’s attempts to understand his daughter better. Josie and Feenee are a major highlight of the book.

It seems like it’s been a while since I’ve given a fiction book 5 stars, but this one deserves it. The two main characters are both likeable and interesting. The ballet angle was a new one for me, and while it’s not something I know much about, I really enjoyed reading about it. Paul’s integrity, even in the face of undeserved hatred, and the way he relies on God to help him through it, is wonderful. The relationship between the two builds in a believable way, without much angst, and it’s not the only focus of the book, all of which I appreciate. The first meet between these two is one of the best I’ve ever read.

Tension builds as the war ramps up, and the last third or so of the book is filled with pulse-pounding, tear-jerking scenes. I loved everything about it, and know without a doubt I will re-read this book in the future. My only real complaint is that Lucie and Josie’s names are similar enough in style and appearance that a few times I was confused about what was going on in a scene or who was talking. But other than that, this book has cemented Sarah Sundin as one of my favorite authors (a distinction I don’t assign easily). And though it doesn’t appear to be part of any series, it is clearly connected to Sundin’s previous release, When Twilight Breaks, as the two MCs from that book appear briefly in this one. And it appears that her next book, which I’m excited to read, will be connected as well! In case it’s not clear, I definitely recommend this book to anyone who likes historical fiction from this time period in the Christian romance genre.

Thank you to Netgalley and Revell for providing me a copy of this book to review.

Find out more about Until Leaves Fall in Paris

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2021 in Books

2021 was my second full year of reading and reviewing the books I read, after starting this journey in 2019. Now that I’ve been doing this for 2 full years (I started halfway through 2019), it’s been fascinating and fun for me to compare stats from this year to last year.

I read 126 books in 2021, hitting my Goodreads challenge of 125 books on Dember 29th. My total page count was 34,593, making my average book length for the year 275 pages.

Below are the books I read in 2021. The link is to my review for that book, and a link to the book on Goodreads is at the bottom of each review.

January

Maus** by Art Spiegelman (5 / 5)
The Return of the King by J.R.R. Tolkien (4 / 5)
A Noble Masquerade by Kristi Ann Hunter (3 / 5)
The Thousand-Dollar Tan Line by Rob Thomas & Jennifer Graham (4.5 / 5)
The Haunting at Bonaventure Circus* by Jaime Jo Wright (2 / 5)
Poppy Redfern and the Midnight Murders by Tessa Arlen (5 / 5)
Anne of Ingleside by L.M. Montgomery (4 / 5)
The Warden and the Wolf King** by Andrew Peterson (5 / 5)
There I Go Again by William Daniels (5 / 5)
Mr. Lemoncello’s Library Olympics by Chris Grabenstein (4 / 5)
When Twilight Breaks* by Sarah Sundin (4 / 5)
Little Women by Louisa May Alcott (5 / 5)

February

Awake and Alive to Truth by John L. Cooper (5 / 5)
The Orchard House* by Heidi Chiavaroli (3.5 / 5)
The Cat Who Saw Red** by Lilian Jackson Braun (5 / 5)
Mr. Lemoncello’s Great Library Race by Chris Grabenstein (3.5 / 5)
Crocodile on the Sandbank by Elizabeth Peters (3 / 5)
Trapped at the Bottom of the Sea by Frank E. Peretti (4 / 5)
The Secret of The Desert Stone by Frank E. Peretti (3 / 5)
The Hiding Place** by Corrie ten Boom with John & Elizabeth Sherrill (5 / 5)
John Bunyan’s Pilgrim’s Progress as retold by Gary D. Schmidt (2 / 5)
From this Moment* by Kim Vogel Sawyer (3 / 5)
Mr. Lemoncello’s All-Star Breakout Game by Chris Grabenstein (3.5 / 5)

March

Jo & Laurie by Margaret Stohl & Melissa de la Cruz (3.5 / 5)
The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis (4 / 5)
Maus II** by Art Spiegelman (5 / 5)
The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams (2 / 5)
Wives and Daughters by Elizabeth Gaskell (5 / 5)
Wingfeather Tales* by Andrew Peterson and other authors (3.5 / 5)

The Curse of the Pharaohs by Elizabeth Peters (3.5 / 5)
Mr. Lemoncello and the Titanium Ticket by Chris Grabenstein (5 / 5)

April

The Deadly Curse of Toco-Rey by Frank E. Peretti (4 / 5)
An Elegant Façade by Kristi Ann Hunter (3 / 5)
Sarah, Plain and Tall by Patricia MacLachlan (5 / 5)
When You Reach Me** by Rebecca Stead (5 / 5)
The Purple Nightgown* by A.D. Lawrence (4 / 5)
Mr. Monk Goes to the Firehouse by Lee Goldberg (4 / 5)
The Spice King by Elizabeth Camden (4.5 / 5)
A Woman of Words* by Angela Hunt (3.5 / 5)
The Silver Shadow* by Liz Tolsma (2 / 5)
Crocodile Meatloaf by Nancy S. Levene (4 / 5)

May

Mr. Kiss and Tell by Rob Thomas & Jennifer Graham (4 / 5)
The Legend of Annie Murphy by Frank E. Peretti (3.5 / 5)
Schindler’s List** by Thomas Keneally (5 / 5)
Refugees on the Run* by Chris Brack & Sheila Seifert (5 / 5)
Mr. Monk Goes to Hawaii by Lee Goldberg (3.5 / 5)
Tidewater Bride* by Laura Frantz (4 / 5)
Poppy Redfern and the Fatal Flyers by Tessa Arlen (4 / 5)
The Cat Who Played Brahms by Lilian Jackson Braun (5 / 5)
Emily of New Moon by L.M. Montgomery (3.5 / 5)
Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs (4.5 / 5)
The Princess Diaries by Meg Cabot (5 / 5)
Redeeming Grace: Ruth’s Story by Jill Eileen Smith (3 / 5)

June

As You Wish: Inconceivable Tales from the Making of The Princess Bride by Cary Elwes & Joe Layden (5 / 5)
Rabbits* by Terry Miles (2 / 5)
Mayday at Two Thousand Five Hundred by Frank E. Peretti (4 / 5)
Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen (4 / 5)
Project Hail Mary* by Andy Weir (5 / 5)
The Widows of Champagne* by Renee Ryan (3 / 5)
No More Broken Promises** by Angela Elwell Hunt (5 / 5)
Welcome to Vietnam** by Ellen Emerson White (4 / 5)
A Forever Friend** by Angela Elwell Hunt (5 / 5)
Mr. Monk and the Blue Flu by Lee Goldberg (2 / 5)
The Compass by Tyler Scott Hess (2.5 / 5)
A Basket of Roses** by Angela Elwell Hunt (4 / 5)
The Bad Beginning by Lemony Snicket (3.5 / 5)
Hill 568** by Ellen Emerson White (5 / 5)
Princess in the Spotlight by Meg Cabot (4 / 5)
A Dream to Cherish** by Angela Elwell Hunt (4.5 / 5)

July

A Love to Cherish by Linda Ford (2 / 5)
The Much-Adored Sandy Shore** by Angela Hunt (4 / 5)
‘Tis the Season by Ellen Emerson White (4 / 5)
Love Burning Bright** by Angela Hunt (5 / 5)
The Reptile Room by Lemony Snicket (4 / 5)
Stand Down by Ellen Emerson White (4 / 5)
The Chance of a Lifetime** by Angela Hunt (5 / 5)
Murder at the Manor by Catherine Coles (3 / 5)
The Cryptographer’s Dilemma* by Johnnie Alexander (4 / 5)
Star Light, Star Bright** by Angela Hunt (4 / 5)

August

The Road Home by Ellen Emerson White (4 / 5)
Hangman’s Curse** by Frank Peretti (5 / 5)
The Glory of Love** by Angela Hunt (3.5 / 5)
A Gilded Lady by Elizabeth Camden (3.5 / 5)
Hollow City by Ransom Riggs (4 / 5)
The Eagle and the Lamb** by Darlene Mindrup (5 / 5)
Night of the Twisters** by Ivy Ruckman (5 / 5)
Trace of Doubt* by DiAnn Mills (2 / 5)
Prince Caspian by C.S. Lewis (4 / 5)

September

The Innkeeper of Ivy Hill by Julie Klassen (4 / 5)
The Face of the Earth by Deborah Raney (3 / 5)
Independence Hall by Roland Smith (4 / 5)
Socks by Beverly Cleary (5 / 5)
All That Is Secret* by Patricia Raybon (2 / 5)
Mystery Lights of Navajo Mesa* by Jake & Luke Thoene (5 / 5)
The Princess Bride by William Goldman (4 / 5)
Charlie and the Chocolate Factory by Roald Dahl (5 / 5)
Escape from Fire Lake* by Robert Vernon (5 / 5)
Terror from Outer Space* by Robert Vernon (4 / 5)

October

Library of Souls by Ransom Riggs (4 / 5)
Night Song by Tricia Goyer (4 / 5)
Fan Fiction* by Brent Spiner (3 / 5)
Nightmare Academy** by Frank Peretti (5 / 5)
The Cat Who Played Post Office by Lilian Jackson Braun (5 / 5)
Skylark by Patricia MacLachlan (5 / 5)
Once Upon a Wardrobe* by Patti Callahan (3 / 5)
Poison at the Pump by Chris Brack & Sheila Seifert (4 / 5)

November

Lost in Darkness* by Michelle Griep (3.5 / 5)
Return to the Hiding Place by Hans Poley (5 / 5)
Princess in Love by Meg Cabot (4 / 5)
The Wide Window by Lemony Snicket (2 / 5)
The White House by Roland Smith (4 / 5)
Elinor* by Shannon McNear (3 / 5)
The Voyage of the Dawn Treader by C.S. Lewis (5 / 5)

December

Lead Me* by Matt Hammitt (5 / 5)
Shadows of Swanford Abbey* by Julie Klassen (4 / 5)
Remembering Christmas by Dan Walsh (3.5 / 5)
Chapter and Curse* by Elizabeth Penney (3 / 5)
Merry Humbug Christmas by Sandra D. Bricker (4 / 5)
The Smartest Kid in the Universe by Chris Grabenstein (4 / 5)
Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone** by J.K. Rowling (3.5 / 5)
The Twelve Dogs of Christmas by David Rosenfelt (4 / 5)
Winnie-the-Pooh* by A.A. Milne (4.5 / 5)
To Kill a Mockingbird** by Harper Lee (4 / 5)
The Miserable Mill by Lemony Snicket (2 / 5)
Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets** by J.K. Rowling (4 / 5)

This list includes 28 ARCs (marked with a *) and 25 re-reads (marked with a **). My favorite book from 2021 was Project Hail Mary by Andy Weir. During the last year, I started 22 series and finished 10 series, caught up on 4 series (meaning the author plans to release more in the future), and decided not to continue 6 series (after being at least 2 books into the series). I currently have 10 series in progress. I also DNF’d 1 book (not listed anywhere in this post).

Considering that I gave only 3 5-star ratings out of 47 books in 2019, 38 out of 126 this year is pretty great. I don’t think my standards for what makes me like or dislike a book have changed, either. I think I’m just getting a little better at vetting books before I read them. My average rating for the year is up a little from last year too.

Here is a break-down of the ratings I gave (there were a few books I read twice during the year, so I only counted them once each):
1 star: 0
1.5 stars: 0
2 stars: 11
2.5 stars: 1
3 stars: 13
3.5 stars: 15
4 stars: 42
4.5 stars: 6
5 stars: 38
Average rating: 4

I’m going to stick with 125 books as my reading goal on Goodreads. I almost didn’t finish it this year, though I can also see that as 125 being the exact right number, since it took me right up until the end of the year to hit it.

My ever-changing short list of to-be-reads, as well as a flag for the book I’m currently reading and an ongoing list of those I’ve read and posted about can be found here. I’m also keeping my Goodreads page updated with a more extensive list of to-be-reads, if anyone is interested in that.

What did you read last year? Let me know in the comments, and even feel free to link to your own summary post!

December in Review

I read 12 books last month, which is a lot more than it was shaping up to be early in the month. Then I realized it was the last month of the year, and I was still 6 books away from completing my Goodreads challenge to read 125 books for the year. I knew I could just throw in some short books to finish it off, but I didn’t want to complete it that way. I stuck with what I had planned, but threw some audiobooks in there too, which I’d been neglecting for various reasons. I managed to hit 125 books on Dec. 29th, and went 1 past it due to being sick enough on the last couple of days to not be able to work and thus having more time to listen to an audiobook.

Here are the books I read in December:

Lead Me by Matt Hammitt (5 / 5)
Shadows of Swanford Abbey by Julie Klassen (4 / 5)
Remembering Christmas by Dan Walsh (3.5 / 5)
Chapter and Curse by Elizabeth Penney (3 / 5)
Merry Humbug Christmas by Sandra D. Bricker (4 / 5)
The Smartest Kid in the Universe by Chris Grabenstein (4 / 5)
Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone by J.K. Rowling (re-read)
The Twelve Dogs of Christmas by David Rosenfelt (4 / 5)
Winnie-the-Pooh by A.A. Milne (4.5 / 5)
To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee (4 / 5)
The Miserable Mill by Lemony Snicket (2 / 5)
Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets by J.K. Rowling (re-read)

This list includes 4 ARCs and 3 re-reads. My favorite book from December was Lead Me. I started 2 series, continued 1 series, and finished 0 series. My ever-changing short list of to-be-reads, as well as a flag for the book I’m currently reading and an ongoing list of those I’ve read and posted about can be found here.

I’m also keeping my Goodreads page updated with a more extensive list of to-be-reads. Despite my almost too-long TBR list, I’m always looking for more to add. Feel free to offer suggestions of your favorites or just recent reads you enjoyed.