The Lightkeeper’s Daughters

The Lightkeeper’s Daughters: A Novel
By Jean E. Pendziwol

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I had seen many people on Instagram saying they were reading this and that it was fabulous, so I was intrigued and willing to give it a read.

“In her mesmerizing adult debut set on the shores of the Great Lakes, critically acclaimed children’s author Jean E. Pendziwol delivers an affecting story of family, identity, and art involving a decades-old mystery.”

So lovely was the loneliness
Of a wild lake, with black rock bound,
And the tall pines that towered around

The Lake
Edgar Allan Poe (1809-1849)

I really enjoyed this book. It was not exciting and adventurous, but it had a wonderful story line that evolved and intertwined with all of the well developed characters. The story was set in a part of the world that I have never been to and it was nice getting to experience it through the author’s words and the characters’ stories. Jean Pendziwol did a wonderful job with the descriptions of the setting that you could picture it clearly and feel like you were right there with Elizabeth.

I loved how the book explores the ideas of knowing your past, where you come from and learning how that can shape who you become. There are also some undertones of the argument nature versus nurture. I think the author does a fantastic job of getting you to think about which one is the underlying reason of who you turn out to be.

The novel is full of family secrets and choices that change the course of things, lost loves, bullying, acceptance, unconditional love despite your circumstances and the journey of a young girl desperate to find her roots and a sense of belonging.

As I said above, the book is not chalk full of adventure, but it contains its own kind of mystery that keeps you intrigued all the way up until the end of the story. It was a great read that was not too in depth or made me think too much but had just enough to keep me hooked. I would definitely recommend it to anyone who is looking for a quick, “lighter” book to read.

 

*Note* There is a little bit of adult language in the book. However, I think it lends to some authenticity of the character and the story.

The Lightkeeper’s Daughters: A Novel

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Stuart Little

Stuart Little
By E.B. White

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I knew of this classic piece of work, but I have never read it myself. One of the exciting things about being a bibliophile and a mother is that I get to read and share these classics with my own children. This particular one I shared with my youngest son.

Originally written in 1945, this books holds exemplary, poetic language strung together to create a whimsical, light-hearted tale about a mouse born to a human family.

My sport-loving, never-sits-still 8 year old was intrigued and enthralled with this book. He thought it was hilarious that a mouse had human parents an a human brother. He loved the mishaps and adventures that Stuart experienced throughout the story. He was just a little bit disappointed at the ending and felt like the story was not complete; there were unanswered questions in his mind. This is often the mark of a wonderful work of art because it leaves it in the hands of the reader to interpret; but he is a little young for that concept.

He was excited to learn that there was a movie based upon the book so of course we watched it. There were a couple of pieces from the book that were left out of the movie that he commented on. Welcome to the world of books made into movies, son. ūüôā

I think that Stuart Little is an incredible piece of classic literature that all children should either read or have read to them. It is a story that has persevered through time that generations have enjoyed and should be exposed to in the future.

Stuart Little

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the strange and beautiful sorrows of ava lavender

The Strange and Beautiful Sorrows of Ava Lavender
By Leslye Walton

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This book was so fantastic and so phenomenal that I had to read it twice.
Ava Lavender was the book club pick for this month. The first time I read it, I had it done in just 2 days.
I thought I should read it a second time before our monthly meeting to make sure I did not miss anything since I devoured it the first time. I took a little bit longer to read it the second round so I could grasp more of the details; 4 days.

To many, I was a myth incarnate, the embodiment of a most superb legend, a fairy tale. Some considered me a monster, a mutation. To my great misfortune, I was once mistaken for an angel. To my mother, I was everything. To my father, nothing at all. To my grandmother, I was a daily reminder of loves long lost. But I knew the truth–deep down, I always did.
I was just a girl.

Myth incarnate……but just a girl.

The book follows 3 generations of women through life; we walk with each of them through their journey with love, loss, tragedy, understanding and redemption. It is unique, however, in the fact that the story is told from the narrative of Ava Lavender, the 3rd generation in this line of women.

I loved the background story the author gives us so we can understand what makes Ava who she is and how the women before her fit into her story. Emmilienne seeks to forgive, Viviane seeks love and Ava seeks normalcy and acceptance.

Lesyle Walton, in her debut novel, weaves just enough realism within the story that there are moments that you have to check in with your mind to remember that it is magical realism and pure fantasy. She makes it easy to get so wrapped up inside the pages and the characters that you tune out the world around you and forget that it is just the result of a brilliant imagination and extraordinary writing.

The writing, the words, the language, the flow of the story of Ava Lavender is quite captivating. It is poetic, it is whimsical and it is exceptionally enchanting to read.

Just a girl……normal…..accepted…….is that not what we all want, wings or not?

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There is some adult content. While it is a YA book, I recommend this for older teens and for you to pre-read it to gauge what fits into your family’s level of acceptable literature.

This next section is where I usually add to my review after my book club meets and include some thoughts and opinions of the other ladies, but I do not want to ruin the magic of this book for you by giving away spoilers. 

The majority of the ladies enjoyed the book, although magical realism is quite different from what we typically read.

I highly recommend this book and it is definitely one I could see myself reading multiple more times.

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The Strange and Beautiful Sorrows of Ava Lavender

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Present over Perfect

Present Over Perfect: Leaving Behind Frantic for a Simpler, More Soulful Way of Living
By Shauna Niequist

Webster’s Dictionary defines Perfectionism as~~~¬†a disposition to regard anything short of perfection as unacceptable.
Whether because of my dysfunctional childhood or if it is just my nature, I have struggled with perfectionism nearly my entire life.
It has just been within the last couple of years that I have truly understood it and the implications it has had on my life. I have really been trying to overcome it and recover from it. So as soon as I saw the title of this book, I knew that I absolutely needed to read it.

This is a love story, like all my favorite stories. It’s a story about letting yourself be loved, in all your imperfect, scarred, non-spectacular glory. And it’s about the single most profound life change I’ve yet encountered.

After reading the first paragraph, I knew that it was no accident that I had discovered this book. I felt an immediate ah-ha moment, as if I were about to read from my own journal.

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I don’t usually like highlighting in my books; books are sacred, historical and should not be damaged in that way. I made it to page 128 before I realized there was too much good stuff that I would want to remember or revisit. So I started putting sticky notes next to a line or paragraph that grabbed me. As you can see, there are many of those moments within the book and I only started adding sticky notes on page 128. This book made an impact on me with a gigantic amount of light bulb moments.

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There were many years of my life that I felt like I didn’t even have time to eat, sleep or barely breathe because I ran myself from one activity to the next to the next to the next. In my quest for perfection, I thought I had to do all, be all, and be an infallible wife and mother for my family. I felt the drive to do this in order to fill the gaping hole in my heart and finally *maybe* to feel complete.
In the process of trying to be perfect, I lost my own sense of self and who I am; who God intended for me to be. I forgot to be me because I was too busy running around trying to be whomever everyone else in my life needed me to be.

I’m learning to silence the noise, around me and within me, and let myself be seen and loved, not for what I produce, but for the fact that I have been created by the hands of a holy God, like every other thing on this earth, equally loved, equally seen.¬†

This.
This above is what I am trying to learn to do.
I have been created to be equally seen and equally loved.

It is not easy. I have spent 3$ years of my life striving for perfectionism; something I will never be able to truly achieve. As I talked about in my review of Gospel-Centered Mom, I will never be fully enough or seamlessly perfect; If I were, then why would I ever need Jesus? I will eternally be imperfect.  I can never be perfect and that is okay, because I absolutely DO need Jesus.

After a lifetime of believing that the voices that mattered were Out There, approving or disapproving of me, I’m learning to trust the voice within, the voice of God’s Spirit, the whisper of my own soul. And when you learn to listen to their voice, the screaming crowd matters less. In some blessed moments, it matters not at all.

And now that you don’t have to be perfect, you can be good. ~ John Steinbeck

It really is a feeling of relief, of freedom, knowing that I do not have to be perfect. Once I rid my mind of the idea that I have to be perfect for everyone else, I can just be good at who and what God created me to be.

For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.‚ÄĚ~ Ephesians 2:10

You were only meant, created, commanded to be who you are, weird and wonderful, imperfect and messy and lovely.

I am weird.
I am wonderful.
I am imperfect.
I am messy.
I am lovely.
I am good.
I am me.

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Anyone and everyone who has ever struggled with perfectionism, with not feeling like you will ever be good enough, should read Shauna Niequist’s book, Present Over Perfect: Leaving Behind Frantic for a Simpler, More Soulful Way of Living. I hope it has an impact on your heart, your spirit and you life as it did upon mine.

There is a Study Guide that goes along with the book if you are interested in digging in a bit further. I did not use the study guide, but it will probably be something I do in the future.

Present Over Perfect: Leaving Behind Frantic for a Simpler, More Soulful Way of Living

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Gospel-Centered Mom

Gospel-Centered Mom: The Freeing Truth About What Your Kids Really Need
By Brooke McGlothlin

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I have talked to countless women who feel that they’re failing or that they’re not strong enough, creative enough, spiritual enough, wise enough for the thing they most want to get right —–parenting.

How many of you moms out there feel this way?
I know that I often do. As a woman who has struggled with perfectionism and the “not good enough” mentality my entire life, it has now seeped into my parenting as well. Every.Single.Day. I feel like I am not getting it right and that I will never be a good enough mom that my children need.

The only thing I could hear was not enough. Actually it felt like the whole world was united in screaming at me, “You’re not enough!”

As soon as I read those words, I felt a kinship with Brooke; I felt empathy and I finally felt understood. Everywhere I turn, I feel like that is all anyone thinks about my parenting.
As I have mentioned previously, I have children that can be challenging to parent. We can have some pretty rough days and when days are rough, moms tend to (at least I do) blame themselves and feel like we have failed at everything.

The word enough¬†means “to fully meet demands, needs or expectations.” It’s the “fully” part of the definition that catches me. If we’re “fully” able to meet demands, needs, or expectations, why would we continue to need Jesus?¬†

What?!? Did you read that?
This.
This was a humongous, gigantic light-bulb moment for me.

If we were enough on our own, we wouldn’t need Jesus, and, friend, we all desperately need Jesus.

I know that I certainly need me some Jesus in my life. ¬†I need Jesus every single day. Without Jesus, I don’t have a way to get to my Father and I desperately need a way to reach Him. I need the love and the forgiveness. I need His grace and His mercy.

I’m not enough, because I was made to need God. I was never meant to do life without God helping me. Every moment of every day I need the work of God in my life through my Savior, Jesus. When I say I’m enough, I’m actually saying that I don’t have an ongoing need or that I’ve somehow arrived at enough and will always stay there. This isn’t the truth of the Gospel the way I see it. I will never arrive. I will never not need God.

This book has had many eye-opening, light-bulb moments for me. I know that it can do the same for many other moms out there who struggle with perfectionism and the “not good enough” mentality.

Brooke McGlothlin has a way of making you feel like you’re not the only one out there struggling and having the feelings that you’re struggling with. She makes you feel heard, understood and loved.
Brooke weaves scripture and biblical truth in and out of her book while giving you tangible things you can do to accomplish being a more Gospel-Centered Mom.

I highly recommend this book for all moms, who like me, need some Jesus in their life.

 Gospel-Centered Mom: The Freeing Truth About What Your Kids Really Need

* I received an advance copy of the book to read and do this review*
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Thursday Thoughts

I am kind of at a stagnant standstill for reviews right now.

I recently read my book club in just 2 days, but I don’t like to post the review until after my book club meets and I might read it a second time.
Have you joined a book club? What are you reading this month?
14 Reasons Why Everyone Should Join a Book Club
I am working on the second book in a trilogy so I don’t want to post a review until I have read all three books.
I am reading a couple of personal development books, one of which is for a book I’m helping to launch. Those kinds of books tend to take a little longer to read than the average book since they are helping you work on you.
I am reading some books to help some of the health problems I’ve been having.
I just picked up a new book at the library to read through and hopefully do a review for you guys.
And of course, I am reading 3 different books with my 3 kids.

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You an always follow me on Facebook or Instagram; I post there a bit more in between book reviews.
You can also find me on Goodreads to see what books I am currently reading or how far I am in a particular book.

If you have been following me in any of those places, you know that I have been helping launch the book Not Quite SuperMoms of the Bible: 14 Reflections on Less-Than-Perfect Moms.

Guess what?!

The book is now available for purchase! I was given an advance sample copy and I cannot say enough good things about it. I have purchased it myself and will most likely do a review on the blog when I get a chance. If you cannot wait to see my thoughts, you can purchase it for yourself, check it out HERE.

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What books are you currently working on?