A Spool of Blue Thread

A Spool of Blue Thread: A Novel
By Anne Taylor
Published: 2016, Ballantine Books
Genre: Literature, Family Life

 

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Late one July evening in 1994, Red and Abby Whitshank had a phone call from their son Denny. They were getting ready for bed at the time.

I grabbed this book from Half Price Books because the cover intrigued me and the price was right. I had high hopes for it because it was shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize and it was a Pulitzer Prize winner.

I thought this novel was very soap opera like. To me, it felt like the characters and the story had no depth, that it was very much just a surface skimming novel. As I continued through the pages, I kept waiting and hoping for the author to dig in just a bit more and flesh out the characters, but alas, it never occurred. I felt that the pages were full of fluff and not enough meat.

It was certainly not all bad. It had its good moments. If you’re looking for a very easy, beachy, soap opera type of book, then this is certainly it. I was looking for a Pulitzer Prize winning book and I felt that it did not live up to that.  The ending did not leave me satisfied either.

Perhaps someone else out there has read this novel and has a different perspective? Please share in the comments if you do.

…… When he reached Linnie’s side he took hold of her hand, and the four of them climbed the steps. They crossed the porch. He unlocked the door. They walked into the house. Their lives began.

A Spool of Blue Thread: A Novel

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The Aviator’s Wife

The Aviator’s Wife: A Novel
By Melanie Benjamin
Published: 2013, Bantam Books
Genre: Biographical, Historical Fiction

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He is flying.
Is this how I will remember him? As I watch him lying vanquished, defeated by the one thing even he could not outmaneuver, I understand that I will have to choose my memories carefully now. There are simply too many.

I was so intrigued by this book that I happened to find that I had two copies of it on my bookshelf, so I decided that it was time to read it. I didn’t really know much about Charles Lindbergh except what was in the history books; he had been the first man to fly a plane solo over the Atlantic Ocean and that his baby had been kidnapped and murdered. I was curious to find out a little bit more about him, especially from his wife’s perspective and not just the public eye.

It was interesting to me that Anne Morrow Lindbergh had her own famous history that is not known and not recorded in the history books; overshadowed by her even more famous husband. Anne was the first American woman to obtain her glider pilot’s license. She also served as Charles’ copilot, navigator and radio operator on many of his flights; flights that broke records that may not have done so if Anne had not been up there with him. Anne was often overlooked, standing behind her husband who ate up the fame and the spotlight in front of her.

As we journey through the aviator wife’s life with her famous husband, we find out how strong, resilient, perseverant and loyal she was. She really was the backbone of her marriage and her husband. She stayed behind to take care of the children, while he continued to fly in the public eye as the amazing Charles Lindbergh. Anne could have easily exposed him for the person he truly was, but instead she protected the image of her husband. Anne Morrow Lindbergh was truly an amazing woman.

I know the book is historical fiction, but I think that Melanie Benjamin really did her research on this one and was able to get inside the mind and feelings of Anne quite well. I have a new understanding for the woman behind the famous pilot as well as Charles as well.

I will take my duties seriously, just as seriously as I once navigated as his crew. I will be the bridge between who Charles was, and who he was assumed to be. The keeper of the flame. The guardian of his reputation, for much of it deserves to be remembered. And it’s up to me, as the aviator’s wife who was once an ambassador’s daughter, to decide how much.

I highly recommend this book for anyone who is looking for a fantastic historical novel, a more personal perspective on the Lindbergh family or a woman who happens to be the strength and protector of the husband in front of her.

 The Aviator’s Wife: A Novel

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Loving My Actual Christmas

Loving My Actual Christmas: An Experiment in Relishing the Season
By Alexandra Kuykendall

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I was so ecstatic when I saw that Alexandra Kuykendall put out a call on Instagram for women to be a part of her upcoming Christmas book launch team.
Not only is Christmas my favorite holiday, but I enormously enjoyed her other book, Loving My Actual Life, which had a huge impact on my life and gave me perspective on where God has me in this season of my life; MY actual life.
Through my posts about her other book and helping to launch this book, I feel as if I have gotten to “know” Alex. You guys! She is just like us. She is down to earth, she is a hot mess of a mom, she is trying to just live in her actual life right here and right now while keeping herself and her family entrenched in His word. She needs Jesus just as much as we do. She is human just as much as we are. She just happens to write books is all.
Read her book. You will NOT be disappointed!

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Through her new book, Alexandra Kuyukendall gives us a marvelous fresh perspective on how we should slow down, stop and enjoy the Christmas season that we are living in RIGHT NOW. Because that is all we have, is the RIGHT NOW; our actual life. She beautifully entwines real life with scripture and biblical principles on how to not just “get through” the holiday but to relish in and enjoy the season that celebrates the beautiful birth of our Savior.

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Pause from the hustle and remember.
Remember a baby.
Remember a savior.

 Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord. ~~Luke 2:11

We are only human. We can only do so much. We only have so many hours in a day and some of those we need to use to eat and sleep. We do not need to do every.single.holiday activity that is out there. If we tried to do that, it would take us an entire year. And then, Christmas would loose its magic, its significance and its importance.

Rather than overspending, overeating, undersleeping, and underrejoicing, I want to notice the goodness God has offered in the here and now. In this year. This. Christmas. Regardless of the circumstances. Because I don’t want to resent this actual Christmas, I want to love it.

Don’t you want to love your Christmas this year? This Christmas. Not last year’s Christmas or next year’s Christmas, but this one. The one right here, right now, in front of you, staring you in the face.

Hope.
Love.
Joy.
Peace.

The four weeks of Advent.

Alexandra takes us through each week of the Advent in her actual Christmas. As we journey through her life with her, she gives us scripture to steep ourselves in, biblical knowledge and tangible ideas that we can use to help us love OUR actual Christmas.

She reminds us that the celebration of the birth of Jesus does not end on December 25th. Amidst the wrapping paper, dropped needles all over the floor and new gadgets and gizmos, we have 12 more days in the liturgical calendar to relish in our magnificent Savior.

Advent is the period of expectation and waiting. Christmastide is the season of celebrating his arrival. I celebrate here in the middle of my actual life with my actual circumstances.

Celebrate YOUR Christmas in the middle of YOUR actual circumstances. Amidst the busy, amidst the crazy, the grief, the joy, the shopping and baking, the school plays and concerts, amidst the impatience and frustration, the strained budget, and even amidst the brokenness.

And you want to enjoy this Christmas. The one right in front of you. In the midst of all the imperfect circumstances. You want to remember it as one filled with celebration and love, rather than frustration and regret. 

Find Hope within it. Find Love within it. Find Joy within it. Find Peace within it. Find Your actual Christmas. Because we only get this actual Christmas once in our life. We cannot do it over again.

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I cannot recommend this book enough. And you need to get it now. You need to read it now. BEFORE the craziness of the holiday season overtakes your life. Because then, just maybe, this Christmas won’t be crazy. Then read it again throughout the Advent and Christmastide season. It will keep you grounded in His word and the amazingly beautiful story of a baby who came to rescue a fallen world.

Loving My Actual Christmas: An Experiment in Relishing the Season

I received a free digital copy of the book in order to do this review.
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More Than Just Making It

More Than Just Making It: Hope for the Heart of the Financially Frustrated
By Erin Odom

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In More Than Just Making It, Erin Odom shares her family’s story through their previous years of financial struggles. She tells about how they were drowning in debt, with not enough income, and struggling to feed their family, but how through it all, they learned to rely on and be content with God’s provisions. Erin shows us how her family found contentment right where God had them and that after following God’s lead, they were able to find the light on the other end of the tunnel.

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Through Erin’s transparency, we are able to see that God will provide for all of our needs; not wants, but needs. There were some stumbles and bumps for her family along their path but they continued to be faithful to His word and His path for them.

As Erin takes you through her own story, she equips you with tangible, realistic ideas and tips to save money, live within your means and dig yourself out of the dark hole while continually having faith that God will never forsake you. She provides you with encouragement, and empowers you with the tools you need to find the life God has planned for you.

I want to give you hope, but I also want to arm you with practical solutions that will take you from financial stress to financial success.

One of the pieces that I thought was fantastic is how Erin opens up conversation about the stigma of using government assistance. WIC, welfare and other forms of government aid have gotten a ginormous stigma of shame, abuse of the system and lazy people who do not want to go out and get a job. Erin does a wonderful job of getting rid of the stigma by explaining how the help is there for those that TRULY need it. Yes, there will be exceptions and those who abuse it, just like with anything else; but if we were to take it away completely then there would be families just like hers that would not be able to even feed their children. She does a effective job of bringing it back to scripture and what God intended for His people.

Whoever is kind to the poor lends to the LORD, and he will reward them for what they have done. ~Proverbs 19:17

We need to help those that have fallen on hard times. Life sometimes has a way of kicking you while you are down and it by no means says that you are lazy or abusing the system. The system was put in place to help families for a short term while they regained their footing during a tough time of financial struggles.

What if our generation could live with less than the Joneses while reaching for a new American Dream that leaves us fulfilled, less stressed, and re-imagining “the good life”? What if we learned to be satisfied with our needs being met? What if we aligned our wants with God’s design and own callings, instead of basing them on what the family next door has chosen?

What if we stopped living above our means and using our excess to help those who are in need? What if we were content with what God provided for our needs and used the excess to change the pah of a struggling family? What if our generation tried to “keep up with God” rather than the Joneses? What would our world be like then?

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This book has at least a little bit of something for everyone.
If you are in the dark, swimming, trying to figure out how to put the next meal on the table, then this book is for you.
If you are just getting your head above the waves and finding your footing, then this book is for you.
If you have already been through the darkness and you’re on the other side, finally living comfortably without financial worries, then this book is for you.
If you have never known the depths of the darkness that comes with financial strain and not being able to feed your family, then this book is for you.

There is a lesson for each and every individual within the pages and words of Erin Odom. I highly recommend it to all.

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Be sure to get your lowest price, pre-order copy from Amazon by clicking my link at the top or bottom of this post. After you have pre-ordered, be sure to get all of the fantastic freebies (only available to those that pre-order the book!) by going to the More Than Just Making It website. Scroll to the bottom and you will see how to get your freebies. 🙂

More Than Just Making It: Hope for the Heart of the Financially Frustrated

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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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firefly lane

Firefly Lane
By Kristin Hannah

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I was recently gifted a delightful afternoon to peruse our local Half-Price Books to my heart’s content so I decided to try and find some new authors to read.
I was drawn to this book because of the cover art. Who can resist the idea of a summer night filled with fireflies, friendship and serenity?
After reading the synopsis on the back, I decided to definitely give it a try. I love reading books about friendships between women and I was also delighted to see that the setting was in my own area of the Pacific Northwest.

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Love. Family. Friendship. Acceptance.

What everyone wants from life.

We first get to meet Kate and Tully as young teenagers who become fast friends during a time in each of their lives when they felt that they had no one.
Being a teenager is hard. Being a lonely teenager is even harder.

When I was a teenager, I had good friends. None of them ever turned into that deep connection, bosom buddies, through thick and thin type of friendship that lasts over 30 years. I always craved it, but now it is too late for that kind of relationship; the kind where you grow up together.
I now have some fantastic friendships; definitely the kind that I could see lasting the next 30 years and sitting in our rocking chairs on the front porch with our gray hair. It was bittersweet for me to read about the youthful friendship of Kate and Tully.

As I have said before, I like to be transparent with my reviews. There is a minute amount of language and a tiny amount of adult content but the majority of it is tasteful and can be skipped. 

These two women certainly had their ups and downs in their friendship. They each have a different type of personality, come from a different home life, and have different life plans and goals. Through it all, they stuck to their promise to each other to “always be best friends, no matter what”.

That’s the funny thing about writing your life story. You start out trying to remember dates and times and names. You think it’s about facts, your life, that what you’ll look back on and remember are the successes and failures, the time line of your youth and middles age, but that isn’t it at all. 
Love. Family. Laughter. That’s what I remember when it’s all said and done. For so much of my life I thought I didn’t do enough or want enough. I guess I can be forgiven for my stupidity. I was young. I want my children to know how proud I am of them, and how proud I am of me. We were everything we needed—you and Daddy and I. I had everything I ever wanted. 
Love. 
That’s what I remember. 

I pray that everyone is able to find a friendship in their life like TullyandKate; a friendship of love, anger, pain, family, growth, sweetness, bitterness, hatred, unconditional love and acceptance.

I highly recommend this book, especially as a wonderful summer-time read. Grab a floppy hat, a glass of iced tea, slather on some sunscreen and sit at the pool or on the beach and enjoy Firefly Lane.

There are additional novels that take place on Firefly Lane. From what I have read, only 2 of the stories are related.
The Kristin Hannah Collection: Volume 1: Firefly Lane, True Colors, Fly Away

Firefly Lane

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Monday Musings

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I have been selected to be on the launch team for the new book, More Than Just Making It by Erin Odom at The Humbled Homemaker!!!!!
I recently received my pre-launch book and I cannot wait to begin reading it. I will be posting quotes and tidbits on both my Instagram and Facebook pages; you can find my account info here. I am really excited to have my first “big break” as a book reviewer/book blogger.

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You can get $5 off a $15 purchase of books on Amazon now through 7/12! That means you can get More Than Just Making It: Hope for the Heart of the Financially Frustrated for as low as $6.59!!!!
Remember that pre-ordering on Amazon guarantees the lowest price between now and the book launch! In addition to the super low price, you can claim the bonuses by pre-ordering: More Than Just Making It

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I just planned 3 new books to start with each of my kids. I love reading aloud to them. I love the time I get to bond with them over books and I get to revisit some of my own childhood favorites. Sometimes, I get to read some amazing children’s books that I never had the chance to read as a child.

My 8 year old son and I will be reading Stuart Little. This is one that I have not read, although I know of the story. I hope that we will enjoy reading it together.

I will be reading The Secret Garden with my 11 year old daughter. I read this as a young girl and loved getting lost in the beautiful story. I hope she will love it as much as I did.

My 13 year old son and I began reading through the Harry Potter series when he was 9. I have read every single word aloud to him from the first 6 books and we have watched all 6 movies together. Because of various life situations we have not been able to read the 7th book yet,Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows . Part of it might be that I am holding back about ending this time of ours together. We have bonded over this series and found a mutual love for Harry and his magical world. But alas, it is time to bring this chapter to a close.

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I would love to hear what some of your recent favorite books are or what Must-Read books are on your list. I am always looking for new books to try and ways to get out of some of the ruts I get in.

I am working on a review for a book I recently finished. I have almost completed my book club book for the month. I have a book that I am reading for fun. I have a book that I have been very slowly working through for personal Christian Development.

Sometimes I get overwhelmed by all of the books that I not only want to read, but the ones I think I should read. Anyone else have this small panic attack occasionally?
Then I read a article on Book Riot titled You will NEVER Read All The Books – And That’s a Good Thing; and then I felt a wee bit better. I won’t ever read all the books and it is okay. If I do not read every single “classic” literature book that was ever written, it will not be the end of the world. Books are meant for enjoyment and knowledge; if it is not something I enjoy reading, I will not gain knowledge from it.
So, it is okay that I only read the books that I want to read and that I have the time to read.

What books are you currently reading? What is currently on your stack of books?

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What Alice Forgot

What Alice Forgot
By Liane Moriarty

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Alice has just been moving along through life; 3 children, impending divorce, fitness aficionado, and trying to make her mark on the world. Busy, busy, busy. Then one day while at the gym, she falls and hits her head which results in the loss of her memories from the last 10 years of her life.

Can you imagine losing 10 years of your life? Can you imagine living in a world where everyone is telling you all about your current life situations but all you can remember is how it was 10 years ago? Can you imagine how strange and difficult that would be to wrap your head around?

How different would your life be if you could go back to your youth when you still had some innocence left and a fresh outlook on life? What would you do differently? What would you change about your current life? What about going back 10 years but having the maturity and knowledge that you have gained?

As you follow Alice through the book trying to regain her memories, confused and unhappy with the person she has become, it makes you reflect and ponder your own life and the choices you have made.
Are you the same person you were 10 years ago? Have you become the person you had hoped to be? What led you to the season of life that you are currently in?
Would you change anything at all if you could?

One of the reader questions in the back of the book is “What would surprise your younger self most about the life you’re currently leading? What would disappoint you?”
Please leave your response in the comments; I would love to hear your answers.

 

Now it seemed like she could twist the lens on her life and see it from two entirely different perspectives. The perspective of her younger self. Her younger, sillier, innocent self. And her older, wiser, more cynical and sensible self.

 

I highly recommend this book. It is a fantastic read that gets you thinking and reflecting on your own personal life choices and how your decisions can and have affected your future self. Liane Moriarty does a wonderful job of creating a fiction story that gets you working on your own personal development. I hope to be able to read more of her books in the future.

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 What Alice Forgot

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