September Book Reviews


Give Me This Mountain by Helen Roseveare ★★★★
Dr. Helen Roseveare was a missionary doctor in Congo in the 1950s-1960s. I had heard of this inspiring woman for many years and am glad I finally read this first of the two volumes of her autobiography. Dr. Roseveare is vulnerable and honest in her pitfalls, doubts, and mistakes. She does not shy away from dispelling the notion that missionaries have it all together; she was constantly being reminded of her need for God and her own need to let go of her pride and expectations. Through every page, I was able to see God working her story for good. Her reliance on Him through devastating circumstances of being held hostage by Congo rebels for five months, enduring violence t was heartbreaking to read. Her resilience and determination to return to Congo several years later was testament to her dedication to the people of Congo and to what God called her to in Africa. This is an inspiring story of a brave Christian woman and worth a read. I docked down a star because the writing was a bit hard to follow at times, jumping between events from different years. As it was her first book, shortly written after being rescued from being hostage, it makes sense that it's not some literary masterpiece. It's an honest testimony in simple yet powerful words.

“If you think you have come to the mission field because you are a little better than others, or as the cream of your church, or because of your medical degree, or for the service you can render the African church, or even for the souls you may see saved, you will fail. Remember, the Lord has only one purpose ultimately for each one of us, to make us more like Jesus. He is interested in your relationship with Himself. Let Him take you and mould you as He will; all the rest will take its rightful place.” 

This book reminded me of: Evidence Not Seen by Darlene Deibler Rose

Counting By 7s by Holly Goldberg Sloan ★★★★(audiobook)
A sweet middle-grade novel that deals with the painful theme of grief in a way that can be understood by both young and older readers. Willow is a twelve-year old with an insatiable desire for knowledge and many odd quirks. Her world turns upside down when she loses her parents in a devastating crash.  With the help of new friends, including an unlikable school guidance counselor who doesn't give a rip about the students until she comes along, she learns to cope with her new reality and makes a lasting difference in their lives in the process. Sloan explored grief in a way that didn't mask its depth of loneliness and suffering but also didn't let it eclipse the transforming power of learning to cope, finding true friends, and becoming more comfortable with the differences and oddities that made Willow the extraordinary girl she was. I docked down a point because I was annoyed with the aforementioned counselor for most of the book and because I wasn't crazy about the ending. 

“For someone grieving, moving forward is the challenge. Because after extreme loss, you want to go back... A second can feel like forever if what follows is heartbreak.”

This book reminded me of: Some Kind of Happiness by Claire Legrand and Be Frank With Me by Julia Clairborne Johnson

Paris Letters by Janice Macleod ★★★★
Janice was sick and tired of her stressful job and the fast-paced California lifestyle, so she resolved to save up money and simplify her life so she could take a dream trip to Europe for a few months. What she didn't expect was to be whisked off her feet by a Daniel-Craig lookalike working as a butcher across the street from her favorite little Parisian cafe. As her savings were starting to dwindle, she thought of a creative way to do what she loves in the place she loved: she started selling beautifully illustrated (and watercolored) letters on Etsy that described simple pleasures she experienced during her time in Paris. Told with humor and the casualness of a blog post, it was an enjoyable read. There were a few things that made her slightly annoying to me, but the copies of her artistic letters (albeit in black and white) adorning the end of each chapter as well as her travelogue of Paris, made up for it. Click HERE for her Etsy shop.

This book reminded me of: Lunch in Paris by Elizabeth Bard

Disciplines of a Godly Woman by Barbara Hughes ★★★★
I first read this book in 2007 and had been wanting to re-read it for about almost a year before I finally dug into it again. Without realizing it, I was a week shy of exactly ten years since I first picked it up. Since stuff like that is cool to me,  I was extra pumped to read it again. Mrs. Hughes explores spiritual discipline as a relationship with God rather than a list of rules to follow. Spiritual discipline goes hand in hand with surrendering every aspect of our life to the only worthy One of that surrender, the God of the universe. She looks at spiritual discipline of the soul (including prayer, worship, and the Gospel), our character (such as our mind and contentment), our relationships (in singleness, marriage, and motherhood), and our ministries (our generosity and actions). Each chapter uses the Bible along with stories and her own insight to express how Christian women can be disciplined without being legalistic. Thought-provoking questions allow the reader to process at the end of each chapter as well as apply what they feel God is nudging their heart. Mrs. Hughes provides thirty-eight pages of resources at the back of the book, including an extensive book recommendation list, a Bible reading plan, and articles from different women on a variety of topics. It's a great resource from a wise woman who loves God and loves teaching His Word in a concise and practical way. 

Reading with Patrick: A Teacher, A Student, and a Life-Changing Friendship by Michelle Kuo ★★★★
The power of a caring, intentional, and encouraging teacher can change a student from barely passing to thriving. Michelle was such a teacher for one boy named Patrick for two years of his middle school education. She motivated him and the other students, all from a mostly African-American school in rural Helena, Arkansas, to develop reading and writing skills through unconventional means that connected to the kids but concurrently ruffled the feathers of fellow teachers. She was witness to a broken school system, deeply embedded racism in the community's history, and the cycle of poverty in which many generations of the Mississippi Delta become stuck. After two years of teaching, she followed the recommendations of her parents and friends and headed to law-school far away from the Delta. She is rocked to the core when, several years later, she finds out her star pupil Patrick has been arrested for murder. Filled with regrets of leaving Helena in the first place, she returns so she can mentor Patrick while he is in jail awaiting trial. The power of literature and writing helped bring identity, self-confidence, and hope to Patrick while in the darkest days of his life. A powerful, sometimes heartbreaking, but also hopeful memoir. There were a few things that bugged me about the author (at times she seemed harsh and cold in her expectations of the students and her idealistic, know-it-all mentality missed the point at times). But she admits to some of this and overall has a lot of great reflections.  The audiobook was read by the author. 

Daring to Hope: Finding God's Goodness in the Broken and the Beautiful by Katie Davis Majors ★★★★

I wrote about this phenomenal book earlier this week HERE. Check it out.... it is easily one of my favorite books this year!!

Born A Crime: Stories From A South African Childhood by Trevor Noah★★★★
I saw this book circulating the internet a lot in the past six months and finally listened to the audiobook (read by the author!). I was not familiar with Trevor Noah, who many recognize as the host of The Daily Show on Comedy Central. Nor was I familiar with his childhood, so I was in for a huge rollercoaster of an experience with this one! Trevor was born during the ending of apartheid in South Africa to a black mother and white (Swiss) father. Sex between races was prohibited and punishable by imprisonment, so you can only imagine having a child out of such a union. Hence the title: Trevor was born a crime. His writing is at times hilarious, other time heartbreaking, and other times thought-provoking. He writes about really heavy stuff without asking for pity, but rather looking at it in the same eyes of his childhood, when he was often oblivious of the dangers of being mixed race. Nearly unbelievable stories like the time his mom threw him off a moving vehicle made me think, is this guy for real? Could all of this have happened to one person? I listened while jogging and would find myself laughing while running at parts and then teared up at others, so I am sure I looked a little deranged to anyone else on the trail, but his stories were that captivating. The only caution I would give is that there are A LOT of cuss words (well, two that were repeatedly used) and a very short but disturbing paragraph about looking up porn on the computer as a teen. Other than these caveats (or despite them?) I loved this book. 


Currently Reading:

A Year in Paris by Janice Macleod
A Moveable Feast by Ernest Hemingway


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