Book Picks #1: Stories I liked and I think you will too

I’ve mentioned before that one of the biggest changes I’ve noticed going from one child to two is how my spare time seems to evaporate. When Charlotte was Tessa’s age I was sewing her baby clothes, trying my hand at new DIY projects, and blogging twice a week. Now I blink and the day is over, with nary a craft project in sight. When I realized it had been weeks since I finished a book, I knew it was time to take some action! I’ve been a reader my whole life, and reading for pleasure is not something I’m willing to part with, even in this busy season of mommyhood. First, I read a book. I know, I know, that answer is somewhere between ironic and “duh.” But seriously, The Fringe Hours by Jessica Turner is a fantastic resource if you are struggling with making time for yourself. Using some of her suggestions, I decided to find some margin for reading in my day. One thing that helped that I’m almost embarrassed to admit was deleting the Facebook app off of my phone. It was such a habit when I had some downtime to open that app and just scroll mindlessly. Now there is nothing wrong with scrolling Facebook, don’t get me wrong, but I decided that for me personally I would rather spend that time in the pages of a real book. Another thing that will help me prioritize reading is you friends! If I know I want to blog about something I am much more likely to actually do it (funny how that works). Thus the idea of this Book Picks series was born. I’m going to try to add to it monthly, which should motivate me to read at least three or four books in the meantime. One of my greatest, nerdy delights is being able to recommend books (what can I say, once a reading teacher, always a reading teacher). So without further ado, here are some books I liked and I think you will too:

A Fatal Grace by Louise Penny

I flew through the first novel in this series, Still Life (which I talked about here) and then rushed out to get book #2. I have book 3 sitting in my bedroom now. I love nothing more than a good series, except maybe a good mystery, and so finding a good mystery series is perfection. Unlike the first book, in which the victim was well-liked and there were few suspects, A Fatal Grace features a thoroughly contemptuous victim whom you love to hate and you can’t help but feel empathy toward whoever murdered her (and practically everyone has some sort of motive). Penny does a superb job at drawing you in, laying out the mystery with all the clues you need to figure it out, while distracting you with interesting characters and masterfully developing the backstory. These books are not fluff reading, but if you love a rich, well-developed mystery this series is for you! Also, I’m pretty squeamish so I appreciate that there isn’t much gore, violence, or language.

Love Walked In by Marisa De Los Santos

This would probably be classified as chick lit, which I don’t read a whole lot of, but I loved this story! It alternates between two narrators, a thirty-something coffee shop manager who hasn’t exactly lived up to her potential, and an eleven-year-old girl whose mother is slowly drifting away. There is a love story, but that’s certainly not the relationship that kept me turning the pages. There are some twists, and though I was able to predict the ending the author reached it in a very satisfying way and tied it all up in a neat bow. I closed the book with tears on my cheeks and a smile on my face, which is really the best way to end a story if you ask me.

Bread and Wine by Shauna Niequist

This is I believe the third memoir Shauna has written. It could loosely be defined as a cookbook, as it does contain recipes and tips for entertaining, but mostly it is a collection of memories that are tied to Shauna’s experiences with food. Each recipe has a story behind it, which Niequist shares in her lovely, unique voice, with honesty and transparency. I read a chapter or two of this in bed every night, and it was the perfect way end my day, with reflection, humor, and good food. Except if I was hungry, then I had to resist the urge to get myself a bedtime snack.

Those are my recommendations this month. Do you have some picks for me? Have you read any of these books too? Or are you just wondering how in the world I find the time to read? (Hint: my new motto might be read more, sleep less 😉)

P.S. If you follow the blog Modern Mrs. Darcy you will notice I have borrowed heavily from her recommendations. She takes recommended reading to a whole new level, though I find that her favorites aren’t always to my taste. But these were. 🙂

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