210: A Love Like Ours

A Love Like Ours by Becky Wade

The 3rd in the Porter Family series follows Jake and Lyndie’s story. They were best friends as kids, but her dad got a job in California and moved the family around middle school. Life has taken its toll on both of them in the intervening two decades. She’s been following her dream of training Thoroughbred horses while he experienced the loss of a lifetime during his time as a Marine.

I’m always glad to see books explore PTSD, especially from the wars of the past two decades. So many young men have sacrificed everything to serve our country and defend our freedom only to come home physically okay, but mentally wounded. PTSD might not be visible, but that doesn’t mean it’s not real and doesn’t have real consequences.

We’ve experienced this first hand in my extended family. I’m glad Becky Wade addressed it; however, I wish she’d include a lot more therapy to go along with the life changing power of the Lord. Both are good and necessary … we could all use a little more help with our mental health … and a reduction in the stigma of “seeing a therapist because you’re broken” would be a great marker of the next decade. None of us are perfect and whole and healed … we all need someone to talk to and a God to rely on. Let’s support each other in getting the help we need.

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

209: Meant to Be Mine

Meant to Be Mine by Becky Wade

Yesterday the friend who introduced me to this author said this was her favorite in the series. She said, “I just love their banter.” So I couldn’t wait to get back into the story. The second Porter brother, Ty, had a reckless night in Vegas 5 1/2 years ago where he married the girl who had a crush on him his whole life. Celia couldn’t believe her luck that Ty finally noticed her so she went along with the wedding in the Luv Shack with all it’s crazy picture poses. After the wedding night, she wakes up to Ty contemplating the view telling her that he’s in love with someone else, this whole thing was a mistake.

For her the mistake was thinking he might actually love her. Six or so weeks later she learns of the biggest surprise of her life … the stirrings of little Addie. The story picks up in current day when Ty finally decides to seek her out again. He doesn’t know Addie exists, nor does he realize that he was (and still is) in love with Celia.

Their banter is quite fun … and they seem to know each other better than anyone else in their lives … meant to be together! ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

208: The Christmas Bouquet

The Christmas Bouquet by Sherryl Woods

I picked this up off the shelf at the library because I was looking for audiobooks to listen to for my trip to PA for Christmas … and as you know Christmas love stories are my jam!

When I marked it as “currently reading” on Goodreads today (potentially while driving) I thought it said “Chesapeake Shores #1” … so I couldn’t help but think “This could be one of a series with all the backstory the author is sharing.”

Then as I marked it as “I’m finished” just now I see it’s actually #11 (ELEVEN!). Well, that makes more sense.

It was a delightful read and I’m sure if I started with #1 I would have read the whole series … but now I’m good. ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

207: Clock Dance

Clock Dance by Anne Tyler

I listened to this on the way up to Pittsburgh last Saturday, then to St. Marys on Tuesday, and then the first part of the trip home to Charlotte today … and it was just okay.

I don’t think I really ‘got it.’ It reminds me of the other book I read by Anne Tyler earlier this year, Vinegar Girl. It was quite ordinary. I’m not sure why Willa did what she did … even with the explanations of the early years of her life, the 2017 section just didn’t make sense to me.

The writing was good, the narrator was excellent, but this was a solid ⭐️⭐️⭐️ for me and I don’t think I’m going to read more Anne Tyler.

206: Here to Stay

Here to Stay by Melissa Tagg

It took me the first 5 days of being in PA to finish one book, so I made up for it yesterday and read this all in one day … staying up too late to finish so I could say I finished more than one book while in PA.

This is the second in a series, but it can stand alone … the author explains enough about Blaze/Blake’s history with Randi to have it make sense. It’s not a “traditional Christmas story” but it does take place mostly during the Christmas season.

It was a delightful story! So glad I have 2 more books by Melissa out from the library … think I’ll start another one tonight.

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

205: The Watsons Go to Birmingham – 1963

The Watsons Go to Birmingham – 1963 by Christopher Paul Curtis

I always think that I’m going to read a lot of books when I’m in PA for Christmas … but I started this on Saturday and finished it tonight (Wednesday) … 5 days to read a 200 page YA book! Goodness!

I heard about this a few weeks ago on an episode of What Should I Read Next featuring another middle grade author. She said this was the most influential book for her writing career and I’d never heard of it.

The author’s story is super interesting. He worked on the assembly line in Flint, Michigan, when he got the idea for this book, his first book.

The story is an ordinary family in Flint who travel down to Alabama for the children’s first visit to their grandmothers. A shocking, but unfortunately not uncommon event happens and the main character is shook up. Understandably.

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

204: Twelve Days of Christmas

Twelve Days of Christmas by Debbie Macomber

This was a short, sweet Christmas love story. I listened to it in the car over the past week or so. I really loved Julia’s voice and her campaign with Cain.

He’s her neighbor who annoys her every.single.day. Her friend Cammie tells her “Kill Him … with Kindness and see what happens.”

What happens? They’re both changed. Kindness changes hearts.

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

203: Always On My Mind

Always On My Mind by Susan May Warren

“Jesus is a treasure seeker and we are the treasure.” What a beautiful idea … no, truth. What a lovely installment in this series about the Christiansen Family. Casper and Raina have quite the past together along with some other people. Many decisions were made, not all of them good. This book is about them finding their way back to one another, being led by the Lord.

An amazing story of adoption, getting out of bad relationships, treasure hunting, mystery unraveling, and more. What a delightful read!

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

202: Like Never Before

Like Never Before by Melissa Tagg

Christmas Vacation (well, all vacations, really) are made for reading delightful books. A book a day makes a great vacation!

This is the second in the series about the Walker children from Melissa and it’s delightful. There’s a little girl, Charlie, who’s just the sweetest. I imagine her to be the most delightful 3 year old little girl with curls and a smile and a sweet sing-song voice that she breaks out only when necessary.

Logan and Amelia each have their own hard histories … but, as I’m sure you’ve already guessed, they are able to sort through them, set aside their differences, and live a new, unimagined before life. Quite a delight!

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

201: Maybe He Just Likes You

Maybe He Just Likes You by Barbara Dee

If you work with or parent middle school students, this middle grade novel is a must read. Mila’s being bullied by the boys at school. She’s not talking about it, and no one else is either … at least not in any positive ways.

The whole “he’s teasing you so he’s just showing you he likes you” thing has gotten out of hand. None of the things being done to Mila by the boys in her class are okay … even if one of the boys has a crush on her.

So what do we do about it? We teach our young men and women how to relate to one another. We talk to them about vulnerability and putting themselves out there with courage and bravery. We show them what healthy boundaries and relationships look like in our own lives.

Some might say it’s a stretch, but I’d argue all day long with them … the issues written about in this book are the seedlings for the issues we have in our culture around sexual assault, rape culture, hook-up culture, and more. They seem innocent until they aren’t. They seem harmless until they’re too much.

Middle school is rough, but it’s the place where we begin to learn how to be adults. Let’s not miss the opportunity to do great human formation with our young people. Imagine a world where young people grew up with a healthy sense of self, embraced vulnerability and bravery, looked out for the good of one another, lifted one another up, learned healthy boundaries, fine tuned how to express themselves, and then shared those things with friends and eventually their own children.

We’d be living in a different world in twenty years when these young people begin to live out their 20s and 30s. It’s not too late. We can start now.

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

P.s. If you’re an adult who thinks they’re too old for middle grade fiction, think again. Go reserve this book from the library. You can read it in less than 3 hours (even if you’re a slow reader).

P.p.s. If you think this isn’t happening, I’d recommend you open your eyes and look again. It’s happening. Everywhere. Some places more than others, but it’s going on everywhere.