Musical Chairs

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Anne Bogel said she was reading this lately and that she liked it so I ran to the library (I mean opened Libby) and it was available now. So I dropped the other buddy read I was starting and gobbled it up. The main character is in her fifties trying to find her way again. She finds herself and what will really make her happy.

Her kids move in to their summer home too in the midst of their own struggles. And they find what’s most important in life. The music sounds amazing and I’d love to have been at the wedding at the end!

Will there be a sequel for the one year anniversary party? I sure hope so!!

“People so often seemed to find the right partner. It wasn’t so much that there was a right person for everyone that intrigued Nicholas, but more that two people could meet by chance and be exactly what the other wanted and needed. What are the chances of that happening, really?


Truly, Madly, Deeply

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I love when life and fiction interact. I read this book set in Indianapolis on my way to Indianapolis. Such a fun coincidence. I also teared up so many times on the plane. Good thing the guy beside me was into some show on his tablet.

This is the latest in Karen Kingsbury’s Baxter Family series. I loved reading Tommy’s story while seeing what the old gang has been up to. It’s technically stand alone, but I think you’ll miss 1/3rd of the story if you don’t know the history.

“Traffickers confuse the brains of these children. They threaten to kill their parents or their families. It’s very precise how they treat their victims, like a science. Captors know how to keep their slaves.”

The scenes in Thailand are heartbreaking. Even thinking about a young girl of 8 being in the sex trade is too much, but it’s the reality for so many. We need to do more to rescue them.


In Full Bloom

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This is an excellent resource for women who are younger than me. There were plenty of great things about the spiritual life but most of them would have been good for me a decade ago.

I appreciated the garden metaphors and now really just want to plant a garden. Soon, when I have my house.

“Comparison definitely existed before Instagram – it’s just that now, most of us are addicted to it.” a few weeks ago I heard this question to ask when you’re comparing to someone else or envying something in their life. Ask yourself “would I trade everything?” So not just the thing you’re wanting now – but all the good and all the suffering. Would you give it all up?


162: Preparation for the Total Consecration

Preparation for the Total Consecration by Fr. Hugh Gillespie, SMM

I first made a total consecration to Our Lady on January 1, 2014 and have been renewing each Advent since with a variety of methods and books. This year I had to find a new one because I foolishly packed my regulars!

A co-worker who’s an editor and has “read them all” said this was a good one and she was right! I appreciated the daily formula, the reflection questions, and the ways the author pulls in quotes from St. Louis de Montfort into each day.

There were some hard things like on day 3 you choose a sacrifice for the rest of the preparation. I chose Instagram which has been hard not seeing Christmas posts, but good for not feeling like I need to know everything that someone does in a day or even that I need to share everything I’m doing. The world rotates without my social media post!


161: The Book of Lost Friends

The Book of Lost Friends by Lisa Wingate

My book club read Before We Were Yours a few years ago and we all loved it. She told the true story of the Tennessee Children’s Home which none of us had ever heard of. So when I saw her new release I couldn’t wait to get started.

It was a little slow to start, and the good stuff didn’t really begin until over 50% of the way through the book because there was so much ground story to lay. But the good stuff is GOOD STUFF!

While the book is long I feel like I could have used another 100 pages to wrap up the story. Maybe a sequel is planned to share more of Benny’s story. There’s this thing hiding the entire book that is quickly revealed but never concluded in the final two paragraphs.

I’m fascinated by the real Book of Lost Friends and the families who were never reunited and those who were. I think I want more civil war era historical fiction in my life.


159: This Time Next Year

This Time Next Year by Sophie Cousens

Such a cute story about how two people who were born within a minute from each other find one another again on New Year’s Eve (their Birthday Eve). I really enjoyed Minnie and Quinn’s story because it wasn’t just about them. Their mother’s both get beautiful conclusions as well as her best friend and the people who worked for her at “No Hard Fillings.”

There’s a bit of timeline hopping in this book as we relive previous New Year’s Eve’s of both Minnie and Quinn – seeing where their lives intertwined and they didn’t even realize it. It was such a delight – and a holiday read – but not a Christmas read! Can’t wait to see what Sophie Cousens writes next – this was a delightful debut.

Also – I learned something about London. In the first few chapters they talk about waking up at 7:45 am on New Year’s Day, just in time to see the first sunrise of the year. I didn’t realize the sun rose so late in London during the winter. This week (shortest day of the year) it rises at 8:04 am and sets at 3:53 pm. How depressing!


156: The Fifth Avenue Story Society

The Fifth Avenue Story Society by Rachel Hauck

A sweet delightful read about books and writing and finding your voice and love. A friend wanted to buddy read and this was next on her TBR and I’d never heard of it … so I borrowed immediately.

Jett, Alexa, Coral, Chuck, and Ed are all invited to be part of a story society by a mysterious person. They’ve all been hiding behind their story for quite sometime, trying to believe a different reality. The weekly meeting develops these friends in a way that brings out their truth and changes their lives.

It’s quite delightful. There are a few conversion themes throughout that I felt were a little rushed. Some come to faith just by being asked “Want to know more about Jesus? I love Him and you should too.”

In my experience a little more is needed… but all in all a great book!!


155: The Screwtape Letters

The Screwtape Letters by C.S. Lewis

This is my favorite C.S. Lewis book. I’ve been a bit ashamed to say that in the past, but it’s the truth. Why ashamed? Because it’s so simple, but honestly it’s the most transformational book for my spiritual life that he’s written. More than explanations of what Christianity is or allegories about who Christ is – this book has helped me understand the sly ways that Satan works in our lives and we don’t even know it.

Lewis writes as Screwtape, a senior demon, to Wormwood, his nephew who is just learning how to turn humans into devil food (i.e. get souls to Hell). The ways he’s tells him to invade his human’s soul, to do things that sort of look like Christianity, to turn him against other Christians.

Oh, I can see it all working in our world and the Church. I’ve been reading survey results for weeks and the fighting attitudes that Catholics have for other Catholics is unreal – and straight from Satan’s playbook. We fight over which Mass is holier: English or Latin? Which music is the right stuff: Contemporary or Traditional hymns or Chant? Who’s succumbing to the fear the government is wielding by wearing a mask and not trusting that God will take care of us?

Can’t we see that when we fight over these things we miss the things that really matter? Like charity, helping the poor, striving for holiness, and general loving one another. We seem to be so busy figuring out who’s the most holy that we are missing the point of actually trying to be holy.

I’ve read this book a few times, and I don’t think this time is my last!


151: When Life Gives You Pears

When Life Gives You Pears by Jeannie Gaffigan

I’m reading this for a buddy read with a friend (hi Lisa) and put off starting it. I don’t know why – because it was a delight. I laughed, I sat with pages and pages with tears in my eyes, and I learned something.

Her story is crazy – and totally controlled by the Lord – some of the things others could call coincidences are nothing but the hand of God guiding the process. I really appreciated the ability to dive deep into that story – the hard parts and the funny parts.

Then she wrote something in the middle that she discovered about herself – that she’s a ‘mom-ist’ that really wreaked me. Mostly because almost everyone in my life is this as well and they don’t even know it.

This attitude might be the biggest thing hurting single women and women without children (either for their own choices or more often those struggling with infertility).

She defines it as “a person who believes that their identity as a parent makes them a superior person to a non-parent.” If you’re a parent, you probably just scrolled past because I couldn’t be more wrong. I’m just projecting as a non-parent who wants some of the recognition due to you.

I’ve been on the exclusion end of this when I was told I wouldn’t be asked to baby-sit because “two kids is a lot and what does she even know about kids, she’s not a parent.”

When a woman a work didn’t think I could “cook a turkey because I’ve never hosted Thanksgiving.” Well, no one ever lets me host because that’s the job of married people. I don’t think one of the graces of the Sacrament is the ability to get the turkey to come out of the oven moist.

These are two small examples – but I could write a thousand more about how marriage and child-bearing are the only accepted marks of adulthood in our culture. With the assumption about me being that I’m choosing not to engage because I “like this self-ish lifestyle.” That’s not why I’m not married.

But anyway – Jeannie’s book is a delight and everyone should read it! Moms and Dads and Non-Parents alike!


149: Zikora

Zikora by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

A friend texted me in the middle of the night a few weeks ago because she found this short story on Amazon Prime and wanted to read and discuss together. I’ve read a few other things by Chimamanda so I was game. Downloaded it and it took me three weeks to finish.

I did go into it with some bias. The first text from my friend was about how I should read it. Then the next were about how she’s loved this author in the past (I have too) but that this time she seemed to have an agenda and then wrote a story to support it.

I think the story is a bit of her own story. It’s also a little like propaganda. You read through and the author wants you to come to the conclusion that the choice the author made was the only choice left and if you don’t support that, you don’t support women in crisis.

I disagree with that premise. A lot of decisions were made to use another person or manipulate them into loving you – they didn’t work because that never brings about long term happiness – and now I have to agree with your choices about what to do in the aftermath. I don’t buy in.

It was well written, thought provoking, and will provide good conversation for us – which is why I gave it all the stars … but as a story promoting how we should be advocating for women, I disagree.