The Mother-in-Law

Find it on Goodreads

It opens up with the police knocking on the door to announce at Diana, Lucy’s mother-in-law she never got along with, is dead. They never got along and everyone knew it, so when the police become suspicious at the circumstances she’s at the top of the list.

The book is from a few perspectives and within a couple of timelines. Diana has secrets and plans. Short chapters gave this is a fast paced, tell me more feel!!

“It’s the classic, unassuming behavior of someone about to get bad news. I actually feel like I am watching us all on a TV show – the handsome clueless dad, the cute toddler. The regular suburban family who are about to have their lives turned inside out … ruined forever.”


The State of Religion and Young People

Find it on Goodreads

I discovered Springtide Research Institute some time during the pandemic. I’m astounded by everything they put out – Dr. Josh Packard is leading an amazing team to help us understand the next generation. This report is a compilation of what 10,000 young people ages 13 to 25 are experiencing. It includes additional qualitative interviews done and includes many examples and quotes.

This work is profound and necessary for anyone who wants to help the next generation grow and become part of our culture – and also we’ve got a lot to learn from them too!

“We offer both empirical data and a framework for actions for a reason: we recognize that data alone are not enough to spur action that responds to real needs.”

P.S. this is also available for free via their website as a PDF.

What Happens Next

Find it on Goodreads

Lisa and I are reading this and Claire’s newest release for our buddy read this month. It’s a sweet and delightful. Also, a quick read – since it’s a middle grade novel – and I’m quite out of middle grade reading level. Abby is dealing with some serious things. Her sister is sick with anorexia. Abby thinks it’s her fault because she should have seen the signs.

It’s a lot for a twelve year old to carry.

I loved the setting of the solar eclipse – I went to see one just a few years ago with a friend and her kids – and it was quite a delight. A true, once-in-a-lifetime experience (although I think I saw one in grade school too).

“It’s like being at a whole New World when the stars are out, a world that doesn’t have homework or mean girls or mosquito bites. I loved the stars and the planets, and anything to do with the sky.”


The Readers of Broken Wheel Recommend

Find it on Goodreads

This is a delightful story about a girl who loves books and everything that comes with them. So many great lines to highlight or share out loud with unsuspecting friends in the room.

Sara is a delightful girl from Sweden who comes to Broken Wheel, Iowa, for a holiday to meet the one person she’s connected to in the past year. Except Amy died between when she sent the last letter and Sara arrives via bus.

The story is about her finding herself, finding love, and finding her place in the world. No one suspected it would all happen in middle of nowhere Iowa!

“I think I’ve loved you since the first time you explained that you preferred books to me.“


Get Out of Your Head

Find it on Goodreads

A friend referred this to me after I told her about Jon Acuff’s newest book. It takes neuroscience, the research behind overthinking, and what we know about scripture – and applies it to our thoughts.

Our thoughts guide our beliefs, our actions, our relationships and in turn our culture. So if we want to really change the culture we need to start at the beginning: our thoughts.

I loved it and can’t recommend it enough!!

“Tell me what you’re thinking about, in other words, and I’ll tell you who you are.”


Meaning Making

Find it on Goodreads

WOW! I wish I’d read this book before I started in youth ministry, not almost a decade after my retirement. Such great insight – I just want to sit down and redesign all ministry of the Catholic Church with these eight values in the forefront as a way to engage young people. Not change what the Catholic Church is, just who she presents herself to be.

Springtide Research has been my favorite pandemic find – granted they aren’t a creation of the pandemic, just one I began noticing around last March.

The book focused on the quantitative and qualitative research they’ve done with 13 to 25 year-old young people in the past few years. They’ve done a great job highlighting the needs, outlining what can be done, and focused it positively about religion, but not faith as a primary focus. This is my third set of research I’ve read, and I can’t get enough.

“Accountable. Inclusive. Authentic. Welcoming. Impactful. Relational. Growthful. Meaningful.”


A Distant Shore

Find it on Goodreads

The trafficking of human beings is happening at an alarming rate in our world. Modern day slavery right under our noses, yes, illegal, but not as rare as we might think.

Eliza doesn’t think she’s a victim, and honestly neither does the law, but she is. And her life was saved twice by a man the Lord picked out for her individually. Karen Kingsbury pulls together a heart wrenching story of love, loss, and hope.

This is heavy Christian fiction, so if that’s not your thing, it’s not for you. Everything ends up working out just so, but I think when we look at our life as a whole, we see all the ways the Lord has weaved it together.

“Because of her father, Eliza has always believed she had no choice. The other girls thought that, too. Her father controlled Belize City. People parted the crowd ahead of Anders and locals groveled for his attention. ‘Prince Anders!’ they would call out. Like they actually believed he was a prince. Anders McMillian, royalty.”


Somewhere Between Bitter and Sweet

Find it on Goodreads

I think I borrowed this in a flurry of putting books on hold to read with the kids I live with. But it’s not a children’s picture book at all. It’s a YA book that’s a little more adult than typical YA.

Pen is trying to be just like her dad and also her own person. It creates as much tension as you think it might. Her father runs a restaurant that’s more than that to the community. They find refuge and family at Nacho’s Tacos. Pen has been creating recipes for the restaurant for years and there’s an event that almost breaks her.

Xander is a teen looking for his father, finding his place in the US as an undocumented man, and navigating a new experience. He finds his way as he settles in at the restaurant and he falls in love.

I really appreciated stepping into a world I’ll never know as an immigrant, scared of what comes next, feeling from some but clinging to others, and not knowing who you can trust. It’s a story all too common.

“Because the truth is, home is not a place. It’s a heartbeat. A living thing made up of every person who has ever left a mark on us.”


They Never Learn

Find it on Goodreads

This was one of the favorites of a recent guest on What Should I Read Next and I couldn’t put it on hold fast enough after she described it. It’s the story of a serial killer. And you’re on her side.

I can’t even believe I wrote that … but I really am. There are two interweaving timelines of Scarlett and Carly. The story opens with a kill, so that’s not a spoiler – but the way it ends is surprising. And satisfying.

Except for all the hunting and killing of people … something I’m only okay reading about in fiction.

“It’s risky for me to be here. I know that. I could’ve left the tainted drink in the fridge for him and slipped away while he was still out running. But the truth is, I enjoy this too much to miss it. It’s my reward for all the hard work.”


Strike Me Down

Find it on Goodreads

Mindy Mejia was on What Should I Read Next with Anne Bogel this week. Her book and one of her favorites when right on my TBR at the top!

I love mysteries but don’t read enough of them … this one is good. About a gym and an accountant, which I didn’t realize was such a dangerous job!

It’s witty, smart, twisty, and full of angst – the best kind of thriller!

“I’m done putting up walls. I’m done hiding behind my job. I’m not letting anyone cast me aside and make me believe I deserve it.”