Already Home

What I read: Already Home by Susan Mallery

Why I picked it up: I grabbed a bunch of hers I haven’t read last time I was at the library.

How I read it: On paper while flying! I had three chapters left when we landed, it was hard not to just sit on the plane and keep reading.

What it’s about: Jenna comes home after her divorce and opens a cookware shop, on a whim. Once she hires Violet and lets her actually help run the store things really take off. Then her birth parents show up, and nothing is ever the same again.

What I liked: I loved this story. I laughed. I cried. I was ready to beat up an ex-fiancée and a new boyfriend.

What I disliked: There are two abusive storylines for the two younger women, and they were hard to read.

Genre: Mothers and daughters, domestic abuse, adoption.

Rating & Recommendation: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ and yes, this was a good one!


What I read: Provenance by Carla Laureano

Why I picked it up: Someone I follow on Goodreads read and love it.

How I read it: On audio at 2x while walking, mowing, and driving.

What it’s about: Kendall grew up in foster care and at 18 set out in the world on her own to make something of her life, which she did. She apprenticed under a great interior designer and ended up starting her own business. Now she finds out she’s inherited a plot of land and 5 houses from her grandmother, who she never even remembers meeting. It’s set in small town Colorado and made me want to go live in the new village they’ve designed!!

What I liked: The mayor was a delight!! The way he was true to himself and his faith was really a great read. I also love that he gets his own great family story.

What I disliked: Kendall ended up in foster care because the computer system to communicate lost children was defunct. If society had done a better job, she wouldn’t have had the suffering she did. That made me sad because I know it’s true life for so many.

Genre: Christian romance, foster care, adoption.

Rating & Recommendation: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ and definitely!!

The Girls Who Went Away

What I read: The Girls Who Went Away: The Hidden History of Women Who Surrendered Children for Adoption in the Decades Before Roe v. Wade by Ann Fessler

Why I picked it up: I read an article on America awhile back by a woman who invites people on multiple sides of an issue to come together to have a discussion. She gives them all homework prior so they can use that as a common foundation for the discussion. They’re typically articles, but if she could give them books she would. The two she recommended for a discussion on abortion are this one and What it Means to be Human, which I finished a few weeks back.

How I read it: On hardback over a few weeks because it’s heavy. I also cried often while reading it, often in public.

What it’s about: Women who got pregnant outside of marriage in the 50s and 60s who were forced to give up their children to adoption. It had over a hundred stories from women about their experience with their families, maternity homes, the adoption process, finding their children later (or being found), and the hurt they suffered throughout the entire situation.

What I liked: I appreciated the window into that era of history. This is spoken of as a great mercy but reading the stories of these women, many were forced or treated poorly and then not given the mental health support they needed.

What I disliked: I think many people’s response to this book, and even the title is alluding to it, is to be grateful for legal abortion. However, I think there are bigger lessons we should have learned and haven’t yet, including: getting rid of the social stigma of being a single or young mother, financial support for women in need, workforce support, familial support, social services. We even have much work to do about adoption and how we speak of that and work through the trauma.

Genre: Non-fiction, life issues, adoption.

Rating & Recommendation: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ and yes. This is a good, very hard, but very necessary read.

The Wish

What I read: The Wish by Nicholas Sparks

Why I picked it up: I was looking to use up some borrows on Hoopla so I chose this new one from an author I’ve read and loved before.

How I read it: On audio at 2x speed over a couple of days.

What it’s about: Maggie has found out her last chance at curing her cancer has failed. Now she’s looking to wrap up her life, and she hires Mark to help out in the gallery. He’s a great listener, and she shares her story of the hardest year of her life when she was 16. After finding out she was pregnant by a boy who couldn’t even remember she existed, she spent the school year with her Aunt Linda on Ocracoke Island (a very beautiful, remote place).

What I liked: This is one of Nicholas Sparks’ best books, in my opinion. It’s hard and sad, but it’s not a devastating love story, which is his usual fare.

What I disliked: I wanted more of Maggie’s photography life between ages 16 and 38, but in general what we got was amazing.

Genre: Fiction, young mothers, adoption.

Rating & Recommendation: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ and yes. This is a good one!

Before I Called You Mine

Find it on Goodreads

I couldn’t resist picking this up when I saw it on the shelf at the library last week. It was the perfect re-entry into feel good stories after a month of thrillers.

I read this last May and declared it one of my favorite books from 2020. I stand by my love of it. I started last night and rejoiced when my neighbor bailed on our early morning walk today so I could finish before flying out this morning.

The heartache of Lauren’s single heart is so close to home, it’s like I’m reading my own journal. Jenna and Joshua are the most delightful friends and even the technology is super exciting. If Joshua’s two apps don’t exist now in the world, they need to!!

“No longer was I filled with the cowardly ways of old Lauren, a woman who often reserved a pocket full of doubt that maybe God wouldn’t come through for her and maybe she’d heard him incorrectly or that maybe there was another woman, a wiser, better-equipped woman suited for such a calling.”


Taking Flight

Find it on Goodreads

A friend suggested this for our next buddy read and I’ve been putting off reading it. Why? I don’t know – but it’s foolishness. I read it in one day – one flight’s length plus maybe another hour in the hotel. Was I tearing up on the plane? Yes! Is that two weeks in a row of me crying on AA 5695? Sure was. What’s wrong with me and sappy books?

Michaela has a story worth hearing. That’s really all I can say. I want to read her adoptive mother’s story next – I hope Elaine has begun writing – because she’s a woman worth emulating. This is the story of a little girl who didn’t even know what a ballerina was who grew up to be one. She’s not even done growing – her life has really only begun as of the writing of this story.

I couldn’t get enough and I’ll read her follow-up if she writes one – I want to know more. I’m holding myself back from googling every interview the internet holds because I know I need sleep.

“Was I now nothing more than an orphan? I had no one to love me or protect me … no one to think that I was special.” — It wasn’t long until Mabinty – to be Michaela – had a family of her own and so many people to think her special.


129: Someone Like You

Someone Like You by Karen Kingsbury

I really love a long series (except when like 40 books are already out and I’m starting from the beginning) tied to one family or group of people. I feel like I really get to know them, understand their inner workings, and are able to grow with them.

These stand-alone titles from Karen Kingsbury surrounding her Baxter Family story-line are delightful. You can read this without having read the previous almost 40 books, but if you’ve read them the story is richer. You know more of the backstory of each character.

This was delightful because I got to see some of those Baxters again. It was also a weird story line involving a young woman who finds out she was adopted the summer after she graduates from college. It rocks her world. This is a story line I’m close to and that’s why her reaction seemed over-the-top.

I don’t think we have a healthy enough response to adoption yet in our culture. There are times when we celebrate it. There are times when we shame people because of it. It’s complicated like so many things in this world. This book left me with complicated feelings too.


102: The Bookshop of Yesterday’s

The Bookshop of Yesterday’s by Amy Meyerson

I haven’t finished a book in over 10 days … probably because I disliked the main character in this book so much. I didn’t stop reading because I didn’t realize it until more than half way through, so I pushed through.

I found her to be annoying. I wanted to like it because of the bookstore element, but I just didn’t. That’s all I’ve got folks, not a fan. Well written, but did not like Miranda. She and I would NOT be friends if we met in real life.


78: The Oysterville Sewing Circle

The Oysterville Sewing Cirlce by Susan Wiggs

I have no idea how this book got on my TBR, my hold list, and then my library loan pile, but I’m glad it did. It’s quite beautifully written, a bit of a love story and much of a motherhood story.

Caroline says she’ll be the ‘back-up guardian’ for her friend’s kids in the midst of a crazy time, which isn’t a big deal until her friend overdoses and she becomes the full-time guardian. Caroline never wanted to have kids, and now she has two. A 5 year old and a 6 year old who just want their mama. They’re scared of so many things and rightfully so.

Caroline moves them across the country to her hometown where her parents take all three in for some love and some healing. There’s a huge sewing element to this book, an important domestic violence story line, and the beauty of friendships and really listening to women.

When a woman comes to us because of an abuse, an assault, or anything else, our first line shouldn’t be “got proof?” It needs to be more of “I’m listening” and “It’s not your fault, how can I support you?” And any number of other statements that convey empathy and trust for the woman.

I really liked this book, but there were a few parts where things skipped around a bit too much. It’s very closed door, but some of the leaps she makes from “they looked at each other deeply” to “she woke up in the middle of the night in his bed” felt awkward. So ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️.

10: The Opposite of Everyone

The Opposite of Everyone by Joshilyn Jackson

I loved listening to this in the car over the past few weeks. Paula’s mother was quite the woman. She named Paula after an Eastern god that she worshipped and should actually be known as “Callie.” Paula hasn’t seen her mother in more than 20 years because she was given more responsibility than any little girl should have … and she betrayed her mother … then her mother found out about it.

Joshilyn reads her own audio books which is such a delight and the sole reason I picked this one up! And why I’ll gladly get another one!

A great listen!! ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️