This was a solid writing week. Still adjusting to the new schedule. I got in four writing days, three pages each.
I planned on writing Friday, but…
…the temperature dropped 50 degrees from Thursday afternoon (95 to 44, y’all. Welcome to Texas.), and it was raining Friday morning, plus I was off Friday (getting ready for a work trip), and I just wasn’t feeling it. So I gave myself permission to take the day off from writing.
Nuri is a beekeeper in Syria. His wife, Afra, is an artist. Their life is simple, yet full of beauty and pleasure—from the early morning call to prayer to the market where Afra sells her paintings. Then war comes to Syria and destroys everything they love, including their son—and taking Afra’s sight. They must leave Syria, but the obstacles they face seem insurmountable.
They want to reach England, where Mustafa, Nuri’s lifelong friend and cousin, has an apiary, but England is the most difficult country for refugees to enter. There are dangers everywhere Nuri and Afra turn, and Nuri must navigate through his own grief and Afra’s to heal their broken marriage as they seek desperately for safety.
The Beekeeper of Aleppo started off slowly, and I almost gave up, but I’m so glad I persevered. I’m not even sure how to describe the journey Nuri and Afra experience. There is incredible loss, grief, pain but also hope in their story, and it is well-worth reading.
Christy Lefteri was born in London. The Beekeeper of Aleppo is her newest novel.
(Galley courtesy of Ballantine Books via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.)
Lucy Adler is seventeen years old in New York City in 1993. Lucy is a basketball star, but she’s frequently the only girl on the street courts, and she’s in love with her best friend and teammate, Percy, son of a wealthy family.
Lucy observes the world around her, always questioning the why of things and seeking to understand. Two female bohemian artists invite Lucy into their circle, and open her eyes to wider issues than basketball and love, as she learns more about being female amidst the struggles women face.
Honestly, I’m not sure what to say about this novel. 1) I don’t generally read sports-related books, but I read this one entirely—and pretty quickly. 2) This is a time-period I relate to—sort of—because I’m only a year younger than Lucy. 3) I know nothing about NYC or art.
The Falconer is very much about Lucy’s internal journal towards knowing who she is and what she wants. What she deserves. She is an exceptional observer, but she doesn’t always know how to process what she sees—especially what she doesn’t like or can’t make sense of. This is about Lucy’s journey—not her feelings for Percy (and he’s a jerk anyway).
The Falconer is Dana Czapnik’s debut novel.
(Galley provided by Atria Books in exchange for an honest review.)
Many people dream of big ministries in places they feel at home in, surrounded by people like them. Shannan Martin found that that sort of ministry wasn’t her destiny at all. Instead, she ended up in a working-class neighborhood in Goshen, Indiana—okay, a neighborhood where sometimes finding a job to work at is hard—an ordinary place, surrounded by ordinary people who might be wildly different on the surface, but who are alike at heart: struggling and in need of love.
Truly paying attention to both the big things and the small can open your eyes to the truth in the world around you, and Shannan built a home amidst people who were willing to do life together—no matter how hard that is at times. Sometimes, when God calls people to ministry, it’s not a Billy Graham-style of ministry. Instead, it’s smaller, quieter, and has a profound effect on the people around us, the people who make up our lives.
This book. This book. Usually when I read nonfiction, I can only read a few pages at a time, but I wanted to read large chunks of this at a time. Shannan’s writing is so powerful and evocative, full of truth that touches the heart and opens the mind to broader ideas of home—and what that can look like.
Shannan Martin is a writer and speaker. The Ministry of Ordinary Places is her newest book.
(Galley provided by Thomas Nelson in exchange for an honest review.)
Moonbeam has lived inside the fence as long as she can remember. Her parents joined the Lord’s Legion when she was very young, and this is the only life she’s ever known. Her father died here. Her mother was banished. Now Moonbeam is alone, except for the rest of her “family,” and Father John, the leader of the Legion and her future husband.
Every day is filled with labor, a fight for the Legion to survive. Rules govern every action, every thought. Father John is the Lord’s voice, so his words are law. No matter what. Less food. Stricter punishments. New rules. More wives. Disagreeing means banishment: being forced to leave the safety of the fence for the dark world outside. Sometimes Moonbeam wonders if this is what life should really be like. But she can never let any of her family know she wonders.
Reeling from the destruction of the Lord’s Legion, Moonbeam struggles to stay true to Father John’s teaching: never speak to outsiders! They are servants of darkness and speaking to them gives them power. But Dr. Hernandez seems to really care what happens to her, and slowly her defenses come down. Then Agent Carlyle starts asking questions about life inside the fence—and what really happened the night of the fire. Moonbeam knows she shouldn’t tell, but some wounds will never heal without being exposed to the light. Even if the truth means she must pay for her sins.
This book. Wow. I was intrigued by a character raised by a cult, and I loved how Will Hill handled it. Moonbeam is a fantastic narrator. The story follows her growth from a fervent believer in the Legion to a tragedy survivor who realizes the truth. The subtle way Hill weaves this tale together had me hooked from the beginning, and this vivid look at life inside a cult was completely engrossing.
Will Hill lives in London and calls himself a creative procrastinator. After the Fire is his newest novel.
(Galley provided by Sourcebooks Fire in exchange for an honest review.)
When you’re on the playground with your kids, you expect to have fun and be silly. You don’t expect your entire life to change in an instant, when a small boy jumps off the jungle gym and lands on your head, breaking your neck, but that is what happened to Katherine Clark in May 2009.
Katherine was paralyzed from the neck down, and doctors diagnosed her with quadriplegia and said she’d never walk again. She had emergency spinal surgery that night, but the doctors told her husband she was no longer the same person. They expected her to be a burden for the rest of her life. They expected her to feel sorry for herself and accept her new, horrifying reality. They were wrong.
Instead, God worked a tremendous miracle in Katherine’s life. Her time in a rehab hospital was marked with frustration and tears, but her trust in God was accompanied by progress every day. By the middle of July, Katherine had learned to walk again and returned home. She experienced the deep, abiding love of God, even in the midst of overwhelming pain and trouble, and she clung to Him and His truths to see her through.
I wanted to read Where I Endbecause of the similarities to my own medical history (a stroke 4 ½ years ago because of an unsuspected birth defect, given a 98% fatality rate, told by a doctor “You’ll never be normal again.”) It is terrifying when your life changes in a single instant, but the experience can be a profound blessing. Katherine Clark tells her story with openness and honesty, and the reader feels her pain and her fear, as well as her hope and her joy. If you need something uplifting in your life, this is the book for you!
Georgia Clark is from Sydney, but now lives in New York City. She has been in a band, worked as a freelance journalist, and as a copywriter. The Regulars is her first adult novel, and she has young adult novels on the shelf as well.
Evie, Krista, and Willow are best friends living in New York City. They are regular twenty-somethings with average looks and typical problems, like making rent, online dating, and making a difference in a job that makes a mockery of what they believe.
Until they come across Pretty, a magical potion that makes them beautiful, giving them a chance to discover what looking like a supermodel can give you in life. Pretty opens unexpected doors for them, but it has a darker side, too. Soon the friends must decide the answer to the question, “What would you sacrifice to be Pretty?”
Evie, Krista, and Willow are regular girls—girls all women can relate to, and they have real problems and real struggles. The Regulars is about these problems, but about larger problems as well, like the objectification of women and lies and manipulation in the dating world. There are some funny moments in this book, but it made me think about life—and about society and its faults. Don’t read this thinking it will be light and fluffy, this books deals with much deeper issues, and the characters are believable, people we would all enjoy being friends with.