When I saw the monthly book reviewers’ email from Tyndale Publishers advertising all of the new books they had available for review, I almost didn’t open it.

Almost There“I’m way too busy to commit to reviewing any books right now,” I reasoned. But something (or should I say Someone?) prompted me to open the email, and my eye caught the title, Almost There: Searching for Home in a Life on the Move, by Bekah di Felice. (Don’t you just love the title and the cover?)

Although I’d never heard of the author before, the description sounded all too familiar — because she was telling a story I knew inside out.

I hesitated again, fearing I wouldn’t have time to read and review the book within the time frame requested. But again, Someone prompted me to click “request” … and I’m so glad I did.

Bekah’s book, Almost There, is full of rich insights on the universal longing for home. 

Right after college, Bekah married into the transient military life. She describes the complex emotions of leaving home, including the spiritual component: “It’s as if the act of leaving is part of the equipping, as if God personally leads people out of familiar territory so he can tell them who they are.”

In her book, Bekah shares the ups and downs of moving frequently and living in vastly different parts of the United States. She is honest about the challenges of her husband’s deployment: the loneliness, the awkwardness of limited communication, the surprising realization of established independence, and the adjustment back to a new normal after reunion.

 

 

With conversational tone and an easy sense of humor, Bekah tucks nuggets of wisdom into the telling of her story.

“The timing is different for everyone … but it happens: Your sense of belonging outgrows its previous residence. …In the search for home, we all try on different places and relationships and hobbies that make us feel pretty, all along lamenting the fact that belonging refuses to be nailed down to exact coordinates. It denies us permanence. And that feels like betrayal.

I think that by nature we are agitated by this restlessness, by the enigma of belonging. We’re pestered by the notion that people and places and things are all important pieces of home but not the whole thing, at least not in themselves. Deep down we know there is a permanence of home that exists somewhere. There is a whisper of eternity that beckons in the heart of every one of us.”

 

The above quote perfectly captures what I hope to articulate through my upcoming memoir, A Place to Land: A Story of Longing and Belonging. And I’d venture a guess that you can relate, too.

 

Again, Bekah captured the struggle in my heart with these words:

 

“Home doesn’t begin or end with a mailing address or a change in surname. I don’t think it is ever a total reboot. It is more of an ellipsis than a period, a continuation rather than a conclusion. It tends to be an ongoing list of people and places and experiences that have mattered, that have changed us in one way or another. It is an echo of the good legacies we have witnessed.

In fact, home is a lot like a poorly, categorized box containing all sorts of odds and ends: the surprising and familiar, the old and new, the bitter and sweet. It is mismatched in so many ways–not a start and end but an overlap, a tangle. We move away from it and bring it with us still.”

 

Besides making me think deeply about concepts of home and belonging, Almost There also made me laugh and nod my head in agreement on numerous occasions.

 

 

If you’re looking for a light read that will also make you think and relate, I can highly recommend this book.

 

 

 

Disclosure: I received a complimentary copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. Affiliate links have been used in this post. 

April is a good book month, hey?! I’m super excited about the release of these four new books, from authors that I’ve either met in person, on video chats, or via email. Join me in celebrating with them, and check out these great offerings!

A quick note: This post does contain affiliate links, which means if you choose to click through Amazon to make a purchase, I’ll receive a small compensation at no extra cost to you. Thanks in advance for your support! Happy reading! 

 

Never Unfriended: The Secret to Finding and Keeping Lasting Friendships

by Lisa-Jo Baker

new books

From the description on Amazon:

In a world where women can unfriend each other with the swipe of a finger, how do we find friendships that we can trust to last? Maybe by first becoming those kinds of lasting friends ourselves.

Lisa-Jo Baker has learned that no one can make us quite as unsure about ourselves as another woman. And nothing can wound as deeply as unkind words from a friend. While we are all hungry for friendship, it’s the fear of feeling awkward and being rejected, left out, or hurt (again) that often keep us from connecting.

But what if we knew we could never be unfriended? Would we risk friendship then?

Starting with that guarantee from the most faithful friend who ever lived—Jesus—this book is a step-by-step guide to friendships you can trust. It answers the questions that lurk under the surface of every friendship—What are we afraid of? What can’t we change? What can we change? And where do we start?—with personal stories and practical tips to help you make the friends, and be the friend, that lasts.

 

A Trail of Crumbs: A Novel of the Great Depression

by Susie Finkbeiner

new books

A Trail of Crumbs is the second book in a trilogy by Susie Finkbeiner.

From the description on Amazon:

Pearl Spence has been through more in her young life than most folks could handle. But through it all, her family has been by her side. They may not be perfect, but they love her and they all love each other, come what may. That’s one thing Pearl no longer questions.

But the end of her beautiful day signals the beginning of the end of her secure life.

Now her family is fleeing their Oklahoma wasteland. Pearl isn’t sure she’ll ever see home or happiness again. Are there any crumbs powerful enough to guide her back to the dependable life she once knew?

The strong narrative voice of Finkbeiner’s young protagonist from A Cup of Dust returns in this gritty yet hopeful sequel, sure to please her many fans.

One: Unity in a Divided World

by Deidra Riggs

new books

new books

From the description on Amazon:

Jesus didn’t say that the world would know we are his followers by our biting rhetoric, our political leanings, our charity work, or even by our knowledge of Scripture. He said the world would know us by our love for one another. Yet it’s so easy to put others at arm’s length, to lash out, to put up walls. Deidra Riggs wants us to put our focus on self-preservation aside and, like Jesus, make the first move toward reconciliation.

In One, Riggs shows readers that when Jesus offered himself up in our place, he was not only purchasing our salvation but also setting an example for us to follow. She helps readers understand that they are secure in God’s inexhaustible love, making them free to love others lavishly–not just in what they do but in what they say, what they don’t say, what they will endure, and what they will forgive.

Anyone who longs for unity in the church, in their family, and in their community will find in this book both inspiring examples of loving done well and encouragement to begin the often unnoticed hard work of building bridges with those around them.

 

A Bridge Across the Ocean

by Susan Meissner

new books

new books

From the description on Amazon:

February, 1946. World War Two is over, but the recovery from the most intimate of its horrors has only just begun for Annaliese Lange, a German ballerina desperate to escape her past, and Simone Deveraux, the wronged daughter of a French Résistance spy.

Now the two women are joining hundreds of other European war brides aboard the renowned RMS Queen Mary to cross the Atlantic and be reunited with their American husbands. Their new lives in the United States brightly beckon until their tightly-held secrets are laid bare in their shared stateroom. When the voyage ends at New York Harbor, only one of them will disembark…

Present day. Facing a crossroads in her own life, Brette Caslake visits the famously haunted Queen Mary at the request of an old friend. What she finds will set her on a course to solve a seventy-year-old tragedy that will draw her into the heartaches and triumphs of the courageous war brides—and will ultimately lead her to reconsider what she has to sacrifice to achieve her own deepest longings.

 

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Which one will you read first? What books are currently on your To Be Read List? 

 

 

Almost exactly a year ago, on January 4th, 2016, I received an invitation to contribute a chapter for the first ever book project published by (in)courage.

I had no idea who else would be contributing or how it would all come together in the end. All I knew was the title — Craving Connection: 30 Challenges for Real Life Engagement.

 

Craving Connection

 

Since I love (in)courage and I love writing, it was an easy “yes.”

I lifted up a feeble prayer that God would use whatever words He laid on my heart to bless at least one person. Twelve months ago, when I agreed to be part of this project, I had no idea how much God would bless me through the process.

When I received an advance copy in the mail and started to read the pages, I was astounded by how well all thirty voices came together with such harmony.

craving connection

We write about God. We write about friends. We write about community.

Most of all, we write about our craving for connection in this world as we seek to live according to God’s calling in our lives.

As the book’s website asks,

“How could your life be different after prayerfully and intentionally connecting with God, friends, and your community?

Craving Connection is a journey where (in)courage writers share real-life stories, practical Scripture application, and connection challenges that will encourage you to find out!

We all long for meaningful relationships, the Colossians 3:14 kind that fulfill our desire for unity and connection with God, our friends, and our community. But where do we start?

The (in)courage community invites you to grab a cup of coffee, pull a chair up to the table, and commit to creatively and prayerfully fulfilling your cravings for connection.”

 

craving connection

I’m so grateful for the opportunity I had to share a few words in this collection, and for all those who have worked so hard behind the scenes to make it happen.

My prayer is that you will be encouraged and challenged by the stories shared in this book, and that you will find the connection you crave in the One who made you in His image.

 

Order your copy here

 

Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links.

One of my favorite things to do online is celebrate with authors on the release of new books — and I love recommending great books to you!

 

new book

 

This month, we have lots of reasons to celebrate! As I scrolled through the following list, I realized I’ve had the privilege of meeting four of these authors in person — what a gift!

Affiliate links used below. Click the titles to learn more about each book on Amazon!

 

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Today is launch day for Asheritah Ciuciu’s new book, Full: Food, Jesus, and the Battle for Satisfaction.

If you’ve ever battled with food fixation or struggled with finding your satisfaction in something other than Jesus, this book is for you. In this book, Asheritah helps us refocus on the one thing that can truly satisfy our deepest longings — Jesus Christ. If you’re starting the new year with a desire to hunger more after God, grab a copy here. Learn more at www.thefull.life

Full Book Asheritah

 

new books

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Today is also release day for the sweet Kelly Balarie’s new book, Fighting Fear: Awakening Courage to Overcome Your Fears.

I doubt I know anyone who hasn’t battled with fear at some point in life — in fact, Kathie Lee Gifford even featured Fear Fighting on the Today Show as one of her favorite things!

new books

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While we rang in the new year, Dorothy Greco released her book into the world: Making Marriage Beautiful: Lifelong Love, Joy, and Intimacy Start with You.

Let me just tell you — I’ve read a lot of marriage books in my day. Some people may ask why we need another one. Dorothy actually answers that question in one of her blog posts. Personally, I was pleasantly surprised by Dorothy’s offering and found her words and perspective to be both fresh and thorough. She makes an effort to provide a diversity of voices in the couples she interviewed, and openly shares the wisdom she has gleaned from twenty-five years of marriage. Her obvious dependence on God as the agent of change is a great reason to invest in this book.

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I can’t think of a better person to write about enjoying God’s good gifts than the delightful Trillia Newbell. I had the pleasure of meeting Trillia at our Five Minute Friday retreat and she is an absolute gem. Her new book, Enjoy: Finding the Freedom to Delight Daily in God’s Good Gifts is now available and is well worth your time.

new books

 

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I’m excited to dig into this new Bible study from the dear Cindy Bultema on the book of 1 Corinthians. Cindy is full of energy and love for the Lord, and she is passionate about teaching and applying God’s Word. If you’re looking for a new Bible study either for yourself or for a group, check out Live Full, Live Free: Set Apart in a Sin-Soaked World.

New books

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On January 10th, Craving Connection: 30 Challenges for Real Life Engagement will be launched into the world! Besides the fact that I contributed a chapter, I really think you’re going to enjoy and be challenged by it. 🙂 Learn more about the book and all 30 contributors at: www.cravingconnectionbook.com

That’s it! Which new books are you looking forward to reading soon?

Hard to believe we’ve reached the end of another year, hey?

I didn’t read nearly as many books in 2016 as I anticipated or hoped — largely because I took on a number of editing projects this past year. In most of my “free” evening hours, I was editing manuscripts that other self-published authors had written.

Here are the books I did manage to read, as well as the ones I’m currently busy reading, a few books on my TBR list, and links to the books I read in 2014 and 2015.

 

Books I Read in 2016

 

Click each title below to read more about the books on Amazon (affiliate links used):

 

The Invention of Hugo Cabret, by Brian Selznick

Books I read in 2016

I read this one to see if it was okay for my kids, and the verdict was “Yes.” I enjoyed both the storyline and the pictures and would recommend it as a middle grade reader.

 

God King, by Joanne Williamson

Books I Read in 2016

This was a captivating, well-written story that I read aloud to my kids as part of our homeschooling curriculum. It kept my attention as well as that of all three of my children.

 

The Golden Goblet, by Eloise Jarvis McGraw

The Golden Goblet is among my top three favorite homeschooling books I’ve ever read aloud to my kids. We read it as part of the sixth grade Sonlight curriculum, and it was fabulous.

 

Roots & Sky, by Christie Purifoy

I savored every page of this gem by Christie Purifoy. The writing is stunning and made me want to read small chunks at a time to contemplate and digest the beauty.

 

InSomnus, by Molly Fennig

I had the privilege of reading an advance copy of this debut novel. You’d never tell from the reading, but the author was just 17 years old at the time of writing! Incredible. A compelling YA sci-fi read.

 

Five Minute Friday: A Collection of Stories Written in Five Minutes Flat, compiled by Susan Shipe

This project is dear to my heart because of its many contributors. We have more than 150 writers who bravely shared words in this collection. Its diversity speaks to the heart of the Five Minute Friday community, and to the heart of our God.

 

Waves of Mercy, by Lynn Austin

This was such a fun read, not only because it is set in my home town of Holland, Michigan, but also because I got to meet and interview the author in her home! Definitely a highlight and milestone in my writing career.

 

Craving Connection: 30 Challenges for Real Life Engagement, a collection from (in)courage

It was my pleasure to contribute a chapter to this book. I’m so excited for its January 10th release. I truly believe this collection is going to bless (and challenge) many. Learn more about the book and all 30 contributors at: www.cravingconnectionbook.com

 

Come, Lord Jesus: The Weight of Waiting, by Kris Camealy

Our family read through this Advent devotional by Kris Camealy this December, and it is a winner. Even my husband, who is the first to admit that he is quite picky and easy to please when it comes to Christmas or Advent books, said it was very well done — both from a writing and a theological perspective. Grab a copy now for next December.

 

New Morning Mercies: A Daily Gospel Devotional, by Paul Tripp

My husband gave me this book for Christmas last year, and it was such an encouragement to me during this past year. It seemed that more often than not, God used Paul David Tripp’s words to speak directly to my heart. If you’re looking for a new devotional for 2017, this would be a great option.

 

Books I’m busy reading:

Making Marriage Beautiful: Lifelong Love, Joy, and Intimacy Start with You, by Dorothy Greco

Enjoy: Finding the Freedom to Delight Daily in God’s Good Gifts, by Trillia Newbell

 

Full: Food, Jesus, and the Battle for Satisfaction, by Asheritah Ciuciu

Full Book Asheritah

Onward: Engaging the Culture without Losing the Gospel, by Russell Moore

Books on my To Be Read List (including many more!):

The Happiness Dare: Pursuing Your Heart’s Deepest, Holiest, and Most Vulnerable Desire, by Jennifer Dukes Lee

A Cup of Dust: A Novel of the Dust Bowl, by Susie Finkbeiner

Fighting Fear: Awakening Courage to Overcome Fear, by Kelly Balarie

 

… And here are the Books I Read in 2015 and My Top 14 Books of 2014.

 

What about you? What books did you read in 2016? Which were your favorites?

Share in the comments, or by linking up your own post via the InLinkz button below!

 

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