The Perfect Couple by Elin Hilderbrand

I do not read murder mysteries regularly, or as my husband says, ever. (I told him I read one in high school- so one a score?) I found this one at the local library as I went in without any specific book in mind and perused the adult fiction until I found a book that wasn’t riddled with adult content.

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Five Minute Friday: Carry


Carry the cross is the first phrase coming to mind. Which leads to the idea of everyone having a burden, having something on their shoulders. We are all carrying something, but we need not try to carry on our own. That was also the example in the sermon in youth this week. Someone held a weight during the preaching and every time the teacher asked if he needed help with the weight the student said, “No, I got it.” And isn’t that what we do daily? Someone can see you are struggling and asks about it, but you decline any offer for help whether big or small. And in small groups at church last night we established the need for community to share those burdens and hold one another accountable. Also where I’m reading in The Story of With is in the same place emphasizing community so this word carry only brings forth the potent reminder that we carry alone what we wish to by not receiving the help surrounding us.

What is keeping you from sharing what you carry?

Read With Me 2021

I’ll be honest, the second half of the year I didn’t keep good record of which books I read and when I finished them so I think I missed a book or two, or a play, short story… Not sure, but this is what I was able to recap for the year of reading 2021. Links to books I posted a review about this year

The Powerful Purpose of Introverts by Holley Gerth…..171 pages….. nonfiction, Christian living, inspirational, book recommended by an author…..finished 7 January……highly recommend

Sorry Not Sorry by Naya Rivera…..audiobook……nonfiction, autobiography, celebrity story, book I only listened to……8 January…

The Spiderwick Chronicles by Tony DiTerlizzi and Holly Black…….567 pages…..fiction, fantasy series, Children’s series, books from my husband’s collection, book by 2 authors……9 January……recommend 1-The Field Guide-107 2-The Seeing Stone-108 3-Lucinda’s Secret-108 4-The Ironwood Tree-108 5-The Wrath of Mulgrath-136

Know Yourself Know Your Money by Rachel Cruze…. 246…..nonfiction, finance, Dave Ramsey network, lifestyle……….21 Jan…….recommend

Streisand: Her Life by James Spada… 515…. non fiction, biography, book on my shelf I haven’t read yet… 15 February….

The Beautiful Community by Irwyn L. Ince Jr… 151… nonfiction, Christian living, newly published book….. 4 March… recommend

The Guernesy Literary and Potatoe Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Schafer and Anne Barrows….. 272… fiction, historical, recommended by a friend, movie made about it…… 13 March….. highly recommend

Gentle and Lowly by Dane Ortlund… 213…. non fiction, Christian, book recommended by a friend…… 8 April….. recommend

Uncle Tom’s Cabin by Harriet Beecher Stowe… 477….. historical fiction, drama, classic never read in school…….. 16 May…… highly recommend- every adult needs to read this!!

Reading People by Anne Bogel… 203… non-fiction, educational, interactive, book by a blogger…….. 25 May…..

Into Addie’s Arms by Barbara Hood Hopkins… 496…. fiction, met the author and have a signed copy, previous DNF, southern setting……. 24 June….

Myth-nomers and Im-pervections by Robert Asprin…. 200…. fiction, fantasy, random book I own but haven’t read, book by an author I don’t know of…… 4 July…. recommend

A Moveable Feast by Earnest Hemingway… 225…. nonfiction, book you read in school and don’t remember, classic, ….. 20 August

Damsel Under Stress by Shanna Swedson… 306…. fiction, random book spotted at the library, 11 September

Really Rosie by Maurice Sendak…. 25…. fiction, Children’s play, piece in a collection….. 7 October…..

The Great Gatsby by Scott Fitzgerald…. 152… fiction, classic, book I read in school and forgot, book another book convinced me to read…. 21 October…

Inkheart by Cornelia Funke… 534… fiction, fantasy series, book recommended by J…. 11 December… highly recommend….

Inkspell by Cornelia Funke… 635… fiction, fantasy series, book continuation….. 29 December….highly recommend

Bondage Breaker by Neil Anderson…. 206…. Christian, nonfiction, spiritual warfare….. 31 December…. recommend

23 books, 5594 pages, one audiobook, one children’s play, 2 biographys, 6 nonfiction, 14 fiction, and I cannot shake the feeling that I missed a book…

Anyways, send me your recommendations for what to read in 2022!

Damsel Under Stress by Shanna Swendson

This is a fun fantasy novel about a woman who is immune to magic and works at a magic company in NYC alongside wizards, elves, gargoyles, fairies, and more magical creatures. We catch up with her right as she begins a relationship with a cute, powerful wizard she works with and her Fairy Godmother introduces herself to finally start helping in the love department. Now this is the same Fairy Godmother who connected Cinderella and Prince Charming so she has a track record, but not necessarily of any modern couples so she meddles throughout the book in ways she thinks will be helpful, but often create more trouble than our couple was ready for. Her meddling is also dangerous considering that some evil magical folks are causing trouble for our couple and no one is quite sure what to expect from the villains at any given moment.

Damsel Under Stress (Katie Chandler, Book 3): Swendson, Shanna:  9780345492920: Books

This is a fun read for a fan of magic in the current world. I enjoyed all the aspects of interweaving the magical and nonmagical worlds with the introduction of mortals who are immune to magic and how they are utilized. There were unfortunately several moments of building tension and setting up an idea that never came to fruition. The disappointment came fully in the conclusion as there was no closure of beating the bad guys or learning their plan or seeing a couple live happily ever after. Instead there was a continual build up and hints of what the bad guys may or may not be up to and a climactic showdown that seemed to be the start of the end, only to be left with more questions than answers. The romantic situation is more definite, but also begs for a follow up book to answer plenty of questions for the future of their relationship. The ending almost seemed like the author didn’t know where she was taking the story or how to wrap things up so she just copped-out and made it a heroic gesture that the reader is not supposed to think twice about or all the questions keep coming cancelling out any positive feelings about the ending. Due to this lack of closure, clarity, and cohesiveness I would not recommend this book to others and would suggest other stories of magic instead.

Myth-Nomers and Im-Pervections by Robert Asprin

I’ve never heard of this book or this author and could not tell you how I ended up with this book or how long I’ve had it without reading it, but I am thankful I read it now! The cover says this is part of a fantasy series and I would love to read more if possible. I would certainly recommend it for any fantasy fan looking for an easy, adventurous story to fill an hour or two.

This fantasy novel was a quick, fun read of 200 pages through the dimension of Perv. We enter Perv along with our protagonist Skeeve who is a Klahd on a mission to find his friend and business partner Aahz who has left suddenly. As we accompany Skeeve through Perv we learn more and more about Skeeve and Aahz. After a bar brawl and some additional time with the police the story takes a heartfelt turn as Skeeve becomes introspective processing the way he lives and interacts with others like Aahz and the characters we met on Perv. Just when we think the book is ending with Skeeve heading home without a lead on Aahz the pair reunite in a touching scene that concludes the story leading into the next book of adventures for the pair.

Into Addie’s Arms by Barbara Hood Hopkins

I bought this book at a church a decade ago. At the end of service they brought a lady up front who had written a book and would be selling and signing copies in the lobby for anyone who would like to support her. I don’t remember the details of introducing her and her story of how she wrote this book, but it was a circumstance where I thought this would not be a good book, but I want to give it a chance. As a reader I felt I needed to get my copy.

Spoiler alert- the reason I have taken so long to read this book cover to cover is because it is not written by a signed, skilled author. Also it is self published without professional editing and proofreading. I struggled through the story of the Smith family who moves from NYC to a small town in South Carolina and the daughter experiences lots of trauma in the six weeks since moving to SC. We meet the family the first day of 2001 when they tell their only daughter that they are moving across the country Easter weekend. It takes hundreds of pages before the family finally moves and the majority of those pages were filled with unnecessary details that do not pertain to character development, scene setting, or plot. I am a detail oriented person, but BHH takes details to the unnecessary extreme with descriptions of how to make each meal, how to garden, how to ride a horse, how to fish, how to set the table formally, and how to make a quilt just to mention a few. I read this book with a pencil as my bookmark so I could cross out all this extra nonsense I read over and over again. The reader would experience part of the story with the daughter and then the following chapter would be the detailed recap to the parents even though I just read the original situation. Not to mention that this novel is the perfect example for teaching the ‘show don’t tell’ issue for writers. As you can see in my notes throughout the book I would frequently write, “show me” or “make this a scene” or “dialogue” as notes in the margins. This book has 496 pages and should be around 200 instead.

And for every English teacher helping students write well-PASSIVE VOICE-passive voice takes the reader instantly out of the story and makes the author unreliable. I tried to stay involved in the story as I edited along the way, but that passive voice destroys the scene. Part of what made this so frustrating to read is that I don’t think BHH had such a bad idea for a story in the first place. I encourage everyone who wants to but has not written and published a book to get connected to a writing community and have a professional editor involved even if you self-publish. There are 3 books that come to mind when I think of civilians writing books. Michael Spurlock wanted to write a book telling his experience at All Saints church so he sought the assistance of a professional author and the pair wrote the book All Saints which was not only a successful novel, but also was adapted as a film. I can easily recommend that book. The second book is Leading Lady which is a biography written by a magazine writer Stephen Galloway. Here we run into the issue that the author is not used to writing hundreds of pages and bringing everything together as a cohesive novel. The author doesn’t need any help writing well, but does need help in this new form. Lastly, Into Addie’s Arms falls short in every area and I cannot recommend the book because of the constant glaring issues that I could only read through by editing every step of the way.

Five Minute Friday: LIFT


This week I wanted to encourage someone and didn’t say anything as that person walked by me. I thought, God I can’t pull him aside to speak this and God answered very straight forward to me I gave you a key. A few ladies will catch this immediately because it is what God reminded a roommate of mine years ago as God provided her the opportunity to teach in Afghanistan because God has specifically equipped her for this opportunity to enter a closed(locked) country with a key(teaching) to get in the door. I knew that meant for me to write my encouragement down because it is important to share those truths as God brings them to mind, but also for me to utilize the skill He has blessed me with. I might not be the person who will ever bring a word before the entire congregation, but I am continually surprised how much it means to people I have written notes to when they come find me and thank me because that is exactly what they needed at the right time. I want to remind everyone that you do have truth and encouragement to share with your friends, co-workers, family, and sometimes people you don’t know. And that you do not have to share that encouragement in the same way the person next to you would because that is one of the blessings of how God created you to be uniquely and perfectly you. The more we lift one another up the more we as the Kingdom are victorious!