March Reads

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April is here, spring is not. However, who’s complaining when we have loads of coffee and stacks of books? Here is what I finished in March. How about you? What did you finish?

When Death Draws Near by Carrie Stuart Parks (****) – This was a unique, quirky mystery with plenty of suspense. I did not figure out the creep before the end. Bravo. It was written well and the characters were drawn wonderfully! The snake handling church plot was slightly hard to swallow, but in the end, it overall worked. I’m looking forward to reading more from this author.

Letters from Eden: A Year at Home, in the Woods by Julie Zicklefoose (*****) This was a delightful memoir mixed with gorgeous nature paintings. Ziclefoose’s attention to detail in her paintings and writing captured the beauty of the birds and natural world around her. I really enjoyed this and found it soothing.

The Skin Map by Stephen R. Lawhead (****) – This is the first in a fantasy series called Bright Empires and Lawhead doesn’t disappoint. This took me a little while to get into, but then I was hooked. The premise is that there are ley lines all over the world that lead to alternate realities and time travel. Kit Livingston’s great-grandfather shows up in London one day, shocking Kit out of his regular life, sharing secrets, mysterious maps tattooed on skin,  and multi-layered universes.

Habitation of Wonder by Abigail Carroll (*****) – I would give this six stars if I could. Just lovely, haunting poetry, exploring the beauty of life, nature, and faith in an approachable, gorgeous, lyrical way. I’m on my third reread of it, it’s not long, it’s so life-giving and wonder-provoking. Carroll is my favorite modern poet and you can visit her here and read some of her words.

Still Writing: The Pleasures and Perils of a Creative Life by Dani Shapiro (*****) – this was a beautiful collection of essays, memoir-style about Shapiro’s life and process as a writer. She has such a beautiful way of looking at life with a slant, of appreciating the beauty, but still understanding the reality. Many times, I was nodding, and felt like I had found a sister with regards to understanding the mental battle writers are always facing. I really loved this one. Highly recommend.

Sidney Chambers and the Shadow of Death by James Runcie (***) – I found these six interconnected mysteries to be interesting and the perfect light read. Sidney Chambers is a priest with the Church of England and finds himself constantly intertwined with local crime solving. My favorite thing about this book was Sidney himself. He is constantly struggling with the tension between his duties to God and his parish and his strange ability to help the police solve crimes. His love of poetry, jazz, and biking and the gorgeous descriptions of England make these a delightful read. One story was a bit more disturbing as it involves a woman’s kidnapping by a twisted man, but for the most part these were intriguing. Not grisly or super in-depth crimes, definitely more inner character driven type writing. I enjoyed these very much and hope to read more.

The Masterpiece by Francine Rivers (***) – this was a sweet story of redemption for two people, one a single mother and the other a tortured artist with a dark past. I really enjoyed Roman, the artist’s, character.

The Holy Bible (*****) – Colossians, 1 & 2 Thessalonians, 1 & 2 Timothy, Titus, Philemon, and finished Psalms.

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17 thoughts on “March Reads

  1. Great recommendations! Just wondering if you would recommend When Death Draws Near and the Skin Map for young adults…age 16 specifically. Anything questionable as far as content?

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    1. Hi Julie, thanks for stopping by! When Death Draws Near doesn’t have anything questionable in it, but the protagonist is an older woman who has gone through a double mastectomy and references some of that in her internal conversations. There is a slight bit of romance also. I wouldn’t hesitate to allow my 14 yo daughter to read it. If your 16 yo is a boy, he might not enjoy that one as much. The Skin Map is an excellent book for young adults! Some of Lawhead’s books have adult topics and violence in them, but what I’ve read from him has been done in a tasteful way, and the Skin Map was wonderful. I’m reading the second in the series now, so hopefully, I can do a short review next month! 🙂

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  2. I’m most interested in The Skin Map and Letters from Eden. Being an artist as well as a writer I’m drawn to Julie Zicklefoose’s book. And The Skin Map reminds me of Kim Harrison’s The Hollows.
    Good blog !
    Teresa Reasor

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  3. You asked what we had finished. I finished hoping to get to the end of the one book I started this year. Honestly! Where does the time go? That was a silly question. I spend much of my day reading and enjoying blogs. I sit with a view of the mountains, and they need reading, too. On a cloudy day, there is a different scene every five minutes. You are an amazing person who runs a busy household, home schools, AND reads. My hat is off to you.

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  4. For any thinking of giving Lawhead’s fiction to young adults, it’s always a good idea to read it first. I read many of his books as a teenager. My mother gave them to me thinking they were fine because his works were sold in CBD, but his sf novel Dream Thief (especially) contains some pretty salacious stuff that is not appropriate for most young people to read, particularly young men (a pagan “goddess” of sorts whose followers engage in mass sexual revelry, women in sexual situations together, a threesome briefly mentioned, etc.). Also, his Pendragon books and his Song of Albion trilogy, which is some of his finest writing, contain a few sections that parents would want to be aware of Though I highly enjoyed the Song of Albion books and still own them, as a parent of avid readers, I’d want to approach them with my older children with this knowledge.

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    1. Thank you so much for this! I appreciate the heads up. I am assuming Amy that the book you read did not have these kind of scenarios in them?

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  5. My apologies! The Lawhead books with the scenarios I described above are found in his sf Empyrion books, not Dream Thief. From what I remember of Dream Thief, it’s harmless but bland. I’m sure that most of his writing is fine, and I’m sure your judgement is trustworthy, it’s just that on several reading blogs, I’ve seen one of Lawhead’s books put forth as a good read (which, in each case, it probably it is!), which is then followed by a comment or two from someone saying perhaps they’ll pick it up for a son or daughter. I usually leave a comment like the one above simply to let the reader know Lawhead’s works can’t be handed out willy-nilly if one is concerned about content. From those I’ve read, his books marketed to younger readers are free of any objectionable material; the problem occurs with a precocious reader like myself whose parent finds they like the first Lawhead book the parent gave her and then buys whatever other works of Lawhead’s that the Christian book market sells. I’d definitely give Song of Albion to older readers; I remember it as a compelling read. Of the Empyrion books, unfortunately, I remember little but those few graphic sexual descriptions!

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    1. Dear J, I appreciate your in depth look at them! I have not read all of his books and did mention to Julie above that some had adult themes and violence in them. My daughter and I read the Song of Albion series together and while, yes, there was some older themes, we were able to talk through them. I have not read the Empyrion series, so that is very good to know, as that sounds even more graphic than Song of Albion. I appreciate your comments and thanks for stopping by! Please return! I love talking books with people. 🙂

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