2022 Book Review Haul

Here’s a haul of some brief, spoiler-free book reviews on the rest of my reads from 2022 (see part one here). I hope to —

1) help my own mind process and reflect on what I’ve read 2) perhaps recommend something that would be of interest to you 3) hear your thoughts on these books and 4) practice writing.

The Harvester by Gene-Stratton Porter

The Harvester is written by one of my favorite American authors (she wrote Laddie which I adore). This one was slow and just rather weird to me. Henry talks a lot. He’s also lonely living in Medicine Woods where he harvests plants for medicine, so he sets out to find the woman of his dreams, with a specific face in mind (what could go wrong?) It’s old-fashioned and sweet, just didn’t quite hold my interest.

Side note: I have to tell you a cool story of how I own this! I was at a garage sale in my neighborhood, holding a few old classics from a sale a few houses down. The sweet lady hosting a sale noticed my old books, and then we started talking books. She said, “Have you read Gene-Stratton Porter?” I said yes! She asked in I had read The Harvester, and then proceeded to go inside. Upon her return, she GAVE me one of her hardback copies. They’re not in print any more.  

Everyday Faithfulness by Glenna Marshall

Excellent book for a baby believer OR a long-time Christian who just needs the reminder of the profound power in ordinary, every-day faithfulness! We don’t drift toward being prayerful, Word-filled, obedient women. It’s convicting in its pure simplicity and practicality. “Everyday faithfulness requires patience and fortitude that’s desperately dependent upon God’s own faithfulness.” –Glenna Marshall

“To forego the habits of prayer, Bible reading, and church involvement until life is less chaotic will mean that a large portion of our lives is spent largely without attachment to and dependency upon Christ. And one could argue these are the years we need him the most!”
― Glenna Marshall

Heidi – by Johanna Spyri

It had been many years since I read Heidi, and my nostalgia about cheese and goats returned. I love the feeling of actually frolicking in the Alps. The way the color like fire spills across the peaks! “Then Heidi told him of the mountain with the great snow-field, and how it had been on fire, and had, turned rosy-red and then all of a sudden had grown quite pale again and all the color had disappeared.” –Johanna Spyri

Dear Daddy-Long-Legs – by Jean Webster

I read this rather recently but I like enough to put it in a rotation, I guess. A lonely orphan is chosen to go to a boarding school. She writes frequent letters to her secret sponsor. Her education and creativity unfolds in her letters as she pours out her heart over the course of years, but the secret sponsor never writes back! You’ll have to read it to know what happens. This book was first published in 1912. The author’s sequel “Dear Enemy” was a top-10 bestseller in 1916 in America.

Anne’s House of Dreams – by Montgomery

Isn’t it so satisfying to finally have Anne and Gilbert together, building their home in Four Winds Harbor? It’s too sweet! The parallel tragic love story of the gorgeous Leslie Moore (one of Anne’s first friends) adds mystery. There is a lot of weighty realness to match Anne’s whimsical dreaminess in this story. A paradox.

Anne of Ingleside – by Montgomery

And then, our Anne is a mother of five, and growing more sage all the time. Although, she does fall for a sad little misunderstanding with Gil. This book details many childhood incidents and plenty of gossipy neighbors who stop by to drink tea (and spill the tea).

Rainbow Valley – by Montgomery

This was my first time reading this one. The stories about Anne’s five children gave great background for my favorite, most well-read book in the whole Anne series . . .

Rilla of Ingleside – by Montgomery

Rilla is a bit self-absorbed and much the baby of Anne’s family. This story is how a world war shapes her into a woman with responsibility and character. The love story is pretty cute and humorous. It’s packed with WWI history too, thanks to Susan (the hired help and family friend) who is up to her eyeballs in politics and opinions. But wouldn’t we all be, when the headlines are impacting your own sons and brothers? Another book with layers of great grief but beauty, poetry, humor and courage.

The Last Bookshop in London – by Madeline Martin

This is a simple, sweet, wholesome story. For that, I praise the author. We need more books that are charming and innocent! The main character truly cared about doing what was right.
I give it three out of five stars because of the lack of depth in the characters and plot. I think I was just looking for a book with more layers. It may be that I prefer to read my WWII stories by the people who lived them.

The Mysterious Benedict Society – by Trenton Lee Stewart

So strange, but so captivating. I like the Encyclopedia Brown vibes.
I may have to read another one in this series, but for now I need a little break. A voracious reader would eat this up!

Peace Child – by Don Richardson

Prepare to be reminded about the depravity of a godless culture. But then be inspired by the lengths God will take to offer the gospel to every corner of the earth. I was challenged by Don’s faith in the midst of hardship and unfamiliarity. Indonesia is a place I’ve grown to care about, through having friends who are serving there. Don died in 2018, and as of then, there were approximately 275 tribal language groups in Papua and only five have a complete translated Bible.

Prince Caspian – by C.S. Lewis

I believe this is my second favorite one in the series. The plot is just so well done because the stakes are high (the destiny of all lies on the fate of one). BUT the Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe still outshines the whole series in my opinion. However, I love the faith analogies in Caspian.

“You have listened to fears, Child,’ said Aslan. ‘Come, let me breathe on you. Forget them. Are you brave again?”
― C.S. Lewis, Prince Caspian

“Go and wake the others and tell them to follow. If they will not, then you at least must follow me alone.”
― C.S. Lewis, Prince Caspian

All Creatures Great and Small – by James Herriot

This is about a vet in the 1930s serving in the English countryside. I grew interested in these books after watching the new PBS series (beautifully done). Each chapter is a work of art, with writing that paints a clear picture. Just notice his creative and strong verbs. He’s funny, too. I’m not an animal person or a medical person, so I have to squint my eyes (it’s a thing) at the gory animal procedures. But all the people dynamics make up for it. *Note, these books have language.

All Things Bright and Beautiful – by James Herriot

The sequel to All Creatures, I enjoyed listening to this one on Scrid. The actor from the PBS show reads it aloud, so the Scottish accent gives it flavor. Both books are almost like a collection of short stories, each chapter resolves with a punchline.

Jane of Lantern Hill – by Montgomery

Aw, I loved this one! A sad story made happy on the shores of Prince Edward Island. Jane lives in Canada with her manipulative grandma and sweet but easily-influenced mother. She doesn’t realize her father is alive and wants to see her. A transformation takes place when she begins the life-giving endeavor of making a house a home and mending relationships.

Framed! – by James Ponti

Framed! is about 12-year-old Florian Bates who has such a keen eye for detail, that the FBI enlists his help (as long as he is finished with his homework, his mom says.) I think middle graders would enjoy this, and maybe even learn a thing or two about reasoning by paying attention to super small details, like Florian and his pal do.

Suffering Is Never for Nothing – by Elisabeth Elliot

Having Elisabeth Elliot encourage you through trials while you clean up the kitchen? I recommend it. It’s a privilege to hear her wisdom. I’ll leave you with a few quotes from this book (which is actually an audio transcript of some sessions she gave):

“Do the next thing.” I don’t know any simpler formula for peace, for relief from stress and anxiety than that very practical, very down-to-earth word of wisdom. Do the next thing. That has gotten me through more agonies than anything else I could recommend.”
― Elisabeth Elliot

“You either believe God knows what He’s doing or you believe He doesn’t. You either believe He’s worth trusting or you say He’s not. And then, where are you? You’re at the mercy of chaos not cosmos. Chaos is the Greek word for disorder. Cosmos is the word for order. We either live in an ordered universe or we are trying to create our own reality.”
― Elisabeth Elliot

“Faith is not a feeling. Faith is willed obedience in action.”
― Elisabeth Elliot

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