February Update

The threat of frost lurks in the back of my mind even as I enjoy this deceptively spring-like weather.  Daffodils are in full bloom and blueberries are covered in buds prematurely. Winter is not over. I can set aside my desire for at least one snowy day if it means the springtime glory won’t shrivel away. My husband hopes for a frost to curb the newly hatched insect population.

In February I…

  • started early spring cleaning and decluttering in my house
  • enjoyed any warm days outside with my son who is quickly growing towards his first birthday!
  • started many books but only finished 2
  • purchased more books (of course!)
  • continued weekly homework for my Revelation class

I have searched for many years for a women’s Bible study group that was supportive and serious about in-depth study. Unfortunately, many groups devolve into gossip sessions with shallow study methods and subjective application. I am beyond blessed to have found a group of women who are Spirit-filled, supportive, and take prayer and God’s Word seriously! I have attended a weekly group at a local church with women of various ages and walks of life for about four months now. Although I have met wonderful people through online book studies and social media, it cannot replace in-person fellowship!

“Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful. And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.”

— Hebrews 10:23-25 ESV

Favorite book finished this month: North! Or Be Eaten The Wingfeather Saga Book 2 by Andrew Peterson (Children/YA Christian Fantasy)

-Have you read the Wingfeather Saga? I have not started watching the new animated Wingfeather show on the Angel Studios app because I wanted to wait until the entire first season was released.

January Update

Hello February 2023!

January creeped by for me despite the fact I have been busy! Caring for my son and spending less time with my husband because of his work schedule started to take a toll on me as the Christmas season ended. I usually keep my decorations up until Epiphany, but I took advantage of help to get cleaned up before New Year’s! I privately made some 2023 resolutions and have been somewhat on track with them. Here’s what else I have been up to!

  • Gained a few more dog grooming clients as I continue to work from home part time
  • Started training my sister to be a bathing/drying assistant
  • Finished reading 4 books (2 started in December) and have 7 on my currently reading stack
  • Changed my social media accounts to private and started a public bookstagram account @jess.literarylife
  • Started a live weekly zoom class on The book of Revelation with Theology Mom Krista Bontrager
  • Joined the YMCA because my husband had a discounted membership through his work

Favorite book finished this month: The Chronicles of Prydain book 5 The High King (re-read, Children’s Fantasy)

I have been blessed through a morning Bible study at a local church I have been visiting since fall of last year. We are studying the names of God and it has been a wonderful way to explore the character of our Father.

The class on Revelations has been wonderful, I will share more about it as the class progresses. We are several weeks in and have studied no commentaries yet, only historical background. The teacher has us read the whole book repeatedly as we go through the text line by line outlining main events/ ideas and writing down questions. Asking questions is the most important step before attempting to interpret It’s so difficult not to read the Bible (especially this book) with no preconceived ideas. Instead we are studying and praying as we dive into what the text says. Although mysterious, the message of Revelation is hopeful, not depressing as you might think!

How has your January been?

2022 Reading Review

I love using Goodreads to track my yearly reading goals! My completed goal of 50 books read is a personal record! I don’t count books I only started, individual chapters for research, random poetry, Bible reading, or baby board books. I do count audiobooks, re-reads, and some children’s story books I read aloud. I prefer paper books to ebooks and audiobooks are lifesavers for listening while working! I own physical copies of almost all my audiobooks.

It was fun to participate in some online reading community! I was a volunteer judge for Realm Awards and a member of 3 book launches. I participated in 2 live book clubs through The Center for Biblical Unity. Here is a breakdown and a few of my recommended favorites. What was your favorite book of 2022? Download the link below for my full reading list!

Of the titles below, 7 were ebooks and 18 audiobooks.

8 Children’s Books. Favorite: Ocean Sky by the Fan Brothers

7 Children/Middle Grade (3 re-reads). Favorite: The Chronicles of Prydain Bk 3 The Castle of Llyr by Lloyd Alexander.

7 Classics (5 re-reads). Favorite: Dracula by Bram Stoker

6 Fantasy/Steampunk/Dystopian. Favorites: Mistborn by Brandon Sanderson and The Skyworld Duology by Morgan L Busse

2 Romance. Favorite: The Time of the Hunter’s Moon by Victoria Holt

3 Sci-Fi. Favorite: The Wayward by Tabitha Caplinger

6 Historical Fiction/Mystery. Favorite: Bird in a Snare by N.L. Holmes

4 Non-Fiction. Favorite: Decluttering at the Speed of Life by Dana K White

6 Christian Worldview/Theology. (2 re-reads). Favorites: Stand Up Stand Strong by Sarah Barrett, Faithfully Different by Natasha Crain, The Crucifixion of the King of Glory by Eugenia Constantinou

1 Educational Philosophy (Christian): For the Children’s Sake by Edith Schaeffer McCauley  

Review: The Wayward

This book is now available for pre-order! I am thankful to be a part of the launch team and received a free ARC in exchange for my honest review!

Christian-made hopeful dystopian. Realistic relationships. Loving married couple. Surviving trauma. Alien invaders welcomed on earth. Value of human life.  Free country living vs controlled and lifeless domed cities. Truth revealed. Adult/YA.

5 stars because this is a well-written, thrilling, yet hopeful sci fi adventure! This book took me by surprise because it doesn’t feel like science fiction/ dystopian right away.  I saw one reviewer aptly refer to this book as “cottagecore sci fi!” I highly recommend this for a reader who wants to “get their feet wet” in the sci-fi/dystopian genre. Set in North America in 2079 long after aliens are welcomed on earth as bringers of peace, the reader finds out that things are not what they seem.

Wilder is a relatable character who doesn’t seek leadership but rises to the occasion to defend her town despite the tragedies she suffers through. The relationship between her and Declan is uplifting and realistic. It’s nice to have a sweet married couple as the story’s main characters without being steamy. Their initial romance was a bit sappy for my taste, but here I am splitting hairs. I want to live in the tightknit mountain community of Beartooth and attend the simple church services there. The contrast between the free-thinking, tough, and loving humans of Beartooth and the willfully ignorant, weak, and self-centered humans of the carefully curated domed cities is stark.

The story is told 3rd person from 6 different POV’s and I enjoyed that! The concept of the aliens in this story is fascinating, and their POV’s are central to the story. This seems to be a standalone story, although I would love a sequel spending more time with some of the characters! The world building is good, but I wanted more explanation about the alien’s origins. The ending leaves a few questions, and I believe the author may have left them intentionally open-ended. There are scary/disturbing elements of this story but nothing gratuitous (see spoilers for more details). The ending is thrilling but satisfying!

Scroll down for additional thoughts… (Spoiler alert!) Please do not continue reading unless you have already finished the book!

Additional Thoughts. SPOILERS! Comment if you have read the book and what you thought!

This book can be intense but nothing gratuitous because (Spoiler alert!) there is mental/physical torture, soul sucking, human sacrifice, and the aliens are frightening when they reveal their true form. Tackling aliens can be a difficult one for Christians authors who place them in a real- world situation.  One of the main themes is God’s special creation of the human soul. These aliens claim to kill humans and drink their souls for survival. Later it’s revealed that they can physically live without doing this, but they have no souls so they feel spiritually empty without sucking the human souls. At the end, the repentant alien Hesperia (who is a great character!) comes to live with the humans at Beartooth and it is hinted that maybe she can find a soul without killing humans? This makes me think that maybe they do have souls but they don’t think they do because their culture has drilled it out of them???? These aliens would have to be God’s creations… but maybe they weren’t given souls? They claim to be an ancient race… whose souls did they eat before coming to earth? Also, there are supposed to be more aliens coming to earth but the ending never suggests if they do or if so, what happens. Fascinating… I want to pick the author’s brain on what her theories were when writing this and if she will ever revisit it! Also- I wanted to cry with joy at the end when Wilder and Declan adopted one of the rescued babies and she looked similar to them! This was such a great ending especially when she was devastated to be barren.

Review: SkyWorld Duology

Skyworld: Secrets in the Mist and Skyworld: Blood Secrets are action-packed steampunk novels by Morgan L. Busse. I read Secrets earlier this year and eagerly anticipated the sequel. I joined the launch team for Blood Secrets and had the opportunity to read an advanced copy. I now own the beautiful hardback copies of both books! The audiobooks are great also! This series has sparked my interest in steampunk-themed fantastical fiction.

This story takes place in a dystopian world where humanity lives at the highest elevations, using airships and gliders for quick air travel. After a world war, ubiquitous Mist takes over the surface of the earth, rendering the land inhabitable and turning anyone who breathes it into the undead “turned.”  Resources are limited and the wealthy class suppresses the lower class as they fight for survival. The story follows Cass, a young survivor of the dreaded purges. Seeking a way to make a living for herself, she joins the crew of an airship as a hired diver, searching for items left behind in the Mist. Her life is forever changed when she meets Theodore, a wealthy and educated member of the ruling five families. Theo and Cass’s places in society would set them at odds, but they share a common purpose; ridding the world of the Mist before it takes over all humanity. Once they discover a cure, Cass wrestles with the concept that the world is worth saving. It is great to have clean steampunk with airships, gliders, creepy metal men, firearms, sky pirates, and “zombies.” I do not prefer zombie stories, but I enjoyed how the author used the concept in this story.

Cass is a relatable female character, brave yet vulnerable. She is not overbearing or unrealistically independent like many female characters in YA fiction today. Theo is a genuine gentleman, scientist, and adventurer. He is kind and strong, and their romance is sweet! They are one of my new favorite literary couples. They both rely on their faith for strength and meaning.

I had no issues with the first book, but the sequel lost a star from me because the ending was rushed. Even though it ended the way I wanted, it wasn’t fully developed. This made for a surprisingly unsatisfactory ending.

I would love it if the author revisited this world with another novel or maybe short stories. I highly recommend these books. It is thrilling YA, but not too scary or graphic for MG and some younger readers.