What I'm Reading - October 2016

 A Recent library Haul

A Recent library Haul

Are you there, Internet? It's me, Whitney. 

Yes, it's been a month and a half since I posted on here. September was not a fun month. Car wreck, sick days, lost FitBit, police ticket, denied insurance claims - maybe I should rename it the expensive month. I'm very glad it's over and October is here, despite the damp, chilly weather.

But the good news is - we survived and are still kicking along. Our kitchen actually has cabinets and countertops. The car is back after 3 weeks in the shop. And I get to make my first court appearance next week to ask the judge if he can pretty please reduce my ticket fee? We'll see how that goes. 

 Our kitchen Reno progress

Our kitchen Reno progress

So it's no wonder I escaped into some great stories this month, and I'm going to share them with you. In fact, in the future, I'll be blogging more about books, along with the other two things that get me excited - following Jesus and traveling. Life has changed a lot for us, and I'm finally accepting that I just want to blog about what fires me up. Fortunately, those three things often intersect. Hopefully those fire you up, too, and you'll stick along for the ride.

But for now - on to the book reviews!

Linking up with Modern Mrs Darcy for Quick Lit - check it out for even more great book reviews.

Super Sushi Ramen Express: One Family's Journey Through the Belly of Japan is the perfect travel-foodie-memoir, with Bryson-esque self-deprecating humor and fine-tuned attention to what makes Japanese food unique and delicious.

Michael Booth moves his wife and two young boys to Japan to discover the world of Japanese cuisine and along the way uncovers the history and use of familiar foods like tofu, miso, seaweed, soba noodles, and tempura, as well as many other more obscure ingredients.

As a former traveler to Japan myself, I reveled in his stories of hilarious cultural misunderstandings, the bizarre sense of other-worldliness as he wanders the streets of Tokyo, and the warm generosity of the Japanese people. My only complaint (if it could be called one) is that the chapters seem too brief - I could have kept reading much longer than the chapters allowed me to!

Rated: 4/5
Recommended for: foodies, travelers, & anyone wanting to broaden their culinary horizons

Note: I received this book free from Net Galley in exchange for my review. All opinions are my own and completely honest.

Code of the Woosters was my first Wodehouse novel (although I'm familiar with him through watching the hilarious Blandings series on DVD). I was looking for something light, silly, and entertaining; this fit the bill perfectly.

Wooster and Jeeves - privileged man and faithful butler - travel to their friend's countryside home after receiving an urgent telegram, only to find themselves at the heart of multiple family dramas and romantic crises involving a cow creamer, a stolen policeman's hat, and a mysterious secret. As much as I enjoyed reading it, I can only imagine how much better an audiobook version would be.

Rating: 4/5
Recommended for: Anyone needing a bit of a laugh who enjoys British slapstick humor

The Brother Cadfael series was a high school favorite of mine that I have recently rediscovered and started collecting (after I heard it was no longer in print in the US). Cadfael is a former Crusader-turned-monk who spends his time growing herbs, brewing medicinal tonics, and solving the murders that never stop showing up during the turmoil of 12th century England.

In One Corpse Too Many, King Stephen orders all rebels in the newly captured castle of Shrewsbury to be hanged. When Cadfael attends the bodies, he finds one too many - the result of a cunning murderer using the execution of rebels to hide his own crime. The plot unfolds amidst lively descriptions of medieval England. 

One thing I love about the series is the insight into human nature and the spiritual realm Cadfael reveals. It's refreshing to find quotes in a mystery novel that you can actually underline!

The ugliness that man can do to man might cast a shadow between you and the certainty of the justice and mercy God can do to him hereafter. It takes half a lifetime to reach the spot where eternity is always visible, and the crude injustice of the hour shrivels out of sight.

Rating: 4/5
Recommended for: History buffs, murder mystery fans

Despite the extremely strong language and sometimes crude scenes, I can't help being a Tana French fan. Her psychological thrillers (set in Ireland) completely take you into the mind of another. She focuses more on the effect of the investigation on that person's psyche and gives you the experience of what it's like to unravel a murder.

The Trespasser follows Antoinette Conway (first introduced in The Secret Place) into a seemingly routine domestic murder of a young woman dressed up, dead in her home with a table set for two. On the surface, the victim seems shallow and common. But as Conway and her partner Steve Moran delve further into her background, Conway begins to suspect others around her of playing a role - and how far they will go to get her off the squad.

The parallel narratives of Conway and the murder victim Aislinn were fascinating, in addition to how the mystery plays out. I carried this 450-page novel around with me for about a week, just in case I had a few minutes to grab more of the story. Again - strong language warning - but if you don't mind some Irish language, you might enjoy it.

Rating: 4/5
Recommended for: Irish literature fans, lovers of psychological thrillers

A friend gave me Mom Enough after her own book purge months ago. I was looking for a nice, short book with a lot of punch - this was a good pick. Full caveat - it's actually a collection of blog posts written by/for/about moms from Desiring God. Each chapter focuses on different aspects of motherhood (missional motherhood; tantrums for our transformation; the wrong prayer for our children), all with the goal of realizing - we are not mom enough; but God is 'God' enough for us.

Motherhood is hard and tiring and relentless. There are lots of people happy to discourage us from it, or to point us in the wrong direction when we feel worn out or confused. We don't need a new cleaning schedule or a different job. We need to know that God is enough to satisfy us and strengthen us to mother our kids well, for their good and his glory. 

Since each chapter is only a blog post's length, it's a great resource to pick up, read for 5 minutes, and get on with your day. You can also download the e-version for FREE! Check it out on the Desiring God website here. (It's also available on Amazon.)

Rated: 5/5
Recommended for: All moms everywhere!

What have you been reading lately?

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