June is always a psycho crazy busy month for me. I’ve (mostly) read two books this month, and should have posted the first review three weeks ago when I finished the first book, but… it’s June.
Bear with me, dear book enthusiasts.
I have good news and bad news.
A good review and a not so awesome review.
I’ll try to be succinct.
The first book I read this month was called “Together with You” by Victoria Bylin. It was a great read. The plot twists were good, and I found this book was not as predictable as romance novels usually are. I wasn’t totally sure what would end up coming next, and I was glad to find that I didn’t have the ending pegged by half-way through the book. I became quite invested in the characters — especially Penny, the little girl dealing with Fetal Alcohol Effects who Carly becomes a nanny to take care of.
I think what drew me in was my personal experience working with children with FASD, and so I found the plot-line to be a well-researched look into what life for a 5-year old must battle. You can’t help but love Penny. The book wasn’t really about her, and yet it was…. and I get it if that doesn’t make sense, but you’ll just have to read the book :)
All this said, this book has convinced me to take a hiatus from romance novels for a little while. At least specifically — romance novels without at least some element of mystery or other plot to work through need to be something I quit for the time being. I found that reading a book where two people can fall in love nearly effortlessly left me annoyed that I can’t find that… even though intrinsically I know that life so rarely unfolds like it does in romance novels or chick flicks.
I suppose what I’m saying is — I thoroughly enjoyed the book. If you like romance novels, I think you’ll enjoy this book. If you’re struggling with being single and would like the man of your dreams to land in your lap but that just isn’t happening for you, haha, this may not be the right choice :)
The next book I read…. well… confession time… I couldn’t finish it. The next book I tried to read was called Everyday Grace by Jessica Thompson. I feel badly that I couldn’t finish it, and I think there were a few reasons why — not all of them having much to do with the book itself.
I think it’s a book that I need to come back to later. I was reflecting on that fact earlier this afternoon as I was struggling to try to finish it so I could write this review (which is due in less than 24 hours). I’m just not into it. Here are a few reasons — and please take my reasons with a grain of salt, because like I said, I’m pretty sure this book has potential, and I’m not shelving it forever. I will go back to it.
Reasons I can’t finish this book:
1. I’m going through a time in my life right now where I’m finding it difficult to dish out grace, and this book is all about seasoning all of our relationships with grace, leaning on the love of Jesus so that we’re relying on God to be fulfilled in every area of our lives and not those we’re in relationship with. I know that relying on others for what only God can give only sets expectations too high and sets everyone involved up for failure. That said, I’ve been searching for a new job for the past few weeks, and I haven’t been succeeding, and I am feeling frustrated beyond what I feel I can bear at my current job as a result. I’m not leaning on God like I should be, and that fact alone has made this a challenging read. I clearly need to push through this book, because the principles tucked inside could make me less of a word vampire (someone who dominates a conversation, thinking only about themselves) whenever someone brings work up.
2. The author herself admitted that there are thousands of books on relationships that turn up in an Amazon search. I found at the beginning, the information wasn’t new. I wasn’t learning. Now again, I suspect that’s tied closely to point number 1 — my heart doesn’t want to learn right now. I need to let go, but I don’t have time to do that and finish the book tonight, so I have to be open with you, my readers, right now.
3. There are chapters in the book on relationships with our children, and on our marriages — I tend to gloss right through sermons, books, blog posts… whatever… on that topic right now because I feel like they don’t apply. That said, I have found in the past that reading those articles, posts, chapters, etc…. and listening intently to those sermons… has given me information that has helped in dating relationships. And why not learn before we’re thrown into the middle of a challenging situation?? Wouldn’t it be better to be prepared? I recommend that anyone who picks this book up give it more of a fair shot than I have.
So those are the reasons I haven’t finished the book yet. Here are a couple things I found encouraging as I desperately tried to finish it this afternoon so I could write this. These were the points I found after finding that I just couldn’t finish the book on time no matter how hard I try, and I feel strongly that they are points God will use to nudge me to finish the book.
- I’ve been reminded just in what I was able to finish that loving others starts with the understanding that God loved us first, before we did anything. I don’t have to go out and face the daunting challenge of “love your neighbour” without the understanding that I have a deep, unconditional love aimed at me ALL. THE. TIME. God is great like that. He doesn’t walk away from us when we don’t live up to His expectations. That alone is enough to get me to finish the book after this review has been due.
- God initiates friendships. We don’t have to see the God of the Universe, decide that we hope He’ll like us, and then strive for His acceptance — He’s been coming for us all along, and He loves us no matter what we do. Leaning on that CAN give us stronger relationships here on Earth with the people God has put into our lives — whether they’re people we feel like we want to love or not. I’m excited to see what Jessica Thompson has to say when I can give this book a fair shot.
- God’s mission is heavily wrapped into our relationships with our communities. This chapter was what made me decide to read the book despite not having been able to finish it in time for the review. It caught my eye briefly as I flipped through the book, having decided not to finish it and write the review anyway. My church is heavily focused on loving our communities and showing the love of Jesus through that. I feel often like I’m bad at that. Like I’m guilty of doing things so others will see me doing them and feel guilty about the kind of friend or person they aren’t being — Jessica Thompson gave some concrete examples from her own life, which were encouraging for me, to know that I am not alone in that unfortunate habit.
All this to say — I can’t honestly recommend or dissuade anyone to or away from this book at this point. I haven’t finished it, though I think that I’d like to. I don’t think I’ve given it a fair shot and I think my own heart is getting in the way of that. Has that ever happened to you? Has anyone read this book? What did you think?
I received both of these books as part of a review program with Graf-Martin Communications, Inc.