Tuesday, May 28, 2019

Here, Now: Unearting Peace and Presence in an Overconnected World by Kate Merrick

Here, Now: Unearthing Peace and Presence in an Overconnected World by Kate Merrick

4 stars

“We are here, now.”

Kate Merrick’s story picks up with her family leaving their small California surfing town for Israel to find a curable treatment for her daughter, Daisy’s cancer. Here, Now looks at the family’s time in Israel becoming completely unplugged from media and learning to connect to those around them as well as God. This novel offers the challenging question of what does it mean for us to become unplugged and find peace and the presence of God in a world that encourages you to be connected superficially but not genuinely connected to those in your present life. This novel has some incredibly touching moments especially the moments about Daisy and her son as well as Phi, their daughter who God gave them a year after Daisy’s passing. I loved the family aspect of this novel. It was sweet and it was interesting to follow a family’s experience in Israel and connecting to the people. I loved the conversations about the Sabbath (which is important) and her commentary on Mary of Bethany (who has become one of my favorite women of the Bible in this season of my life). This novel really dives into how Mary of Bethany choose to bask in the presence of Jesus in contrast to her sister Martha who chooses to clamor about the house and worry over worldly expectations. Merrick tackles this scripture beautifully and I loved its inclusion to the central idea that being unplugged is a good thing and can help us put being present with God over having a presence on the Internet. I wasn’t always the biggest fan of Merrick’s writing. Often times I found myself getting pulled out and at times I loved how she chose to wove words together. I think the thing I noticed was that there is a tendency for two types of prose in her style overly polished and completely chaotic (which is on par with valley girl writing). Neither of these are bad styles, but I wish that there was a more cohesive flow. This book didn’t always blow me away but it did inspire to lay off of Facebook and Instagram during finals week at the beginning of May and I was much more present in the world with my friends and had more intimate time with God. I do recommend this one and I think many people will be challenge and convicted by its themes on rest, partaking in the Sabbath, trusting in the beauty of God through the decay of the world, and checking baggage and ourselves. This novel offers some important commentary on a world that is too obsessed with being plugged in by an author who has no problem unplugging completely.

Whimsical Writing Scale: 3.75

Plotastic Scale: 4.25

Cover Thoughts: I love and adore this cover. The striking yellow cursive with the white background. It’s beautiful.

Thank you, Netgalley and Thomas Nelson, for providing me with a copy of this novel in exchange for an honest review.
Have you ever taken a social media fast or break? Do you like to stay plugged in or be unplugged? Let me know down below in the comments!

Monday, May 27, 2019

45 of My Favorite 2018 Reads

Hey, everyone! I didn't post my favorite books of 2018 yet and I think it's time that I did so. If you are interested in checking out any of my other 2018 lists, here is a list of them:

Books That Weren't For Me, But You May Love (2018 Reads)

Books That I Liked in 2018

Audiobooks I Read in 2018

Books That I Want to Read in 2019 

2018 Disappointing Books 

I was trying to think of a way to form this post and I think it would be easier to just list it from top-rated all the way down to my absolute favorite of 2018. You can scroll down all the way to the bottom for the best of the best! I will also be throwing in my rereads because my ratings changed for most of them and it's a beautiful thing to see reading tastes change.

Genre: YA Sci-fi
The Last Star (4.5 stars) is the final book in The 5th Wave trilogy and I loved it. It was a fantastic conclusion. Check out my review here.
Genre: Romance
 Love Story (4.5 stars) That's right, I'm putting a Christian fiction novel on this list. Who am I? I don't know but I really was a sucker for this.
Genre: True Crime
I'll Be Gone in the Dark: One Woman's Obsessive Search for the Golden State Killer (4.5 stars) is a fantastic true crime novel that chronicles McNamara searching for the Golden State Killer. It was captivating and the audio was a great listen, but I must admit I probably missed a lot of information.
Genre: Satire
God Bless You, Mr. Rosewater (4.5 stars) This book is a wild ride of jokes, crass satirical viewpoints, and all things Vonnegut. Not my favorite of his works, but I loved it.
Genre: Romance
A Devil in Scotland (4.5 stars) This bad boy (some pun intended) was the best historical romance I read in 2018. Definitely one that I highly recommend! Check out my review here!
Genre: Satire
White Teeth (4.5 stars) This is probably one of the most absurd novels I've ever read and I loved the experience, especially since I looked at academically.
Genre: YA Contemporary
I Have Lost My Way (4.5 stars) reminded me of why I loved Gayle Forman's books in high school. Check out my review here.
Genre: MG Horror
 Coraline (4.5 stars) is a creepy and fun ride. It is a wonderful time that is narrated beautifully by Neil Gaiman.
Genre: Contemporary
An American Marriage (4.5 stars) completely sweeps the reader (or listener) into a whirlwind ride of emotions that shows the culture of the deep South, its racism, and a marriage.
Genre: Horror
The Cabin at the End of the World (4.5 stars) is an intense and dramatic horror novel. It kept me on the edge of my seat and was one of the most heart-pounding reads of 2018 for me.
Genre: Fantasy
The Night Circus (4.75 stars) I originally gave this a 3-star rating, so my tastes have drastically changed. It's beautifully written and the atmosphere is breathtaking and bold. Check out my review here.
Genre: Self-Help
Girl, Wash Your Face: Stop Believing the Lies About Who You Are So You Can Become Who You Are Meant to Be (5 stars) I really enjoyed the audio for this novel, but I am not sure if I would still rate it 5-stars.

Genre: Thriller
Pieces of Her (5 stars) is a thriller that follows a daughter who witnesses her mother kill a murderer and embarks on a journey to uncover how her mother has gotten there while being on the run.
Genre: Theology / Religion
The Case for Jesus: The Biblical and Historical Evidence for Christ (5 stars) marks two different arguments for Christ through the Biblical context and the historical context. It felt like a history class and I loved it.
Genre: Thriller
The Good Daughter (5 stars) This was a wild ride! It's dark, gritty, and horrifying. This book proved to me that Karin Slaughter is my favorite thriller author.
Genre: YA Horror
The Dark Descent of Elizabeth Frankenstein (5 stars) Everything that felt lackluster in Frankenstein was fixed in this novel for me. I can't recommend this one enough!
Genre: Sci-fi
Oryx and Crake (5 stars) is a wild and brilliant look into what our society would be like if it was all about creating things that should not be created. It's an interesting look at the end of the world and it has some fantastic character development (and twists!).
Genre: Memoir
The Sun Does Shine: How I Found Life and Freedom on Death Row (5 stars) will break your heart and restore your hope in humanity while also simultaneously making you hate how our American society works.
Genre: YA Contemporary
Long Way Down (5 stars) is one of the quickest reads on this list and will hit your gut where it needs to be hit in regards to how you view the cycle of gang violence and its cycle of retribution.
Genre: Christian Living
 The Pursuit of Holiness (5 stars) My heart was convicted by the choices I made and how I was pursuing my own decisions instead of the holiness that God offers. It drastically changed me.
Genre: Historical Fiction
Rust & Stardust (5 stars) is a historical fiction novel about a young girl who was kidnapped by a predator in the late '40s. Her story inspired Lolita and ends in tragedy. This book was beautiful. Check out my review here.
Genre: Suspense
Big Little Lies (5 stars) Kindergarten moms who do horrible things and are involved in a murder have never been as interesting as they were in this fantastic novel. 
Genre: Thriller
The Last Time I Lied (5 stars) is hands down one of the most gripping thrillers I read in 2018 and I couldn't put it down. It also has one of the best endings that I've come across in a thriller because I was not expecting the twists of all twists to hit me upside my head. Check out my review here.
Genre: YA Historical Fiction
Between Shades of Gray (5 stars) This book still holds up seven years later and needs to be read by everyone. Check out my updated review here.
Genre: YA Contemporary
The Hate U Give (5 stars) deserves all the praise and accolades it has received. This novel is real and raw. The characters are alive and the story hits all the places where America needs to be hit.
Genre: YA Fantasty
The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe (5 stars) reminds me of childhood happiness, sacrifice, and how Christ will always choose us even when we are the worst (like Edmund- because let's be real we are all Edmund).
Genre: Manga
Death Note Volume 1: Boredom (5 stars) is one of the best manga ever written. Check out my review here.
Genre: YA Contemporary
All the Rage (5 stars) tackles sexual assault and how not dealing with it leads to more sexual assault. This book made me feel all the rage (and hurt) and I am happy that it does.
Genre: YA Horror
The Diviners (5 stars) checks all of my boxes: 1920s, supernatural powers, the impending apocalypse, a mystery, horror, and a cast of characters that has me hooked and rooting for them.
Genre: Horror
It (5 stars) I originally gave this novel 2 stars and read it when it I was twelve, my tastes as a reader have clearly changed. This novel is intense and it will make you uncomfortable.
Genre: Memoir
Anne Frank Remembered (5 stars) tore my heart apart and made me weep for those who suffered in Europe during WWII. Miep Gies reminds us that even in a world of cruelty there is still good within people. Check out my review here.
Genre: Fantasy / Historical Fiction
The Mermaid (5 stars) was one of the best fantasy / historical fiction novels that I read in 2018. This book made my heart hurt and I loved it. Check out my review here.
Genre: Suspense / Contemporary
The Lovely Bones (5 stars) is one of the hardest reads I've read because I was not expecting this book to destroy my soul. 
Genre: YA Historical Fiction
Salt to the Sea (5 stars) is one of the best narrated books that I've listened to and it made my heart hurt, which is to be expected. This is my favorite Ruta Sepetys novel. It's fantastic.
Genre: YA/NA Fantasy
Tess of the Road (5 stars) is one of the more mature YA novels I came across in 2018 and I'd even say that it would've been well-suited as an adult novel. This fantasy novel hit hard in topics that YA doesn't usually address and I loved that. Check out my review here.
Genre: YA Fantasy
Reign the Earth (5 stars) packs a punch. It is a desert fantasy story that follows an abusive marriage to a man who wants to destroy magic people and the woman he marries has magic in her veins. Check out my review here.
Genre: Fantasy
Child of the Prophecy (5 stars) was a fantastic wrap-up to my favorite trilogy. Wow. Did it hit home and following an anti-hero wa
Genre: Thriller/Horror
 Pretty Girls (5 stars) is one of those shocking and horrifying novels that has stuck with me. I think about it a lot and every time I do, I feel anger in my gut at the injustices that continue to happen to women and children for the sake of a man's pleasure.
Genre: Thriller/Horror
You (5 stars) is one of those disgusting novels that makes you sick but you can't stop looking away. It's brilliant. Absolutely brilliant.
Genre: Horror / Sci-Fi
The Long Walk (5 stars) makes my feet hurt. I'm serious when I read this book my legs and feet ached while reading that how real and tortuously harrowing and real King made this story. 
Genre: Horror
The Shining (5 stars) is another favorite and another King novel on this list. Honestly, seeing so many of works shouldn't be surprising at this point. This one is creepy and chilling. If you like haunted and demon stories, then this one is for you. Also Danny is the best character in this book and I think one of my all-time favorite King characters.
Genre: Christian Living (Women's)
Uninvited: Living Loved When You Feel Less Than, Left Out, and Lonely (5 stars) sucker punched me in my soul. If you struggle with rejection and often are too hard on yourself then this book is for you. It's life-changing. Mainly I loved this book because it made me look at topics I'd rather ignore.

Genre: Horror/ Thriller
Gerarld's Game (5 stars) was a surprising favorite for me and the minute I picked it up, I knew this novel would change a part of my soul and it did. It's dark, disgusting, and shockingly real. People like Jessie's dad exist and those stories stick with you forever.
Genre: Fantasy
Son of the Shadows (5 stars) is my favorite book of the year outside of the Bible and WOW I can't believe it took me as long as I did to continue the Sevenwaters series. These books are amazing. 2018 was the year of reading pregnant heroines in fantasy and it's a trope I love. I just adore this book. What a queen. She rescued her man with a baby on her back.



The Bible- This was my first-time reading it all the way through and it was definitely a wild ride. My favorite book is Isaiah.

I know it's almost halfway through 2019, but these books are awesome and there is never a time not to recommend some awesome and noteworthy books. I hope you added some of these to your TBR. See any of your favorites? If you did let me know down below in the comments!

Books I've Read in 2018 #68-75

Hey, everyone! It's me again with another old video! New videos coming soon, I'm just trying to get my life together when it comes to my BookTube channel. 

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Death Note, Volume 1: Bordeom- 5 stars This is my favorite manga / anime. The story is so intricate and genius. This opener is a banger. Check out my review here.
The Sun Does Shine: How I Found Life and Freedom on Death Row by Anthony Ray Hinton- 5 stars If you are looking for a memoir that looks at social issues in America from the perspectives of people who experience these injustices, then this is the book for you. The audiobook is amazing and gut-punching. I can't recommend it enough.
Bellewether by Susanna Kearsley- 2 stars This book is one that I wanted to love, but nothing about it stuck out to me. I'm disappointed by that because this book was supposed to be a book for me. I do plan on giving Kearsley another shot in the future. Check out my review here.
Prince Caspian by C.S. Lewis- 4.25 stars I wanted to love this, but it's hard to follow up to The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe. It wasn't a groundbreaking novel, but it was so much fun and I can't lie, I enjoyed being back with the Pevinsies.
The Bible- 5 stars That's right I read the Bible all the way through for the first in 2018 and it's something I never thought I would do (mainly due to my own pretentious worldly judgments- I was so judgmental, y'all). The Bible is fantastic. My favorite book is Isaiah.
 To All the Boys I've Loved Before by Jenny Han- 3.5 stars This book was a lot of fun. The audiobook was adorable and I loved the characters. The movie is cute, too. Check out my review here.
The Favorite Sister by Jessica Knoll- 2 stars (DNF) This is the first audiobook I've ever DNFed and I have no plans of picking up the book. I think I would've quit this novel quicker if I had picked it up to read. Check out my review here.
Rust & Stardust by T. Greenwood- 5 stars This historical fiction novel is based on the real life Lolita, Sally Horner, who was kidnapped by a man who claimed  to be a FBI agent and later convinced her mother he was her friend's father. It's horrifying and this book is beautiful. Check out my review here.

Recommend the Most:
I'll just list out my 5-star reads according to how I'd rank them:
1. The Bible
2. Rust & Stardust
3. Death Note Volume 1
4. The Sun Does Shine
Books Reviewed: 5
Books Rated Over 4 stars: 5
New Favorites: 4
Books That Changed My Life: 4
Owned: 2

Have you read any of these books? Are you a fan of Death Note? Have I convinced you to pick up any of these? Let me know down below in the comments!

What I've Read in August & September (I'm Not Gone, Just Busy)

Hi, everyone! Wow, I miss blogging. I miss sitting down and writing my posts that don't get much attention, but make me so happy to writ...