The 19th Wife by David Ebershoff

Synopsis: A present-day murder case in a fundamentalist Mormon enclave told alongside the story of Ann Eliza Young’s escape from Brigham Young’s polygamous harem. Review: I think the fact that I kept falling asleep while listening to The 19th Wife says it all–I was so primed to love this book, given my obsession with the FLDS, but I was just so disappointed with the execution. I finally gave up near the end when it devolved into a story-free lecture on stuff we’d already seen. I’m…

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The Third Floor by Judi Loren Grace

Synopsis: It’s 1962 and a 15-year-old girl is spending the next 4 months in a home for unwed mothers, waiting to give up her baby. Review: The Third Floor was an emotional read for me. As a mom my heart went out for Judi and her struggle. I can’t imagine having to give up my child. And then as a mom of daughters I would just hope that if I were ever faced with this situation I would handle it better than Judi’s family did.…

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See Me Naked: Stories of Sexual Exile in American Christianity by Amy Frykholm

Synopsis: Biographical essays about people whose stories didn’t follow the script they were given by their parents and their American evangelical churches. Review: I read See Me Naked after the thoughtful review in Christianity Today’s Her.meneutics blog. I think the very premise will make people uncomfortable and that’s a good thing, because evangelical kids get exposed to a lot of really messed up stuff. Anyone who works with Christian teens really ought to read this book and see that not everyone’s challenges can be met…

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The Dark Half by Stephen King

Synopsis: A literary author kills his crime fiction scribe alter ego, only to have him come to life and menace his family. Review: The Dark Half is classic King and a book I’ve ready maybe 4 times now. It felt thin to me this time, probably because I am so familiar with the plot. I still love the way it talks about the process of writing–I don’t think anybody really does that better than King. Share on Facebook

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Bewitching by Alex Flinn

Synopsis: A 500-year-old teen witch crosses paths with a reverse-Cinderella. Review: Bewitching is Alex Flinn’s latest fairy tale retelling and I just loved it. She sets the Cinderella story in a Miami middle school, then frames it with the story of Kendra, a girl who became an eternal witch during the plague of 1666. Kendra tells us two stories of her own, both fairy tale retellings that can stand alone as lovely and poignant tales, and also shed light on the larger story. Structurally it’s…

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Under the Banner of Heaven: A Story of Violent Faith by Jon Krakauer

Synopsis: An exploration of a murder committed in the FLDS community of polygamists becomes an exploration of the history of Mormonism and the paradox of the many outward virtues of its followers, and the murders and massacres that have marked its development into a major world religion. Review: This is my second time reading Under the Banner of Heaven, and I got so much out of it this time. The importance of Mormonism on the history of the American West is something that I never…

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Your Custom Homestead: Awakening a Fresh Vision of Homesteading by Jill Winger

Synopsis: A step-by-step guide to making your homesteading dreams come true, no matter how big or small. Review: I live in an apartment in New York City and so I might seem like the last person to be drawn to a book called Your Custom Homestead. But actually it was perfect for me. Sure, I’m never going to have acres and goats, but I’ve got big dreams for my balcony garden and know that someday I will own chickens. Jill’s ideas and suggestions are helpful…

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One Bite at a Time: 52 Projects for Making Life Simpler by Tsh Oxenreider

Synopsis: Simplicity guru Tsh Oxenreider helps you transform your life one step at a time. Review: I love Tsh. Love her. I am inspired every time I read her blog or listen to her podcast. Her book Organized Simplicity just makes the kind of life I want seem so effortless. Here, in One Bite at a Time, Tsh breaks it down into easy pieces. What I love about this book is that it’s a great reference. I am already pretty organized, my home is pretty…

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