Books I Read This Week 2020 – 15

Here are my goodreads reviews. If you’re on goodreads, add me as a friend so I can see your books too! I also have an instagram account where I join my love of reading with my love of art.

Fierce, Free and Full of Fire (4 stars): “When this environment gets one part of you but that environment gets another, when you tuck away one piece in front of this crew but pull it out proudly for that one, when the hidden you is screaming in protest because she is not allowed to speak, whatever felt solid about your core self-dismantles. This is an unhappy, unhealthy way to live.”

Even though I’m not Jen Hatmaker’s usual demographic, I’ve read and really enjoyed several of her books. Regardless of my background or beliefs, she usually has sound advice/perspective and as with all self-help books (which this definitely leans towards being) I can choose what works for me and leave the rest.

And there’s plenty of great advice in this book.

It’s structured around basic tenets like “I am wired this way”, “I deserve goodness” or “I need more connection.” Each chapter covers an area and each area offers a combination of Jen’s thoughts, a researcher or some science and then Jen’s personal stories. Many of them have things you can do to help yourself, shift your thinking, or next steps you can take.

There was a lot here and I highlighted much of the book. All told in Jen’s typical honest, straightforward and funny style. While there might not be a lot of new ideas here if you’ve been following Jen for a while, the book is organized in a way that makes the content really easy to consume. As many of these were not new to me, I found myself wishing for more. I wished her personal stories went deeper. I wished there were a handful of other stories, too. In some cases, where my issue was similar to hers, her words were very resonant and help me get a pep talk. In others, where my style/issues might be different, I found myself wishing for more.

The last part where she lists her single sentence for each chapter was very powerful and brought so much of the guidebook part back in focus for me. After seeing that, I almost found myself wishing there were little pause moments at the end of each chapter for Jen to do more of that with an encouragement for the reader to do the same along the way instead of at the very end when there’s just so much to process.

As with her other books, I enjoyed my time with this one, took a lot of notes, and have much to think about. Here’s to more of us being fierce, free and full of fire.

With gratitude to netgalley and Nelson Books for an advanced copy in exchange for an honest review.

Mum & Dad (4 stars): This was my first Joanna Trollope novel and I really enjoyed this layered story about family, legacy, adolescence, marriage, and the layers and layers of lives we each live.

This story is about Gus and Monica who are living in Spain, running a vineyard. Their three children, Jack, Katie, and Sebastian and their families. There are a lot of characters in the story between the parents, their kids, he kids’ partners, and the kid’s children, there are 13 right there. Then there is the help staff in the house in Spain which has at least 2 more main characters. Amazingly, I had no trouble keeping track of any of them.

Some characters are better developed than others and there are a handful that I definitely wished I could learn more about (Daisy and Nic come to mind.) But each of the characters are quite distinct and the story is mostly about the parents and their three kids in trying to decide what will happen now that the father has had a stroke.

I liked the way the story shows how each character has a complicated life and many different things they are juggling at the same time, some great, some really hard. In life, most of the time, this is the case and then something big happens (like the stroke) and it just mixes in with all the other big and small things that are already happening to you so you have to sort through it all. I felt that part was really realistic and well done.

By the end of the story, I was invested in each of the characters and really enjoyed this family story and stayed up way too late to finish it.

with gratitude to netgalley and Mantle for an advanced copy in exchange for an honest review.

Drawing and Painting Expressive Little Faces (5 stars): What an absolute gem of a book!

This book does exactly what it promises. It breaks down the steps of creating a small, expressive face into small, consumable parts. It gives you many different permutations of face shapes, eyes, noses, mouths, and hair. It covers shades of skin and also mentions a few tips when using a real person as a reference.

Each of the sections is very simplified to show you how much can be done with simple steps. As with everything else, the key here is practice practice practice. These look easy but are often not until it’s become second nature which takes a lot of practice. It also takes practice to notice subtle differences across features and to notice shade variations.

There are also a lot of details in the author’s drawings that are not outlined like many ways to draw hats, jewelry, glasses, beards, etc etc. but this is a fantastic starter book to use to draw your first 1000 faces. After which you can worry about how to add more and more detail.

With gratitude to netgalley and Quarto Publishing Group for an advanced copy in return for an honest review.

The Sun Down Motel (4 stars): I really enjoyed my time with this mystery novel with a paranormal element. Lately, it’s rare to find a story that doesn’t have a mind-bending twist or some story element that makes you revisit the whole book. This one, however, is not like that. It’s just a straightforward, awesome mystery. Solid on both character development and plot and with pacing that felt just right for me.

Redhead by the Side of the Road (4 stars): Anne Tyler is one of my favorite authors. Her ability to write books about ordinary people, ordinary places, and ordinary lives is unparalleled. I always find myself thinking about her characters long after I finish one of her stories. My biggest beef with this novel is that it was a novella. It felt like a long, beautiful character study. And I loved it and wished there was more.

Undercover Bromance (4 stars): I love and adore this series. The books are fun, the characters are three dimensional, the dialogue is realistic. There are many laugh out loud funny moments in it and some deep, real messages too. It’s a unique talent to be able to do all of this in one book, and the author hits the ball out of the park every time.

Navigate Your Stars (5 stars): A beautiful, moving commencement speech and beautiful art that goes along with it. A great story about working hard, learning the value of being yourself, and understanding the complex choices we each navigate with where we are, what we have, and who came before us.

And there we go, grateful to be reading.

Books I Read this Week 2020 is a year-long project for 2019. You can read more about my projects for 2020 here. I am also tracking my books in real time on Good Reads here. If you’re on Good Reads add me so I can follow you, too! I’ve also started an instagram account where I join my love of reading with my love of art.

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