I'm baaaaack. (Didja even miss me and my weekly book ramblings with the crazy of December and holiday fun? Nope, didn't think so.)

Truth is, I have a rather pathetically small list to share, given that it's been a month since I've done one of my weekly (ahem?) book talks. In December I read one book officially, and one that was a friend's manuscript (and which I wish was published, because it was brilliant). So with that, let's get into some book talk, shall we?

Weekly Book Talk Winter

Recent Reads

Not a Silent Night: Mary Look Back at Bethlehem, by Adam Hamilton (Abdingdon Press, 2014)

My rating: 5 out of 5 stars

This book intrigued me for a few reasons. First, I love the idea of focusing on Advent through Mary's eyes. Second, it's NOT written by a Catholic, and I haven't seen a lot of focus on Mary in non-Catholic sectors.

As a Catholic, and a bit of a "Mary geek," I was a little leery of this book, but what I found was that it is, in a word, awesome. Hamilton takes an approach that's different than what you would expect: instead of focusing on Christmas, he starts with the Crucifixion and goes back in time with each chapter.

You could read this book for an Advent devotional, you could read it for a Christmas devotional, you could read it just to educate yourself and grow in devotion. Hamilton is in no way preachy and he stays true to both scripture AND tradition (which is no small thing).

Highly recommended. I'll be rereading it and sharing it!

UnDivided (Unwind Dystology Book 4), by Neil Schusterman (YA fiction, Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers, 2014)

My rating: 4 out of 5 stars

I struggled with this book more than I struggled with the other books in this series. I was committed to finishing it, but somehow, I was less invested in it. I haven't been able to parse if that's because I just wasn't in the mood to read it or because there was something missing.

What I liked: it wasn't wrapped up all neatly and in a pretty package. The ending and conclusion felt real. It was painful (which is in keeping with the series).

This whole series takes a strong stomach. However, I get why it's popular. There's something about this writing that speaks to the humanity we share and the hope we want to have.

The Wishing Spell (The Land of Stories #1), by Chris Colfer (middle grade fiction, Little Brown Young Readers, 2012)

My rating: 5 out of 5 stars

My ten-year-old had been after me to read some of the books she loves, so I told her she had next pick. This is the one she put in my hands. I devoured it in two days.

And then, the other day when we were book shopping, I bought the next one in the series. For myself. (Yes, I BOUGHT A BOOK. Take note, ye who know me well. Despite the overflowing review shelves, I BOUGHT A BOOK.)

This book was cleverly done, well-written, highly entertaining, and can I request a movie be made? No? Well, okay then.

And can I just mention how fun it is to have my daughter handing me books? It's just as gratifying as finding her books all over the house, bookmarked with scraps of whatever she finds nearby. (Oh wait, that makes us sound like helpless slobs. Oh wait, maybe we are.)

Highly recommended, even if I didn't write about it well here. :)

Catholic Philosopher Chick Comes on Strong, by Rebecca Bratten Weiss and Regina Doman (fiction, Chesterton Press, 2014)

My rating: 3 out of 5 stars

This book is total Catholic chick lit yumminess. There are shoes and fashion, a side of romance, and brainy stuff on top. You get a bit of mystery, some dialogue that will make you laugh out loud, and the hope that there will be another Catholic Philosopher Chick book in the next year. Check it out...whether for yourself or for that lady reader in your life.

Current Reads

I Am Margaret, by Corrina Turner (fiction, UnSeen Books, 2014)

I have been long overdue picking this one up, and here's what I'm finding. First, it's well done. Second, it's difficult reading, reminiscent of the Unwind series. It's not light reading, but I do think it's going to end up being important reading.

Herland, by Charlotte Perkins Gilman (fiction, audio via CraftLit)

I'm only as far as listening to chapter 2, due to the travesty known as less time for podcasts than ever, but this is a fabulously entertaining book. And the narrator for this is also a dose of delightful.

The Four Cardinal Truths, by Josef Pieper (University of Notre Dame Press, 1966) (for the Catholic Spiritual Direction book club)

I got as far as chapter 3 or 4 before I put this down for a while. (I intended to read ahead. And then, ahem, I was distracted by fiction.) I've picked it back up and gotten as far as rereading chapter 1. It LOOKS like it would be as dry as old kindling and stale popcorn, but I'm finding it not that way AT ALL. I didn't know the cardinal virtues were interesting, but hey, what do you know? I'm going to enjoy this one, that's for sure! (Or my brain will explode, but that's always the debate with the CSD book club...)

What have YOU been reading lately?

*Are you on Goodreads? I'll see you there!

Curious about what my ratings mean? Here's an explanation of what the stars mean to me.

Be sure to check out our Book Notes archive.

Copyright 2014, Sarah Reinhard