Spell the Month in Books is a linkup hosted here on Reviews From the Stacks on the second Saturday of each month. The goal, inspired by a hashtag I first encountered on Instagram, is to spell the current month with the first letter of book titles, excluding articles such as ‘the’ and ‘a’ as needed. That’s all there is to it! Some months there are theme challenges, such as “books with an orange cover” or books of a particular genre, but for the most part, any book you want to use is fair game! To participate, simply make a post, comment, or picture of the books you choose. They can be books you physically own or simply titles you have come across. Most of the time I create a virtual bookstack from titles on my Goodreads shelves. If you make a list, please share a link to your post in the comments so that I and other participants can see! There is also a Spell the Month in Books button which you can use in your posts. To use it, copy the code from the box below my list and paste it into your blog editor in HTML mode (for WordPress users, insert a “Custom HTML” block and paste the code there).
2022 might be The Year With No Themes, just to keep things simple. My list this month is a mix of books I have and have not read across several genres.
F – Fanny’s Hope Chest by Sarah Holman
Contemporary Christian fiction with historical flashbacks; Novella
How old is too old for a hope chest?
When Ellie starts a new job as a home health aid, she doesn’t expect to meet a woman in her eighties looking for her hope chest, nor a house as messy as Ellie’s own emotional state. But as she cleans up Fanny’s house, she begins to wonder if Fanny’s hope chest might hold the answers to her questions about disappointed dreams and holding on to hope.
That is, if she can face both the mess and her own heart.
My Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐
E – Enjoy the Poodle Skirt by Kate Willis
Contemporary middle-grade short story
Canary is excited to spend a whole week helping her newlywed aunt and uncle run a 50’s diner along with her older siblings Rose and Michael. Even the rules for working there are fun!
But when a routine cleanup presents a mysterious, hand-drawn map, her vacation gets even more exciting than a banana split with hot fudge sauce. And that’s saying a lot!
My Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐
Note: the ebook version is available for free here!
B – Beside Still Waters (Big Sky #1) by Tricia Goyer
Historical Christian (Amish) fiction
Raised among the Amish of Indiana, 18-year-old Marianna Sommer plans to get baptized into the church, marry Aaron Zook, and set up life in the only community she has ever known. But when her older brother chooses the world’s path following his rumschpringe, and a younger sibling begins showing interest in Englisch ways, Marianna’s parents move the family to Montana.
Although she is also in her rumschpringe years and not obligated to move, Marianna makes the journey to dutifully help her mother who is expecting another child. Surprisingly, from strangers on the cross-country train ride to the less rigid stance of the new Montana community, many Englisch influences awaken within Marianna—and even her father—the desire to pursue a deeper kind of joy and love for God.
After an accident, Marianna tells her friend Ben a defining story about the Sommer family, and his response further illumines the active relationship God seeks with His followers. In due time, she learns the move from Indiana was not about losing anything, but finding out who God really is. Despite all the shake-ups, Marianna feels a sweet peace, like still waters, in her soul.
My Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐
R – Return of the Song by Phyllis Clark Nichols
Contemporary Christian fiction
Caroline Carlyle’s hopes and dreams were crushed when her fiancé died six weeks before their wedding. For years, she wrestled with aching loss and shattered faith, struggling to find the inspiration that once came so easily. Abandoning her half-finished piano compositions, Caroline traded her old ambitions for the comfort and familiarity of life as the town’s piano teacher.
But Caroline’s life turns upside-down when a mysterious stranger enters her life, bringing courage and fresh purpose. Inspired by her new acquaintance, Caroline embarks on a quest to track down the beloved rare piano she played as a child. Her search leads her to Rockwater, the Kentucky estate of a wealthy gentleman, where Caroline finds her heart may be composing a surprising new song.
My Rating: TBR
U – Unbreathable by Hafsah Laziaf
YA science fiction
One hundred and fifty years ago, Earth was destroyed, and the remaining humans fled to the dusty red planet of Jutaire, where the only oxygen is manufactured, food is scarce, and death strikes often.
When Lissa’s father discovers Earth still exists, she accidentally inhales the toxic air of Jutaire, and in one breath, discovers she isn’t quite human. Her father hangs for his discovery, and Lissa knows the Chancellors will come for her, for she saw the Earth that night too. With nothing to lose, she sets out to expose the truth. It isn’t long before she meets Julian, a beautiful boy who can breathe the toxic air like she can – and shows her that the Jute, the original inhabitants of the planet, are more tangled in their lives than she knows.
My Rating: TBR
A – Arctic Fury by Greer Macallister
In early 1853, experienced California Trail guide Virginia Reeve is summoned to Boston by a mysterious benefactor who offers her a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity: lead a party of 12 women into the wild, hazardous Arctic to search for the lost Franklin Expedition. It’s an extraordinary request, but the party is made up of extraordinary women. Each brings her own strengths and skills to the expedition- and her own unsettling secrets. A year and a half later, back in Boston, Virginia is on trial when not all of the women return. Told in alternating timelines that follow both the sensational murder trial in Boston and the dangerous, deadly progress of the women’s expedition into the frozen North, this heart-pounding story will hold readers rapt as a chorus of voices answer the trial’s all-consuming question: what happened out there on the ice?
My Rating: TBR
R – Rambunctious Garden by Emma Marris
Nonfiction – Gardening
A paradigm shift is roiling the environmental world. For decades people have unquestioningly accepted the idea that our goal is to preserve nature in its pristine, pre-human state. But many scientists have come to see this as an outdated dream that thwarts bold new plans to save the environment and prevents us from having a fuller relationship with nature. Humans have changed the landscapes they inhabit since prehistory, and climate change means even the remotest places now bear the fingerprints of humanity. Emma Marris argues convincingly that it is time to look forward and create the “rambunctious garden,” a hybrid of wild nature and human management.
My Rating: TBR
Y – You Are Not Your Own by Alan Noble
“You are your own, and you belong to yourself.” This is the fundamental assumption of modern life. And if we are our own, then it’s up to us to forge our own identities and to make our lives significant. But while that may sound empowering, it turns out to be a crushing responsibility–one that never actually delivers on its promise of a free and fulfilled life, but instead leaves us burned out, depressed, anxious, and alone. This phenomenon is mapped out onto the very structures of our society, and helps explain our society’s underlying disorder. But the Christian gospel offers a strikingly different vision. As the Heidelberg Catechism puts it, “I am not my own, but belong with body and soul, both in life and in death, to my faithful Savior Jesus Christ.” In You Are Not Your Own, Alan Noble explores how this simple truth reframes the way we understand ourselves, our families, our society, and God. Contrasting these two visions of life, he invites us past the sickness of contemporary life into a better understanding of who we are and to whom we belong.
My Rating: TBR
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Thanks for stopping by for February’s Spell the Month in Books! What are you reading this month? Are you participating in any challenges?
Until the next chapter,