My TBR (to be read) list has gotten nearly out of hand. Therefore, I do a post featuring ten books from it approximately once per week. As I go through the list, I evaluate each book and decide whether or not it still belongs. Perhaps as my list (hopefully) shrinks, you will find a few books to add to your own!
The last time I did this type of post was August 9, 2022. At the end of that post, my TBR list contained 845 books. Today it has 847. I have gone through 530 books.
#531. Hillbilly Elegy by J.D. Vance
Synopsis: The Vance family story begins hopefully in postwar America. J. D.’s grandparents were “dirt poor and in love,” and moved north from Kentucky’s Appalachia region to Ohio in the hopes of escaping the dreadful poverty around them. They raised a middle-class family, and eventually one of their grandchildren would graduate from Yale Law School, a conventional marker of success in achieving generational upward mobility. But as the family saga of Hillbilly Elegy plays out, we learn that J.D.’s grandparents, aunt, uncle, sister, and, most of all, his mother struggled profoundly with the demands of their new middle-class life, never fully escaping the legacy of abuse, alcoholism, poverty, and trauma so characteristic of their part of America. With piercing honesty, Vance shows how he himself still carries around the demons of his chaotic family history.
A deeply moving memoir, with its share of humor and vividly colorful figures, Hillbilly Elegy is the story of how upward mobility really feels. And it is an urgent and troubling meditation on the loss of the American dream for a large segment of this country.
Comments: I have read wonderful reviews of this book; it was especially popular about the same time as The Book Woman of Troublesome Creek. Just not what I’m looking to read these days.
#532. Carry Me Home (Blue Wren Shallows #1) by Dorothy Adamek
Synopsis: Finella Mayfield hates two things: liars and thieves. And she’s determined to marry a man who’s neither. Chasing her dead father’s dreams, the twenty-year-old English bride arrives in Australia in 1875 for an arranged marriage. Anticipating her future as village preacher’s wife, she records her thoughts in her Everlasting journal.
But instead of her fiancé, Finella is met by Shadrach Jones, a poor farmer sent to collect her from the busy Melbourne pier. This is not what her father planned. And it’s only the beginning of the unraveling of Finella Mayfield ~ the bride with no groom.
All Shadrach Jones longs for is rows of mustard and chicory. He’s busy growing a farm near the Phillip Island fishing village of Cowes, and caring for Molly, his simple sister. Far from the brutal life they remember with their ex-convict father, Shadrach’s building something new. But he’s also made a promise to a dying friend. To collect and marry the English girl destined to never be a preacher’s wife. Can Shadrach convince Finella she has a future with a farmer? Can he convince himself, knowing his family secrets will haunt their future?
Comments: Where was this book when I was doing location-based reading challenges and struggled to find books set in Australia? It doesn’t look like my library has this book, but it definitely sounds like something I would enjoy.
#533. Wild by Cheryl Strayed
Synopsis: At twenty-two, Cheryl Strayed thought she had lost everything. In the wake of her mother’s death, her family scattered and her own marriage was soon destroyed. Four years later, with nothing more to lose, she made the most impulsive decision of her life. With no experience or training, driven only by blind will, she would hike more than a thousand miles of the Pacific Crest Trail from the Mojave Desert through California and Oregon to Washington State — and she would do it alone.
Told with suspense and style, sparkling with warmth and humor, Wild powerfully captures the terrors and pleasures of one young woman forging ahead against all odds on a journey that maddened, strengthened, and ultimately healed her.
Comments: Another that I’ve heard wonderful things about!
#534. The Wood’s Edge by Lori Benton
Synopsis: On the day Fort William Henry falls, Major Reginald Aubrey is beside himself with grief. His son, born that day, has died in the arms of his sleeping wife. When Reginald comes across an Oneida mother with newborn twins, one white, one brown, he makes a choice that will haunt the lives of all involved. He steals the white baby and leaves his own child behind. Reginald’s wife and foundling daughter, Anna, never suspect the truth about the boy they call William, but Reginald is wracked by regret that only intensifies with time, as his secret spreads its devastating ripples.
When the long buried truth comes to light, can an unlikely friendship forged at the wood’s edge provide a way forward? For a father tormented by fear of judgment, another by lust for vengeance. For a mother still grieving her lost child. For a brother who feels his twin’s absence, another unaware of his twin’s existence. And for Anna, who loves them both–Two Hawks, the mysterious Oneida boy she meets in secret, and William, her brother. As paths long divided collide, how will God direct the feet of those who follow Him?
Comments: Not interested.
#535. With You Always by Jody Hedlund
Synopsis: When a financial crisis in 1850s New York leaves three orphaned sisters nearly destitute, the oldest, Elise Neumann, knows she must take action. She’s had experience as a seamstress, and the New York Children’s Aid Society has established a special service: placing out seamstresses and trade girls. Even though Elise doesn’t want to leave her sisters for a job in Illinois, she realizes this may be their last chance. The son of one of New York City’s wealthiest entrepreneurs, Thornton Quincy faces a dilemma. His father is dying, and in order to decide which of his sons will inherit everything, he is requiring them to do two things in six months: build a sustainable town along the Illinois Central Railroad, and get married. Thornton is tired of standing in his twin brother’s shadow and is determined to win his father’s challenge. He doesn’t plan on meeting a feisty young woman on his way west, though.
Comments: If my TBR list wasn’t already so long, I might hold onto this title. I’ve heard good things about the author although I don’t recall anything specific to this book.
#536. Mama Bear Apologetics edited by Hillary Morgan Ferrer
Synopsis: The problem with lies is they don’t often sound like lies. They seem harmless, and even sound right. So what’s a Mama Bear to do when her kids seem to be absorbing the culture’s lies uncritically? Mama Bear Apologetics is the book you’ve been looking for. This mom-to-mom guide will equip you to teach your kids how to form their own biblical beliefs about what is true and what is false. Through transparent life stories and clear, practical applications—including prayer strategies—this band of Mama Bears offers you tools to train yourself, so you can turn around and train your kids.
Comments: That cover could be improved, but the concept is intriguing. I think I added this book with my sister in mind, but I would like to read it myself as well at some point. It’s not going to be anytime soon though, so I am going to take this off my TBR list and move it to a separate list I keep of books to recommend to others.
#537. One Christmas in Winter by Bell Renshaw
Synopsis: Reba Farwell is finally getting a chance to live out her dreams. Sent to Winter, Montana to direct filming for a crucial, on-location shoot, she knows the next two weeks will make or break her career. And she could definitely use a break. As if that isn’t enough, she’s got a secret that none of her crew knows. All she’s asking for is two weeks of small town, Christmas beauty and a little bit of on-camera sizzle.
Five years ago, Hoyt Bradley’s heart and future shattered in one fell swoop that landed him back in Winter. Thankfully, making lemonade—or his father’s famous lemon meringue pie— out of lemons is what he does best. Running Bentley’s Diner has filled the gaps left in the wake of his heartbreak, even if it hasn’t healed him completely. Not wanting to relive memories of his rocky start in the film industry, Hoyt does his best to steer clear of the dreaded film crew, but Winter has a way of bringing people together.
After one fateful delivery and a score of icy bad luck, Reba finds herself in a bind and at the mercy of what Winter can offer. Will she pull the film together in time to salvage her name as a director? Or will the sparks flying off-camera create more of a distraction than she knows how to handle?
Comments: This book sounds like a wonderfully predictable but not-too-cliché Hallmark movie. I’ll probably be up for it in a few months!
#538. A Wreath of Snow by Liz Curtis Higgs
Synopsis: All Margaret Campbell wants for Christmas is a safe journey home. When her plans for a festive holiday with her family in Stirling crumble beneath the weight of her brother’s bitterness, the young schoolteacher wants nothing more than to return to the students she loves and the town house she calls home. Then an unexpected detour places her in the path of Gordon Shaw, a handsome newspaperman from Glasgow, who struggles under a burden of remorse and shame. When the secret of their shared history is revealed, will it leave them tangled in a knot of regret? Or might their past hold the threads that will bind their future together?
Comments: Last year I discovered this author when I read The Women of Christmas. I added a few of her other books to my list because of that one; this one no longer holds any draw for me.
#539. A Pioneer Christmas Collection by Various Authors
Synopsis: Journey along with American settlers who learn that despite where the trail takes them or how primitive their lodgings may be Christmas is all about the heart. Determined to honor Christ’s birth, these pioneers find a way to make Christmas happen in places like a cave, a tipi, and a dugout. Modern readers will enjoy a peek into life before commercialism took over the sacred day, distracting us from the true blessings of faith, hope, and love. Enjoy nine original novellas of Christmas romance as penned from many of today’s leading Christian authors, including Lauraine Snelling, Kathleen Fuller, and Vickie McDonough.
Comments: I’m on the fence about this book, but the authors are all fairly big names in Christian publishing, so I’ll keep it on the list for now.
#540. The First Lady and the Rebel by Susan Higginbotham
Synopsis: The story of Mary Todd Lincoln and Emily Todd Helm, two sisters on separate sides of history, fighting for the country they believe in against the people they love most.
When the Civil War cracks the country in two, First Lady Mary Todd Lincoln watches from the White House as the blows of a divided nation shake her people and her husband, President Lincoln, to their very core. As the news of wartime enter the Oval Office, Mary waits with bated breath, both for the hopes of a Northern victory as well as in distress of a bloody Southern defeat. Mary, like many people during this time, has a family that is torn between North and South. Her beloved sister Emily is across party lines, fighting for the Confederates, and Mary is at risk of losing both the country she loves and the family she has had to abandon in the tides of this brutal war.
Comments: Most of the books I’ve read that are set during the Civil War don’t actually deal with it directly – it’s in the background, brought up occasionally through letters or telegrams. This one sounds interesting in the way it addresses the war more directly.
Ending number of books on my TBR list: 842
What are your thoughts on these books?
Until the next chapter,
The Hillbilly one sounds good. I shall look to see if my local library stocks it
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