books to read this season

Deidra Riggs aptly dubbed this year, “The Year of the Books.”

After being inspired by Jennifer Dukes Lee’s list of Summer Reading recommendations, I decided to post a list of my own.  (Granted, there is a significant amount of overlap, I admit.  Apparently we have a very similar taste in books.)

However, since a sizable chunk of my readership resides in the southern hemisphere, I’ve decided not to call it a Summer Reading list, as many of you are heading into winter and will soon be sitting in front of the fire place drinking

Hot Chocolate in June - cover

Whether you’re donning sandals or slippers these next few months, do yourself a favor and settle down with one (or all) of these books:

Team Us - Cover

Team Us: Marriage Together

by Ashleigh Slater


Watch this space!  I had the privilege of pre-reading a copy of this soon-to-be released book by Ashleigh Slater, and I’ll be posting a review later this week.

As an appetizer, this is an easy-to-read book, filled with encouragement to think of yourself and your spouse as members of the same team.

In a world where tension and internal competition between couples are rife, this is a much-needed book and is likely to bless and enhance many marriages in the months and years to come.

Stay tuned for more ..

A Fall of Marigolds Cover

A Fall of Marigolds

by Susan Meissner


I fell in love with Susan Meissner’s writing when I read her novel, A Lady in Waiting.  Her latest book, A Fall of Marigolds, was no exception.

In fact, I received a copy that I had won in a blog giveaway the day before Mother’s Day, got a tummy bug, stayed in bed and read the whole thing within 24 hours.  It was captivating.

With masterful grace, Susan weaves the stories of two women from different generations together in a tale of loss, grief, healing, and hope.

Her story caused the depths of empathy to be stirred within me, and kept me thinking about the characters long after I put it down.

Warrior in Pink - Cover

Warrior in Pink: A Story of Cancer, Community, and the God Who Comforts

by Vivian Mabuni


Providentially, I won a copy of this moving story on another blog giveaway, and I’m convinced it was meant to be.  I wrote some of my impressions in a review that can be found here.

If you know anyone who has been affected by breast cancer in any way, this book is for you.


Surprised by Motherhood cover

Surprised by Motherhood: Everything I Never Expected about Being a Mom

by Lisa-Jo Baker


If you’ve clicked on this blog before, you’ve likely caught me gushing about this book far too many times already.

Like here.

And here.

Oh gosh, and here, too.

And did I mention I got to interview Lisa-Jo, as well?  Post here.


A Promise in Pieces cover

A Promise in Pieces

by Emily Wierenga


If you’re looking for a gentle, moving work of fiction, look no further.

I’ve written two posts about Emily Wierenga’s A Promise in Pieces — one on my blog, and one for Ungrind Webzine.

The writing is so graceful and fluid, it will carry you from page to page without you even noticing.

Just read it; you can thank me later.  😉

Compared to Her cover

Compared to Her: How to Experience True Contentment

by Sophie deWitt


Sophie deWitt’s Compared to Her is one of the most searched for posts I get on my blog.  If you’re female and you’ve ever struggled with comparing yourself to other women, you will definitely be able to glean much from this gem.

My interview with my friend Sophie can be found here.

Seekers Cover

Seekers of the Lost Boy

by Taryn Hayes


This middle grade children’s novel is the perfect holiday read, either as a family or to give to your kids to read on their own.

The story is set in South Africa, and follows a homeschooling family as they seek to find the original writer of a message in a bottle.  This book is not only enjoyable to read, but is also very educational and thought-provoking.  Highly recommended.

Read my full review here.


 Books that are on my “Must Read” list:

Rhinestone Jesus cover

Rhinestone Jesus: Saying Yes to God When Sparkly, Safe Faith is No Longer Enough

by Kristen Welch


Kristen Welch is the author of the We Are THAT Family blog, and founder of The Mercy House in Kenya.  I have the utmost respect for Kristen’s worldview, and particularly her parenting philosophy as she shares it on her blog.

All of the reviews I’ve read of this book so far have been glowing, and everyone says you will not be the same after you’ve read it.

Take the challenge, and say Yes.

Atlas Girl cover

Atlas Girl: Finding Home in the Last Place I Thought to Look

by Emily Wierenga


I’m thrilled to be on the launch team for this upcoming memoir, and even more thrilled to be getting a review copy in the mail very soon.

I adore Emily’s writing voice, her gentle spirit, and her masterful, graceful way with word pictures.  I had the pleasure of reading the first two chapters already, and they are dripping with beauty.  I’ve picked up snippets of her compelling story through her blog, but look forward to reading this memoir, particularly as it addresses a topic dear to my heart:


Nesting Place cover

The Nesting Place: It Doesn’t Have to Be Perfect to Be Beautiful

by Myquillyn Smith (a.k.a. “The Nester”)


I admit, I followed the hype about this book, but didn’t really intend to pick it up until I read Lisa-Jo Baker’s post about it.  I had assumed it was more of an interior design book, and .. well .. that’s not really my thing.

But after reading about the impact this book had on Lisa-Jo, she persuaded me to request it from the library.


Return to Me Cover

Return to Me

by Lynn Austin


Speaking of the library, I was walking past the Express Book shelf this evening on my way to the Children’s section, and this book jumped off the shelf into my bag.

It couldn’t help itself.

It just knew that Lynn Austin is in my Top Three Favorite Christian Fiction authors, so it just had to land itself in my bag.

I read the entire Chronicles of the Kings series years ago, and not only did they leave a lasting impression, but they caused my understanding of Old Testament history to be much richer and far more cohesive.

I’ve read more Lynn Austin books than my ten fingers can count, and all have been delightful.  If you don’t read this one, read something of hers.  She’s incredibly gifted.


Well, that’s it from me for now ..

Happy reading!







hot chocolate in june – a review

hot chocolate in june – a review

I must say, it really feels like this year, the Lord is bringing the exact books into my life that I need to read.

I review books for Ambassador International, and when I received the monthly e-mail advertising which new books were available for review, I gave the message a quick scan and nearly deleted it, having determined that I had already committed to doing too much during that month.

Then an author’s name caught my eye.

Holly Mthethwa.

Mthethwa.  I know that surname, I thought.

I recognized it as a South African name, and having spent a decade living in that breathtaking country, my interest was piqued.

I made some quick clicks online and soon discovered that Holly is a white, American Christian who went to South Africa to do volunteer work and ended up marrying a black, South African man.

Me too.

ImageNow I was too interested to simply delete the e-mail from Ambassador.  Instead, I let the arrow of my mouse hover over Hot Chocolate in June, and clicked “Request this Book.”

I’m so glad I did.

It turns out those few details were not the only things that Holly and I have in common.

In fact, in subsequent online conversations, she and I have decided that if we were to meet in person, we would be fast friends.

Holly starts her book by sharing the harrowing story of her father’s sudden onset of cancer and steady decline thereafter.  I, too, have watched a beloved parent waste away to that awful, awful disease.

She had my eyes welled up in tears with her beautiful writing as she recounted the details of those long and emotional months.

Following her father’s death, Holly traveled to India and later to South Africa, both for short-term volunteer positions.

Having also visited India on a missions trip, I so enjoyed reading about Holly’s experience as she witnessed cultural differences, extreme poverty and the heavy veil of Hinduism during her trip.  I could so relate to her own “Americanisms” as she shared the challenges and joys of ministering in a foreign context.

What I appreciated most about Hot Chocolate in June is Holly’s honesty as she fluctuates among a myriad of emotions and points in her spiritual walk.  She openly shares the frustration of the Apostle Paul, who often “had the desire to do good, but could not carry it out” (Romans 7:18).  She writes of her relational struggles and asks important questions of herself as she realizes, “I was willing to stick it out and persevere for all of the things that didn’t really matter in the larger scheme of things, but was I willing to do it for people, for relationship? … I realized this was going to require effort for the rest of my life ….”

Holly acknowledges the ongoing challenge as a Christian to die to self — yet she continues to trust the Lord and seek His will in her life.

During her brief stint working in an orphanage in South Africa, Holly met a man named Oscar.  Prior to her trip, she had accepted a position to work as an auditor in Wyoming.  Though her heartstrings were tugged to stay in South Africa, she fulfilled her commitment and moved by herself to a state in which she had never lived.

While she was there, her relationship with Oscar flourished, and to make a long story short, they got engaged and then married.  Holly moved to South Africa, and as she described her initial challenges as an American in a foreign land, I found myself nodding my head, saying, “Yep.  I totally get that.  Mm-hmm.  Me, too.”

I, too, have sipped hot chocolate in June, desperately trying to find internal warmth in the midst of a chilly S’African winter, with no indoor heating to be found.

As she wraps up this chapter of her story, Holly reflects upon how the Lord has shaped and molded her as she grasps her position in Christ.

This book was indeed a blessing to me as it allowed me to follow Holly’s journey thus far, and to clearly see the Lord at work in her life.

To learn more about this book, click here.

To connect with the author online, visit her at her blog or on Twitter @hollymthethwa

Please note: I received a free copy of this book from Ambassador International for review, and the opinions are my own.