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Heaven and Nature Sing, by Hannah Anderson

53/30 | Started 12.01.22 • Finished 12.25.22 | 5 stars

I loved this advent collection from Hannah Anderson and her illustrator husband, Nathan. Her reflections rely on observances she makes about nature and how they tie into the season of Christmas and the celebration of Christ's birth. I found her thoughts to be deep, insightful, and original. They drip with Scripture. This book is the kind of thing I'd pick up and read again next year, which is saying something. Highly recommend getting this one and putting it away for next December.

Emmanuel, by Ruth Chou Simons

52/30 | Started 12.01.22 • Finished 12.25.22

Simons comes through again in her latest book, this time in the form of an advent study. She shares her beautiful artwork alongside 25 reflections on the Christmas season and the birth of Christ. She centers the book around the idea of "prepare him room" (which also happens to be a set of advent cards available in her shoppe) and what that leads us to do in our hearts, minds, and bodies. Drawing heavily on scripture, her thoughts are simple and down to earth while still being impactful.

Little Fires Everywhere, by Celeste Ng

51/30 | Started 11.21.22 • Finished 12.08.22 | 4 stars

A family drama with an apropos title. It was like a bunch of little problems across three families that escalated into something huge.

To a parent, your child wasn’t just a person: your child was a place, a kind of Narnia, a vast eternal place where the present you were living and the past you remembered and the future you longed for all existed at once. You could see it every time you looked at her: layered in her face was the baby she’d been and the child she’d become and the adult she would grow up to be, and you saw them all simultaneously, like a 3-D image. It made your head spin. It was a place you could take refuge, if you knew how to get in. And each time you left it, each time your child passed out of your sight, you feared you might never be able to return to that place again.

I really appreciated the character development in this one, and the relationships between them. I wasn't sure how we were going to get from the beginning to the beginning (you'll see what I mean), but it honestly felt like it was all completely plausible and made complete sense. I loved the descriptions of Mia's artwork and of her process. I initially liked the innocence of Pearl and wasn't a fan of how that evaporated and the lying began. I thought Pearl and Moody had a really genuine friendship and hoped that things would turn out differently for them. Content warning and spoiler alert: there is a scene where one of the characters goes through with an abortion at a clinic. While I wish it hadn't been portrayed so lightly in the book, it was one of the fires that led to the final explosion.

She held this knowledge inside her like a splinter, something she was careful not to touch.

Overall, I think the book was pretty great. I didn't do a lot of highlighting but it's one of the better books I've read where the writing didn't have the wow factor. The loveliness of the book is caught up in the characters and the reality of the storyline. If you like family sagas with some angst and darkness, this one is for you.

The words fell out of Lexie’s mouth like stones.
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