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The Dry, by Jane Harper

17/60 | Started 03.27.23 • Finished 04.05.23 | 3.5 stars

Aaron Falk is a federal agent from Melbourne, Australia. His ghosts return to haunt him in this mystery thriller from Jane Harper. Upon hearing of the murder of his friend Luke, Falk makes the journey back to his hometown of Kiewarra in searing drought conditions. Little does he know he'll be solving two mysteries in his short revisit, and encounter much persecution along the way.

The novel was entertaining and compelling enough, and I didn't see the end from the beginning, so that goes in its favor. However I can't stand it when it's a flashback that reveals the guilty party, as opposed to the detective type character figuring it out in real time, if that makes sense. Once Falk realized what was going on, the narrative cut to a flashback instead of having Falk talk it through in his own mind, or with another character like Raco. That, accompanied with just your normal run-of-the-mill writing, earned this one 3.5 stars.

War Horse, by Michael Morpurgo

16/60 | Started 03.01.23 • Finished 04.03.23 | 4 stars

This novel is told from the point of view of a horse named Joey. The story begins on a farm in England, where he comes to love his owner's son, Albert. Joey is then drafted into the war for use in the cavalry. The horse endures much throughout the course of the war, good and bad, including a near-death experience due to an injury from barbed wire. Near the war's end, Joey is reunited with Albert, who had enlisted in the veterinary corps in order to find him. Through the kindness of an old grandfather who harbored him for a time, Joey is able to return home with Albert to work on the farm.

We enjoyed this as a family read-aloud. Captivating story simple enough for my kindergartener to follow along with but exciting enough to hold my 6th grader's attention. There were some times when it dragged a bit and the writing wasn't anything to highlight, but it gave a good feel for the (tamed down) violence and sorrow of war while also offering a glimmer of hope.

Live Your Truth and Other Lies, by Alisa Childers

15/60 | Started 03.21.23 • Finished 03.30.23 | 4 stars

Power-punching book that turned into a short and easy read. Just like the subtitle says, Childers goes hard after exposing the popular deceptions that make us anxious, exhausted, and self-obsessed, and doesn't mince words in the process. I feel like the end of the book needed a "did I stutter?" to close it out.

I think that ditching the jargon and clinging to the timeless truths of the Bible is the most freeing and stabilizing thing we can do. It will ease anxiety, quell depression, and calm a restless heart. Recognizing who we are in Christ is the ultimate self-care because the Word of God doesn’t reinvent itself along with a constantly changing culture.

After a brief overview of truth in general and a plea to define the terms, Childers takes ten common statements to women from today's culture and refutes each from solidly biblical perspective.

  1. Live your truth

  2. You are enough

  3. You should put yourself first

  4. Authenticity is everything

  5. You only have one life

  6. God just wants you to be happy

  7. You shouldn't judge

  8. You are the boss of you

  9. It's all about love

  10. Girl power is real power

I can certainly say that I have seen most (all?) of these touted by self-proclaimed Christians at one time or another, mostly through shared media or book recommendations, but also straight from the mouth. Please don't hear me saying you can't have said these and be a Christian. What I am saying is that if you believe any of these statements to be true, you need to take a serious look at what the Bible says about it/them.

The cross is the answer to every lie that tells me I can find everything I need inside myself.... If you want to be enough for yourself, you cannot have the cross. It is the irritant that aggravates our sense of self-sufficiency, and it is the remedy that cures the defect that self-sufficiency creates.

If you've found yourself drawn to these statements, or any of their kind, I'd encourage you to take a step back, examine your own heart, and maybe even pick up a copy of this book. Childers does a solid job of refuting each statement in a clear and concise manner, using narrative and scriptural study to prove her points. Most importantly, she directs us to Christ for the satisfaction we as women often hope we'll find in these statements.

I docked a star due to the amount of story-telling (sometimes too much) and the use of sarcasm and parenthetical commentary (which I mostly enjoyed but could see being off-putting for many). Highly recommend - have even been thinking of it as a great gift for high school graduates.

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