Monthly Reading Roundup: June Edition


Time is flying by! Wedding season officially kicked off for me in June and with weddings every weekend and tons of work filling up each week, I had less time to read…but I still managed to read five books! Woohoo! They were each on the shorter side (at least for me) so that helped! I read two Dee Henderson books in her O’Malley Series: The Truth Seeker, and The Protector. I read Beneath Wandering Stars by Ashlee Cowles, and I read Steven Curtis Chapman’s and his wife, Mary Beth Chapman’s books: Between Heaven & The Real World and Choosing to See. (Side note: I’ve been really loving the good mix of non-fiction and fiction that I’ve been reading these past few months!)

Truth Seeker & The Protector

Since these are two books in the same series, I figured I would just write a little review of both of them together. They are books 3 & 4 in Dee Henderson’s O’Malley Series and they are part mystery, part suspense, and part romance. Each book in the series follows one of the O’Malley siblings. “Truth Seeker” follows Lisa O’Malley, a forensic pathologist in Chicago and her love interest U.S. Marshal Quinn Diamond and an old murder case that comes back up. “The Protector” follows Jack O’Malley, a fearless firefighter and his love interest, Cassie Ellis, an injured firefighter and a fierce, angry arsonist who is seemingly stopping at nothing to get his point across. One of my best friends, Rachel, is the one who told me to read this series and I’ve slowly been reading one or two of the books at a time over the last year and each one is just such an enjoyable read. They are really well written and I love the mix of mystery & romance. I also really appreciate that they are completely clean because that can be hard to find.

Between Heaven & The Real World

Steven Curtis Chapman actually wrote his autobiography a few years after his wife wrote her book, Choosing to See, but my mom suggested that I read his book first as it’s a longer and fuller picture of their 35 years together and the highs and lows that they have experienced in their marriage and family, especially the aftermath of the tragic accident that killed their 5-year-old daughter Maria. Steven tells his whole story in his book, starting in his childhood and making his way through his life, how he struggled to make it in the music industry as an artist and not just a songwriter, how he met his wife, how they got married with $50 to their name and a green ford pinto, and how God orchestrated his music career and how he became the Christian music artist icon that he did. I loved this book because of Steven’s honesty and humility and his desire to lay out his life with all his flaws and imperfections exactly as they are. He acknowledges the fact that he and his wife and their family are often perceived as these ideal and perfect role models of what a Christian marriage and Christian family life should look like and he is quick to unmask those false perceptions and speak honestly about their struggles and failures as well as their joys and victories. While he does talk about the accident that took their precious daughter from them, his book is about more than just the tragedy and you really get a full and beautiful picture of his life and what a life following Christ really and honestly looks like. I highly, highly recommend this book to anyone who is a fan of Steven Curtis Chapman!

Choosing to See

Steven Curtis Chapman’s wife, Mary Beth Chapman, wrote her book a few years earlier and while she does talk about her whole life, unlike Steven’s book, hers centers around the death of their daughter and dealing with the grief and anger that has followed it. She is also candidly open throughout the book and honestly shares her struggles with depression, anger towards God, and her deep struggles in her marriage to Steven due to their numerous and drastic differences. But at the same time she proclaims the goodness of God and shares the immense joy and blessings he has poured out on her and their family in the midst of and (despite of) all the trials and pain they have gone through. It is beautifully written and just an incredible story and witness to preserving in one’s faith in the Lord.

Beneath Wandering Stars

I was listening to the Catholic Feminist podcast a few weeks ago and she interviewed this author, Ashlee Cowles, and talked about her book “Beneath Wandering Stars”. When I got home later that day I hopped onto Thriftbooks and found a copy of the book and immediately ordered it. What intrigued my interest was the fact that this book takes place on the Camino de Santiago. Ashlee walked the Camino de Santiago many years ago and when she was brainstorming on new YA novels, she decided to use her experience as a basis for a new novel. Having just walked the Camino myself last year, I was instantly curious about this story and eager to read it! It follows teenage Gabi Santiago who has promised her brother that if anything happened to him in war, she would walk the Camino de Santiago for him. Her brother is badly injured and in a coma and so Gabi sets off to fulfill her promise and complete this ancient pilgrimage. The catch: she must walk it with her brother’s best friend who she has hated for years. (You probably see where this is going to go…hahaha). I actually read this book in one evening and I enjoyed the story, especially all the references to various experiences and sights along the Camino, but it was also a book that is definitely geared towards a younger audience. I found myself getting frustrated with Gabi’s immaturity at various times and upset by how much she missed the profound depth and richness that can be found on the Camino. However, she is only supposed to be sixteen or seventeen and I had to keep reminding myself of that fact. Overall a good read, but probably not a book I’d necessarily feel the need to read again.

Mary Kate


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