Math = Love: April 2014 Reads

Thursday, May 8, 2014

April 2014 Reads

It seems like I just reviewed the books I read back in March.  Oh wait.  I did.  April and the craziness of testing and the absence of Spring Break left me with much less time to consume literature.  I somehow still managed to read 10 books during the month to bring my total of books read during 2014 to 47.

Back in January, I emptied off a shelf on a bookshelf to house the books I read this year.  That shelf is no longer empty!  It's not too full either.  That's what I get for utilizing my public library.  Here are the books I have read this year that I own copies of.

Empty Shelf Challenge - Books Read January - April 2014
Technically, I shouldn't even need to visit the library.  I have plenty of my own books to read.  I currently have three bookshelves at my house, one rather large bookshelf at my parents' house, and a bookshelf in my classroom.  Yes, I may have a slight addiction to books.  My family has joked about this obsession of mine since I was a kid.  My dad has always said that when I move, I'm going to need an entire U-Haul trailer just to carry my books.  And, my mom has advised that I marry a carpenter so that he can build me bookshelves.

Just One Of My Bookshelves

Disclosure: This post contains Amazon Affiliate Links.  

Lock and Key by Sarah Dessen
I started off the month by picking up a young adult novel at the library.  One of my students recommended this author to me last year.  While meandering down the library shelves, I found this young adult book stuck in among the adult fiction.  Recognizing the author from student recommendation, I decided it was a sign that I needed to read this book!  This was a fairly quick read.  It tells the story of Ruby, a high school student who is abandoned by her mother.  She tries and fails to survive on her own.  And, she soon finds herself with a new school, new town, and new family.  It was interesting to read about the high school experience now that I am a high school teacher.   

The Locket by Richard Paul Evans
Technically, I read the sequel to this book last month.  But, I actually read them in chronological order, so I don't think it really mattered.  This is the second Richard Paul Evans novel I have read that is set partially in a nursing home.  As the novel progresses, the reader uncovers the story of Michael and his relationship that is complicated by money and social standing and the story of Esther, his patient, who is full of regret over her past decisions.  The story was beautiful and heartbreaking.  It was definitely a tear jerker.    

Have a Little Faith by Mitch Albom
I actually started this book last year, but it got put down and forgotten about.  It had been so long since I started it that I had to start back over from the very beginning.  Oops...  My senior students are currently reading Tuesdays With Morrie in their English class.  I read that book my senior year, too.  And, I can definitely see some parallels between the two.  In a way, I think I might have liked this book even better than the former because the ending wasn't quite as predictable.  Plus, it's one of those books that keeps you guessing for a good while as it tells you the story of a Jewish Rabbi and a drug addict and you can't figure out how their stories will ever cross.  I'd definitely recommend this book!  

The Circle Maker by Mark Batterson
After reading great reviews of this book on several blogs, I had to pick it up after finding it for sale at Mardel for five dollars.  The book begins with the story of Honi, a man who draws a circle in the ground and prays a life-changing prayer.  Prayer is one of the Christian disciplines that I struggle with the most.  It has never came easily to me, and my perfectionistic self can tend to give up on prayer because I feel like I must not be doing it right.  This author of this book relates praying to marching around Jericho.  And, this mental image has had an amazing impact on my prayer life.  This book is truly changing how I pray, and I feel like God has done a major work in my life through this book.  I'd definitely give this book five stars!

In retrospect, I should have just drenched this book in highlighter fluid from the start.  It would have saved me a lot of time highlighting!  :)  Almost every single page of my copy looks like this:

Where Have All the Good Men Gone? by A.J. Kiesling
This book wasn't what I expected.  My life hasn't gone exactly how I expected, either.  I always assumed I would go to college and leave with a teaching degree and a MRS degree.  Only one of those came to pass.  So, now I'm 24, unmarried, and living in a tiny town in rural Oklahoma that doesn't even have a stoplight.  This wasn't my plan, but it's God's plan.  And, I have to trust that he knows exactly what he's doing.  Over the past few months, my eyes have been opened to several things in my current life that wouldn't have been possible had my plans succeeded.  Though I'm living a life I didn't expect, I'm also blessed beyond imagination.  And, I need to focus on the latter instead of the former.  Okay.  Back to the book.  I was expecting a book that told me how to prepare for marriage or how to put myself on the path to marriage.  Instead, I found an analysis of a survey of singles that was completed by the author.  Single men and women answered questions regarding what they were looking for in marriage and what they felt was holding them back from marriage.  I found myself relating to much of it.  And, I was surprised by the male perspective of certain actions by females.  It was an interesting and informative read.    

Sink Reflections by Marla Cilley
Confession time.  I'm not the best housekeeper.  I wait to do laundry until I'm almost out of bath towels.  Sometimes, I don't do dishes until I run out of spoons or forks.  I make lots of excuses.  When I come home from a long day of teaching, the last thing I want to do is laundry or dishes.  So, instead, I end up spending most of my weekend doing what I have put off the previous week.  Not smart.  I know.  This book is all about how to set up daily routines that allow you to keep your house clean during the week.  Now that I've read the book, I need to actually start applying the principles to my life.  This is an inspiring read.  Now, I just need to follow its advice!  

When God Winks at You by SQuire Rushnell
I picked up this book at Goodwill for a dollar.  It's a short book of stories of the amazing way that God can work through coincidences.  This is a feel-good book.  If you're doubting that God cares or that God acts in the life of his people, read this book!  

If you would have asked me a couple of months ago, I would have told you that I read this book as a child.  I recently learned that I actually didn't.  I did read Number The Stars, though, by the same author.  So, how did I come to pick up this book?  I'm glad you asked!  It all starts with state standardized testing.  During our planning periods, we were often called out to proctor tests for our special education students.  During my first proctoring session, I grabbed a magazine off the table in the classroom.  As I read the issue of Redbook, I found it interesting that the magazine was reviewing the movie Elizabethtown .  I asked myself, "Hasn't that been out for a long time?"  In the article on budgeting, the author recommended that the struggling couple cancel their cell phone to save money.  At this point, I flipped to the front cover to realize that I was reading a magazine from 2005!  2005!  I quickly vowed that I would bring my own reading material the next time I proctored.

Well, the next day I was scheduled to proctor, I almost forgot about it.  By the time I remembered, I had to rush down to the special ed teacher's room to relieve another proctor.  Again, I found myself without anything to keep me occupied.  After ruling out the outdated magazines, I turned to the shelf of textbooks.  I grabbed a copy of The Giver and read the back cover.  It didn't seem familiar, so I sat down and dove in the book.  I quickly found myself sucked into the story.  I was almost sad when the student finished their test because it meant that I couldn't stay and read anymore.  The special ed teacher gladly allowed me to borrow the book.  The book is set in an entirely different time and world, but you're not told that from the beginning.  Instead, you have to discover exactly how the world works and how it came to work that way for yourself.  It's been a long time since I was this sucked in by a book.  My only complaint would the ending.  I'm the type that loves a definitive ending plus an epilogue that updates me on what happens to the characters fifteen years down the road.  Yeah, this book didn't provide that... :(  But, I'd still recommend this book in a heartbeat!    

Maybe I should just call these posts confessionals instead of book reviews.  Confession time.  I judge books by their covers.  If I love a book's title, I'm much more apt to pick it up.  This book's title was yelling at me from the shelves at Goodwill.  As I wrote above, I'm not exactly sure what God is doing during this season of singleness in my life.  A lot of days, I don't see his plan.  Instead, I see how most of my friends from college have tied the knot and are starting to think about children.  My facebook newsfeed is full of babies and wedding pictures, and I feel left out sometimes.  Okay, a lot of times.  

Yet, I know God is at work.  I know God has a plan.  I just can't see his plan right now.  Twenty or thirty years from now, I will be able to look back and smile because things will have happened that were only made possible through this current confusing season.  This is the story of Nadine Hennesey.  She met a guy in college, got married, and they decided to start a family.  Before their daughter was born, he died suddenly.  Her entire world was turned upside down.  God used this tragedy to move her and her daughter overseas to work with orphaned children.  And, they changed thousands of lives that would have never been impacted had her original plan for her life worked out.  This book was a beautiful reminder that God knows what is best.  He has a plan.  And, that plan is more perfect and beautiful than we can ever realize.  

Cat by V.C. Andrews
In the fourth month of the year, I read the fourth book in The Wildflowers series.  If I read the last book in May, I will be done with this series forever!  As I've written before, this is not a series I would recommend.  But, I've invested so much time in reading them, I have to figure out what happens!  These books reveal the personal lives and secrets of four teenagers who end up in court-appointed therapy.  The themes in the books are dark and depressing.  This book provided some hope and a more up-beat attitude towards the end.  I hope that upbeat attitude is carried through to the last book in the series.


  1. Good list! I envy you that you are allowed to read while proctoring exams. We are not allowed to do anything except watch the students ... no reading, no grading papers, no doodling, no eating/drinking, no sitting ... we just walk around the room and stare at the testing students for up to 4 hours! After about an hour I would give up my left arm to be able to whip out a book! :)

    1. I would lose my mind without a book to read! I didn't read much when administering my math tests. 20 students with computer problems + people needing more scratch paper + having to write down their scores and clear their calculators when they finished + students who have trouble typing in their log-ins and passwords correctly = a busy and frazzled me. But, proctoring when there are two teachers and only one student in the room pushed me over the edge of needing to read!

      Hope your testing went/is going well!

  2. Note on The Giver - it's the first of four. All four are not directly related but have a subtle connection. They all are very different times/places. It's tough to explain but all are just as good as the first. Titles: Gathering Blue, Messenger, Son.

    1. There are more books?!?!? I need to see if my library has these ASAP! Thanks for the heads up!