The Pale Horseman

Book #10 of 2023
I will not stop talking about how much I have enjoyed this series so far Uhtred is a piece of crap sometimes, but he knows it and doesn’t care. I sometimes love his character and sometimes hate it. In this book, Uhtred continues to try and fight for his land. He still struggles between being a Saxon or a Dane. Three of the four kingdoms have fallen to the Danish Vikings. King Alfred and his small family are exiled to a small marsh land. There are not many soldiers supporting Alfred, but the few he has have to come up with a plan to keep the last bit of their kingdom alive. Will Uhtred be able to stay loyal to Alfred? We are also introduced to two new intriguing characters – Iseult and Svein the White Horse. Iseult is a sorceress who steals the heart of Uhtred and is hated by Alfred’s wife Aelswith. She is very important in this book and I really loved how her character developed. And then we have the “villain” and the nemesis of ALfred – Svein. He is a Danish Viking warrior who is raising havok along the Northern lands and is finally met with Uhtred and Alfred’s army. What insues is amazing and I felt that I was a shield maiden along with these warriors. Mr. Bernanrd Cornwell does an incredible job making the reader feel like they are there in all of the action. I was shocked several times at what happend!

This is the second book in the series and it may be better than the first one! One of my reading goals is to finish the series this year. I have 11 more books to go!

If you enjoyed the Last Kingdom series on Netflix and like historical fiction, I highly recommend this book series. So far, the Netflix series has been closely following the book series – to its credit. I’m so happy that they did, but even knowing how the Netflix series ends, I still felt the tension that grows within the book and was surprised several times with who survived, got injured, and who died.

This book is 433 pages long.
It has a Goodreads rating of 4.3

The Housemaid

Book #9 of 2023

The Housemaid by Freida McFadden is a domestic thriller about a young woman named Millie who is just out of prison trying to make it in life. She has been living in her car and has applied to a housekeeping ad. She is finally called for an interview. The woman who will be her boss lives the life Millie could only dream of. Nina dresses meticulously in white, has tons of money, but there is something Nina isn’t telling Millie. Millie is soon hired and part of her job is to live in the house with Nina’s family. Millie’s rooms are not what she thought they would be, and it looks like the door can be locked from the outside. Then there’s Nina’s handsome husband who has to also deal with Nina’s outbursts. Little by little Millie begins to figure out something is not quiet right, but what Nina’s family doesn’t know is that Millie also has a secret of her own. What later transcends is a rollercoaster ride of suspense and a twist at the end that will leave you speechless.

The Housemaid was one of the books the Shire Bookstore picked to read for our latest book talk. Something I have come to enjoy about these book talks is that we tend to pick books that I wouldn’t go out of my way to read, and lately it has been very refreshing. I had heard of Freida McFadden on BookTok, and wanted to see what all the fuss was about. I was pleasantly surprised. The Housemaid is a fun read. There weren’t any quotes that I had to highlight or moments in the book full of wisdom. The book wasn’t thought-provoking or life changing, but it was entertaining, and that is sometimes what is needed in life. Nothing deep or profound, but something enjoyable enough to keep me in suspense throughout the reading. This is what The Housemaid was to me. The characters were not very deep, but the story line was good and the twist in the end did actually procure a small gasp from me. I am learning to try to read a book without trying to figure out the end of it, so I allowed myself to be carried away in this one, and I am glad I did

There is a sequel to this book called The Housemaid’s Secret. I have heard that it is good, but not as good as the first book. Freida McFadden has another book called The Inmate that I have heard is even better than The Housemaid.

I recommend The Housemaid to anyone who likes domestic thrillers or suspense. I was a bit fearful of graphic sex scenes, but there weren’t any – that just isn’t my vibe. There is some gore though and a lot of psychological suspense. Most of the ladies at the book talk enjoyed the book. If you are interested in joining one of our book talks, we get together about once a month towards the end of the month. Our next book talk will be on the book When Women Were Dragons by Kelly Barnhill. For more information check us out on Facebook or Instagram.

The book is 338 pages.
This book has a Goodreads rating of 4.36

What Jesus Demands

Book #8 of 2023
Book Review

The word “demand” brings about a lot of connotations. When someone demands instead of asking for something, my rebellious nature usually tends to not give in to said demand. My heels tend to dig in when things are demanded of me. Just ask nicely, and things will go smoother.

Like many of John Piper’s books, he has a way of explaining what he means in very honest ways. My defenses would not be up nor my heels dug in to disobey if a fire fighter, after rescuing me from the flames of a burning building, thrusts a cool cup of water at me and demands I drink it. “Here, drink this!” he would exclaim, and a heaving, soot-covered me would gladly oblige. This is the tone of the book. There are many things that Jesus demands from His followers, but like the newly rescued, my attitude shifts because all Jesus is demanding of me, He is providing and ultimately is for my good. As a rescue, I am grateful and wanting to do what He demands because it feels good to do it. Like the cool water to my parched throat his demands will help me and heal me. There are some healing that is slow and painful, but in the end, I become better and He is glorfied.

In an interview about this book, Mr. Piper states that he took a 4 month study time to focus solely on the second part of the Great Commission which states “and you shall teach them all that I have commanded you”. What has Jesus commanded us to do? Piper mentions that he was able to group all the commands Jesus gives into 50 categories, each one is then listed as a chapter in the book.

This book was intense, but isn’t Christianity? We are miraculously saved from not just Hell, but our own destruction here on earth. What Jesus asks of us goes against the grain of our nature. To forgive the unforgiveable, to love the unlovely, to pray for our enemies and give to those who would steal from us. Why does Jesus ask such things from us? Because, it was/is what He did/does for us. He forgives the unforgiveable. He loves the unlovely. He intercedes for us, and all that we have exploited and taken and used in His creation, He gladly gives us more. We do all these things for others, because we know it was done to us first. Then, to top it all off, we are better for it. When we gladly obey His commands, we are not tied to the petty things and feelings of this world, but we are elevated to a place the world cannot understand.

After reading these kinds of books, I often wonder what my life would look like if I radically obeyed all Jesus commands. What would my life be like? I have failed to obey most of the things He demands of me, but as always He is longsuffering and compassionate in allowing me to continue in my sanctification. In His eyes, I am forgiven. Blameless. Loved and doing a great job! Even when I don’t feel that way. Truth is immovable to my fluctuating feelings, and I am so grateful for that.

Piper does warn that it is easy to fall into leagalism with these demands, and anything done without love is in vain and even sinful. This also isn’t a to-do list. Remember the imagery given at the beginning. You are not drinking that cool cup of water begrudgingly. In order to have the right attitude, we must have a right understading of what it cost to save us and be grafted into the family of God. And when we understand who we are and that inspite of that, God loved us and sent His Son to save us, then obeying what He demands becomes easy and even pleasant.

To say I enjoyed this book would be the wrong phrase. I grew when I read this. As Christians, we cannot look the same as the world. There is no other religion in the world where the god does all the work, provides all the faith and asks us to rest in his love. We are truly blessed to do as He demands.

This book is 400 pages. It has a Goodreads rating of 4.26.

The Boy in the Striped Pajamas – Book Review

Book # 7

Usually after reading a book with a WWII setting, I have to take a break from the genre. The depravity of human behavior always shocks me, as does the will to live or to hope during such a dark time. The seriousness of these kinds of books is heavy, and reading one right after the other is hard for me. With The Boy in the Striped Pajamas, I knew to expect a heaviness since I had an idea that it was set during the Holocaust. But the fact that it was written from the perspective of a 9 year-old boy really threw a curve ball into my reading.

I have an infinity to this time period. I read about it, watch documentaries and movies about it, and listen to interviews of survivors. I say this because I have an idea of the atrocities that happened at Auschwitz, but little Bruno (the narrator of the book) had no clue of what was happening on the other side of the wired fence. He’s nine. He’s German and his dad is the Commandant in charge of this concentration camp. Bruno has just moved to Auschwitz in Poland and misses his friends and the previous life that he had in Berlin. In his innocence he can’t even pronounce Auschwitz correctly and pronounces it Out-with. He even calls the Fuhrer, “fury”.  One day, Bruno takes a longer walk than usual, and meets a little boy on the other side of the fence. His name is Shmuel. Shmuel is small and super thin, but Bruno at least has a friend now, since there aren’t many little boys to play with in a concentration camp.

The author, Mr. Boyne, does an incredible job to keep the book tightly locked in the perspective of a little boy. But as an adult who knows exactly what is going on in Auschwitz, who knows how obscene humans can be, the clashing contrast of these two worlds – that of a little boy in 1943 and a 41 year-old woman in 2023 – made me frantic. Bruno cannot fathom why his friend is so thin. Bruno cannot understand why the people who march, then fall and then some never get up. Bruno cannot comprehend why Shmuel shivers at the sight of the soldiers. He is clueless! As he should be! The whole time I am reading this book I am literally shaking the book to somehow shake Bruno to not eat part of the food that he brings Shmuel. To advocate for Shmuel. To stand up to the cruelty and inhumanity that his dad bestows on the prisoners of Auschwitz. But he’s only nine! He can’t even pronounce the name of the camp correctly. And even if he could comprehend that people were methodically starved and worked to death. Bruno has no power. He has no say. He has no authority. This is why I think this is an amazing book, because most of us know what happened in Auschwitz, but Mr. Boyne is able to make it read as a children’s book.

The book is astonishingly not gory or horrific. All the emotions I felt were only because of the knowledge I have of the Holocaust. The end was the hardest part to read, but written so well that my heart was pounding.

If you are a reader of WWII historical fiction, you should also read this book!
Although, the book is written from the perspective of a nine year old, it is not a children’s book. As a mother of 6 children, I would allow my older middle schoolers to read this, but no younger.  

This book receives 4.5 stars out of 5 for me.  
The book is 240 pages long
It has a 4.15 rating on Goodreads

If you like WWII period books, here are some I recommend:
The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah
The Violinist of Auschwitz by Ellie Midwood
The Huntress by Kate Quinn
Night by Elie Wiesel
The Hiding Place by Corrie Ten Boom

Listen To Me – Book Review

Book #6

This is the 13th installment of the Rizzoli and Isles series by Tess Gerritsen. If you like this series you will not be disappointed in her latest book. This time, we get to know more of Jane’s mother, Angela.

The book starts off with a car accident and then moves into a brutal murder of a nurse. Somehow it is all connected to another murder. This twisty story is wrapped beautifully in the end and left me very satisfied. The scenes where Angela is involved are funny and she becomes a very likeable character. Although, some of her antics are a little over the top and exaggerated, I found that those parts made Angela a more charismatic character. All of these moving parts made the book a lot more entertaining.

I have read all of the Rizzoli & Isles books and have grown to love the differences in the characters. Most of Mrs. Gerritsen books in this series have vicious killers, and so does this one, but out of all her other books, Listen To Me was a little lighter. This was not a bad thing, but the book had more moments where I smiled a lot more. It was refreshing. Don’t get me wrong, there was still the all the drama that comes with medical and detective thrillers, but the book wasnt as “heavy” as other Rizzoli and Isles books.

If you love this series, you will love this book. I don’t recommend this book if you have not followed the series because I think the book may be found to be a bit silly to someone who isn’t familiar with the character Angela. Mrs. Gerritsen writes admirably, but this book would not be a good representation of her character development she’s nurtured in the people she writes about in her books.

I have given the book 4 out of 5 stars, and look forward to the next book by Mrs. Gerritsen!

This book is 307 pages
Was released on July 2022
It has a 4.18 stars on Goodreads

The Butcher and the Wren – Book Review

If you are into true crime, you may have heard of Morbid. It is a podcast on true crime, creepy history and all things spooky. It is co-hosted by Alaina Urquhart who is the author of The Butcher and the Wren. Ms. Urquhart is not just a co-host of the podcast, but she is also an autopsy technician, which to me brought a whole new element into reading her book!

With such a huge following of the Morbid podcast, the moment this book was released, it easily became a bestseller! This book is set in the Louisiana bayou and introduces us to forensic pathologist Wren Muller who works for the medical examiner’s office. There is a brutal killer on the lose who is leaving a string of victims. Can the dead reveal who this monster is? Can Wren give the detectives evidence to help them track down who the serial killer is? With several twists and turns, the book is a fast paced, cat and mouse thriller.

I think the fact that the author has the experience of being an autopsy technician added validity to the scenes in the book where Wren is in the autopsy room. The author was very knowledgeable in this area, but then, the book fell short. Ms. Urquhart didn’t really develop her characters very well. I really didn’t get a good sense of who Wren was in the book. She lacked depth and personality. It wasn’t that I didn’t like her – I don’t mind hating a character in a book – it was that I didn’t know her well enough to form any opinion of her. The same thing went for the serial killer. He was brutal, but that was all. What made him the monster he was? Tell me the history of his home, tell me of his depraved thoughts and mind, or of his past. Tell me more so I can get this creep into my mind and then into my nightmares! There were gory parts, but that seemed all it was. The book felt bland where we are just given some substance, but not context. There was great potential for the book, but in the end, it fell flat for me. The constant use of short sentences with minimal adjectives, didn’t allow the reader to fall into the book or get lost in it. Even as I write, I struggle to remember the main characters in the book. The twist towards the end did redeem it slightly for me, but then the end left me a bit confused and then disappointed. It really didn’t make any sense.

I really wanted to like this book. The cover is amazing, and I liked the word play of the title, but in the end, it gets a 2.5 out of 5 star rating for me. I didn’t completely hate it, but I didn’t like it either. It will not go on my permanent bookshelf. Although, I do believe this book would be a good book for someone who is maybe just getting into reading. I would also recommend it to younger adults who are into slashers or thrillers and doesn’t care too much about character building or context.

You can buy this book at The Shire Bookstore or click here.

Genre: Thriller/ Suspense/ Mystery/ Horror
Pages: 242
Published: September 13, 2022
Goodreads Rating: 3.75

Tales of a Bookstore Owner

“Don’t judge a book by its cover.”
We have all heard the saying.
The same could be said of a book lover,
I’m not even playing.
For into The Shire a rough neck hunter can walk in to see
If I have any romantic fairy warrior high fantasy.
Then comes in a grey-haired older church lady, so wise
Head for the spicy section with sunglasses as her disguise.
The young man or woman with blue hair and a celtic locket
They’re looking for a Bible that can fit into their back pocket.
Then a young boy about ten or eleven
Talks to me about Homer’s Odysee, oh I’m in heaven!
By the way – He read it when he was 8 or maybe it was seven.
The short man with the most beautiful blue eyes, comes in with his 3 sisters looking tribal
He asks if I can place an order for him. He wants the Satanist’s Bible.
Girls wanting books on construction, and plumbers wanting info on alien abductions
They all have been in here.
I have had so many conversations, and have even shed an occasional tear.
Many have come and made me laugh out loud
And hearing “you’ve turned me into a reader.” Man, I feel so proud!
You have given me a treasure, and enchanting precious pearl.
For you have let me into your life. You’ve let me into your world.
So many adventures have entered through these doors.
All so unique, telling me about the books they adore.
It is my hope and prayer to continue to share life with you.
There’s nothing more in the whole world I would rather do.

A Man Called Ove – Book Review

Book #4 of the year!

A Man Called Ove (pronounced OOvah) is a book about a curdmugeon who has just lost his wife. He battles with suicidal thoughts. He also is perpetually annoyed by his neighbors and all those around him. He is cranky and mean, but slowly he is awakened to a new version of himself and slowly begins to enjoy his life, sort of. The same people who annoy him, end up being the same people who smooth out his rough edges. Also, the cat who is just as cranky as him, is super hilarious. I found myself laughing out loud several times throughout this book and most of the time, the cat was in the scene.


I am the opposite of Mr. Ove. I see rules more like guidelines, and for Ove rules were obeyed always. I try different things all the time where Ove hated change. I struggle with routines, Ove thrived in them. I am fluid with what I wear or eat, Ove didn’t have much of a wardrobe. Silence with others is a treasured thing for me, but with strangers, the hardest thing for me to do is be quiet – you get the picture. I usually am not cranky and I definitely never send back my food at a restaurant, return items to a retail store or write emails or letters regarding my warranty. But as life would have it, I am drawn to people who are hyper routine oriented. People who see black and white, right and wrong, and who lean more towards stoicism. I can see the necessity for people who see the world like Ove – granted, I do believe Ove needed someone to slap him once in a while to snap out of it. There is a point where you are taking yourself or life a bit too seriously. Ove did have someone like that in his wife. She saw potential in his seriousness, but as luck would have it for Ove, she passed away. His wife, Sonja, died and Ove didn’t know what to do with himself. Us extroverts need the introverts to draw us into ourselves and contemplate about things. To not speak and listen. To see that this way is right or this way is wrong. The same goes with introverts, we draw them out into sponteneity, a little bit of chaos, and once in a while, side-splitting laughter!

This and more is what A Man Called Ove is about – our differences. How in the mundane and in the monotony is where deep relationships can flourish. Our lives intersect and touch each other unceasingly, and what we do in those moments either chips away at our humanity, or interlinks it. I loved A Man Called Ove because I have a lot of cranky people in my life that just need a hug, and even though I may run the risk of being rejected, I am confident in myself enough to keep loving them.

Something else I really didn’t expect from this book was the insight I would receive about people who are suicidal. I am continuously grateful that I have never struggled with suicidal thoughts. I know that there are many out there who suffer from these kinds of thoughts. I know many who have to fight depression and sadness every day. I am thankful that this is not my lot in life. Reading Ove’s thoughts really surprised me. In my mind, I thought that he would quit after his first failed attempt at hanging himself. What a shock I received when Ove attempted yet again to kill himself. He failed to kill himself several times, and still tried to do it. In my sunshine-rainbows-and-kittens-type-of-mind, he should be grateful he didn’t die, see the light, realize he has so much to live for and move on from his loneliness. I am so dense! All who I have spoken with who struggle with melancholia and depression, these thoughts seem to never leave. Yes, they have happy moments. Yes, they see that they are needed. Yes, life does go on, but in the background hangs this low dark cloud of sadness, loneliness or even suicide.

Learning things like this is why all of us should read fiction. C.S. Lewis writes that fiction “enlarges our perspective”. It allows us “to escape from ourselves into one another”. What a better way to get to know those around us who are not like us. Yes, could I read statistics on suicide among teens? Could I read about chemical imbalances or hormonal fluctuations in the brain? Of course. But something else happens to my soul when I read about a man’s bellowed sob that springs from his soul at the loss of his wife. At the frustrated wail of a mother when the doctor can do nothing more for her child. Of the silent cry of a woman holding the lifeless body of sister, who survived a Nazi camp only to die later of pneumonia. Fiction reaches us where statistics can’t.

I will eventually forget the stats I read, but I probably will never forget Ove.

This is officially my first 5 star rating of the year!! I recommend this book to anyone who likes heartwarming books! You can buy this book and other books by Mr. Fredrik Backman at the Shire Bookstore. If you liked As Good As It Gets the movie, you’ll definitely like this book. Obviously there are several attempts at suicide throughout the book, so if you struggle with those thoughts, please be careful as you read. Also, there is a movie based on this book starring Tom Hanks called “A Man Called Otto”. I recently read that it will eventually stream on Netflix.

Last Kingdom – Book Review

Book #3 of the year.

Historical fiction is one of my favorite genres to read, and lately I have been digging Vikings! It is a goal of mine to read a completed series this year, and I have decided to read the Last Kingdom series by Bernard Cornwell. I really enjoyed the series on Netflix and Bernard Cornwell is an excellent author. He does a tremendous amount of research, and I love learning as I am entertained.

The Last Kingdom is the story of Uhtred son of Uhtred – a Saxon – and his battle to regain his homeland of Bebbanburg. Uhtred is taken by the Danes, but is treated well by them. He then loses his Danish family and begins fighting for the Saxons. Back and forth, Christian against Pagan, Saxon against Dane the story goes, and I love it! The book is written in first person, from Uhtred’s point of view.

This book was very rich in English history. In it I learned about Alfred the Great and how he handled the occupation of the Danes, and in it I am also learning some history of my Christian faith. This time in history is known as the Dark Ages and admittedly, I do not know much on it. Reading about the struggles of the faith at this time, and what so many endured at the hands of each other, I feel grateful to be living in an age of so many comforts and so much knowledge.

I am giving the Last Kingdom a 4.5 rating out of 5 stars. I love how Mr. Cornwell writes and how I am carried off to the land of the Saxons so easily. I cannot wait to see how Uhtred handles what destiny has for him in the next book! The series is composed of 13 books in all.

If you love Vikings, the Dark Ages, Saxon wars, or historical fiction, I definitely recommend this series! If you like the Netflix series and like to read, this will also be a fun read.

You can buy this book at The Shire or here.

Grow Your Roots

Second book for the year is read!

At The Shire Bookstore, all kinds of books come in as donations and I am always so grateful for them! I saw this book and thought it would be a fun read, and it was! The book is titled “Kentucky Ghosts” and is written by William Lynwood Montell. It is composed of 6 short stories and each one mentions the county of where the ghost story originated.

I am not a Kentucky native, but I have grown to love this beautiful state. In my home state of Texas, there is hot and hotter when it comes to weather, but here in Western Kentucky I get to enjoy the four seasons. I love the massive trees, the array of birds, the wildlife, and just how close to nature I can get to. The temperatures are not extreme and the people are friendly. It is my prayer that God will keep us here until I draw my last breath. My family has cultivated and grown roots here, and that is what I want to briefly talk about in this blog.

One way that we can grow roots and love for an area is to read about its local history. I know that after I read “Drowned Town” by Jayne Moore Waldrop, I did grow a reverence for the lakes that are minutes from my house. I met the people affected by the flooding of the rivers. I visited sites with my children and walked along the shores of the lakes looking into their vastness trying to imagine a town under there. Reading Kentucky Ghosts helped my roots here get just a little stronger. Two of the six stories spoke of counties I recognized (Trigg and Muhlenberg). The stories in the book weren’t scary per se and they spoke of haints and ghosts in a positive light. I may not believe in ghosts, but the stories told me more about the living than about the dead. It spoke of the connection to family and how love surpases all. One of the stories was a bit silly as it was meant to be. I believe the author of the book wanted this book to feel as if grandma or grandpa was telling you their story around a campfire or the house hearth. That is what the book felt like.

If you like local folk tales or history written in a very simple form, then I believe you would like this book. This book can be read in one sitting. It is only 64 pages long. I only have one copy of this book at The Shire and it is $5. You can also buy this book if you click here.