Stacie Gorkow holding Books

This is my monthly roundup of books that I added to my shelves in the last month. Some of the books came directly from authors or publishers, others were a purchase or a gift. You’ll find books from all kinds of genres including adult and children’s books. I’ll even share a few things from our family’s life in the last month as well.

Family and Life Update

Mom and Dad

It’s still hard for me to even think back to the month of December. The month held some of my saddest days as well as some of my proudest moments. I’m still trying to process it all. On December 2, we visited my parents and found my dad to be quite ill. Unfortunately, he went downhill quite quickly and was admitted to the hospital on December 7. Pneumonia is a beast and my dad passed on December 9. At 91, he was our family patriarch and the one everyone looked to for guidance. The hole he left in our family is large, but now my focus is on my mom. She has cared for him for years and now she can finally focus on herself. At 40, my dad had his 3rd daughter and I wasn’t the easiest child or teen to raise. But, his unconditional love was always there, no matter how much I disappointed him. It’s hard to put 91 years into an obituary, but I tried…HERE.

Bennett is a college graduate!! His degree is in Finance – Personal Wealth Management, Stats, and Actuarial Science. His graduation ceremony was the day after my dad’s funeral and we needed this day of joy to celebrate. He was an Honors student and graduated on the Dean’s List. We are so proud. Next up…FIND THAT J.O.B!

It was so wonderful to celebrate Christmas with Pat’s family and my family as well as our kids. The days flew by and the house is quiet again. But, I rest in knowing my Dad got to celebrate with Jesus and his family who were waiting to greet him in Heaven. His sister passed on January 2 and I envision him greeting her and bringing her to their siblings to join in the reminiscing.

Now on to the books! 

In December, I found myself on the road a lot driving back and forth to my parents. Sometimes I couldn’t concentrate and avoided reading and other times I needed to read. I read 6 books. Two of the books were on audio, two of the books were physical copies, and two were eBooks. The only TV I watched was Survivor. I was thrilled that Dee won and I hope she does something amazing with her winnings.


Be sure to follow me on Instagram, HERE to see snippets of what I’m reading or what’s going on in my daily life.

If you have missed any of my recent book reviews, you can see all of them by clicking, HERE.  Or you can stay up to date with my monthly Quick Lit Roundup.

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Adult Non-Fiction and Fiction Books

GRIEVING WITH HOPE

Finding Comfort as You Journey Through Loss

By: Samuel J. Hodges, IV and Kathy Leonard

Published: November 1, 2011

Publisher: Baker Books

Christian Non-Fiction

Format: Paperback gift

This was a gift from a friend after my dad’s funeral. It handles grief after all kinds of death and would be helpful to many who are struggling.

Practical and straightforward, yet warm and compassionate, Grieving with Hope clarifies the popular misconception that people move through stages of grief. This will be an encouragement to many, as grieving people often think something is wrong with them when their grief doesn’t proceed neatly through stages. The reality is that grieving people jump back and forth between different emotions, sometimes wrestling with multiple emotions at once.

This book is packed with short, biblically based, gospel-centered, topical chapters addressing the issues grieving people face but are often hesitant to mention to others. It helps readers accurately interpret the message their emotions are sending them and gently guides them to determine whether they’re grieving in a way that leads to hope and ultimate healing. Developed from interviews with over 30 well-respected Christian counselors, teachers, and authors, as well as numerous personal testimonies, Grieving with Hope helps the bereaved discover how hope and peace are available amidst their heartache and pain.

JESUS, CALM MY HEART

365 Prayers to Give You Peace at the Close of Every Day

By: Ruth Schwenk

Published: November 28, 2023

Publisher: Bethany House Publishers

Christian Non-Fiction

Format: Hardcover purchase

I gifted this to myself after purchasing it for a couple of gifts this year because I loved it so much after looking through it.

Before you turn out the lights, turn to Jesus.

When coming to the end of a day feels like coming to an end of ourselves, we often struggle to find the words to pray–or even know where to start. We just know we need God.

Knowing well this weariness, beloved author Ruth Schwenk comes alongside you, offering encouragement and simple prayers of peace and hope. Whether you’re exhausted from worry, fear, unanswered prayers, pain, rejection, regret, or lack of joy or purpose, each of these 365 nightly prayers and journaling prompts will infuse hope into your life.

Even as your eyes drift shut, you will discover that the end of a day can also be the beginning of a new and deeper dependence on God. Because when you seek Him, you will find the One who never sleeps–and who strengthens us and works on our behalf even as we rest.

THE OFFICIAL DOWNTON ABBEY COOKBOOK

By: Annie Gray

Published: September 17, 2019

Publisher: Weldon Owen

Non-Fiction/Cookbook

Format: Hardcover purchase

I seem to be on a cookbook kick lately. I treated myself to this at Half-Price Books. My cousin has a copy and after looking through hers I knew I wanted a copy too.

Embrace Highclere glamor and the cuisine and customs of the Crawley household with The Official Downton Abbey Cookbook! Whether adapted from original period recipes or replicated and inspired by the screen, all 100+ recipes of this book reflect the influences found on Downton Abbey tables. Food historian Annie Gray gives a rich and fascinating insight into the background of the dishes popular between 1912 and 1926—a period of tremendous change and conflict, as well as culinary development.

Featuring stunning photographs of dishes and the beloved series, plus notes on customs of the time, quotes from characters, and descriptions of scenes, this unique cookbook provides vivid context for the dishes and brings the show to life. Savor the rich traditions and historic flavors of Downton Abbey for contemporary palettes with Cornish Pasties, Jam and Custard Tarts, and more!

With these historic recipes—compelling to a contemporary palate and easy to replicate in today’s kitchens—savor the rich traditions and flavors of Downton Abbey without end.

POCKETS

An Intimate History of How We Keep Things Close

By: Hannah Carlson

Published: September 12, 2019

Publisher: Algonquin Books

Non-Fiction

Format: Hardcover gift

This was a gift from my BFF. I hadn’t even heard of this book, but it is totally up my alley. I love learning unique history. A whole book about pockets! I can’t wait to read this one!

Who gets pockets, and why?

It’s a subject that stirs up plenty of passion: Why do men’s clothes have so many pockets and women’s so few? And why are the pockets on women’s clothes often too small to fit phones, if they even open at all? In her captivating book, Hannah Carlson, a lecturer in dress history at the Rhode Island School of Design, reveals the issues of gender politics, security, sexuality, power, and privilege tucked inside our pockets.

Throughout the medieval era in Europe, the purse was an almost universal dress feature. But when tailors stitched the first pockets into men’s trousers five hundred years ago, it ignited controversy and introduced a range of social issues that we continue to wrestle with today, from concealed pistols to gender inequality. See: #GiveMePocketsOrGiveMeDeath.

Filled with incredible images, this microhistory of the humble pocket uncovers what pockets tell us about ourselves: How is it that putting your hands in your pockets can be seen as a sign of laziness, arrogance, confidence, or perversion? Walt Whitman’s author photograph, hand in pocket, for Leaves of Grass seemed like an affront to middle-class respectability. When W.E.B. Du Bois posed for a portrait, his pocketed hands signaled defiant coolness.

And what else might be hiding in the history of our pockets? (There’s a reason that the contents of Abraham Lincoln’s pockets are the most popular exhibit at the Library of Congress.) Thinking about the future, Carlson asks whether we will still want pockets when our clothes contain “smart” textiles that incorporate our IDs and credit cards.

Pockets is for the legions of people obsessed with pockets and their absence, and for anyone interested in how our clothes influence the way we navigate the world.

MISSION TO THE CITY

My Experiences During the Great Depression

By: Karl Holm with Arnold E. Andersen, M.D.

Published: January 30, 2017

Publisher: West Bow Press

Non-Fiction/Memoir

Format: Paperback gift

My sister gifted this book to me. She knows I love learning about history, especially this era. It’s a short book at just under 100 pages. It also has a NYC setting which I love.

The book records Karl Holm’s personal account of his work in Ørkenen Sur, a shanty town in the Red Hook section of Brooklyn during the worst years of the Depression. Here, in the shadow of Manhattan, he found life at its grimmest, but life that responded to practical love expressed in the form of shelter, food, and the Christian message. Follow his adventures as a cat led him to a desperately ill man. Follow him on his rounds in the hospitals, reconnecting the ill and dying to their families. Joblessness, destitution, suicide, and murder were only part of his daily life. But there was also grace, love, and an unquenchable spirit. Who knew that he could be a sports reporter writing about crew races? This was a Norwegian-American at his best. Parts of the book, such as the closing account of Christmas Eve, could have been written by Charles Dickens. This is an account to inspire people today as much as then. This book was translated by Arnold E. Andersen, MD, his grandson, with the assistance of Kari Schussler.

RIGHT NOW MATTERS: BIBLE STUDY

A 28-Day Guided Adventure to Living as a Right-Now Woman

By: Julie Lefebure

Published: December 26, 2023

Publisher: Julie Lefebure

Christian Non-Fiction

Format: Paperback purchase

I shared about my sister-in-law’s new book, RIGHT NOW MATTERS back in October. Now, she has a companion Bible Study to go along with it. If you’d like to join her FREE online study, it begins January 15 on Zoom. Sign up, HERE.

It’s no secret that distractions are everywhere—in our homes and workplaces, in our social media feeds, and even in our own thoughts. How can we overcome them all? Is it possible?

In the Bible it says Jesus came to give each of us a life of joy and abundance, yet distractions are robbing us women of this joy-filled, abundant life. Not only this, but they are negatively impacting our moods, our relationships, our sleep, and our connection with God. There’s got to be more to life than this!

Friend, there is. Throughout the Bible, God demonstrates His plan for us to live in the moment and to embrace right now. He guides us throughout Scripture to seek the things that are important and to forget the things that aren’t. With God’s help, an undistracted life certainly IS possible!

Right Now Matters Bible Study: A 28-Day Guided Adventure to Living as a Right-Now Woman is a multi-faceted companion for the woman who is desiring to live in the moment and stay present. This personalized study will help you to recognize distractions and overcome them–taking you deeper into God’s Word and searching the Scriptures to learn God’s truth.

Life is one big adventure with God. Living it as a Right-Now Woman guides our choice to remain in the right-now moment and to embrace the abundant life Jesus came to give us–for our growth, for the good of others, and for His glory.

THE FARMER’S WIFE

My Life in Days

By: Helen Rebanks

Published: September 19, 2023

Publisher: Harper Horizon

Non-Fiction/Memoir

Format: Hardcover purchase

I visited my favorite bookstore, Next Page Books after Christmas since I couldn’t there before Christmas. I saw this book on the display table and even though I went in looking for a different book, this one caught my eye. I hadn’t heard of it before seeing it at the bookstore. Sometimes bookish serendipity speaks to you and this one came home with me.

Helen Rebanks’ beautifully written memoir takes place across a single day on her working farm in the Lake District of England. Weaving past and present, through a journey of self-discovery, the book takes us from the farmhouse table of her grandmother and into the home she now shares with her husband, James, their four kids, and an abundance of animals.

With honesty and grace, Helen shares her life in days—sometimes a wonder and a joy, others a grind to be survived—weaving in stories that read like a well-written pastoral novel. The Farmer’s Wife is a book about the love of life, the nourishing simplicity of everyday work, and sharing stories around a family table full of good food.

Full of gentle wisdom, this book is an honest portrait of rural life and an authentic exploration of both the hard work and reward of keeping a home and raising a family—even though the job is often thankless and invisible.

A WINTER IN NEW YORK

By: Josie Silver

Published: October 3, 2023

Publisher: Delacorte Press

Romance

Format: Hardcover

This was a Book of the Month choice for December. Notice it is also set in NYC. I really loved Silver’s ONE DAY IN DECEMBER, so decided this could be a fun winter read.

When Iris decides to move to New York to restart her life, she realizes she underestimated how big the Big Apple really is—all the nostalgic movies set in New York she’d watched with her mom while eating their special secret-recipe gelato didn’t quite do it justice. 

But Bobby, Iris’s best friend, isn’t about to let her hide away. He drags her to a famous autumn street fair in Little Italy, and as they walk through the food stalls, a little family-run gelateria catches her eye—could it be the same shop that’s in an old photo of her mother’s?

Curious, Iris returns the next day and meets the handsome Gio, who tells her that the shop is in danger of closing. His uncle, sole keeper of their family’s gelato recipe, is in a coma, so they can’t make more. When Iris samples the last remaining batch, she realizes that their gelato and her gelato are one and the same. But how can she tell them she knows their secret recipe when she’s not sure why Gio’s uncle gave it to her mother in the first place?

Iris offers her services as a chef to help them re-create the flavor and finds herself falling for Gio and his family. But when Gio’s uncle finally wakes up, all of the secrets Iris has been keeping threaten to ruin the new life—and new love—she’s been building all winter long.

THE MYSTERY GUEST

A Maid Novel Book 2

By: Nita Prose

Published: November 28, 2023

Publisher: Ballantine

Mystery

Format: Hardcover

I was giddy when I saw this in my Book of the Month choices. How did I not know Nita Prose was writing a follow-up to THE MAID? I can’t wait to return to the Regency Grand and Molly’s escapades.

Molly Gray is not like anyone else. With her flair for cleaning and proper etiquette, she has risen through the ranks of the glorious five-star Regency Grand Hotel to become the esteemed Head Maid. But just as her life reaches a pinnacle state of perfection, her world is turned upside down when J. D. Grimthorpe, the world-renowned mystery author, drops dead—very dead—on the hotel’s tearoom floor.
 
When Detective Stark, Molly’s old foe, investigates the author’s unexpected demise, it becomes clear that this death was murder most foul. Suspects abound, and everyone wants to know: Who killed J. D. Grimthorpe? Was it Lily, the new Maid-in-Training? Or was it Serena, the author’s secretary? Could Mr. Preston, the hotel’s beloved doorman, be hiding something? And is Molly really as innocent as she seems?
 
As the high-profile death threatens the hotel’s pristine reputation, Molly knows she alone holds the key to unlocking the killer’s identity. But that key is buried deep in her past, as long ago, she knew J. D. Grimthorpe. Molly begins to comb her memory for clues, revisiting her childhood and the mysterious Grimthorpe mansion where she and her dearly departed Gran once worked side by side. With the entire hotel under investigation, Molly must solve the mystery posthaste. Because if there’s one thing she knows for sure, it’s that secrets don’t stay buried forever.

Which one (or two or three) of these books that came my way in November 2023 will you be adding to your list?

Click HERE to see all the posts featuring new books on my shelves.

So many books, so little time!

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