Category Archives: Shauna Neiquist

Edition: On the Reading Radar

Wednesday Reads WideMy Kindle wish list is quite large and gets bigger each week. Since I follow many authors and book clubs on various social media outlets, there’s a new book recommendation almost daily. I could seriously go bankrupt purchasing books. I wish I was a library fanatic but I have a hard time borrowing a book.  What started out as a educational pursuit of taking notes and highlighting books has become a personal hobby. Therefore, I must own the book so I can deface it to my heart’s delight.

No matter if I check it out or purchase it, here are a few books that are on my radar right now.  More than likely you will see a review of one or five in the next few weeks.  By the way, Mother’s Day is around the corner and if you need to buy a book for your mom (hint hint to my kiddos), any one of these gems will do.

51-siNDoBeL._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_1. Reservations for Two: A Novel of Fresh Flavors and New Horizons by Hillary Manton Lodge.

I adored Hillary’s first novel (check out my review here).  This novel is a sequel, and I cannot wait to get my hands on it.

Food writer-turned-restaurateur Juliette D’Alisa has more than enough on her plate. While her trip to Provence might have unlocked new answers to her grandmother’s past, it’s also provided new complications in the form of Neil McLaren, the man she can’t give up. 

Juliette and Neil find romance simple as they travel through Provence and Tuscany together, but life back home presents a different set of challenges. Juliette has a restaurant to open, a mother combating serious illness, and a family legacy of secrets to untangle – how does Neil, living so far away in Memphis, fit into to her life? 

As she confronts an uncertain future, Juliette can’t help but wish that life could be as straightforward as her chocolate chip cookie recipe. Can her French grandmother’s letters from the 1940’s provide wisdom to guide her present? Or will every new insight create a fresh batch of mysteries? (Taken from  HIllary Manton Lodge’s book page. Click here to visit her site.)


Dog_Crazy2. Dog Crazy by Meg Donohue

Since Harvey (our basset hound) joined the Hall family, I’ve become a little partial to books with dogs, about dogs, or told by dogs, such as Garth Stein’s The Art of Racing in the Rain.  This one by Meg Donohue sounds like a winner to me. Check out the publisher’s overview below:

The USA Today bestselling author of How to Eat a Cupcake and All the Summer Girls returns with an unforgettably poignant and funny tale of love and loss, confronting our fears, and moving on . . . with the help of a poodle, a mutt, and a Basset retriever named Seymour.

As a pet bereavement counselor, Maggie Brennan uses a combination of empathy, insight, and humor to help patients cope with the anguish of losing their beloved four-legged friends. Though she has a gift for guiding others through difficult situations, Maggie has major troubles of her own that threaten the success of her counseling practice and her volunteer work with a dog rescue organization.

Everything changes when a distraught woman shows up at Maggie’s office and claims that her dog has been stolen. Searching the streets of San Francisco for the missing pooch, Maggie finds herself entangled in a mystery that forces her to finally face her biggest fear-and to open her heart to new love.

Packed with deep emotion and charming surprises, Dog Crazy is a bighearted and entertaining story that skillfully captures the bonds of love, the pain of separation, and the power of our dogs to heal us.  (Visit Meg’s author page here.)


Savor_FinalCoverOptions_rev233. Savor: Living Abundantly Where You Are, As You Are by Shauna Niequist

Shauna is one of my absolute FAVORITE writers.  In fact, I want to be her.  She is so great at sharing everyday life in a way the reveals an extraordinary God. Her new book is a devotional format (365 days worth) which is slightly different from her other books which are essay format.  I have loved all three of her other books: Bittersweet, Cold Tangerines, and Bread and Wine.

Check out an excerpt here. 


516TXpkm6+L._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_4. Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less by Greg McKeown

Many bloggers and writers that I follow on social media have discussed the book. Every quote I’ve read from the book has challenged me or hailed a hearty “Amen!”  Living in Ecuador forced me to re-evaluate what is truly important in my daily life – and it is not the busyness of work, school, or even church.  I’ve got a feeling this book will only reinforce my ideas.  Check out this intro from the McKeown’s book page.

  • Have you ever found yourself stretched too thin?
  • Do you sometimes feel overworked and underutilized?
  • Do you feel motion sickness instead of momentum?
  • Does your day sometimes get hijacked by someone else’s agenda?
  • Have you ever said “yes” simply to please and then resented it?

If you answered yes to any of these, the way out is the Way of the Essentialist.

I’m sure that several of those questions resounded with my readers.  If so, this might be the book for you.  I can’t wait to glean from its wisdom.

If you dive into one of these books on the radar, let me know what you think.  Come back and leave a comment so reader’s can get more info. 

Happy Reading,






Wednesday Reads: nourish edition

51kWRL6adLL._BO2,204,203,200_PIsitb-sticker-arrow-click,TopRight,35,-76_AA300_SH20_OU01_verb  – provide with the food or other substances necessary for growth, health, and good condition

When we decided to follow the call of missions and sell everything we own and move to Ecuador, I only had trouble parting with one personal item: my kitchen table. I couldn’t verbalize the attachment that I had to it, but every time I thought of sending it off in the back of someone’s truck, I got sad. Eventually, the table did find a new home and I let it go freely but still not understanding exactly why I wanted to keep it.

After reading Shauna Niequist’s book Bread and Wine: A Love Letter to Life Around the Table,   I discovered the answer to my deep kitchen table longing. She phrased it something like this:

I can’t imagine life without a table between us. The table is the life raft, the center point, the home base of who we are together.

That’s exactly it. So much of life was hustle-bustle, get out the door, rush in the door, do homework, clean room, get ready for bed, except for those few minutes we spent around the table. Even more so, were the moments that we spent with friends around the table sharing tacos, or broccoli cheese soup, fried chicken and mashed potatoes, or even pancakes and syrup. Those were the strings that tied my heart to that kitchen table.

Cooking and sitting around the table has become an everyday three-times-a-day occurrence in my household now. Obviously, since life moves a little slower here, we get to enjoy this luxury. My cooking skills have improved, and now I even delight in making new dishes that my family raves about, or preparing old stand-bys that always please. And in those moments, I feel just as Shauna describes in her book: sitting around the table is  “feeding someone with honesty and intimacy and love, about making your home a place where people are fiercely protected, even just for a few hours, from the crush and cruelty of the day.”

Bread and Wine: A Love Letter to Life Around the Table with Recipes also comes with recipes as the title suggests. Shauna shares her insight for when and how to create a dinner party with a emphasis on people, not the presentation. How comforting! It’s the food that everyone remembers not the beautiful centerpiece or delicately laid china settings.

I loved Shauna’s down-to-earth, sweet-friend-conversation style of writing. From the first page, I wanted to be able to sit around her kitchen table and bask in the love and acceptance she so clearly offers to friends and family. Each chapter was an essay on a life event that related to food and faith, with the food mentioned becoming the end of chapter recipe. The recipes were at times “fancy” but her writing and passion makes me want to try my hand at fancy Steak au Poivre with Cognac Pan Sauce. And I also can’t wait to make her Mini Mac and Cheese side dish – a comfort food for all. There’s recipes for a simple White Chicken Chili to Mango Chicken Curry.

While the recipes offer both a challenge and comfort to my culinary dreams, the simple basis of the book is what melted my book lover’s heart and re-emphasized how I’ve served my friends and family all along, for “…entertaining isn’t a sport or competition. It’s an act of love, if you let it be.” That’s the way I want to live life around my table. I pray that it always may be set first with love. Thanks Shauna for the well-written reminder.