What I've Been Reading- Summer Edition

Friday, August 28, 2015

Its been a long time since I've done a general update on things. Mostly because I don't make the time to write much anymore, which is something I am really working to change. This has been a great summer and I cannot believe it is pretty much over. School starts early around us in Indiana, and the past few weeks have brought much cooler weather. However, we're supposed to get a bit of a warm up for this last week of August so maybe we'll make it to the pool one more time before the official end of Summer.

I've been a crazy avid reader this summer. Ever since Sean bought me a Kindle for Mother's Day last year, I've been reading something non-stop. He was teasing me just the other day how, when I opened the gift, I wasn't very thrilled. I just didn't think I would use it very much, as I truly do (did?) adore the feel of a real book in my hands. Once I added a few free books and figured out how to access my library's digital collection, I was hooked.  And I mean HOOKED. I can read brand new books, as soon as they release! I can read old favorites without having to search for them or wait for them to be delivered to my small-town library. As much as I do love the look, smell and feel of real books, the Kindle has 100% won me over. (No, not a paid advertisement. Though wouldn't that be nice?) 

I am also in love with Goodreads. Do you use this app?? If so, let me know so I can add you as a friend. This is where I get 75% of my recommended readings. The other 25% I glean from the pages of my magazines (never going to go digital on those... I love me a good magazine!) like US Weekly, People, Forbes, Fortune, INC, etc. So here's what I've been reading this summer.... I'll give a brief synopsis for some, but for most will just say whether or not I recommend it & the star rating (out of 5) that I give it. Hope this adds some new books to your list!

The Girl With All The Gifts.... I was super excited to read this one but very soon into it, I discovered it is about zombies. Yes, it is a zombie book. Maybe that's your kind of thing, but its really not mine. Unless we're talking Brad Pitt in WWZ. Then, yes. But this one was just ok. 2/5

The Girl On The Train... Very good, suspenseful, kind of dark. Not really like Gone Girl, though some have compared it. Pretty good. Worth reading. 3.5/5

In the Unlikely Event... I wanted so badly to really like this book. However, there were just so many different characters who were interwoven in such convoluted ways, I had trouble keeping up. Having completed the book, I am still not sure who all the different people were and how they lined up in the story. That being said, the last 10% of the book is very good and brings it to a decent conclusion. So if you're a Judy Blume fan from the days of your youth, go ahead and read it. It's mostly worth it. 3/5

Messy Grace: How a Pastor with Gay Parents Learned to Love Others Without Sacrificing Conviction ... I know I did this as a book review (all the other books here we not reviews, just leisure reading), but I had to include it here again because it really is just that good. You simply must pre-order it now and read it when it releases in September. It is by Pastor Caleb Kaltenbach and it is superb and incredibly relevant to our times. 5/5

Three Wishes... I love anything Liane Moriarty. This was her first novel. I've heard some say they didn't like this book as much but I loved it. It was like climbing into your own bed with new, clean sheets after you've been away sleeping in hotels for weeks. Warm, cozy, familiar and comforting. She's probably my favorite fiction author. 5/5

Conversion... Katherine Howe wrote one of my older favorite, The Physick Book of Deliverance Dane. I was excited to read this one, but it just turned out to be ok. She writes a lot about the Salem Witch trials and her books all have some reference to that, though most of them are set in current times. She extremely knowledgable on the subject and her stories often have threads of history woven throughout, which make them worth it. 4/5

Rebel Queen... Michelle Moran is another one of my favorite fiction authors, though she strictly writes historical fiction. I fell in love with her books Nefertiti, The Heretic Queen and Cleopatra's Daughter when I went to Egypt years ago. Subsequent books have involved very different time frames, but still good books even if they don't interest me as much personally. Rebel Queen is set in India during a war where they fought for their independence from Britain. It was well-written and fun to read. 3.5/5

Some Luck... This is the beginning of a series of books that covers 100 years in the life of one family. I love the concept of it, and her writing is very good. Again, maybe its just me who has a problem keeping track of a bunch of different names, but there are quite a few characters in the book. Not a lot of earth-shattering things happen, but when I finished the book it was interesting to reflect on it and think, "wow, that was the story of a generation." 4/5

The Royal We... I love all things ROYAL. I'm slightly obsessed with Kate Middleton. I definitely woke up at 4 am when I was 36 weeks pregnant to watch the Royal Wedding. So this book was just plain fun. I had to remind myself over and over that this was not the true story of Will & Kate. But in a lot of ways, it very well could have been. No doubt the author drew inspiration from real life and just aggrandized it a bit. Still, super fun & easy read. Please don't judge me if I give it a 5/5.

The Residence... I was so excited to read this book, but it was another one that, sadly, fell quite flat. It was toted to be the "true stories" from behind the scenes at the White House. Meh... ok. But any current staffers would never go on record, so the author relied on vague accounts from previous employees, many of who remained anonymous or only had generalized good things to say about their First Families. There are a few things I found interesting, such as the way the transfer of power in the residence took place. On the morning of a new president's inauguration, their personal quarters are just the same as every other day. Usually not a single box packed or anything. They host the incoming president and his family for breakfast, then all head over the the capital for the day's events. It is in those 8-10 hours while the families are away at the inauguration and the inaugural ball that the entire White House staff must move out one President completely and move the new Presidential family in. And not just move them in to unpack later... no, every shirt, every sock, every new picture is folded and hung and placed perfectly! Pretty crazy, right? But other than that, this was big disappointment. I felt like there was a lot of repetition simply because the author didn't have the firsthand accounts to really make a whole book. 3/5

The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry... If you read one book from this list (Other than Messy Grace) make it this one!!!!! Oh, this made my heart bleed. It is the story of a man who owns a bookstore on an idyllic little island town. If you love books, libraries, great literature, or beautiful words, you will appreciate this book. So many great quotes to pull from it but here are a few of my favorites: 

"People tell boring lies about politics, God, and love. You know everything you need to know about a person from the answer to the question, What is your favorite book?" 
"A place is not really a place without a bookstore." 
"We agree to be disappointed sometimes so that we can be exhilarated every now and again." 
"And the longer I do this (bookselling, yes, of course, but also living if that isn't too awfully sentimental), the more I believe that this is what the point of it all is. To connect, my dear little nerd. Only connect."

And my favorite....

"We are not quite novels. The analogy he disliking for is almost there. We are not quite short stories. At this point, his life is seeming closest to that. In the end, we are collected works."
So yes, you should absolutely read this book. Then tell me what you think. I absolutely adored it. 6/5

Fever 1793... 4/5

 Beautiful Ruins... This has been on my reading list for a long time. Since last summer, I think. Its set in a beautiful Italian coastal town- what's not to love about that? Overall pretty good. 4/5

Nobody's Cuter Than You... This was my first introduction to Melanie Shankle. She is as hilarious as she is down to earth. I heard her on a podcast with Kat Lee a while back and knew I had to get my hands on some of her books. This book is for you if you have a friend, have ever had a friend, if you want a friend or if you are a friend. I love the way she talks about the different kinds of friends she has had in her life. Each one reminded me of a friend or friends that I've had in my life who have shaped me into the woman I am today. Great book. 4/5

The Antelope in the Living Room... After finishing Nobody's Cuter Than You, I had to read another one of her books. This book contains collections of her thoughts on marriage. Again, I loved it and found much to relate with in her stories. 4/5

After Her...This was a really good book. Its a mystery of sorts, but also the story of two sisters growing up in California with a detective Father and out-of-it Mother during a time when a serial killer was running lose in the woods behind their home. Ok, that sounds pretty horrible. But it is pretty good. 4/5

Whew! Ok, so did you add some new books to your list? What should I be reading? What should be on my list?
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