Monday, August 2, 2021

What I Read in July

I had a pretty good summer of reading. I'm recognizing that most likely I won't meet my yearly goal of 150 books by the end of the year, but I'll keep trying. I was happy to attend a book club meeting tonight. It's good to talk books! (Even if we talked about life, too!)

1.  C is For Corpse by Sue Grafton
This is the third of a series featuring detective Kinsie Millhone. I love mindless mysteries, especially in the summertime, and this is one of those that is a quick read, suspenseful, and with enough of a plot to keep the reader interested but not overthinking. Sometimes I like a good summer read that doesn't cause me to think much. This one involves Kinsie investigating the death of Bobby Callahan, a young man she meets at the gym. His is a tragic story, with dysfunctional family drama making life even more complicated. If you enjoy a good mystery, you'll like this series. 

2. Whitethorn Woods  by Maeve Binchy
St. Ann's Well works miracles; at least to those who believe. When a new road threatens the existence of Rossmore, Whitethorn Woods, and specifically the well, Father Flynn finds himself in the middle of the debate against progress and tradition. Through the telling of community member's interwoven stories, Binchy shares the beauty of a community with the complexity of individuals. A great read! 

3. Someone Like You by Karen Kingsbury
I have loved every Karen Kingsbury book that I have read. The Baxter family feels like... well... family. This book centers around a family secret, discovering who you are, and an emphasis that family is more than being blood related. Kingsbury takes on the topic of frozen embryos and infertility, and handles the complexity of family with grace. Written in simple prose, it's an easy read that flows well and left me wanting more. Good thing there are other Baxter books!

4. The Dutch House by Ann Patchett
Danny and Maeve are affluent siblings raised by a dad with rags to riches story. Their world is turned upside down when tragedy strikes, and the subsequent events follow them for the remainder of their lives. While not explicitly discussed by the author, this book made me think of how we define success. It also centers around relationships and feelings of responsibility. This is one of the better books I've read this year. 

5. The Characters of Christmas 
A Christmas book fits in July, right? I actually started this one in December as a devotional and then got sidetracked. Darling provides character analysis of people who were involved in the Christmas story: Mary, Joseph, the shepherds, the angels, the wise men, even Simeon awaiting the Messiah. Retellings of the Biblical story show us how ordinary people were important to the Christmas story. Reflection questions help the reader apply the readings to their own life. 

6. The Giver of Stars by Jojo Moyes
This is one of my favorite new books. Set in Eastern Kentucky, Moyes tells the story of a pack-horse librarian who came to the mountains from England. The writing was lyrical, descriptions of the mountains made me feel right at home, and there was enough romance and suspense to keep me engrossed. Highly recommend! (I have seen some reviews that compare to the Book Woman of Troublesome Creek, which I am reading now. I don't know about the similarities, but I can say that Moyes had to have done her research because I truly felt like she was in my backyard.)

7. The Island House by Nancy Thayer
I have never been to Nantucket but I love reading books set there, especially in the summer. This book centers around the Vickerey family, following them into adulthood. Courtney is a "summer child", one of several kids who calls the island house home during the summer because of a friendship with one of the Vickerey siblings. Courtney tells the family story through flashbacks, and then we are brought back to the present time, when the family must face their own struggles. This book draws the reader into thinking about relationships (sense a theme here?) but is light-hearted enough to be a good beach read. 

8. First Comes Love by Emily Giffin
Giffin is another author that I enjoy. In this novel, she introduces us to two sisters who have grown up in the shadows of the death of a brother. One sister strives to be the responsible. One is known to be more flighty. Both fall into their roles momentarily, until they are forced to admit that these roles may be a facade. As the anniversary of their brother's death draws closer, and the two sisters find themselves looking inward, family drama surfaces, bringing their relationship to the breaking point. I really enjoyed the characters in this novel. There is some inappropriate language. 

9. The Goodbye Quilt by Susan Wigg
Loved this book!!! It chronicles the road trip by a mom and her 18 year old daughter who is heading off to college. The book details a quilt the mom is making from keepsakes fabric from her daughter's childhood. It may have hit a little too close to home, even though Caleb isn't actually going away from school, but it was a delightful read with an ending I didn't suspect. 

10. The Nickel Boys by Colson Whitehead
This book details the stories of two young men sent to a reform school in Florida at the height of the Civil Rights Movement. Describing the lives of those housed in the reform school, it is a difficult read at times. What makes it even more difficult to read is that it is based on a real place, even though the characters are fictional, but I feel like it is an important read, because it made me think. 

11. First Women: The Grace and Power of America's Modern First Ladies
I enjoyed this book, which gave inside glances of the women in the White House in modern times. Beginning with Jackie Kennedy and ending with Michelle Obama, with an afterword briefly introducing Melania Trump (it was written as Trump took over the Presidency), it showed the beauty and grace of those women behind our Commander in Chief. It includes quotes from letters and the author also interviewed key members of administrations and a couple of the first ladies themselves. Great read to show another side of American politics. 

What are you reading? I'd love to hear from you! 

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