Friday, August 5, 2016

Summer Reading

Embarrassed to say I haven't posted anything since early May.  I have a lot of excuses, but many of them not good enough to explain this delay in writing. 

Life can get messy, busy, crazy, chaotic, stressful, and thus some tasks or hobbies or "to do's" just don't get done and writing for me has been one of them.  But, alas I'm feeling the need to get back at it.  I used to write primarily about my training for races, my running/training/triathlon life.  When all of that went away after my surgery for ACL repair my writing felt pretty lost.  I felt pretty lost.  Since then other life events have occurred and my writing MOJO has just been so lackluster. 

So today I start again and start with one of my favorite post topics to write about- books and my reading life.  So the following is a recap of May, June and July reads for 2016.  Due to the long list I will keep comments to hopefully a condensed version of what I normally post for my monthly reads.  I'll rank the books on the 1-4 rating system that came with the adult summer reading program log I received from my public library (I turned my log in so this may not be word to word verbatim of what the rating program stated): 1- never bring on vacation, 2- bring on vacation but likely at the bottom of my bag of books, 3- sits in the middle to top of the reading bag of books, 4- top of the pile and likely added to the vacation being the best.

May:
Post Secret: Confessions on Life, Death and God by Frank Warren
PostSecret: Confessions on Life, Death, and God
This is a 3.  It was something I saw on the new nonfiction shelf.  The title alone intrigued me.  Frank has been called "the most trusted American" because of the way in which people share very personal stories and secrets with the author through postcards they send to Frank.  This is the fifth book in the series.  As one "goodreads" rating so well put... "The biggest appeal of these books is that you can relate to at least one secret in the book, even if it isn't specifically yours."


Here is an example of the type of post card you will find in the book.
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The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah
The Nightingale
Rating of 3- I had just the month before read "Sarah's Key" by Tatiana de Rosnay.  If I had read The Nightingale first I would likely had rated this book a 4, but because "Sarah's Key" was just so powerful, well written and I loved I kept on comparing "Sarah's Key" to "The Nightingale".  the reason for this comparison is both take place in France during WWII and backstory is the Nazi invasion of France.  "The Nightingale" utilizes the relationship of two sisters and their separate and at the same time simultaneous stories/experiences of their time during 1939 onward.  It is a great story and a great read.  Amazing to me that these stories are likely less fiction than we want to admit.  I love reading about this era in history and it again reminds me of the horrors that occurred by the Nazis during WWII and the aftermath of those horrors.  My favorite line from this book...

In love we find out who we want to be.
In war we find out who we are.


Fifty Shades Darker (#2) by E.L.James

Fifty Shades Darker (Fifty Shades, #2)

Rating of 3- I liked this one better than the first one. This one had a more mystery/thriller type of feel to it.  Not such a thriller/mystery that I ran out to read the third one, but I likely will get to it at some point in my reading life.

Bossypants by Tina Fey
Bossypants

Rating of 3- Listened to this one on audio.  Great listen/read.  Tina Fey is witty, smart, and totally entertaining.  It is so fun to learn about someone else's life.  Hers is interesting, but yet not over the top.  It reads like a story of someone who could actually be a friend with an "everyday person" minus the fact that she is SUPER FAMOUS!  Great listen- liked listening it better than reading it because of hearing her voice and the inflections she made throughout the story.

The Readers of Broken Wheel Recommend by Katarina Bivald
The Readers of Broken Wheel Recommend
Rating of 4- Just happened to pick up this book in Barnes and Noble on one of my many "window shopping" visits. I like to peruse the shelves and to add to my "to read" list on "Goodreads" account.  However, the back cover grabbed me and I was soon purchasing it.  What grabbed me- the fact that the book takes place, primarily, in Broken Wheel, Iowa (fictitious- but well written description of what could be any small town in Iowa).  Better yet- the premise of book is a Swedish girl comes to Broken Wheel to visit a pen-pal and happens to open a book store in the town.  I can't give you too much more information, because I'd hate to ruin the fun.  Great characters throughout the book and lovely story.

June Reads:
The Recipe Club: A Tale of Food and Friendship by Andrea Israel
The Recipe Club: A Tale of Food and Friendship
Rating 3 1/2- Not quite a four, but so close.  The whole book is written primarily in the form of letters between two friends.  It spans several years and is so realistic with how life changes from one year to the next for any two friends.  The tie in with food and recipes is not a forced one and adds some quirkiness to the story line.

Nourished: A Search of Health, Happiness and a Full Night's Sleep by Becky Johnson and Rachel Randolph
Nourished: A Search for Health, Happiness, and a Full Night’s Sleep
Rating of 3- Self-Help book meets story of mother and daughter's lives together and apart.  These two authors come up with "The Ten Most Common Stressors That Mess with a Woman s Mind: daily challenges that routinely steal her sense of peace and joy."  The book has some practical ways in which we can combat these stresses.  The author's faith is also discussed and utilized as a way in which to cope with the daily challenges.  I liked the book, but couldn't give it a 4 star rating because I thought they were leaving some personal stories out which could have added more "meat" to the writing. 

Post Secrets: Extraordinary Confessions from Ordinary Lives by Frank Warren

PostSecret: Extraordinary Confessions from Ordinary Lives
Rating 3- picked this one up after reading the one in May.  Similar story line, but this was the first in the series and what started it all off.
Why reinvent the wheel when GoodReads explains the first book in Frank Warren's series...
"It all began with an idea Frank Warren had for a community art project. He began handing out postcards to strangers and leaving them in public places -- asking people to write down a secret they had never told anyone and mail it to him, anonymously." https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/27268040-postsecret

July Reads:
The Martian by Andy Weir
The Martian
Rating 2 1/2.  I'm just not a science fiction person.  My husband and I occasionally read books together and then have our own book club.  Well this was the most recent hubby/wife read and to add to the fun my son read it too.  We read the book first and then watched the movie.  I thought the movie was pretty good, but the movie, as all movies do, left out parts of the book which I felt added to the story.  So I liked the book a little better than the movie.  For those of you who haven't seen the movie or read the book the basis is an astronaut is stranded on Mars when his crew's mission goes amuck because of a bad storm on Mars.  The story is then all about his survival and figuring out how to make it home.

Midnight Riot- Peter Grant #1 by Ben Aaornovitch
Midnight Riot (Peter Grant, #1)
Rating 2.  Was a recommendation from a book club buddy.  I think I should have known it wouldn't be my kind of read when the lab on the spine of the book at the library read FANTASY.  I thought it sounded like an interesting story line- English cop trying to make it as a detective.  He gets involved with a Detective (mentor) who isn't just about using normal detective ways to investigate and solve murders.  No Peter Grant's mentor uses magic- hence where I got lost in interest in the story.  I also struggled with exactly how the plot line unraveled and the mystery was ultimately solved.  Unfortunately for Peter Grant and the author I won't be opening any further mysteries in this series.

White Fur Flying by Patricia MacLachlan
White Fur Flying
Rating 3.  I try to keep track of those books I read with my kids.  This one I read with my daughter.  It is a lovely dog story.  My daughter totally wants a dog and so because we are mean parents and won't add a dog to our family she lives vicariously through owners of dogs in books.  The main character, Zoe, is one in a family of four that rescues dogs in need.  In this story Zoe befriends a neighbor boy, who isn't able to talk- selective mute.  Zoe along with the current rescue dog in the family help this boy learn to trust and communicate again.

Overwhelmed: Work, Love and Play When No One Has the Time by Brigid Schulte
Overwhelmed: Work, Love, and Play When No One Has the Time
Rated it a 4- It was a great read with a lot of insight into what many of us are constantly struggling with- too much to do and not enough time.  It is well written and has just the right touch of personal narrative to make this nonfiction read more enjoyable.  The research given to back up the answers to solve some of our "overwhelmed" feelings and problems is cleanly written and gets to the point making the read that much more applicable to daily living.  Read it!

Orphan Train by Christina Baker Kline
Orphan Train
Rated it a 3 1/2.  This was our July book club read. I liked the story and thought the character description and depth was what made the book that much more believable.  It is historical fiction about one orphans trip from New York to the Midwest on one of the many orphan trains that traveled the train tracks of this country.  However, it is also the story of a current day orphan's experience in the foster care system.  The way in which the author tied these two character's stories together was perfect.  Although time has changed some of the same experiences occur for both orphans bringing to light what orphans truly experience. 

Well that's all for now.  Glad to be writing again and even happier to be writing about the great books I've read.  Hope this post gives you some new reads to add to your own "to read" list.