2nd Quarter Reading: April-June 2016


I’m a bit late with posting my 2nd quarter reading — I managed to read a ton from April-June! Here are my recommendations —

My 5 Star Recommendations:

The Crucible of Doubt: Reflections on the Quest for Faith by Terryl & Fiona Givens (168 pages), Adult, Religious. Deep and complex — I think it is a must read for anyone wanting to learn about faith. Love the emphasis on faith as a daily choice.

Ready Player One by Ernest Cline (400 pages), Adult, Science-Fiction, Dystopian. Two friends have read this since I recommended it and didn’t love it– but I LOVED this book. It is so not in my wheelhouse, but I loved it. Fascinating and terrifying. Great read.

Welcome to the World, Baby Girl! (Elmwood Springs #1)by Fannie Flagg (512 pages), Adult, Fiction. Fannie Flagg NAILS southern charm. Loved the characters, loved the story. Loved it.

Call the Midwife: Farewell to the East End by Jennifer Worth (336 pages), Adult, Non-Fiction, Memoir. An impressive end to the series — loved delving more into Chummy’s life!

Roller Girl by Victoria Jamieson (240 pages), Middle Grade, Graphic Novel, Fiction. Seriously original and fun. Loved learning about roller derby.

Can’t Wait to Get to Heaven (Elmwood Springs #3) by Fannie Flagg (375 pages), Adult, Fiction. My favorite of the trilogy. Elner is so lovable.

Rosalie Lightning by Tom Hart (272 pages), Adult, Non-Fiction, Memoir, Graphic Novel. Serious trigger warning for new parents or people sensitive to the topic of death. This book was devastating — I bawled through all of it. Hart shares his experience losing his daughter as a baby. Heart wrenching but important to try to understand the experience of losing a child.

Jefferson’s Sons: A Founding Father’s Secret Children by Kimberly Brubaker Bradley (400 pages), Middle Grade/YA, Historical Fiction, Biographical Fiction. Goodreads review:  This book is packed full of historical information that was relatively new to me — I knew that Jefferson was believed to be the father of several of his slaves by Sally Heming, but I didn’t know any of the details. This book was intended for middle readers and I think that the writing was incredibly engaging — something I can see many middle school/high school readers enjoying (as well as adults). Of course, Bradley doesn’t know how much of her information is completely accurate — some of it is conjecture, but I think that her idea of what it would have been like to be the slaves of Jefferson and yet simultaneously his children rings true.

My 4 Star Recommendations:

The Fifth Wave by Rick Yancey (512 pages), YA/Adult, Fiction. I thoroughly enjoyed this page turner. It is another dystopian novel – but still worth the read I think. Not as good as Hunger Games, but way better than Divergent.

When Breath Becomes Air by Paul Kalanithi (256 pages), Adult, Non-Fiction/Memoir. Beautiful memoir written by a young neurosurgeon after his terminal cancer diagnosis.

Stiff: The Curious Lives of Human Cadavers by Mary Roach (303 pages), Adult, Non-Fiction. If you’ve ever wondered about what happens to bodies after death — Roach approaches this topic in a highly readable and interesting way.

Bread and Wine: A Love Letter to Life Around the Table with Recipes by Shauna Niequist (288 pages), Adult, Non-Fiction, Memoir. Niequist is such a great writer — relatable and down to earth.

The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time by Mark Haddon (226 pages), Adult, Fiction. Intriguing story from the perspective of a young autistic boy. The voice feels real and authentic. I think this would have been a 5 for me if there wasn’t so much language.

The Infinite Sea  by Rick Yancey (352 pages), YA/Adult, Fiction, Dystopian. After watching the movie of the first book of this series, I’m annoyed even thinking about this series. I can’t punish the book for the movie though (which was truly awful). I actually like this book (not as much as the first book in the series, but still liked it quite a bit). I’m pretty invested in the story & its characters. I hope the 3rd book doesn’t fizzle.

Call the Midwife: A Memoir of Birth, Joy, and Hard Times by Jennifer Worth (352 pages), Adult, Non-Fiction, Memoir. This show is one of my favorite series and its done a phenomenal job of capturing the feelings of this novel. Great novel!

Call the Midwife: Shadows of the Workhouse by Jennifer Worth (304 pages), Adult, Non-Fiction, Memoir. Heart-wrenching. The workhouses are cruel and inhumane. Interesting read.

Popular: Vintage Wisdom for a Modern Geek by Maya Van Wagenen (272 pages), Middle Grade/YA, Non-Fiction, Memoir, Self-Help. Copied from my goodreads:

Young 15 year old Maya Van Wagenen sets out to try the tips for gaining popularity her 8th grade year from a book written in the 50’s. Lovely & hilarious concept– Maya is incredibly brave. I can’t believe some of the things she did with no explanation to her bewildered classmates. Maya’s voice is outstanding for a 15 year old writer. The beginning terrified me a little, as she discusses her weight/dieting/being fat (which she clearly isn’t). It makes me sad with our society that a 15 year old girl who is perfectly average would think she is fat–but I guess that is the reality of what teenage girls feel. The end had a fantastic message as she really learned how to get outside her comfort zone and befriend others. Not saying that extroverts are innately better than introverts (AT ALL), but do think it’s wonderful to talk to others when you want friends instead of waiting someone to come to you.

Rump: The True Story of Rumpelstiltskin by Liesl Shurtliff (272 pages), Elementary School/Middle Grade, Fiction, Fairytale. Super fun retelling of a classic.

Salt to the Sea by Ruta Sepetys (400 pages), YA, Historical Fiction, WWII. Fascinating story of a basically unknown maritime disaster during WWII. I think middle schoolers and highschoolers would love this. I enjoyed it, but couldn’t get into the characters as much as I like to because it jumped so frequently.

Someday, Someday, Maybe by Lauren Graham (368 pages), Adult, Fiction. This could have easily been one of those things where a celebrity known for one thing tries her hand at another and basically bombs it but is still successful because she is already well known– but guess what? It wasn’t! Graham is not only a crazy talented actress, but she’s a great writer! Really loved the main character and the hilarious dialogue.

My 3 Star Recommendations:

Life After Life by Kate Atkinson (560 pages), Adult, Fiction. I loved the idea of this novel and some parts of it. It took me quite awhile to finish because I didn’t love all of the storylines. It is about a woman who is reincarnated over and over and how different choices she makes affect her life differently.

Crenshaw by Katherine Applegate (256 pages), Upper Elementary/Middle Grade, Fiction. A good read for children to introduce poverty & homelessness.

The Big Short: Inside the Doomsday Machine by Michael Lewis (291 pages), Adult, Non-Fiction. Interesting and confusing. Lewis is a great writer and so I now have a vague understanding of what happened during the 2007 Subprime Mortgage Crisis.

Standing in the Rainbow (Elmwood Springs #2) by Fannie Flagg (560 pages), Adult, Fiction. I’m sorry to my friend who recommended this as her favorite book — I LOVED the first and last book in this series and liked this one–but not as much as the others. The plot was too scattered in this book. Still recommend the whole series though.

Disrupted: My Misadventure in the Start-Up Bubble by Dan Lyons (272 pages), Adult, Non-Fiction, Memoir. My review from goodreads:

This book was eye opening about the cultures of tech start ups. I could easily see how some of the culture was toxic and discriminatory and how it became that way. It was so interesting to learn about so many companies who are never making revenue– losing millions every year– and yet make a huge amount of money with an IPO. I did think Lyons was unnecessarily crass. He also seemed to be pretty full of himself– he was angry about discrimination when it affected him negatively (ageism) but didn’t ever mention discrimination in his chosen field –tv writing — which is still mostly about white men. Probably just because he enjoyed that job more and believed in it more. A lot of the stuff at Hubspot was ridiculous but he also seemed very unteachable and frankly, quite sexist (every time he describes the women working at Hubspot they seem like a gaggle of airheads or out of control emotional maniacs). I don’t know that I would enjoy working with him. He thinks he deserves respect but refuses to give it to others. Hubspot execs were absolutely in the wrong but, unfortunately, so was Lyons. Luckily, I enjoyed the information regardless of the other issues.


My 2 Star Recommendations:

Paper Wishes by Lois Sepahban (192 pages), Upper Elementary/Middle Grade, Historical Fiction. This book is set during WWII in the Japanese Internment Camps. I thought the characterization was lacking and when that is the case, I have a hard time connecting to a book.

Total: 26 books. Total Pages: 8,739 pages. Average: 336 pages. 4 children’s books, 5 YA, 17 adult books. 11 Non-Fiction, 15 Fiction. 



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