Monday, July 9, 2018

Reading Recap: June Edition

I know I whined a lot about May, but June was packed tight.  We had a lot going on and there were so many concerts.  Sidenote: I thought by encouraging some of my kids to make music their main hobby we would avoid having to go to a million games and practices.  Instead, we spend hours driving to auditions and sitting in concerts.  Moral of the story: kids = time and a lot of it. 

I actually enjoyed all of the concerts we went to and we did some super fun and important stuff.  Overall, June was good and I got to do some good reading.  I enjoyed all of the books I read (big win) and read a wide variety of genres. 

Persuasion
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"I have loved none but you."


One of the downsides of June being so full of activities is that I didn't get to blog as much as I wanted...so, I will be doing Classics Club #2 for Persuasion shortly, so stay tuned. 

This was a reread for me and I loved it.  I definitely think it would lend itself better to a crisp fall evening or an early winter read under a blanket, but early summer was pretty good too.  

The novel tells the story of Anne, a woman who was once in love but listened to the advice of her friend and decided not to marry her beau.  It was one of Austen's last novels and I get the strong impression she had fine-tuned some of her character archetypes for this work. 


There is tension, irony, humor, truth and beauty.  It is definitely worth the read.  And, I always love reading classics like this and noting the contrasts in our ways of living but the similarities between our feelings.  The world changes, but what drives people does not. 

The Atomic City Girls

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"You would never see this money, these resources being spent in peacetime.  No government would go to this trouble to research cures for diseases or simply advance human knowledge.  No, we exert ourselves to this extent only in times of war, to invent killing machine . And this, my dear, will be a killing machine worse than any that man has ever dreamed up before."



This was my local bookstore's June book club pick.  I had seen this around when it first came up and it was jumbled in my mind with other books with "girls" in the title (ie: The Lilac Girls).  

Historical fiction is always edifying to read.  Learning about the past while digging into a good story is like killing two birds with one stone.  And, I learned a lot.  I had no idea that part of the atomic bomb was being worked on in Tennessee in this town set up completely by the government.  

However, this book fell prey to my usual complaint about historical fiction.  The story just wasn't there for me.  It was ok, but that was all.  The plot, about a young girl who moves into the atomic city, was thin.  I wanted to know more.  Instead, the author widened her scope and made this a multi perspective novel.  The other points of view were interesting but I didn't feel like any of them were fully developed.

What was really interesting was my book club.  Most of the women in my book club are older and were familiar with this part of history.  One woman brought the memoirs of one of her friends who actually worked in the atomic city.  Reading in community almost always makes the experience better.  


Beartown
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"Never trust people who don't have something in their lives that they love beyond all reason." 


I have five quotes written in my reading journal from this novel and even more highlighted in my book.  This was amazing.  

I bought it a while ago but am a big believer that a book can find you at the right time.  I put it on my shelf and didn't think too much about it.  

The author wrote a sequel that came out late spring and so I noticed a ton of buzz.  One podcaster said to read them in order so I pulled it off the shelf and decided to read this book about a very cold town while my city was blazing with heat and humidity.  

This is book is a meditation on hockey but it could be any team sport in any small town.  Think Friday Night Lights in book form.  Hockey is the subject, but the real story is about how the characters engage with or reject hockey and how this changes them, who they love, and what they believe.  

The way the book moved mirrored a hockey game--short sentences that jabbed, quick movement between characters, and a conclusion that gave me all the feelings.  The pacing was perfect.  There were lots of page breaks and short chapters that propelled me through the novel quickly.  

The author explores themes that are timely and themes that are always poignant.  In this town we see how groupthink changes the way we see events and how our families can save us.  There are deeply moving scenes and moments where I laughed out loud.  Go buy this book.

Caraval
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"Dreams that come true can be beautiful, but they can also turn into nightmares when people won't wake up."  


In the summer I try to do a mother-daughter book club to keep my older daughters reading.  One of my girls picked this YA novel for our first read.  

Caraval takes place in a different world.  A pair of sisters get a coveted invitation to participate in Caraval--like survivor with a healthy dose of magic and mystery.  They go to an island to play the game and everything changes.  

It was a super fun read.  

Like most books that are classified YA, the descriptions can be a little over wrought and there is that kind of drama that appeals to most teens.  But, it was still fun for a 36 year old mother of four.  

I spent some time in the hospital in June with one of my kids.  Everyone is ok, but it was a stressful two days.  I brought this book with me and it was just the distraction I needed during the off times where I had to wait.  There is something to be said for having a fantasy that pulls you out of this world and forces your imagination to work overtime picturing a new creation with different rules that the author has spelled out for you.  I'm going to carry this lesson forward: during the most stressful times, read fantasy.

The Last Time I Lied
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"'Whatever,' I say, following it up with an indignant huff.  'I'll go, even though I don't want to.'  It was a lie.  My first in a summer filled with them."


This was another fun read for summer.  I'll be writing a longer review of this book because I got it as an arc (advanced reader copy) from netgalley, but until then, you should know that this is a fun summer suspense novel that you should definitely read.  

The main character, Emma, attends a camp as a young girl.  At the end of camp her three bunk mates go missing and are never seen again (this is not a spoiler, I promise).  Emma is living as an adult with the psychological scars that an event like that would leave when she is invited back to the camp to teach art.  Then it gets stressful.  

It does require a bit of suspension of disbelief for the initial premise, but her time at the camp is cleverly constructed and I was hooked.  

At one point I thought there were too many strands for the author to tie up by the end of the book but then he did, and he did so while surprising me.  All of my best guesses were wrong and I love when that happens. 

If you like suspense and summer camps, you gotta give The Last Time I Lied a chance.  


And that's it, my June list.  I will try get July's book list posted at the beginning of August and I really, really hope to get a couple more posts up over the next two weeks, but you guys, having four kids home all day everyday is HARD.  

What did you read in June?  

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