Friday, March 31, 2017

2017 First Quarter Reading

Here is my Reader's Digest version of What-I-Thought-Of-The-Books-I-Read-In-the-Last-Three-Months. I link to those that I did more of a full review if you're interested. I took the idea for quarter readings from another blogger

I have the hardest time jogging my memory of books I've read lately so hopefully this will help. I'm always stumped when some friends ask what should they read next. My default is always Okay For Now by Gary Schmidt. :) Sorry if these reviews are a bit short, just trying to capture the overall feel I felt about the book. The rating system is another topic of discussion. I'm always a little conflicted; some 3 star books I had a hard time putting down but in the end I'm not sure I would recommend where some 4 star books I liked them a lot but not necessarily one that people have to read. 

Some favorite reads this quarter:
-Most Dangerous by Steve Sheinkin
-The Snow Child by Eowyn Ivey
-Hillbilly Elegy by J.D. Vance
-For the Love by Jen Hatmaker


Most Dangerous: Daniel Ellsberg and The Secret History of the Vietnam War by Steve Sheinkin, 4.5 stars. Full review hereThis was so fascinating! I didn't really know much about Vietnam war or The Pentagon Papers but everything in this book is similar to politics/war today. It would provide great discussion on secrecy in government and how much is too much. The scariest thing about the book is the similarities I see between Nixon and Trump (especially in attitude towards nuclear weapons)

The Snow Child by Eowyn Ivey-4.5 stars. Full review hereI don't know what it is about this book but it was just perfect for me, especially during these winter months. Mabel and Jack will probably be one of my favorite fictional couples. I related to them in so many ways and just felt drawn to this book-the writing, the story, the setting, everything was just magical. Highly recommend.

The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin, 3 starsThere were a few good points (I agree on her love for children's literature) but not life changing/awe inspiring like people kept saying. I don't think it's a must read. I've kind of decided that Gretchen and I don't jive well together since I didn't really enjoy her Better Than Before book either. Oh well. 

The Sheriffs of Savage Wells by Sarah Eden, 2 stars. No real substance in this book. 

A Long Walk to Water by Linda Sue Park, 3.5 starsI can't believe this was based on a true story. I can't imagine the things that Salva went through. I didn't love the back and forth between Salva and Nya narrations but I liked how it all came through in the end.

Upstairs at The White House: My Life with The First Ladies by J.B. West, 4 stars. Full review here. I thought this was really interesting getting a behind the scenes look at the First Ladies and how things were run at the White House from Roosevelt to Nixon. It's not necessarily a must read but still enjoyable. My favorite part was when Jackie Kennedy asked to see the bomb shelter and was pretty disappointed to find it actually in use because she wanted to turn it into a basketball court, haha. My kind of woman!

The Princess Academy by Shannon Hale, 3 stars. I'm glad I did this on audio. Cute book.

Walkable City: How Downtown Can Save America, One Step at a Time by Jeff Speck, 3 stars. Full review here. I thought it had some interesting points and I look at towns a little differently but not necessarily a must read. 

The Innkeeper of Ivy Hill by Julie Klassen, 2.5 starsIt didn't capture my attention as well as her other books. I wonder if it's because this is a series and not a stand alone book.

Ms. Bixby's Last Day by John David Anderson, 2 starsThere were some funny lines but all together it really disappointed me. And I wouldn't suggest this for young readers. There were some references and content put in there that didn't add to the story and it just seemed inappropriate.

The Plot To Kill Hitler by Patricia McCormick, 3 starsA very quick read on Bonhoeffer's life. But it almost seem too quick. I guess it was enough to make me want to read more. What an incredible brave person he was.

Hillbilly Elegy by J.D. Vance, 4 stars. Full review here. I'm a little hesitant to recommend because of all the language so just be aware if you want to read this. A really fascinating read on the honest look of the white working class in America. It reaffirmed that what happens (or doesn't happen) in the home matters. A stable support of just one person can make all the difference in a child's success later in life. It opened my eyes to these people's struggles and why it seems like the American dream is unreachable for them. 

Much Ado About Anne by Heather Vogel Frederick, 3 stars. Cute 2nd book in the Mother-Daughter Book Club. Light and fun. Gotta love 7th grade drama. ;)

Hidden Figures by Margot Lee Shetterly, 3 stars. Is it bad that I liked the movie better? There was a lot of technical details in this book which is fine but I guess I was looking more for the story. It covered a span of 30 years compared to the shorter span of time in the movie. The climax to the movie was just a fleeting sentence in the book. An interesting thought that was brought up that I didn't think before was the reason why the Russians were winning the space race was because they weren't dealing with segregation unlike the US. You wonder if the US weren't putting their focus on this problem, how much they could have gotten done and how much more quickly than the Russians.

Room by Emma Donoghue, 3 stars. From the perspective a 5 year old where him and his mom live in a shed all his life and their story of trying to escape and life in the outside world. I'll admit I had a hard time putting this one down but really sad and at times a bit disturbing for me. But a lot of people like it. There was a movie that came out recently so maybe check out the trailer if you think you'll want to read. 

Jefferson's Sons by Kimberly Brubaker Bradley, 3 stars. Interesting perspective of the slave children of Thomas Jefferson but isn't one that I'll remember. I liked her book The War that Saved My Life a lot better. 

Peace Like a River by Leif Enger, 3 starsReally beautiful writing but the whole story itself didn't capture me in the way I thought or hoped. I'm not sure if listening to it would have helped me grasp onto the feel of the story. 

Boundaries: When to Say Yes, How to Say No to Take Control of Your Life by Henry Cloud, 3.5 stars. There were some definite 'aha' moments but at times it felt a little too preachy. Still a good read.

Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel, 4 starsEven though this isn't my type of genre that I usually read and it might not be for everyone, I really had a hard time putting this one down. I liked how all the storylines were interwoven together.

Same Kind of Different as Me by Ron Hall, 3 stars. I read this knowing there would be a movie coming out soon and the trailer looked interesting. It was good and some sweet moments but not one that I'm dying to tell others about. 

A Severe Mercy: A Story of Faith, Tragedy, and Triumph by Sheldon Vanauken, 4 starsWhat a beautiful story. When I was reading near the end I thought of Pres. Packer's quote: "Mature love has a bliss not even imagined by newlyweds." It's a story of how their love grew through trials, their conversion to Christianity, and their friendship with C.S. Lewis.

The Wife, the Maid, and the Mistress by Ariel Lawhon, 3 starsLawhon definitely knows how to write a story that makes you want to finish it in one sitting (I almost did it with this one). But it wasn't my favorite story and there are things about it that make me hesitant to recommend.

For the Love: Fighting for Grace in a World of Impossible Standards by Jen Hatmaker, 4 stars. Essays written by a pastor's wife that made me laugh out loud a lot. I know moms out there would really appreciate the humor and relate to her stories. And there was a good bit of wisdom in there as well. 

The Chilbury Ladies' Choir by Jennifer Ryan, 3.5 starsI really have a hard time rating this one but I think it's about a 3.5. A mix of delightful and aggravating characters, an epistolary novel that actually worked out really well in this novel even though a little contrived because most journals and letters don't have exact quotes in it but it worked. Not necessarily a light but not heavy WWII novel that has a wrap-up nicely kind of ending so if you like any of these sort of things, you might enjoy this. And I love that the setting of the story felt a little like Lark Rise to Candleford. 

My Lady Jane by Cynthia Hand, 3.5 starsThis was a little long but still enjoyable. It had a good amount of action, romance, and humor to keep me engaged. And it doesn't hurt to throw in a few Princess Bride quotes in there for good measure. :)

The Devil in The White City by Erik Larson, 3.5 stars. I'm not a architect minded person but I'm just amazed at how the World Fair came together, especially about the Ferris wheel. The murderer side of the story was a little disturbing but the investigation at the end was really interesting. I hear this one is great on audio. 


  1. I'm so glad you enjoyed A Severe Mercy. It's been a few years since I read it, but I loved it and really want to read it again. And I just finished The Snow Child too and completely agree, it is wonderful! I highly recommend her other book, To the Bright Edge of the World, it's just as good.

  2. You've had a broad expanse of topics in your first quarter of reading. Well done! I've got a lot more "want-to-reads, thanks to you.