Tuesday, July 17, 2018

Book Report - April, May & June

I read 22 books over the past three months - some of them were great, others were ok, and a few were terrible not very good! Some were hardbacks, some were paperbacks, and some were eBooks I read on my Kindle. Some I've already reviewed here on my blog, others I'll be sharing about soon, and the rest are discussed below.

General Fiction



Rooster Bar by John Grisham is the story of four friends who are about to enter the last semester of law school. However, when one of them commits suicide before the semester begins, the other three drop out of school and embark on an adventure to expose the Great Law School Scam (involving a hedge-fund operator who owns a bank specializing in student loans). This book is a well-written page-turner with a satisfying conclusion, although (from the few John Grisham books I've read) it seems that somehow the main characters always seem to get away with something a little shady!

Childhood's End by Arthur C. Clark is an end-of-the-world science fiction classic with giant spaceships and overlords who take over the earth. This is a disturbing book because it shows how the collective minds of our world can be changed in one generation simply by allowing time to pass and old truths and habits and knowledge to be forgotten or replaced.

West by Carys Davies was one of the books recommended on the Short List in a Real Simple magazine I picked up a few months ago. It sounded interesting, but it was a slow read with a very unsatisfying ending. (Note - spoilers in this review!) A widow mule breeder from Pennsylvania heads out west to find some ancient bones he read about in a newspaper. He leaves his young daughter at home with his sister and promises to write to her (which he does but almost none of the letters ever make it back to her). He has some adventures, but he dies along the way. A short book that I don't recommend.

Each month, I get an email from Amazon with a list of Kindle First Reads books, and I can choose one free. I rarely read on my Kindle, but every so often I'll click to order one of the free books. Last month, I charged up the Kindle and chose a few books at random to read. The Measure of Katie Calloway was a good read about a young woman, Katie Calloway, who runs away from an abusive husband. She makes her way north and finds work as a cook in a logging camp for the winter. The camp owner and the loggers love her cooking and become very protective of her (and her younger brother who she cares for). This easy-to-read story has a wonderful ending! The other free book I read was North of Here, however, it was not nearly as good. The story is divided into several sections - the first part is about a young woman who loses her family and finds comfort and refuge with the family's long-term handyman. However, the next section shifts to the story of a young man who buys a farmhouse and starts up a cultish "sanctuary" - the story goes downhill from there and has a terrible ending.

Christian Fiction


Cassidy by Lori Wick is set in the late 1800s in Montana Territory. Cassidy Norton, the main character, is a seamstress in a small town. She has made friends and a nice life for herself but has a secret that she fears will destroy it all. This is a small easy-to-read book with a happy ending. 

Whiter Than Snow by Joan Deppa is a beautiful story about a young woman, Bonnie, who moves to Michigan and begins works as an elementary school teacher at the school where her friend April also teaches. She meets Brad, who was raised in a foster family and now owns a local ski shop, while she's out enjoying the snow one day. He ends up teaching her how to cross country ski, downhill ski, and (later in the year) canoe. She invites him to church and he eventually accepts Christ as his Savior. They become involved in the young adult church group and become friends with the group leader, Aaron. While I enjoyed this quick, easy read, it was very predictable and almost too good to be true. There wasn't any real conflict to build the story, and most of the story was told through dialogue that seemed unnatural because it was used to explain so much. The happy ending was not a surprise. This book (which I read on my Kindle and received free from Booklook Bloggers in exchange for an honest review) is the first in a series. I knew before I even looked it up that the next book would be about Aaron and April.

General Non-Fiction

I really wasn't sure what to expect when I began Gift from the Sea by Anne Morrow Lindbergh. I had picked up a copy of the book after reading the The Aviator's Wife a couple of years ago. I knew that Anne had spent time at the seashore and written this book in the 1950s, and someone at our book club meeting mentioned that it was a beautifully written book. I was pleasantly surprised with this short book and the thoughts on simplicity, solitude, contemplation, creativity, etc, that are still relevant to our lives today.

Andy and Don: The Making of a Friendship and a Classic TV Show shares the stories of Andy Griffith and Don Knotts, their friendship and their comedy partnership on The Andy Griffith Show. Robbie had picked up this book a while back and put it on my to-read shelf when he finished it, knowing that I would enjoy it, too. I enjoyed learning about these two men, their backgrounds and home life as well as the ups and downs of their careers and personal lives. They were each married three times, their third marriages were to much younger women. The book is written by Don Knott's brother-in-law, who knew Don personally and also conducted numerous interviews with family and friends and associates of both Andy and Don. It is very well-written and an interesting read.

Asking for a Friend was also recommended in the Real Simple Short List article. Each chapter is this book was about someone who is known for giving advice. It was an interesting read, and I learned several things. For example:
*Ann Landers and Dear Abby were sisters … and rivals.
*Benjamin Franklin wrote Poor Richard's Almanack.
*Every year Google publishes a list of frequently asked questions.
*Miss Manners considered Washington's 100 Crucial Social behaviors to be "one of the best on etiquette." (I'd never heard of Washington's Crucial Behaviors until I read Rules of Civility a few months ago - one of the main characters was obsessed with these behaviors.)

As I learned more about these advice givers, it really made me pause and think about who's giving advice … and why are we listening to them? Very few advice givers have any credentials or training that qualify them as "experts" for giving advice. Yet, many people quote and follow the advice given in books and newspaper columns and (now) websites without ever knowing anything about the advice giver. This book was well-written and easy-to-read (although it could have used more proofreading).

Christian Non-Fiction


The premise of Believing God by Beth Moore is that there is a difference between believing in God and believing what God has to say in His Word. This is a well-written book about learning to trust and believe God.

The One: An Amazing Love Story Starts With You is the story of Ryan and Amanda Leak, the young couple who got engaged and married on the same day (and had the video about it go viral!). We heard Ryan preach at a local church service and picked up this (and a couple of other) book. Ryan and his wife share relationship advice in this easy to read book that would be a great gift for a young single or an engaged couple.

Well, if you're still with me after all those reviews, which ones have you read? Are there any you'll be adding to your list of books to read soon?

1 comment:

  1. I have not read any of these books. Always like recommendations, I'll sort through & see which if any our library can get for me. Of late the choices I have been reading are really awful (in my opinion).


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