Category Archives: reading

Books Read in August 2018

I started stepping up my reading game this month. I managed to finish 15 books!

  1. God, I Need to Talk to You About Sharing by Dan Carr

    I gave this one 3/5 stars. It was okay. It’s meant to help teach morality to your child, and it gave decent examples of some of the repercussions to being selfish as well as how you can be forgiven for your bad behavior.
  2. Little Goblins Ten by Pamela Jane

    I gave this book 5/5 stars. The illustrations were fantastic! This was a counting book and each type of family had one more kid than the last family. Each family had a unique scary sound that they made, so the kids would mimic the parent in howling, haunting, etc. I picked this one up because Gabby has been liking Halloween books lately. She liked it, but I think I enjoyed it more than she did. Counting books are getting just a little young for her. She did like looking at the pictures with me and making up stories about what the kids might be doing.
  3. God, I Need to Talk to You About Whining by Susan K. Leigh

    I gave this 3/5 stars. This is another book in the “God, I Need to Talk to You About…” series. It is supposed to teach your child about not whining to get what they want. However, almost immediately after reading this story, Gabby started whining for something (a glass of milk?), so clearly the lesson didn’t sink in.¬† ūüėČ
  4. The Chemist by Stephenie Meyer

    I gave this one 5/5 stars. This was a really good read!

    It comes across more in the genre of a Tom Clancy/Vince Flynn thriller, which is unexpected from a Stephenie Meyer novel, but I think she pulls it off remarkably well. I’d love to see more books of this genre from her.

  5. Too Late by Colleen Hoover

    I gave this book 4/5 stars.¬†This book was a little edgier, darker, and more explicit that Colleen Hoover’s other novels. I read it as an audiobook, and I have to admit that there were quite a few times where I had to decrease the volume of the radio as I was arriving at work, lest I scandalize coworkers and passers-by.

    I enjoyed the characters in this book, particularly Sloan and Asa. Asa is a very complicated character, but that made him especially interesting. Carter was interesting in a way, but he wasn’t on the same level as the other two characters. I would have liked to have known more about his back story or how he got into the situation we find him in.

    This book did have me on the edge of my seat several times and I was frequently wincing as characters did things that I knew were going to come back to cause them pain and suffering.

    It is more sex and explicit situations than I typically prefer to read, but it was enjoyable. I felt that the situations were believable.

    If I were to meet a character in real life, I’d probably pick Dalton. He was a good supporting character and I feel that he would be fun to hang out with and has good priorities in life. Asa would be interesting, but in real life, you don’t want to attract attention from someone like him – he’s just too dangerous.

  6. There Was an Old Lady Who Swallowed Some Leaves by Lucille Colandro

    I gave this story 3/5 stars. I was not as big of a fan of this story as Gabby is. She’s had me read it to her about 3 times in the past week or so. I think part of the draw is the “Halloween/Fall” theme to the story.

    The illustrations were done with short strokes, almost like pointillism. It was probably technically very difficult to draw. The bugs were super cute and I loved watching the animals’ reactions to this woman.

  7. Franco by Kim Holden

    I gave this one 4/5 stars. This book is the third in the Bright Side series. I really enjoyed the other two books, so I was excited to read this one.

    I liked Franco and Gemma. They were enjoyable people to hang around and listen to their story. I loved that both of them were bad ass in their own arenas and that Franco never assumed that Gemma’s career would take a back seat to his own. His humility and regard for her were refreshing.

    I found their struggles to be realistic and engaging.

    I really appreciated that this book was just a good read, and not the sob-fest that prior books had been. It didn’t have the same emotional rollercoaster, but it felt more like the gentle ending of the trilogy. The other books gripped your emotions by the throat, while this one just made you hold your breath from time to time.

  8. Top Ten Uses for an Unworn Prom Dress by Tina Ferraro

    I rated this book 4/5 stars. This was a cute story and a book you can (and I did) read in one sitting.

    While the back of the book makes it seem as if there were 10 things that the protagonist did to the prom dress which resolved all of her issues, the 10 uses were really just in her imagination, for the most part.

    I liked the characters and felt they were pretty authentic. There were a couple scenarios that didn’t ring quite true, but I’ll let a lot slide for the sake of entertaining fiction.

  9. I Don’t Want to Eat Bugs by Rachel Branton

    This was a 4/5 star story.¬†This was a cute little read about a girl who was hungry, but dinner wasn’t ready yet. I read this to Gabby from my Kindle account on my phone last night. She enjoyed it too.
  10. There Was an Old Lady Who Swallowed a Bat by Lucille Colandro

    I gave this one 3/5 stars.¬†I wasn’t a fan of the book, “There Was An Old Lady Who Swallowed Some Leaves,” but since Gabby had me read it 3 times in one week, I figured there was something about it that she really liked, so I looked on Amazon for some similar stories that we could read together.

    I found out that there are a *lot* of these books! Since Gabby loves Halloween stories, I picked this one. Before we even started, she said, “I bet she eats a ghost!” She was also interested to see what the Old Lady would make, since in the Leaves story,¬†she ends up sneezing out a scarecrow. In this one, what comes out is “Halloween,” which was a little too abstract for Gabby, but cute nonetheless.

    I would recommend this one, if you are new to the “There Was an Old Lady Who Swallowed…” series.

  11. Like Living Among Scorpions by Jennifer Fulwiler

    5/5 stars, as always!¬†Apparently, this is my day for finishing books I’ve started a long time ago, and the day for reading Jen Fulwiler!

    Thank you, Jen, for taking Texas completely off the list of possible states to live. No thank you to living with scorpions. I suppose I’ll have to appreciate my black-ice laden Michigan winters just a little longer.

    It’s all fun and games and delightful internet stories until someone’s stung in the face in bed in the middle of the night. NOPE.

    Hang in there, Jen!

  12. One Beautiful Dream by Jennifer Fulwiler

    I gave this 5/5 stars, which is not at all surprising.¬†Jen’s writing has drawn me in from back in the early blog days when she ran Et Tu? (Before it became Conversion Diary and then JenniferFulwiler.com.) She has a way of making the ordinary extraordinary and relating events with a lot of negative emotion in a way that shows great perspective and understanding. Her books always make me laugh out loud and shed some tears.

    She has a way of sharing stories that would make you look forward to reading her grocery list, while at the same time she will slip in some profound insights and wisdom that will deeply change the way you live your life.

    Needless to say, I recommend this book to everyone. Especially those who are in the middle of the storm of raising littles and worrying that they are not enough; you completely are. God has made us for community; never be afraid of leaning on your people.

  13. Everyone We’ve Been by Sarah Everett

    I read the hardcover edition of this book, which I borrowed from the library. It is YA fiction, basically set in the present day, with the addition of some medical technology that we do not yet have in real life.

    Central to the book is the question, “What does it mean to move on?” I guess part of my answer to that question is the reason why, while I liked her, I couldn’t identify as much with the main character.

    This was an interesting story, but I wish the trauma that caused her to make her decision (sorry, I’m trying to be vague and non-spoilery) had been fleshed out and described in more detail. As it is written, it feels more superficial and poorly reasoned.

    Addie as a character does have a lot of growth as she discovers more about herself and her past, and I have a feeling that she will do just fine going forward.

    This book made me feel grateful for all of my past – both the good and the bad memories. They make me who I am today.

    Overall, I liked the story. I’m a little bit of a hard grader, so it only gets 3/5 stars, but for me, this is not a bad rating. I’m glad I read it. I may or may not re-read it. I would probably read a sequel, if one were ever written. It might be interesting to read a story about Zach or from Zach’s POV.

  14. A Matter of Heart by Amy Fellner Dominy

    I gave this 4/5 stars. It was a good, quick read. I liked that the character had good personal growth throughout the course of the story and that there was a magical, super-happy ending, but a realistic one instead. I also liked the conflict that the main character had in her love life, as I feel too many girls find themselves in this situation as they first start navigating the relationship world.
  15. The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Jenkins Reid

    I gave this one 5/5 stars. This was truly a great read. From the beginning, the writing was fantastic and the characters vibrant and compelling.

    I picked up this book as one of my Book of the Month choices, but it took me a while to actually bring myself to start reading it. Perhaps because it was an adult contemporary novel, and I tend to find these a little less exciting than the bubble-gum YA that I usually prefer. But even 9 pages in, I knew that this was going to be a gripping story. And it did not disappoint. I read it in two marathon reading sessions and enjoyed every sleep-deprived minute.

    The story within the story basically takes over the plot of the book, and this is fine. It is an epic tale that teaches you in a subtle way some truths about human nature, both admirable and despicable.

    I didn’t expect this to be a favorite book, but I have a feeling that this story will stay with me for quite some time to come.

How I Rate Books, In General.

Sometimes I wonder if I’m too stingy with my star ratings. 3 is a hard category, because I feel some people will look at it and think that I did not like it. I’m trying to go with the Goodreads guidelines for some consistency in my grading. 3 means that I liked it. I may or may not read it again. I may or may not buy a physical copy if I got this via Kindle/Audiobooks/borrowed from a library.

4 means that I really liked the story and would recommend it to most people.

5 means that I want to live in this world, read everything there is about the characters, and buy the book in every version possible.

Going in the opposite direction, 2 means that I didn’t really like it. It was “meh” or boring or there was something wrong with it. I probably slogged through it and finished, but it’s not a book that I’d typically recommend. I’d probably give this book away rather than keep it (which is saying a lot, since I tend to hoard books).

I feel really bad about giving books a 1 rating. Most likely, I will also mark it as DNF (did not finish). I either hated it with a passion or just could not bring myself to make it through it.

However I feel about a certain book(s), I really try to keep an open mind about the author (for as long as I can, certain styles are just not my cup of tea and that’s okay as well). I always appreciate the effort that it takes to write a book and feel bad about a less-than-stellar review.

The Confusion of Languages


The Confusion of Languages by Siobhan Fallon

Hmm…. How do I feel about this book? I have to really think about that. It was a good book, but I guess what makes me rate is lower is that I did not like any of the main characters.

Cassie, while appropriately cautious about the culture and the military rules, is bitter about a lot of things in her life and almost seeks to bring Margaret down at times. A horrible personality flaw, but one that rings truthful, especially in military circles. Women can be vicious. How she acts toward her own husband, and with Margaret’s husband is also troubling. Her holier-than-thou attitude, even when she was technically correct, made me want to slap her.

Margaret is a little bit more likable and sympathetic of a character. Her naiveté is sometimes annoying. Almost like she knows better but acts clueless sometimes. She does not properly understand the implication of her actions, even when they get her into significant trouble the first time.

Both men are also flawed and have flawed interactions with their wives. Sad, but again often the case in military marriages.

Overwhelmingly, these characters felt like their story was written in a vacuum. There was minimal interaction with other characters on base. Possibly just because the story was focused on them, but it felt a little off. Usually on a base, there are way too many people up in your business. In this book, it felt like the Hugos and Brickshaws were on a military base on the moon and there were no other military spouses around. It was portrayed that Cassie felt alienated because she didn’t have any children, but all of it felt oddly disconnected. Even in a scene where a base party was thrown, there was minimal discussion of the other guests.

Ultimately, I think my relationship with this book feels like Cassie’s feelings toward Margaret. They would not have normally been friends, but due to a sense of military obligation you do your duty. You may not entirely like the other person, but you do want to help them out. At the end, I just wished that I had liked the book a little more. It was well done, but just didn’t capture me the way I really wanted it to.

Non-Fiction

I’ve never really been a non-fiction girl. ¬†Most of the time, it is dry reading. ¬†Boring. Facts and figures with very little to make me want to care about them.

Oddly enough though, I just finished one non-fiction book and am in the middle of another.


The Radium Girls by Kate Moore

I *loved* The Radium Girls! The author does an incredible job of telling their story. You almost do not even know that it’s non-fiction. It’s exciting, page-turning, suspenseful, and you really come to know the girls. The author gave them a life that endures. Their voice, their experiences, their suffering, their pluck and determination, their zest for life, their faith and loyalty… it is all amazing and inspiring.

I suppose you could say that I was already inclined toward this book, as I used to be a Nuclear Reactor Operator in the Navy. And to an extent, this is true. There is a certain wonder and fascination with radiologic material. But, in my time, also a healthy caution, respect, and sometimes fear. I live in an age which is after things like Nagasaki, Hiroshima, and Chernobyl. We know of the power and destruction that fissile material can cause. We also know how it can be used in positive ways, including in the fields of medicine and power generation. I suppose you could say that I am a proponent of nuclear energy.

But reading this book gave me this sense of horror from the beginning. These girls were literally using it as makeup some evenings. *Coating* themselves in it. It made me want to reach over and pluck those brushes right out of their mouths and give lengthy lectures. Throughout the book, I was wondering about the lingering radioactivity of items that came in contact with the girls. Towards the end, the author commented on how a sister of one of the girls developed cancer later in life which was likely ascribed to the fact that the two girls had shared a bed. What about the radioactivity of their houses? Their beds? The plumbing that was surely coated in radium after they showered at the end of the day? The book describes the impact that the sites of USRC and Radium Dial had on their communities, but what about the effect the girls had on their neighborhoods? It leaves an Erin Brockovich question mark in the air.

I loved this book. Not because it was cheery, but because it is important. More than that, I came to really love the girls. I read this book when I probably should have been sleeping. In the middle of the night both Thursday and Friday night. Their story resonates with me and is not one that I will soon forget. I finished it sometime around 3 am this morning — all 496 pages of it. I had borrowed it from the library, having snatched it up from the New shelf. It had been published in April and I remember having been interested in it when I first saw it months ago in a Barnes & Noble, but it had fallen off my radar until recently when I paid my library fines and again went to pick up way too many books for me to possibly read before their return dates (Horrible, I know, but I can’t help taking too many and then owing money – my civic duty is monetarily supporting the library via fines, apparently).

I can only highly encourage everyone to read this book. Even if you only read one non-fiction book in a decade, read this one.


Detroit Resurrected: To Bankruptcy and Back by Nathan Bomey

This is another book that magically fell into my hands as I was perusing the library. I am only about half-way through this book. I originally checked it out from the library, but didn’t start it until after it was due. I hadn’t paid attention to the fact that it was on the HITS list and due back in a week. As soon as I got the email notice about it’s overdue status, I thought about reading it quickly before returning it, but at 336 dense pages, it was not likely that I would finish soon. So I returned it and purchased an audiobook version from Audible. This is what I have been listening due during my commutes to and from work this week.

I’ll have to say that it’s not nearly as engaging as The Radium Girls was, especially as it revolves around banks, politicians, and lawyers — not typically genres of interest for me. But I *do* have a fondness for Detroit and its people. The author does a good job of making a somewhat dry tale interesting and giving flavor to the main players surrounding Detroit’s bankruptcy and restructuring. I’ll let you know the rest of my thoughts after I finish the read (or listen, as the case may be).

One of my planner friends, Monica, turned me onto a podcast (and website) called What Should I Read Next (Modern Mrs. Darcy) by Anne Bogel. I’m constantly amazed by how many books they can mention in the course of a single podcast! It definitely feeds the bookworm in me and makes me want to read more. I think she is currently on episode 91, which gives me lots of catching up to do!

Not non-fiction, but this morning I took my car in for an oil change and started reading yet another library book. I’m about 90 pages into that one and will likely finish it sometime this weekend. I’m about to head out to the library to return The Radium Girls and have my eye on picking up a few more books. See you soon!