This is my monthly roundup of books that came my way in the last month. I also share updates with you on other things in my and my family’s lives.
Family and Life Update
Our daughter attended her college orientation and she is all set for starting her freshman year at UNI. We’ve been busy shopping for all the essentials this month and I’m not sure how I feel about August being just around the corner.
My mom had her surgery and all went smoothly. I appreciate all your prayers and she is recovering well. I took her to watch a tractorcade in the town near them and she had so much fun waving and watching the tractors go by.
As a member of our library board, I have been helping out with storytime this month and even did the reading one day. As mayor of our town, my husband also read to the kids. We both know how important it is to get kids excited about reading and having books read to them at a young age.
Now on to the books!
In June I read fifteen books! That is crazy to me, but I hadn’t been able to read much in the months prior so I was ready to spend my downtime reading. Of those fifteen books, 7 were physical books which is also quite shocking to me. Five of the fifteen books were audiobooks and I also read 3 eBooks. I also removed 7 physical books from my to-read shelves. While puzzling, I’ve been watching a little TV including getting back into Season 4 of Marvelous Mrs. Maisel. I’m almost finished with The Last Thing He Told Me and Dear Edward.
Be sure to follow me on Instagram, HERE to see snippets of what I’m reading or what’s going on in my daily life.
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ADULT FICTION AND NON-FICTION
WHAT WE LEAVE BEHIND
By: Christine Gallagher Kearney
Published: July 25, 2023
Publisher: She Writes Press
Format: Paperback for Review
I’m always up for a WWII story and this one piqued my interest, especially because the main character ends up in the Midwest as a war bride.
In 1947, war bride Ursula arrives in Minneapolis torn between guilt over leaving loved ones behind and her desire to start a new life—and a family—in this promised land. But the American dream proves elusive—she is struck with polio, and then shocked by the sudden death of her GI husband.
Without a spouse or the child she so desperately wanted, Ursula must rely on her shrewd survival skills from wartime Berlin, and she takes in a boarder to help make ends meet. She soon falls in love with the Argentinean medical technician living in her spare bedroom, but his devotion to communism troubles her—and when she finds herself pregnant with his child, she is faced with how to reconcile her dream of motherhood with an America that is so different from what she imagined.
By: Fiona Davis
Published: June 13, 2023
This was a Book of the Month choice. There were so many great choices this month that I chose three. The 1950s are one of my favorite eras to read about and this one set in 1956 NYC sounds like such a great place to be transported to.
New York City, 1956: Nineteen-year-old Marion is over the moon to have been selected to be one of the Rockettes, Radio City Music Hall’s glamorous precision-dancing troupe. It’s an honor to perform in the world’s most spectacular theater, an art deco masterpiece. But with four shows a day as well as grueling rehearsals, not to mention exacting standards of perfection to live up to, Marion quickly realizes that the life of a Rockette has both extraordinary highs and devastating lows.
Then one night a bomb explodes in the theater. It’s only the latest in a string of explosions around the city orchestrated by a person the press has nicknamed the “Big Apple Bomber.” They have been terrorizing the citizens of New York for sixteen years by planting bombs in popular, crowded spaces. With the public in an uproar over the lack of any real leads after a yearslong manhunt, the police, at Marion’s urging, turn in desperation to a radical new technique: psychological profiling.
As Marion finds herself pulled deeper into the investigation, she realizes that as much as she’s been training herself to blend in—performing in perfect unison with all the other identical Rockettes—if she hopes to catch the bomber, she’ll need to stand out and take a terrifying risk. But she may be forced to sacrifice everything she’s worked for, as well as the people she loves the most.
LADY TAN’S CIRCLE OF WOMEN
By: Lisa See
Published: June 6, 2023
This was my second Book of the Month choice. I’ve always been a fan of Lisa See’s books and have been anxious to get her newest novel. I think my favorites of hers will always be SHANGHAI GIRLS and DREAMS OF JOY but I also really loved her most recent, THE ISLAND OF SEA WOMEN.
According to Confucius, “an educated woman is a worthless woman,” but Tan Yunxian—born into an elite family, yet haunted by death, separations, and loneliness—is being raised by her grandparents to be of use. Her grandmother is one of only a handful of female doctors in China, and she teaches Yunxian the pillars of Chinese medicine, the Four Examinations—looking, listening, touching, and asking—something a man can never do with a female patient.
From a young age, Yunxian learns about women’s illnesses, many of which relate to childbearing, alongside a young midwife-in-training, Meiling. The two girls find fast friendship and a mutual purpose—despite the prohibition that a doctor should never touch blood while a midwife comes in frequent contact with it—and they vow to be forever friends, sharing in each other’s joys and struggles. No mud, no lotus, they tell themselves: from adversity beauty can bloom.
But when Yunxian is sent into an arranged marriage, her mother-in-law forbids her from seeing Meiling and from helping the women and girls in the household. Yunxian is to act like a proper wife—embroider bound-foot slippers, pluck instruments, recite poetry, give birth to sons, and stay forever within the walls of the family compound, the Garden of Fragrant Delights.
How might a woman like Yunxian break free of these traditions, go on to treat women and girls from every level of society, and lead a life of such importance that many of her remedies are still used five centuries later? How might the power of friendship support or complicate these efforts? Lady Tan’s Circle of Women is a captivating story of women helping other women. It is also a triumphant reimagining of the life of a woman who was remarkable in the Ming dynasty and would be considered remarkable today.
THE SECRET BOOK OF FLORA LEE
By: Patti Callaghan Henry
Published: May 2, 2023
This was my 3rd Book of the Month choice. This book has been getting all kinds of buzz lately and it is one I’m excited to read. I have two other books by her on my shelf, so maybe this fall I’ll read all three together.
In the war-torn London of 1939, fourteen-year-old Hazel and five-year-old Flora are evacuated to a rural village to escape the horrors of the Second World War. Living with the kind Bridie Aberdeen and her teenage son, Harry, in a charming stone cottage along the River Thames, Hazel fills their days with walks and games to distract her young sister, including one that she creates for her sister and her sister alone—a fairy tale about a magical land, a secret place they can escape to that is all their own.
But the unthinkable happens when young Flora suddenly vanishes while playing near the banks of the river. Shattered, Hazel blames herself for her sister’s disappearance, and she carries that guilt into adulthood as a private burden she feels she deserves.
Twenty years later, Hazel is in London, ready to move on from her job at a cozy rare bookstore to a career at Sotheby’s. With a charming boyfriend and her elegantly timeworn Bloomsbury flat, Hazel’s future seems determined. But her tidy life is turned upside down when she unwraps a package containing an illustrated book called Whisperwood and the River of Stars. Hazel never told a soul about the imaginary world she created just for Flora. Could this book hold the secrets to Flora’s disappearance? Could it be a sign that her beloved sister is still alive after all these years?
As Hazel embarks on a feverish quest, revisiting long-dormant relationships and bravely opening wounds from her past, her career and future hang in the balance.
CALL THE CANARIES HOME
By: Laura Barrow
Published: July 1, 2023
Publisher: Lake Union Publishing
Format: eBook through Amazon First Reads
I can’t turn down a free eBook about sisters. This was one of the free Amazon First Reads books by being an Amazon Prime member. This month you can get two free eBooks. My cousin also chose this one and enjoyed reading it.
Three estranged sisters reconnect in their Louisiana hometown to face an unresolved past in a heartfelt novel about family, grief, secrets, and forgiveness.
Savannah was four years old when her twin sister, Georgia, went missing from their small Louisiana town, fracturing their family. Twenty-eight years later, Savannah convinces her estranged older sisters, Rayanne and Sue Ellen, to honor the pact they made as children and retrieve the time capsule they buried in their old backyard. But coming home means confronting old ghosts…and their stubborn grandmother, Meemaw.
Sifting through the artifacts, they come across a photograph taken on the day Georgia disappeared and spot a familiar woman lingering in the background. While Sue Ellen and Rayanne want to move on with their lives, Savannah is determined to find the woman—and perhaps a clue to the past.
When old tensions, rivalries, and memories resurface, the sisters must reconsider what they thought they knew about that fateful day, about each other, and about themselves. On their search to uncover what happened to Georgia, each of them will discover what Meemaw has known all along: family is everything.
The Untold Story of America’s First Women Astronauts
By: Loren Grush
Published: September 12, 2023
Format: eBook for Review
I love reading stories about space travel or women who did something great. I loved HIDDEN FIGURES (both the book and the movie) and Astronaut Scott Kelly’s memoir ENDURANCE. I’m looking forward to learning more about these six women.
When NASA sent astronauts to the moon in the 1960s and 1970s the agency excluded women from the corps, arguing that only military test pilots—a group then made up exclusively of men—had the right stuff. It was an era in which women were steered away from jobs in science and deemed unqualified for space flight. Eventually, though, NASA recognized its blunder and opened the application process to a wider array of hopefuls, regardless of race or gender. From a candidate pool of 8,000 six elite women were selected in 1978—Sally Ride, Judy Resnik, Anna Fisher, Kathy Sullivan, Shannon Lucid, and Rhea Seddon.
In The Six, acclaimed journalist Loren Grush shows these brilliant and courageous women enduring claustrophobic—and sometimes deeply sexist—media attention, undergoing rigorous survival training, and preparing for years to take multi-million-dollar payloads into orbit. Together, the Six helped build the tools that made the space program run. One of the group, Judy Resnik, sacrificed her life when the Space Shuttle Challenger exploded at 46,000 feet. Everyone knows of Sally Ride’s history-making first space ride, but each of the Six would make their mark.
THE COMFORT OF CROWS
A Backyard Year
By: Margaret Renkl
Published: October 24, 2023
Publisher: Spiegel & Grau
Format: eBook for Review
I wasn’t familiar with this author but I have seen her other books. But, when I heard this was a book about traveling through the seasons, one essay a week, in her backyard, I was intrigued. I’ve started reading it, starting in the first week of Summer and it is quite lovely. This is a book I will be gifting this holiday season.
From the beloved New York Times opinion writer and bestselling author of Late Migrations comes a “howling love letter to the world” (Ann Patchett): a luminous book that traces the passing of seasons, personal and natural. In The Comfort of Crows , Margaret Renkl presents a literary fifty-two chapters that follow the creatures and plants in her backyard over the course of a year. As we move through the seasons—from a crow spied on New Year’s Day, its resourcefulness and sense of community setting a theme for the year, to the lingering bluebirds of December, revisiting the nest box they used in spring—what develops is a portrait of joy and joy in the ongoing pleasures of the natural world, and grief over winters that end too soon and songbirds that grow fewer and fewer. Along the way, we also glimpse the changing rhythms of a human life. Grown children, unexpectedly home during the pandemic, prepare to depart once more. Birdsong and night-blooming flowers evoke generations past. The city and the country where Renkl raised her family transform a little more with each passing day. And the natural world, now in visible flux, requires every ounce of hope and commitment from the author—and from us. For, as Renkl writes, “radiant things are bursting forth in the darkest places, in the smallest nooks and deepest cracks of the hidden world.” With fifty-two original color artworks by the author’s brother, Billy Renkl, The Comfort of Crows is a lovely and deeply moving book from a cherished observer of the natural world.
By: Adam Hamilton
Published: December 18, 2018
Publisher: Abingdon Press
This was a purchase for a book study at my church, but unfortunately, we had to cancel it for the summer. So, we are hoping to start it back up this next winter. We read and discussed Hamilton’s THE LORD’S PRAYER and really enjoyed that study.
He left everything to follow his teacher and possessed a passion that would change the world. That’s one way to describe Peter. Here’s another: poor, uneducated, quick-tempered, and full of doubts and fears. Doesn’t even sound like the same man.
And that’s the point of Simon Peter, a new book and six-week adult Bible study by Adam Hamilton. Peter was just an ordinary guy who heard and followed God’s extraordinary call. Discover how you, too, have special gifts, talents, and abilities that God can use to make a difference today. In addition to the Leader Guide and DVD components for adult studies, corresponding youth and children’s resources, sold separately, can be used to create a churchwide study.
CHILDREN’S FICTION AND NON-FICTION
IT’LL BE IRIE
Staying True to Yourself
By: Donn Swaby
Illustrated by: Alejandra Barajas
Published: July 1, 2023
Publisher: Cardinal Rule Press
Format: Paperback Picture Book
A great children’s story about being your authentic self told from the perspective of an immigrant boy.
Raymond is moving with his family from Kingston, Jamaica to Queen, New York and he can’t wait to show everyone how American he can be! Whether it’s through books, magazines, music videos, and movies, he learns about America in any way he can, even if some of his sources of information are outdated. On Raymond’s first day of school in America, his every attempt to impress everyone with his “American-ness” backfires. What’s worse, his new classmates doubt if he’s Jamaican at all. It’s not until Raymond remembers what he loves most about being Jamaican—making Jamaican Christmas cake—and shares it with his new classmates, that he gains the courage to be himself. Everything is Going to Be Irie will captivate young readers’ hearts with the story of a head-strong immigrant child’s humorous attempt to embrace a new cultural environment.
A RIVER OF DUST
The Life-Giving Link Between North Africa and the Amazon
By: Jilanne Hoffmann
Illustrated by: Eugenia Mello
Published: July 25, 2023
Publisher: Chronicle Kids
Format: Hardcover Picture Book
A speck of dust flies across the land and spreads life along with it. This book on ecosystems includes questions and answers that kids might be curious about at the end.
I am dust,
the dust of North Africa.
I connect continents.
The dust of the Sahel—a ribbon of land between the Sahara and the savannah—lifts with the harmattan wind each winter season. But this is not just any dust. The Sahel’s dust will mix with dust from the Sahara and travel thousands of miles westward, across the African continent and the Atlantic Ocean, to reunite with its unforgotten home deep in the Amazon basin.
Told in the perspective of dust, A River of Dust takes readers on a journey through vibrantly illustrated landscapes, celebrating the power and wonder of Earth’s ecosystems, and showing how these tiny particles are in fact key to the health of our planet. Meticulously researched and lushly illustrated, this picture book is a lyrical ode to global interconnectedness and the vital roles that even the smallest play in taking care of our planet.
POTATOES FOR PEARL
By: Jennifer Concepcion
Illustrated by: Chloe Burgett
Published: September 19, 2023
Publisher: Feeding Minds Press
Format: Hardcover Picture Book
I have loved every Feeding Minds Press book I have received. Teaching kids about food, where it comes from, and how it is grown in a fun way is so important.
This pirate-packed and hilarious read-aloud is an entertaining way to introduce young readers to where their food comes from Join Pirate Pearl and her parrot Petunia as they learn how potatoes are planted, grown, and harvested in this hilarious debut picture book about food and friendship. Pirate Pearl and her parrot Petunia are HUNGRY, and after they make the hardtack biscuits walk the plank, they go in search of a perfect provision for their next sea voyage. Where do they end up? On Farmer Fay’s potato farm! Farmer Fay shows Pirate Pearl how potatoes grow on the farm and how potatoes can be cooked into many different delicious potato recipes. Pirate Pearl and Petunia not only gain an understanding of farming but also a new friendship with Farmer Fay! Back matter is packed with potato facts, information on growing your own potatoes, and recipes.
Which one (or two or three) of these books will you be adding to your list?
Click HERE to see all the posts featuring new books on my shelves.
So many books, so little time!
Posted Under Adam Hamilton, Adam Pelzman, Alejandra Barajas, biography, Book Review, Children's books, Chloe Burgett, Christian, Christine Gallagher Kearney, Donn Swaby, essays, Eugenia Mello, fiction, Fiona Davis, historical fiction, Jennifer Concepcion, Jilanne Hoffman, Laura Burrow, Lisa See, Loren Grush, Margaret Renkl, memoir, Mom, New on the Stack, non-fiction, NYC, Pat, Patti Callahan Henry, Reagan, space, WWII