Sunday, August 21, 2022

July 2022 Books Read


July, July, July.  She is the month of my birth, the month of fireworks and some super stellar books! Summer months still show a little bit of "slow ma roll" but that doesn't mean I was bored.  Read on, friends!

*Audiobook Challenge 2022 : "The Secret Life of Bees" by Sue Monk Kidd:  My heart needed this book in July.  It's one of the last books I wrote a full blog post about on this little bloggy blog before I went on siesta.  I had a different book picked out for July, but I'm glad this was my book.  The tale of courage, overcoming racism and the beautiful exploration of "chosen family" was a coooool glass of lavender lemonade in my world.  This book continues to reside on the list of books I will read or listen to when I need to be reminded of the power of standing up to your fears and standing up for the people in your life who are persecuted.  Rated PG-13 for heavy themes centered around racism, domestic violence and addiction. 

A Single Thread by Tracy Chevalier: I have read other books by this author and she does a great job with descriptive writing that keeps me turning the pages.  This book is another coming of age book (I like those, can you tell) about a woman who leaves her closed up life as a spinster and forges her own path in the city.  When she arrives in the city she finds a group of women who come together to embroider cushions for the local church.  The friendship that builds between the women is beautiful and I felt like I was part of their group as they talked about their individual struggles with being a woman in a time that didn't accept women in the workplace and general society unless there was a war and they were the only option.  This was a lovely book to listen to while I drove for work and needed something to listen to in my office.  Rated PG for mild life themes, but as I recall it wasn't too sordid.  

The Girl in the Garden by Kamala Nair: This book was a powerhouse.  Last month I talked about enjoying books that take me on a journey of different cultures and time periods of history that are unfamiliar.  This book fit the bill and then some.  Wow.  It also had an element of mystery that I did not see coming and when all was revealed I was speechless and maybe my eyes leaked a bit.  This story is set in India and portrays a family who have their own biases and struggles and the young protagonist doesn't really understand why everyone is so at odds with life.  Then she discovers something in the "secret garden" on the family's property and everything changes quickly.  A topsy turvy tale that I really loved listening to and hardly stopped listening until I knew the resolution.  Rated PG-13 for dark themes centered around racism, keeping secrets, abuse and manipulation.  

Meet Me at the Museum by Anne Youngson: I had high hopes for this book and it was a bit of a snoozer.  Luckily it wasn't too long and I enjoyed it enough to finish, but I'm not sure I will recommend it to anyone.  It has a similar premise to Guernsey in that letters are exchanged after a mysterious address is found in a book (so not safe in this day and age) and ultimately the plan is for the two people to meet at the museum they love so much.  I was underwhelmed and maybe hoped for it be as wonderful as Guernsey and set myself up.  Nonetheless, it's a mild read and I would say a solid PG.  

My Dear Hamilton: A Novel of Eliza Schuyler Hamilton by Stephanie Dray & Laura Kamoie: July was Q3 recharge vacay which meant I picked a 500+page book off my wish list.  Oh, sister, that Eliza! She was a champion who deserves so many more accolades than a catchy tune in a Broadway musical.  While I was reading it I wrote the following on my personal Facebook page, "hats off to Eliza.  Between the wars, babies (living and deceased), adultery by Hammy while she was pregnant, contracting yellow fever and mobs on her doorstep OFTEN -- I don't know how she did it. American women originate from some hearty stock who put up with a lot of shit before they could vote, earn a living and own property.  A lot of sacrifice that I honor with gratitude." This book was VERY GOOD.  The authors did an exceptional job at researching the facts and intertwining them with the fiction that kept me reading.  This one took me longer than a week to read, but I powered through and it was good to the last word.  Rated heavy PG-13/low grade R for tales of war, adultery, death and sadness. HOWEVER -- this sits in the Top Five of 2022 and is definitely worth your time and rounded out the patriotic month for me.  

As always, thanks for stopping by my cozy book nook to catch up on my random reviews! 

Until next time, my lovelies,

Friday, July 15, 2022

June 2022 Books Read


The summer months are always a little slower for my reading, but this month still had some solid treasures while I travelled for the day job! So, here we go! Read on, my friends!

*Audiobook Challenge 2022 : "The Bookshop on the Corner" by Jenny Colgan: I'm so glad I chose this book as one of my challenge listens.  It is THE CUTEST story and was just as cute and just sunshiney to listen to unfold.  It's incredible to me that a book read almost 5 years ago is still lodged in my subconscious and gives me an opportunity to remember how happy it made me when I read it the first time.  There is science behind that, my bookish friends, and I LOVE IT.  Rated PG all the way and so stinkin cute.  

The Winemaker's Wife by Kristin Harmel: This audiobook was a suggestion from my bestie Jo and about 2 chapters in to listening I was 100% positive I had already listened to it, but I liked it a lot so I didn't stop.  It could also be that the narrator is one who reads a few other books I love, but I don't think that's the case.  Not long after I finished this book Jo sent me a text raving about an audiobook and I said (with a smile on my face) "I'm glad you liked it because I referred it to you." Needless to say, we had a good laugh and we are officially those besties that will have to grow old and senile with each other so we have a new set of adventures to "remember." This book is rated PG-13/maybe R for really strong themes centered around war, marriage without love and the horrific things Nazi soldiers felt they were allowed to do to women.  

The Dinner List by Rebecca Serle: Have you ever wondered what it would be like to host a dinner party with all the people who inhabit the insecurities and hard feelings in your soul?  Well, that is what the author does in this book and it was interesting.  I struggled to follow when it was present day vs. subconscious and I think that would have been easier to follow had I read the physical book vs. listening to it.  It was still a book that gave a lot of food for thought and had me thinking about who I would invite to my dinner party.  My invite list has changed over the years, but I think that is how it is supposed to be.  Sometimes we deal with life and relationships better than other times and then we release the trauma and move on.  This book is rated PG for language, but nothing too crazy.  

The Woman Who Loved Mankind by Lillian Bullshows Hogan: What a beautiful book.  I've added some special research to my reading list in 2022 and this was at the top of the list for me.  Lillian is one of the few Crow elders who was willing to have her life story published.  I was absolutely moved by the stories she recounted and the beauty and simplicity of her life in Crow Country before and after the reservation was established.  This book was not thrifted, but a gift from my parental units after a visit to the Little Bighorn Battlefield in Crow Agency, MT.  The book is not rated.  It is real life.  

Brooklyn by Colm Toibin: I've been trying to read or listen to books that showcase different cultures or time periods in the world.  Reading is a great way to connect real life to the challenges experienced by those who came before us and how I can be a better human.  This book was just such a journey.  This is a lovely coming of age tale about an emigrant who wants to go for bigger and better, but her heart is still attached to the home country.  I really enjoyed this book and it was another reminder of the sacrifices refugees make to come to a new country in search of something better for themselves and family.  This book is rated PG-13 due to life experiences and the challenges that come because of racism and poverty.  

A Certain Age by Beatriz Williams: So, full disclosure, this author seems to gravitate to the stories when aristocrats are inclined to have a mistress/outside lover.  This was a glittery tale of heroines who seek more than they have in the fast lane of New York City.  It's the "behind the scenes" of glitz and glamour and what people did to maintain their place in society in the days following WWI.  I enjoy Beatriz Williams descriptive writing style and it feels like you're in the middle of it all.  This book is rated lower grade R for first sentence. 

There you have it! June was fun and I look forward to sharing what is on the To Be Read list in July! 

Until next time, my lovelies!

Saturday, June 18, 2022

May 2022 Books Read


May was filled with great books, HUGE challenges in my life and a much needed vacation where I did whatever the hell I wanted.  With the spring weather I was able to travel all over Montana for my job and that meant some solid windshield time for audiobooks.  May's Audiobook Challenge was an incredible treat as well.  So....let's get to the good stuff, shall we?

*Audiobook 2022 Challenge : "The Atlas of Love" by Laurie Frankel: I originally found this book at a Dollar Store in Utah and was PLEASANTLY surprised by how much I enjoyed the story.  I wasn't sure I'd be able to include it in the audiobook challenge, but was pleasantly proven wrong and found it for purchase on Amazon.  I felt like I had a happy reunion with a group of characters who captured my attention while listening as much as when I read it.  The story line is centered around 3 women who decide they are going to raise the baby birthed by one of them.  The communal parenting goes well and this little boy Atlas is the lucky winner of being loved by 3 mother figures.  It is raw and real mixed with very sweet moments that I just love.  This book is definitely worth your time and a solid PG/maybe PG13 for adult themes and the realities of unexpected pregnancy.  

From the Heart of Crow Country by Joseph Medicine Crow: I'm working on learning about the Native American tribes around me here in Montana and right now I'm studying the Crow people.  This was such a wonderful collection of stories and gave me great insight on their culture and people.  

The Wisteria Society of Lady Scoundrels by India Holton: Next I needed some sassy hilarious regent mystery and this gem did not disappoint.  What happens when a bunch of female pirates decide to solve a murder?  Chaos, but with class....obviously.  This was a light read and I enjoyed it very much.  Rated PG/PG 13 for some mild gore because people get murdered.  

Atlas of the Heart by Brene Brown: I rarely read or listen to more than one non-fiction book per month, but Brene Brown's latest book came up on my Libby queue much earlier than expected so I snatched it up while on a trip for work.  She gives definitions of emotions and how they play in to our every day world.  This is a book I may have to buy because it was one that could be underlined and studied over and over.  Brene Brown is genius like that.  I highly recommend this book if you're trying to work through challenging times and struggling to process because you can't label the emotions and how they're connected to events.  

The Yellow Bird Sings by Jennifer Rosner: This was a VERY heavy WWII Jewish refugee story.  A Jewish mother and daughter hide out in a family's barn for almost 2 years until the daughter can be smuggled to safety in a convent.  The story is gripping and very sad.  It also includes accounts of sex for survival (aka rape) which was very hard for me to listen to.  The daughter is a musical prodigy and she creates a song in a story in her head about the yellow bird that sings and this is how she survives the torture of being in hiding.  The themes in this book are difficult to fathom, but they really happened to many people in Europe.  This book is Rated R for violence, sexual assault and heavy themes due to the Holocaust and Nazis.  

Beautiful World, Where are You by Sally Rooney:  I found out about this book on TikTok and the synopsis sounded intriguing so I went for it.  It turned out to be a weird montage of storylines with intertwining singles that ended up in rompy sex often.  I felt like every time I started it up again I'd listen for 5 minutes and they were at it again.  It felt way too Harlequin and I kept hoping there was a point to it all but it was mostly "life is hard, have lots of sex and move on." While that may be the reality for some people, I like a little more plot in my books so I didn't enjoy it at all.  Rated R for all the sex and very little substantive plot.  

A Memory of Violets by Hazel Gaynor: I absolutely LOVED this book and read it in a couple days while I was on my Q2 recharge vacay from work.  Hazel Gaynor is an incredible author and I've yet to read a book of hers that I didn't like.  This story is centered around the flower girls of London and a family who makes it their mission to bring the women off the streets and give them safety, shelter and the skills to have another trade that doesn't involve dangerous conditions on the street.  It was so well-written and reminded me of "My Fair Lady." Hazey Gaynor always does copious amounts of research for her books and you can tell by the details shared throughout the book.  Rated PG13 for some difficult themes related to poverty.  

The Woman at the Light by Joanna Brady: I was on a roll after finishing Hazel Gaynor and jumped head first into this book and finished it within a couple days.  This is a FASCINATING historical fiction about a lighthouse keeper and her family on a secluded island of the Florida Keys in the late 19th century.  This book was spellbinding and I couldn't stop reading it.  There is a big curveball in this one related to race that I'm not going to give away and it gave me a lot to think about.  It was great writing and each of the characters were well developed.  This was another historical fiction piece that was thoroughly researched and it showed in the story line.  Definitely PG13 for the adult themes.  

So, there you go, book friends! I hope you can make time to read and get lost in between the pages of your favorite book!

Until next time, my lovelies!