Monday, August 5, 2019

Books I Read in July

Well, folks, looks like I set a new record! I read 16 books this past May, which I was pretty sure was a record for me, but last Wednesday I finished my 17th book for the month of July, which I must say, impresses even me (especially considering I DNF'd a few books). July was a rough month around here for a couple of reasons, but at least I was rocking it on the reading front! I mean, honestly, that's roughly a book every two days!

So what did I read? Well, let's jump in!

The Hired Girl by Laura Amy Schlitz

This was a sweet little historical fiction book I picked up after reading my friend Amy's review of it (and if you know or follow Amy at all, please remember her family in your prayers right now!). There's a bit of a painful (but oh so realistic) crush/awkward teenage romance situation that does not end happily (sorry if that's a spoiler for anyone, but like I said, pretty realistic). I loved the themes of education and religion, how this Christian girl came to serve in a Jewish household, learn their customs, and love them (with some missteps along the way). There were some really nice discussions around the topic, and I think this would make a fantastic book club book, especially for middle-grade/highschoolers.

Girl, Wash Your Face by Rachel Hollis

I just had to read this book to see what all the fuss was about! I mean, people have strong opinions about this book, they either seem to love it, or hate it with a vitriolic passion that cannot be contained (just read the comments/reviews on Goodreads/Amazon, lots are glowing but some people get so harsh). I, on the other hand, fall somewhere in between. I'm not sure I need Hollis' brand of motivation in my life, I don't think she should be giving anyone dieting advice, and I can see where a lot of the criticism is coming from. That being said, I think she has overcome a lot in her life, I admire the business she's created and the success she's achieved, and if women find her motivational, then more power to all of them. I wish nothing but the best to her and her work. All that being said, I don't believe this one is a "must read".

The Heir Chronicles Books 1-5 by Cinda Williams Chima

Okay, I blew through this series in early July, and for the sake of efficiency, thought it might be better to review the whole series together rather than each book individually. Chima wrote one of my favorite fantasy series of all time (Seven Realms, see a couple books down), so  when I realized she'd written this earlier series, I knew I definitely wanted to check it out. And it was good. Not fantastic, but good enough to keep me reading all the way through. The premise here is magic in the 21st century (think wizards with cell phones), and the world and the system and the stories were all good fun. My favorite was probably the first one (The Warrior Heir), although the second and third ones were both pretty good too (The Wizard Heir and The Dragon Heir). With books 4 and 5, the series took an abrupt turn (and it felt unplanned, like the series was supposed to be a trilogy and then this extra story-line got tacked on, so there were some holes), but in general, if you like YA fantasy, then I think this is a really fun series.

More Than Enough: How One Family Cultivated a More Abundant Life Through a Year of Practical Minimalism by Miranda Anderson

If you haven't already, you can read my full review here!

The Demon King by Cinda Williams Chima

After reading Chima's other series, I really wanted to come back and revisit this Seven Realms series since it's been a good six years since I last read it, and I wanted to see if it was as good as I remember it being. This first book really has to set up a lot of ground-work and do a lot of world-building, so it wasn't super action-packed, but I forgot just how intricate this world and plot are! I'm excited to re-read the rest of the series, but unfortunately the next one has a six-week wait on it! Ugh. Anyway, if you like fantasy, this one is fantastic, a definite recommend. My husband loves this series too (we actually re-listened together on our trip to San Francisco).

The Stranger From the Sea by Winston Graham

Well, after about a year break, I decided to pick up on the Poldark series again. This one is number 8 in the series, and I was interested to see that this one picks up a few years later, with the second generation all grown up and falling in love now. It was fun, still a fair amount of drama, but the historical detail is fascinating.

The Miller's Dance by Winston Graham

Number 9 in the series. More drama (but my goodness I was grateful when Clowance broke off the engagement), and more questionable moral behavior from our supposed heroes, and with that I'll probably take another year long break. Will I ever finish this series? Only time will tell.

The Child Whisperer by Carol Tuttle

Okay guys, are you familiar with Carol Tuttle and her 4 Energy Types? It's a whole thing, and I won't go into a lot of detail now, other than to say that I generally love a good personality profile system, and this one is pretty interesting (especially because she uses it to tell people how to dress... somehow it works, I don't know). Anyway, in this book she talks about how her energy profiling system can be used to help you be a better parent, and I'd heard someone say this was the best parenting book ever, and I love a good parenting book, so I finally got it checked out from my library (no audio version, sadly). And while I wouldn't go so far as to say this is the best parenting book ever, I will say that I found it fascinating how easy it was to type my children (all three are different, all three were pretty textbook), and that I did gain a few new insights that will be useful in future. All in all, if you like personality profiling and parenting books, this one is pretty good and you'll probably get something out of it. The bottom line is, let your child be who they are meant to be and stop trying them to get them to be something not inherent to their personality/energy type/etc.

Lies Jane Austen Told Me by Julie Wright

Okay, so a few years ago I read a fairly positive review of a book by the title Lies Jane Austen Told Me that was a memoir from the perspective of a single LDS girl. When I saw this book by this title being featured on my library app, I thought, "Oh, I've been wanting to read that!" so I checked it out. Little did I ever think there would be two books by this same title. The book I listened to turned out not to be a non-fiction religious memoir, but a fictional chick-lit story. So I was surprised, but it was fine! It was cute and clean and mediocre at best, but I liked it enough to finish it. If you like clean chick-lit, this one will definitely scratch that itch. But I guess I'll have to wait a little longer to read the one written by Julie Rowse instead of Julie Wright (I mean, even their first names are the same, how uncanny is this?)

Where the Watermelon Grows by Cindy Baldwin

My sister sent me this book a year ago. She met the author (who lives in her area) and had read the book for a book club and knew I should read it too because we grew up in a very similar situation. It took me a year to read it, because I suspected it was going to be emotional. And it was (I cried all the way through the end). I wish I'd had this book as a twelve-year-old girl myself, because so many lines could've been picked from my brain at that age. The story is about a twelve-year-old girl dealing with her mother's mental illness (schizophrenia), and I've never read a book that offers a more accurate depiction of what it's like to be a child of that kind of parent. My situation growing up was different, but I related to so many aspects, like the secrecy, the desperate search/wish for a magic cure, the anger and frustration, all of it hit very close to home. Objectively, I'm not sure how good the writing is or if the story would be compelling to anyone else, but I give this a definite recommend.

Your Money or Your Life by Vicki Robin and Joe Dominguez

Guys! I think I finally found the financial book that totally fits my personality/goals/style! You know I've been reading a bunch of financial books recently, and while some of them were good and taught me a lot (and some were stupid and taught me nothing), this is the one I didn't know I was looking for. Here's some reasons why I love it: Joe Dominguez is apparently the original FI guru (before FIRE was a cool and popular thing, and for those of you not in the know, that stands for Financially Independent, Retire Early), but what they preach is less radical frugality (though, they definitely admire radical frugality) and more living in line with your values, which (surprise, surprise) usually doesn't mean buying more stuff. I LOVE the tracking system. I already track expenses, but their system of spreadsheets and wall charts speaks to my inner control-freak soul, and I'm determined to do a more thorough job. For some reason, making early FI feels so difficult and unattainable (as frugal as we are, we are not radically frugal, plus we have kids), but this made it feel possible and doable and like a really exciting thing. This is the financial book I want to give to my kids. This is the system I've liked the most. Time will tell if it really is that impactful, but I definitely recommend.

Atomic Habits: An Easy & Proven Way to Build Good Habits & Break Bad Ones by James Clear

I've read my share of books about habits over the years (Better Than BeforeThe Power of Habit, etc.) so I didn't really think I needed to read this one, but I'd heard it praised over and over again as being the definitive book on habits, and since I really do love me some good solid habits, I decided I needed to read it. And yes. Absolutely. If you only read one book about habits, make sure it is this one. This guy knows his stuff and offers a really practical system for both making and breaking habits. He offered tons of fantastic insights, but one that actually clicked for me as "Aha! That's the one simple thing I need to do to create good habits in my life!" was... tracking (are you surprised, did I not just talk about tracking in my last post?). All I have to do is start tracking something for it to naturally increase in my life. That's totally a reward for me (this suggestion is under his section about how habits need to be rewarding). There's tons of other good stuff here too. In fact, I made my husband place this on hold for himself as soon as I finished it, because he's been working on some of his own habits recently, I knew this was the book he needed. I totally, completely, 100% recommend!

The Day The World Came to Town: 9/11 in Gander, Newfoundland by Jim Defede

I can't remember where I saw this book recommended, but I'm so, so glad I put it down on my list and checked it out! If you are feeling at all discouraged about all the bad stuff going on in the world these days (and after this past week of gun violence, aren't we all feeling more than a little discouraged?) then this book will absolutely restore your faith in humanity! This book is a bit of journalistic reporting, telling the story of how the residents of Gander, Newfoundland (population just over 10,000) came together to take care of over 5,000 stranded passengers and plane crews when 38 flights made emergency landings at the Gander airport on the morning of 9/11. Seriously, I was choking up every other page or so because people are just so good! So kind! So selfless! Obviously, this doesn't capture everyone's stories, but Defede does a great job of telling as many stories as he could and they are just heart warming and remarkable. Absolutely recommend!

Alright guys, there you go, another fantastic month of reading! As always, if you've read any of these, chime in to let me know what your thoughts are! Nothing I love more than a little book chatting!


  1. Wow, you are on fi-yah! I don't think I've ever read that many books in a month, at least not since I was a kid/teen. Color me impressed :) I actually just checked out the Your Money or Your Life on your recommendation, and I'm eager to start it! And I loved Atomic Habits---I actually feel like I need to read it again, just to make sure everything really sinks in, ha ha.

    1. Yes! I'll be interested to hear how you like Your Money or Your Life (my gut tells me it'll be right up your alley, but you never know). Either way, I'd love to chat about what you think about it.