Tuesday, July 31, 2018

July Books

I am stoked that even with our MoviePass membership, I am still getting in a decent amount of books. Let's be real, not having cable TV to keep me "entertained" gives me more free time to dive into a great book or seven ;)

There were THIRTY-THREE books in the first six months of the year, so when I add July's TWELVE that brings the total for 2018 thus far to FORTY-FIVE! If you're interested in what I read (and how I'd rate them) or need suggestions on a book to grab, make sure to pop over and check out my previous recaps - I try to post them on the last day of the month! {January's Books / February Books / March Books / April Books / May Books / June Books}

  • Come Back To Me by Mila Gray - Last month I mentioned that a friend of mine had given me a stack of YA books when she was in town and I was working my way through them. This was the next on the list and was the first in a series of three books. I didn't know anything about it (other than there was a couple kissing on the front so figured it would be about young love) but decided to take it with me on my trip to Seattle so I'd have something to read on the plane. I love that the story is set in Oceanside (but unlike The Mothers, it doesn't really describe the area or reference more than the city and military base - Camp Pendleton). I have to be honest, this wasn't my favorite book. Don't get me wrong, I flew threw it and was engaged the entire time, but I felt like it was so much about the making out and sex going on between Jessa and Kit that the story sort of felt secondary (although, maybe that was because I felt a little self-conscious if my airplane neighbor looked over they would have thought the book was something scandalous like the 50 Shades of Gray). The characters definitely all felt real and relatable, but I was just left wanting a little more than just the passion of a new relationship... but maybe that's what the next two books in the series will bring. I would give it a 7 out of 10. 

  • Stay With Me by Mila Gray - So this was the second book I read by Mila Gray. As I mentioned with the previous one, I didn't know what these were about when my friend gave them to me, so I just assumed they were more of a trilogy (the same story continuing throughout all of the books). To my surprise they were pretty separate books. There are a few overlapping characters, but for the most part it was a whole different plot. Unlike the first one I read, I felt like this one had more substance (and not 100% focused on the making out and sex - although there was a bit of that tossed in for good measure). There were a few surprises in this plot, but at the same time I felt as though some of it was pretty easily foreshadowed. It was definitely heartfelt and full of ALL THE EMOTIONS. I'd definitely say it would be a great "read at the beach" type of book - quick, easy reading, but full of some depth and still touches on some serious topics. I would give it an 8 out of 10.

  • Make Your Bed by Admiral William McRaven - Someone on social media had asked for folks to list a book that changed their life and someone commented with this title. It was available at our library so I figured I would pick it up. Apparently Admiral McRaven had given a commencement speech at the University of Texas a few years back and every time he met someone they would ask him to elaborate on one of the points. This book is an extension of that speech. This is a list of 10 things that may change your life (and potentially the world). The advice is simple and straightforward, but definitely impactful. Although the majority of the author's examples are from his military background, I would say everything is very translatable to civilian life as well. It was a quick, yet fairly inspirational read (it only took me maybe an hour or two to finish). I would give it an 7 out of 10.

  • Run Away With Me by Mila Gray - The third and final book in the series that I started at the beginning of the month (and finished by the 7th because I flew through them). Although the first two books were loosely tied together (with a few overarching characters), this book truly stood on its own (the layout was the same - switching back and forth between the two main characters and being a love story). And I think I liked this one the best. It definitely touched on some very serious topics (like sexual assault) and I felt like it was the one with the most depth and substance (don't get me wrong, there was still some sex thrown in there, but it definitely seemed to be less of the focus out of the three books). I may have also been a little partial because Jake was a hockey player signed to the Detroit Red Wings ;) I read this one in a single day because I couldn't put it down (and because it was perfect pool weather). I enjoyed all of the twists and turns that kept me on my toes - even when I thought I had figured out where the story was heading. I would give it an 8 out of 10.

  • 7 by Jen Hatmaker - When I shared last month that I had read two of Bob Goff's books a friend mentioned I may want to check out Jen Hatmaker. Our local library had two of her titles so I picked them up. This was the first of her writings that I've read and I want to say, I really enjoyed it. This was about a experiment she lived out for 7 months (each month focusing on a different area of her life where she felt as though she was living in excess). As you hopefully know, the hubby and I live fairly simple lives, but this book was eye opening that even in our "simple" life there is still so much extra that we could consider cutting out or cutting back on. The seven areas that she focused on were clothes, shopping, food, waste, possessions, media and stress. I loved that she was not just talking the talk, but also walking the walk (and coming clean when that was super difficult or something she failed at). It felt real, relatable and somewhat convicting. I would give it an 8 out of 10.

  • Of Mess and Moxie by Jen Hatmaker - Like I mentioned, my library only has two of Jen's many books (I think she has written maybe 10 or 12), so this will be the last one for a while (till they either get more in or I find them elsewhere). With that said, I really enjoyed this one. It was much different than 7, but definitely still a great read. This book is written to women, in a very lax and conversational way. It felt like you were just chatting with a close girlfriend about life - her telling you things will get better or commiserating about how life is a struggle right now and we are all just faking it. I especially loved a few chapters - the first about how LOVE should be the focus of our lives (how we will never get to Heaven and God tells us we loved "too greatly, too liberally, too generously, too shockingly" - absolutely loved this thought and the way she put it) and the other about fangirling over Jesus and our friends. I try my best to tell those in my life what they mean to me, but I love the challenge to really be one another's champion and cheerleader. This life is messy and hard, and it was great to hear that others don't have it all together, that we are all doing this together and that we need to rely on God and our tribe to get through with a smile on our face and love in our heart. I would give it an 8 out of 10.

  • Eleanor and Park by Rainbow Rowell - You're probably well aware of my appreciation for young adult love stories, so this book probably doesn't come as a surprise. I don't remember how it made it on my "for later" list at the library, but I'm so happy it did. I flew through this one. It deals with serious themes like domestic abuse, bullying, and body image issues (along with the gushy feelings of young love). When grabbing the link for this one I saw they were originally planning a movie around the storyline but have since dropped that idea. That's okay with me because I normally like the book better than the movie adaptation (it just seems like my head movies are so much better than what actually plays on the screen). I love rooting for the underdog and I felt like both of these misfits had me cheering for them from the jump. It reminds you of what it was like to be young and in love. I just wish there were more pages once I got to the end. I would give it an 8 out of 10.

  • Run! by Dean Karnazes - After so many young adult love stories, I thought it was time to get back into some running inspiration. This book from the "Ultramarathon Man" was just what I needed. It was a collection of stories from some of Dean's amazing adventures. It was a quick read (I read it spread out over two afternoons while maxin' and relaxin' at the pool) that kept me flippin' the page. I may not have done any official ultras yet, but that doesn't mean his stories aren't insanely inspiring - seeing where you can push your body and what you can require of it is mind-boggling! Although many of the challenges he tackles seem to make him into a superhuman, this book brought it back to reality and reminded me (and everyone reading) that we just need to put one foot in front of the other and keep chugging forward. I would give it an 8 out of 10.

  • Love Warrior by Glennon Doyle Melton - I read one of Glennon's books last year (Carry On, Warrior) and loved it. I don't know why it took me so long to get around to reading another one of her books, but I'm so glad this one was available at the library when I needed something new to read. This is a memoir about her life (and, more specifically, her marriage). I appreciate she was willing to tackle the damaging expectations often put on girls/ women by society. Obviously I can't relate to everything she has experienced, but man was it real and raw and vulnerable. She was incredibly brave to open up herself, not only to moving through the healing process, but also to share that experience with the world. Through her struggles she urges others toward self-love, self-acceptance and self-awareness. I would give it a 9 out of 10.

  • Sex Object by Jessica Valenti - I believe I saw this book on a list of "books feminists should read" (but there's a possibility that isn't the case, so don't hold me to it), so I figured I'd grab it from the library. I'm not sure exactly what I was expecting, but this wasn't exactly it. It is a memoir of Jessica's life, but I guess it just didn't go where I thought it would. She was promiscuous, she was assaulted, she questions what society would look like if we didn't live in a world where men hated/ lorded over/ trumped women, but it didn't sit well with me. Maybe it was because it felt a little too surface-y or like it didn't really dive in and make you think as much as I hoped it would. I wanted to like this book, but it didn't really make me "feel" anything. It just seemed a little random or haphazardly thrown together for me. I definitely believe objectification is an important topic and one that needs to be discussed more, but this book didn't hit the nail on the head for me. (One positive was it was short so I was able to finish it with not a ton of time devoted to it.) I would give it a 4 out of 10.

  • Born A Crime by Trevor Noah - Since I would be driving solo to and from San Francisco for the San Francisco Marathon, I figured I would pick up a couple audio books to keep me entertained for the trip. This was my choice for the drive north on Saturday morning. I had heard great things about this book so went in with high expectations. I'm stoked to report that it met (and possibly exceeded) my expectations. I didn't know anything about the author prior to listening to his book (which he read), but after listening to this book I now have a better understanding of his story. It is pretty crazy everything that he went through. I don't want to spoil the book, but just know there are shocking parts, loving parts, parts that will enrage you and parts that will make you tear up. Trevor is an awesome storyteller and I can see why he has become a well-known comedian, political commentator, actor and television host. His story is one of racism in South Africa, but also an extremely unique experience due to being born of a black mother and white father (which was a crime at the time - hence the name of the book). PS His mom rocks my socks! I would give it a 9 out of 10.

  • I Have The Right To by Chessy Prout - I don't remember how I came across this book, maybe it was simply one of the newer titles available on audio book when I was looking at the library. I grabbed it so I could listen to it on the drive home from the San Francisco Marathon Sunday morning. This was a difficult book it listen to, but extremely important. Chessy (who also reads the book) is a rape survivor and tells her story from start to present - because, let's be real, being a survivor will never end for her. Not only was Chessy extremely brave for going through with the prosecution of her rapist, but she has since become an advocate of change and one taking on the rape culture that is so ingrained in society (especially the upper-class, white, entitled tier of society). This book looks at not only the assault, but the fallout that occurred afterwards (with everything from her friends at school to her parents' jobs). This is an extremely important issue that we need to be talking about and we need to be addressing. Major props to Chessy for being brave and reclaiming her life - and for making a difference in the world! PS Listening to her tell her own story is incredibly powerful. Hearing the emotions in her voice help set the stage and make it all the more real. I would give it an 8 out of 10.

With that, July has come to a close. My reading may have slowed, but I definitely hope it never completely stops. If you have any suggestions, let me know! I'm always willing to add them to my queue if our library offers them!

What was the best book you read this month?


San said...

Way to go! You got a lot of reading done.

My favorite book in July was "Yes we (still) can" by Dan Pfeiffer... if you want to feel nostalgic about the Obama years :)

I also enjoyed 'The Garden of Small Beginnings" by Amy Waxmann.

Chelsea B. said...

I love these posts! My favorite book was: "When life gives you Lululemons" (the story of Emily after The Devil Wears Prada) and "The Secret Life of Bees" (not a new book but I found it in a little free neighborhood library).