Aaaaaaand. . . . the lazy days of summer have arrived! June 15th is here, so you know what that means! It’s time for another What I’m Reading post! I’m linking up with Modern Mrs. Darcy to share short reviews of books I’ve read so far this month.
What I’m Reading
Raising Stony Mayhall by Daryl Gregory
This is a zombie story, but one that focuses — yes, strangely enough — on the human experience and the ties of family. I loved the premise, but the book was just okay. Better books along the same vein are M.R. Carey’s The Girl With All the Gifts and Justin Cronin’s The Passage. 3/5 stars
Before the Fall by Noah Hawley
Note to self: do NOT read a book about a plane crash while flying in a plane. What was I thinking?!?
Nonetheless, this was a fun page-turner of a book. I received a free advance copy of this novel from the publisher as part of the She Reads Blog Network. There’s a mystery here, as well as tons of interesting character development, as the author explores each of the passengers on the fateful flight and delves into their personal histories. Excellent writing, good plot development and an exciting read, even though the ending fell a little flat. 4/5 stars
Night Road by Kristin Hannah
Okay, I know Kristin Hannah has lots of fans and Night Road — along with her other books — has high ratings on Amazon and Goodreads. But this one just didn’t float my boat. The writing was sophomoric, and seemed more like a sermon against drunk driving than an interesting story. The characters — all of them — were constantly doing stupid things and acting all helpless about it, which was irritating. The second half of the book is better than the first, as there are a few (small) surprises that I didn’t see coming, but overall I was unimpressed. 3/5 stars
Everything Belongs: The Gift of Contemplative Prayer by Richard Rohr
Heads up: if you don’t like thinking, don’t read Rohr’s books. Specifically if you don’t like to think about spirituality, because that’s what he writes. It’s truly mind-boggling — but also life-changing — stuff. And I eat it up like it’s candy. This one’s all about contemplative prayer and it will challenge everything you thought you knew about what prayer is and how it affects our lives. I picked this up based on a recommendation from author Ed Cyzewski, who also runs The Contemplative Writer blog. An insightful and awe-inspiring read. 4/5 stars
The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness by Michelle Alexander
It’s hard to find words after finishing this book. Much like Bryan Stevenson’s Just Mercy, this book shocked, angered, and discouraged me. As a white, middle-aged American woman, I experience so much privilege that I’m not even aware of most of the time. Books like this one challenge me and help me to see the disparity between whites and people of color. Alexander’s approach is a research-based, scholarly one, so unlike Stevenson’s book, it’s not smooth reading. The text is a little repetitive for my taste, but the message is excruciatingly important. This book should be required reading for every American. 4/5 stars
Anna and the Swallow Man by Gavriel Savit
This one’s a YA book about the Holocaust. I enjoyed the story, even though I found it pretty far-fetched. Unfortunately, the ending was not good and left me with more questions than when I started. Better choices include The Book Thief, Anne Frank’s The Diary of a Young Girl, or The Hiding Place.
Dead Wake: The Last Crossing of the Lusitania by Erik Larson
I checked out the Audible version of this book from my library, based on a recommendation from Modern Mrs. Darcy’s “What Should I Read Next” podcast. Although this sort of nonfiction isn’t my typical fare, I enjoyed the storytelling and the attention to details that this book offered. It reads like fiction, and I found myself fascinated and holding my breath waiting to see what would happen next. 4/5 stars