Saturday, June 30, 2018

June 2018 Reads

Hi friends! A bit of a slower reading month for me.  June gets a little crazy with the end of school and preparations for vacation, but I still got in some really good ones this month.  Here's the recap:

The Good Pilot, Peter Woodhouse - Alexander McCall Smith - historical fiction - five stars - I do love Alexander McCall Smith.  This was a quick, sweet book about a woman who is working as a Land Girl in England during WWII - they sent women out to the country to help farmers as all the farm hands went to war, kind of a rural Rosie the Riveter.  Anyway, she is working near an airbase and meets a US aviator, Mike.  Much of the book is focused on their relationship as well as their relationship to a stray dog, Peter Woodhouse.  Mike is shot down in Holland (with Peter Woodhouse who becomes a mascot for the airmen) and manages to survive in hiding until the end of the war.  He is befriended by a German soldier named Ubi.  The second part of the book deals with the lives of Val, Mike and Ubi after the war.  A sweet and bittersweet story that I didn't want to put down.

Red Sparrow - Jason Matthews - fiction - five stars - I love a good spy/action movie, and I've seen trailers for the Red Sparrow movie, but since I knew it was a book, I wanted to read that first.  I'm not sure why I thought it took place back in the Cold War, but it doesn't, which I thought was really interesting.  It's more of a current day plot which made it even more interesting because some of the things that they talk about seem so old school, i.e. Sparrow school where women learn how to set honey traps/seduce targets.  It was a pretty complex plot line, lots of different people and moving parts, and definitely some surprises as well.  I enjoyed it, and there are two more books in the series which I'll be reading as well.  Not sure if I'm going to watch the movie at this point, I feel like I'm likely to be disappointed/annoyed at how it is shown as I think it would be very difficult to show all the complexity/nuance in a movie.

Framed! (T.O.A.S.T. Mystery #1) - James Ponti - juvenile fiction - five stars - This was an Ellie directed read.  She got this for her birthday last year, but hadn't gotten around to reading it, and she loved it.  It's a little bit like the Spy School series although I would say slightly older/more sophisticated.  Florian Bates is a kid who just moved to the DC are who has a very developed observational skill.  This allows him to help the FBI solve a crime at the National Gallery of Art (where his mom work).  I really liked the characters.  It was a fun and quick read.

Vanished! (T.O.A.S.T. Mystery #2) - James Ponti - juvenile fiction - five stars - This is the sequel to Framed! and just as good.  Ellie had me borrow it for her as soon as she had completed the first book (we are excited that there is a third book coming out later this year).  In this book Florian and his best friend are sent undercover to an exclusive private school in DC where the president's daughter also happens to attend.  There are pranks being played and he is supposed to determine who is involved.  In doing so he gets to know the first daughter and becomes involved in a kidnapping case as well.

The Invention of Wings - Sue Monk Kidd - historical fiction - five stars - This is my first book from Kidd and I really enjoyed it.  I love that it was loosely based on a real person, Sarah Grimke, born into a well to do slave owning family in South Carolina who later became an outspoken abolitionist and Quaker.  The story revolves around her and a fictional slave, Handful, she was given at eleven.  The story is told from both Sarah and Handful's perspectives and kept me riveted.  I'm definitely planning to read more from Kidd.

Where the Past Begins: A Writer's Memoir - Amy Tan - memoir - 2 stars - I was so disappointed by this book. I have read and enjoyed everything Amy has written, so when I read jacket cover description of the book I was excited to learn more about Amy's life/history.  To me most of the problem here was essentially false advertising.  There are snippets about Amy's life included, but a lot of this is long winded discourse about the process of writing itself.  I had a really hard time getting through it.  This was one I read for the better part of the month off and on sprinkling some of my other books in to break it up.

The Final Race: The Incredible World War II Story of the Olympian Who Inspired Chariots of Fire - Eric T. Eichinger and Eva Marie Everson - biography - four stars - So I have to admit that I have never seen Chariots of Fire and only know of Eric Liddell as the guy who was portrayed in the movie (this is a bit of a travesty to my track athlete/coach husband....and it truly is on my list of things to watch).  I saw this book on the new shelf in the library and thought I ought to educate myself.  I really enjoyed reading about Eric - the book talks about his athletic career, but focuses more on the rest of his life - that that was just something he was really good at, but his true calling was to be a missionary to China.  He sacrificed much to fulfill his calling, and was in China and interned in a camp there during WWII.  The book recounts stories and anecdotes from others who were there with him, and his truly humble and giving personality comes through in volumes.  I almost gave this one five stars, but the writing was a little clunky for me and that's the only reason it was downgraded a bit, but a very good read.  

How about you guys?  I'm always looking for recommendations!

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