Wednesday, August 1, 2018

July 2018 Chapter

Welcome to the Read.Write.Repeat. monthly wrap-up.  Every month, I give a quick overview of what books I read, the progress made on my reading goals, a few book-related links, and general blog news.  

July News 

Life continues to move at a brisk pace for us. I so desperately love summer because it often brings chances to see people we don't get to see the rest of the year. This July has been no exception. We've seen so many dear friends and a good amount of family, too. We've especially gotten lots of great time with the little people in ours lives, several of whom got a copy of Our Great Big Backyard to enjoy this summer. Lots of them are getting old enough to actually know who we are and sit and read together, which I adore.

Work has been going well. I'm still completely exhausted and working on adjusting to the fast pace of our firm, but I'm really enjoying the work and I think I'm going to be good at it. I feel like I have the logistics on the job down pretty well and now I'm working on adding context, the why of the what.

As we come to the close of the summer, I'm also recognize that the pace and plethora of commitments I've accumulated over the last few years of teaching part time are not going to be sustainable with my new job. I've been involved in so many great thing and I'm beginning to face the reality that I'm going to need to give some of them up if I want to remain sane. I'm still figuring out exactly what will stay and what will go. In that vein, I've made some decisions in regards to the blog...

I'm choosing to scale back the blog. It's not going away, because I don't want to leave the wonderful community of people I've found in the book blogging world and with whom I have great conversations about what I've been reading. However, I don't have time to do reviews for every book I read any more. At this point, I'm choosing to do reviews only for the books about which I really want to share my thoughts. That will scale back the frequency of posts intensely, but I'm hoping what will be left will be more worthwhile. In practicality, this likely means 1-2 book reviews per month rather than the 8-12 I've been doing for the last several years. The monthly updates will continue because I find them a great tracking mechanism and a great way to touch base with all you wonderful readers.

Ultimately, I'm hoping this means I'll break my reading slump. With the pressure of writing a review for every book I read removed, I think I'll be more apt to tear through things voraciously again and not have any fear associated with loading up my Kindle app. So, while you may see less of me here, hopefully that will mean I'm reading more, which is the whole point anyway.

Wednesday, July 25, 2018

Inspired - Rachel Held Evans

Title: Inspired: Slaying Giants, Walking on Water, and Loving the Bible Again
Author: Rachel Held Evans
Publication Date: 6/12/2018
Pages: 240
Genre: Faith / Memoir / Nonfiction
How I Found It: I'm a big fan of Evans's work
Date Completed: 6/23/18

Summary: Evans wrestles with some of the toughest passages of Scripture. She challenges traditional mindsets about the Bible. Above all, she expresses her deep love for this book and its message.

What I Thought: It's no secret that I'm a bit of a Rachel Held Evans fan-girl. When I met her at the Why Christian conference this past spring, it was all I could do to not invite her to dinner and to be my best friend. I realize how creepy that sounds, but I swear my intentions it's not. She's just one of those authors with whom I feel a strong, real connection. In so many ways, I feel as though she is a few steps ahead of me on a shared faith journey. Her books have been a balm to my soul and an encouragement in times of spiritual struggle. 

Tuesday, July 17, 2018

Grace and Grit - Lilly Ledbetter

Grace and Grit
Title: Grace and Grit: My Fight for Equal Pay and Fairness at Goodyear and Beyond
Author: Lilly Ledbetter
Publication Date: 2/28/2012
Pages: 288
Genre: Memoir / Political / Nonfiction
How I Found It: I can't remember
Date Completed: 6/23/18

Summary: Ledbetter became a symbol for equal pay when she sued her long time employer, Goodyear. In this memoir, she shares her life story, including the epic legal battle that led to the Ledbetter Fair Pay Act of 2009.

What I Thought: I honestly did not know much about Lilly Ledbetter before reading this book. I knew she had something to do with equal pay in this country and that's about it. It was so fun to read her whole story and see how she became an unlikely activist.

Ledbetter spends a lot of time talking about her early life and marriage which, while reading, feels more like a novel than a political memoir. However, I'm so glad she spent that time there; you really need the context of those years to understand just how incredible it was that Ledbetter became the symbol she is today. You would never have predicted her path when she was a poor child in rural Alabama. 

Thursday, July 12, 2018

A Wind in the Door - Madeleine L'Engle

A Wind in the Door
Title: A Wind in the Door
Author: Madeleine L'Engle
Publication Date: 1973
Pages: 203
How I Found It: I read A Wrinkle in Time 
Date Completed: 6/23/18

Summary: The Murrys are at it again. This time, it's the fate of Charles Wallace, not their father, which hangs in the balance. Fantastical creatures, a fight against evil, and lots of character development. 

What I Thought: I didn't know until a few years ago that A Wrinkle in Time had sequels. Upon rereading the classic in 2017, I knew I wanted to read the whole series. 

I found A Wind in the Door to retain many of the qualities which make the first book so delightful. L'Engle mixes fantasy with science fiction. She brings her technical science down to an understandable level for the average reader. There are creatures of all sorts. There is an epic battle against nebulous evil forces. And there is loads of character development. 

Tuesday, July 10, 2018

Grace for the Good Girl - Emily P. Freeman

Grace for the Good Girl
Title: Grace for the Good Girl: Letting Go of the Try-Hard Life
Author: Emily P. Freeman
Publication Date: 2011
Pages: 257
Genre: Faith / Nonfiction
How I Found It: I think Sarah on Pantsuit Politics mentioned it.
Date Completed: 6/22/18

Summary: The pressure for a woman to be "good" can be debilitating, particularly in faith communities. Freeman addresses the heavy expectations and how freeing life is when you step out from under them.

What I Thought: I enjoyed this both more and less than I thought I would. I know that's a contradiction. Let me try to explain.

I'll start with the more. I've read a lot of books like this in my life. Not on this topic in particular, but a variety of subjects. As a teenager, I spent a lot of time in Lifeway stores. I was submersed in a culture that really celebrated and encouraged this type of writing. Since that time, my faith journey has been winding and I do not find much joy in cliché Christian culture. I haven't been in a Christian bookstore in years and am 110% cool with that. So, coming into this book, I felt some apprehension. I wanted to hear Freeman's message because I was pretty sure it would apply to me (spoiler: it did), but I was worried it would be all fluff I've heard before. I mean, even the cover looks like it came directly off the Christian-ese assembly line. 

Friday, July 6, 2018

The Silent Wife - A. S. A. Harrison

The Silent Wife
Title: The Silent Wife
Author: A. S. A. Harrison
Publication Date: 2013
Pages: 326
Genre: Thriller / Fiction
How I Found It: Some friends recommended it.
Date Completed: 6/9/18

Summary: Jodi and Todd have a picture-perfect marriage that has been emotionally dead for a long time. A series of choices they make lead to a dramatic end to their relationship and Todd's life.

What I Thought: Some very dear friends of ours recommended this book to me and even graciously loaned me their copy. They talked it up, so my expectations were high when I packed it in my suitcase for Italy. 

I read almost the entire book during our endless layover in LaGuardia airport. If you've ever been to LaGuardia, you know how desperately anyone in that place needs an escape. Easily the worst airport I've ever been in. 

Unfortunately, this book was not as gripping as I had hoped. I found Jodi's character to be cold and flat. The character is obviously meant to portray the cool collection of having everything together, but to have that carry into her inner left was disconcerting. She didn't feel emotionally engaged in her actions and so I didn't feel emotionally engaged with her story. 

Wednesday, July 4, 2018

Final Girls - Riley Sager

Final Girls
Title: Final Girls
Author: Riley Sager
Publication Date: 7/11/2017
Pages: 342
Genre: Thriller / Fiction
How I Found It: I can't remember, but I think another blogger talked about it last year.
Date Completed: 6/9/18

Summary: Years after being the sole survivor of a brutal mass murder, Quincy Carpenter is still trying to cope with the emotional and social pressures that come with that position. Being in the "Final Girls" club is not a membership she ever wanted. But, when one of her fellow "Final Girls" dies suddenly, she's forced to confront her past head on. 

What I Thought: If you've been following the blog in the last year, you know I've been on a hunt for a really good thriller. I read a bunch of them while we were on vacation at the start of June, including this one. 

Kevin passed on this one because he said it looked less like a thriller and more like a horror novel from the marketing blurb. I had that fear as well; after reading the book, I would say Sager rides the line between the two. There are flashbacks to Quincy's nightmarish experience in college that slowly fill in the pieces of her memory and the plot. Even in those flashbacks, though, there isn't too much graphic gore until closer to the end. Overall, there are more violent descriptions than most psychological thrillers, put I wouldn't push this all the way into the horror genre because most of the book doesn't center on those scenes.