My June 2017 Reads

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Oh, sweet summertime. I've been loving the weather this month (a lot of rain, and a lot of humidity-free days in the low 80s, PRAISE) and have been reading up a storm thanks to SO MANY LIBRARY HOLDS COMING IN AT ONCE. I complain, but I really love having a huge stack of books to pull from, even if it's impossible to get through them all before they're due.

I read some real winners this month, only a few duds, and LOTS that I would recommend -- here are my reviews for what I read this June!

(alert! there are affiliate links here! don't worry, they don't cost you a cent extra, but they do throw a few cents my way and i'm so thankful!)


The Seven Money Types: Discover How God Wired You to Handle Money by Tommy Brown

THE STARS: 4/5

THE PLOT: "Discovering your money type – whether you are an Abraham (hospitality), an Isaac (discipline), a Jacob (beauty), a Joseph (connection), a Moses (endurance), an Aaron (humility), or a David (leadership) – will bring greater self-awareness, reduce internal financial tension, help you resolve financial conflict with others, and help you grow financially from a faith-based perspective. As you walk with Pastor Brown through the Scriptures you’ll find holistic financial pathways that lead you to a place of increased awareness and confidence related to money." (from here)

THE THOUGHT: This was one of those books I didn't WANT to read... because I know money isn't my strong suit. I struggle to budget, hate managing my finances, and overspend like it's my job. It's bad, and I knew I needed to work on things... so, I got this book. And you guys, it was AWESOME. It wasn't shaming, it wasn't stuffy, and it was SUPER helpful. I had never heard money talked about like this  -- the whole premise is giving you a Bible character whose personality explains your money style. There's an assessment to help you figure it out (big fan of things like that) and then the chapters that follow read SO much like a narrative instead of prescriptive advice or some "get rich quick" scheme. (I'm a Jacob -- the aspect of God's image I focus on is beauty, and my shadow side is indulgence. Like, YES.) It's just so good, so helpful. Can't recommend this one highly enough!

THE DEETS: I received this book from BookLook Bloggers in exchange for my honest review!


The Bridge Across the Ocean by Susan Meissner

THE STARS: 5/5

THE PLOT: "February, 1946. World War Two is over, but the recovery from the most intimate of its horrors has only just begun for Annaliese Lange, a German ballerina desperate to escape her past, and Simone Deveraux, the wronged daughter of a French Résistance spy.
 
Now the two women are joining hundreds of other European war brides aboard the renowned RMSQueen Mary to cross the Atlantic and be reunited with their American husbands. Their new lives in the United States brightly beckon until their tightly-held secrets are laid bare in their shared stateroom. When the voyage ends at New York Harbor, only one of them will disembark...
 
Present day. Facing a crossroads in her own life, Brette Caslake visits the famously haunted Queen Mary at the request of an old friend. What she finds will set her on a course to solve a seventy-year-old tragedy that will draw her into the heartaches and triumphs of the courageous war brides—and will ultimately lead her to reconsider what she has to sacrifice to achieve her own deepest longings." (from here)

THE THOUGHT: I absolutely loved Secrets of a Charmed Life by this same author, so when I saw this one was out, I snatched it up. The story is really different (more of a supernatural/ghost focus) but equally as well-written, engaging, and wonderful. Highly recommend this one. The cover doesn't do it justice, so don't judge it based on that! 


The Healing Path: How the Hurts in Your Past Can Lead You to a More Abundant Life by Dan B. Allender

THE STARS: 5/5

THE PLOT: "Healing is not the resolution of our past; it is the use of our past to draw us into deeper relationship with God and his purposes for our lives. If you're ready to shape a future characterized by love, service, and joy, now is the time to step out onto The Healing Path." (from here)

THE THOUGHT: This one was recommended to me by my counselor (he read many excerpts in our sessions, and I knew I wanted to read the whole thing) and I can't rave enough. This book is rich and helpful and meaningful and so incredible -- if you're on any sort of healing journey from any sort of hurt, abuse, pain, grief, etc... read this one. It's a soothing balm for any aching soul.


Lost Lake by Sarah Addison Allen

THE STARS: 4/5

THE PLOT: "Lost Lake is where Kate Pheris spent her last best summer as an adolescent, before she learned of loneliness and heartbreak and loss. But today she has hope, thanks to her resilient daughter, Devin, whose willingness to move forward gives Kate a chance to rediscover something that slipped through her fingers so long ago. After all, people seem to end up at Lost Lake, looking for something that they weren’t sure they needed in the first place: love, closure, a mystery solved, redemption. Can Kate, Devin, and Eby find what each of them needs before it’s too late?" (from here)

THE THOUGHT: This was such a fun, slightly fantastical, lighthearted and enjoyable read. Thanks to my friend Holly for recommending I check out this author -- she's perfect for fun summer reading!


The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie by Alan Bradley

THE STARS: 2/5

THE PLOT: "It is the summer of 1950–and at the once-grand mansion of Buckshaw, young Flavia de Luce, an aspiring chemist with a passion for poison, is intrigued by a series of inexplicable events: A dead bird is found on the doorstep, a postage stamp bizarrely pinned to its beak. Then, hours later, Flavia finds a man lying in the cucumber patch and watches him as he takes his dying breath.

For Flavia, who is both appalled and delighted, life begins in earnest when murder comes to Buckshaw. “I wish I could say I was afraid, but I wasn’t. Quite the contrary. This was by far the most interesting thing that had ever happened to me in my entire life.”" (from here)

THE THOUGHT: I couldn't get into this one... and that's really all I have to say about that. I gave it half the book and just wasn't into it. IT has won some awards though, so don't just take my word for it if it interests you!


It's Not Okay: Turning Heartbreak into Happily Never After by Andi Dorfman

THE STARS: 2/5

THE PLOT: "This is much more than the diary of a very public breakup—Andi divulges her story along with some no-nonsense, straight-talking advice to other women dealing with their own romantic issues. In It’s Not Okay, Andi is the best friend we all wish we had, telling us the good, the bad, and the ugly to inspire us to always be true to ourselves and remember breakups may be hard, but it’s always going to be okay." (from here)

THE THOUGHT: I picked this up at the library because I admittedly used to be a big fan of the Bachelor franchise... and it's exactly what I expected it to be -- pretty shallow, not surprising in the slightest, not very well written, but fun to see behind the scenes nonetheless. If you're a big fan, it's a quick little read, but if not, don't bother.


Love Warrior by Glennon Doyle Melton

THE STARS: 2/5

THE PLOT: "Love Warrior is the story of one marriage, but it is also the story of the healing that is possible for any of us when we refuse to settle for good enough and begin to face pain and love head-on. This astonishing memoir reveals how our ideals of masculinity and femininity can make it impossible for a man and a woman to truly know one another - and it captures the beauty that unfolds when one couple commits to unlearning everything they've been taught so that they can finally, after thirteen years of marriage, commit to living true―true to themselves and to each other. Love Warrior is a gorgeous and inspiring account of how we are born to be warriors: strong, powerful, and brave; able to confront the pain and claim the love that exists for us all. This chronicle of a beautiful, brutal journey speaks to anyone who yearns for deeper, truer relationships and a more abundant, authentic life." (from here)

THE THOUGHT: I've heard all the things about Glennon, and never gave her a chance, really. When I saw this at my library, I grabbed it, finally wanting to see what she was all about. I have to say, I was unimpressed. This book felt preachy, I'm-better-than-you, and full of platitudes and a "follow-your-heart" message that feels phony to me. I'm not a big fan of some of the life choices and stances she's made over the years, but I am a big believer in reading things from all kinds of people who believe and live all kinds of ways, and in putting yourself in other's shoes before making any sort of judgment. I don't think I'll read more from her or follow much of what she says, but I'm glad I read this one for myself to make that decision.


The School of Essential Ingredients by Erica Bauermeister

THE STARS: 5/5

THE PLOT: "A "heartbreakingly delicious" national bestseller about a chef, her students, and the evocative lessons that food teaches about life" (from here)

THE THOUGHT: I cannot rave about this one enough-- it was absolutely beautiful. The writing about food just made me MELT -- it's perfect. The stories are so charming and precious, but never in a way that felt cheesy. If you like reading about food and incredible people's stories and how they intersect, grab this one ASAP! So good.


Struck: One Christian's Reflections on Encountering Death by Russ Ramsey

THE STARS: 3/5

THE PLOT: ""When my doctor told me I was dying, I came alive." What happens when you come face-to-face with your mortality? When your body fails you, what happens to your faith? Russ Ramsey was struck by a bacterial infection that destroyed his mitral valve, sending him into heart failure and requiring urgent open-heart surgery. As he faced the possibility of death, he found himself awakened to new realities. In the critical days and months that followed, Ramsey came to see the world through the eyes of affliction. He grappled with fear, anger, depression, and loss, and yet he experienced grace through the suffering that filled him with a hope and hunger for the life to come.This profoundly eloquent memoir gives voice to the deepest questions of the human condition. In the midst of pain, we can see glimpses of eternity." (from here)

THE THOUGHT: This wasn't really one I connected with or loved too much -- I felt like it fell a little short of really saying anything impactful or deeply meaningful. It was interesting and a really quick read, but not one I'd really have much to recommend about.


Blessings by Anna Quindlen

THE STARS: 1/5

THE PLOT: "In this instant, the world of the estate called Blessings is changed forever. The story of Skip Cuddy, the Blessings caretaker, who finds a baby asleep in that box and decides he wants to keep her, and of matriarch Lydia Blessing, who, for her own reasons, decides to help him, Blessings explores how the secrets of the past affect decisions and lives in the present; what makes a person, a life, legitimate or illegitimate, and who decides; the unique resources people find in themselves and in a community." (from here)

THE THOUGHT: I read more than half of this book, and literally NOTHING happened in the plot besides the baby showing up at the house. It was the slowest, most uninteresting story and I could not see the appeal at ALL. I kept flipping ahead trying to see if things were going to get interesting any time soon... but they didn't, so I gave up. I don't understand the bestseller status of this one.


The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas

THE STARS: 5/5

THE PLOT: "Sixteen-year-old Starr Carter moves between two worlds: the poor neighborhood where she lives and the fancy suburban prep school she attends. The uneasy balance between these worlds is shattered when Starr witnesses the fatal shooting of her childhood best friend Khalil at the hands of a police officer. Khalil was unarmed.

Soon afterward, his death is a national headline. Some are calling him a thug, maybe even a drug dealer and a gangbanger. Protesters are taking to the streets in Khalil’s name. Some cops and the local drug lord try to intimidate Starr and her family. What everyone wants to know is: what really went down that night? And the only person alive who can answer that is Starr. 

But what Starr does—or does not—say could upend her community. It could also endanger her life." (from here)

THE THOUGHT: This book. Powerful. Relevant. Necessary. Heartbreaking. Moving. Important. Read it.


Girls in White Dresses by Jennifer Close

THE STARS: 2/5

THE PLOT: "Isabella, Mary, and Lauren feel like everyone they know is getting married. On Sunday after Sunday, at bridal shower after bridal shower, they coo over toasters, collect ribbons and wrapping paper, eat minuscule sandwiches and cakes. They wear pastel dresses and drink champagne by the case, but amid the celebration these women have their own lives to contend with: Isabella is working a dead-end job, Mary is dating a nice guy with an awful mother, and Lauren is waitressing at a midtown bar and wondering why she's attracted to the sleazy bartender. 

With a wry sense of humor, Jennifer Close brings us through those thrilling, bewildering years of early adulthood as she pulls us inside the circle of these friends, perfectly capturing the wild frustrations and soaring joys of modern life." (from here)

THE THOUGHT: My best friend mentioned this one to me, saying it was super relevant to our stage of life, and it really was. This book isn't anything incredible by any means, but it was one of those books that is really relatable and real about being in your twenties and thirties, and it was an easy weekend read!


The Magnolia Story by Chip and Joanna Gaines

THE STARS: 3/5

THE PLOT: "The Magnolia Story is the first book from Chip and Joanna, offering their fans a detailed look at their life together. From the very first renovation project they ever tackled together, to the project that nearly cost them everything; from the childhood memories that shaped them, to the twists and turns that led them to the life they share on the farm today." (from here)

THE THOUGHT: These two are EVERYWHERE these days, and I think they're fun to watch and great people to have sweeping the nation (their faith and love for each other and family and their work is awesome to see) -- this book is a great look at their story of rising to fame, and it reads just like you'd expect from the two of them! If you're a fan of the show, you should definitely grab this one!


Glory Over Everything: Beyond the Kitchen House by Kathleen Grissom

THE STARS: 5/5

THE PLOT: "The latest New York Times bestseller from the author of the beloved book club favorite The Kitchen House is a heart racing story about a man’s treacherous journey through the twists and turns of the Underground Railroad on a mission to save the boy he swore to protect." (from here)

THE THOUGHT: I didn't think anything could top The Kitchen House... but this did. Incredibly written, powerful, moving... just wonderfully done. Can't rave highly enough. Start with The Kitchen House and make sure you have this one ready as soon as you're done. SO GOOD.


The Secret to Hummingbird Cake by Celeste Fletcher McHale

THE STARS: 5/5

THE PLOT: "In this spot-on Southern novel brimming with wit and authenticity, you’ll laugh alongside lifelong friends, navigate the sometimes rocky path of marriage, and roll through the outrageous curveballs that life sometimes throws . . . from devastating pain to absolute joy. And if you’re lucky, you just may discover the secret to hummingbird cake along the way." (from here)

THE THOUGHT: I read this one for #COLLABOREADS this month -- check out my review here!


The Highly Sensitive Person: How to Thrive When the World Overwhelms You by Elaine N. Aron, Ph. D.

THE STARS: 5/5

THE PLOT: "Most of us feel overstimulated every once in a while, but for the Highly Sensitive Person, it's a way of life.  In this groundbreaking book, Dr. Elaine Aron, a psychotherapist, workshop leader and highly sensitive person herself, shows you how to identify this trait in yourself and make the most of it in everyday situations.  Drawing on her many years of research and hundreds of interviews, she shows how you can better understand yourself and your trait to create a fuller, richer life." (from here)

THE THOUGHT: This book is one of the ones that just felt like such a gift to me -- one that left me feeling SO much less alone and less insane for feeling the way I do about the world around me. It's so well-researched, really accessible, incredibly interesting and helpful, and really a fascinating guide to how to live in the world as somebody who is highly sensitive. If you think that might be you at all, I can't recommend this one enough. (And there are quizzes throughout to help you understand yourself better!)


Dreamland Burning by Jennifer Latham

THE STARS: 5/5

THE PLOT: "When seventeen-year-old Rowan Chase finds a skeleton on her family's property, she has no idea that investigating the brutal century-old murder will lead to a summer of painful discoveries about the past... and the present.

Nearly one hundred years earlier, a misguided violent encounter propels seventeen-year-old Will Tillman into a racial firestorm. In a country rife with violence against blacks and a hometown segregated by Jim Crow, Will must make hard choices on a painful journey towards self discovery and face his inner demons in order to do what's right the night Tulsa burns.

Through intricately interwoven alternating perspectives, Jennifer Latham's lightning-paced page-turner brings the Tulsa race riot of 1921 to blazing life and raises important questions about the complex state of US race relations - both yesterday and today." (from here)

THE THOUGHT: This one is another one that is INCREDIBLY powerful and moving-- it flashes back and forth between 1921 during the height of race riots, and present-day, and both are eye-opening, heartbreaking, and necessary to read about. The story is fast-paced and compelling, and so, so, so good. A must-read.


The Heirs by Susan Reiger

THE STARS: 3/5

THE PLOT: "Brilliantly wrought, incisive, and stirring, The Heirs tells the story of an upper-crust Manhattan family coming undone after the death of their patriarch." (from here)

THE THOUGHT: This one was a little slow, but I was really intrigued the whole time, and locked into the story as it unraveled person by person through the different chapters. It surprised me (there are secrets and layers I didn't see coming), was interesting to me, felt really well-written and thorough, and was a really solid fiction read.

THE DEETS: I received this one from Blogging for Books in exchange for my honest review!


Wonder by R.J. Palacio

THE STARS: 4/5

THE PLOT: "August Pullman was born with a facial difference that, up until now, has prevented him from going to a mainstream school. Starting 5th grade at Beecher Prep, he wants nothing more than to be treated as an ordinary kid—but his new classmates can’t get past Auggie’s extraordinary face. WONDER, now a #1 New York Times bestseller and included on the Texas Bluebonnet Award master list, begins from Auggie’s point of view, but soon switches to include his classmates, his sister, her boyfriend, and others. These perspectives converge in a portrait of one community’s struggle with empathy, compassion, and acceptance." (from here)

THE THOUGHT: This was a really wonderful YA/children's read -- such a beautiful look at bravery, empathy, differences we see on the surface and how we handle them, friendship, and kindness. I loved the chapters from different characters, and how they all wove together such an incredible story of a boy who has an "extraordinary face." Loved this one and think it will make a fantastic movie, too!


Cultivate: A Grace-Filled Guide to Growing an Intentional Life by Lara Casey

THE STARS: 5/5

THE PLOT: (from here)

THE THOUGHT: This was one of those books that as soon as I heard about it, I knew I would love it. I've been a fan of Lara Casey for a while-- she creates incredibly helpful and grace-filled products (like Powersheets, you all know I LOVE my Powersheets!) and has such a heart of gold that is evident in every Instagram post, Facebook live video, and email I see from her. If you're anything like me, you find that books by Christian women about faith can often feel cheesy and fake and shallow... but Lara writes in such a real and honest way that I find really meaningful and relevant. This book is such a refreshing read -- it's honest without being preachy, it's heartfelt without feeling cheesy, and it beautifully weaves gardening together with our lives of faith and the work we do both inward and outward. It has so many helpful questions and journaling spaces, which really add to the value of this book when it comes to what you can get out of it personally. I really, truly loved reading this one. (Grab your copy here!)

THE DEETS:  I received this book in exchange for my review from the publisher. The opinions I have expressed are my own. Affiliate links are included above.


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