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3rd Quarter Reads and Reviews

July Reads

When Breath Becomes Air


This book and the Zookeeper’s Wife were both summer reads for  a book club I am in. And although my book club is NOTORIOUS for actually reading but never meeting, we are also guilty of reading both excellent and diverse picks. When Breath Becomes Air is the life and death autobiography of Paul Kalanithi. It chronicles his decision to be a surgeon and also his rapid descent into terminal cancer. I can’t exactly put words to how I feel about this book. But I’d say, read it. It merges philosophy, and life, and dying altogether in one masterpiece.

The Zookeeper’s Wife


It’s been a long time since I loved a book so much that I put off the last chapter, not quite ready to be finished with it (I also did this with Downton Abbey). But laying in bed on vacation in Wisconsin (aka Heaven on Earth), I shut down my kindle so I wouldn’t have to say goodbye to this story before I was ready. I didn’t have any idea what I was getting into when I began this book. However, what I got was a real life story of heroism during the Nazi occupation of Warsaw. This book is gripping and full of detail from the first to the last page. Read it before you watch the movie!

The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe


The big girls and I picked up this classic for our bedtime read. Unless you live under rocks, you know this one-it’s awesome, even the 3rd time through. My 2nd grader and kindergartener both loved it, although I will say, the 5-year-old appeared to be doing quite a bit of daydreaming as I read, so maybe she just liked the idea of it. Anyway, if you are looking for a great book to read with your middle grader, start here.

The Grace of Catastrophe


I bought this book a couple of years ago when the author spoke to a women’s’ group at my church.  This book confronts our relationship with God through grief and catastrophe.  I’ll be frank, I think a lot of Theological writing by women is either dumbed down or highly legalistic. (The reasons for this is a separate blog post, for sure!) But Jan Winebrenner writes with her brain and her heart. This book is well written, heavily researched, heartfelt, and cerebral.  Considering that life for all of us involves catastrophe at some point, I’d recommend this book wholeheartedly.

August/September Reads (guys my time is all merging together, I don’t remember when I read what, sorry).

Prince Caspian


After finishing LW&W, we jumped right into Prince Caspian. I LOVE THIS BOOK. However….my five year old was bored to tears. So much so, she often started dancing or playing or just sometimes completely left the room, while we read it. What I thought would be a natural progression with my kids in our journey through Narnia ends here…for now. Lots of battles, lots of characters with funny names, lots of details-this one is great for grownups, but maybe 4th grade and up. Skip the movie though. All the thumbs down.

Dead Certain


Dead Certain was an Amazon First a couple of months ago. It is the story of a former ADA new to private sector law and the search for her missing sister. I read a handful of thrillers yearly and I’m always kind of “meh” about them. However, Mitzner, a real life attorney, knows the law well enough for me to believe his writing, which made this thriller stand out to me so much so that I ordered another one of his books. I vaguely guessed the killer toward the latter part of the book, however, I was never sure until the end. So the next time you have time for a pretty compelling page turner, give this one a go. (Disclaimer: there are some pretty explicit sex scenes, should you be triggered or bothered by that, skip this one).

P.S. From Paris


Another Amazon First, I started P.S. From Paris on the plane after I finished Dead Certain. If you like chick lit, this is a fun one of mistaken identity and finding true love. Blah blah blah. I thought it was ok. I’d probably rather watch a movie rendition of it, than read the book. Do what you want.


My friend, Jess, has  been telling me to read this little ditty for a year or so now. I finally checked it out from the library. Not a memoir, but a quirky book of essays, it’s a fun little read. Written before Ellen was a household name, I enjoyed reading about her humble roots. I read this whole book on a long flight to New England and I also might have chuckled out loud a couple of times. Then I explained what a kindle was to a 30 something next to me, who I suspect may actually have been an alien.

The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry


A.J. Fikry, a grouchy widower, meets two ladies who will change his life in the most wonderful kinds of ways. This was an easy and interesting read. I wouldn’t tell you to go out and read it tomorrow, but if you do, you’ll enjoy it. On the other hand, you might kind of forget what it was about 2 months later (this girl).



Commonwealth  follows a family reoriented by an affair, a divorce, a cross-country move, and a death over the course of 4 or 5 decades. About half way through I wondered if I was just going to feel hopelessly depressed at the end.  But as I am rarely one to bail on a book halfway through and because Patchett has such a gift for storying, I pressed on. I genuinely loved the detail with which she allowed me to know her characters, who honestly became real people to me-friends. The fact that there is redemption at the end is a plus, but not even necessary. To say I loved this book, feels like an understatement. And even though it’s not a thriller, and I’m a slow reader, I read it in a weekend.

A Family Shaped by Grace


My best friend loaned me this book last summer because her small group at church was reading it. I’d actually been waiting patiently for its release, because the author is someone I’d heard speak and podcast. I also like his daughters’ writing (The Nester and Emily P. Freeman). Listen. This book is great. There’s no time but the present to start making better choices in family relationships. Regardless of your role(s) in your family, whether your family is dysfunctional or pretty healthy, this book is a must read. Because we could all do better, I wish I could hand a copy to everyone I know! Also. I’m going to buy my friend another copy because I marked her’s up from cover to cover. Buy this. Today.

A Man Called Ove


My aunt Mary text me when she finished this book. Then she recommended it to my husband on Goodreads. Because I trust her, I immediately put it on hold at the library.  When I finally got my hands on it, it felt a bit slow. Then at the half way point, my e-book was set to expire in T minus 12 hours, so I kicked it into high gear and plowed through the second half in record time. Before I knew it, I was bawling on the couch, missing my grandpa, and grateful for this precious book. By the end, I certainly appreciated the gentle way that Backman coddled the storyline. The characters are ones we all know and love. Stick with this one. It’s wonderful.

The Unhurried Homeschooler


Just a quick little read for home school moms and dads. I liked this book because it fits with my apparently type B personality. For the last two years or so I’ve felt a little out of sync and a bit guilty that we are not a hard-core homeschool family. This book was a perfect fit for me. If you feel the same way and homeschool, it’s on KindleUnlimited, so it’s FREEEEEE (after your monthly fee).

That’s a wrap, folks. As always, I’d love to know what you’re reading and if you like it!

One thought on “3rd Quarter Reads and Reviews

  1. Either you read it quickly, or I read it slowly.

    Either way, I want to meet that alien on the plane and ask him why he can’t explain every electronic gadget and social media nuance to me, like the rest of his millennial generation…


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