Pam Webb

a writer's journey as a reader

Reading Roundup: June


Summer began for me once I posted grades and locked my classroom door. I don’t travel much except for a weekend trip here and there to visit with family. I used to be embarrassed when I would state my main delight for summer is to read. Surprisingly, that response actually gets nods of approval, almost a smidgen of admiration or envy. Of course I could merely reading into their reactions.

To prepare for my readerly adventure, I start checking off my TBR list, and then grab my books to stretch out in my hammocks–one for the shade and one in the sun. Depends on my mood and the weather.

The Goodreads tally keeper notes I read a total of 14 books in June, if the one rollover title from May to June counts as a June read. That’s a calculation of 4,350 pages or roughly 310 pages per average. I tend to feel a wee bit of fudging occurs when reading children’s books (no shame there) because they are often under 200 pages, then again some books I grab off the shelf weigh in over 400 pages. It tends to balance out.

With such a variety of reads that visited my book bag last month, I thought I would highlight the genres covered:

Children’s

image:Goodreads

Newberry Honor books such as Blue Willow by Doris Gates espouse the ideals of the American Dream: benefit from the fruits of honest work. Janey lives the rough life of an itinerant family who is one step from financial disaster as they move from one harvest to the next. Scant of possessions, yet brimming with hope, Janey longs for a real home, one where she can display her treasure: her mother’s willow plate, a symbol of happier times past, and a promise for better days ahead.

Considering its publish date of 1940, the story still holds interest as it touches on the need to belong and to rise above circumstances. 5 stars

image: Goodreads

Rarely do books that stir up applause, glowing reviews, and generate a movie actually merit those expectations. Wonder does and it is one of the most authentic, genuine stories I’ve come across in a very long time.

Very deserving of its praise. August and his family, along with his friends, create a hope people can learn to get beyond initial first impressions. 5 stars

Inspirational

image: Goodreads

Lisa Wingate knows how to weave a layered story. In this first installment of the Carolina series the plot revolves around Tandi as she tries to rebuild her life. She runs out of gas at the place of happier times, the Hatteras islands, and lives hand to mouth with her two children.

Tandi’s life begins to change for the better when she begins cleaning out the house of her recently deceased landlady, Iola Pool. Tandi comes across Iola’s prayer boxes and gathers strength from Iola’s letters to God.

A story that speaks to the importance of family and friends, and embracing opportunities.

A bit spotty in some of the backstory, otherwise enriching in how faith can change lives. 4 stars

image: Goodreads

Although touted as a retelling of the well-known tale of Aladdin, Melanie Dickerson’s The Orphan’s Wish is more of a reinvention of the classic story. The story takes Aladdin, an orphan who is taught to steal, and transplants him in Germany. From there Aladdin is immersed in a story of trying to overcome his lower status in order to marry his lifelong friend, Lady Krysten. Rescued by a priest, Aladdin faithfully serves God, as do the majority of the characters.

While the story had the potential of being engaging, with all the elements of a intriguing romance, it falls into telling the reader instead of allowing the story to unfold. The characters are flat, as is the dialogue, making it difficult to invest completely in this happily-ever-after story.

The overall plot is fairly predictable, yet provides enough plot twist to carry out the anticipated ending. Those who appreciate fairy tales will enjoy Dickerson’s offering. 3 stars

Received from Thomas Nelson in exchange for a fair review.

Adult

image: Goodreads

Note: Sometimes I succumb to reading the “popular” book. *sigh*

Intense. It felt like I was reading a Hitchcock script with all the under plots and red herrings thrown about. Unfortunately, I didn’t like any of the characters and ended up skipping through the middle. Rachel was so totally pathetic it became a chore to read her portion. Megan proved to be a disappointment and I felt no sympathy for her. The men definitely had flaws. Even the baby was fussy.

So, I can say I mostly read this book, but do not fill enriched for doing so. I will not bother with the movie.

*another sigh*

image: Goodreads

I made two mistakes reading Olive Kitteridge. The first was thinking it would be like those other curmudgeon novels, ones that portrayed a cranky elderly person with a rim of diamonds that flashed in certain moments. This was my impression having read the reader’s guide first, the “interview” with Elizabeth Strout, Olive, and a nameless Random House Reader’s Circle guide. Olive came off as sassy, opinionated, and singular. Yet, this was no Ove, Major Pettigrew, or even Miss Read. As I got into the stories, as this is not a novel, I realized that Olive has some serious issues. She might be a sociopath even. And that was my second mistake. I thought since it received a Pulitzer Prize, Olive Kitteridge would be a worthy read of merit.

Ah-yuh. Apparently, I was mistaken.

Classic

image: Goodreads

Mary Stewart’s suspenseful mysteries with a dash of romance and a flair for adventure in exotic places does not fail to be a go to when looking for a casual read. A perfect hammock companion. Even though the dialogue and situations are a bit dated, the plot is still enthralling, if not surprising at times.

Nonfiction

image: Goodreads

The Princess Bride is inconceivably one of the best discoveries I made in college. William Goldman’s book was so amazing I boycotted Rob Reiner’s film when it came out. I did. Why? How could the film do the book justice? Convinced it couldn’t, I refused to watch it for years and years. Why did I wait so long?

The film is a classic now, of course. All those characters: Buttercup, Inigo, Max, Fezzik, Westley, and all those lines “As You Wish” to “Have fun storming the castle” represent a whole generation who have enjoyed this fairytale which is suffused with romance and adventure.

Cary Elwes, who played Westley, presents a loving tribute to the film in his memoir. If you enjoy featurettes, those behind the scenes peeks, then this is the book to sit down with to gain more info about the who and how of Princess Bride.

Sincere, enlightening, filled with quotes from the principal actors as well as the director and producer, As You Wish provides fans, and those who are sure to become fans, more about a film that is now part of the culture.

The book so inspired me I promptly checked out the movie to specifically watch for all those insights Elwes mentions. Fortunately, a copy was in. I decided to reread Goldman’s classic tale, but unfortunately it was not available. Oh, the waiting is inconceivably prolonged agony of anticipation.

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6 thoughts on “Reading Roundup: June

  1. I love when we agree on the ones we’ve both read (The Prayer Box) and you confirm my suspicions about the ones I was thinking of reading (Train, Olive). Now I’m off to order As You Wish along with a copy of Goldman’s original. That one is totally worth owning!! (And, yes, I did try to find the original history text he mentioned. Don’t laugh too hard.)

  2. Like you, reading is my greatest summer pleasure. And reading about what other’s have read. I like your diversity in books. I agree on almost all of your likes and dislikes. Willow, Wonder – five thumbs up. The Girl on the Train – ugh. Like you, I was “pressured” into reading it (by the five million who loved the book). What’s to love with no lovable character? in the ‘old guy/woman’ set, I enjoyed Ove and Major Pettigrew and Arthur Truluv and the others, which I read after “Olive.” I suppose Strout’s book is considered literary fiction, thus the main character has to be beyond wacky and the book must be edgy. Despite that, I did enjoy it, unlike other Strout books, which are too heavy for me.

    Looking forward to reading your other reviews in the future! I post mine once a year – here’s my 2017 one: https://roughwighting.net/2017/12/29/a-bookish-answer-to-life/

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