Book Chat

June 2017 Reading Log

It feels like summer is in full swing already! June was full of stormy weather, ice cream, splashing in the neighborhood pool, meat on the grill, and luckily for me… reading! To me, summer reading means fast-paced novels, maybe leaning more toward contemporary and/or romance than usual, re-reading old favorites, and inhaling a whole series just for fun. This month was also full of children’s lit thanks to some fun gifts for Amelia. (Just a reminder on Amelia’s books: I don’t record all the books we read, but I like to keep track of gifts, special titles, and books from Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library).

June 2017 Thoughts


Winter (Lunar Chronicles #4), by Marissa Meyer

Start date: 3/29/2016
Finish date: 6/12/2017
Source: Library
Genre: Young Adult
Format: eBook
3 stars

Finally finished the final book in the Lunar Chronicles! I can’t even remember why I stopped reading the fourth book but I picked it back up right where I left off over a year ago. Each book in the series was a fun futuristic twist on traditional fairy tales, but by the final book the plot was a bit too twisty with so many characters to follow. Somehow the stakes never felt very high, and I knew all the main characters would survive, so I felt like I was rushing past a lot of the action to get to the end. Some YA books are geared toward actual young adults and I’d put this series in that category. But it was all good fun and I grew quite fond of all the characters, so I didn’t mind the tidy ending. I might read the short story collection eventually, but I’ll probably skip the graphic novel spinoffs following Iko the android. The completest in me is just happy to finally finish the series!

So You’ve Been Publicly Shamed, by Jon Ronson

Start date: 4/26/2017
Finish date: 6/3/2017
Source: What Should I Read Next? podcast
Genre: Non-fiction
Format: Audiobook
2 stars

A deep dive into public humiliation on the internet is interesting stuff, but super depressing; add the dry delivery of the author narration, and this book just didn’t do it for me. We’ve all taken part in the spreading of viral internet “crimes,” but after sharing in the outrage by re-tweeting or re-posting, I’d guess most of us don’t give a second thought to what happens to the person who committed the crime. But Ronson goes there, examining justice gone wrong and the lasting consequences on both the shamed and the shamers. (He also goes off on several tangents about the history of public humiliation and shame itself, but I found those sections much less interesting than the real-world cases.) There was some redemption for one of the victims, but there wasn’t much hope for the rest of the internet.

When it comes to audiobook narrators, sometimes it’s a slam-dunk when the author narrates (like Lauren Graham in Talking as Fast As I Can) but sometimes it changes the tone (like Amy Schumer in The Girl with the Lower Back Tattoo) and in this case I think a different narrator could bring the same weight to the seriousness but perhaps land the jokes better.

The Gatekeepers: How the White House Chiefs of Staff Define Every Presidency, by Chris Whipple

Start date: 6/1/2017
Finish date: 6/19/2017
Source: Blogging for Books
Genre: Non-fiction
Format: Hardcover
4 stars

Chris Whipple is the engaging, fair-minded professor I’ve always wanted to give me a crash course in modern politics. From Nixon to Obama, he examines the men (and almost one woman) who are right beside the president doing the daily grunt work that shapes a presidency. I knew there were gaps in my knowledge of the events that occurred during the last few presidencies, since most of what I know about Nixon or Reagan has been gleaned from pop culture references and I was too young to absorb much from the Clinton or Bush years, so this timeline was a great refresher on the big picture as well as the behind-the-scenes details that aren’t common knowledge. Whipple focuses on the relationships behind the scenes, rather than his opinions on the policy, and it came across as very fair and balanced. Sometimes I wish I could skip ahead to the history books that will be written about our current political era, rather than having to live through it, but this book gives a helpful reminder that time marches on no matter who is in charge at the moment.

Full review here!

You DON’T Want a Unicorn, written by Ame Dyckman and illustrated by Liz Climo

Start date: 6/4/2017
Finish date: 6/4/2017
Source: Gift
Genre: Children’s Lit
Format: Hardcover
4 stars

Be careful what you wish for… a pet unicorn sounds like a good idea, but this super silly picture book will show you otherwise. It’s absolutely made to be read aloud with sound effects sure to bring the giggles. (And if you get the hardcover, be sure to look under the book jacket for a peek at the unicorn names!) Such a fun surprise to get this in the mail from a sweet friend!

The Nightingale, by Kristin Hannah

Start date: 6/5/2017
Finish date: 6/14/2017
Source: Friends (multiple!)
Genre: Historical Fiction
Format: Audiobook
4 stars

Whew, what a gut-wrenching WWII novel! I’ve been meaning to read this one for a few years since hearing so many good reviews, and the gorgeous artwork made it an easy pick for the “Book you Chose for the Cover” category of Modern Mrs. Darcy’s 2017 Reading Challenge. Instead of focusing on the battlefield, this novel focuses on the struggle of life on the home front in France. Although they’re sisters, Viane and Isabelle’s personalities and reactions to the war are polar opposites, but the sacrifices they both have to endure are horrifying. The gradual worsening of conditions while the Germans occupied France was depicted really well, and Kristin Hannah knows exactly how to pull all the emotional punches. The POV chapters alternate between an elderly woman in the present and the stories of both sisters in the past, so you don’t find out how the sisters fared until the very end. It’s not a perfect book by any means: some of the scenes and plot points felt contrived, and the ending was a little too tidy, but there was a lot of character growth and plenty of heart.

I think this passage from the end sums it up well, when the elderly woman’s son questions why she never told him about her experience during the war:

“’Men tell stories,’ I say. It is the surest, simplest answer to his question. ‘Women get on with it. For us it was a shadow war. There were no parades for us when it was over, no medals or mentions in history books. We did what we had to during the war, and when it was over, we picked up the pieces and started our lives over.’”

When Dimple Met Rishi, by Sandhya Menon

Start date: 6/14/2017
Finish date: 6/26/2017
Source: What Should I Read Next? podcast
Genre: Young Adult
3 stars

Very cute YA rom com that’s getting a lot of buzz. Dimple and Rishi both have traditional Indian parents who want an arranged marriage for them; Rishi is on board with a life planned out for him, but Dimple is decidedly not and wants the chance to pursue her own dreams. When they both end up at a techy summer camp, you can probably guess what happens next. Despite some clunky plot points and predictable outcome, this was a lot of fun. I warmed up to the characters immediately, and the author brought up some nuanced insights about women in tech and Indian culture. It was also fun that the summer camp takes place in San Francisco, so I got to revisit some old companions like Karl the Fog.

Little Bitty Friends, written by Elizabeth McPike and illustrated by Patrice Barton

Start date: 6/15/2017
Finish date: 6/15/2017
Source: Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library
Genre: Children’s Lit
Format: Board book
3 stars

What a sweet celebration of all things little, with lovely watercolor illustrations and lyrical rhymes. Children’s books that aren’t trying to impart a lesson or teach a concept are my favorites.

 Your Baby’s First Word Will Be Dada, by Jimmy Fallon and illustrated by Miguel Ordonez

Start date: 6/18/2017
Finish date: 6/18/2017
Source: Father’s Day
Genre: Children’s Lit
Format: Board book
3 stars

I have to admit, I bought this without reading it first because the title was perfect for Sam’s first Father’s Day. Jimmy Fallon hit on a universal joke: all Dads want their baby’s first word to be “Dada” – even all the farm animal dads! As hard as Dad might try, babies have other ideas about their first word; that’s the joke, repeated with every animal on the farm. Before I had a baby, I would have thought a book like this was too simplistic; but now that I know how much Amelia loves silly voices and animal sounds, I can see how the repetitive back-and-forth joke is a winner.

Still Reading:

MWF Seeking BFF: My Yearlong Search for a New Best Friend, by Rachel Bertsche

Start date: 6/16/2017
Source: Modern Mrs. Darcy
Genre: Non-fiction
Format: eBook


Making friends as an adult is hard, so one woman’s quest to find a new BFF is sounds like great inspiration for my own search. I’m about halfway through and enjoying this relatable memoir, but she sure does have high standards for what qualifies as a “BFF.” Before the challenge even starts, the author not only lives right around the corner from her mom, she also went to college in this city, regularly goes out with her co-workers, and has enough connections to come up with fifty-two friend dates to fulfill her yearlong challenge. Hmm… maybe not so relatable after all.

The Hate U Give, by Angie Thomas

Start date: 6/27/2017
Source: Sommer W.
Genre: Young Adult
Format: Hardcover

Just started this riveting YA novel of one girl’s experience when her friend is shot by the police and becomes a national headline. With all the recent non-convictions in the news lately, this story is likely to remain all too relevant, unfortunately.

Who Thought This Was a Good Idea?: And Other Questions You Should Have Answers to When You Work in the White House, by Alyssa Mastromonaco

Start date: 6/28/2017
Source: Pod Save America podcast
Genre: Memoir
Format: Audiobook

I’ve heard this described as Mindy Kaling in the West Wing, and that sounds about right. Mastromonaco worked on Kerry’s presidential campaign and ended up as Deputy Chief of Staff in Obama’s White House, so she has a lot to say about being a woman under 40 in politics. I just started listening to this audiobook (thanks for using your Audible credits on me, Dad!) and it’s a fun listen so far.

Books read in June: 8
Books read in 2017: 39
Still reading: 3

So that’s what I’ve been reading during the month of June, the sixth month of 2017. I’m always looking for more book recommendations – are you reading any good books?

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3 thoughts on “June 2017 Reading Log

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