Books in Review Q2 2019

Over this quarter, I went on a nice nearly 3-week long trip to Brazil where I traveled all over on like…11 flights or something crazy like that. So I had a lot of time in airports and a lot of time to read.

Thus, this quarter’s reads:

  • The Witch’s Vacuum Cleaner and Other Stories
  • The Restaurant at the End of the Universe
  • The Hate U Give
  • The Peacegiver
  • Just Mercy: A Story of Justice and Redemption
  • Hattie Ever After
  • The Deal of a Lifetime
  • The Glass Sentence
  • The Golden Specific
  • The Crimson Skew
  • The Prosperity Paradox
  • Where the Crawdads Sing
  • Love Your Enemies: How Decent People Can Save America from the Culture of Contempt
  • The Foundation
  • Foundation & Empire
  • Norse Mythology
  • The Destiny of the Republic: A Tale of Madness, Medicine, and the Murder of a President

And now for the reviews, which are not in the same order as that list. 🙂

Educational

The Prosperity Paradox

By: Clayton Christensen

This book is a must-read. Clayton Christensen tackles the issues of how to help change our approach to solving global prosperity by creating spaces for innovation and job creation.

Love Your Enemies: How Decent People Can Save America from the Culture of Contempt

By: Arthur Brooks

I enjoy Brooks’ thought leadership and was excited to read this work. The ideology here is in learning to love and respect others’ points of view without immediately classifying other groups as bad, evil, immoral, worthless, or undeserving of life because their morals, value systems, or politics differ. It explores how much depth goes into people’s choices. It’s about healing America from a divisive culture. I had much to learn and enjoyed being taught.

Non-Fiction

Just Mercy: A Story of Justice and Redemption

By: Bryan Stevenson

Another must-read. Bryan Stevenson is a lawyer who started the Equal Justice Initiative to fix an often broken justice system. This work centers on his efforts to help those unjustly on death row in Alabama, but because of his notoriety and brilliance, he has often been called on to take many other cases. This was moving and sometimes infuriating, but ultimately redemptive. I am in awe of his amazing work.

The Destiny of the Republic: A Tale of Madness, Medicine, and the Murder of a President

By: Candice Millard

This biography is amazing and was a page-turner! Millard weaves this tale wonderfully. James A. Garfield was president of the United States for only six and a half months, cut short by a madman’s assassination attempt and malpractice in the days that followed. The book weaves in the development of a device by Alexander Graham Bell that could have saved the president’s life. I knew nothing of President Garfield before this book and now am in awe at what an inspiring figure he was. He did not aspire to the presidency but the nomination fell in his favor, even against his wishes. He was humble and full of faith, a family man, and a man with great values. He was a prolific writer and each chapter shares some of his quotes, which are inspiring. A definite recommended read.

Fantasy Fiction

The Glass Sentence and The Golden Specific and The Crimson Skew

By: S. E. Grove

Audiobooks (only exist for 1 and 2 at the moment): much better than reading and have amazing accents.

This series is also known as the Mapmakers trilogy. It is about a young girl who lives with her uncle in the late 1800s. Somewhere in time, a crack in time caused the world to split into different eras. Some went backwards in time and some went forward. The world is split into different geographies, cultural eras, political systems, and everything in between. Sophie’s parents are explorers to discover all these eras and suddenly went missing. Her goal is to find them. I really enjoyed the first book as it felt very creative. The second should have resolved the quest, so the third felt like it dragged a bit and went on WAY too many tangents. But I still enjoyed it and had to finish it because…I had to.

The Witch’s Vacuum Cleaner and other Stories

By: Terry Pratchett

Audiobook: Good

In this book, Pratchett creates a bunch of short story narratives that are wild and weird and funny and strange…and weird. I have wanted to get into Pratchett as so many have recommended his works, but I didn’t know where to start. This one was available at the library, so that worked for me. A fun little diddy. The thing I liked most? If you get really famous as a novel/long-form book author, you can publish a book of your short stories and people will actually read and pay money for short stories. Fantastic.

Norse Mythology

By: Neil Gaiman

Audiobook: Great

I really just like listening to Neil Gaiman read his own books as he’s a delightful narrator especially at my preferred audiobook speed of 1.5. This is a series of Norse mythology tales spun with the weird of Gaiman. I actually didn’t love it, but it was interesting to listen to.

Fiction

The Deal of a Lifetime

By: Fredrik Bakman

This is a very short little diddy about a father who must examine his life to determine what he has been worth through all his experiences. It is swift and poignant. Left me thinking.

The Hate U Give

By: Angie Thomas

This book was thought-provoking and also difficult to read at times. While a novel, it definitely mirrors real-life experiences. The story is about Starr Carter, a 16-year-old black girl who flips between her life in her poor neighborhood and her mostly-white upper class high school. She witnesses the fatal shooting of her best friend from her childhood by a police officer. And she has to decide how to make her voice heard about what happened. I recommend the read, but note that there’s a lot of language in this one.

Hattie Ever After

By: Kirby Larson

This book continues the tale spun in Hattie Big Sky, about a young woman who seeks to fill her uncle’s claim on land in Montana. To not give away the first book if you haven’t read it, I’ll just say it’s a delightful read, although I think the end wrapped up WAY too fast. I would have been willing to read 40-50 more pages for a more fleshed out ending!

Where the Crawdads Sing

By: Delia Owens

The story is two stories woven into one. A young girl is left to raise herself alone in the marshes of North Carolina. Her life, her experiences all pass by throughout the book as another story unfolds of a murder in her town. The creativity in how the stories weave together is intriguing. This book does get a PG-13 rating though because of all the things PG-13s get their ratings for…as someone said it’s a little “steamy” which I didn’t know before reading it. So buyer beware.

Sci-Fi

The Restaurant at the End of the Universe

By: Douglas Adams

Audiobook: I think I listened to this instead of reading it but can’t remember. Probably good.

Well, I read The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy last time and I couldn’t very well end there! I had to carry on with the rest of the story. Douglas Adams, again, is just delightfully weird and everything makes no sense and all the sense in the continued adventure of Arthur Dent, Ford Prefect, Mavin the Paranoid Android, Trillian, and Zaphod Beeblebrox.

The Foundation and The Foundation and Empire

By: Isaac Asimov

Audiobooks: Good

I figured it was finally time to work my way through the Foundation trilogy. This is a series of intergalactic relations and the work of a psychohistorian, Hari Seldon, who is able to predict the major crises in future history and create a plan to get through them by preserving the scientific understandings of the Foundation. The books are not linear as they jump through large gaps of time and introduce new characters at various points in the era of the plan. But fascinating work.

Spiritual

The Peacegiver

By: James L. Ferrell

This book was recommended to me. The style is one I’ve read before–learning principles through the use of a story. The concept is how to gain peace and rebuild relationships through changing ourselves instead of expecting change in others. I could use some more peace, couldn’t you? The principles are sound; the story is a little too much at times, but then again, it’s probably fairly realistic about how immature we are in our interactions and therefore that bothers us to see it.

All in all, another good set of books this round.

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