Reading

June Reading Roundup

My June reads included non-fiction, historical fiction, fantasy, and a mystery. I didn’t love everything I read and I’m already changing up genres for July’s books. I hope this helps you pick up something new or save you time on books that aren’t right for you.

To Stop a Warlord: My Story of Justice, Grace, and the Fight for Peace

Author: Shannon Sedgwick Davis

Published: April 2nd 2019 by Spiegel & Grau

Pages: 352

Rating: 5 Stars

Plot: A woman from Texas, Shannon Sedgwick Davis, meets with Ugandan generals and leads a collaboration of armies, human rights organizations, and politicians to stop atrocities in Uganda caused by militant force called the LRA. Readers are also introduced to David Ocitti’s experience with the LRA from an entirely different perspective. 

This is not usually the kind of book I want to pick up for a weekend read, but once I started I couldn’t stop reading. 

I wasn’t sure if I could handle the violence and hard truths of the story. The author does a good job of presenting the facts and painting a true picture of the situation without using them as a literary device to manipulate emotions. If the hard truths had been glossed over, then I wouldn’t have understood the high stakes of their operations to stop the LRA. 

I appreciated how the memoir explained the mechanics of how the author and others came to be in Uganda. I also liked how the book clearly explains all the technical details of the mission. Reading the book made me feel like I was behind the scenes in a movie.

The Gown: A Novel of the Royal Wedding 

Author: Jennifer Robson 

Published: December 31st 2018 by William Morrow Paperbacks

Pages: 371 pages

Rating: 3 stars

Plot: In London 1947, two women, Ann Hughes and Miriam Dassin, help embroider Queen Elizabeth’s wedding gown and struggle with ordinary life. A present day storyline follows Heather as she answers questions of her past.

This book didn’t live up to the hype for me. I enjoy more history in my historical fiction than soapy characters. 

I’m reading along thinking I could recommend this to others then all of a sudden the tone of the book swerves out of its lane. Then the book tries to swerve back, but it over corrects and the tone changes into a sweetly sticky mess. 

I didn’t know that this was another WWII historical fiction. I was hoping it would be more about serving the royal family. Instead, it was more about how difficult it was for women in the 1940s.

I see why so many people enjoy this book, but it didn’t work me. Go read Radio Girls if you want a more interesting picture of women in historical London.

The Golem and the Jinni 

Author: Helen Wecker 

Published: April 23rd 2013 by Harper 

Pages: 486 pages

Rating: 4 stars

Plot: In The Golem and the Jinni, a chance meeting between mythical beings takes readers on a dazzling journey through cultures in turn-of-the-century New York.

Chava, a female golem made of clay, and Ahmed, a jinni made of fire in human form, eventually befriend each other in 1890s New York City. Chava lives in a Jewish neighborhood and Ahmed lives in little Syria. I loved getting to know these neighborhoods and the lives of immigrants in the tenements.

I enjoyed the story, but I didn’t love reading the book. At 25% I almost DNF’d it, but so many Goodreads friends rated it highly so I decided to push through. The high ratings gave me hope that the story would end well. Thankfully, the story does end well. I love it when an author ties all the strands together. All the slogging at the beginning makes sense by the end of the book. 

The historical fiction in this fantasy novel paints an intriguing  canvas of characters and places as a backdrop behind Chava and Ahmed. The book would not be as interesting without New York City. 

This book is definitely for those who want a magical book to sweep you back in time.

The Cruelest Month: (Chief Inspector Armand Gamache #3)

Author: Louise Penny

Published: March 1st 2008 by Headline (first published 2007)

Pages: 310 pages

Rating: 3 stars

Plot: When some villagers decide to celebrate Easter with a séance at the Old Hadley House, they are hoping to rid the town of its evil—until one of their party dies of fright. Was this a natural death, or was the victim somehow helped along? Brilliant, compassionate Chief Inspector Armand Gamache of the Sûreté du Québec is called to investigate and face ghosts from his own past.

There are 15 books in the Inspector Gamache series and a terrible TV Movie. The Cruelest Month is the third book in this beloved series. It had been a long time since I had read the second book and I couldn’t remember all the characters of the village. 

The murder mystery part wasn’t very interesting. Part of the fun of a mystery is getting a fun twist at the end of the book, but I had guessed the murderer correctly. 

What saves the book is the mystery of Inspector Gamache’s past and how he deals with his co-workers. I’ve heard the series gets really good at book five, so I might continue the series just to see what happens with Inspector Gamache. 

Have you read any of these? Am I going to dodge tomatoes because I gave an Inspector Gamache book only 3 stars? Do any sound interesting to you?

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