book reviews · Reading

June/July 2022: Recent Reads

Photo credit: EP

Teachers went back to work this week in my county, and the usual question was asked. “How was your summer?”

First of all, summer break is over for me! Just…how?

Second, you know how you have to find a pat answer when you get asked a question multiple times? I decided on “Full” or “It wasn’t as restful as I was hoping it would be.”

But I’ve been sitting in my comfy chair this morning, thinking and praying and reading, and I decided my answer more accurately is: It’s been a roller coaster. I’ve been considering some pretty significant life decisions, I traveled to a couple of different states, I’ve been quite homesick and tired of all the “new” that comes with living in a new place, and I also ran a one-week summer camp at school. Somewhere in there, I found a few pockets of rest.

I really don’t feel like I’ve read that much this summer, but, as usual, when I looked over my read list, I’ve read a few more than it feels like. I suppose that’s a good thing. I’m still adjusting to having enough things to do that I can’t spend all my free time reading. I don’t miss quarantine/lockdown at all, except for that.

Note: This post may contain affiliate links, which means I’ll receive a commission if you purchase through my links, at no extra cost to you. Please read full disclosure for more information.


Oops! Nothing in this category this month. I started Brené Brown’s The Gifts of Imperfection in June, and it was so good that I devoured half of it in two sittings. And then I was reminded I’d get more out of it if I slowed down, so, naturally, I haven’t read any more of it for the last month and a half {insert eye-roll or face-palm emoji here}. I’ll finish it someday, I hope.


The Fountains of Silence by Ruta Sepetys

I reviewed another of Ruta Sepetys’s historical fiction books last time. Both of them I read based on a student’s recommendation. I enjoyed this one because it’s about a seldom-discussed period of Spain’s history, post WWII, and I love historical fiction for the very fact that it makes time periods come alive in a way textbooks can’t.

A young man goes with his oil company parents to Spain and is trying to get into photojournalism, but his knack for getting the best photos gets him into trouble with Franco’s men. He falls in love with one of the hotel’s workers, who is hiding secrets of her own. And he starts to uncover one of the most horrifying secrets: What Franco is secretly doing to his population to quash anti-fascist ideologies.

The ending felt a little too fairy-tale happy to me, but the heartbreak, intrigue, and suspense kept me reading. I recommend it.

The Letter Keeper by Charles Martin

This book is good, and I gobbled it up just because it’s a page-turner. I have found that, though I love many of his previous books, Charles Martin is changing his writing style a bit in a way I don’t like. First, his protagonists, rather than being truly flawed, are becoming more superman than human. Second, he’s re-using some of his favorite names and puns in his books and even, at times, referring to others of his books within this book. It feels too much like self-promotion, though I don’t think that’s actually what he’s trying to do.

I prefer his stand-alone books to this series so far, but the fact that he’s spending so much time digging into the realities of human trafficking and the enormous effort and courage it takes for rescued ones to be emotionally and spiritually free (not just physically free) is worthwhile and necessary. I’ll be reading book 3 (released in June) as soon as my hold comes in, because I want to see how good finally triumphs over evil.

How the Light Gets In by Jolina Petersheim

Books dealing with grief have been a pull for me at varying times since my grandma died in May 2018. Not just because of that grief, but I think that experience of loss left my heart raw in a way it hadn’t previously been in my life. And I’ve since experienced that the hole left by someone never truly gets filled in…it just gets to a more manageable size. This book deals with multiple layers and facets of grief.

Ruth goes to her in-laws family, who are Mennonites, when her father-in-law and husband die tragically overseas. She has nothing and doesn’t know how she will make ends meet for her and her daughters after the funeral is over. He husband’s cousin, a lifelong bachelor, takes in her and her daughters, and they fall for each other. But then, in a twist, she finds out her husband somehow made it out of the bombing alive. She then has to decide which man she’ll stay with – the father of her girls or the one with whom she actually feels appreciated and loved.

If you’re looking for a love story that deals with real-life emotions like grief, feeling out of place and lost, and dealing with a failed relationship in the context of hope, this is a good book for you. I found the ending a little mind-bendy, but I won’t spoil it for you beyond that 🙂 This book is chaste and free of cussing, which is always a treat to find.

The Other Side of Perfect by Mariko Turk

I wrote on my Goodreads review that this was the right book at the right time for me. It’s totally a YA book, but so many of the emotions Alina was processing were ones with which I could relate. She just has more of a free pass to be a hot mess since she’s an adolescent, which I’m starting to think is a little unfair to the rest of us. She had to find a new dream and grieve the loss of her old one. She had to learn to make new friends, and discovered through joining the musical at her school, that she could still use her love of the arts – just in a different way.

I appreciated the cultural and racial sensitivity, and I identified with the description of what it’s like to move cultures. I also loved the hopeful messages in the book like, “things don’t have to stay the same way even when they’re broken,” and “I don’t have to stay quiet like I’ve been told, I need to speak up.”

Things to be aware of:
– cuss words. Not so much I stopped reading (though the f bomb on the second page almost made me put it down). More like the normal amount you’d hear every day in a high school, depending on who your friends are.
– a gay sidekick who kisses his crush by the end and everyone cheers. Nothing too detailed, but it’s there.

Prelude to Foundation by Isaac Asimov

I was looking for a good audiobook and this one was on a recommendation list. Plus I’d heard of the author. I decided to give it a try, and since there wasn’t too much cussing, sex, or any other turn-off, I kept listening.

Hari Seldon is a mathematician who, while at a math conference, shares a theory of his which has “no practical application,” but all of a sudden he’s a hot commodity to the important people in the Galactic Empire (such as the Emperor, his right-hand man, and a potential usurper of the throne). Rather than returning home as he had planned, he is now a fugitive, with some unlikely people helping him, including one whose reach is strangely far for a journalist. Yet they all expect him to do the impossible: make his theory a practical reality.

The premise is fascinating and the world-building was effective. I appreciated the bits of making it feel more real, like the quotes from “Encyclopedia Galactica” at the beginning of each chapter. However, it didn’t quite catch my attention enough for me to be invested in the whole series. Maybe if I’d read the first book in publication order rather than chronological…oh well!

Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince (#5) by J.K. Rowling

Yes, I’m still making my way through HP. I find it ironic: a few years ago, I was trying to convince a couple of my fifth graders to try reading something besides Harry Potter – at least between books. And yet, here I am: as soon as the next book comes in from the library, I drop whatever else I’m reading.

I do agree with the rest of the people I’ve talked to that the later books turn darker, more violent, and more scary. I think the only thing that’s keeping me going is that since the first chapter of the first book was called “The Boy Who Lived” Rowling surely won’t kill off Harry. And hopefully not Ron or Hermione. {Please, no spoilers for me. I’m partway through the last book.) And I’m just not letting myself imagine too much in detail the fight scenes. And again, I really want to see good triumph over evil.


The Secret Keeper by Kate Morton

I’ve heard such good things about this book. People have said on IG that it’s their latest five-star read. Unfortunately, I just didn’t enjoy the tone of the book, the coarseness of some of the main characters, and their rebellious spirits. It just gave me an ick feeling. So, since I was reading other books I liked better, I dropped it.

What have you been reading this summer?

2 thoughts on “June/July 2022: Recent Reads

  1. Great reviews 🙂 I’m making my way through “Away with the Penguins” by Hazel Prior. It’s really good, often Laugh Out Loud funny, but I just don’t have the time to read it enough.


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