Summer Book Challenge: May Books

I have always loved books – as far back as I can remember and then some (or so I’ve been told). I spent countless hours in my local library or perusing my grandmother’s bookshelves (often reading books well above my content-appropriate age level…oops). So when I got to college, an English Lit degree seemed only natural. Then I decided to go to law school, which was a decision that has approved to be a blessing and a curse on many, many levels. I learned to read, digest, and outline hundreds of pages a day. Now I’m not bragging about this – it serves me well in some situations but also makes buying books impractical. Nowadays, the better the book the faster it’s consumed, leaving me very grateful for digital libraries! (smile)

My biggest issue now is finding books that are quality, which is why I was so excited to find the 2014 Summer Reading Challenge hosted by Megan at Semi-Charmed Kind of Life. If you haven’t checked this out yet, there’s still plenty of time to join in!

I thought it would be fun to do a check-in post and to give a quick review of each book for anyone interested in recommendations.

The Fault In Our Stars John Greene

5 points: Freebie! Read any book that is at least 200 pages long. – The Firebird by Susanna Kearsly (566 pages, 3 stars).
This book is a follow up to The Winter Sea (which I really enjoyed). It’s a little fantasy, a little romance, and a lot historical so I felt like it all balanced out pretty well. It’s set between Scotland and Russia, which is an interesting combination. Overall, an easy and entertaining read.

10 points: Finish reading a book you couldn’t finish the first time around. – The Testament of Gideon Mack by James Robertson (400 pages, 3.5 stars).
I can’t really remember what originally inspired me to download this book, but I do remember finding it a bit slow to start. Perhaps that’s the reason I didn’t get very far into it the first time around. This time, however, the subject matter intersected nicely with some other research/reading I’ve been doing so I found it a bit easier to stick with it and finish. The plot involves a non-believing minister meeting the Devil. It’s an interesting read on modern religious ideas and by the end I found myself nodding along to some of the more ironic points. Definitely must be read with an open mind.

15 points:Read a historical fiction book that does not take place in Europe. – The Physick Book of Deliverance Dane by Katherine Howe (US history) (384 pages, 3 stars).
Also a book involving a little magic mixed with religion (I’m on a roll apparently), this book focuses on the history of the Salem witch trials. I found it to be well-written and insightful. It lost a star as the ending seemed a bit rushed and out of proportion to the rest of the book somehow.

20 points: Read a book that was/will be adapted to film in 2014. – The Fault in Our Stars by John Green (352 pages, 5 stars).
Okay yes, I totally jumped on board with this one. Usually I don’t have much luck reading books that everyone is talking about, but I literally read this entire book between the time I got home and (a reasonable) bed time. There are a lot of heavy themes in this book – being a teenager, young love, cancer, and dying to name a few – but the writing still manages to keep things light enough to propel you forward. It’s not a happy ending, but I still found myself smiling while sniffling there at the end. I’m not sure if I’ll see the movie or not, but I’ll definitely be re-reading the book!

25 points: Read a biography, autobiography or memoir. – In the Sanctuary of Outcasts by Neil White (memoir) (352 pages, 3 stars).
This is a memoir about a typical middle-class businessman that ends up in prison for a year. The twist? He was housed at Carville, a prison/hospital in Louisiana that housed individuals with leprosy. I appreciate the history I got from this book – I mean I certainly never realized this place existed and I’ve probably actually driven nearby a time or two. The book isn’t extraordinarily well written, but the sentiment and the history are there for redemption.


Recommendations always welcomed!!



9 thoughts on “Summer Book Challenge: May Books

  1. Pingback: Summer Book Challenge: July Books | PonderTheIrrelevant

  2. Pingback: Book Review | Trapped: My Life With Cerebral Palsy | PonderTheIrrelevant

  3. Wow, sounds like some great books and good for you for staying with the challenge. I am currently reading The Gate – written by the only Westerner (a Frenchman) known to have survived imprisonment by the Khmer Rouge. Heavy stuff so I need to choose something lighter after this!


    • Oh wow, that sounds like an interesting read! I have a friend I think would be very interested in checking it out so I’ll pass it along.
      I like to keep something light and easy around for books like that – kind of like watching a Disney movie after a horror film. Sometimes the brain just needs time to process.


  4. Wow! Excellent list! Fantasy is not for me.

    Normally,I only read at night, before falling asleep, but recently I read one that I kept reading as soon as I had time: The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry, by Rachel Joyce. That was so good, so I’ve picked up another one by the same author. «Perfect» is the title, and it doesn’t disappoint! Glad I found her..


    • Ooh thanks for the recommendation! I looked it up on Goodreads and immediately put it on the To Read list – it sounds like an endearing story without all the supernatural twists 🙂
      My reading habits are all over the place, but I think I picked up fantasy from my brother (little sister trying to fit in deal I guess). It’s definitely a hit or miss genre, but it’s good to mix it up once in a while 🙂


  5. Ah I totally should have done this challenge! Sounds like lots of fun!
    I had the same thought about the Fault in our Stars, I thought there was too much of a fandom around it and I didn’t much of it, but I picked it up and I LOVED it! I definitely cried and laughed! It was very well written!


    • It’s not too late! It goes through the end of August 🙂 Of course now I feel like my “to read” list is just getting out of hand, but there are worse problems 🙂
      I was very pleasantly surprised by John Green’s writing – so much so that now I would like to check out some of his other books. Not sure how they’ll compare but I’m willing to give it a go!


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