What I read in June

I can’t believe it is already July! The year is half over! How are you doing on your Goodreads challenge? I am 44 books in and I think my goal was…65? I can’t remember exactly what I set it at. I think I am 11 ahead for this point in the year, which is great, because who knows what will happen the rest of the year! So, this is what I read in June, let me know what you have read and loved lately!!

I’m Just Happy to Be Here by Janelle Hanchett – From the creator of the blog “Renegade Mothering,” Janelle Hanchett’s forthright, wickedly funny, and ultimately empowering memoir chronicling her tumultuous journey from young motherhood to abysmal addiction and a recovery she never imagined possible.

At 21, Janelle Hanchett embraced motherhood with the reckless self-confidence of those who have no idea what they’re getting into. Having known her child’s father for only three months, she found herself rather suddenly getting to know a newborn, husband, and wholly transformed identity. She was in love, but she was bored, directionless, and seeking too much relief in too much wine.

Over time, as she searched for home in suburbia and settled life, a precarious drinking habit turned into treacherous dependence, until life became car seats and splitting hangovers, cubicles and multi-day drug binges–and finally, an inconceivable separation from her children. For ten years, Hanchett grappled with the relentless progression of addiction, bouncing from rehabs to therapists to the occasional hippie cleansing ritual on her quest for sobriety, before finding it in a way she never expected.

This is a story we rarely hear–of the addict mother not redeemed by her children; who longs for normalcy but cannot maintain it; and who, having traveled to the bottom of addiction, all the way to “society’s hated mother,” makes it back, only to discover she will always remain an outsider.

Like her irreverent, hilarious, and unflinchingly honest blog, “Renegade Mothering,” Hanchett’s memoir speaks with warmth and wit to those who feel like outsiders in parenthood and life–calling out the rhetoric surrounding “the sanctity of motherhood” as tired and empty, boldly recounting instead how one grows to accept an imperfect self within an imperfect life–thinking, with great and final relief, “Well, I’ll be damned, I’m just happy to be here.”

What I thought: I really enjoyed the beginning of this book. As it went on I think I got more and more frustrated. I don’t know what I was expecting but it just kind of got repetitive. I still enjoyed it, just not as much as I had hoped though.

The Man Without a Country by Edward E. Hale – “The Man without a Country” is a short story by American writer, Edward Everett Hale, first published during the height of the Civil War during 1863 by the leading American literary magazine of the nineteenth century, The Atlantic. It is the story of an American Army Lieutenant Philip Nolan, who gets entangled with Aaron Burr in 1807, and renounces his country during his trial for treason, saying he never wanted to hear about the United States again. The Judge asks him to recant but Nolan doesn’t. So the Judge granted his request and the rest of his life Nolan spent on Navy ships around the world. The officers and crew were not allowed to mention the United States. This story came out during the height of the Civil War and served to help the Union recruit soldiers and people to their cause. It is noteworthy that Edward Everett Hale’s Uncle, Edward Everett, than man he was named after, gave the two hour featured address at Gettysburg just before Lincoln’s speech of 209 words and two minutes, that became the best acknowledged speech in American life. Everett, like Hale, was a total patriot and honest man, and immediately congratulated Lincoln on his fine accomplishment, “You have done far better in your two minutes than I did in my 2 hours.” “The Man without a Country” is still considered a major American work and read widely in American schools.. A quiet calm read letting the story speak for itself.

What I thought: I really enjoyed reading this. I just can’t imagine this actually happening, but it was an interesting read!

Co. Aytch by Sam R. Watkins – A classic Civil War memoir, Co. Aytch is the work of a natural storyteller who balances the horror of war with an irrepressible sense of humor and a sharp eye for the lighter side of battle. It is a testament to one man’s enduring humanity, courage, and wisdom in the midst of death and destruction.

Early in May 1861, twenty-one-year-old Sam R. Watkins of Columbia, Tennessee, joined the First Tennessee Regiment, Company H, to fight for the Confederacy. Of the 120 original recruits in his company, Watkins was one of only seven to survive every one of its battles, from Shiloh to Nashville.

Twenty years later, with a “house full of young ‘rebels’ clustering around my knees and bumping about my elbows,” he wrote this remarkable account—a memoir of a humble soldier fighting in the American Civil War, replete with tales of the common foot soldiers, commanders, Yankee enemies, victories, defeats, and the South’s ultimate surrender on April 26, 1865.

What I thought: This was pretty interesting! Just the fact that he survived everything that he went through. We have been reading a lot of books involving the Civil War and it is just fascinating..

Much Ado About Nothing by Shakespeare – Set in a courtly world of masked revels and dances, this play turns on the archetypal story if a lady falsely accused of unfaithfulness, spurned by her bridegroom, and finally vindicated and reunited with him. Villainy, schemes, and deceit threatens to darken the brilliant humor and sparkling wordplay—but the hilarious counterplot of a warring couple, Beatrice and Benedick, in Shakespeare’s superb comedy of manners.

What I thought: Well, I think I would much prefer it in an actual play. Reading it lost a lot of the oomph I think, at least for me. It didn’t help that I was reading it out loud to the kids. That was really confusing, lol.

Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng –

Everyone in Shaker Heights was talking about it that summer: how Isabelle, the last of the Richardson children, had finally gone around the bend and burned the house down.

In Shaker Heights, a placid, progressive suburb of Cleveland, everything is meticulously planned – from the layout of the winding roads, to the colours of the houses, to the successful lives its residents will go on to lead. And no one embodies this spirit more than Elena Richardson, whose guiding principle is playing by the rules.

Enter Mia Warren – an enigmatic artist and single mother – who arrives in this idyllic bubble with her teenage daughter Pearl, and rents a house from the Richardsons. Soon Mia and Pearl become more than just tenants: all four Richardson children are drawn to the alluring mother-daughter pair. But Mia carries with her a mysterious past, and a disregard for the rules that threatens to upend this carefully ordered community.

When the Richardsons’ friends attempt to adopt a Chinese-American baby, a custody battle erupts that dramatically divides the town and puts Mia and Mrs. Richardson on opposing sides. Suspicious of Mia and her motives, Mrs. Richardson becomes determined to uncover the secrets in Mia’s past. But her obsession will come at unexpected and devastating costs to her own family – and Mia’s.

Little Fires Everywhere explores the weight of long-held secrets and the ferocious pull of motherhood-and the danger of believing that planning and following the rules can avert disaster, or heartbreak.

What I thought: Wow, I am usually not a fan of so many characters and each of their stories, but this just really worked for me. I was intrigued almost from the beginning and I just wanted to keep on reading. I still want to know what happened in their future…

The Window by Amelia Brunskill – Anna is everything her identical twin is not. Outgoing and athletic, she is the opposite of quiet introvert Jess. The same on the outside, yet so completely different inside–it’s hard to believe the girls are sisters, let alone twins. But they are. And they tell each other everything.

Or so Jess thought.

After Anna falls to her death while sneaking out her bedroom window, Jess’s life begins to unravel. Everyone says it was an accident, but to Jess, that doesn’t add up. Where was Anna going? Who was she meeting? And how long had Anna been lying to her?

Jess is compelled to learn everything she can about the sister she thought she knew. At first it’s a way to stay busy and find closure . . . but Jess soon discovers that her twin kept a lot of secrets. And as she digs deeper, she learns that the answers she’s looking for may be truths that no one wants her to uncover.

Because Anna wasn’t the only one with secrets.

What I thought: I thought this was well done. It may have a few cheesy parts, but really, I wanted to keep reading so that is a sign of a good book for me! 🙂

People Like Us by Dana Mele – Kay Donovan may have skeletons in her closet, but the past is past, and she’s reinvented herself entirely. Now she’s a star soccer player whose group of gorgeous friends run their private school with effortless popularity and acerbic wit. But when a girl’s body is found in the lake, Kay’s carefully constructed life begins to topple.

The dead girl has left Kay a computer-coded scavenger hunt, which, as it unravels, begins to implicate suspect after suspect, until Kay herself is in the crosshairs of a murder investigation. But if Kay’s finally backed into a corner, she’ll do what it takes to survive. Because at Bates Academy, the truth is something you make…not something that happened.

What I thought: Well, it was kind of silly, but I was intrigued and wanted to finish the book. Some of the parts were so unbelievable that I was getting frustrated, but I loved it.. So odd, lol.

I Have Lost My Way by Gayle Forman – Around the time that Freya loses her voice while recording her debut album, Harun is making plans to run away from everyone he has ever loved, and Nathaniel is arriving in New York City with a backpack, a desperate plan, and nothing left to lose. When a fateful accident draws these three strangers together, their secrets start to unravel as they begin to understand that the way out of their own loss might just lie in help­ing the others out of theirs.

An emotionally cathartic story of losing love, finding love, and discovering the person you are meant to be, I Have Lost My Way is best­selling author Gayle Forman at her finest.

What I thought: This was similar to…oh, that one book with the string design on the front, told in just one day… Gah, I can’t remember.. But yeah. It just has two boys and one girl, but there is still love and drama and…you know the story. But I loved how it was told!

So, that is what I read in June! Let me know if you have any favorite books lately!!

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