Friday, 30 July 2021

Mid-Year Book Review

I like to sit down to reflect on my goals and intentions a few times a year.  I check in with my goals and see how I am doing, see my goals for 2021 here and my reflection from May here.  One of my goals each year is to read a minimum of 12 books.  I know for many people that's nothing but for me it's a struggle to carve out time to read, which gives me so much joy.  So a few years ago I made a realistic goal for myself that would keep me reading and not allow my hectic life/schedule to get in the way.  So far, I am on track and for the first time I have a lot of books that I really enjoyed and gave 5 stars to!!!   Let's take a look at the books I've ready so far.

⭐⭐⭐  The Vanishing Half by Brit Bennett

I was honestly a little disappointed, I was so excited about this book. The book is just okay. I kept waiting for something more. A character that grows or leaves an impression on me, or leaves me deep in thought. But it just never gets there. It felt too surface without the characters really leaving an impact on the reader even though their lives are clearly complex and should make a greater impression on the reader. Anyway, it's fine. You wouldn't regret reading it but it's nota book that I am rushing to recommend to others either.

⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ The Book of Lost Names by Kristin Harmel

A lovely story following a young Jewish woman during WWII as she fights her way against the horror of that time period by forging documents to save Innocent lives. There is romance, but what I loved about the story is it shows that there are good/bad people of all religion, race, and origins. War and conflict can bring out the best in people or the worst. A beautifully written story set in a horrific time in history.  I've now recommended this book to several people and they all have loved it!

⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐  The Woman in Cabin 10 by Ruth Ware

I really enjoyed this book . It kept me wanting to turn the pages and I had no idea how it was going to twist and turn. It was a simple and easy read, yet very suspenseful. This isn't my usual genera and it was a nice change of writing style and also storytelling.

⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ Daughter of the Reich by Louise Fein

Really enjoyed reading a book from a completely different perspective than most of the wonderful novels I've read regarding WWII. Being a child who came from a war torn country, you know there are always good people in the midst of terrible crazy. What made this story even more sad and powerful is the fact that it sheds light onto how vulnerable and impressionable children are. How quickly they take on the perspective of their parents and how often those terrible truths can become their own truths as adults. An important story to read.

⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐  If I Knew Then by Jann Arden

An insightful and honest book. She is blunt in the most kind way. She weaves story and truth so poetically and I kept finding myself snapping pictures or quotes and passages. One of my favourite is “good things come from bad things.” I also love that she acknowledges her parents flees but also how they raised her with love (in the way that they knew) and resilience. I really enjoyed it much more than I anticipated truthfully.

⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐  Before We Were Yours by Lisa Wingate

A heart breaking story based on true events that happened between 1920 and 1950, of children being taken from families and then adopted. Although the story and characters were fictional they came off the pages and as a teacher I could very much see this story and the family come to life. Its a page turner, heart wrenching but also infused with hope.

I listened to the audio version of this book and loved it! It was like an hour long podcast, so I assume the book is a super quick read. I appreciated how much Abby encourages women to support and empower other women, and the need for us to really reflect on the structures that have us feel like we have to complete rather than support and empower. I think although yes we have been taught this by having to fight for a seat at various tables, I think we are choosing to keep that narrative alive and well by continuing to compete for those seats rather than work together to create more seats for one another by championing each other. Her reflection and reframing of the old rules to the new rules is really encouraging and inspiring.  I decided to purchase this book for my administrative partner as a year end gift and I was able to identify the leadership qualities that I think she is very good at, and I just might buy it for myself to flip through as a reminder here and there.  

Sometimes you read a book and know it’s going to stay with you for life. Each page is filled with grief, terror, a presence of truth that you wish you could pretend doesn’t exist. At the same time it portrays peoples resilience, their natural desire for survival and a reminder that if we are in a position to lend a helping hand it can truly make someone’s life lighter. Although, topics like this are heavy on my heart, they are also stories that I need to hear. That teach me to listen and to look outside of my pretty neat and nice little life.

Past Book Reviews:

Well, that's a wrap.  You'll find me reading either on my deck each morning or on a sandy beach soaking up the sunshine.  Have a beautiful weekend loves.  


  1. I'm impressed with how many books you've read this summer! This is motivating me to take a break more often and read! Thanks for sharing your reviews!

    Jill - Doused in Pink

    1. Oh thanks Jill. It's an activity that I truly enjoy but it often falls off when times get busy.

  2. I really want to get back into the habit of reading! I just finished a book that I found really interesting, but it's the first book I've read in ages. I love reading, I just get so distracted by it that I can't do anything else until I finish the book! Haha.


    1. That sounds like a good book! I hear you on just being too busy with day to day life. It happens to me as well so having a goal of one book a month keeps me accountable to make time for an activity that truly helps me relax. Thanks for stopping by.

  3. It's good you've done so much reading to meet your goals so far this year! I really enjoyed the Vanishing Half, it was my pick for our virtual bookclub in lockdown last year. I have the book of lost names on my hold list at the library but it's very popular so I have been waiting a long time. I hope I enjoy it although I expect it to be an uncomfortable read. most of the time I prefer lighter, violence free reads, so I will see how I go with it! So far I've read a lot more books this year than last year which I'm proud of - the lockdown last year and our virtual book club (which is now drinks with the ladies instead because things have reopened) really helped me get back to reading and it's great!

    Hope your week is off to a good start :)

    Away From The Blue

    1. Thank you for sharing. The lockdown was hard for everyone for sure and our book club did the virtual thing as well. We do alternating months, one month we have drinks and the next we talk about the book. Giving people two months to read the selected book. I live it because then I can read other stuff too.

  4. Book reviews are always among my favorite posts. Glad to be introduced to some books in your reviews that I had not heard of before. My book club and I loved Before We Were much as you can 'love' a book about such sadness. I had to look up Jann Arden. Might enjoy her book. I struggle with finding sincere friendships with women so Wolfpack might be something I would benefit from reading. Thank you for the reviews!

    1. Wasn't it such a great story and shed light into history I knew nothing off. Our histories are so full of shameful and awful moments. I guess that's why we need to learn about it and think about it, so we can choose not to repeat it as best as we can. I love book posts as well.

  5. I love this reading list! You've read some good ones so far. I've got The Woman in Cabin 10 and American Dirt on my list!

    Le Stylo Rouge

    1. Thanks! They are both very good, although very different.