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  • Writer's pictureJenna Miller

June 2021 Reviews!

A week late, but I hope you enjoy!

Summer of '69 by Elin Hilderbrand: this historical fiction novel is set, as the title denotes, in 1969. It follows the members of the Foley-Levin family on the island of Nantucket. Only son Tiger is drafted and shipped off to Vietnam. Mom, Kate, struggles to cope by imbibing an ever increasing amount of alcohol. Blair is pregnant and married to an astrophysicist. Kirby is trying to turn her life around after some unpleasant experiences. And Jessie is entering her teenage years in the midst of this tumultuous time in America. This novel is bursting with family drama, secrets, societal upheaval, and famous events like Woodstock, controversy surrounding Ted Kennedy, the moon landing, Vietnam, and civil rights. I enjoyed it!

What You Wish For by Katherine Center: Sam Casey loves her job as a librarian at a school in Galveston, Texas. But then the principal, and her father figure, dies unexpectedly right in front of her. He is replaced by one of her former colleagues for whom she once secretly held a torch. However, Duncan is no longer the man she remembers--he is haunted by events in his past that now color every thing in his life. This rom-com with depth deals with issues like epilepsy, school shootings and less than stellar family situations. There is some language present. I love all of Center's books! She's one of my go-to authors. Recommend!

The Seven Day Switch by Kelly Harms: this fun fiction novel is Harms' version of a mom wars Freaky Friday. Wendy and Celeste live next door to one another, but cannot stand each other's company. Wendy started her own consultant business from scratch and has watched it quickly bloom. Celeste is a stay at home mom who churns out Pinterest-worthy lunches, dinners, crafts, etc. to the chagrin of the working moms around her. After a little too much of a vodka/sangria drink, they wake up in each other's bodies. They discover what life is like for each other and realize new things about themselves as well. I thought this was rather heartwarming! I do think Harms could have wrapped up the book quicker than she did though. Some language present, but clean other than that.

All Things Bright and Beautiful by James Herriot: the second installment of Herriot's memoirs picking up where the first left off and leading up to when he is shipped off for WWII. I thought this was just as lovely, charming, and heartwarming as the first. There is something about these books that emanates coziness. I love reading his descriptions about the landscape, the people, and the animals. I highly recommend Herriot's memoirs! I plan to read the rest of his books.

Mr. Popper's Penguins by Richard and Florence Atwater: Mr. Popper, a housepainter, is enthralled with everything about the North Pole so the famous explorer Admiral Drake airmails him a penguin. Then Mr. Popper acquires a penguin from the zoo to keep his new penguin company, they lay ten eggs, and a happy chaos ensues. My boys loved Popper's penguins! I had not read this book as a child, and I thoroughly enjoyed the story as well! Some of the adults' dialogue was absurd and cracked me up!

The Last Firehawk: The Whispering Oak by Katrina Charman: Tag and friends continue on their quest to find the third piece of the mysterious ember stone. Along the way they meet more of Thorn's spies and make new friends. This third installment is still a fan favorite with my boys! We will continue to finish the entire series. If your kids enjoy fantasy or animals, check these out.

None Like Him: Ten Ways God is Different From Us (and why that's a good thing) by Jen Wilkin: there are many characteristics of God that we should not try to emulate, and Wilkin covers some deep theological ground in this book regarding those. Specifically, God is infinite, incomprehensible, self-existent, self-sufficient, eternal, immutable, omnipresent, omniscient, omnipotent, and sovereign. We are not enough in and of ourselves, and that is how it is supposed to be. This fact points us to our Creator who is all of these things and so much more! We not only need God; we need to let God be God. I spent several months reading through these chapters, copying out the main Scriptures, and answering the corresponding questions.I highly recommend this book. Wilkin is one of my favorite Bible teachers; read her books!

The Mysterious Affair at Styles: Hercule Poirot's 1st Case by Agatha Christie: a wealthy matriarch is murdered in her bed, and the soon to be infamous Hercule Poirot, a recent refugee from Belgium during WWI, is engaged by a friend to look into the matter. This is a tricky case that had me continually questioning my conclusions. As an added bonus, the first Tommy and Tuppence novel was also included with this free Kindle find! (It now costs $.49!) It is set after WWI and focuses on a missing persons case from the sinking of the Lusitania. This one surprised and challenged me as well. I love finding Christie novels I have not read previously! I enjoyed both, and always recommend the Queen of Mystery.

The Princess and the Goblin by George MacDonald: originally published in 1872, this early fantasy genre novel was fun to read! Eight year old Princess Irene lives in a wild mountain kingdom that, unknown to her, is located directly above a long-banished goblin kingdom seeking revenge. With the help of her several-great grandmother and a young coalminer's son named Curdie, Irene innocently changes the course of evil plotted against her and her kingdom. I found this for free on the Serial app, so if you are interested, check it out!

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