Is it just me or do the months seem to be flying by? I managed to read four books for June, though I'm still coming to terms with the fact that I can't seem to process nearly as many books as I used to. As you can see by the picture above, I read two physical books, but I also read one on my kindle and listened to another on Audible! The audio book was my first time using Audible and I have to say, I liked it. Definitely opens up another, more accessible way to consume books.
As June marked the anniversary of D-Day, I decided to pick up a book that had been sitting on my shelf, unread for quite some time. George Wilson's If You Survive is a World War Two memoir that takes the reader through Wilson's service during the war, detailing events, as well as his thoughts and emotions surrounding them. I found Wilson's approach to his memoir candid, honest, and raw. He doesn't sugar coat or glorify what he and the men he served with went through. Overall, I found it an interesting and eye-opening account of some of the events and battles of World War Two, and what the men who fought in it experienced, from a man who was actually there and lived to tell.
As I mentioned before, I also had my first Audible experience this month. I signed up for a free trial and listened to Ta-Nehisi Coates' Between the World and Me, as I have decided to make a deliberate effort to read more books by People of Color. The author himself narrates the book, which I believe adds to the listening experience. I found the book interesting and enlightening. It opened my mind and exposed me to a different perspective and different beliefs. While I may not have agreed with some of what was said in the book, I realize that it wasn't important whether I agreed with the message or not. What was important was that I heard it. I believe it is important to expose yourself to differing cultures, views, and beliefs, even if it makes you uncomfortable, to gain a better understanding of what makes people who they are.
The third book I wanted to discuss here is Chess Britt's Seek To Be Wise. I received an advanced copy from GreenLeaf Book Group for the purpose of reviewing it ahead of its release on July 7th. Overall, the book was a quick, easy read with some good commonsense advice and inspiring quotes. As Britt states in the book, "Wise people understand that it is the simple things in life that are extraordinary," and that "the potential for finding wisdom is unlimited."
My only criticism is the issue of not citing others' words and works that Britt used within the book. In the forward, Britt is upfront about it, explaining, "I will give no credit for quotes or ideas," reasoning that "nobody's ego needs to be stroked." To be honest, I found that to be lazy writing, as well as unprofessional. We are taught throughout school (and life) to do the work of researching and citing work/words that are not our own, otherwise it is plagiarism at best, theft at worst.
The majority of the errors and missing citations are easy google searches, so I'm not sure what the real issue was. Honestly, this glaring issue got in the way of my giving the book more than a 3 star review. As a writer (I use that term in the loosest sense of the word) myself, I can't imagine including other people's words and works in my own work without giving proper credit/citation. I can only imagine how I would feel if someone were to claim my work as their own, which is essentially what you're doing any time you use another person's work without citing it. Other than the citing issue, Seek To Be Wise is an enjoyable, worthwhile read.
Bury me beneath the sycamore tree
a beautiful monument for all to see,
in no other grave I'd rather be,
for all the joy it brought to me.
~ Liz Austin 2020
First off, I've decided to format this feature differently. When I first switched to doing my Books of the Month feature instead of a full time book blog, I would just list off a few of the books I've read with a picture of the cover and a paragraph or two about the book and whether I liked it or not. I've decided that I'd rather just write out a more constructed feature that flowed. I will talk about the books I've read in a more conversational manner, and the header photo for each month will be of the books featured. I think it'll work out better this way and be more enjoyable to read... Hopefully!
I spent most of the month of May, and this year in general, going back to books that I've read in the past. I've rediscovered the joy of rereading great books! For May I found myself returning to the catalog of one of my favorite authors, Karen Witemeyer. I own all of her books and I devoured, once again, a good number of them this month, as well as her latest book that releases in June.
Among the books from Witemeyer's catalog that I reread this month were the first two books in her Archer Brothers series, Short-Straw Bride and Stealing the Preacher. Short-Straw Bride was the first Witemeyer book I had read and, of course, the one that got me hooked. I loved the Archer Brothers series, and was pleased to find that my memory of enjoying both books, which follow the Archer brothers with three books devoted to three out of the four brothers (the fourth brother, Jim's story is given to us as a background story in mostly the first novel, as well as being mentioned in the others), held up.
I also thoroughly enjoyed reading about the adventures of Darius Thronton, a man obsessed with scientific experiments that could change the shipping industry and the fiery shipping heiress, Nicole Renard in Full Steam Ahead, as well as the mystery and dangers surrounding the ladies of Harper's station and Malachi Shaw, the man brought in to help, in No Other Will Do. Witemeyer is an expert weaver of interesting and delightful stories, truly an author readers can rely on to deliver great reads, and her latest release, At Love's Command*, is no exception. I am honored to have been on Karen's launch team for her last three releases, including At Love's Command, and enjoy the privilege of getting to read her books ahead of release.
Another new-to-me book that I read in May was Peter Wohlleben's The Hidden Life of Trees, a truly excellent and eye-opening read. I've always been a tree lover, I can't really explain why, I've just always appreciated their quiet strength and sturdiness, and the fact that you feel like you can rely on them to be there through life. The Hidden Life of Trees made me love and respect trees even more than I already did. Wohlleben writes in a conversational way that draws you in and keeps you interested through to the end as he takes you through the surprisingly intricate and complicated lives of various species of trees and their impact on their ecosystems. I'd highly recommend it.
I have found myself reading less books per month, mainly due to changes in how my brain functions now and the fact that it seems to process information a bit slower than it used to, but really, that seems to be a nice change of pace. I find I'm forced to take my time with them and as a result, I savor books more, rather than devouring them in one sitting (though sometimes I still do that!). It's been an interesting development in my reading journey... I'm looking forward to seeing what June holds for book adventures! ;)
*I wrote a separate review for At Love's Command, click the title (link is embedded) above to read it!
Born and raised in Upstate NY, Liz is a freelance writer. She has written for websites, blogs, and magazines for the last 10 years. She also acts as a proofreader and beta reader for several authors, all the while working on her first book.