Beta Reading, Books, Short Fiction, Uncategorized, World War 2, Writer's Life

Summer Reading!

This looks a lot like my TBR pile….

I avoid picking up novels for nine months out of the year. It’s not from any reluctance to read them, but it’s a practical measure I’ve learned I have to take.

You see (deep breath) I’m a story addict. Once I pick up a book and get drawn into a story, I will get nothing else done until I finish. Oh, I SAY it will just be one chapter, but then it becomes another, then another, then it’s two a.m. and I have to teach in the morning. As that’s just not sustainable, I’ve almost given up reading for pleasure during the school year.

But then comes Summer Vacation!!!

With my upcoming novel out of my hands as it’s getting formatted, I took a hiatus from writing anything beyond blog posts and short fiction this summer and I’ve been READING. It’s been lovely.

For today’s post, I’d like to share the titles I read and enjoyed this summer—perhaps you’ll find something of interest on the list, too!

Some WWII Fiction

Author Sarah Sundin has a knack for combining in-depth, meticulous research with beautifully written Christian romance. While I’m not always inclined toward romance novels, I’ve enjoyed every Sundin novel I’ve picked up and When Twilight Breaks was no exception. A stand-alone story, it takes place in Munich, Germany during the last days of uneasy peace before the outbreak of World War II.

I first “met” David Huntley via a facebook World War II Author’s group, where he was looking for volunteers to send Christmas cards to WWII veterans. A survivor of the London Blitz who married a survivor of the occupation of France, Mr. Huntley wrote his book, Deathwatch Beetle, about the aftermath of WWII. I thoroughly enjoyed the twists and turns in this story of espionage and adventure.

One of the things that I love about historical fiction is that it offers the opportunity to learn with the information wrapped up in intriguing stories. Chrystyna Lucyk-Berger’s novel The Woman at the Gates deals with World War II era Ukraine, as the country struggled for its independence from Russia while trying to avoid falling under the control of Germany. Perhaps the most fascinating part of this story was the fact that several of the characters and their experiences are based off of the author’s own family during this period. While the story deals with some tough topics—torture, atrocities, etc,—I appreciated that it was not a bleak story. I felt that it still offered hope, and I found the ending very satisfying.

Author Gail Kittleson was kind enough to share her upcoming novel, Land that I Love with me. A lovely family story, it follows Everett Herring, his young son Donnie, and his friend William as they travel from Britain to make a new life in the Texas hill country. They watch the mounting tensions in Europe from their new home which gives an interesting perspective on World War II as well as tidbits of Texas history and beautiful descriptions of Texas flora and fauna.

I was two weeks out from school starting and was not planning to start another book. But…I had a little time. And All the Silences: The Tears had been sitting on my Kindle for a while. What could be the harm in just starting it?

Well, I finished it. Then I immediately had to buy Books 2 and 3 and finish them. Genevieve Montcombroux lived in France during the German occupation, and she brings that life experience and a great deal of research into this sweeping family drama.

Some Non-Fiction

I received a copy of this beautiful book from Joy Neal Kidney, author of Leora’s Letters which told the story of her five uncles who served in World War II. Leora’s Dexter Stories goes back to the years before the war and follows the family through the Great Depression. This book is another fascinating look into history as people lived it, preserved through Joy’s family letters. I find these stories particularly encouraging when I look at all the craziness in our world of today.

Some Books That Aren’t About History

Yes, I do read some things that have nothing to do with World War II.

I received an ARC of No Lesser Angels, No Greater Devils from Dark Owl Publishing. This mixture of short fiction ranged from amusing to creepy to terrifying. I enjoyed the variety, and the chance to check out some shorter fiction from a new author. While, like with most short fiction books, I enjoyed some stories more than others, Laura J. Campbell’s prose kept me turning pages until the end.
Worth noting: the language and some situations in this book are definitely intended for an “adult” audience (as is the case with most of the books I’ve mentioned here.)

I also received ARC copy of The Last Star Warden, and this book was just plain fun. If you enjoy older sci-fi, (think “Buck Rogers” era) and/or westerns, The Last Starwarden‘s short stories fit the bill, with high stakes and heroes who are…well, heroic. I would read more of Jason. J. McCuiston’s work.

I’d read and enjoyed N.R. LaPoint’s first Raven Mistcreek book, Chalk, and was given an early copy of Dusklight. How do I describe these books? Catholicism meets H.P. Lovecraft? These stories of schoolgirl and friends vs. big monsters aren’t exactly my usual fare, but I thoroughly enjoyed them. There was a lot of humor and some very engaging characters in the midst of creepy situations and deadly peril. Be prepared for some action-violence, and if you do check these out, make sure to start with Chalk.

One Classic

I already wrote two blog posts about this, but I’d just like credit that I finished it this summer, please. I think this had to count for a couple of modern novels worth of reading. 🙂
Post one: A short summary of the novel
Post two: Revealing Traits of The Brothers Karamazov Through Secondary Characters

And One Re-Read Over My Husband’s Shoulder

I try to keep my eyes on my own books, but sometimes they wander to whatever my husband is reading, which he just LOVES. I’d read an ARC of The Keeper of Tales, the debut novel by Jonathon Mast, and grabbed a paperback right away for my husband to read. If you enjoy epic fantasy with heroes and villains and quests—all the good stuff—as well as some twists and turns, this book is a great choice.

It was a good summer of reading—there were a handful of other books that I made it through, but I think these will do for this post.

Now, school has started again, with full day classes, (Hooray! We are hoping and praying that it lasts and all stay healthy!) and I’m putting most of the books on the shelf for the next couple of months.

What about you? My TBR (to be read) stack got a bit shorter this summer—do you have book suggestions to add to it to build it back up again?

Psst! By the way, speaking of books to read…Did you get a chance to check out my cover reveal last week?

21 thoughts on “Summer Reading!”

  1. I, too, have enjoyed Joy’s books. She’s a great storyteller. I also understand the frustrations an avid reader can face while simultaneously teaching school. I taught for 19 years, much of it history on the junior high level but half of it writing, before venturing into editing and writing. Do you teach history as I did? I seldom read fiction, although I try to force myself through one or two novels a year. My wife sometimes will read the nonfiction I read–but only if I haven’t underlined and scribbled in the margins! (I habitually do that so it’s easier to locate statements I might want to quote in some writing project later.)

    Liked by 2 people

      1. One would think that underlined and scribbled-in books would be more popular. If a reader is pressed for time, he or she can just read the underlined parts and get a “Reader’s Digest Condensed Books” version and save a lot of time! :)=)

        Liked by 1 person

      2. My sis borrowed my (new) copy of Undaunted Courage, and forgot that it wasn’t hers. When I asked for it back, she was floored, but I underlined different things than she’d highlighted, so it was fun that it turned out that way!

        Liked by 1 person

    1. She is, isn’t she? I still need to snag a copy of yours for my husband- he’s a big Civil War guy. (And then I can check it out, too.)

      My teaching has been varied- I’ve done various classes in grades K-8, with a break in there to be home with my kids. Currently I’m teaching Reading to 2nd graders and Literature/writing, Music, and Art to 5th-8th graders. No history, though I did my highschool level student teaching in a history classroom and loved it. I mostly fill in for our principal and vice principal so that they get office time, and as they are both history guys they keep those classes for themselves. 🙂

      I just love stories- fiction, non-fiction, a mixture… I don’t mind highlighted text, and should really mark up my non-fic sources as I have a terrible time finding info later, but I feel so guilty writing in books! Too much time in the elementary classroom, perhaps!

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  2. Thank you for including Leora’s stories! Thanks, too, for your reading list. I’d planned to cut back on reading this year, but that hasn’t happened. The most compelling book I read during the summer was “The Rescuer: One Firefighter’s Story of Courage, Darkness, and the Relentless Love That Saved Him” by Jason Sautel. (Our American Stories has interviewed him.)

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    1. YES! It’s so hard to stop! That’s why I finally had to cut myself off during the school year. Though even lesson planning novels is dangerous- I get stalled while I’m supposed to be setting things up and next thing I know I’ve finished reading the novels again…

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    1. Thanks Jean! I’m pleased to report that we’ve got a great crew of kids. I’m loving being back to full time- though I haven’t seen the far side of 10pm much this month. Soon. Trired. And, in a moment of madness I just took on another class… (not really- it’ll be good. I hope.)

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I’m hoping for you! I was asked if I wanted a SIXTH class, but I just had to say no. Boundaries! 🙂 But I hope that new class you have will be awesome. And let’s not forget your book coming out soon! We need to coordinate an interview or podcast or both…uffdah, my split brain!

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Good on you for keeping boundaries!
        My made sense as I’m there anyway, and with seeing how schedules aligned…I think it will be a good thing. I was keeping up with everything- that can’t be tight! Time for more stuff…
        I’d love to coordinate something with you! We’ll figure it out. xxxxxx

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