July Reads & Listens

It’s been an incredibly stressful summer. So much so that I just realized half way through August that I didn’t post my July Reads & Listens. Thankfully I had plenty of things to listen to and read to take my mind off of some of the stress this summer has brought forth.

I started the month with a title that had been on my TBR list since July 2019.

Sea Glass by Anita Shreve

My rating: 2 of 5 stars

I’ll preface this review by stating I was distracted by some awful family matters when I listened, most of which was when I was in the car driving back and forth. So that may or may not have anything to do with how I felt about this book. I was not captivated by it. Shreve’s thorough research of the period is evident in the vivid descriptions of mill life in New England during the Great Depression. However, the characters weren’t engaging to me. There was just something so plain vanilla about the entire story. I like vanilla, usually, and some of the best things in life are the simplest things. However, this story fell short for me.

Maybe that one should have staying on my TBR List until I was in a better frame of mind. To get myself in a better frame of mind I decided to listen to something short and sweet. The sweetness of learning about hummingbirds. I have three hummingbird feeders around our yard and I can watch the hummingbirds visit the feeders all day long from my desk where I work. We have animal fencing around the perimeter of our deck so that our dogs don’t slip out and get loose in the front yard which in not fenced in. The thin wire fencing is the perfect perch for the hummingbirds to sit and rest and look our at the view in-between sips at the feeder. As you can see I love hummingbirds, which is why I selected The Hummingbird’s Gift as my next listen for the month.

The Hummingbirds’ Gift: Wonder, Beauty, and Renewal on Wings by Sy Montgomery

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

If you are someone who enjoys watching your hummingbird feeders then you will enjoy this book. I listened to the audiobook version with the author Sy Montgomery narrating. It was an enjoyable way to spend a few hours learning some new things and hearing some old things about hummingbirds.
I highly recommend this to anyone who loves watching their bird feeders in particular their hummingbird feeders. 2 hours, 5 minutes listen time.

Last summer one of the Literati clubs read the book The Salt Path by Raynor Wynn. I remember reading the description and being intrigued by the idea of walking hundreds of miles along the coast of England, so I bought a copy and put it up on the TBR shelf. I figured it would make for a good summer read and planned on reading it this summer.

The Salt Path by Raynor Winn

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Like a wave that crashed onto the shore and pulled me out to sea, I was swept away by Raynor Winn’s The Salt Path in the first 20 pages and deeply immersed in their story. The book reads raw and rough, much like their 630-mile walk. Winn’s descriptions of the southwest coast path in England make me want to experience the natural, wild beauty for myself. But then I remember what it’s like to go camping for long periods and think better of it. Wild camping may sound exciting, but as Ray explains, it has many drawbacks. She does not romanticize their situation; instead, she captures the realism of it, which can make some people uncomfortable. They had a home, their health, and the security of being able to make a living – all gone in the blink of an eye. It’s a story about life and how not paying attention to the little details can make all the difference in the world. However, it’s also about demonstrating that no matter how hard you get knocked down that it’s best to get back up and keep on moving. It’s a unique story about homelessness and how a couple of people who had everything going against them managed to keep going despite the odds.
Great adventure read.

I went back to my TBR list and looked again – perhaps one of the stories that was one of last summers big hits. Many of my friends had read The Last Thing He Told Me by Laura Dave. My sister really liked it, although are tastes in novels doesn’t always line up.

The Last Thing He Told Me by Laura Dave

My rating: 2 of 5 stars

I had high hopes for The Last Thing He Told Me by Laura Dave from all the initial high ratings and rave reviews. Owen disappears in the blink of an eye, leaving his wife, Hannah, and his daughter Bailey to find their lives turned upside down. Bad things happen quickly in life. Laura Dave sets the stage for a terrific mystery, but I couldn’t believe the story she delivered. I was annoyed by the main character, Hannah, or perhaps it was more in how Dave repeated things which I found annoying. Repetition can be an effective writing tool, but when it is overused the way it is in this story – I fear it is more distracting and irritating than anything else. I was disappointed, considering all the rave reviews and buzz about the book when it first came out. The performance of the narrator Rebecca Lowman was outstanding, though, and I would listen to more books that she narrates.

It’s been a hit or miss sort of summer for me in my selections, but it’s’ sort of mimicked the roller coaster of a summer I have been on with some personal matters. We had a string of incredibly hot days with temperatures in the low to mid 90ºs but the humidity was off the hook making the real feel over 100ºF for three of four days! Right now we are back to our comfortable 69ºF up here on the mountain with a beautiful breeze that is whipping through the house – nothing better than natural air conditioning. I am hoping that my selections going forward are better. Currently, I am halfway through listening to The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams narrated by Stephan Fry. I hope you all have some interesting reading to enjoy as the summer ends. Happy reading!

“Never trust anyone who has not brought a book with them.” – 
Lemony Snicket