Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Top Ten Tuesday for June 21!!

Yep! It's that time yet again...another Tuesday!
As most of you are aware, The Broke and the Bookish host this weekly meme!
And this week's theme is...
Top Ten Favorite 2016 Releases So Far This Year.
However, since I have not yet even read 10 books that were just released in 2016,
I am adapting this...to... 
Top Ten Favorite Reads For the First Half of 2016!!
That works much better for me!
Thanks to the Social Justice Book Club 
I have read two amazing nonfiction books!
This book club is hosted by 
and founded by herself, 
Shaina of Shaina Reads
and Shannon of River City Reading.
April's book was Just Mercy by Bryan Stevenson.
Stevenson founded the Equal Justice Initiative
headquartered in Montgomery, Alabama.
Though this is absolutely heartbreaking, 
each person in this country should read it!
He is proving there can be hope, love, and mercy,
by creating a measure of true justice and fairness.
Our first positive contribution is to be educated and informed...
only then can we truly advocate for a better world, 
and not just for us, but for those unfairly accused...
and worse.

June's book was 
by Laura Tillman
Definitely thought-provoking, 
especially since I have worked 
with people like John and Angela 
as a case manager and advocate. 
Addiction, disappointment, and lack of accessibility 
to adequate services combine for disaster.

While I've not yet had time to compose blog posts for each of these, you can find some brief comments and links to my Goodreads reviews here!
They both also count as nonfiction! YAY!
I wanted to read at least 10 nonfiction books this year, 
with no more than 5 being memoir/biography/autobiography. 
Thus far, I have read 6 and 3 of those are not memoir/biography/autobiography!
YAY! Me! 
Plus they both qualify for the 2016 Southern Literature Reading Challenge!
(Gotta celebrate those little victories when I can!)

I keep scrolling through my "READ" shelf on Goodreads and saying to myself,
"I've read so many more than 10 really good to great books already this year!

I'll mention the three series that I am currently reading: 

Jacqueline Winspear's Maisie Dobbs series!
Oh, my! Winspear is an absolutely amazing writer!
I love historical fiction and throw in a mystery...well, I'm hooked!
She takes me into Maisie's world sooooo completely!
And Maisie. She is one intense and focused person, 
and my kind of woman in so many ways.
I have not yet begun to blog reviews of the first 6 books I've read thus far.
And quite frankly, I have taken a bit of a break following Among the Mad which 
was so emotionally draining and upsetting to me that I had to rest...
I do not mean this in a negative way! 
Quite the opposite--I FELT this book so deeply within my soul! 
I believe I'll get back to Maisie in another few weeks. 
It has taken about 6 months for me to fully digest 
and reflect upon the last one.
The Mapping of Love and Death is the next installment and 
although I had started reading it months ago, I only managed about 
10 pages when I realized I just needed to 'come up for air' 
for a bit before diving right back in. 
I am so moved by the desperation of others, especially when their
circumstances are beyond their control in most every way...

Then we switch gears to the Andy Carpenter series 
by David Rosenfelt!
While Andy's cases are quite serious in nature, 
Rosenfelt imbues him with so much subtle and not-so-subtle humor,
particularly in such a self-deprecating way! I laugh and chuckle! 
I have read and reviewed the first five books in this series and 
am ready for #6, Play Dead!
Here are the first five reviews: 
Open and Shut, First Degree, Bury the Lead, Sudden Death
and Dead Center. Why do I love this series so? Well...
there is Tara to consider. Tara is Andy's ever-so-faithful 
couch-potato-sharing golden retriever. Just "the best dog in the world," according to Andy! 
I so appreciate the way Rosenfelt develops these characters. 
They do not remain the same, but rather they evolve, just as real people do!
Oh, and can you tell that I am reading these from the library? Hence, a review for each one?
Whereas I own every Maisie Dobbs book, so that at least partially explains the fact I review each of the Andy Carpenter books as I read it, but not so with Maisie Dobbs. 
Oh, and I did read Rosenfelt's latest stand-alone, Blackout, too! Loved it!
My husband is now hooked as well...as he is on another new-to-me series I discovered...

Laurie R. King's 
Mary Russell and Sherlock Holmes series!
I read the first installment, 
The Beekeeper's Apprentice
and was soooooo hooked! 
And as you may have already guessed, 
I am also reading these through the library!
So you may well expect a review
for each book as I read it!
Though I own the most recent release,
The Murder of Mary Russell.
Actually, I own a personally inscribed copy since
I was able to meet and speak with her in April at the 
Christamore House Guild Book and Author Luncheon in Indianapolis, Indiana! 
What a lovely person!! I asked her about the creation of a character like Mary Russell.
Her answer: Some characters just keep appearing and reappearing, coming and going, always developing, and then, then, there are some, some, that simply appear! 
Fully developed! They are just there. She verified that Mary Russell was the latter type. 
All I can say is, I am ever so grateful she appeared!!
While I would love to own all the books I read, our house is full!
And fortunately, I live where library use is very convenient!
My husband has read through this series and is reading everything else King has written!
That tells me these must have a wide appeal. :)
All three of the above series count toward the 2016 Cloak and Dagger Reading Challenge!
And Maisie Dobbs and Mary Russell count toward the 
Historical Fiction 2016 Reading Challenge hosted by Passages to the Past!

David Levithan. Two boys. A lot of kissing!
This book. It is so very powerful!
One of my good friends just read it, 
mainly because one of her grandsons 
just "came out" to his family. 
I know neither she nor I was surprised.
In fact, we were thrilled that he felt comfortable 
in not only discovering this about himself, 
but also in divulging it to his family and friends! 
Thank goodness! Perhaps we are finally 
beginning to accept all people, period! 
I cannot adequately describe all the nuances of this book, but I can say that you will do yourself a favor by experiencing it! 
I mean, what have you got to lose? 
Except perhaps a prejudice or two? :)

Your Heart is a Muscle the Size of a Fist by Sunil Yapa
Although I have not yet distilled my thoughts 
about this book into a blog post, 
here is my Goodreads review. 
But really, this book needs to be experienced. Directly. 
The best way I can describe it overall? 
It has settled into my soul. Deeply. 
And the meaning of the cover image--well, 
it just takes me right back to Seattle...
to these characters whom we get to know 
to varying degrees.
Victor. Such a tragedy. Such a waste of a person needing to belong and be loved. 
Just for who he is. A person. Fully entitled to love and acceptance.
Another amazing Historical Fiction read! And a debut!
Here is a more sane and composed review by Shannon of River City Reading! 

I don't believe I have ever mentioned 
this one in a 'listing' post before, 
but I really enjoyed reading 
Gift from the Sea 
by Anne Morrow Lindbergh. 
I might not have ever purchased 
this and read it if not for having 
read and reviewed 
The Aviator's Wife
by Melanie Benjamin for the
Literary Wives Online 
Book Discussion group, 
one of my favorite historical fiction books ever! 
My feeling is that Lindbergh's writing is timeless, 
although the initial publication was in 1955! 
It was a 1956 National Book Award Finalist for Nonfiction. 
Per Wikipedia, Publisher's Weekly claimed it to be the #1 bestseller for nonfiction 
in the United States in 1955. And rightfully so, IMHO!
This is definitely perfect for me to keep around to read portions every now and then 
as a semi-meditative exercise. It is a celebration--of life!

This brings me to a book I never ever expected to read and really, in so many ways, was one of the most powerful experiences ever! 
The mother-in-law of one of our book club members recommended we read it, since her own book club had enjoyed it so much! Admittedly, one of our members chose not to read it, 
but all of the rest of us who did, ended up loving the experience! 
It was so genuine and heartfelt. Such a lesson in considering each person's perspective and view of the world, or their own "room"... 
So, although I had purchased it very cheaply on a whim, I was rather determined I would probably never read it, and now I'm so very glad I did! So many times we are pleasantly surprised by 
books we didn't think we would like, for whatever reason! 

So...speaking of historical fiction...yet again...there was 
Circling the Sun by Paula McLain.
I had originally planned to attend an author signing/presentation with McLain in early June, 
where I would purchase this book and 
have it personally inscribed by the author. 
I loved The Paris Wife [Can you tell that was my very first blog post?!? I sure can! :)], which was the second book 
reviewed by the Literary Wives co-hosting bloggers.  
I was unable to attend the author event, 
so I checked the book out from the library and read it. 
What a great experience! Beryl endured much during her childhood, but I believe it served to only make her a much stronger adult female than she might otherwise have been, especially given the times! 
And that served her well!

You might be able to see why I have stated in the past that 
mystery/suspense and historical fiction are two of my favorite genres! 

And just to give us all even more books to consider, 
here is the Publisher's Weekly listing of debuts to watch for 
that will be released this Summer and Fall! 
I thought this was quite a diverse listing!
Here Comes the Sun was already one of my top "want-to-reads"! 

If you had to name only ONE book as your favorite read so far this year, 
what would that be?

Or, what is the title of a book you read in 2016 that you wanted to include in a listing of favorites, but didn't?

Feel free to leave a title in the comments that answers one of the above questions!


  1. I love your goal of reading nonfiction outside of memoir, etc! That's something I started paying attention to a few years ago and I was shocked by how much of the nonfiction I read fell into that category. I reallllly loved Just Mercy - so glad to see it on your list.

    1. Well...you are one of those who served as motivator for me to include more nonfiction. So thank you for that! I LOVE nonfiction, but seem to gravitate more toward pure fiction/historical fiction/mystery when I don't push myself.