2017 Reading Wrap-Up: Books #21-25

The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas – 5 stars

Have you ever inhale read something because it gripped you so much? And then kicked yourself because you inhale read it and now it’s over and you wish you had spent a little more time with it? Yeah, that’s what happened for me.

I need to sit back and digest what I just read because it’s so powerful and thought-provoking. But for now, I’ll just say this: A hairbrush is not a gun.

Update: so it’s been just shy of two days since I finished reading this and I’m honestly still thinking about it. I’ve grown up in America, reading about and seeing the unjust killings of African Americans by police in the news but since I am white and therefore extremely privileged, I have no clue what it’s like to have the police target me just because of my race. Angie Thomas has captured the African American experience so well in this book that I have been able to get a small glimpse of what it is like. I think that every white person needs to read this book in order to grow as a person and learn. It’s uncomfortable to read about Hailey and how blatantly racist she is, while claiming that she is absolutely not one. But when you say things like “that Black stuff” and ask questions like whether or not an Asian American’s family members eat cats for Thanksgiving, you are most definitely a racist. It’s micro-aggressions like these that minorities face everyday from white people and I’m glad that Thomas included them to highlight how you may think you are joking when actually, you are doing real damage.

One of my biggest complaints about YA in general is how the parents tend to be lacking, but I am so extremely happy to say that Starr’s parents are very much involved and have a healthy relationship. Yes, they fight, but they are mature about it. They want what is best for their children. They punish their children when necessary. They are just extremely wonderful role models and their relationship is so freaking cute to boot.

The story has a large cast of characters, but you end up rooting for all of them. By the end of the novel, I was praying that no one got hurt. Starr is such a fantastic character – she struggles throughout the book and is flawed, but is also completely strong and stands up for what she believes is right. Mav and Lisa are amazing (see above paragraph for my gush about them). Her brothers have great personalities and are a positive presence in Starr’s life. Chris is willing to learn about things that he doesn’t understand. DeVante wasn’t someone I wanted to root for, but as we learn more about him, I couldn’t help but love him. Uncle Carlos shows that there are good cops that get overshadowed by the bad ones. The community show just how close they are and how they stand together. It was just such a wonderful thing to read.

I hope that I’m doing this book justice – I’m still learning. This book is powerful, timely, and important and everyone needs to read it.


Liar Temptress Soldier Spy: Four Women Undercover in the Civil War by Karen Abbott – 4 stars

I honestly remember very little about the Civil War from what I learned in school. But when I heard about this book detailing the lives of some bada** ladies, I was all in.

Karen Abbott clearly did her research and presented the lives of these women in a way that was educational but also hella entertaining.

Emma Edmonds, Elizabeth Van Lew, Rose Greenhow, and Belle Boyd all believed in what they were fighting for. And despite my Southern heritage (Texas born and raised) I have to say that Emma and Elizabeth’s stories were more intriguing to me. I just did not care for Rose or Belle and how pretentious they both came off.

Emma disguised herself as a man so that she could fight in the Union army. Elizabeth created her own underground network. Rose and Belle both boasted about what they were doing and took it as an honor that they were arrested multiple times. Though these women never met (save for a couple of times with Rose and Belle), Abbott weaved their stories in the same chapters if they were occurring at the same time. Because of this, it was sometimes difficult to keep track of who I was reading about.

It was clear that these four women were willing to sacrifice for what they believed in. And it was really awesome to read a story about the Civil War that focused on women rather than the men. I started reading it back in November but I wasn’t really in the mood for non-fiction at the time so I put it off. It’s fitting that I finished this during Women’s History Month.


We Should All Be Feminists by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie – 5 stars

This short book packs a punch. I love how Adichie backs up each of her points with real-life experiences. I especially loved that she focused on her experiences in Nigeria, as it highlights the need for intersectionality within feminism. As a white woman in America, I have not had to face many of the experiences that she has faced and it opened my eyes to making sure that my feminism includes all women. I think that everyone should read this. Especially if you are new to feminism.

We Should All Be Feminists

Before Goodbye by Mimi Cross – 2.5 stars

The story was all over the place, especially with the random flashbacks that are not really identified as flashbacks. Also, I really couldn’t care less about either Cate or David and did not really see the supposed chemistry between them.

The author tried to handle issues like sexual assault, suicide, and teenage drug use, but because she tries to cover all of them, she really doesn’t do justice to any of them. She even tries to have a female/female relationship, but again, does not really do it justice.

It was pretty cool to read the music scenes as it is clear that music is something that the author is passionate about. But other than that, I just wasn’t very interested. And there were several plot points that I had a very hard time buying *cough* Bryn’s involvement with a crime going unnoticed and unreported by anyone *cough*.

This book also had the wonderful *sarcasm* trope of YA books having non-existent as well as abusive parents. I’m really really tired of this and I wish it would stop.

Also, the amount of times the author used ellipses was rather annoying.

Overall, I was rather bored with this and I’m glad that I got it through Kindle First since it means I didn’t have to pay for it.

Before Goodbye

Chicken Soup for the Nurse’s Soul: Second Dose by Jack Canfield, Mark victor Hansen, and LeAnn Thieman – 4 stars

It always seems that about halfway through the semester, I need a reminder of why I want to go into nursing. And this book did not disappoint.

I cried during the stories. I laughed. I sat back and thought about the impact we can make as nurses.

I liked that there was a variety of stories and a variety of perspectives. It’s sometimes nice to hear from patients rather than only from other nurses.

Overall, this book was just what I needed as I gear up for my last seven weeks of nursing school.

 Chicken Soup for the Nurse's Soul

2017 Reading Wrap-Up: Books #16-20

The Death Cure by James Dashner – 4 stars

This one was stronger for me than The Scorch Trials because I at least felt like there were actually things at stake. And I appreciate that several main characters died since lately I’ve been reading a decent amount where that is not the case. I read this one much faster than I did The Scorch Trials because I was actually invested in the characters. I’m not sure what was different about this one compared to The Scorch Trials, but I just felt compelled to find out what happened to them. Maybe it was the fact that I knew it was the last book so the story had to end. Who knows?

I’m still frustrated that there are several questions that Dashner did not answer. I know that there are a couple of prequels out there, but come on. Give us a little bit more. I did think it was a bit of a cop out that Thomas did not get his memories back. It felt like Dashner’s way of avoiding having to answer questions.

It was intriguing that there were those who were immune to The Flare and those that were not. And it was a little bit heartbreaking to find out which character was not. I thought it was interesting to have them end up back in the Maze and that the Grievers came back out to play. Seeing Gally again threw me for a loop and the whole Right Arm situation was a little weird for me. The way that they were treating Munies and the fact that it was just like WICKED made me doubt everything about the resistance. I thought the ending was interesting because I am really curious to know where exactly they were sent since the entire planet was supposedly screwed over. I kind of like that it is left open ended and you can imagine how the rest of the characters’ lives go.

Now I really want to read the prequels because I want to know more about this lab-created zombie virus plague thing that was created as a means of population control. I am intrigued to find out who in their right mind thought they could control something like that.


Five Days at Memorial: Life and Death in a Storm-Ravaged Hospital by Dr. Sheri Fink – 3.5 stars

I picked this up at the recommendation of my clinical instructor after we went through a emergency medical training and I’m glad I did.

It is clear that this book was thoroughly researched and presented as true an account as possible about what happened at Memorial Hospital during and after Hurricane Katrina. I thought that the first part of the book was much more powerful as it described the five days. I was invested in the lives of the patients, family members, nurses, and doctors that were involved. It was heartbreaking to read about the lack of supplies, the increasing heat, and the lack of proper coordination from the parent company.

However, once it got to the part where the authorities came in to investigate, I found myself getting less and less interested. I found the investigation to get confusing at times and I did not particularly care for a couple of the individuals mentioned. It also got to be repetitive for me at times.

However, the discussion about medical ethics and disaster preparedness was intriguing. It really made me sit back and think what I would do if I were in the situations presented in this book. I also appreciated the epilogue, where there was discussion about what has been learned from Hurricane Katrina with regards to being prepared for emergencies.

Overall, I’m glad that I read this. I wish that the second part of the book was a little bit more succinct, but the beginning and epilogue were well worth it.


My Lady Jane by Jodi Meadows, Cynthia Hand, and Brodi Ashton – 5 stars

This was just so wonderfully delightful.

I absolutely loved this twist on Tudor history where the Protestants and Catholics are replaced with shapeshifters and non-shapeshifters. I think I may have a new ship and the slow burning romance was just so swoony. The wit and humor in this was absolutely fantastic and I loved all of the different references that were strewn throughout the entire book.

I was a little worried that once they really got off track with history that I would lose interest or the humor would decrease, but I am so glad to say that I was completely wrong. I absolutely adored the entire cast of characters from Jane to G to Edward to Gracie to Bess to Pet. Hell, I even loved the narrators interjecting their thoughts and opinions here and there.

I’ve had this book since it came in my June 2016 Owlcrate and I am absolutely kicking myself for waiting so long to read it. The premise should not have worked, but in the hands of these authors, it totally did and I can’t wait to read their next work together.

My Lady Jane

The Time Machine by H.G. Wells – 3 stars

So I knew approximately zero things about this other than H.G. Wells is a master of science fiction and it contains time travel (wow, I’m so good at deductions). I received it in my OwlCrate last February and was mildly intrigued, but set it aside for other books that piqued my interest more. I ended up picking it up now because I needed a quick classic that I could finish before the end of February to meet my goal of reading a classic a month (since I failed at January and finished reading Jane Eyre in February).

I was pleasantly surprised by this since I had no expectations for it. I thought that the story itself was an exciting adventure that also looked at what humanity will become in the future. I thought Wells’s take on the Eloi and the Morlocks was interesting and that he was trying to have a political and social commentary for his time. The Time Traveller wasn’t the most like-able character, but he also definitely wasn’t the most dis-like-able. I was pretty meh on him, to be honest.

Overall, it was a fun, quick read and I thought it was interesting that Wells had the Time Traveller go forward in time rather than backwards.


Unbroken: A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience, and Redemption by Laura Hillenbrand – 4 stars

This was such an interesting look at the life of Louis Zamperini. I really liked that Hillenbrand didn’t just start off with Louie’s plane crash and subsequent life as a POW. Instead, she set up the story and let us get to know not only Louie, but his family and crew as well.

There were times where it was hard to read about what the men went through. But it was also amazing to read about how strongly they persisted and just how ingenious they were (mainly when they were on the raft and had to use what little resources they had available). I also really appreciate that Hillenbrand did not shy away from the fact that most of the men who were POWs suffered from PTSD once they got back to the United States. And it broke my heart that the men did not get proper help for their PTSD due to people wanting to tune it out and pretend that it didn’t exist.

I like that Hillenbrand included Louie’s flaws throughout the book. It made him seem all the more real and seeing him straighten out his life was really interesting to witness. It was clear that Hillenbrand did her research and was trying to paint Louie in as fair a light as possible.

This was definitely a hard read at times, but I think it sheds light on a rather dark moment in history. Louie’s struggle to survive was harrowing and his life after the war is something that is so rarely talked about. I’m really glad I read this.