Books I Read on Vacation + a Few Others

by - Monday, July 25, 2016

Man it's been a long time since I've done a book update -- in part because I've been lazy, but also in part because I haven't been reading nearly as much this year -- which makes me a little bit sad.

But I just got back from my beach vacation where I read a ton of books, so figured it was time to do another update!

I have a problem (and also a beach vacation coming up). Good mix of really light reads with some serious stuff thrown in so my brain doesn't totally rot. #books #bookstagram

Books I Read in April

Devotion by Adam Makos
I really like the first book I read by Makos, and I might have loved this book even more. Here's the description from Amazon: Devotion tells the inspirational story of the U.S. Navy’s most famous aviator duo, Lieutenant Tom Hudner and Ensign Jesse Brown, and the Marines they fought to defend. A white New Englander from the country-club scene, Tom passed up Harvard to fly fighters for his country. An African American sharecropper’s son from Mississippi, Jesse became the navy’s first black carrier pilot, defending a nation that wouldn’t even serve him in a bar.

This was an incredible story to read and many times the book had me tearing up.

Books I read in May

In the Woods by Tana French
This was one of our book club books, chosen because it takes place in Ireland, and this timed kind of perfectly with our trip. This book was long, but I could not put it down. It was the first book in the Dublin Murder Squad series and I'm looking forward to reading many more of French's books.

Ready Player One by Ernest Cline
This book might be one of my favorite fiction books of 2016. I could not put it down. It's a story set far in the future when the real world has gone to hell and so everyone pretty much lives in virtual reality instead. In this virtual world, players are racing to crack a code left by the world's creator and save it before evil forces take over and ruin the only happy place people have left.

Books I read in June

Brooklyn by Colm Toibin
This was another book recommended by some of the girls on my Ireland trip (it also was a movie). I'm not sure what I expected out of the book. I don't think I expected it to be as much of a love story as it was -- I thought it was more going to focus on the story of an Irish immigrant girl trying to find her way in America, and while it certainly did that, the love story undertones were strong. Also, at one point in the book I got so mad at the way the story turned I wanted to chuck my Kindle across the room. So this book will probably make you feel stuff.

Then We Came to The End by Joshua Ferris

This book actually made me want to stab my eyes out while reading it. It was just that painful -- which I guess was the entire point. The book is a satire of typical office life in America, which yes at times can be pretty painful. A friend let me borrow this book so I wanted to see it through to the end, but I should have stopped after about 50 pages. I just couldn't take it. As another friend told me, "Life is too short to read bad books."

Anchor in the Storm by Sarah Sundin
I checked this out on a whim from the library mainly because there wasn't a waitlist. It was a story set in the 1940's as World War II was ramping up. It's the story of a Navy sailor and his best friend's sister, who is a pharmacist, trying to figure out where men on the Navy ships are getting their illegal anti-anxiety medicines. For a book I didn't expect too much out of, I actually really enjoyed it.

Books I read in July (and on vacation)

I Am Pilgrim by Terry Hayes
This was another book club selection and while it was insanely long (600 pages), it was a really, really good read. It's mystery/suspense/thriller, and while it was really good, because of it's length, it took me a solid three weeks to read it. I've recommended it to a lot of people, so if you have the patience for a book this long, I think it's worth it.

The Engagements by J. Courtney Sullivan
This was the first book I read at the beach, and I was glad I started with this one. Here's the description from Amazon, which I think sums the book up nicely: A rich, layered, exhilarating novel spanning nearly a hundred years, The Engagements captures four wholly unique marriages, while tracing the story of diamonds in America, and the way—for better or for worse—these glittering stones have come to symbolize our deepest hopes for everlasting love.

I really liked one of this author's earlier books, and this one also did not disappoint.

Brothers Forever by Tom Manion and Tom Sileo
My dad recommended this book to me back in the winter and I bought it right away, but finally just got around to reading it. It's the true story of two roommates from the Naval Academy, one who went on to become a Marine, the other a Navy Seal. They both died while serving in the Middle East (Travis in Iraq, Brendan in Afghanistan) and they are buried side by side in Arlington National Cemetery. If you want a book that will make you sob your eyes out, this is it. No kidding, I was sitting on the beach Monday with tears leaking out from behind my sunglasses as I read this book. This story will rip your heart out. (Also the book is written by the father of one of the boys).

The Castaways by Elin Hilderbrand
After reading such a serious book on Monday, I knew I needed something lighter on Tuesday. I was on a beach vacation after all. Enter this book by Elin Hilderbrand. I love her books for their excellent stories and light-hearted style. This book looked at the secrets held within a friend group, and what happens when two members of that core group die. (OK that makes it sound a lot more morbid than it is). The stories of each of the people really suck you in.

A Girl's Guide to Moving On by Debbie Macomber
I loved this book and it might have been one of my favorites that I read while on vacation. It tells the story of a mother and her daughter-in-law who both leave their marriages when their husbands cheat on them. (Awful starting premise to a story, why do I keep picking books that start in such depressing manners). The book is about how they both move on trying to rebuild their lives and the rules they established to help them do that.

The Last Mile by David Baldacci
A former college football star is minutes away from being executed on death row when suddenly someone else confesses to the crime. That's how this most recent Baldacci book starts and from there it takes you on a wild ride as the characters try to uncover who was really behind the murders that sent the football star to prison. I like all Baldacci books, but by the end of this one, I just couldn't put the book down. I sat on the porch delaying dinner for a solid hour while I tried to get to the end of the book so I could figure out what happened.

The Last One by Alexandra Oliva
I picked this book up from one of the "featured books" displays at the library, and wasn't totally sure what to expect. It's the story of a contestant on a reality show similar to Survivor. The cast is out in the woods filming and going through challenges, while in the rest of the world, a virus (perhaps weaponized Ebola) is killing off nearly half the population of the globe. The contestant doesn't realize she's not actually on the show anymore and keeps thinking things she's finding are "part of the game." This was a great book and now it's one I'm recommending for my book club (and for anyone else).

So there you have it. Those are the books I've read in the last several months and while on vacation.

I'm not sure what my reading levels will look like in the coming weeks. I have another mini-vacation coming up that involves some air travel, so I'm hoping to do some quality reading then and may be able to knock out one more book in the month of July.

But after that I move and then have softball tournaments every weekend and then my last semester of grad school starts. So lovely relaxing month of July is about to rush into an insane August and what I can only imagine will be a really busy fall. I'm thinking that means reading for fun might go on pause until I can officially get grad school all wrapped up.

You May Also Like


  1. Thanks for sharing! I need some books to add to my list.

  2. Fred and Tina9:35 AM

    Wow, an amazing amount of reading! Thanks for all the reviews! :)