May Reads

Another month has gone by, and more books have been poured into my brain. There were several hits, several mehs. And I’m now 7 books closer to hitting my goal for the year.

The Death of Mrs. Westaway by Ruth Ware

(Finished May 3)

This was an interesting throwback to the likes of Agatha Christie and Daphne du Maurier. It is about a young woman struggling with finances after the sudden passing of her mother – the only parent she’s ever known. At a particularly desperate moment in her life, Hal Westaway receives a letter informing her that her grandmother has passed and that she’s entitled to an inheritance. The only hang-up? She’s never heard of the woman. She knows they’ve got the wrong person. And yet, her need for money supersedes her code of ethics. She chooses to go and claim the inheritance anyway.

And then the fun begins.

I won’t say much more because I rather enjoyed piecing together details of the complex puzzle of this story, and I don’t want to rob anyone else of that fun.

Messenger by Lois Lowry

(Finsished May 19)

This is the third book in The Giver series. It is a quick but enjoyable read.

Messenger focuses on Matty, who we met in Gathering Blue. This story takes place several years after Gathering Blue ends. Matty, though still figuring out where his true place within Village lies, serves as a messenger. He alone has been granted special permission by Forest (a creature unto itself with emotions and agency) to safely pass through to deliever messages from those inside and outside of Village. Anyone else who dares try, will find themselves in mortal danger.

Something is happening, and we’re not entirely sure what. But it changes people. It changes values. And before we can fully process everything, we learn that the people of Village have decided they will no longer welcome newcomers. A wall is to be built to close themselves off from the rest of the world.

Matty needs to make one last journey, before the wall is built, through Forest to keep a promise to an old friend. He makes big discoveries along the way, including capabilities he had never known he had.

I really enjoyed this one. It helped ties up some loose ends from the first two books and leaves the reader intrigued enough about what’s going to happen next. I’m excited to read the fourth book in this series.

Divergent by Veronica Roth

(finished May 19)

I picked this one at random so I would have something entertaining to listen to as I walked my dog. I vaguely remember seeing the movie years ago and finding the concept behind the book intriguing, so I decided to give it a go.

This book takes a look at a dystopian society in which people are divided into five factions. Each faction is devoted to one particular value:

Candor, the faction of honesty
Dauntless, the faction of bravery
Abnegation, the faction of selflessness
Erudite, the faction of knowledge
Amity, the faction of peace

Beatrice is tested, like all 16-year-olds are, to see where her aptitude lies and with which faction she truly belongs. Most people have a strong aptitude for a certain faction. But not Beatrice. Her results are inconclusive, leaving her to decide for herself where she wants to spend the rest of her life.

This one was a little bit trying to go through. There are plot holes and endless scenes of brutal battle between teenagers.

Still entertaining enough to give my mind something to focus on as I walk my dog each morning. I’ll likely read other books in the series.

Raise Your Voice: Why We Stay Silent and How To Speak Up by Kathy Khang

(Finished May 20)

This book was chosen as part of Sarah Bessey’s Fieldnotes Book Club for the month of May.

It was written by blogger and activist Kathy Khang. In this book, she encourages the reader with the knowledge that God has given each one of us a voice that He intends for us to use. She examines the obstacles that can get in the way for each of us in using our voice. Obstacles such as power dynamics in regards to race, ethnicity, and gender. She continually turns to the book of Esther as inspiration for what one person – one woman – can do when they decide to speak up and use the voice given to them by God.

I found this book to be extremely empowering. It served as a good reminder that God created me with a unique voice. I am the only one who has walked in my shoes and who can speak my story.

It also served as a humbling reminder that I, as a cishet white woman, do have privilege that others do not. Because of this, its important that I make good decisions in how I choose to use my voice. I can choose to be an ally. I can choose to be silent so that others may speak, and I can listen and learn.

Having a voice means having responsibility and learning to make wise choices so that everyone feels welcome and empowered to sit at the table.

Beyond Flight or Fight: A Compassionate Guide for Working with Fearful Dogs by Sunny Weber
(Finished May 21)

I bought this book after noticing some anxiety issues with my dog. We’re still working on pinpointing anxiety triggers, but she certainly seems to have issues with watching cars and people/dogs walk past our driveway. So I wanted to understand how anxiety in dogs operates.

This book turned out to be written for those dealing with far more fearful dogs than the one I have. But I still found it to be very helpful in understanding how dogs think and what can cause anxieties and fears.

I found myself in tears reading through some of the stories of abuse in this book. I may have even informed my partner while reading this book that we will be going to the shelter to adopt every single last one of the dogs so that they could have a happy home with us – he wasn’t on board, sadly.

It was not the training book that I’d hoped it’d be, though did find some nuggets of wisdom that could be applied to my current situation. It was very helpful, however, in learning to empathize better with anxious dogs.

Chill Out Fido!: How to Calm Your Dog by Nan Kene Arthur

(Finished May 27)

Another book on tackling anxiety in dogs. This one, I felt was a little more helpful for the issues that we are seeing. The book focuses on root causes in over-excited and anxious behaviour and offers a list of new commands to teach that specifically focus on calming behaviour. I really appreciated the focus on positive reinforcement, and I made note of new things to teach my girl.

Adult Children of Emotionally Immature Parents by Lindsay C Gibson

(finished May 27)

This was an extremely helpful book for me to unravel a lot of my own experiences with my own family. A lot of my own emotional development suddenly made a lot of sense when I learned, thanks to this book, to reframe my experiences by investigating my own upbringing. This book dug up a lot of memories and feelings for me, which is ultimately a good thing. Its only by acknowledging these things that I will heal and grow. The book was also extremely helpful for my to understand others in my life and how better to manage relationships with them.

I appreciated Lindsay C Gibson’s wisdom, and found it highly validating of my own choices in setting certain boundaries in my life.

If you find yourself struggling in your relationships, not just with your parents, this may be helpful for you.

What have you been reading lately? Something enjoyable? something educational? I’d love to hear from you in the comments!

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