Late July Reading

Another month has whizzed by and left me getting ever more behind in reading all the books I want to read, but July was another rewarding month of reading for me. I hope you’ll enjoy reading “my take” on the three books I read the last couple of weeks of July. On July 17 (Reading South Africa and South Carolina Novels) I blogged about the two books I read earlier in the month.

The Orphan’s Tale, by Pam Jenoff

I kept reading about The Orphan’s Tale, by Pam Jenoff and decided I wanted to read it. It was the first book I’d read by Ms. Jenoff, who has a fascinating background in government work. I look forward to reading her other books.

         The Orphan’s Tale,           by Pam Jenoff

The Orphan’s Tale revolves around a toddler who is rescued from the Nazis by a young woman who is no longer welcome in her parents’ home. She ends up being taken in by a circus and assigned to the trapeze, although she knows nothing about being an aerialist.

The woman assigned to train her resents her. Throughout this book of numerous twists and turns, the two women resent each other, support each other, and risk their lives for each other. It is a tale of humanity, forgiveness, trust, friendship, love, and loss set in Germany and France during World War II.

Bird-by-Bird:  Some Instructions on Writing and Life, by Anne Lamott

Bird-by-Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life, by Anne Lamott

As someone learning the art and craft of writing, I enjoyed Bird-by-Bird, by Anne Lamott. In the book’s introduction she writes about learning to love books as a child. The following quote comes from the introduction:

“The act of writing turns out to be its own reward.” ~ Anne Lamott

I set out to write about the many things I liked about this book and the beautiful way Ms. Lamott writes about the many things a novelist needs to pay attention to in the writing process. It soon became obvious that today’s blog post would be longer than anyone wanted to read if I did that. Therefore, I will write about Bird-by-Bird in my August 14, 2017 blog post.

The Midnight Cool, by Lydia Peelle

I read this book because it was set in Tennessee during World War I. I haven’t read many novels set in that era and I wanted to learn more about it. I’m participating in the Read America Book Challenge from the Mint Hill Branch of the Public Library of Charlotte and Mecklenburg County. The object of that challenge is to read novels set in as many different US states as possible in 2017. Thirteen down and 37 to go. Seven months down and five to go. Hmmm. Not good.
      The Midnight Cool,         by Lydia Peelle

I was conflicted as I finished reading The Midnight Cool. Lydia Peelle has a way with words, but I found the book hard to follow since the dialogue was not enclosed within quotation marks. It was tedious to have to go back a couple of paragraphs at times in order to discern who was speaking.

I was interested in the subject matter, but the middle of the book did not hold my attention. I enjoyed the last 50 or so pages of the book, so I’m glad I didn’t give up on it. For all the hype of the book to be about mules for World War I and a killer horse, I found it to be more about the two men who traded in mules and the women they loved.

The book gave me some things to think about that I really hadn’t considered before, such as the massive number of mules the United States transported across the Atlantic in ships to pull artillery and do other hard labor in the Allies’ war effort in Europe.

I learned that horses have to be trained, but mules more readily reason things out. (Don’t hate me, horse lovers!) According to the book, the only thing the mules had to be trained in was being fitted with gas masks. Gas masks for mules was another thing that had never crossed my mind. This goes to show that you can learn things from reading well-researched historical novels.

The website,, confirms that George Washington was the “Father of the American Mule.” The site explains that there were advantages that mules had over horses in the Allies’ efforts in World War I in addition to their not needing much training. Mules eat one-third less than horses, they don’t need to drink as much water as horses, and mules are more surefooted than horses.

If Lydia Peelle writes another novel, I will check it out because she has a gift for turning a phrase and I believe she does her research.

Until my next blog post

I hope you have a good book to read. I’m reading Killers of the Flower Moon:  The Osage Murders and the Birth of the FBI by David Grann.

If you’re a writer, I hope you have productive writing time. I also recommend that you read Bird-by-Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life, by Anne Lamott.


16 thoughts on “Late July Reading

  1. These books sound interesting. I see why you choose these to read. I think the Lamont book would hold more interest for me. If I run across the other two, I most likely will check them out too. You have been busy this July 📚Thanks for the recommendations 😊


  2. Hi, Katrina. Being a writer, I think you’d like the Anne Lamott book. I was pleased to find it at the public library. If memory serves me correctly, I think it was published in 1994, so it might be hard to find. (I just realized how scary that sounds. It’s hard to think of 1994 as being a long time ago! It’s been my experience of late that public libraries tend to weed out older books just because they’re “old.”) Thank you for your comments. Happy reading!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Hi Janet
    I found the book on Amazon for $10.00. Believe it or not the paperback was cheaper than the ebook version.
    Thank you again….I can’t wait to get it 😊
    It is on Amazon’s bestselling list for journalism too. It has to be good….📚🌈
    Have a great day☘️🌷

    Liked by 1 person

  4. The Orphan’s Tale is next on my reading list. I finished reading News of the World by Paulette Jiles last week. I thought of you when I chose to read this book because it’s not typically something I would have read. I’m currently reading The Zookeeper’s Wife and We Were The Lucky Ones.
    Enjoy your day!

    Liked by 2 people

  5. I hope you’ll like The Orphan’s Tale! The Zookeeper’s Wife has been on my list for a long time. We Were the Lucky Ones is on my list as well. (I need to start reading faster!) I wasn’t familiar with News of the World by Paulette Jiles, but after reading your comment I read the NY Times review from October and it sounds like a book I might enjoy. Thanks for mentioning it. Thank you very much for your thoughtful comment!


  6. PGO – Please see my reply to you below. It begins with “I hope you’ll like The Orphan’s Tale!” On my computer, at least, it’s not showing up as a response to your comment.


  7. That’s great, Katrina! I hadn’t thought about looking for it online after finding it at the library. I took a lot of notes, though, so having my own copy might have been a time saver. I hope your copy arrives soon and that you like it. I’m always nervous when someone buys a book based on my recommendation. LOL!

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Thank you for your comment! I hope you’ll enjoy reading some of the books I mention from time-to-time on my blog. So many books, so little time! I can’t keep up with my ever-growing list of books I want to read.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. It varies. Sometimes it depends upon a book’s due date at the public library. Sometimes the “mood” I’m in dictates what I read on a given day. It’s not unusual for me to have three books going on at the same time. I have to get on the waitlist at the library for most of the books I want to read. It seems that more times than not I get to the top of the list on two or more books at the same time. There’s no way to judge how quickly I’ll get to the top of a list because of factors such as how many copies the library system has. Four of my favorite authors have new novels scheduled for release on October 3. I’m already on the waitlist for each of them. It’s possible all four books will become available on the same day or week, so I’ve probably set myself up for a challenging time in October! Thank you for your question.

    Liked by 1 person

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