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Summer Book Challenge : June Reads

Month two of the Semi-Charmed Kind of Life Summer 2014 Book Challenge is completed. I read 5 fascinating books that I highly recommend to anyone! Let’s take a closer at each book I read and perhaps you’ll find your next summer beach read.

Orphan Train by Christina Baker Kline (278 pages)

This book has been on the New York Times Bestseller List for a while and I can definitely see why. I decided on this book because several other readers in the book challenge read it and suggested it. When I looked up what the book was about, I was pleasantly surprised to find out that it takes place partly in Maine! Obviously I had to read it after that. The book tells two stories of two women. The first is Molly Ayer, who is a Penobscot Indian foster child who lives on Mount Desert Island in Maine. She steals a book from the library and is forced to conduct 50 hours of community service or face time in jail. She spends her hours helping an old women, Vivian Daly, clean out her attic at her seaside mansion. During her 50 hours of service, Vivian begins to tell Molly her story of becoming an orphan in NYC after immigrating from Ireland with her family. She, along with thousands of children, were sent by rail from NYC to the midwest via the Orphan Trains. The story is beautifully written and the parallel stories intertwined and enriched each other. I highly suggest this book!

Category: Read a book read by another blogger/challenge participant (15 points)

Lean In by Sheryl Sandberg (228 pages)

Lean_in.JPGWow! I can’t believe I just heard about this book. One of the best eye-opening books I have read in a long time. Sandberg is the chief operating officer of Facebook and has held high-level positions at other companies, such as Google. Sandberg outlines why women don’t seem to hold the same high-level executive positions like men do. There is this rarely spoken about double-standard that women can’t have been a powerful career and a family. Sandberg provides insightful anecdotes from her personal life as well as other women she has met along the way. I was surprised at some of her stories because I have experienced similar stories and situations in my short career life and it does bother me. I hope that my generation will finally break through the gender gap and convince women that you can have a successful career and a family. This is a must read for all women and men.

Category: Read a pair of books with Antonyms in the title (30 points). Paired with Mindy Kaling’s Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? (And Other Concerns)

The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot (369 pages)

This book has been sitting on my nightstand for about two years on my “to read” book pile. I love science and medical books so I’m not sure why I kept putting off reading this. I absolutely fell in love with this book! Interesting enough, in my previous biomedical research life I have done cell culture research with Hela cells. I did a short presentation on Hela cells in my cell biology course years ago before this book was published so I was slightly familiar with them. I loved how Skloot intertwined the science with the personal story of Henrietta. For someone like my self who has conducted research with mice and various cell cultures, sometimes it’s nice to put a face to materials that you use in the lab. It reminds you that people donated (but not in the case of Henrietta) their genetic material/body parts to science in hopes of finding cures for incurable diseases. When my mother died from Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease (CJD), we donated her temporal lobe for research. If you’re looking for something about science with a bit of a human story then I suggest picking up this book.

Category: Read a biography, autobiography or memoir (25 points)

The Fault in Our Stars by John Green (318 pages)

Everyone was fussing about this book and movie so I figured I would check it out. If you have read the book or seen the movie then you know that it has a sad ending. It was a quick read and I really enjoyed the story. As much as I wanted a happy ending, I think the story portrayed cancer actually in the sense that unfortunately not everyone survives. Interesting enough, I have actually done research on osteosarcoma in my past life. I enjoyed this book and if you’ll looking for a quick read then pick this one up. Other than that, you can probably do without reading it.

Category: Read a book on the New York Times Bestseller List when you first start reading it (15 points) – July 13th #1 in Young Adult

Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs (382 pages)

Unknown-3My sister bought this and had it on her nightstand. I was looking for a book with “children” in the title and stole this from her. I wasn’t sure what to expect from this book, but I absolutely fell head-over-heels for this book! I’m usually not a fan of fantasy books, but this book is original and beautifully written. I loved how Riggs based the story off of peculiar photographs from the past. Each character is well crafted and I couldn’t put the book down. I just started reading the sequel today and have about a 100 pages left (it has close to 400 pages in it). I highly recommend this book for young adults and adults alike! :-)

Category: Read a book with “son(s), “daughter(s), or “child(ren)” in the title (20 points)

Missed the books I read it May – check it out here – Summer Book Challenge: May Reads