My Week in Books {3/18/20}

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On the one hand, the #coronavirussocialdistancing 🦠😷 has given me a lot of reading time. And I feel a little bit grateful to be able to tackle so many books that are on my TBR list (though I really wish I were grabbing more of them off my #unreadshelf but I always seem to get distracted by the new, bright, and shiny books 🤷🏼‍♀️).

On the other hand, I do find it a little difficult to focus at times. It’s hard to find the balance between an enjoyable escape and being aware of what’s happening in the world around us.

I hope and pray that all of you are doing well. I hope your families are safe and healthy. And I hope that we get through this sooner than later – that it ends up being much milder than some of the most dire predictions. At this point, only time will tell, but there are so many ways to be socially responsible at this time. In the past five days, I have left my house once (my kids not at all) to stock up on some groceries. The kids are currently on Spring Break anyway, so right now they’re not missing school, though our school district has extended that break for another week (when they’ll reevaluate next steps).

🎧 What’s so great about this day and age is how much we’re all connected – through technology and social media. It’s easy to support #smallbusinesses and/or download books from your library through your smart devices. Another wonderful company that I wholeheartedly endorse is Libro.fm. They’re the only audiobook company that directly support the small independent bookstore of your choice. If you’re a member, consider downloading a few audiobooks to lend some support to your favorite bookstore (you can even gift audiobooks and subscriptions!). If you’re not a member yet, follow this link and use my promo code (HAPPIEST) to get 3 audiobooks for the price of one ($14.99)!

Before moving onto some #minibookreviews, here are some links to my recent posts, in case you missed them:

What have you been reading (and loving) this week?

Last Week’s Reads:

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📖 Lab Girl by: Hope Jahren 🌱

I’ve heard great things over the years about this book, and the hype was real! I really, really enjoyed this one – much more than I would have thought possible. I loved how Jahren weaved aspects of her profession into the narrative and made it relative to her real life.

I LOVED BILL! He was incredible and their friendship over their lives was so heartwarming to me. It felt like Jahren was very much alone throughout her life and I was so happy that she and Bill found each other and continued to remain close.

I was a little annoyed that we didn’t get to know more about her relationship with her parents. In the beginning, it seemed as if her and her father were close, but then we never heard another word about him. I understood that her mother and her didn’t have a great relationship and I think it was implied that her mother also suffered from mania/bipolar disorder that probably made connection difficult, but I still would have liked to see that loose end tied up a little better.

Though it did get science-heavy at times, I still found it quite fascinating and I’m eager to get my hands on her latest book, The Story of More: How We Got to Climate Change and Where to Go from Here. It was just release on March 3rd!

This is also the #HWRbooks selection for March (discussion post will go live on March 21); I hope you’ll join the conversation!

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ | Knopf | Pub Date: March 1, 2016 | 290 Pages | Paperback | Purchase via Bookstore Link

📖 *** A Good Neighborhood by: Therese Anne Fowler 🍁

This would have no doubt been a 5-star read for me if not for the bizarre and uncomfortable obsession with one of the characters (No spoilers…but if you want to know, be sure to send me an email at happiestwhenreading@yahoo.com.)

Moving on…

This book had all the elements I love in a book – unlikeable characters, drama, young love, and gossip between neighbors that gave it that Desperate Housewives vibe. And even though the writing was totally engrossing and I couldn’t put it down or turn the pages fast enough, it still left me wanting something more when I finished the last page.

In a way, it felt like Fowler built up this huge confrontation and then totally rushed the ending. My favorite character ended up being the villian (unfairly so, imo) and it let me donw. I suppose it was to prove a point (that racism in America is unfair and damaging and the wrong people often pay the price for that viewpoint), but for me, it wasn’t executed well enough for me to buy it.

Even though I’m not over-the-moon about this book, I didn’t feel like it was a waste of my time. If anything, I’m wishy-washy because it made me uncomfortable (usually a good thing), it left me with a lot to evaluate (always a good thing), and I’m still processing my thoughts and may end up revising my rating (also a good thing). (I struggled between 3 ½- and 4-stars, ultimately settling on 4-stars with a few **reservations to note.)

This book would make an excellent book club selection for all the reasons listed above. I think there’s a lot to dissect here and if you’ve read, please comment so we can discuss! I’m dying to talk about it!

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ | St. Martin’s Press | Pub Date: March 10, 2020 | 279 Pages | ARC (Paperback) | Purchase via Bookstore Link

🎧 *** The Witches Are Coming by: Lindy West 🧙🏼‍♀️

I can honestly say that I loved every single essay in this collection of feminist power! This book is also a great example of not having to agree with every aspect of another person’s thoughts and beliefs but still being able to see value in their perspective. I think West is smart and well-articulated; I plan on returning to this collection many times. I listened to this on audio, and it was FANTASTIC!

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️💫 Hachette Books | Pub Date: November 5, 2019 | 260 Pages | ARC (Audiobook) | Purchase via Bookstore Link

📱 *** Under the Rainbow by: Celia Laskey 🌈

I love that an author was courageous enough to take on small-town homophobia!! 👏🏼👏🏼👏🏼 Living in a town very, very similar to Burr City, I felt myself nodding my head up and down over and over again!

After Burr City, Kansas is determined to be the most homophobic town in the United States, a LGTBQ non-profit group of activists moves in to try to spread awareness and acceptance among its residence. As you can imagine, they’re not welcomed with open arms, but as they continue to hold listening sessions, luaus, and information sessions, a few people start to appreciate their message.

Each chapter is a new person’s perspective. At first, I was worried I couldn’t keep them all straight, but Laskey did a wonderful job of connecting all the pieces. I loved the depth she gave each character and the message that was conveyed through this style of storytelling. Her character development was exceptional, but also frustrating. Just went I felt a deep connection to the character, it felt like the chapter ended and we moved on to a new person. Some of the stories felt dropped because of this and kind left me deflated.

I personally found most of Laskey’s homophobic behavior to be fairly accurate, unfortunately. It continues to sadden me that people can be so close-minded about a person for such ridiculous reasons. Literally just the other night at dinner, I got into a “discussion” with a local man because he called the Govenor of Colorado (who is openly gay) a deragotary name and suggested that he’s incapable of being a good govenor because of his sexual orientation. I called him out on his disgusting behavior and he quickly paid his bill and left without another glance my way – good riddance. Sometimes I feel like the only fish in the sea – but then I remember that queer people have felt this way much longer, so I dig my heels in and continue to advocate as best as I can.

P.S. I LOVE the cover…Riverhead always kills it with their covers! 😍

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ | Riverhead | Pub Date: March 3, 2020 | 288 Pages | ARC (E-book) | Purchase via Bookstore Link

📖 *** Anna K by: Jenny Lee 💰

When I saw comparisons to Gossip Girl, I was all in! I loved that show of elite teenagers seemingly running wild on the streets of New York, and this book had many of the same vibes. Drugs, sex, parties, privilege, and money galore, Lee takes the classic, Anna Karenina, and gives it a fun, modern YA twist among the NYC high school social scene.

There were many times while reading that I wondered if the elite of NYC high school students truly acted this way (same as I used to do when watching Gossip Girl). I don’t know if it’s an accurate portrayal or not, but either way it’s fun to read (watch)!

I know nothing about Anna Karenina, and it’s not necessary to enjoy this book. I feel like this was a great read – not too heavy, not too light – to escape into during the beginnings of the #coronavirus pandemic.

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ | Flatiron Books | Pub Date: March 3, 2020 | 448 Pages | ARC (Hardcover) | Purchase via Bookstore Link

Currently Reading:

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📖 The Two Lives of Lydia Bird by: Josie Silver 🐦

Just started and I’m already hooked.

Ballantine Books | Pub Date: March 3, 2020 | 369 Pages | Hardcover | Purchase via Bookstore Link 

DNF (aka: Not For Me and/or Skipping For Now):

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📖 Scythe (Arc of a Scythe, #1) by: Neal Shusterman ⚰️

Maybe it’s the timing, I don’t know, but I’m definitely not feeling this one. It feels very slow to start and the premise and writing just aren’t grabbing me. I think I’ll pass it on to my teenage son who says “everyone” is reading it at school.

DNF @ 24% | Simon Schuster Books for Young Readers | Pub Date: November 22, 2016 | 435 Pages | Paperback | Purchase via Bookstore Link

#DNFingWithoutApologyin2020

(#partner #freebooks: All books noted by asterisks (***) indicate I received the book for free from the publisher, the author, or another promotional company to review. All opinions are my own.)

10 thoughts on “My Week in Books {3/18/20}

  1. Oh my gosh…you are AMAZING! I don’t know that I would have the courage to speak up like that. I think I would have fumed, gotten up to leave and said something on the way out.

    I’m a bit tougher on A Good Neighborhood than you. I agree absolutely about the one issue and that I don’t regret reading it. I was just hoping for something more substantive and instead it felt as if it were more about the sensationalistic.

    I have got to get Anna K. I keep hearing wonderful things about it.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Wow, it seems like you’ve been reading a lot of great books! I loved Lab Girl, but didn’t know the author was releasing another book, so thanks for highlighting that 🙂 I really like Lindy West’s Shrill, but haven’t yet gotten to The Witches Are Coming and would like to. The Good Neighbor is also on my to-read pile and while I’ve heard mixed things about it, it seems like the sort of fast-paced read I might enjoy right now. Thanks for the great reviews!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Jahren’s new book was just released on March 5!

      I’ve heard some like Shrill better than Witches, so I’m excited to try it as well!

      I think A Good Neighborhood was perfect for those reasons! I hope you enjoy it!

      Like

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