My Week in Books {1/15/20}

I’ve been quiet here; I’m not sure where my motivation is, but…

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In case you missed them, here are some links to my recent posts:

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

Last Week’s Reads:

📱*** Such a Fun Age by: Kiley Reid (Putnam) – Pub Date: December 31, 2019

**Unpopular Opinion!** I may be the only person in the world that isn’t a fan of this book! While it was readable, the writing was juvenile at best. I honestly thought I was reading YA (and believe it would have been better within that genre). There were a lot of disjumbled plot points (the husband’s racist remark on air) that were never fully explored that left me frustrated. At times I felt like Reid was trying to solve too many issues, leaving most of them half-finished. I thought the characters were horrific with no redeemable qualities; Emira was my favorite character, but she was a little too naive for my total endearment. (I did love little Briar though!) Overall, I was extremely underwhelmed by this story and won’t find myself joining everyone else on the bandwagon. ⭐️⭐️⭐️

📖 The Library Book by: Susan Orlean (Simon & Schuster) – Pub Date: October 16, 2018

This book has been on my Unread Shelf for awhile and as part of my committment to reading my Unread Shelf in 2020, I finally picked it up! I have heard high praise for this one, and while I mostly agree, I was a bit bored. There is  A LOT of research and information about libraries (specifically the Los Angeles Public Library), and after awhile, I found myself skimming parts of it. (It also talks about the fire of 1986 that decimated the LA Public Library which was absolutely fascinating!) This book truly is a love letter to libraries, librarians, and even LA itself. It’s worth the read, but also not as good as I was hoping! ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Currently Reading:

📖 *** A Long Petal of the Sea by: Isabel Allende (Ballantine) – Pub Date: January 21, 2020

I know absolutely NOTHING about the Spanish Civil War, so this book has been blowing my mind! Just before WWII broke out across Europe, Spain found themselves in a battle for their own country. Admist talks about a giant war looming on the horizon, Spainards still fled to France as refugees. There, 2200 Spanish refugees were removed from the French internment camps by poet Pablo Neruda, put on the SS Winnipeg ship, and sent to Chile under President Pedro Auirre Cerda‘s endorsement. This story takes off from there, following one family through their experience. It’s a little heavy on the factual information and that is kind of detracting from the character development a little bit, but I’m really enjoying this historical fiction novel!

📖 Little Women by: Louisa May Alcott ( Roberts Brothers) – Pub Date: September 30, 1868

Oh boy…I’m going to keep trying to push through this one for a little bit, but I’m starting to see why “classics” is not the genre for me. I really wanted to read this one before the movie is released on DVD in March, but I may have to DNF – and skip the movie?!?! 🤷🏼‍♀️

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

📖 The Garden of Small Beginnings by: Abbi Waxman (Berkley) – Pub Date: May 2, 2017

I DNFd The Bookish Life of Nina Hill earlier this year, and now I’m DNFing this one as well. I think Waxman’s writing is just to cutesy for me. I don’t know – but I was bored and I’m not going to force myself to read anything in 2020. #DNFingWithoutApologyin2020

My Week in Books {1/9/20}

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I’m a day behind already and it’s only January 9th!

In case you missed them, here are some links to my recent posts:

Best of 2019 Posts:

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

Last Week’s Reads:

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📖 Me by: Elton John (Henry Holt ) – Pub Date: October 15, 2019

It’s January 3rd and I’ve already found my first ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ read of the year!

I grew up listening to Elton John’s music in the background of my house on Sunday mornings. I can’t say I knew it was Elton John actually singing, it’s just a familiarity I had to his music when one of his songs played (let’s be honest, I still don’t know artists to some of my favorite songs 🤷🏼‍♀️). But who doesn’t know Tiny DancerBenny and the Jetts, Rocket Man…I could go on and on.

Anyway, my true love for Elton John came when he put on a concert in Laramie, Wyoming after the tragic death of Matthew Shepard. He played for hours in a tribute to Matthew Shepard and also in an effort to raise awareness to the inequality LGTBQ community experienced (and sadly, still does). He was incredible, playing for hours on end in the Arena Auditorium. I will never forget that night, not just for the concert he put on, but for the humbling experience that it was.

ME is the first and only autobiography available. In it, Elton John holds nothing back. He spills it all – from his horrifying parents to his drug use to juicy celebrity gossip to his beautiful family with David and their two sons. It is unflichingly honest, even when it makes himself look terrible. He was an addict and it made him treat some of the people closest to him poorly, but he checked himself into rehab and completely changed his life around, all while managing a career that has spanned over fifty years!

Also quite inspiring to me is Elton John’s work within the HIV/AIDS community. Since his nonprofit, Elton John AIDS Foundation, was started in the early 1990s, it has raised over $450 million dollars “to challenge discrimination against people affected by the epidemic, prevent infections, provide treatment and services, and motivate governments to end AIDS”.

He’s quite the individual and I will forever remain a loyal fan.

I also highly recommend the movie (which follows ME in the big areas), Rocket Man. It’s incredible in its own right as well!

📖 *** Dear Edward by: Ann Napolitano (The Dial Press) – Pub Date: January 6, 2019

This was my first selection of 2020 for #HWRbooks, my personal online book club I run through my Instagram page, @happiestwhenreading! The discussion post will go live on Saturday, January 25 and I’d love to have you join in the conversation!

The synopsis of this one pulled me in! It’s a coming-of-age story about a young boy who is the sole survivor of a plane crash. It examines the effects that accident and his grief then have on his teenage years.

For me, the book was too easy. I was looking for some serious examination of survior’s guilt and grief, but it lacked in these areas. I found many parts of the story unrealistic and I found myself continually hoping for more. One aspect I really liked was Edward’s relationship with Shay, a girl who lived next door from his aunt and uncle. She provided the grounding Edward needed to deal with his new circumstances.

The discussion post for Dear Edward will be up on January 25th, so I don’t want to go into too much more detail on my thoughts, so keep an eye out for it!

📖 *** Saint X by: Alexis Schaitkin (Celadon) – Pub Date: February 18, 2020

This one started off strong! I was really enjoying the island vibes and the mysterious disappearance that was reminiscent of Natalee Holloway, an 18-year-old woman that was in Aruba with others from her high school graduating class who disappeared in 2005 and has never been seen or heard from again.

Around the last 50% mark, the book slowed way down – which I don’t mind at all! I enjoyed the writing and I was completely invested in how the story was going to play out. Then around the last 25% of the book, it took a very unrealistic turn and the climax that was building throughout the story was completely disappointing. Because of that ending, I’m not entirely sure how I feel about the book overall…I’m going to have to let it be for awhile and see how it sticks with me over time.

(As a side note, I couldn’t help wondering how a book like this might make Holloway’s family feel. There are many similarities to her case and I think, as a mother, I wouldn’t enjoy this publication too much. Also, because this book really looks at the afterlives of a family after the disappearance of their loved one, this story would feel unsettling to me. If you’ve read it, what do you think about this aspect?)

Currently Reading:

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📱*** Such a Fun Age by: Kiley Reid (Putnam) – Pub Date: December 31, 2019

Just started this one but the buzz is everywhere!

Q1: Most Anticipated

After last year’s stellar book releases, I wasn’t sure 2020 could compete, but this year is shaping up to be another great year of reading!

Here are the book releases I’m most looking foward this winter!

What books are you most anticipating?

January 2020

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February 2020

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March 2020

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The Unread Shelf 2020


I have never participated in The Unread Shelf. But just when my frustration with my overflowing bookshelves had peaked, I ran across its concept on #bookstagram. It was like kismet – exactly the solution I was looking for!

Over the course of this year, I’m going to focus on the books I already own. The books I bought with every intention of reading, but quickly got disctracted by the shiny new books instead. Not only do I want to clear my bookshelves a little bit, the books that are sitting there currently are books I acutally want to read!

In full disclosure, I will still be adding some books to my shelf. I have a few partnerships with publishing companies and I will continue to honor those relationships. Also, I have credits with Book of the Month so I’ll still pick some books from them (although I am going to try to be pickier with my selections and only pick books I really, really want to read)! Along the same lines, I have a paid subscription to Books Are Magic which my husband purchased for me so I will get those books monthly as well. Lastly, I got a few gift cards to Barnes & Noble for Christmas and I will save those for those books I have severe #fomo over!

As you can see, there’s absolutely no reason for me to actually be buying books – I get plenty as it already is! It’s kind of ridiculous when I think about it, so this is a great option for me!

For the first assignment, Whitney had us count up the unread books currently on our shelves. Between physical books and my Kindle, I have 417 unread books! I was floored! Ugh. That number feels overwhelming and ridiculous; time to start tackling it!

Every month, Whitney has challenges to participate in and January’s challenge is to read any unread book from our shelves. My book selection for this category is:

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The Garden of Small Beginnings by: Abbi Waxman

In addition to the monthly challenge, there are also tasks to complete. Besides counting the total unread books on our shelves, we are to make a Top 10 TBR list for the year. Here is my Top 10 TBR:


Additionally, there is a book buying and library BAN for the monthno book buying and/or library books all month long! I LOVE this…and was caught redhanded because I’d already checked out some library books. Back they went, and if I still want to read them in February, I’ll recheck them out. Every other month this ban will be in effect; I like this idea and I’m going to follow it!

Lastly, because these books are already bought and paid for and my ultimate goal is to decrease the amount of books on my shelves, I am not going to suffer through a book that isn’t working for me. I will DNF with no apologies.

If you’re like me, the thought of a cleaner library is exhilerating. I’d love to hear if you’re participating in the #unreadshelf project so we can cheer each other on!


January #HWRbooks: Dear Edward

Announcing the first #HWRbooks selection of 2020:

Dear Edward by: Ann Napolitano (The Dial Press) – Pub Date: January 6, 2020

From the publisher:

“Inspired by a true story of one child’s incredible survival–riveting, uplifting, unforgettable.

After losing everything, a young boy discovers there are still reasons for hope in this luminous, life-affirming novel, perfect for fans of Celeste Ng and Ann Patchett.

In the face of tragedy, what does it take to find joy?

One summer morning, twelve-year-old Edward Adler, his beloved older brother, his parents, and 183 other passengers board a flight in Newark headed for Los Angeles. Among them is a Wall Street wunderkind, a young woman coming to terms with an unexpected pregnancy, an injured vet returning from Afghanistan, a septuagenarian business tycoon, and a free-spirited woman running away from her controlling husband. And then, tragically, the plane crashes. Edward is the sole survivor.

Edward’s story captures the attention of the nation, but he struggles to find a place for himself in a world without his family. He continues to feel that a piece of him has been left in the sky, forever tied to the plane and all of his fellow passengers. But then he makes an unexpected discovery–one that will lead him to the answers of some of life’s most profound questions: When you’ve lost everything, how do find yourself? How do you discover your purpose? What does it mean not just to survive, but to truly live?

Dear Edward is at once a transcendent coming-of-age story, a multidimensional portrait of an unforgettable cast of characters, and a breathtaking illustration of all the ways a broken heart learns to love again.”

I like to keep these buddy reads as easy and carefree as possible so everyone can enjoy the book and not get too freaked out or worried.

The discussion for Dear Edward will be on Saturday, January 25, 2020.

There will be a post on my Instagram feed (find me here: @happiestwhenreading) with some discussions relating to the book. There is no specific time to check in and discuss – because if your life is anything like mine, it’s chaotic. When you have some time, check in and throw your thoughts out, respond to some other people, and continue to do that…obviously, the more interaction, the more fun this will be!

If you have any questions, comments, or concerns, please let me know!

Until then, happy reading!

My Week in Books {1/2/20}

After a hectic start to the Christmas Break, I’ve finally had a few days to chill out. Mostly I’ve missed having some time to read, so I’m excited to get as much of that in as I can!

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In case you missed them, here are some links to my recent posts:

Best of 2019 Posts:

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

Last Week’s Reads:

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📱 The Song of Achilles by: Madeline Miller (Bloomsbury) – Pub Date: September 20, 2011 ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

I loved Circe and had no idea that Miller had written a book prior to that one. Miller once again proves her storytelling abilities with this tale of the Greeks who go to Troy to save Helen, who was kidnapped by Paris. We also get a closer look into the life of Achilles and his romantic relationship with Petroclus. I wasn’t expecting a romance, but admist the battles and mythology, I was privvy to Achilles and Petroclus’ beautiful relationship. I really enjoyed this book, especially the last 100 pages or so. There were parts of this book that felt like a slog to get through, but I’m sure it has more with the timing (hello, Christmas break!) than the story itself. Miller truly has a gift for the retellings of mythology and I can’t wait for her next book which will be a retelling of The Tempest!

Currently Reading:

Screen Shot 2020-01-01 at 5.17.53 PM📖 Me by: Elton John (Henry Holt ) – Pub Date: October 15, 2019

Growing up, my mama loved Elton John. His music used to blare through the radio on Sunday mornings as breakfast was being cooked. For me, his music is comfort – reminiscent of a time where life was simple, easy, and happy…of when my mama was still alive. I could not wait to watch the movie, Rocketman, and after having done that, I immediately ran to my bookshelves and started reading his memoir, Me. I’m only a few chapters in, but I am loving this behind-the-scenes look into Elton John’s life.

Also, the movie is amazing! I would highly recommend it, right along with Bohemian Rhapsody!

(#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.)


It’s 2020! January TBR

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How in the world is it the year 2020? I remember when I was a kid growing up that 2020 sounded so futuristic. I didn’t think I’d be alive to see it (I mean, it was the 1900s and anything in the new century sounded unbelievable to me!). Anyway, here we are! Clearly, I’m alive and well and net even close to being dead…so the joke is on me! 🤪

In terms of goals and intentions, I meant to be more prepared for this new year…but I tend to do better under pressure so I’m going to keep winging it like I always have been!

One thing I’m doing differently is that I’m not setting a quantity goal for the year (I’ll still set something on Goodreads because I love the Year in Review they provide!). I want to focus on quality instead – increasing my average page count per book, amount of pages read overall, and enjoying what I read.

I am also putting myself on a book buying ban. I’m not doing it out of shame or anything other than trying to read the books I already own! To help me do that, I will be participating in the Unread Shelf Challenge hosted by Whitney at The Unread Shelf (more on this in a post later this week). Many of the books currently on my shelf I bought with the intention of reading right away, but then I got distracted by a new release or persuaded by a trusted book source. In full disclosure, I will still be adding some new books to my shelves through partnerships I have with publishers. Also, I was lucky enough to get a few gift cards for Christmas, so if there’s a book I’m absolutely dying to read, I will get it! Last, I already have credits with Book of the Month (<– affiliate link!) so those won’t count on the ban either.


To help me whiddle down my books, I have a few categories I’d like to try to hit each month:

Other books up for consideration:

There you have it! What’s on your list of hopefuls for the month of January?