My Week in Books {12/11/19}

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

Also, don’t forget about my Gift Giving Guide for the Bookworms in your life!!

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

Last Week’s Reads:

Screen Shot 2019-12-11 at 7.18.10 AMThe Starless Sea by: Erin Morgenstern (Doubleday) – Pub Date: November 5, 2019

This book took me F O R E V E R to get through, especially the last 100-150 pages! The first 300 pages were interesting and held my attention (though it required A LOT of effort on my part to keep the various storylines straight. The book was a solid 4 star read for me up until I hit the wall around 350 pages. It pains me to say, but I feel like I’m being generous even giving this 3 ½ stars at this point.

There are enough similarities to The Night Circus to allow me to recognize that this is the same author. Morgenstern is masterful at creating atmospheric reads, and for that reason alone this book sustained my attention. I get so fully immersed in these worlds Morgenstern creates and there’s a part of me that wishes these places were a reality. I also loved Morgenstern’s ode to lit lovers – the references to books and authors and reading were absolutely wonderful. But the interwoven stories and characters proved to be a lot to remember and eventually the payoff for that effort started to dwindle.

Ultimately, this book won’t be for everyone. It just demands too much from the reader and I fear it’ll be very polarizing – you’ll either love it or hate it. Maybe with some tighter editing it would be a bit more successful, but I’m so sad to say that this was more a miss than a hit for me. If you’re curious about Morgenstern and her creative genius, choose The Night Circus (my review here) over this one!

Opioid, Indiana by: Brian Allen Carr (SoHo Press) – Pub Date: September 17, 2019

I picked this one up strictly on the looks of the cover…so let’s just say I didn’t get what I was expecting. Honestly, I thought it was going to read like Dopesick by Beth Macy. Umm…😂😂😂. Not even close!

It’s a YA book about a seventeen-year-old who lives with his drug-addicted uncle in the Midwest. It’s goes deeper than just looking at the drug epidemic of present day, and quite honestly, it’s a little depressing. It explores many issues – Trump, school shootings, texting, and drugs – but it’s really a coming-of-age story for the main character, Riggle. His voice is authentic and, had it not been for him, I would have DNF’d this one. There’s a side ‘fable’ of how the days of the week got their name and I hated that part…I’m sure there’s some underlying, metaphorical reason for including it, but I did not enjoy it. Overall, I think this one missed its mark for me…but I could see (older) teenage boys enjoying it.

Currently Reading:

Screen Shot 2019-12-11 at 7.20.00 AM*** Recursion by: Blake Crouch (Crown) – Pub Date: June 11, 2019

Yesterday, I posted about The Top 5 Books I Didn’t Get to in 2019, and this book was on the list. Maybe just pulling it off my shelf was all the motivation I needed because I started it yesterday!I’m twenty pages in…and hooked!

*** Africaville by: Jeffrey Colvin (Amistad) – Pub Date: December 10, 2019

I had to step away for a minute. Unfortunately this one calls for a review, so I’ll have to come back to it, but I would definitely DNF it if I were reading for pleasure. Because it’s multi-generational and the timelines jump around A LOT without any real explanation, it’s pretty confusing to keep the story straight or to forge any connection to the story. I’m hoping it comes together in a more cohesive way soon! 🤞🏼

🎧 *** Ordinary Girls by: Jaquira Díaz (Algonquin) – Pub Date: October 29, 2019

Still making my way through this one. I like it, but I’m just not listening to audiobooks a lot right now. They’re requiring more focus than I’m able to give. I may try to check this one out of the library instead…

 

(#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.)

Top 5 Books I Didn’t Get to in 2019!

Top 5 Tuesday is hosted by Shanah of Bionic Book Worm.Screen Shot 2019-12-10 at 7.07.23 AM2019 was an amazing year for books. I read more than ever before and I think I have more 4- and 5-star reads than I’ve ever had! Because of this, I just wasn’t able to get to all of the books on my list (will I ever?!). I’m a total mood reader so I read what strikes me at the time; sadly, this leaves a lot of books that I want to read stuck on my TBR.

Here are the Top 5 books I just didn’t get to in 2019 (but still hope to get to soon!):

Screen Shot 2019-12-10 at 7.00.31 AMJust Mercy: A Story of Justice and Redemption by: Bryan Stevenson (Spiegel & Grau) – Pub Date: October 21, 2014

Years ago I was watching tv when 48 Hours played a teaser for their upcoming episode. It caught my attention because it was a kid I went to high school with! I immediately went to his social media account to see what the heck was going on. Turns out, his father had been wrongfully convicted of a murder twenty-seven years prior and had just been exonerated. (Here’s some more information about his specific case, if you’re interested: Frank O’Connell, YouTube.)

Since then, I have been curious about our justice system. I read and highly recommend The Sun Does Shine (my review here). I feel like Just Mercy is the next logical step in this process of trying to learn more about our prison system.

Other similar books: A Grip of Time (nonfiction); The Mars Room (fiction); and An American Marriage (fiction); The Graybar Hotel (stories)

Screen Shot 2019-12-10 at 7.01.00 AMThe Unwinding of the Miracle: A Memoir of Life, Death, and Everything That Comes After by: Julie Yip-Williams (Random House) – Pub Date: January 8, 2019

If you’ve been here long, you know I’m all about books about grief and dying (in fact, I wrote a post about it!). I think this will be my next read under that category, and though I think it may be hard to read (a mother dying of cancer hits real close to home), I always gain such insight into books with this topic. Ultimately, they make me feel closer to my mom and help me understand some of what she may have been thinking and going through during her illness.

Some similar books: The Bright Hour: A Memoir of Living and Dying; Motherless Daughters: The Legacy of Loss; Being Mortal: Medicine and What Matters in the End; Option B: Facing Adversity, Building Resilience, and Finding Joy

Screen Shot 2019-12-10 at 7.01.25 AMThis Tender Land by: William Kent Krueger (Atria) – Pub Date: September 3, 2019

I absolutely loved reading Where the Crawdads Sing, so when This Tender Land was compared to that novel, I knew I had to pick it up. So many of my trusted book recommendation sources have sang its praises, but for some reason, it’s continued to fall through the cracks for me. I hope to remedy that soon!

Some similar books: Before We Were Yours; Where the Crawdads Sing

Screen Shot 2019-12-10 at 7.00.02 AMRecursion by: Blake Crouch (Crown) – Pub Date: June 11, 2019

I was completely captured by Crouch’s first novel, Dark Matter, so its surprising to me that I haven’t picked this one up despite the fact that it’s been sitting on my shelf since it was published in June! I think I’m a little nervous that it will be over my head and I won’t understand it – but there’s no way to know without giving it a try…so here’s hoping it makes it into my hands soon!

Some similar books: Dark Matter; Exhaltation; Artemis; Ready Player One

Screen Shot 2019-12-10 at 6.59.41 AMDominicana by: Angie Cruz (Flatiron) – Pub Date: September 3, 2019

I think I originally shied away from this one because I kept seeing mixed reviews. Also, I had just finished reading Patsy for a buddy read and I felt like they might be similar. That’s been a few months ago now, so I think I’m ready to read this one soon!

Some similar books: Patsy; Behold the Dreamers

 

Which book should I read next? Are there any other must read books from 2019 I have to get to soon?

 

 

My Week in Books {12/4/19}

The countdown to Christmas is on. I think something must be wrong with me because I am NOT IN THE MOOD AT ALL. I had to force myself to put the Christmas tree up (and it may or may not only be halfway done…STILL!) and I haven’t done ANY shopping yet. I don’t know what’s wrong with me, but I hope I find the Christmas cheer soon!

Here’s a rundown of my recent posts that you may have missed:

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

Last Week’s Reads:Screen Shot 2019-12-04 at 11.06.33 AM

Nothing to See Here by: Kevin Wilson (ECCO) – Pub Date: October 29, 2019

I’m a little on the fence about this one. I enjoyed it – it’s one of those feel good books that are always nice once in awhile. There’s sarcasm and snark which I loved, and the characters were seriously endearing. But overall it fell flat for me. I was sold on the book when I heard that the kids catch fire, but honestly? That part of the book was super disappointing to me. I wanted to explore that aspect so much more, and for a book where that’s supposedly the main point, it felt like an afterthought. This would make a great choice when your life is busy and overwhelming (like now) because it doesn’t take a lot of brain power to get through, but, for me personally, it was more of a miss than a hit.

Currently Reading:

Screen Shot 2019-12-04 at 11.05.34 AMThe Starless Sea by: Erin Morgenstern (Doubleday) – Pub Date: November 5, 2019

This book d e m a n d s that the reader slooooooows way down in order to fully appreciate what Morgenstern is trying to do here. So far, I’ve seen a lot of mixed reviews and the criticism I see the most is that it’s confusing and hard to follow. So, take my advice: slow down and give this book your full attention. The world building is amazing (just like The Night Circus), but Morgenstern’s descriptive writing is where the similarities end!

🎧 *** Ordinary Girls by: Jaquira Díaz (Algonquin) – Pub Date: October 29, 2019

Just started this one too, and I am really enjoying it!

DNF (aka: Not For Me):Screen Shot 2019-12-04 at 11.10.49 AM

*** 🎧 Get a Life, Chloe Brown by: Talia Hibbert (Avon) – Pub Date: November 5, 2019

This one isn’t going bad; in fact, I enjoy the narrator A LOT. The reality is that I’m not a huge fan of the romance genre, and I’ve read so many this year that I’m kind of over it. This one is also giving me Eleanor Oliphant vibes and I HATED that book…so for now, I’m quitting in an effort to read some other big 2019 books I’d still like to get to! DNF @ 18%.

*** 🎧 The Deep by: Rivers Solomon (Gallery/Saga Press) – Pub Date: November 5, 2019

I’m just confused enough to quit trying. It’s short enough I contemplated pushing through, but I just can’t find the motivation. DNF @ 40%.

Save Me the Plums: My Gourmet Memoir by: Ruth Reichl (Random House) – Pub Date: April 2, 2019

Ugh…I’m b o r e d. Maybe I don’t appreciate food enough!? 🤷🏼‍♀️ DNF @ 22%.

(#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.)

Top 5 Surprising Reads of 2019!

Top 5 Tuesday is hosted by Shanah of Bionic Book Worm.

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After the Flood by: Kassandra Montag (William Morrow) – Pub Date: September 3, 2019

In a futuristic world, global warming has put the majority of Earth underwater. Mia and her daughter, Pearl, live in a rowboat, searching for Mia’s other daughter, Row, who disappeared right before Mia’s family abandoned their home in Nebraska.

What surprised me the most about this book was how compelling it was; I could not put it down! At first, I wasn’t sure how much story you could put into a book about a world full of water. I figured I could only read so much about boats and sharks and the search for food, but I was totally wrong.

Montag’s writing style captured me and I felt like I was living in the boat alongside Mia and Pearl. I felt their confidence as they fished for food, I felt their sadness as they searched for Pearl, and I felt their fear as they encountered pirates.

With themes of motherhood, grief, and survival, I was pleasantly surprised with this one. It will definitely make my Top 10 list (coming soon!) for the year!

Other similar books: The Dutch House, The Most Fun We Ever Had, The Institute, Cantoras, The Gifted School

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Golden Child by: Claire Adam (SJP for Hogarth) – Pub Date: January 29, 2019

Admittedly, this wasn’t a five-star book for me when I initially read it. Quite honestly I wanted to throw it across the room as soon as I finished. It made me mad, f’ed up my thinking, made me evaluate myself and what I think I’d do in a given situation, and WOULD NOT leave my brain.

It’s been almost a year since I read this book and I find myself STILL thinking about it.

Set in Trinidad, life is difficult for Clyde, Joy, and their twin sons, Peter and Paul. Even though Peter and Paul are twins, they are nothing alike. Peter is a genius while Paul has a physical disability that makes school very difficult for him. One day, Peter goes missing. As Clyde searches for him, he is eventually forced to make a difficult decision.

This book is perfect book club material as the ending will leave you with more questions than answers. It will force you to evaluate a lot of thoughts and feelings and you may not be able to come to a satisfying conclusion. You will think about this book for a LONG time after finishing the last page!

Other similar books: A Woman is No Man; Miracle Creek; Patsy; Ask Again, Yes; The Dreamers

Screen Shot 2019-11-29 at 4.42.20 PMDaisy Jones and The Six by: Taylor Jenkins Reid (Ballantine) – Pub Date: March 5, 2019

This type of book is right up my alley, but I was definitely nervous about the format. Thumb through the pages and it looks like a script for a movie. I wasn’t sure I would be able to keep the characters straight and I wasn’t sure that Taylor Jenkins Reid would be able to convey depth without having paragraphs full of narration.

But I was wrong! Taylor Jenkins Reid masterfully weaved together a story of a 1970s rock band and all the complexities of their relationships. Because she included each band members viewpoint, the reader gets to hear all sides of the story…not just the main character(s). I loved how one side of a story was presented, but as soon as the story shifted perspectives, so did the version of the truth.

This book reads so easily, and at times I had to remind myself that this is a work of fiction. Truly unique in its format, it’s the only book that I have ever reread back to back!

Other similar books: City of Girls, Mrs. Everything, Normal People, Summer of ’69, Three Woman

Screen Shot 2019-11-29 at 4.56.01 PMThe Silent Patient by: Alex Michaelides (Celedaon) – Pub Date: February 5, 2019

For years I’ve avoided thrillers because I just don’t seem to love them. Once the big twist is revealed, I rarely understand what happened. Honestly, the entire plot rides on this twist and it usually goes right over my head. That’s frustrating to commit that much time and effort to a story, just to end the book not totally sure what happened or how it concluded.

However, this book intrigued me – a woman shoots her husband and then goes silent – and by silent, I mean not a word, not a peep – for the next several years. The full story is slowly revealed when a new psychiatrist gets a job at the patient facility where this woman now lives.

The Silent Patient made me realize that I actually do like thrillers, especially if they have a good psychological twist!

Other similar books: The Turn of the Key, The Chain, A Nearly Normal Family, The Whisper Man, Lock Every Door

Screen Shot 2019-11-29 at 5.11.36 PMThe Flatshare by: Beth O’Leary (Flatiron) – May 28, 2019

I’m going to sound like a broken record here for a second, but I don’t generally prefer romances (see above regarding thrillers 😂). I generally find them eye-roll worthy (ugh, Eleanor Oliphant); however,  some of the absolute best books of 2019 were in this genre!

When I read the synopsis for this book, I felt like it was going to be way too cheesy for me. Basically, Tiffy goes through a bad break up with her boyfriend and needs a place to live immediately. She answers an ad in the paper that calls for a roommate to “share” the apartment – Leon will have the apartment during the day while Tiffy will have it every night. Tiffy and Leon begin writing each other notes, eventually becoming friends…and more!

I loved the characters in this book so much, and they made me fall in love with the story – cheesiness and all! But, having said that, there was depth to the story, and I was totally taken by surprise by that! If you’re looking for something light and easy, but absolutely entertaining, this book is for you!

Other similar books: Red, White, & Royal Blue; Waiting for Tom Hanks; Evvie Drake Starts Over; The Girl He Used to Know; American Royals

What book took you by surprise this year?

 

 

December Stack of Hopefuls

In an effort to free up some bookshelf space, I’m going to be very picky about the books I’m reading. If they’re not working for me, I’m DNFing – #sorrynotsorry.

There are SO MANY books on my shelf that I somehow didn’t get to, so I really want to highlight some of those reads. (I’m looking at you The Feeding and Care of Ravenously Hungry Girls, Gingerbread, Recursion, The Current, Bowlaway…)

As the new year is almost upon us, I’m going to be doing some evaluation on what worked for me this year, what didn’t, and what I’d like to do differently in 2020. Mostly, things will stay the same (so don’t worry!), but as will everything else, change is good and necessary! Is there anything in particular you would like to see more of, less of, or anything else you would like me to know or be aware of? Please let me know!

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Also on my radar this month:

What book(s) would you recommend that I absolutely have to read before we leave 2019?

 

 

November 2019 Wrap-Up

Here’s my November Wrap-up by the numbers:

  • 13 books total (5 DNFs – don’t @ me!)
  • Average Rating: 3.9
  • 8 physical books, 4 e-books, 1 audiobook
  • 7 fiction, 6 non-fiction
  • Genre: 3 contemporary fiction, 1 literary fiction, 0 historical fiction, 5 memoir, 1 non-fiction, 1 thriller, 2 young adult
  • Rating: 3 ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️, 4 ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️, 4 ⭐️⭐️⭐️💫, 2 ⭐️⭐️⭐️
  • Author: 9 female, 4 male, 0 they/them

So far this year, I’ve read 159 books and my average rating is a 3.9 (Can I get this number to at least 4.0 by the end of the year?!?).

My favorite book of the month was, hands down, KNOW MY NAME. In the Dream House and Inheritance were close contenders.

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Here’s the complete breakdown. (Click on the link to be taken to my original review).

The One That Will Make You Think the Most:

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ 📖 Know My Name by: Chanel Miller (Viking) – Pub Date: September 24, 2019

The Memoir That Will Blow Your Mind:

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ 📖 Inheritance: A Memoir About Genealogy, Paternity, and Love by: Dani Shapiro (Knopf) – Pub Date: January 15, 2019

The One That Tackles Complicated Issues/Relationships:

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ 📱 *** Long Bright River by: Liz Moore (Riverhead) – Pub Date: January 7, 2020

The One That Gives You the Most Accurate Depiction of Abuse:

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ 📖 In the Dream House by: Carmen Maria Machado (Graywolf Press) – Pub Date: November 5, 2019

The One That Will Make Your Heart Hurt, and Then Turn Hopeful:

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ 🎧 *** How We Fight For Our Lives by: Saeed Jones (Simon & Schuster) – Pub Date: October 8, 2019

The One That Will Blow Your Mind With the Coolest Facts:

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ 📱 *** The Body: A Guide for Occupants by: Bill Bryson (Doubleday) – Pub Date: October 15, 2019

The One That’s a Collection of Stories:

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ 📱 Sabrina & Corina: Stories by: Kali Fajardo-Anstine (One World) – Pub Date: April 2, 2019

The One With a Unique Book Premise:

⭐️⭐️⭐️ 📖 Nothing to See Here by: Kevin Wilson (ECCO) – Pub Date: October 29, 2019 (Link on 12/4/19)

The One (Kind of) About Grief:

⭐️⭐️⭐️💫 📖 The Friend by: Sigrid Nunez (Riverhead) – Pub Date: February 6, 2018

The One That Takes You to a Dystopian World:

⭐️⭐️⭐️💫 📱/🎧 *** The Grace Year by: Kim Liggett (Wednesday Books) – Pub. Date: October 8, 2019

The One That’s Deeper Than It Looks (But Is Still Pretty Cheesy):

⭐️⭐️⭐️ 📖/🎧 *** Frankly in Love by: David Yoon (Penguin Teen) – Pub Date: September 10, 2019

The One You Want to Throw Against the Wall: 

⭐️⭐️⭐️💫 📖 Wild Game: My Mother, Her Lover, and Me by: Adrienne Brodeur (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt) – Pub Date: October 15, 2019

The One You Don’t Have to Feel Bad for Skipping:

⭐️⭐️⭐️💫 📖 Beyond the Point by: Claire Gibson (William Morrow) – Pub Date: April 1, 2019

Not For Me (AKA: DNF):

🎧 Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone by: J.K. Rowling (Pottermore) – Pub Date: November 20, 2015

📖 *** Trick Mirror: Reflections on Self-Delusion by: Jia Tolentino (Random House) – Pub Date: August 6, 2019

🎧 *** Get a Life, Chloe Brown by: Talia Hibbert (Avon) – Pub Date: November 5, 2019 (Link 12/4/19)

🎧 *** The Deep by: Rivers Soloman (Gallery/Saga Press) – Pub Date: November 5, 2019 (Link 12/4/19)

📱 Save Me The Plums: My Gourmet Memoir by: Ruth Reichl (Random House) – Pub Date: April 2, 2019 (Link 12/4/19)

What was your favorite read in November?

In case you missed it:

Also, don’t forget about my Gift Giving Guide! It’s got a lot of great gift ideas for the bookworm(s) in your life!

 

(#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.)

Nonfiction Favorites

Here are some of the qualities that make me add a nonfiction book to my list of favorites:

Makes Me Think:

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Well Written:

Screen Shot 2019-11-26 at 9.33.22 AM

 

Teaches Me Something:

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What qualities help a nonfiction read land among your favorites?

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This week’s Nonfiction November post is hosted by Leann of Shelf Aware.