Q2: Most Anticipated

Here are the book releases I’m looking forward to this Spring!

What books are you most anticipating?

April 2020

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May 2020

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June 2020

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My Week in Books {4/8/20}

Life is still crazy! If I’m being honest, the first two weeks of quarantine were pretty nice, but I’m starting to reach my limit. It’s not that I need (or even want) to be social, I think it’s just the thought that I CAN’T that gets me. I’m a terrible person when it comes to being told what I can and can’t do…however, I understand. I’m not advocating to end the measures…just taking a moment to complain and throw myself a pity party. I’m still so grateful for the extra time with my kids and to read!

How about you? How are you coping? I sincerely hope you’re all doing ok and staying healthy!

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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📱 *** The Book of Rosy: A Mother’s Story of Separation at the Border by: Rosayra Pablo Cruz

First off, this book is important. It gives a personal account of escaping the trauma and violence that is common place in Guatamala and Mexico as a woman and her son journey towards North America. I really enjoyed the memoir part of the book – Rosayra’s personal account of immigration. At the border, she is separated from her children and lives in a jail for eighty-one days. Her bail is posted by a nonprofit group out of New York that made it their mission to fight the injustices the migrants find at the border.

Part II of the book transitioned to the head of this nonprofit company and that’s where the book lost its steam to me. I also value this part of the story, but its inclusion with Rosayra’s story felt clunky to me and didn’t transition well. Maybe it would have went a little better with some introduction, but it took me half of the first chapter to realize we had a new narrator…I thought that it was a flash forward instead of the new perspective of the nonprofit.

Earlier this year, the publication of American Dirt came under fire as not accurately depicting life south of the border. Many people expressed that these types of stories should be written by #ownvoices so that those inaccuracies would be avoided. Because of that controversy, The Book of Rosy came on my radar. I felt like it was important for me to read an personal account of immigration, and now having finished The Book of Rosy, I’m more confused than ever about the earlier outrage. While American Dirt is fiction and The Book of Rosy is nonfiction, the parallels in both books are numerous. One of the chief complaints was that American Dirt inaccurately portrayed life in Guatamala and Mexico, but The Book of Rosy contradicts that notion – also depicting life in this part of the world as scary, violent, and controlled by the cartel.

Reading both of these books is imporatant so that you can form your own opinions on the controversy, and I’m grateful for the opportunity. I would love to talk to more people as they read both of these books, so if that’s you, message me!

⭐️⭐️⭐️💫 | HarperOne | Pub Date: June 2, 2020 | 256 Pages | Ebook (ARC)| Available for Pre-Oder (contact your favorite independent bookstore)

📱*** The Knockout Queen by: Rufi Thorpe

My book twin, Sarah from Sarah’s Book Shelves, recently raved about this one, so I added it to my TBR immediately!

This is one of my favorite kinds of books: a coming-of-age story with depth and nuance. The writing was spectacular and I found that I had a hard time putting it down once I started reading. There was evident angst throughout the book that kept me compelled to keep turning the pages so I could find out what happened.

I really appreciated Bunny and Michael – and their relationship with each other. There were many secondary characters that really stood out as well – Aunt DeeDee, Terrance, and Ray (though totally unlikeable) – but the heart of the story examines the ups and downs of Bunny and Michael’s friendship.

In the end, the writing and characters of this book kept me interested and reading. I was disappointed in the abrupt ending and a few other issues that were never resolved. The story didn’t seem to hav a clear ending (and towards the end of the book, Normal People started popping into my head as a book that also left me unsatisfied).

Also, though it may be a minor grievance, but I did not appreciate the way Thorpe portrayed Bunny’s “size”. She was 6’3″ and 168 pounds…and the way you’d read it in the book, she was a monster and unlikable because of her size. I kind of get the importance of her size (no spoilers), but this is not a big girl and certainly shouldn’t have been portrayed as gross or unbecoming – which was totally the vibes I got from the descriptions. Maybe I’m sensitive because I’m 6′ tall myself, and I know I’m taller than most other women, but this aspect of the book was offensive to me!

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ | Knopf | Pub Date: April 28, 2020 | 288 Pages | Ebook (ARC) | Available for Pre-order (contact your favorite independent bookstore)

📖 The Affairs of the Falcóns by: Melissa Rivero

I can’t imagine always having to look over my shoulder in order to protect my family. What it must feel like to always fear police and immigration officials who will deport you back to your home country without a second thought. On top of that, always having to struggle financially, working every single odds and ends job you can find, regardless of the fact that you may be more qualified for a better job, but lack the necessary documentation to obtain one.

All of these issues (and more) are presented in this book. It really demonstrates the daily life of an undocumented person navigating life in NYC. It’s heartbreaking to know that there are many people living like this in our country. I’m glad I read a story that portrays that so well.

Overall, I really enjoyed the insider’s look into an undocumented family, but something about the writing didn’t fully engage me. I saw the struggles of each of the characters and appreciate their contribution to the advancement of the story, but I’m worried this will become a forgettable story to me over time. There just wasn’t that special ‘something’ that made it a compelling story for me.

⭐️⭐️⭐️💫 | ECCO | Pub Date: April 2, 2019 | 277 Pages | Hardcover | Purchase via Bookstore Link

Currently Reading:

Screen Shot 2020-04-08 at 9.58.35 AM📖 *** Oona Out of Order by: Margarita Montimore

Literally just started this one last night, so I don’t have many thoughts on it yet. But Jordan (@jordys.book.club) and Katie (@basicbsguide) both loved it, so I have high hopes!

Flatiron Books | Pub Date: February 25, 2020 | 352 Pages | Hardcover | Purchase via Bookstore Link

🎧 *** Catch and Kill: Lies, Spies, and a Conspiracy to Protect Predators by: Ronan Farrow

I have been kind of busy lately so I haven’t been able to really listen to an audiobook. The  first night I started this one, I couldn’t stop! I’m sure it’s just a matter of trying again…maybe I should take this as a sign to clean my house?!?

Little, Brown and Company | Pub Date: October 15, 2019 | 448 Pages | Audiobook | Purchase via Bookstore Link

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

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📖 *** The Women’s War (Women’s War, #1) by: Jenna Glass

It pains me to DNF this one, but it really could have used a tighter edit. The story has so much promise but it’s been a total slog for me. Once I sit down to read it, I quickly become immersed, but I find that I’m not super motivated to pick it up in the first place. DNF @ 44%.

DNF | Del Rey Books | Pub Date: March 5, 2019 | 560 Pages | Hardcover | Purchase via Bookstore Link

📱 *** Hood Feminism: Notes from the Women That a Movement Forgot by: Mikki Kendall

This is just too deep for my mindset right now. DNF @ 11%.

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

📖 *** Ingredients: The Strange Chemisty of What We Put In Us and On Us by: George Zaidan

Unfortunately, this was a DNF for me at 33%. It was way too sciencey for me, and though it was presented almost cartoonish (assumingly to “dumb it down” for non-sciencey people), I still didn’t get it. It was over my head and I wasn’t understanding.

Dutton | Pub Date: April 14, 2020 | 320 Pages | Hardcover | Available for Pre-order (contact your favorite independent bookstore)

#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.)

Once Upon a Book Club: A Fun and Unique Book Subsription Service

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A couple months ago, Once Upon a Book Club reached out and asked if I’d like to partner with them to feature their book subscription service. I headed to their website to browse around and see what their company is all about.

What I found was so fresh, fun, and exciting! Every month, subscribers receive a book in the mail along with 3-5 wrapped gifts. As the reader reads the book, they will come upon sticky notes that tells them to open the corresponding gift. It’s a total surprise and it makes the book come to life in an exciting and unique way!

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My first box arrived last month and I immediately moved the book to the top of my TBR because I really wanted to know what was in those gifts! It’s been a long time since I’ve been so excited to read a book!

The book I received was The Long Flight Home by Alan Hlad (Kensington Publishing Corp.). I love WWII fiction and the aspect promised in this book was especially intriguing. The British Royal Air Force air-dropped homing pigeons in German-occupied France. Those that survived the mission would make the journey home to England and deliver information about the German troops’ movements.

“A homing pigeon can travel distances of up to six hundred miles per day, fly at speeds of seventy miles an hour, and reach altitudes as high as thirty-five thousand feet. At that height, Ollie, the temperature would be thirty-five degrees below zero, and a pilot would need a heated suit and oxygen.”

I was absolutely enthralled with the pigeons, but the rest of the story really lacked engagement for me. I felt like the writing was amatuerish and I felt like the ending was too tidy and convenient. I’m happy I read the book just to learn more about the National Pigeon Service, but that’s about all I gained from the experience.

Regardless of the book, the gifts in the box totally added to my reading and added a fresh element to the experience. If you’d like to give the box a try for yourself, use my exclusive coupon code: HAPPIESTWHENREADING10. It will get you 10% off your box!

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Q1: Unread Shelf Project 2020

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This year, I’m participating in Whitney’s Unread Shelf Project. The idea is to read the books you already own…that are already on your shelf! Towards the end of last year, I started feeling overwhelmed at the amount of books piling up on my shelves. I knew it was time to do something about it, so I commited a huge chunk of my 2020 reading towards that goal.

In January, I counted up all of the unread books on my shelf and the number shocked me. It was 417! By the end of the month, I had gone in the wrong direction…and my new number was 444! 🤦🏼‍♀️

Let’s just say that January gave me a HUGE WAKE-UP CALL!

As the first quarter of 2020 closes, I currently have 389 books on my shelves (after a major book donation to my local library)!

I am happy I’m moving in the right direction, but I can see that I still have a long ways to go before December ends.

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Monthly Themes:

January: Any Unread Books:

  • Me by: Elton John
  • The Library Book by: Susan Orlean
  • The Wolf Wants In by: Laura McHugh
  • The Garden of Small Beginnings by: Abbi Waxman (DNF)
  • Maybe in Another Life by: Taylor Jenkins Reid (DNF)

February: Books Gifted To You:

  • The Gown: A Novel of the Royal Wedding by: Jennifer Robson
  • The Care and Feeding of Ravenously Hungry Girls by: Anissa Gray
  • Burnout by: Emily and Amelia Nagoski
  • Big Lies in a Small Town by: Diane Chamberlain
  • The Water Will Come by: Jeff Goodell
  • There Will Be No Miracles Here by: Casey Gerald (DNF)
  • Wyoming by: J.P. Gritton (DNF)

March: Books That Have Been On Your Shelf the Longest:

  • From Scratch by: Tembi Locke
  • Severance by: Ling Ma
  • Hillbilly Elegy by: J.D. Vance
  • 🎧 Make It Scream, Make It Burn by: Leslie Jamison
  • Lab Girl by: Hope Jahren
  • 🎧 The Witches Are Coming by: Lindy West
  • Ninth House by: Leigh Bardugo
  • The Simple Wild by: K.A. Tucker

That’s my update for the first quarter of 2020! I’m going to keep plugging away on the #unreadshelfproject2020!

April 2020 TBR

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I’m still participating in the Unread Shelf Challenge hosted by Whitney at The Unread Shelf, and this month’s Unread Shelf Challenge is to read the books that you have most recently acquired, so I’m building my March TBR with this thought in mind.

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 April?

My Week in Books {4/1/20}

Let’s all take a moment and kiss the garbage that was March 2020 G O O D B Y E ! 👋🏼

I was secretly hoping we’d all wake up today and realize this whole #covid19 was a horrible April Fool’s Day joke…but no such luck. (Speaking of which, anybody have a good April Fool’s Day joke?!?)

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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📖 *** The Long Flight Home by: Alan Hlad

Have you heard of Once Upon a Book Club? It’s a fun monthly subscription service that not only sends you a book, it also includes 3-5 wrapped gifts that you open on corresponding pages. It brings the book to life in such a fun and unique way! If you’d like to give it a try, use my promo code HAPPIESTWHENREADING10 and enjoy!

I read a lot of historical fiction (and specifically, those focused on the World War II era), and The Long Flight Home introduced me to an aspect I haven’t heard a lot about – the use of pigeons by the British forces to help stop Hitler and his army.

“A homing pigeon can travel distances of up to six hundred miles per day, fly at speeds of seventy miles an hour, and reach altitudes as high as thirty-five thousand feet. At that height, Ollie, the temperature would be thirty-five degrees below zero, and a pilot would need a heated suit and oxygen.”

Sadly, this was the most interesting part of the book for me. And had it not been for the pigeons and the gifts, I would have DNF’d this one. The information about the pigeons was super interesting and I’m happy to have learned more about this unusual and little known part of the war efforts. Other than that though, the characters were flat, the story was also flat, and the ending was abrupt and unsatisfying.

⭐️⭐️ | Kensington Publishing Corp. | Pub Date: June 25, 2019 | 304 Pages | Hardcover | Purchase via Bookstore Link

📖 The Simple Wild (Wild, #1) by: K.A. Tucker

Though this one took quite awhile to get into, I ended up really enjoying it. (I mean…Jonah? oh la la! 😍 ). The Alaskan setting was amazing…forcing me to restrain myself from booking a flight straight to The Last Frontier (side note: The Great Alone (read my review here) also gave me similar vibes, though a much darker, grittier story). I am curious to see what happens between Jonah and Calla, but I’m not sure if I care enough to pick up the next book, Wild at Heart, which just released in February 2020.

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ | Atria Books | Pub Date: August 7, 2018 | 390 Pages | Paperback | Purchase via Bookstore Link

Currently Reading:

Screen Shot 2020-04-01 at 7.17.58 AM🎧 *** Catch and Kill: Lies, Spies, and a Conspiracy to Protect Predators by: Ronan Farrow

Holy cow…give me a second while I pick my jaw up off the ground. This book is crazy! I started yesterday afternoon and I’m already halfway through. The intricate layers of lies and coverup are shocking!

Little, Brown & Company | Pub Date: October 15, 2019 | 448 Pages | Audiobook | Purchase via Bookstore Link

📖 *** The Women’s War (Women’s War, #1) by: Jenna Glass

I like this book, I do. But it seems to be dragging on. I just got to Part II and I’m going to give it a couple chapters before making a final decision, but I’m not sure if I can read 300 more pages at this pace.

Del Rey Books | Pub Date: March 5, 2019 | 560 Pages | Hardcover | Purchase via Bookstore Link

📱 *** Hood Feminism: Notes from the Women That a Movement Forgot by: Mikki Kendall

This is one of those books that I know are important, but are written so well I’m not sure I’m smart enough or absorbing the key points. I’m going to keep trying, but I can’t slog through books right now.

Viking | Pub Date: March 3, 2020 | 288 Pages | E-book | Purchase via Bookstore Link

(#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.)

March 2020 Reading Wrap-Up

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Not only are Coloradoans under a stay-at-home order, but we’ve also had a few snow storms and cooler days that have made it next to impossible to get outside. Because of that, I’ve had a lot of reading time and I am really trying to get through some of my backlist books to clear off my unread shelves!

March By the Numbers:

  • Total Books Read: 16
  • Audiobooks: 3
  • Five Star Reads: 3
  • Unread Shelf:  10(2 DNFs)
  • Books Aquired: 31
  • By Women Authors: 13 (1 DNFs)
  • By Authors of Color: 3
  • By Queer Authors: 2
  • Nonfiction Reads: 7 (0 DNF)
  • Debuts: 6
  • Published in 2020: 6 (0 DNF)

Favorite Books of March: 

SO HARD!

My favorite book of the month was The Two Lives of Lydia Bird.

But here’s is also a list of the ones I think I’ll remember for awhile: From Scratch, Severance, Running With Sherman, You Are Not Alone, Anna K, The Witches Are Coming, and Untamed.

Here is a look at the TBR I set:

  • A Backlist Title – 📖 Lab Girl by: Hope Jahren
    • ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ I was so surprised by this one. I was worried about the science being over my head and too science-y, but Jahren has a talent for writing. I was engrossed throughout the book and so inspired by the end!
  • A BOTM Title – 📖 Severance by: Ling Ma
    • ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ What a crazy time to just happen to pick this one up! It paralleled real life in an uncanny way (similar pandemic storylines), but I also think this added to my overall enjoyment of the story. It definetly helped it become a memorable read!
  • A Nonfiction Title – 📖 Hillbilly Elegy: A Memoir of Family and Culture in Crisis by: J.D. Vance
    • ⭐️⭐️⭐️💫 Maybe if I had read this one closer to its release date, I would have rated this one higher. But the hype has simmered down, and I was also let down. As a memoir, I liked this well enough, but as a social commentary on “hillbilly-ness” it was quite disappointing.
  • At least 2 physical ARCs
    • 📖 *** A Good Neighborhood by: Therese Anne Fowler
      • ⭐️⭐️⭐️💫 Sadly, I just didn’t love this one. I did enjoy the bones of the story, but there were two aspects of the book (no spoilers) that totally overshadowed everything else and ruined the book for me. It had so much potential but didn’t deliver.
    • 📖 *** 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.

I also read the following books:

  • 🎧 *** Running With Sherman: The Donkey With the Heart of a Hero by: Christopher McDougall
    • ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ An absolute delight, especially on audiobook! McDougall writes nonficiton that is immersive and encompasses so much more than the title of the book. I will read everything McDougall writes!
  • 📱 *** You Are Not Alone by: Greer Hendricks & Sarah Pekkanen
    • ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ Unlike any other psychological thriller I’ve ever read, I couldn’t turn these pages fast enough. It was twisty and creepy and perfect.
  • 🎧 *** Make It Scream, Make It Burn by: Leslie Jamison
    • ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ I wasn’t sure what to expect from this one, but the essays quickly pulled me in. Jamison narrates this herself and listening to her read her own deep thoughts really made the essays stand out that much more for me.
  • 📱 *** Under the Rainbow by: Celia Laskey
    • ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ When a small town in Kansas is named the most homophobic town in the country, a small nonprofit moves in to educate the small minds of this town. It is insightful and I loved the way each chapter was a new perspective of one of the townspeople.
  • 🎧 *** The Witches Are Coming by: Lindy West
    • ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ LOVED this…and the audiobook was amazing! Read it ASAP!
  • 📖 The Two Lives of Lydia Bird by: Josie Silver
    • ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ While this one struck me as a romance at first sight, there is so much more. When Lydia’s fiancé dies, she begins to live in parallel universes – one where Freddie is dead and another where he is alive. The nuances presented surrounding grief and love and loss really struck a chord with me.
  • 📖 Untamed by: Glennon Doyle
    • ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️💫 Is Glennon Doyle capable of writing something bad?! I don’t think so, and Untamed is no exception. It’s amazing and reminds me that Doyle has a way of transforming pain into healing. She gives women permission to be themselves – to live in their one life fully and unapologetically. This book is like balm to the soul.
  • 📖 Ninth House (Alex Stern, #1) by: Leigh Bardugo
    • ⭐️⭐️⭐️💫 While the world building was great, it also made the story drag. To commit 175-200 pages of a 450 page story is quite the commitment for the payoff that you get at the end. I did love Alex, the conspiracy theories surrounding Yale University, and the overall story, but it was just too long and dense to receive high praise from me.
  • 📖 *** The Long Flight Home by: Alan Hlad
    • ⭐️⭐️💫 During WWII, the British Royal Forces used pigeons to help figure out Hitler’s moves. I had never heard of this and I really enjoyed this aspect of the book. It was incredibly interesting. However, that was the only facsinating thing about the book. Unfortunately, the writing felt amateurish and it really didn’t hold my attention.
  • 📖 The Simple Wild (Wild, #1) by: K.A. Tucker
    • ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ It took a loooong time to get into this one and I was so close to DNFing it. The story did eventually pick up and I ended up enjoying it, though I’m not sure I care enough to continue the series (if you’ve read both, is the second better than the first?). I did love the romance between Jonah and Calla and I absolutely loved the Alaskan setting. Overall, it was a great, easy read considering what’s going on IRL right now.

I tried, but wasn’t feeling:

  • 📱 *** America Was Hard to Find by: Kathleen Alcott
    • It’s probably my state of mind, but I read the first few chapters and had no idea what I had read. I gave up pretty quickly.
  • 📖 Scythe (Arc of a Scythe, #1) by: Neal Schusterman
    • DNF – I know many people LOVE this series, and it has a super high rating on Goodreads, but I just couldn’t get into it. Could it be because a global pandemic is happening right now IRL? Possibly. Probably. Whatever the reason, it wasn’t working for me.
(#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.)

Unread Shelf Update:

I’m still working on only accepting books I truly want to read. I also went through my shelves again and culled out books that I was convincing myself I wanted to read. I took 80 books to my library (I’m sure they were happy!) I felt like the biggest weight was lifted off my chest…so win/win!

I acquired 33 books in February (no purchases for me!! 🙌🏼)

I donated/unloaded 86 books!

My new total of books on my bookshelves is 389 books on my shelves!

(I started with 417, so I’ve gotten rid of 28 books so far. I wish it were more, but at least I’m heading in the right direction!)

This challenge is still proving to be so valuable to me and I’m excited to continue! Head over to Whitney’s blog for more information if you’d like to participate!