Three Women

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Three Women is THE book of the summer; it’s literally everywhere! So far the reviews have been overwhelmingly positive, so it’s with a great amount of hesitation that I am here to say – on record – that it just wasn’t that revolutionary for me. 🤷🏼‍♀️ I think my expectations were completely off…if it would have been like I thought it was going to be heading in, it promised to be not only one of the best books of the year, but of all-time. Sadly, it fell extremely short of my expectations, and it truly bummed me out.

What I did love about this book was Taddeo’s writing. It’s off-the-charts fantastic (though some of her metaphors were a bit of a stretch) and for that reason alone, I think you should read this one. She took a fairly taboo nonfiction topic (women’s sexuality and desires) and made it read like a page-turning fictional novel. I was immersed in each of these women, though I definitely cared the most about Maggie’s story. Again, for Maggie’s story alone, I encourage you to read this book!

I was enflamed with the way Maggie was treated by a person in a position of trust and the way her community hung her out to dry. The repercussions to her life were far-reaching and she is still dealing with them today. I hope the publicity of this book forces the people – especially the school district of Sheyenne High School – where Aaron Knodel is currently employed.

Other than those two things, the rest of the book didn’t do much for me. I’m very confused as to what Taddeo’s thesis was…the reviews and articles I’ve read make me feel like she was trying to teach us to not judge other women and the decisions they make – specifically, the sexual choices she makes – but that did not come through clearly to me at all! With the exception of Maggie, I didn’t feel connected or sympathetic or enlightened by either Lina’s or Sloane’s stories. They ultimately just distracted me from the only story I really cared about – Maggie’s.

There were parts of each woman’s story that I could relate to, but they are fleeting examples and I truly just feel like I’m grasping for any straw to feel a connection to these women. Lina’s affair felt like justification for her lack of sexual attention from her husband, and while I’m not supposed to judge that decision, I also cannot just gloss over her behavior towards herself, her husband, or her lover’s wife and children. As a society, we’ve never allowed a man to justify his behavior, so why should women be allowed to? Poor Lina has a long list of issues that would be best served with some therapy, and not allowing her self-worth to be determined by some guy from high school.

Sloane’s story is the one that stuck with me the least. She just feels like a privileged white women who demands a lot of attention to fuel her self-worth. I saw such a lack of depth in her character and her story. I felt sorry for the wife of her lover and felt her inability to give the wife the answers she asked for was cowardly and turned me off from her entirely.

Overall, out of the thousands of women she interviewed, I am surprised that these three – actually, two – were the ones Taddeo chose to highlight. I would have assumed there was much more depth and complexity and enlightenment in other women’s stories.

To be fair to this book, here is a link to an article written by Stephanie Danler. She loved this book and wrote quite an insightful and well-thought out review.

 

 

The Editor

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The Editor by Steven Rowley
Publisher: G. P. Putnam’s Sons
Pub Date: April 2, 2019
Length: 320 pages

Brief Synopsis:

After years of struggling to publish a book, James Smale finally sells his autobiographical novel to an editor – Mrs. Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis! Mrs. Onassis guides Smale through the editing process, and in an effort to find the book’s ending, she also steers Smale back to a reconciled relationship with his mother.

My Thoughts:

I immediately became fascinated with this story as soon as Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis was introduced. In fact, I stopped reading for awhile and fell down a rabbit hole of internet research to explore the life of Mrs. O. (Here are the two main articles I read: Vanity Fair and Town and Country Magazine.) I wasn’t alive during the JFK presidency or assassination, but as an American, the story of Camelot and the Kennedys is something I grew up enamored by. As I read The Editor though, it quickly became obvious to me that I knew absolutely nothing about Jacqueline’s background beyond her fashion sense.

After President Kennedy was assassinated, Jackie quickly disappeared from public life. Only 41 years old when she was widowed, she had very young children to take care of. She eventually accepted a position with Viking Press as an editor and her starting salary was $200 per week. After a controversial book regarding the futuristic assassination of Robert Kennedy was published, Jackie quietly resigned from Viking and moved over to Doubleday Publishing. There, the books she acquired reflected her interests in culture, history, and art. She eventually edited over 100 books over her 19 year career. She passed away in May 1994 from Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma in New York City.

I love novels about complicated family dynamics, and more specifically, stories about mothers and their children. I understand now, more than ever, that all relationships are complicated, but none more so than that of a mother’s to her children. We expect our mothers to be perfect and to live gracefully on top of the pedestal we put them on, but the reality is that they are flawed and complicated and confused just like the rest of us. Ultimately, we’re all just doing the best we can with what we have at the time, but as a mother, we’re not always granted that grace or acceptance.

I loved the dynamic that played out between James and his mother throughout the book. Using the editing process as the background for the journey, Rowley actually portrays the road to acceptance and forgiveness. When stories and secrets shape your life, there is bound to be a transformation when they eventually come out. We could only hope our story of forgiveness would heal and transform us as beautifully as it did for James and his mom.

The Editor does a lovely job of weaving Jacqueline Kennedy throughout the story without letting her take it over. Her simple persuasion is felt throughout – and while there’s no way of knowing how accurately this portrayed her editor role in real life – Steven Rowley does a beautiful job with finding that balance.

I’m not sure what I was expecting from this one, but it pleasantly surprised me. I thoroughly enjoyed it and hope you will too!

Kaytee (from the Currently Reading Podcast) recently recommended this book on Episode 16 of Sarah’s Book Shelves podcast (download and listen to the episode here).

 

 

 

My Week in Books (5/27/19)

(#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.)

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Am I the only one that constantly reevaluates what I feel is working on #bookstagram and what isn’t? Recently, I announced that I’d no longer include the Most Likely To Read Next section, and today I’m here to let you know that I will no longer do star ratings. I don’t do them here on the blog that much anyway, but I do over on my instagram account.

Here’s the deal: everybody’s star rating system is different. I know what a “3” rating means to me, and honestly? When I see a 3 rating on any other account, I kind of automatically dismiss the review entirely. I kind of only pay attention to 4 and 5 star ratings. I think I’d rather someone disregard a book after they read my review than to see some emojis and move on. (If you’re a stickler for those stars though, no worries…follow me on Goodreads!)

Last Week’s Reads:

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*** City of Girls by: Elizabeth Gilbert (Riverhead) – On Shelves: June 4, 2019

This is going to be one of the shortest reviews I’ve ever written: PREORDER THIS BOOK NOW (it releases next Tuesday, June 4)!

You will not regret it; in fact, it will end up on your favorites shelf just as soon as you finish it. If you were a fan of #TheSevenHusbandsofEvelynHugo, you’ll love this one just as much. It’s brilliantly done with complicated love relationships and a gorgeous study of a life full of ups and downs in NYC during the 1930s.

I listened to a podcast last year (yes, that long ago!) where Elizabeth Gilbert talked about writing this book. The love of her life had just passed away and she was devastated, but she had a deadline to meet so she threw herself into this story. I couldn’t help but read between the lines of some of the writing and I was blown away by the depth of emotions Gilbert was able to capture. I may have read entirely too much into it, but it made it that much more human to me.

*** Ask Again, Yes by: Mary Beth Keane (Scribner) – On Shelves: May 28, 2019

When I read the last sentence of this beautiful story, I knew I’d found one of my Top Ten Books of 2019. I just can’t imagine this one losing its place at the end of the year. It’s got everything I devour in a book – coming-of-age, tragedy, complicated relationships, love, forgiveness, and hope.

As neighbors, the Gleesons and Stanhopes were never close. The Standhopes kept to themselves, but you could tell something was always simmering just below the surface. On the other hand, the Gleesons looked like the All-American family – a well-respected cop and a mother of three beautiful girls. As Kate Gleeson and Peter Stanhope grow up in school together, they forge a friendship that will be tested by the ultimate tragedy.

“You think a person comes out of a house like that undamaged? You don’t see it now, Kate, but it’s there. I promise you. Marriage is long. All the seams get tested.”

Reminiscent of Everything Here is Beautiful (read my review here), Mary Beth Keane takes a careful look at mental illness and its affects – not only to the person herself, but also to those surrounding her. This story shows a long and tenuous road to forgiveness, hope, and healing. It demonstrates a beautiful portrayal of love and steadfastness, even when all the odds are stacked against you.

🎧 The Unlikely Adventures of the Shergill Sisters by: Balli Kaur Jaswal (William Morrow) – Pub Date: April 30, 2019

I have Erotic Stories for Punjabi Widows on my bookshelf and just haven’t ever gotten to it. But after listening to this one on audiobook, I believe it will make a swift climb to the top!

When their mother dies, she leaves wishes for her three daughters to take a pilgrimage back to India to spread her ashes. The girls don’t have a strong relationship as the years and misunderstandings and distance has pulled them apart. But as they journey across India to their mother’s final destination, they will also find their way back to each other.

Despite the cartoonish cover, this book is deep and emotional. The characters are all struggling with their own internal issues that gives them some depth that I wasn’t expecting. I loved the narrator’s voice and it carried me away with the story. This audiobook is long (just over 13 hours) but I wasn’t really eager for it to end.

This story was another reminder of why it’s important to consider another’s perspective before jumping to conclusions in misunderstandings. Most of the time, there are underlying circumstances that contribute to the problem at hand, and if we’d just consider these possibilities with a little empathy and understanding, our relationships would be better for it. I don’t have a sister, but this book made me wish I did!

*** Mrs. Everything by: Jennifer Weiner (Atria) – On Shelves: June 11, 2019

One of the most highly anticipated books of the summer, Mrs. Everything follows the ups and downs of a sister relationship over the span of eighty years. While I was expecting something a little lighter, I still found myself engrossed in the story of Jo and Bethie. I think it could have been about 100 pages less to appeal to a wider audience, but overall, this is a book that will be widely talked about this summer!

Currently Reading/Listening:

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🎧 With the Fire on High by: Elizabeth Acevedo (HarperTeen) – Pub Date: May 7, 2019

This one showed up on Hoopla and I have been seeing it all over #bookstagram. The reviews have been fantastic, and so far, I’m LOVING the audiobook!

*** Out East: Memoir of a Montauk Summer by: John Glynn (Grand Central Publishing) – Pub Date: May 14, 2019

Half way through and I’m confused. This book is EVERYWHERE; they hype is real. But I’m still waiting for something to happen. More when I finish.

*** Stop Doing That Sh*t by: Gary John Bishop (Thorsons) – Pub Date: May 7, 2019

Part of my self-development and morning routine reading. It’s good so far!

Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear by: Elizabeth Gilbert (Riverhead) – Pub Date: September 22, 2015

Also part of my morning reading. This is a reread so I know what I’m getting into, but it’s not as good as I remembered it being. 🤔 I’ll keep plugging away…for a little bit longer, but not much! 🤷🏼‍♀️

DNF:

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*** The Desert Sky Before Us by: Anne Valente (William Morrow) – Pub Date: May 14, 2019

This one had great potential, but there were a few things that just weren’t working for me. I appreciate that an author has to dangle some carrots in order to keep their audience engaged, but when those carrots just keep adding up and none of them are resolved, I found that I stopped caring. It ruined the overall excitement for me. Also, there were a few too convenient things that would happen. It’s just unrealistic and it was one-too-many eye rolls for me to continue. Last, though no fault of the author’s, there was some editing that clearly needed to happen. I only read through 150 pages and it was very repetitive. I got the point! Jeez. And this is one of those books we all seem to hate – the ones with no quotation marks…drove me bonkers.

In the end, this one just felt like more work than it was worth. The premise was enticing to me and I am curious how this wraps itself up, but I couldn’t get passed a few of my issues enough to slog though.

*** On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous by: Ocean Vuong (Penguin Press) – On Shelves: June 4, 2019

Liberty Hardy, Tyler Goodson, and Hunter have all read and raved about this one. For the first half, I was into it. I thought I’d found my next favorite book, but it slowly, slowly fizzled out for me. It definitely could have been the format (ebook) and/or a case of wrong time (end of school year = busy, busy, busy). Regardless, I made a deal with myself that when I find I no longer care, I’m giving up. My bookshelves overflow and I wanna move on! Maybe I’ll keep my eye out for more reviews and return to this one when I have an actual copy in hand.

Tell me, friends, what’s been your favorite reads lately?

My Week in Books (5/20/19)

(#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.)

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My sweet grandma turns 84 today! I can’t wait to head over to her house to celebrate her. She and my grandpa had a big hand in raising me and our bond is so unbelievably close. I feel grateful for our relationship every day of my life and hope I can be half the woman she is someday. Strong and determined and unpersuadable, she knows what she wants and she gets it! Someday, I’ll write you guys a little backstory of this amazing woman I get to call Grandma!

Last Week’s Reads:

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*** The Children Act by: Ian McEwan (Anchor Books) – Pub Date: September 9, 2014

This book just wasn’t for me, though it has a high rating on Goodreads and plenty of others seemed to really enjoy the story. I was bored by the story and thought the in-depth tangents about the court cases was distracting and unnecessary.

Sissy: A Coming-of-Gender Story by: Jacob Tobia (Putnam) – Pub Date: March 5, 2019

The cover made me do it, but the story stole my heart. I truly don’t have the words to articulate the importance of this book; I will push this into everybody’s hands that I can. 

Jacob Tobia coming-of-gender story is raw, and powerful, and true. They start a conversation in this book that is begging to be had in America today. Throughout the book, they are reflective in ways I don’t usually see in books. For example, when reflecting on their relationship with their dad (who wasn’t very nice to them), they acknowledge his growth and accepted his reaction. It’s so easy to dismiss people that hurt us, but Tobias demonstrates what true growth, empathy, and compassion looks like. They show us how to mature.

Tobia is smart. Very smart. They went to Duke and that’s where they really gained their non-gender-conforming wings. They quickly became an activist for the LGBTQ+ community and gave a powerful voice to this group.

They are inspiring and I can’t wait to see more from them as they continue their work in LA. Please take the time to read this memoir. I guarantee it will leaves you changed for the better.

*** 1000+ Little Things Happy Successful People Do Differently by: Marc & Angel Chernoff (Tarcherperigee) – On Shelves: May 21, 2019

This one reminded me of a little bit of Tim Ferriss’ book, Tools of Titans, though ToT is by far better, in my opinion. It’s full of great reminders that we all know, yet need refreshed on every now and then. The only thing that bothers me about books like this are that it’s just regurgitated information. Many times, the author takes quotes from the internet or Pinterest and types them in a paragraph and calls it a book – it’s not. It’s a compilation of other people’s thoughts. There aren’t new ideas or commentary, so unless you want a coffee book table, you already know what this one has to say.

Piecing Me Together by: Renee Watson (Bloomsbury) – Pub Date: February 14, 2017

A great companion piece to a book I read earlier this year, Dear Martin (read my review here), this book tells the stories of race, friendship, privilege, and identity from a young woman’s perspective. At times, it felt like the fictional version of what I imagine Michelle Obama’s memoir, Becoming (read my review here), to be like.

Jade knows she has to excel in school and get good grades if she is going to break out of the poverty cycle she currently lives in. College is her only ticket out. As she navigates her high school years, she is also confronted by racial issues that make her realize the differences between her journey and her privileged classmates.

This was another read aloud with my 11-year-old. Again, it was a bit on the older side for her at times so I was glad to be there to help navigate those conversations. I appreciated the content of the book to start conversations with her to help her realize the privilege she experiences and to gain some empathy for what others may have to go though just to get a good education. We live in a rural area, so the inner city happenings aren’t something she gets a change to understand, so I’m glad this book brought some of those issues to her attention.

*** City of Girls by: Elizabeth Gilbert (Riverhead) – On Shelves: June 4, 2019

Full review coming later this week, but suffice it to say: I LOVED THIS BOOK! I think you should pre-order it if you haven’t already; you won’t be disappointed!

Currently Reading/Listening:

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*** Ask Again, Yes by: Mary Beth Keane (Scribner) – On Shelves: May 28, 2019

Rave, rave, rave reviews everywhere I look! Excited to get into the story more! Coming off City of Girls, this book has BIG shoes to fill!

🎧 The Unlikely Adventures of the Shergill Sisters by: Balli Kaur Jaswal (William Morrow) – Pub Date: April 30, 2019

Saw this one available on the Hoopla app and immediately downloaded it. I still haven’t read Erotic Stories for Punjabi Widows by the same author, but I know people loved it. I’m over half way through the audiobook and really loving the story, so I may have to add her first book to my TBR soon!

*** The Desert Sky Before Us by: Anne Valente (William Morrow) – Pub Date: May 14, 2019

Two sisters that must overcome their differences while on a scavenger hunt road trip arranged by their by their suddenly deceased mother. One of the sisters has just been released from prison. This dysfunctional and emotionally raw story seem like a great set up for me!

Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear by: Elizabeth Gilbert (Riverhead) – Published: September 22, 2015

Reading City of Girls reminding me of Big Magic – a book I previously read and loved. I decided to reread it as part of my morning routine…and in hopes for some inspiration to get back to more writing!

Tell me, friends, what’s been your favorite reads lately?

My Week in Books (5/13/19)

(#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.)

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I hope all of you mothers had a wonderful day yesterday being celebrated! I have to admit that it’s hard for me to get excited about Mother’s Day – this will be the fifth one without my own mama to spend the day with. But I have to remind myself that my own children deserve to celebrate this holiday with their mama, so I put my sadness to the side and try to embrace the moment with them.

All grief aside, it was a wonderful day shared with those that mean the most to me. I hope the same for all of you!

Last Week’s Reads:

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*** The Night Tiger by: Yangsze Choo (Flatiron) – Pub Date: February 12, 2019

As one of Reece Witherspoon’s Book Club picks, I was excited to read this one! I haven’t read all the books she’s chosen, but I’ve had great success with the ones I have. This is a story set in 1930s Malaya (modern-day Malaysia) and it’s rife with themes of magical realism, Chinese superstition, and mystery. Also, a missing finger. 🤷🏼‍♀️ Admittedly, I would usually shy away from a book with that description and that’s probably why it’s sat on my #unreadBOTM shelf for as long as it did.

But I gotta say, Choo’s writing is so beautiful that I was pulled into the story right away. I wanted to know about this mysterious tiger, the seemingly connected deaths, and this missing finger. I began by alternating between reading my hard copy and listening to it on audio, and I quickly abandoned the book altogether because the audio was incredible. Choo narrates the book herself and she is fantastic! I’ll listen to anything she reads!

Overall the book was engaging and I loved the story. And while this had potential to be a 5-star read for me, there were a few problematic things I couldn’t get passed. The main one was the step-sibling romance. I know they aren’t technically related, but it was so off-putting to me that I really wanted to skip over these sections; however, their part was central to the story. I don’t understand why it was so important to add in to the story because it would have been just as strong without that addition. Also, there was a mid-book slump that definitely killed the momentum – thank goodness it sped right back up towards the end!

*** The Unhoneymooners by: Christina Lauren (Gallery Books) – On Shelves: May 14, 2019

This book will be for me this year what The Kiss Quotient was for me last year – a sweet and fun rom-com summer/beach read. Olive and Ethan surmount innumerable hurdles to finally find themselves happily in love with each other. There were funny moments and hilarious one-liners throughout that kept me rolling through the pages.

I did find it very slow to start and that was a little frustrating. I was a little annoyed with Olive’s reaction to the culminating issue (#nospoilers) but when I remind myself that rom-coms are supposed to be taken more lightly, I realize that everything fit together perfectly in the end.

Overall, I appreciated Olive’s growth throughout the novel and her advocacy for being a curvy girl with no shame. We need more of this from authors! I liked the evolution of Olive and Ethan’s relationship, and I loved Olive’s supportive family and her relationship with her twin sister.

This is the second book I’ve read by Christina Lauren (the other one was Love and Other Words). If forced to choose, I think I prefer this one, but generally speaking, this writing duo masterfully writes the rom-com story!

*** A Bend in the Stars by: Rachel Barenbaum (Grand Central Publishing) – On Shelves: May 14, 2019

While I was hoping I would love this one a little more than I did, I still found it a fascinating look at Russia just prior to the start of WWI. There’s A LOT going on in this story – an eclipse is coming which will help solve Einstein’s incomplete Theory of Relativity, the family is separated and supposed to meet back up in another part of Russia before trying to escape to America, there are soldiers and other people in pursuit of them all because they are Jewish, and there is a love triangle.

Seriously, ALL of this activity was a little distracting at points. It felt like the author realized she had a lot of loose ends to tie up because the ending was quick and abrupt for me. Overall, I liked the story but it lacked the emotional connection throughout. I kept reading thinking I would eventually find it, but it eluded me up until the last 25% of the book. I thought the characters were well-developed and I was very curious where this story would end up. The story kept me turning pages – but for me, the story never found its rhythm.

Also, I would have appreciated an Author’s Note at the end to see which parts of this book were factual – all I could come up with was that the solar eclipse was real and the climate of Russia pre-WWI was similar. I still don’t know if Einsten really did ask for scientists to help him complete his theory or if that was just embellished for the story.

The Mother-in-Law by: Sally Hepworth (St. Martin’s Press) – Pub Date: April 23, 2019

I didn’t read the synopsis going into this one; everyone seems to love it so I decided to give it a try. It’s way less thriller/mystery than I assumed it would be and way more of a complicated family drama. I was surprised at how smart it was. While there are some parts that were very unrealistic to me, I was still able to stick to the story because the characters were well-developed and there was an interesting plot to follow. I listened to this one on audio and it was fantastic!

Currently Reading/Listening:

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Sissy: A Coming-of-Gender Story by: Jacob Tobia (G.P. Putnam) – Pub Date: March 5, 2019

Just about halfway through and this book is proving to be one of the most powerful memoirs I’ve ever read. I believe this will make it onto my Top Reads of 2019!

*** 1000+ Little Things Happy Successful People Do Differently by: Marc and Angel Chernoff (Tarcherperigee) – On Shelves: May 21, 2019

Currently reading a few pages in the morning to kick off my day. It kind of reminds me of Timothy Ferriss’ Tools of Titans.

Likely to Read Next:

Moving forward, I will be eliminating this category from these posts. Honestly, I’m such a mood reader that I rarely read the books that I put here, so in an effort to streamline my efforts and not waste time, this feature will no longer be available!

Tell me, friends, what’s been your favorite reads lately?

My Week in Books (5/6/19)

(#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.)

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Summer is so close I can taste it! I’m dreaming of lazy days on the lake with a book in my hands! As other mama’s know, May is the new December…so here’s to a few chaotic weeks and then sweet, sweet summertime!

Last Week’s Reads:

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Verity by: Colleen Hoover (Hoover Ink, Inc.) – Pub Date: December 7, 2018

Every time I see a review for this one, the emoji 🤯 is included. It set the expectations high…and while I enjoyed this book – it’s a true page turner – I also think I kept wondering when my mind was actually going to be blown. I didn’t feel like it ever had that twist that was sure to blow me away; it was predictable to me throughout. However, that predictability didn’t ruin my enjoyment of the book. It’s dark…very dark…so dark it reminded me of Baby Teeth (another book I’m not sure I should be proud to admit I liked. 😬🤷🏼‍♀️).

This is a departure for Colleen Hoover. She usually writes in more of the romance genre, so it was fun to see this new side of her writing. She’s talented; there’s no doubt about that! I really enjoy her writing style – regardless of the genre!

Reviews are EVERYWHERE for this book, but I kind of think going in blind would be better for this one in particular. The reviews kind of set you up for some crazy, outlandish thing to happen, and in my opinion, that somewhat stole the thunder from my overall reading experience.

Present Over Perfect: Leaving Behind Frantic for a Simpler, More Soulful Way of Living by: Shauna Niequist (Zondervan) – Pub Date: August 9, 2016

I last read this book in 2016 and I can honestly say it changed my family’s life. We were stuck in the hustle of busyness (can anyone say travel baseball?!?) and, while it was a tough decision to stop chasing my son around the baseball diamond, it was absolutely the right decision for our family. It felt like the weight of the world was lifted off our shoulders and we got our life back! Thankfully, three years later, we’ve said goodbye to baseball for good; our summer looks wide open and the view has never been better!

I don’t know why, but Niequist’s “permission” to stop trying to keep up with the Joneses and to make the decisions that are right for my family was exactly what I needed to hear at that stage of my life. When I saw this audiobook available on my Hoopla app, I decided to give it another go and I’m glad I did. Different parts of the book spoke to me the second time around, but it was still so good!

I put this book in the same category as Tiny Beautiful Things and anything written by Brene Brown. These are books you can return to over and over again and still find nuggets of truth. 

*** The Farm by: Joanne Ramos (Random House) – On Shelves: May 7, 2019

“Golden Oaks hired women to be surrogates. If you were chosen to be a Host you lived in a luxury house in the middle of the countryside where your only job was to rest and keep the baby inside you healthy. According to Mrs. Rubio, Golden Oaks’ clients were the richest, most important people from all over the world, and for carrying their babies Hosts were paid a great deal of money.”

I was hesitant going into this one because I mostly saw poor reviews or DNFs. The Goodreads rating is low – only 3.5. Somewhere I saw a comparison to The Handmaid’s Tale and dystopian themes so, regardless of the opinions I’d seen, I knew I needed to check it out for myself.

And thank goodness I did! I really enjoyed this one! This is the kind of story I LOVE – realistic but not outlandish, depth that goes beyond the surface level, multiple perspectives and layers, and a story that gets under your skin so well that you can’t stop thinking about after you’ve finished.

This would be a great book club choice as there are themes of wealth and privilege, opportunity, surrogacy, “designer” babies, immigrants and their limited options, and many more to discuss.

*** What Matters Most: The Get Your Shit Together Guide To Wills, Money, Insurance, and Life’s “What-Ifs” by: Chanel Reynolds (Harper Wave) – Pub Date: March 19, 2019

When Reynold’s husband was tragically killed in a bicycle accident, she quickly realized that they didn’t have their sh*t together (regarding wills, medical decisions, and estate planning)From that experience, Reynolds set up a website and wrote this book to help people have the tough conversations in order to be as prepared as possible should tragedy also strike their families.

While I enjoyed this book very much, it didn’t have as much as the logistical information I was hoping for. My husband and I are in the midst of updating our wills so I was hoping to get better information for that process. This read more like a memoir to me…so in that respect, it was very good. As a guide to getting your sh*t together though, it fell short for me.

*** Juliet the Maniac: A Novel by: Juliet Escoria (Melville House) – On Shelves: May 7, 2019

This is a semi-autobiographical novel about mental health issues, anxiety, and depression. It’s a tough read at times; my heart hurt so bad reading about Escoria’s experiences and knowing there’s nothing I could do to help her. I was frustrated by her parents and their seemingly obliviousness to their daughter’s cries for help. Once they did get her the help she needed, she ended up in a boarding school that was later shut down for inappropriate practices. 

There were parts of this book I really enjoyed (if that’s the right word given the content of the book), but I was also a little bored after awhile. At times, it felt like a regurgitation of all of the same information, but without any new insights or clarity to the behavior. After awhile, it’s just hard to continually read about someone’s downward spiral without any sense of hope.

Also, the book ended very abruptly when she turned eighteen and returned home. And while she referenced several times that she was thirty-two years old and married when she wrote the book, we have no idea how she got there; those years are not accounted for whatsoever. We don’t know if she’s good now or still struggling with her bipolar diagnosis. If she continues to seek help for her drug addiction…I guess I’m left assuming she’s doing well now, but some closure in that respect would have been nice.

There are many, many trigger warnings here, so be careful if you’re nervous about: mental health, anxiety, depression, suicide, drug use, cutting, and/or hallucinations. 

Currently Reading/Listening:

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*** The Night Tiger by: Yangsze Choo (Flatiron Books) – Pub Date: February 12, 2019

This one has been on my list for a few months so when Reece Witherspoon chose it as her Book Club’s April read, I knew it was finally time to read it! I have it in hard copy, but I also got the audible after hearing Reece’s endorsement! (If you’d like to receive 3-for-1 audiobooks, follow this link to Libro.fm and use my promo code: HAPPIEST)

*** A Bend in the Stars by: Rachel Barenbaum (Grand Central Publishing) – On Shelves: May 14, 2019

Compared to All the Light We Cannot See (which I loved!), this novel is set in Russia during WWI. A time period I don’t see in historical fiction novels too often, I am excited to read about the political climate as well as Albert Einstein! This one promises to be intense and has one of the most beautiful covers I’ve seen in awhile!

Likely to Read Next:

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*** The Unhoneymooners by: Christina Lauren (Gallery Books) – On Shelves: May 14, 2019

I’m already seeing some of my trusted review friends singing this one’s praises! Looking forward to diving in soon!

Sissy: A Coming-of-Gender Story by: Jacob Tobia (Putnam) – Pub Date: March 5, 2019

Yes…STILL on my list, and I’m mad about it! I have so many ARCs I need to read and review that this one keeps getting pushed to the back…but not for much longer. I’m dying to read this one!

I’m Fine and Neither Are You by: Camille Pagán (Lake Union Publishing) – Pub Date: April 1, 2019

Hearing great things about this one and I’m curious to get started on it!

Tell me, friends, what’s been your favorite reads lately?

April 2019 Reading Wrap-Up

(#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.)

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I think I’m most excited by the fact that, year-to-date, my reading average is 3.9! I credit this with DNFing books that just aren’t working for me…but what’s truly exciting about that bookish fact is that I haven’t hit a reading slump in forever! Woot woot! That’s all I really care about – so if DNFing books keeps my reading life happy, I’m here for it!

(Clink the link to head to my #minibookreview!)

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ *** #IMomSoHard by: Kristin Hensley and Jen Smedley (HarperOne) – Pub Date: April 2, 2019

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ 🎧 Eloquent Rage: A Black Feminist Discovers Her Superpower by: Brittney Cooper (St. Martin’s Press) – Pub Date: February 20, 2018

⭐️⭐️⭐️💫 *** Lost Roses by: Martha Hall Kelly (Ballantine) – Pub Date: April 9, 2019

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ *** When We Left Cuba by: Chanel Cleeton (Berkley) – Pub Date: April 9, 2019

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ Tiny Beautiful Things: Advice on Love and Life from Dear Sugar by: Cheryl Strayd (Vintage) – Pub Date: July 10, 2012

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ I Miss You When I Blink: Essays by: Mary Laura Philpott (Atria) – Pub Date: April 2, 2019

⭐️⭐️⭐️💫 *** The Parrot’s Perch by: Karen Keilt (She Writes Press) – Pub Date: April 16, 2019

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ *** Good Talk: A Memoir in Conversations by: Mira Jacob (One World) – Pub Date: March 26, 2019

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ Finding Dorothy by: Elizabeth Letts (Ballantine) – Pub Date: February 12, 2019

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ Life Will Be the Death of Me:…And You Too! by: Chelsea Handler (Spiegel & Grau) – Pub Date: April 9, 2019

⭐️⭐️⭐️ Normal People by: Sally Rooney (Hogarth) – Pub Date: April 16, 2019

⭐️⭐️⭐️ *** The Bride Test (The Kiss Quotient, #2) by: Helen Hoang (Berkley) – On Shelves: May 7, 2019

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️💫 *** The Moment of Lift: How Empowering Women Changes the World by: Melinda Gates (Flatiron) – Pub Date: April 23, 2019

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ Miracle Creek by: Angie Kim (Sarah Crichton Books) – Pub Date: April 16, 2019

⭐️⭐️⭐️💫 The Girls at 17 Swann Street by: Yara Zgheib (St. Martin’s) – Pub Date: February 5, 2019

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ The Girl He Used To Know by: Tracey Garvis Graves (St. Martin’s) – Pub Date: April 2, 2019

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ Verity by: Colleen Hoover (Hoover Ink, Inc.) – Pub Date: December 7, 2018

DNF: It’s OK That You’re Not OK: Meeting Grief and Loss in a Culture That Doesn’t Understand by: Megan Devine (Sounds True) – Pub Date: January 1, 2018

DNF: Warlight by: Michael Ondaatje (Knopf) – Pub Date: May 8, 2018

DNF: White Fragility: Why It’s So Hard for White People to Talk About Racism by: Robin DiAngelo (Beacon Press) – Pub Date: June 26, 2018

DNF: White Elephant by: Julie Langsdorf (ECCO) – Pub Date: March 26, 2019

DNF: A Veil Removed (Henrietta and Inspector Howard, #4) by: Michelle Cox (She Writes Press) – Pub Date: April 30, 2019