September 2019 Wrap-Up

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I definitely had some highs and lows in my reading life in August. Here’s my Wrap-up by the numbers:

  • 13 books total (5 DNFs)
  • Average Rating: 3.7
  • 6 physical books, 7 e-books, 0 audiobook
  • 10 fiction, 3 non-fiction
  • Genre: 1 contemporary fiction, 5 literary fiction, 2 historical fiction, 0 memoir, 3 non-fiction, 2 thriller, 0 young adult
  • Rating: 4 ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️, 2 ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️, 2 ⭐️⭐️⭐️💫, 3 ⭐️⭐️⭐️, 2 ⭐️⭐️
  • Author: 9 female, 4 male, 0 they/them

So far this year, I’ve read 127 books and my average rating is a 3.9 (I’d like to see this number a little higher).

My favorite books of the month were The Most Fun We Ever Had, After the Flood, and The Only Plane in the SkyThese three books were so good, in their own way. They offer something completely different and it was too hard to narrow it down to one.

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

Complicated Issues/Relationships:

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ 📖 The Most Fun We Ever Had by: Claire Lombardo (Doubleday) – Pub Date: June 25, 2019

I LOVED this family saga – full of family drama, secrets, and complicated relationships. The character development was phenomenal and I felt like the Sorensons were a real family. This book reads like a Netflix series (think This Is Us and Parenthood). I won’t forget this family for a long time!

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ 📖 *** The Goldfinch by: Donna Tartt (Little Brown) – Pub Date: October 22, 2013

This was a reread for me and I liked it even more the second time around. If it wouldn’t have been for a few places where the pace slows way down, it would be a 5-star read for me. The cast of characters really stick with you. This is ultimately a coming-of-age book and I really enjoyed it. (P.S. The book is better!😉)

⭐️⭐️⭐️💫 📱 Red at the Bone by: Jacqueline Woodson (Riverhead) – Pub Date: September 17, 2019

The audiobook version of this one is excellent. I enjoyed it while I was reading it, but I’m not sure it’s going to be a story that sticks with me.

WWII Historical Fiction:

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️📱 *** The World That We Knew by: Alice Hoffman (Simon & Schuster) – Pub Date: September 24, 2019

This is the third book that I’ve read by Alice Hoffman. While this one strays a little from the previous two I read (The Rules of Magic and Practical Magic), it still had her signature touch of magic and I absolutely loved it. Hoffman is a magical (pun intended) writer and I have now added her to my Auto-Buy Authors list.

Apocalyptic Fiction:

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

I wasn’t sure how Montag was going to keep my interest for almost 500-pages in a world that was basically flooded, but she did. I was enraptured with the story as well as her writing, and I could not put this one down. I loved the story and the characters so much! This book will be in my Top 10 at the end of the year, I’m sure!

Memoir:

⭐️⭐️⭐️ 📱 Consent: A Memoir of Unwanted Attention by: Donna Freitas (Little Brown) – Pub Date: August 13, 2019

The #metoo movement has brought toxic masculinity to the forefront and I suspect stories like this one will become more and more common. Freitas was stalked by a professor at her college – also a priest – and when she finally reported him to the Human Resources department at her college, she was not believed. Instead, the professor was promoted! Nothing about this is surprising to me – we see it over and over again in the media. That’s what makes stories like these so important – in hopes that they help change the narrative around harassment of any kind towards women.

Thriller: 

⭐️⭐️⭐️💫 📱 Lock Every Door by: Riley Sager (Dutton) – Pub Date: July 2, 2019

I’m not crazy town about Riley Sager. I read Final Girls and thought it was fine, but I actually did enjoy this one. I’ve become a fan of books set in NYC, and I thought the plot of this one was a little better executed. If you need something quick and light, give this one a try!

Cute Romance with Some Substance:

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ Red, White, and Royal Blue by: Casey McQuiston (St. Martin’s Griffin) – Pub Date: May 14, 2019

Through Alex and Henry’s love story, we see the world united IN LOVE and I’M HERE FOR IT! 🇺🇸 ❤️💙🇬🇧 I always say that I’m not really a fan of the romance genre, but I now have several go-to recommendations in this category, and this book is certainly one of them!

Don’t Feel Bad for Skipping:

⭐️⭐️⭐️📱 The Day the World Came to Town: 9/11 in Gander, Newfoundland by: Jim DeFede (William Morrow) – Pub Date: September 3, 2002

(I’m on a 9/11 kick, if you can’t tell.) I was so curious about this town in Newfoundland that found their town suddenly hosting passengers from America-bound flights that couldn’t land due to the flight restrictions placed shortly after the events of 9/11 started. They graciously hosted almost 7,000 people by opening up their homes, their stores, and their restaurants. They refused to accept any money from the stranded passengers – their only goal was to make them feel safe and as comfortable as they could. I was inspired by their hospitality and it gave me hope that this world isn’t as dark as it can sometimes seem.

⭐️⭐️ 📖 *** Inland by: Téa Obreht (Random House) – Pub Date: August 13, 2019

Still mad I finished this book and didn’t give up sooner. It just lacked any engagement and I was supremely bored the whole time!

⭐️⭐️ 📖 Disappearing Earth by: Julia Phillips (Knopf) – Pub Date: May 14, 2019

Similar to Inland, this one was heavy on descriptions but light on cohesion and interest. It read more like a collection of short stories, but promised to make sense at the end and that really didn’t happen for me.

Not For Me (AKA: DNF):

📖 Call Me By Your Name by: André Aciman (Atlantic Books)

I had such high hopes, but I got lost in the detailed writing. I found myself checking out too much to care.

📱 I Like To Watch: Arguing My Way Through the TV Revolution by: Emily Nussbaum (Random House) – Pub Date: June 25, 2019

If you’re a big TV fanatic (I am not), then I think you’d enjoy this book. I don’t really watch a lot of TV so most of this went right over my head.

📱 *** On the Corner of Love and Hate by: Nina Bocci (Gallery) – Pub Date: August 20, 2019

I don’t know…I just couldn’t get into this one.

📱 If Beale Street Could Talk by: James Baldwin (The Dial Press) – Pub Date: 1974

Another book that I just couldn’t get into. I’m noticing that most of my DNFs are when I’m reading on my Kindle, so I wonder if there’s a correlation.

📱*** On Swift Horses by: Shannon Pufahl (Riverhead) – Pub  Date: November 5, 2019

This book has hope and promise and I may revisit in hard copy someday. But as for now, I couldn’t get into it at all. Just because I love the cover and the premise so much, I forced myself to keep trying, but I’m finally throwing in the towel at 22%.

What was your favorite read in September?

(#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.)

August 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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School is back in session so I’m back to reading in the school pick up line, during practices, and everywhere in between!

I definitely had some highs and lows in my reading life in August. Here’s my Wrap-up by the numbers:

  • 14 books total (5 DNFs)
  • Average Rating: 3.9
  • 10 physical books, 3 e-books, 1 audiobook
  • 9 fiction, 5 non-fiction
  • Genre: 3 contemporary fiction, 1 literary fiction, 2 historical fiction, 4 memoir, 1 non-fiction, 2 thriller, 1 young adult
  • Rating: 4 ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️, 1 ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️, 6 ⭐️⭐️⭐️💫, 3 ⭐️⭐️⭐️
  • Author: 9 female, 5 male, 0 they/them

So far this year, I’ve read 114 books and my average rating is a 4.0!!

My favorite book of the month was Very Nice by: Marcy DermanskyWith the perfect mix of soap opera drama and six-degrees-of-separation vibes, I read this book in ONE day. I couldn’t put it down! It would make the perfect book-to-screen adaptation, so I’m crossing my fingers! 🤞🏼

What was your favorite read in August?

Complicated Issues/Relationships:

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ 📖 Very Nice by: Marcy Dermansky (Knopf) – Pub Date: July 2, 2019

I cannot sing the praises high enough for this one! Loved it!

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ 📖 Patsy by: Nicole Y. Dennis-Benn (Liveright Publishing) – Pub Date: June 4, 2019

Patsy challenged my thinking in so many different ways. It was an insightful and thought provoking look into immigration, LGTBQ+ and gender fluidity issues. This is one of those books that will stick with me for a long time!

⭐️⭐️⭐️💫 📖 *** Fleishman Is in Trouble by: Taffy Brodesser-Akner (Random House) – Pub Date: June 18, 2019

When I saw this one endorsed by Elizabeth Gilbert and NYCBookGirl, I put it at the top of my list. Unfortunately, it fell very flat for me. It kind of reminded me of Normal People (my review here), where there’s a whole bunch of rambling with not a lot of point. Generally speaking, I do not enjoy books like this (see also The Dreamers)

⭐️⭐️⭐️ 📖 Strangers and Cousins by: Leah Hager Cohen (Riverhead) – Pub Date: May 14, 2019

Annie B. Jones sent this one out for her Bookshelf Subscription pick, so I had high hopes. Again, this one fell flat for me. 

Memoir:

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ 🎧 *** More Than Enough: Claiming Space for Who You Are (No Matter What They Say) by: Elaine Welteroth (Viking) – Pub Date: June 11, 2019

Badass females conquering the world!? Yes, please! I loved this audiobook, especially the interview at the end with Welteroth’s parents. I hope I can raise my daughter with half the confidence and strength that Welteroth has!

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ 📱 Dry: A Memoir by: Augusten Burroughs (Picador) – Pub Date: January 1, 2003

I don’t know exactly what I was expecting when I picked this one up, but I got so much more! A raw and honest look at getting sober from an alcohol addiction, this book gave me all the feels, especially when Burroughs lost his best friend. After reading this, I put his next book (coming out October 1) Toil and Trouble high on my list!

⭐️⭐️⭐️ 📖 *** Becoming Superman: My Journey from Poverty to Hollywood by: J. Michael Straczynski (Harper Voyager) – Pub Date: July 23, 2019

Honestly, I found this rags-to-riches memoir inspiring, but also unbelievable at parts. I hate saying that because this is someone’s life experiences, but some things just seemed a little outlandish. Regardless, Straczynski shows grit and determination in rising to the top of his writing career and I admire his ability to keep going over all the hurdles in front of him.

Thriller: 

⭐️⭐️⭐️💫 📱 *** The Doll Factory by: Elizabeth Macneal (Atria) – Pub Date: August 13, 2019

The 1850’s London setting intrigued me, so I gave this one a try. While it’s a ssssllllooooowwww build and burn, overall, I enjoyed it. It’s atmospheric in a way I greatly enjoyed and super creepy (not scary creepy, but creepy creepy 😳). Readers that have issues with graphic descriptions and content (specifically animal cruelty) should be cautious. This book will not be for everyone!

⭐️⭐️⭐️💫 📱 *** The Whisper Man by: Alex North (Celadon) – Pub Date: August 20, 2019

I wanted so much more from this super-hyped thriller. People were saying they couldn’t sleep without a light on and I never got those feelings. This is great for people that love police procedural who-dun-its, but I was hoping for more of the creep factor.

Historical Fiction:

⭐️⭐️⭐️💫 📖 The Nickel Boys by: Colson Whitehead (Doubleday) – Pub Date: July 16, 2019

Another super-hyped book that I had higher hopes for. I appreciate the story – based on true events – but I needed more depth and connectedness. Just for the fact alone that this book raised awareness to the atrocities of this juvenile rehabilitation school, this book is worth reading and promoting. 

⭐️⭐️⭐️ 📖 *** The Beekeeper of Aleppo by: Christy Lefteri (Ballantine) – Pub Date: August 27, 2019

I love the cover of this book and the description, but I wanted a whole lot more from the writing. I wasn’t engaged by the story at all, and I generally love stories centered around the Syrian refugee crisis. For a better book (in my opinion), read The Map of Salt and Stars by: Zyen Joukhadar (my review here).

YA/Social-Political-Social Justice Issues:

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ 📖 Dear America: Notes of an Undocumented Citizen by: Jose Antonio Vargas (Dey Street Books) – Pub Date: September 18, 2018

This book should be required reading for all Americans. It masterfully sheds a light on the complications and issues surrounding the immigration process. For all the people that think it’s not that hard to just become an American citizen, please take the time to read this book.

⭐️⭐️⭐️💫 📖 I Think You’re Wrong (But I’m Listening): A Guide to Grace-Filled Political Conversations by: Sarah Stewart Holland & Beth A. Silvers (Thomas Nelson) – Pub Date: February 5, 2019

Another book that should be required reading for humanity, this book shows us how we can disagree with someone gracefully. It’s ok to have differing opinions, but it’s not ok to have those disagreements dysfunctionally. Sadly the people that need to read this the most (**ahem, politicians**) probably won’t, but at least there’s hope for the rest of humanity.

⭐️⭐️⭐️💫 📖 *** Juliet Takes A Breath by: Gabby Rivera (Penguin Teen) – Pub Date: September 17, 2019

A powerful voice for young, queer feminists, Juliet is smart and very real. I learned a lot from this book, and it was such a good reminder how great the YA genre can be!

Not For Me (AKA: DNF):

📖 Gift of the Sea by: Anne Morrow Lindberg (Pantheon) – Pub Date: 1955

While still relevant over sixty years later, I was bored. 

📱 *** That’s What Frenemies Are For by: Sophie Littlefield & Lauren Gershell (Ballantine) – Pub Date: July 30, 2019

Waaaay too snarky for me. I barely got passed the first few chapters and it made me feel so negative and yucky, I had to DNF.

📱 *** On Being Human: A Memoir of Waking Up, Living Real, and Listening Hard by: Jennifer Pastiloff (Dutton) – Pub Date: June 4, 2019

Repetitive and totally not engaging to me, this was sadly a miss for me.

📱 Next Level Basic: The Definitive Basic Bitch Handbook by: Stassi Schroeder (Gallery) – Pub Date: April 16, 2019

I love Stassi and I love Vanderpump Rules, but I guess I’d rather get my doses of Stassi through the television show. While this totally sounds like Stassi’s voice, it just sounds better when she says it. I’m assuming that the audiobook would have been a better option for me.

📱 *** The Other’s Gold by: Elizabeth Ames (Viking) – Pub Date: August 27, 2019

Some of my favorites endorsed this one, but I couldn’t get into it. I read to almost 40% and finally threw in the towel.

What was your favorite read in August?

Also, in case you missed it, I rounded up My #halfwaytopten list! I hope you check it out!

I’ll be publishing the September Book Club Read Alongs soon, so keep your eye out for it!

July 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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With school just around the corner, I’m sad to say good-bye to summer.

However, I’d call my July reading month STELLAR. Here’s my Wrap-up by the numbers:

  • 13 books total (2 DNFs)
  • Average Rating: 4.5
  • 8 physical books, 4 e-books, 1 audiobook
  • 8 fiction, 5 non-fiction
  • Genre: 4 contemporary fiction, 1 literary fiction, 1 historical fiction, 1 memoir, 4 non-fiction, 1 thriller, 1 young adult
  • Rating: 7 ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️, 4 ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️, 2 ⭐️⭐️⭐️💫
  • Author: 9 female, 3 male, 1 they/them

So far this year, I’ve read 100 books and my average rating is a 4.0!! I’m pretty super excited about that!

My favorite book of the month was Maybe You Should Talk to Someone by: Lori Gottlieb! It’s like getting free counseling and I guarantee you can find pieces of you all over the pages. I underlined the heck out of my copy and know I will refer back to her #truthbombs over and over again.

Non-Fiction:

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ 📖 Maybe You Should Talk to Someone: A Therapist, Her Therapist, and Our Lives Revealed by: Lori Gottlieb (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt) – Pub Date: April 2, 2019

Like getting a year’s worth of free counseling, this book had me underling ALL THE THINGS! I saw myself reflected on every single page. This book is PURE GOLD!

⭐️⭐️⭐️💫 📖 Three Women by: Lisa Taddeo (Avid Reader Press) – Pub Date: July 9, 2019

The most hyped book of the summer, I was sadly disappointed in this one. The further away I get from reading it, the less I like it. I think the marketing blurb is to blame for me not liking this one. It set me up for a novel about female desire (yes, please!), but it felt more like a look into three women’s lives as they overcome the sexual trauma they experienced when they were younger. The writing is good, but don’t feel bad if you decide to skip this one.

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ 📱*** American Predator: The Hunt for the Most Meticulous Serial Killer of the 21st Century by: Maureen Callahan (Viking) – Pub Date: July 2, 2019

I could not put this book down! So well-written, I was fully immersed in this story of a serial killer I’d never heard about. If you were a fan of I’ll Be Gone in the Dark: One Woman’s Obsessive Search for the Golden State Killer by: Michelle McNamara, you’ll like this one as well – maybe even more!

Memoir/LGTBQ+ Voices:

⭐️⭐️⭐️💫 📖 *** A Year Without a Name by: Cyrus Grace Dunham (Little, Brown) – On Shelves: October 15, 2019

This book is small, but mighty. As Cyrus Grace Dunham struggles to find their identity, they reflect on the year they transitioned from a woman into a man. The writing is intense and beautiful and this isn’t a story I’ll soon forget.

Thriller: 

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ 📖 *** The Chain by: Adrian McKinty (Mulholland Books) – Pub Date: July 9, 2019

Looking for a thriller with a twist you’ve not read before? This is it! When Rachel receives a phone call that her daughter has been kidnapped, she’s instructed to kidnap another child if she doesn’t want her daughter to die. Just like the chain letters we’ve all gotten that say some horrible fate awaits us if we don’t forward it on, this book had me questioning what I would do in the same situation. The book lost a little bit of steam towards the end, but it was still an intense and action-packed ride!

Something Lighter:

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ 📱 *** Waiting for Tom Hanks by: Kerry Winfrey (Berkley) – Pub Date: June 11, 2019

Just when I think I can confidently say I’m not a #romcom fan, a book like this comes along. Cute, sweet, and with just enough quirk to make me enjoy it, Waiting for Tom Hanks captured my heart. I loved everything about it – the plot, the characters, the writing. It was the perfect summer/beach/pool read!

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ 📱 **** The Lager Queen of Minnesota by: J. Ryan Stradal (Pamela Dorman Books) – Pub Date: July 23, 2019

Another sweet and quirky read, Lager Queen made me wish I loved the taste of beer! But beyond that, the story was so unique and well-done that I couldn’t turn the pages fast enough. I have yet to read Stradal’s first novel, Kitchens of the Great Midwest, but many have commented that it’s still better than this one. If that’s the case, I’m in for a treat!

Cultural/Historical Fiction:

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ 📖 Americanah by: Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie (Anchor Books) – Pub Date: May 14, 2013

Initially I wasn’t loving this book but I know it was because I chose the wrong time in my life to read it. We were on vacation and there wasn’t a lot of time to sit and get immersed in the book. But this isn’t a book to be taken lightly. Tackling themes of race, immigration, emigration, finding one’s “home” and love, it’s obvious to me now that I wouldn’t have struggled as much had I waited for a less chaotic time to read it. None of that is the book’s fault; the blame fall solely on me. Once I gave it the attention it deserved, its importance became clear very quickly. I believe this is a book that will one day be a classic, inspiring generations to come! I truly think this should be required reading for all humans.

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ 📖 The Editor by: Steven Rowley (Putnam) – Pub Date: April 2, 2019

I wasn’t expecting to love this one as much as I did. Maybe it’s because I have a secret wish to be a writer, but this book touched my soul. I LOVED the addition of Jackie O and found the addition of her character a true delight. 

Complicated Issues/Relationships:

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ 📱 *** The Gifted School by: Bruce Holsinger (Riverhead) – Pub Date: July 2, 2019

When I initially finished this book my first thought was, “What’s the big deal?” Everyone seemed to be raving about it on #bookstagram and I wasn’t quite as smitten as they all seemed to be. But as I got further away from it, I found that I couldn’t get it out of my mind. I kept going over and over what happened, so I bumped it up a star. The writing is excellent and I found it quite relatable as a parent of middle school kids. I think all parents really just have their children’s best interests at heart, but it doesn’t take much to cross the line into crazy territory!

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ 🎧 *** Daisy Jones and The Six by: Taylor Jenkins Reid (Ballantine) – Pub Date: March 5, 2019

I read and loved this book earlier this year, but had a strong case of #fomo for not listening to the audiobook. Both formats are equally good and I’m glad I listened to both! (This book make my #halfwaytopten list!)

YA/Social Justice:

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ 📖 Internment by: Samira Ahmed (Little, Brown) – Pub Date: March 19, 2019

Given what is currently happening at the United States/Mexico border, I think everyone would benefit from reading this one. Set “15 minutes in the future”, Layla and her family are relocated to an interment camp after the president declares “all Muslims enemies of the state.” It’s a sad reality of what our politics look like right now. Internment is another book that should be required reading for all humans – especially those in a leadership political position.

“What’s that thing people always say about history? Unless we know our history, we’re doomed to repeat it? Never forget? Isn’t that the lesson? But we always forget. Forgetting is in the American grain.”

For the Writer at Heart:

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ 📖 *** Wild Words: Rituals, Routines, and Rhythms for Braving the Writer’s Path by: Nicole Gulotta (Roost Books) – On Shelves: October 15, 2019

If you’re a writer (or a creator in any sort of way), this book is for you! Methodical and inspirational, Gulotta tackles all the hurdles creative people fight. This book touched my soul and reminded me that writing is part of who I am.

Not For Me (AKA: DNF):

*** 🎧 Whisper Network by: Chandler Baker (Flatiron) – Pub Date: July 2, 2019

I listened to 23% and realized I just didn’t really care. After seeing many mixed reviews, I didn’t feel bad about throwing in the towel. 🤷🏼‍♀️

📱 Bunny: A Novel by: Mona Awad (Viking) – Pub Date: June 11, 2019

From the beginning I felt like this one was going to be too weird for me, but the reviews had me curious so I pushed on. Eventually the thorough confusion I was feeling was too much for me and I DNF’d it at 42%. If you read it and finished it, feel free to spoil the ending for me!

Also, in case you missed it:

My #halfwaytopten list!

And I’ll be publishing the August Book Club Read Alongs soon (here’s the July Book Club List)!

June 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 was out of town on June 30th, so this is a little late.

I’d call my June reading month just so-so. I read some stellar reads – 5 stars! – and some meh book – 3 stars – and I DNF’d more than I ever have – 5 books! It was a bit of a roller coaster ride!

So far this year, I’ve read 87 books and my average rating is at 3.9. I’m pretty happy with that!

My favorite book of the month was If You Want To Make God Laugh by Bianca Marais, without a doubt! I can’t stop thinking about it and I read it over a week ago now. I can’t wait to add it to my Favorites Shelf and reread it again!

Non-Fiction:

Screen Shot 2019-06-22 at 9.02.49 PM⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ Fall and Rise: The Story of 9/11 by: Mitchell Zuckoff (Harper) – Pub Date: April 30, 2019

I know this is a tough book to read, especially for those personally and directly affected by the events of 9/11, but it’s also an important piece of American history. We owe it to those who so tragically gave their lives to #neverforget.

Screen Shot 2019-06-22 at 8.58.05 PM⭐️⭐️⭐️ *** Nanaville: Adventures in Grandparenting by: Anna Quindlin (6/10/19)

While this had some great reflections on motherhood, I thought it was a little too personal to Quindlen’s family to really connect with it, though I will walk away with some knowledge of how to respect boundaries as a mother-in-law someday!

 

Something Lighter:

Screen Shot 2019-06-02 at 11.44.40 AM⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ *** The Flatshare by: Beth O’Leary (6/10/19)

I almost passed this one over but I’m so glad I didn’t. It was exactly the light-hearted read I was craving. I loved both of the characters and thought the storyline was unique and well done! This is the perfect beach or pool companion!

 

Cultural/Historical Fiction:

Screen Shot 2019-06-22 at 9.06.03 PM⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ *** If You Want To Make God Laugh by: Bianca Marais (Putnam) – On Shelves: July 16, 2019

I can’t imagine that this one won’t make my Top 10 List of 2019! Set in post-apartheid Africa, it has themes of racism, motherhood, and the AIDS epidemic of the early 1990s. It was so well-written and all I can think about since finishing it is, “how soon is too soon to reread a book!?!?”

 

Complicated Family Relationships:

Screen Shot 2019-06-22 at 9.04.12 PM⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ Summer of ’69 by: Elin Hilderbrand (Little, Brown) – Pub Date: June 18, 2019

Apparently Elin Hilderbrand’s books are hit or miss. I’ve never read one of her books and I’m happy to say that I loved this one! With the just the right mix of complicated family drama, historical fiction, and a beach setting on Nantucket Island during the summer, I couldn’t put this one down!

Screen Shot 2019-06-22 at 9.05.11 PM⭐️⭐️⭐️ My Lovely Wife by: Samantha Downing (Berkley) – Pub Date: March 26, 2019

I was expecting this to be the book version of the movie, Mr. and Mrs. Smith, starring Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie. But instead, it was a mildly boring, totally predictable thriller with little unexpected twists and turns.

Screen Shot 2019-03-23 at 1.43.08 PM⭐️⭐️⭐️ My Sister, the Serial Killer by: Oyinkan Braithwaite (Doubleday) – Pub Date: November 20, 2018

Sometimes #bookstagram can rave about a book and I get a real sense of #fomo…sadly, this book didn’t deliver for the hype it got. I found the succinct writing style fantastic, but the overall storyline underwhelming.

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⭐️⭐️⭐️💫 *** We Came Here to Forget by: Andrea Dunlop (Atria) – On Shelves: July 2, 2019

This was a tough one for me because I thought it was a page-turner and I was invested in the story, but I just don’t think it will have staying power for the long haul in my mind. It’s one of those books that I like while I’m in it, but a few months from now, I’ll be lucky to recall any details about it. 

Screen Shot 2019-06-27 at 11.25.24 AM⭐️⭐️⭐️ *** Searching for Sylvie Lee by: Jean Kwok (William Morrow) – Pub Date: June 4, 2019

This one just fell in the middle of the road for me. It was interesting, but easily skimmable, which I ended up doing for the last half of the book. Looking back, I probably should have DNF’d it, but I was curious what happened to Sylvie.

I picked this one up because it’s on Modern Mrs. Darcy’s Summer Reading Guide. I’m almost halfway through the books she suggests…it’s been fun to prioritize those books! 

 

Not For Me (AKA: DNF):

Screen Shot 2019-06-22 at 9.38.33 PMI Am Not Your Perfect Mexican Daughter by: Erika L. Sánchez (Knopf Books for Young Readers) – Pub Date: October 17, 2017

As a winner of numerous book awards, I was excited to start this one with my daughter (11-years-old), but as I quickly realized, it’s not appropriate for her just yet. Without sharing the story together, my interest quickly waned…though I wouldn’t mind trying it again in the future.

Screen Shot 2019-06-22 at 9.44.16 PM🎧 God in the ICU: The Inspirational Biography of a Praying Doctor by: Dave A. Walker – Pub Date: November 19, 2011

This one definitely intrigues me – I am interested in the backstory and found the writing well done, but I could not get past the poor audiobook quality and the narrator’s voice was so low and deep, I had a hard time understanding. I’m too impatient to continually back the story up, so I gave up on this one.

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The Next Right Thing: A Simple, Soulful Practice for Making Life Decisions by: Emily P. Freeman (Fleming H. Revell Company) – Pub Date: April 2, 2019

My library hold on this one expired before I’d finished, but I felt like I got enough of the gist to move forward. I love Emily P. Freeman’s writing and she has a way of putting things into perspective that really resonate with me. What I got through was fantastic and I’d encourage others to read it!

Screen Shot 2019-06-22 at 9.39.11 PM

In At The Deep End by: Kate Davies (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt) – Pub Date: June 4, 2019

I went into this one blind and the first couple of chapters were much different than I was expecting. There was a lot of sexual talk – which I’m not opposed to – but was thrown off a bit. If I happen to run across this one again, I may give it another chance!

Screen Shot 2019-06-27 at 11.18.14 AMAyesha At Last by: Uzma Jalaluddin (Berkley) – Pub Date: June 4, 2019

Though I am in love with the cover, I was not feeling the story. A modern-retelling of Pride and Prejudice, it lacked connection for me and felt very forced. Maybe I’m simply not in the mood because I’ve already read Unmarriageable this year – and it’s the same storyline, though I enjoyed it much more.

This one is also on Modern Mrs. Darcy’s Summer Reading Guide. #IdRatherBeReading #summerstooshort

 

What was your favorite read in June?

 

 

May 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!)

Non-Fiction:

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ Present Over Perfect: Leaving Behind Frantic for a Simpler, More Soulful Way of Living by: Shauna Niequist

*** ⭐️⭐️⭐️ 1000+ Little Things Happy Successful People Do Differently by: Marc and Angel Chernoff

*** ⭐️⭐️⭐️ What Matters Most: The Get Your Shit Together Guide to Wills, Money, Insurance, and Life’s “What-Ifs” by: Chanel Reynolds

 

To Make You Think:

*** ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ The Farm by: Joanne Ramos

*** ⭐️⭐️⭐️💫 Juliet the Maniac by: Juliet Escoria

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ Sissy: A Coming-of-Gender Story by: Jacob Tobia

*** ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ Ask Again, Yes by: Mary Beth Keane

*** ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ Mrs. Everything by: Jennifer Weiner

*** ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ Out East: Memoir of a Montauk Summer by: John Glynn

 

Something Lighter:

*** ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ The Unhoneymooners by: Christina Lauren

 

Cultural/Historical Fiction:

*** ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ City of Girls by: Elizabeth Gilbert

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ The Unlikely Adventures of the Shergill Sisters by: Balli Kaur Jaswal

⭐️⭐️⭐️💫 The Night Tiger by: Yangsze Choo

*** ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ A Bend in the Stars by: Rachel Barenbaum

⭐️⭐️⭐️ Piecing Me Together by: Renee Watson

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️💫 With the Fire on High by: Elizabeth Acevedo

 

Complicated Family Relationships:

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ The Mother-in-Law by: Sally Hepworth

*** ⭐️⭐️ The Children Act by: Ian McEwan

 

DNF:

*** On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous by: Ocean Vuong

*** The Desert Sky Before Us by: Anne Valente

*** Places and Names: On War, Revolution, and Returning by: Elliot Ackerman

*** They Called Me Wyatt by: Natasha Tynes

What was your favorite read in May?

 

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

March 2019 Reading Wrap-Up

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(#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.)

The crazy weather of March allowed for a lot of book reading time. I’ve gotta say: since I’ve gotten better at paying attention to my source recommendations (s/o Sarah’s Book Shelves, Basicbsguide, Reading n Running, and Novel Visits), my reading life has improved so much. I’m getting better at not following the hype on EVERY.SINGLE.BOOK and sometimes just sitting back and seeing what more people say about it.

Below is my March reads…click on the links for my full reviews!

  • *** The Island of Sea Women by: Lisa See (Scribner) – Pub Date: March 5, 2019
    • A perfect choice for the historical fiction reader that needs a break from the WWII/Nazi theme. Set in Korea during the WWII time period, this book is a fascinating glimpse into real-life “mermaids” – the haenyeo. ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
  • A Woman Is No Man by: Etaf Rum (Haper) – Pub Date: March 5, 2019
    • A book I can’t stop thinking about since I finished the last page! Powerful, hard-to-read at times, and so thought-provoking. The last 50ish pages were some of the most beautiful words I’ve ever written about a mother’s commitment to her children, come what may. ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️💫
  • *** A People’s History of Heaven by: Mathangi Subramanian (Algonquin) – Pub Date: March 19, 2019
    • Another book I can’t stop thinking about. Heaven is a slum in Bangladore. And despite the difficulties of living in extreme poverty, these characters left me with such a sense of hope. The friendship theme is strong in this book and I just thought it was so gorgeously done. ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
  • *** Daisy Jones and The Six by: Taylor Jenkins Reid (Ballantine) – Pub Date: March 5, 2019
    • I have yet to read a TJR book that left me disappointed. All done so differently, they are each uniquely written, but I think this one takes the cake! Told in interview (script) format, I couldn’t get enough of this book. At times, I questioned that it wasn’t written about an actual band. The only regret I have with this one is that I might have enjoyed listening to the audio about this one. I’ve heard it’s phenomenal! ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
  • *** The Things We Cannot Say by: Kelly Rimmer (Graydon House) – Pub Date: March 19, 2019
    • Sadly, this one fell flat for me. I think it was more my issues than the book itself though because I’ve seen rave reviews. I honestly think I’m burned out on WWII historical fiction right now and am craving a break. All of that to say: don’t let my opinion on this one sway you. Search out some other reviews to make your final decision! ⭐️⭐️⭐️💫
  • Queenie by: Candice Carty-Williams (Scout Press) – Pub Date: March 19, 2019
    • This one started out so poorly for me, but finished so strong! I was frustrated with Queenie in so many ways, but as the book progressed, I came to love her so much. I have continued to think about this book on and off and I think Queenie will become a beloved character to me. ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
  • *** A Grip of Time by: Lauren Kessler (Red Lightning Books) – On Shelves: May 1, 2019
    • It was a spur-of-the-moment decision to pick this one up and I’m glad I did. As someone who loves books about writing, I especially loved how Kessler wanted to start a writing group in a prison to learn about the inmates lives and to help them work through personal issues at the same time. Kessler also included some convincing facts and figures regarding the American prisons and its prisoners. Lots of food for thought in this one! This one isn’t on shelves until May 1, 2019, but be sure to put it on your list! ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
  • Next Year in Havana by: Chanel Cleeton (Berkley) – Pub Date: February 6, 2018
    • Rereading this one was like visiting an old friend. I loved it it last year (it was one of my favorite books of 2018), and the second time around did not disappoint. Full of Cuban history and politics, this book is smart while also entertaining with the present-day timeline. The second book by Cleeton is out in April and I cannot wait! ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
  • Five Feet Apart by: Rachel Lippincott (Simon and Schuster for Young Readers) – Pub Date: November 20, 2018
    • With a movie adaptation just released, I wanted to read this one (I generally prefer the book vs the movie). I really didn’t know much about cycstic fibrosis before reading this so I appreciated gaining more of an insight into this disease. I liked the characters too, and overall, I thought this book was fine. My 11-year-old and I read this one together and both really enjoyed it! (There were some mature themes, so I’m glad I was able to censor some of that out!) ⭐️⭐️⭐️💫
  • Dear Martin by: Nic Stone (Ember) – Pub Date: October 17, 2017
    • A small book (just barely over 200 pages), but it packs a huge punch. In response to so many young Black (unarmed) men being gunned down by law enforcement in recent news, Stone delivers a book that addresses the subtle racism that is so present in today’s world. Eye-opening, revealing, and honest, this is a must read for everyone! ⭐️⭐️⭐️
  • The Other Americans by: Laila Lalami (Pantheon) – Pub Date: March 26, 2019
    • Roxane Gay gave this one five stars so I’m not sure how much convincing one would need to read this one. I’m no Roxane Gay, but I whole-heartedly agree with her. This was such a good book! Insights into the characters’ lives (and there are lots of them, but don’t be scared because it’s not confusing at all!) are revealed in layers over time. I loved Lalami’s writing and I couldn’t put this book down! (Read my full review here!) ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
  • Renegade Women in Film and TV by: Elizabeth Weitzman (Clarkson Potter) – Pub Date: February 5, 2019
    • My daughter and I read this one together. We loved the illustrations – they’re gorgeous – and we enjoyed learning about the women trailblazers – both past and present – in the film and tv industry. This was a perfect book to read in Women’s History Month! ⭐️⭐️⭐️
  • In Another Time by: Jillian Cantor (Harper Perennial) – Pub Date: March 5, 2019
    • It seems like most of #bookstagram is loving this one! I’ll have my full review up on Monday, April 1st as part of the Get Red PR campaign! ⭐️⭐️⭐️
  • 🎧 Cherry by: Nico Walker (Knopf) – Pub Date: August 14, 2018
    • This one took me awhile to get through because, at first, it enthralled me. I couldn’t get enough of it (and my housework thanks this book for it), but as it moved on, it lost its steam for me. Apparently this book is a semi-autobiographical novel about the author. He went to war in Iraq and when he returns, he suffers from PTSD and has a heroine addiction. He turns to bank robbery to fuel his habit. At times, I was a little shocked at the vulgarity of it, but I also understand that the topic warrants that kind of grit and honesty. I think there’s something to hearing that kind of blatant talk vs reading it, so I’m sure that was part of the issue. Overall, I LOVED the narrator, Jeremy Bobb, and he deserves 5-stars alone for his performance! He was incredible and I appreciated his gravely voice so much; if not for his performance, I may have DNF’d this one. ⭐️⭐️⭐️
  • If, Then by: Kate Hope Day (Random House) – Pub Date: March 12, 2019
    • Don’t you wish covers would be an indication of a good book? Like, if the cover is beautiful and gorgeous, the book will land among your favorites. Bad cover? Terrible book. Wouldn’t that make things easier? In all seriousness, I LOVE the cover of this book, but I didn’t love the story. I found it disjointed and confusing, uninteresting and bland. I did appreciate the volcano in the story and it seemed like its own character. What’s frustrating about that is that it had better character development than all the other characters in the story! I could appreciate the premise of the story, but it just felt like way too much was going on. With a big cast of characters who each had their own issues, there was no connection. It quite literally felt like five different stories that tried to be one. Unfortunately, this one just did not work for me. ⭐️⭐️⭐️
  • Beautiful Bad by: Annie Ward (Park Row) – Pub Date: March 5, 2019
    • I really enjoyed this book! While a little predictable towards the end, it didn’t detract from the story. Maddie’s adventures with Jo in war-torn countries, Ian’s alcoholism and PTSD issues, Jo and Ian’s hatred for each other – all combined to create an intense roller coaster ride! I’ve found my mystery/thriller niche and its psychological thrillers. I love the mind mends and the well-developed plot lines that seem to be a little more present than in #whodunit stories. I switched off and on between reading and listening to this one and it was awesome! I enjoyed the audio version (though I’m confused why Ian sounded Irish instead of British 🤷🏼‍♀️🤷🏼‍♀️🤷🏼‍♀️), and mostly I was just so excited with the amount of housework, laundry, exercise I could get done while staying in the same story! I’m going to continue to seek out audiobooks of books I have on my shelf in order to increase my productivity!

DNF:

  • *** The Mastermind: Drugs, Murder, Betrayal by: Evan Ratliff (Random House) – Pub Date: January 29, 2019 (DNF @ 10%)
    • I desperately wanted to follow in Bad Blood: Secrets and Lies in a Silicon Valley Startup‘s footsteps (my review here), but I just couldn’t get into this one. I think some people will really be able to get on board with it, but I was getting way too confused and bored trying to keep this story straight. I’m gonna hand this one off to my father-in-law though because I think he’ll really enjoy it!
  • *** We Cast A Shadow by: Maurice Carlos Ruffin (One World) – Pub Date: January 29, 2019 (DNF @ 24%)
    • One of the books I was most excited about this winter, but no matter how hard I tried, I couldn’t grasp the writing style. This may be the first book I’ve read that’s satirical and I’m wondering if that’s my problem. I’m going to stick this one back on my shelves and search out a few more reviews before completely giving up on it, but for now, it’s just not for me. 
  • That Time I Loved You by: Carrianne Leung (Liveright) – Pub Date: March 27, 2019
    • I’m so bummed about this one because it was a #ShelfSubscription book from The Bookshelf in Thomasville, Georgia. I read over half of it and it was just fine. I’ve made a deal with myself that when I stop caring about reading a book, I’m going to stop. I have way too many I want to read to spend time wasting time…so I stopped! It just felt like nothing happened and I just stopped caring.

It’s going to be hard to name just one book as my favorite book of March because I actually loved several. I suppose DAISY JONES AND THE SIX would be my favorite if I had to name one, but I also really adore A PEOPLE’S HISTORY OF HEAVEN, A WOMAN IS NO MAN, QUEENIE, and THE OTHER AMERICANS, and BEAUTIFUL BAD.

What was your favorite read of March?