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?

February 2019 Reading Wrap-Up

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{#partner #freebook: THE LAST ROMANTICS and THE HUNTRESS (William Morrow Books via TLCBookTours), SUCH GOOD WORK (Simon & Schuster), THE BEANTOWN GIRLS (Lake Union Publishing via GetRedPR), AMERICAN SPY (Random House), LONG LIVE THE TRIBES OF FATHERLESS DAUGHTERS (Bloomsbury Publishing via NetGalley), THE ART OF LEAVING (HarperCollins via NetGalley), HOW TO BE LOVED (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt via NetGalley), VACUUM IN THE DARK (Scribner via NetGalley) All opinions are my own!}

Many of you said that January felt like it went on forever, but I’m gonna have to say that it felt like February was never-ending for me! It looks like I made it, and nonetheless, I had a good (but not great) reading month!

  • If you’re looking for a good family drama:
    • The Last Romantics by: Tara Conklin (William Morrow)
      • I loved this dramatic story about four siblings so much. It totally reminded me of The Immortalists by Chloe Benjamin (my review here), one of my favorite books of 2017! 
  • If you’re looking for a book with a new perspective on the refugee crisis:
    • Such Good Work by: Johannes Lichtman (Simon & Schuster)
      • This book has so many interesting themes: addiction, finding yourself and your purpose, and the refugee crisis with a fresh perspective. This book challenged me to think a lot about my personal beliefs.
  • If you’re looking for a good psychological thriller (with a big twist at the end):
    • The Silent Patient by: Alex Michaelides (Celadon)
      • I don’t generally like the thriller/mystery genre, but I loved this one. It’s a great psychological thriller with several twists (one big one I missed)…and I think this book made me realize that I can handle this genre if it has that great psychological component.
  • If you’re looking for a quick and engaging read: 
    • Evidence of the Affair by: Taylor Jenkins Reid (Amazon Original Stories)
      • This novella was everywhere at the end of last year. I love TJR anyway, so when I saw it while browsing Amazon, I took a chance. It’s a quick read (less than an hour) and it was amazing how concisely TJR was able to complete a full story. 
  • If you’re looking for a strong, female protagonist:
    • American Spy by: Lauren Wilkinson (Random House)
      • I wanted to love this one more than I did…and in hindsight, I like it more the further I get away from it. The concept of the story was amazing, but I wanted more of the spy story. Instead, it was more of a for her children – so they would know how things led up to their current lives should their mother die due to her occupation. It was good; it just wasn’t what I was expecting and I think that threw me off. 
  • If you’re looking for a book that talks about timely (thought-provoking) social justice issues: 
    • Maid: Hard Work, Low Pay, and a Mother’s Will to Survive by: Stephanie Land (Hachette Books)
      • ** #unpopularopinion alert ** This wasn’t the book for me. While I appreciate the attention Land tries to bring to various social injustices, her delivery fell far short for me. Most people have appreciated this one way more than I did, so don’t let my opinion sway you from picking it up and seeing for yourself.
  • If you’re looking for a book that gives you hope that female friendships are worth the hassle:
    • How to Be Loved: A Memoir of Lifesaving Friendship by: Eva Hagberg Fisher (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt)
      • An unexpected surprise, this book brought back so much from when my mama battled cancer. I appreciated the way Fisher was able to convey that emotion in her writing. Also, as someone that has always struggled with female relationships, this book offered a hopeful perspective towards fostering those women relationships and learning to accept help from others (something hard for me to do!).
  • If you’re looking for an incredibly engaging memoir that reads like fiction:
    • The Art of Leaving: A Memoir by: Ayelet Tsabari (HarperCollins)
      • Another unexpected surprise, but I loved this memoir of a Jewish-Yemeni woman who struggles to find her place in the world. I lived vicariously through her whimsical figure-it-out-later attitude and appreciated seeing her growth as she came of age. Tsabari is a phenomenal writer and I continually had to remind myself that this was a true story because it really read like fiction.
  • If you’re looking for an oddly humorous book:
    • Vacuum in the Dark by: Jen Beagin (Scribner)
      • Hmm…all I can say is “whoa”. This one was truly a bit much for me; it wasn’t my favorite. Had it not been a galley I most likely would have DNF’d it. This book also made me realize I need to be cautious about books that are labeled ‘humorous” because I rarely think they’re funny. Like David Sedaris? I want to love his books, but I don’t. I know I’m in the minority – and I’d love to be in the majority here – but I’m not. Oh well. Sigh. 
  • If you’re looking for a book that pulls at your heartstrings:
    • Long Live the Tribe of Fatherless Daughters by: T Kira Madden (Bloomsbury Publishing)
      • Loved, loved, loved this memoir of a young girl’s coming of age story. She lives in Florida and both of her parents struggle with drug and alcohol addiction. There’s an intense chapter regarding a sexual assault she experienced at a young age, but her writing is important and, I believe, fights the social stigma surrounding victims that don’t feel safe talking about their trauma. I loved Madden’s writing style, and I still think of her story days after finishing reading it. (I’ll have my full review in March.)
  • If you’re looking for a great historical fiction novel about female bombers in WWII:
    • The Huntress by: Kate Quinn (William Morrow)
      • This one didn’t quite capture my heart like Quinn’s previous novel, The Alice Network (my review here). While I love books about WWII with strong female characters, for some reason I remained disconnected from this story. I can’t exactly pinpoint it, and I do believe I’m definitely in the minority here, because all the reviews I’ve seen so far are singing its praises. The writing is great, the characters are charming, and the story is intense. Take my opinion with a grain of salt and give this one a try if you enjoyed The Alice Network.
  • If you’re looking for a great historical fiction novel with a fresh perspective you haven’t heard before:
    • The Beantown Girls by: Jane Healey (Lake Union Publishing)
      • Just when I think I’ve heard all the angles from WWII fiction, I find a book that adds a new twist. The Beantown Girls is about women who volunteered to go overseas during WWII to boost the morale of soldiers by serving them donuts and coffee. I had never heard about the “Red Cross Clubmobile Girls”, but I’m glad I got a chance to learn about them! This book was light and sweet – a change up from the usual themes of this genre. I loved the girls and this story left my heart feeling warm. (I’ll have my full review in March.)
  • For the one who loves a healthy does of inspiration from one #badasslady:
    • Notorious RGB: The Life & Times of Ruth Bader Ginsburg by: Iran Carmon & Shana Knizhnik (Day Street)
      • With the current state of our country’s politics, this was an endearing read about a major female #badass that has helped forge our current laws, specifically those affecting women. RBG is a fearless female crusader and I loved reading about her life – leading up to and since – her Supreme Court appointment. #loveliveRBG
  • For the one who needs a palate cleanser and prefers the thriller genre for that purpose: 
    • Social Creature by: Tara Isabella Burton (Doubleday)
      • Holy cow, this book is creepy! If this has ever happened in real life, I’m terrified. What a wild ride this book was. The writing is quick and easy, but still keeps the reader wondering how this would wrap up. I liked the readers quick and precise writing because it kept the story moving at a fast pace and refused to let me put it down.
  • If you’re looking for a middle grade book to read with your daughter:
    • Louisiana’s Way Home by: Kate DiCamillo (Candlewick Press)
      • My 11-year-old daughter and I still love to read aloud to each other and this book was perfect. It presents themes of belonging, being true to yourself, and finding “home” – wherever that may be. My daughter definitely liked it better than me, but I appreciate the conversations this fostered for us.

My favorite book of February was (hands down) THE LAST ROMANTICS…LOVED it.

What was your favorite read of February?