Q1: Most Anticipated

After last year’s stellar book releases, I wasn’t sure 2020 could compete, but this year is shaping up to be another great year of reading!

Here are the book releases I’m most looking foward this winter!

What books are you most anticipating?

January 2020

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February 2020

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March 2020

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January #HWRbooks: Dear Edward

Announcing the first #HWRbooks selection of 2020:

Dear Edward by: Ann Napolitano (The Dial Press) – Pub Date: January 6, 2020

From the publisher:

“Inspired by a true story of one child’s incredible survival–riveting, uplifting, unforgettable.

After losing everything, a young boy discovers there are still reasons for hope in this luminous, life-affirming novel, perfect for fans of Celeste Ng and Ann Patchett.

In the face of tragedy, what does it take to find joy?

One summer morning, twelve-year-old Edward Adler, his beloved older brother, his parents, and 183 other passengers board a flight in Newark headed for Los Angeles. Among them is a Wall Street wunderkind, a young woman coming to terms with an unexpected pregnancy, an injured vet returning from Afghanistan, a septuagenarian business tycoon, and a free-spirited woman running away from her controlling husband. And then, tragically, the plane crashes. Edward is the sole survivor.

Edward’s story captures the attention of the nation, but he struggles to find a place for himself in a world without his family. He continues to feel that a piece of him has been left in the sky, forever tied to the plane and all of his fellow passengers. But then he makes an unexpected discovery–one that will lead him to the answers of some of life’s most profound questions: When you’ve lost everything, how do find yourself? How do you discover your purpose? What does it mean not just to survive, but to truly live?

Dear Edward is at once a transcendent coming-of-age story, a multidimensional portrait of an unforgettable cast of characters, and a breathtaking illustration of all the ways a broken heart learns to love again.”

I like to keep these buddy reads as easy and carefree as possible so everyone can enjoy the book and not get too freaked out or worried.

The discussion for Dear Edward will be on Saturday, January 25, 2020.

There will be a post on my Instagram feed (find me here: @happiestwhenreading) with some discussions relating to the book. There is no specific time to check in and discuss – because if your life is anything like mine, it’s chaotic. When you have some time, check in and throw your thoughts out, respond to some other people, and continue to do that…obviously, the more interaction, the more fun this will be!

If you have any questions, comments, or concerns, please let me know!

Until then, happy reading!

It’s 2020! January TBR

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How in the world is it the year 2020? I remember when I was a kid growing up that 2020 sounded so futuristic. I didn’t think I’d be alive to see it (I mean, it was the 1900s and anything in the new century sounded unbelievable to me!). Anyway, here we are! Clearly, I’m alive and well and net even close to being dead…so the joke is on me! 🤪

In terms of goals and intentions, I meant to be more prepared for this new year…but I tend to do better under pressure so I’m going to keep winging it like I always have been!

One thing I’m doing differently is that I’m not setting a quantity goal for the year (I’ll still set something on Goodreads because I love the Year in Review they provide!). I want to focus on quality instead – increasing my average page count per book, amount of pages read overall, and enjoying what I read.

I am also putting myself on a book buying ban. I’m not doing it out of shame or anything other than trying to read the books I already own! To help me do that, I will be participating in the Unread Shelf Challenge hosted by Whitney at The Unread Shelf (more on this in a post later this week). Many of the books currently on my shelf I bought with the intention of reading right away, but then I got distracted by a new release or persuaded by a trusted book source. In full disclosure, I will still be adding some new books to my shelves through partnerships I have with publishers. Also, I was lucky enough to get a few gift cards for Christmas, so if there’s a book I’m absolutely dying to read, I will get it! Last, I already have credits with Book of the Month (<– affiliate link!) so those won’t count on the ban either.

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To help me whiddle down my books, I have a few categories I’d like to try to hit each month:

Other books up for consideration:

There you have it! What’s on your list of hopefuls for the month of January?

 

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.

 

 

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?

May 2019 TBR

(#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.)

May 2019 TBR

These monthly TBR posts are almost comical because I rarely stick to them. I’m such a mood reader, so while I list them here with the best of intentions, not all of them have made the cut by month’s end. 🤷🏼‍♀️

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

  • I’m all about books that push the boundaries of our thinking and this one promises to mess with your mind. Hosts live on the grounds of a retreat, all their needs (money, food, etc) met while they are pregnant. Once they give birth, the baby is given to a wealthy client. With themes of motherhood and privileged lifestyles vs those who have less, I hope this one delivers. I’ve seen a lot of mixed reviews and DNFs but I’m hopeful I’ll enjoy it!

Beyond the Point by: Claire Gibson (William Morrow) – Pub Date: April 2, 2019

  • I have yet to see a negative review for this one. I’m so glad I added it to my Book of the Month box last month!

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

  • I still can’t believe I haven’t made the time for this one yet because it’s probably the one I want to read the most! 

The Affairs of the Falcóns by: Melissa Rivero (ECCO) – Pub Date: April 2, 2019

  • I started this one on audio and the writing was just too beautiful to miss so I ordered the book. It’s here now and I can’t wait to read it. I’ve only seen great reviews!

** Waisted by: Randy Susan Meyers (Atria) – On Shelves: May 21, 2019

** 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

  • Who doesn’t need help when it comes to wills and money? My husband and I are in a place where we’re wanting to review our options and I’m looking forward to the advice in this one!

** Necessary People by: Anna Pitoniak (Little, Brown and Company) – On Shelves: May 21, 2019

  • Toxic female friendship? I’m intrigued. This is also a Book of the Month selection this month so I think it’s going to be showing up quite a bit soon!

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

  • This is another book I’ve seen mostly good reviews on. I’m not sure it’s much of a thriller; as I understand it, it’s more of a deep character study? I’m not sure, but I’m excited to get to it!

** The Flatshare by: Beth O’Leary (Flatiron) – Pub Date: April 18, 2019

  • I think this one is going to be a great “brain candy” read, as my friend Sarah (Sarah’s Book Shelves) likes to call them. I usually refer to them as “palate cleansers” – just something light and easy and enjoyable, particularly after a dark and/or heavy read! Also, this is what summer/beach reading is all about!

** Nanaville: Adventures in Grandparenting by: Anna Quindlen (Random House) – Pub Date: April 23, 2019

  • Like everyone else, I’m going to try to read this one quickly before Mother’s Day so I can pass it along to a grandma in my life!