February 2020 TBR


I’m participating in the Unread Shelf Challenge hosted by Whitney at The Unread Shelf, and I learned a few things last month. First, I need a better system to track books in and out of the house. Next, I have to be more conscious of the books I’m acquiring if I’m ever going to tackle the amount of books on my shelves (you can’t have more coming in than going out in the quantities I had!). And last, getting to some of those books that have been on my shelf for awhile felt so good! I can’t wait to fine tune my skills so I can have that feeling of success when December 2020 comes to a close!

This month’s Unread Shelf Challenge is to read books gifted to you – from a friend/family member, a publisher, or any other source!

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 February?

January 2020 Reading Wrap-up


At the beginning of January, I set some lofty goals to try to get through some of the #unreadbooks already on my shelves. I FAILED MASSIVELY…but more on that later!

January By the Numbers:

  • Total Books Read: 11
  • Audiobooks: 0
  • Five Star Reads: 2
  • Unread Shelf: 8 (2 DNFs)
  • Books Aquired: 52
  • By Women Authors: 10 (3 DNFs)
  • By Authors of Color: 1
  • By Queer Authors: 1
  • Nonfiction Reads: 2 (1 DNF)
  • Debuts: 7
  • Published in 2020: 7 (1 DNF)

Favorite Books of January: Me, A Curse So Dark and Lonely, and The Sun Down Motel

Here is a look at the TBR I set:

  • A Nonfiction Title – 📖 The Library Book by: Susan Orlean
    • ⭐️⭐️⭐️💫 For most of the book I was fascinated by the history, not only of the Los Angeles Public Library, but libraries in general. It got a little long, but I think librarians and book readers that have a special spot for Los Angeles would really enjoy this one!
  • A NetGalley/Edelweiss Title  – 📱 Such A Fun Age by: Kiley Reid
    • ⭐️⭐️⭐️ I know I’m in the #unpopularopinion category with this one, but I feel like Reid was trying to accomplish too much. There were a lot of aspects explored throughout the book, but none of them executed well (in my opinion).
  • A Memoir – 📖 Me by: Elton John
    • ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ Thank goodness for Elton John or this entire month may have been a bust! I loved this honest and raw look into Elton John’s life…and it just reaffirmed my love for him!

I also read the following books:

  • 📖 *** Saint X by: Alexis Schaitkin
    • ⭐️⭐️⭐️ This one started off strong but lost its steam about halfway through. It could have been so good!
  • 📖 *** Followers by: Megan Angelo
    • ⭐️⭐️⭐️ I’m sorry to say that I completely missed the whole point of this book (The Spill) and had to have a reader DM me to explain. I KNOW it wasn’t the fault of the book as much as it was my own headspace (I read it during an emotional week). I would absolutely seek out others’ reviews before making a decision on this one…what I read was engaging, I just couldn’t concentrate enough to grab the jist.
  • 📖 *** The Wolf Wants In by: Laura McHugh
    • ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ A deeply nuanced, dark, and gritty literary mystery that explores themes of poverty, drugs, and grief. It’s not a long book – under 300 pages – but it certainly left an impression on me!
  • 📖 A Curse So Dark and Lonely (Cursebreakers, #1) by: Brigid Kemmerer
    • ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️💫 I really enjoyed this fantasy/fairytale world and it may have just pulled me out of the month long reading slump I’ve been in!
  • 📖 *** The Sun Down Motel by: Simone St. James
    • ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ I LOVED this book! The perfect amount of mystery and spookiness and pacing. I read this book in less than 24 hours because I couldn’t put it down! St. James is now on my autobuy author list, as I also loved her first book, The Broken Girls!

I tried, but wasn’t feeling:

  • 📖 The Garden of Small Beginnings by: Abbi Waxman
    • I believe Abby Waxman’s writing style just isn’t for me. It is just too sweet and tidy…maybe it’s the place I’m at in my reading life, but this one just wasn’t holding my attention.

Unread Shelf Update:

After just one month of participation in the #unreadshelf project, I now understand why I have a plethora of books! (Also, here is where I failed for the first month…but with awareness comes the ability to figure out solutions!)

I acquired 52 books this month! Yes, you read that right…52! Tracking these numbers cleared up why I feel overwhelmed in my reading life – there’s just no way I can ever read enough to get caught up! It also reinforces the fact that I need to be more conscious of the books I bring into my home. No matter what I say, massive amounts of books on my shelves overwhelms me, makes me feel like I need to read (hello, this is a hobby, not a job!), and stresses me out.

Today, I’m going to recount the books on my shelves. (Unfortunately, I took several boxes of books to my local library to donate and forget to count them! I definitely need a better system moving forward to more accurately track the books coming in and out of my house!) I also can’t remember if I counted books on my kindle – both ARCs and purchased books – so I need to be sure I have those included.

For now,

I acquired 52 books in January (I only purchased 7 of these! 😳)

I donated/unloaded 25 books

I gained 27 books for a new total of 444 books on my shelves!

(I started with 417, so I’m clearly headed in the wrong direction! 🤦🏼‍♀️)

There are so many things I need to do differently, but I’m grateful to this challenge and the month of January for showing me where I need to make some progress!

February #HWRbooks: Burnout: The Secret To Unlocking the Stress Cycle

Announcing February’s #HWRbooks selection:


Burnout: The Secret To Unlocking the Stress Cycle by: Emily Nagoski, PhD and Amelia Nagoski, DMA (Ballantine) – Pub Date: March 26, 2019

From the publisher:

This groundbreaking book explains why women experience burnout differently than men—and provides a simple, science-based plan to help women minimize stress, manage emotions, and live a more joyful life.

Burnout. Many women in America have experienced it. What’s expected of women and what it’s really like to be a woman in today’s world are two very different things—and women exhaust themselves trying to close the gap between them. How can you “love your body” when every magazine cover has ten diet tips for becoming “your best self”? How do you “lean in” at work when you’re already operating at 110 percent and aren’t recognized for it? How can you live happily and healthily in a sexist world that is constantly telling you you’re too fat, too needy, too noisy, and too selfish?

Sisters Emily Nagoski, PhD, and Amelia Nagoski, DMA, are here to help end the cycle of feeling overwhelmed and exhausted. Instead of asking us to ignore the very real obstacles and societal pressures that stand between women and well-being, they explain with compassion and optimism what we’re up against—and show us how to fight back. In these pages you’ll learn

• what you can do to complete the biological stress cycle—and return your body to a state of relaxation
• how to manage the “monitor” in your brain that regulates the emotion of frustration
• how the Bikini Industrial Complex makes it difficult for women to love their bodies—and how to defend yourself against it
• why rest, human connection, and befriending your inner critic are keys to recovering and preventing burnout

With the help of eye-opening science, prescriptive advice, and helpful worksheets and exercises, all women will find something transformative in these pages—and will be empowered to create positive change. Emily and Amelia aren’t here to preach the broad platitudes of expensive self-care or insist that we strive for the impossible goal of “having it all.” Instead, they tell us that we are enough, just as we are—and that wellness, true wellness, is within our reach.

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 Burnout: The Secret To Unlocking the Stress Cycle will be on Saturday, February 22, 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!

My Week in Books {1/22/19}

It’s been a week! I’ve been humbled beyond and I’m thankful for the opportunity to grow and be better (what the heck am I talking about?!?! Read To the Latinx Community: I’m Sorry for Being Part of the Problem.)

In case you missed them, here are some links to my recent posts:

What have you been reading (and loving) this week?

Last Week’s Reads:

Screen Shot 2020-01-22 at 7.07.54 AM

📖 *** American Dirt by: Jeanine Cummins (Flatiron) – Pub Date: January 21, 2020

Again, please read To the Latinx Community: I’m Sorry for Being Part of the Problem.

And then read some #ownvoices reviews. What’s an #ownvoice review? It’s a person from the actual culture of the main characters in the book you’re reading. They’re the people who actually have personal insight into how the culture is represented – speaking to the accuracies (or lack thereof) within the plot. If #ownvoices aren’t standing behind the book, it’s important to give some reflection on why that is…and possibly chose a different book to read that’s less offensive, oppressive, racist, or ignorant.

📖 *** Followers by: Megan Angelo (Graydon House) – Pub Date: January 14, 2020

I just don’t have feelings one way or another about it, and that’s largely unfair to the book. Please look to and read other reviews to make a decision about whether this one is for you or not.

I’m sure it’s due to the week I’ve had, but I think the writing is confusing and I was bored a lot of the time, despite an overall interest in what “The Spill” is…(I’m still not sure.)

I’m including this interview with Megan Angelo so I can refer to it when I have some time to read it!

If anyone has read this, feel free to give me the cliffnotes version.

Currently Reading:

Screen Shot 2020-01-22 at 7.06.50 AM

📖 Little Women by: Louisa May Alcott ( Roberts Brothers) – Pub Date: September 30, 1868

I didn’t even crack the cover of this book this week. It definitely doesn’t hold my intrigue; I picked it up because it’s a classic and I feel like it should be on my read shelf…I’m going to try a few more pages and hope it picks 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.)


The Unread Shelf 2020


I have never participated in The Unread Shelf. But just when my frustration with my overflowing bookshelves had peaked, I ran across its concept on #bookstagram. It was like kismet – exactly the solution I was looking for!

Over the course of this year, I’m going to focus on the books I already own. The books I bought with every intention of reading, but quickly got disctracted by the shiny new books instead. Not only do I want to clear my bookshelves a little bit, the books that are sitting there currently are books I acutally want to read!

In full disclosure, I will still be adding some books to my shelf. I have a few partnerships with publishing companies and I will continue to honor those relationships. Also, I have credits with Book of the Month so I’ll still pick some books from them (although I am going to try to be pickier with my selections and only pick books I really, really want to read)! Along the same lines, I have a paid subscription to Books Are Magic which my husband purchased for me so I will get those books monthly as well. Lastly, I got a few gift cards to Barnes & Noble for Christmas and I will save those for those books I have severe #fomo over!

As you can see, there’s absolutely no reason for me to actually be buying books – I get plenty as it already is! It’s kind of ridiculous when I think about it, so this is a great option for me!

For the first assignment, Whitney had us count up the unread books currently on our shelves. Between physical books and my Kindle, I have 417 unread books! I was floored! Ugh. That number feels overwhelming and ridiculous; time to start tackling it!

Every month, Whitney has challenges to participate in and January’s challenge is to read any unread book from our shelves. My book selection for this category is:

Screen Shot 2020-01-05 at 1.04.51 PM

The Garden of Small Beginnings by: Abbi Waxman

In addition to the monthly challenge, there are also tasks to complete. Besides counting the total unread books on our shelves, we are to make a Top 10 TBR list for the year. Here is my Top 10 TBR:


Additionally, there is a book buying and library BAN for the monthno book buying and/or library books all month long! I LOVE this…and was caught redhanded because I’d already checked out some library books. Back they went, and if I still want to read them in February, I’ll recheck them out. Every other month this ban will be in effect; I like this idea and I’m going to follow it!

Lastly, because these books are already bought and paid for and my ultimate goal is to decrease the amount of books on my shelves, I am not going to suffer through a book that isn’t working for me. I will DNF with no apologies.

If you’re like me, the thought of a cleaner library is exhilerating. I’d love to hear if you’re participating in the #unreadshelf project so we can cheer each other on!


It’s 2020! January TBR

Screen Shot 2020-01-01 at 10.42.31 AM

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.


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?