Q1: Unread Shelf Project 2020

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This year, I’m participating in Whitney’s Unread Shelf Project. The idea is to read the books you already own…that are already on your shelf! Towards the end of last year, I started feeling overwhelmed at the amount of books piling up on my shelves. I knew it was time to do something about it, so I commited a huge chunk of my 2020 reading towards that goal.

In January, I counted up all of the unread books on my shelf and the number shocked me. It was 417! By the end of the month, I had gone in the wrong direction…and my new number was 444! 🤦🏼‍♀️

Let’s just say that January gave me a HUGE WAKE-UP CALL!

As the first quarter of 2020 closes, I currently have 389 books on my shelves (after a major book donation to my local library)!

I am happy I’m moving in the right direction, but I can see that I still have a long ways to go before December ends.

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Monthly Themes:

January: Any Unread Books:

  • Me by: Elton John
  • The Library Book by: Susan Orlean
  • The Wolf Wants In by: Laura McHugh
  • The Garden of Small Beginnings by: Abbi Waxman (DNF)
  • Maybe in Another Life by: Taylor Jenkins Reid (DNF)

February: Books Gifted To You:

  • The Gown: A Novel of the Royal Wedding by: Jennifer Robson
  • The Care and Feeding of Ravenously Hungry Girls by: Anissa Gray
  • Burnout by: Emily and Amelia Nagoski
  • Big Lies in a Small Town by: Diane Chamberlain
  • The Water Will Come by: Jeff Goodell
  • There Will Be No Miracles Here by: Casey Gerald (DNF)
  • Wyoming by: J.P. Gritton (DNF)

March: Books That Have Been On Your Shelf the Longest:

  • From Scratch by: Tembi Locke
  • Severance by: Ling Ma
  • Hillbilly Elegy by: J.D. Vance
  • 🎧 Make It Scream, Make It Burn by: Leslie Jamison
  • Lab Girl by: Hope Jahren
  • 🎧 The Witches Are Coming by: Lindy West
  • Ninth House by: Leigh Bardugo
  • The Simple Wild by: K.A. Tucker

That’s my update for the first quarter of 2020! I’m going to keep plugging away on the #unreadshelfproject2020!

April 2020 TBR

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I’m still participating in the Unread Shelf Challenge hosted by Whitney at The Unread Shelf, and this month’s Unread Shelf Challenge is to read the books that you have most recently acquired, so I’m building my March TBR with this thought in mind.

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 April?

March 2020 Reading Wrap-Up

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Not only are Coloradoans under a stay-at-home order, but we’ve also had a few snow storms and cooler days that have made it next to impossible to get outside. Because of that, I’ve had a lot of reading time and I am really trying to get through some of my backlist books to clear off my unread shelves!

March By the Numbers:

  • Total Books Read: 16
  • Audiobooks: 3
  • Five Star Reads: 3
  • Unread Shelf:  10(2 DNFs)
  • Books Aquired: 31
  • By Women Authors: 13 (1 DNFs)
  • By Authors of Color: 3
  • By Queer Authors: 2
  • Nonfiction Reads: 7 (0 DNF)
  • Debuts: 6
  • Published in 2020: 6 (0 DNF)

Favorite Books of March: 

SO HARD!

My favorite book of the month was The Two Lives of Lydia Bird.

But here’s is also a list of the ones I think I’ll remember for awhile: From Scratch, Severance, Running With Sherman, You Are Not Alone, Anna K, The Witches Are Coming, and Untamed.

Here is a look at the TBR I set:

  • A Backlist Title – 📖 Lab Girl by: Hope Jahren
    • ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ I was so surprised by this one. I was worried about the science being over my head and too science-y, but Jahren has a talent for writing. I was engrossed throughout the book and so inspired by the end!
  • A BOTM Title – 📖 Severance by: Ling Ma
    • ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ What a crazy time to just happen to pick this one up! It paralleled real life in an uncanny way (similar pandemic storylines), but I also think this added to my overall enjoyment of the story. It definetly helped it become a memorable read!
  • A Nonfiction Title – 📖 Hillbilly Elegy: A Memoir of Family and Culture in Crisis by: J.D. Vance
    • ⭐️⭐️⭐️💫 Maybe if I had read this one closer to its release date, I would have rated this one higher. But the hype has simmered down, and I was also let down. As a memoir, I liked this well enough, but as a social commentary on “hillbilly-ness” it was quite disappointing.
  • At least 2 physical ARCs
    • 📖 *** A Good Neighborhood by: Therese Anne Fowler
      • ⭐️⭐️⭐️💫 Sadly, I just didn’t love this one. I did enjoy the bones of the story, but there were two aspects of the book (no spoilers) that totally overshadowed everything else and ruined the book for me. It had so much potential but didn’t deliver.
    • 📖 *** Anna K by: Jenny Lee
      • ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️💫 When I saw comparisons to Gossip Girl, I was all in! I loved that show of elite teenagers seemingly running wild on the streets of New York, and this book had many of the same vibes. Drugs, sex, parties, privilege, and money galore, Lee takes the classic, Anna Karenina, and gives it a fun, modern YA twist among the NYC high school social scene.

I also read the following books:

  • 🎧 *** Running With Sherman: The Donkey With the Heart of a Hero by: Christopher McDougall
    • ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ An absolute delight, especially on audiobook! McDougall writes nonficiton that is immersive and encompasses so much more than the title of the book. I will read everything McDougall writes!
  • 📱 *** You Are Not Alone by: Greer Hendricks & Sarah Pekkanen
    • ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ Unlike any other psychological thriller I’ve ever read, I couldn’t turn these pages fast enough. It was twisty and creepy and perfect.
  • 🎧 *** Make It Scream, Make It Burn by: Leslie Jamison
    • ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ I wasn’t sure what to expect from this one, but the essays quickly pulled me in. Jamison narrates this herself and listening to her read her own deep thoughts really made the essays stand out that much more for me.
  • 📱 *** Under the Rainbow by: Celia Laskey
    • ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ When a small town in Kansas is named the most homophobic town in the country, a small nonprofit moves in to educate the small minds of this town. It is insightful and I loved the way each chapter was a new perspective of one of the townspeople.
  • 🎧 *** The Witches Are Coming by: Lindy West
    • ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ LOVED this…and the audiobook was amazing! Read it ASAP!
  • 📖 The Two Lives of Lydia Bird by: Josie Silver
    • ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ While this one struck me as a romance at first sight, there is so much more. When Lydia’s fiancé dies, she begins to live in parallel universes – one where Freddie is dead and another where he is alive. The nuances presented surrounding grief and love and loss really struck a chord with me.
  • 📖 Untamed by: Glennon Doyle
    • ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️💫 Is Glennon Doyle capable of writing something bad?! I don’t think so, and Untamed is no exception. It’s amazing and reminds me that Doyle has a way of transforming pain into healing. She gives women permission to be themselves – to live in their one life fully and unapologetically. This book is like balm to the soul.
  • 📖 Ninth House (Alex Stern, #1) by: Leigh Bardugo
    • ⭐️⭐️⭐️💫 While the world building was great, it also made the story drag. To commit 175-200 pages of a 450 page story is quite the commitment for the payoff that you get at the end. I did love Alex, the conspiracy theories surrounding Yale University, and the overall story, but it was just too long and dense to receive high praise from me.
  • 📖 *** The Long Flight Home by: Alan Hlad
    • ⭐️⭐️💫 During WWII, the British Royal Forces used pigeons to help figure out Hitler’s moves. I had never heard of this and I really enjoyed this aspect of the book. It was incredibly interesting. However, that was the only facsinating thing about the book. Unfortunately, the writing felt amateurish and it really didn’t hold my attention.
  • 📖 The Simple Wild (Wild, #1) by: K.A. Tucker
    • ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ It took a loooong time to get into this one and I was so close to DNFing it. The story did eventually pick up and I ended up enjoying it, though I’m not sure I care enough to continue the series (if you’ve read both, is the second better than the first?). I did love the romance between Jonah and Calla and I absolutely loved the Alaskan setting. Overall, it was a great, easy read considering what’s going on IRL right now.

I tried, but wasn’t feeling:

  • 📱 *** America Was Hard to Find by: Kathleen Alcott
    • It’s probably my state of mind, but I read the first few chapters and had no idea what I had read. I gave up pretty quickly.
  • 📖 Scythe (Arc of a Scythe, #1) by: Neal Schusterman
    • DNF – I know many people LOVE this series, and it has a super high rating on Goodreads, but I just couldn’t get into it. Could it be because a global pandemic is happening right now IRL? Possibly. Probably. Whatever the reason, it wasn’t working for me.
(#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.)

Unread Shelf Update:

I’m still working on only accepting books I truly want to read. I also went through my shelves again and culled out books that I was convincing myself I wanted to read. I took 80 books to my library (I’m sure they were happy!) I felt like the biggest weight was lifted off my chest…so win/win!

I acquired 33 books in February (no purchases for me!! 🙌🏼)

I donated/unloaded 86 books!

My new total of books on my bookshelves is 389 books on my shelves!

(I started with 417, so I’ve gotten rid of 28 books so far. I wish it were more, but at least I’m heading in the right direction!)

This challenge is still proving to be so valuable to me and I’m excited to continue! Head over to Whitney’s blog for more information if you’d like to participate!

My Week in Books {3/11/20}

I love this time of year and last week’s weather was incredible!

I got to read outdoors a little bit and enjoy the sun and basically it just made me impatient for constant warm weather to arrive!

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:

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📖 Severance by: Ling Ma

I’ve had this book on my shelf since 2018, so I find it a little wierd that I decided to pick it up NOW…in the midst of a very similar situation with the current Coronavirus outbreak. 😳 However, I will say it was quite interesting to read about a fictional situation that seemingly runs parallel to current events (if you’re a sensitive reader, I wouldn’t suggest reading this one right now). 😷

It took me awhile to get into, but once I did, Severance took off and I couldn’t put it down. Satirical in its take on American culture, I found Ma making pretty accurate correlations which equally humored me and made me incredibly sad. As Americans, we’re highly immersed in capitalism and our lives seemingly revolve around work. But when a pandemic hits, is that work or materialism going to save you (spoiler alert: no). While Ma lent a kind of joking tone to some of the questions she raised in this book, it also had such an element of truth to it that it quickly became quite profound and forced me to do some introspective work.

If you enjoyed Station Eleven, you’d enjoy this as those vibes are quite strong throughout. I personally preferred Severance to Station Eleven, but again, it’s not a good fit if the current health crisis freaks you out!

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ | Farrar, Straus, and Giroux | Pub Date: August 14, 2018 | 291 Pages | Hardcover | Purchase via Bookstore Link

🎧 *** Running With Sherman: The Donkey With the Heart of a Hero by: Christopher McDougall

SHERMAN! I LOVED this story of a donkey that changed a community – bringing them all together to participate in a challenging burro race in the mountains of Colorado.

I initially dismissed this one because my thought was, “An entire book about a donkey? Really?!” But then another reader meantioned that it was the same author as Born To Run: A Hidden Tribe, Superathletes, and the Greatest Race the World Has Never Seen and I knew I needed to read it ASAP.

I’m a HUGE fan of McDougall’s book, Born To Run, and this one is just as good. I love the way McDougall weaves a story together – not only telling the story behind the title of the book, but also taking a deep dive into many other smaller, related, and just as important stories. Not only do I learn about training for grueling foot races, but I learned some fascinating information about the Amish community, tidbits about health, and lots of interesting details about animals and their contribution to our lives.

If you’re a runner (and even if you’re not), this book is sure to be a favorite! READ IT! I listened to this one on audio – McDougall narrates himself – and it’s fantastic!

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ | Knopf | Pub Date: October 15, 2019 | 341 Pages | Audiobook | Purchase via Bookstore Link

📱 *** You Are Not Alone by: Greer Hendricks & Sarah Pekkanen

This is my first book by this dynamic duo of authors and they did not disappoint! I loved this thrilling ride through ups and downs, twists and turns. While I’m not well-versed in the thriller genre and I NEVER guess the correct villian, I found myself thinking I knew where this story was headed, only for my theory to be upended…again and again…and again! This is what made the book so fun and unputdownable for me! I’m not sure if I’ll pick up the backlist of Hendricks and Pekkanen, but I’ll definetly keep my eye out for future books!

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ | St. Martin’s Press | Pub Date: March 3, 2020 | 343 Pages | E-Book | Purchase via Bookstore Link

📖 Hillbilly Elegy: A Memoir of a Family and Culture in Crisis by: J.D. Vance

I have very mixed feelings about this book. One the one hand, I related to so much of the book (though I’m not from the geographical locations mentioned in the book, I do come from a lower socioeconomic town – more lower class than middle), and felt it resonated with a lot of the population of my town. Though I think my idea of what a “hillbilly” is differs greatly from what Vance relays, my town is blanketed with this term, mostly because of the political views of the majority of the town (rightwing, conservative, proud gun-toting people). I see the same struggles where I live – children living in extreme poverty, with little interaction from their drug-addicted parents (legalizing marijuana didn’t help), and little hope of rising above their circumstances. However, I believe that’s where the similarities end.

I felt like Vance took ownership of a lifestyle and term he didn’t properly own. To me it seemed as if he was more from Middletown than Kentucky. And while he stressed his love of Kentucky and his “hillbilly” upbringing, he also seemed quite condescending to the culture. It felt like he was capitalizing on an opportunity to speak for a group of people, yet he totally lacked the true immersion of the culture to be their spokesman. I also think I was expecting more from the book because I kept hearing how it was an accurate representation of the people who put Trump in the White House. Speaking from a place where people love Trump, I don’t feel like my friends, neighbors, or acquaintances resemble the people of Vance’s book at all.

While many people feel this is a great book on the social commentary it presents, I found it much more compelling as a simple memoir of a determined, self-motivated man who rose from his abusive childhood to earn a law degree from one of the most prestigious law schools, Yale. Having said that, I do think this would be an exceptional book club selection as there is so much to dissect and discuss here!

⭐️⭐️⭐️💫 | Harper | Pub Date: June 28, 2016 | 257 Pages | Hardcover | Purchase via Bookstore Link

🎧 *** Make It Scream, Make It Burn by: Leslie Jamison

As with any essay collection, some of these were more interesting to me than others. But listening to Jamison on audio was what really made this book stand out for me. There’s something about her voice and the way she read each of her essays that captured me and made me connect to her words that I’m not sure would have worked as well for me in print.

Essays that particularly stood out to me were: We Tell Ourselves Stories in Order to Live Again; Sim Life; Daughter of a Ghost; Museum of Broken Hearts; and The Quickening.

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ | Little, Brown and Company | Pub Date: September 24, 2019 | 272 Pages | Audiobook | Purchase via Bookstore Link

Currently Reading:

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📖 Lab Girl by: Hope Jahren

I’m halfway through Part I, and though it gets a little science heavy at times, I’m enjoying Jahren’s writing and knowledge. So far, this is reading more like a memoir (which I wasn’t really expecting), but it’s good!

This is also the #HWRbooks selection for March (discussion post will go live on March 21); I hope you’ll join the conversation!

Knopf | Pub Date: March 1, 2016 | 290 Pages | Paperback | Purchase via Bookstore Link

🎧 *** The Witches Are Coming by: Lindy West

I’m currently on the third chapter and so far, I’m totally enjoying it!

Hachette Books | Pub Date: November 5, 2019 | 260 Pages | Audiobook | Purchase via Bookstore Link

DNF (aka: Not For Me and/or Skipping For Now):

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📱 *** America Was Hard To Find by: Kathleen Alcott

Maybe this would have made sense to me on another day, but I wasn’t getting it.

ECCO | Pub Date: May 14, 2019 | 432 Pages | E-Book | Purchase via Bookstore Link

#DNFingWithoutApologyin2020

 

(#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.)

Nonfiction Reader Challenge 2020 (Vol. 1)

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I love nonfiction, so I might as well participate in Shelly’s Nonfiction Reader Challenge this year! The challenge will run from January 1 – December 31, 2020. Participants may join at any time up until December 1, 2020.

There are three levels to choose from and I’m going to particpate in the Nonfiction Know-It-All category: Read 12 books, one for each category.

Here are the categories (categories in bold have already been fulfilled – with those reviews below):

  1. Memoir
  2. Disaster Event
  3. Social Science
  4. Related to an Occupation
  5. History
  6. Feminism
  7. Psychology
  8. Medical Issue
  9. Nature
  10. True Crime
  11. Science
  12. Published in 2020

Somewhere admist all the posts and life, I’ve not linked up to this challenge yet…so here’s my catch up post! (I’ll do better about participating each month at the appropriate time! 🤞🏼)

Me by: Elton John ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Screen Shot 2020-03-06 at 9.53.29 AMMe is the first and only autobiography available. In it, Elton John holds nothing back. He spills it all – from his horrifying parents to his drug use to juicy celebrity gossip to his beautiful family with David and their two sons. It is unflichingly honest, even when it makes himself look terrible. He was an addict and it made him treat some of the people closest to him poorly, but he checked himself into rehab and completely changed his life around, all while managing a career that has spanned over fifty years!

Also quite inspiring to me is Elton John’s work within the HIV/AIDS community. Since his nonprofit, Elton John AIDS Foundation, was started in the early 1990s, it has raised over $450 million dollars “to challenge discrimination against people affected by the epidemic, prevent infections, provide treatment and services, and motivate governments to end AIDS”.

Me fulfills the Memoir category for the Nonfiction Reading Challenge.

The Library Book by: Susan Orlean ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Screen Shot 2020-03-06 at 9.56.29 AMI have heard high praise for this one, and while I mostly agree, I was a bit bored. There is  A LOT of research and information about libraries (specifically the Los Angeles Public Library), and after awhile, I found myself skimming parts of it. (It also talks about the fire of 1986 that decimated the LA Public Library which was absolutely fascinating!) This book truly is a love letter to libraries, librarians, and even LA itself. It’s worth the read, but also not as good as I was hoping!

The Library Book fulfills the History category for the Nonfiction Reading Challenge.

Burnout: The Secret to Unlocking the Stress Cycle by: Emily and Amelia Nagoski ⭐️⭐️⭐️

Screen Shot 2020-03-06 at 10.16.26 AMBecause of all the hype this book got on #bookstagram last year, I was expecting (and wanting) so much more than what I got. I can understand how this book was helpful to many women; for me, it fell flat. I have spent the better part of the last six years exploring my health and so many of the concepts presented in Burnout were not new news for me. Also, the patriarchy aspect was a little too over-the-top for me. I didn’t totally understand how it fit into the rest of the book and its inclusion felt a little forced, in my opinion.

Burnout fulfills the Medical Issue category for the Nonfiction Reading Challenge.

The Water Will Come: Rising Seas, Sinking Cities, and the Remaking of the Civilized World by: Jeff Goodell ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Screen Shot 2020-03-06 at 10.03.52 AMI was blown away by this well-written book about the looming consequences of the global warming crisis. The bottom line is that sea levels are rising. Many people throughout the world already know this from firsthand experience, but for those of us who live inland and haven’t personally been affected by it, this book puts that information out there in a straight forward way that demands some action…not today, but yesterday! Already a few years past its publication date, this book NEEDS to be read by everyone…because we will ALL be affected soon. We owe our children and grandchildren a better future than what they currently stand to inherit.

The Water Will Come fulfills the Science category for the Nonfiction Reading Challenge.

March 2020 TBR

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I’m still participating in the Unread Shelf Challenge hosted by Whitney at The Unread Shelf, and this month’s Unread Shelf Challenge is to read the books that have been on your shelf the longest, so I’m building my March TBR with this thought in mind.

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 March?

February 2020 Reading Wrap-Up

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This month felt so much more managable, especially in regards to my Unread Shelf project (see below for the specifics).

I was also grateful for the extra day (I’m looking at you, Leap Day!) because it allowed me to slide in one more book for the month!

February By the Numbers:

  • Total Books Read: 13
  • Audiobooks: 1
  • Five Star Reads: 4
  • Unread Shelf: 8 (4 DNFs)
  • Books Aquired: 26
  • By Women Authors: 11 (2 DNFs)
  • By Authors of Color: 3
  • By Queer Authors: 0
  • Nonfiction Reads: 4 (1 DNF)
  • Debuts: 4
  • Published in 2020: 6 (2 DNF)

Favorite Books of February: The Girl With the Louding Voice, The Care and Feeding of Ravenously Hungry Girls, Lovely War, The Holdout, In Five Years

Here is a look at the TBR I set:

  • A BOTM Title – 📖 *** The Girl With the Louding Voice by: Abi Daré
    • ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ I couldn’t turn the pages fast enough. I was so invested in the characters and I had to know how everything would wrap up. While the syntax took a minute to grip, it added so much to the story and made it feel so much more authentic.
  • A Nonfiction Title – 📖 *** The Water Will Come: Rising Seas, Sinking Cities, and the Remaking of the Civilized World by: Jeff Goodell
    • ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ A well-written book about the looming consequences of the global warming crisis. Already a few years past its publication date, this book NEEDS to be read by everyone…because we will ALL be affected soon. We owe our children and grandchildren a better future than what they currently stand to inherit. Quite frankly, I’m embarrassed by all of us, but mostly by the naysayers.
  • A NetGalley/Edelweiss Title  – 📱 *** The Mountains Sing by: Nguyen Phan Que Mai
    • DNF @ 18% – The writing is clunky and the sentences too simplistic for my liking. Some of the metaphors feel forced. Just not cohesive enough to gain my attention.
  • A Memoir – 📖 There Will Be No Miracles Here by: Casey Gerald
    • DNF – I read the first couple of chapters and decided it is too densely written for where I’m at right now in my reading life. The premise sounds amazing, so I may return to it in the future; but for now, I’m putting it down.
  • At least 2 physical ARCs
    • 📖 *** Lovely War by: Julie Berry
      • With one of the most unique storylines I’ve ever read, I devoured this WWI historical fiction about tragedy, survival, and love, Greek gods and goddesses attempt to answer the age-old question: why are Love and War eternally drawn to each other?
    • 📖 *** Me and White Supremacy: Combat Racism, Change the World, and Become a Good Ancestor by: Layla F. Saad
      • On the cover, Elizabeth Gilbert (NYT bestselling author) says, “Buy this book for yourself, your family, your students. Don’t put it off and don’t look away. It’s time.” and I couldn’t agree more! This revealed to me a lot of blind spots in myself that I wasn’t even aware of. I have a lot of work to do and I’m thankful for books like this to open my eyes!

I also read the following books:

  • 📖 The Care and Feeding of Ravenously Hungry Girls by: Anissa Gray
    • ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ This is a story about a family – three daughters and one brother – and what happens with the oldest (and stand-in mother figure to the other siblings), Althea, is sentenced to prison after her husband and her are convicted of a crime. Althea’s daughters, Baby Vi and Kim, are left swirling in the aftermath of their parents’ crime, and the siblings come together to help take care of them as best as they can. Through the transitionary process, deep secrets begin to emerge and old hurts are brought to life.
  • 📖 Burnout: The Secret To Unlocking the Stress Cycle by: Emily and Amelia Nagoski
    • ⭐️⭐️⭐️ Overall, I liked this book (A LOT in the beginning, but slowly lost interest by the end). It has some great insight, but as a person who has already negotiated a lot of the advice given within the pages, it was redunant information for me personally. If you’re new to discovering why you feel like crap all the time, this book will be extremely helpful for you! Please head to Instagram on Saturday to participate in the book discussion!
  • 📖 Tuesday Mooney Talks To Ghosts by: Kate Racculia
    • ⭐️⭐️⭐️ For a book that started off well, it slowly lost its momentum and eventually kind of fizzled out for me. I really loved Tuesday Mooney – she’s quirky and nerdy in all the best ways – there were a lot of characters to keep straight and the story jumped around quite a bit. It wasn’t that it was hard to keep track of – it just interrupted the flow. I can’t quite put my finger on what went wrong for me, but I couldn’t care less how it wrapped up at the end.
  • 🎧 *** Open Book by: Jessica Simpson
    • ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ Even though I totally think Simpson had a ghostwriter, I was still engaged with her story. She’s raw, honest, and vulnerable as she tells of her rise to fame. I was surprised with how relatable I found her to be and really appreciated how she opened up about her journey.
  • 📱 *** Darling Rose Gold by: Stephanie Wrobel
    • ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ It’s best to go in blind on this one, but suffice it to say that the creep factor is high and this is an entertaining and dark psychological thriller (even if it was a little predictable).
  • 📱 *** Big Lies in a Small Town by: Diane Chamberlain
    • ⭐️⭐️⭐️💫 This is the first Chamberlain I’ve read, and considering the high praise I always hear about her books, I was a little let down by this story. It felt a little too long; therefore, I feel like I lost interest and just wanted the story to be over. I can’t quite put my finger on what went wrong, but it definitely won’t be a memorable read for me.
  • 📖 *** The Holdout by: Graham Moore
    • ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ I loved this inside look into the American justice system – specifically the jury aspect of it. This book provides an interesting view of the flaws of the system and the expectations serving on a jury can have on an individual’s personal life and of those around them.
  • 📱 *** In Five Years by: Rebecca Serle
    • ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ This is the second book I’ve read by Serle and I can confidently say I’m a fan! Her writing pulls me in and I get fully engaged in her stories. I previously read The Dinner List and really enjoyed it, but I loved this one even more. Again, not to be evasive, but it’s best to head into the story blind, but overall it’s a beautiful story about friendship and loyalty and the nuances of those bonds.

I tried, but wasn’t feeling:

  • 📖 Little Women by: Louisa May Alcott
    • I wanted to care so, so much…but I just didn’t. It sat on my table for most of January, begging me to read it, but the little that I did was just so incredibly boring for me. I think this is exactly why I don’t read classics!
  • 📱 *** The Mountains Sing by: Nguyen Phan Que Mai
    • The writing is clunky and the sentences too simplistic for my writing. Some of the metaphors feel forced. Just not cohesive enough to gain my attention.
  • 📱 *** When We Were Vikings by: Andrew David MacDonald
    • I seem to be in the minority, but I can’t get over the use of the r-word, the f-word, or what seems to be the sexual conquest of Zelda, a character with fetal alcohol syndrome. 
  • 📖 There Will Be No Miracles Here by: Casey Gerald
    • While the premise sounds interesting, it just feels like the wrong timing for me. After several chapters, it was too dense for me to fully engage with and to keep me turning the pages.
  • 📖 *** Wyoming by: J.P. Gritton
    • I could have probably made it through this one at another point in my life, but I just didn’t have the desire to commit anymore energy to this one. I like dark and gritty books, but this one failed to grab me and hold my attention.
(#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.)

Unread Shelf Update:

Last month was a bit of a wake up call for me. (I aquired 52 books in one month! 52!) No one can realistically keep up with the books on their shelves at the rate I was putting them on my shelves, so I’m committing to being more selective of the books I accept. While I still have some work to do, I was pleased with the fact that I cut that number in half.

I acquired 26 books in February (no purchases for me!! 🙌🏼)

I donated/unloaded 28 books (again, I’m feeling proud of myself)

I actually moved in the right direction this month by getting rid of 2 books from my shelves for a new total of 442 books on my shelves!

(I started with 417, so I’m still in the wrong direction, but after January, I feel good about this result. It’s getting easier for me to remove books from my shelves that I know I’m just not interested in reading anymore. I’m going to continue to cull books that just aren’t speaking to me and I hope this number continues to go down!)

This challenge is still proving to be so valuable to me and I’m excited to continue! Head over to Whitney’s blog for more information if you’d like to participate!