My Week in Books (7/17/19)

(#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.)
(Full Disclosure: If you decide to purchase a book through the Amazon link, I will receive a small compensation from that purchase. Thank you!)

Does it even feel like summer to any of you? In my mind, summer is supposed to be relaxed and carefree, but whatever reason, all my family has been doing so far is running, running, running. It’s hard to even catch a breath!

Thank goodness a book can go with me everywhere I have to go!

This week has been a GREAT week for reading!

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

Last Week’s Reads:Screen Shot 2019-07-16 at 8.59.16 AM*** Waiting for Tom Hanks by: Kerry Winfrey (Berkley) – Pub Date: June 11, 2019

This one is adorable! Again, not my preferred genre, but I saw this one all over #bookstagram with rave reviews, so I gave it a shot…and I’m glad I did! This is the perfect summer read – quick, sweet, and adorable. It reminds me of a few other books I’ve read this year in the same genre and loved just as much: The Flatshare, The Unhoneymooners and The Girl He Used To Know, and The Beantown Girls.

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

Holy cow! What the heck did I just read? This was one intense look into a virtually unknown serial killer after he was finally arrested for killing an eighteen-year-old in Alaska. What unraveled was shocking and spine-tingling. Fans of I’ll Be Gone in the Dark will love this one – and dare I say, this one was so much more well done?!

*** The Lager Queen of Minnesota by: J. Ryan Stradal (Pamela Dorman Books) – On Shelves: July 23, 2019

Annie B. Jones has already mentioned how good this one is, so I knew I wanted to give it a try. I could not put this one down! I loved it so much; it’s such a sweet story with characters that I won’t soon forget. You don’t need to know a single thing about beer (or brewing beer)  to appreciate this story.

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

This was quite the timely read given what’s currently going on at the borders of Mexico. In this fictional account, set “15 minutes in the future”, Layla and her parents are taken to an internment camp in the middle of a dessert. After the president declared all Muslims to be “enemies of America”, he then had them rounded up and put in camps. But Layla and her new friends aren’t going down without a fight. They secretly come up with several resistance plans in order to gain back their freedom. 

Currently Reading:Screen Shot 2019-07-16 at 9.04.51 AMAmericanah by: Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie (Anchor Books) – Pub Date: May 14, 2013

I’ve had this book on my #tbr list for years now…yes, I even carried it all the way to Mexico with me on vacation once – and still never read it. I forced myself to ignore ARC responsibilities and picked this one up. It’s one of those books that has great reviews and is always followed with “I love that book!” or “That’s totally a must-read book!” I’m not even halfway through and though it’s a densely packed book, I’m enjoying getting an in-depth look into these characters.

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

This one is Reece Witherspoon’s Book Club pick for July. I decided to try this one on audio because I needed a new audiobook and because I’m participating in the Libro.fm Summer Listening Challenge! (If you’d also like to participate, follow the link and download your tracking log. Also, if you’re not a member yet, use my promo code: HAPPIEST to get 3-for-1 audiobooks!)

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

Loved this one when I read it in hardback, but I had #fomo when everyone raved about how good the audiobook was. I’ve been listening to this one off-and-on for the past week and I’m loving the various actors!

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

Still { s l o w l y } making my way through this one! I like it, it’s just not a page turner for me!

 

My Week in Books (7/10/19)

(#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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After what felt like a slow start to July, we’re suddenly already to the middle of it! I blinked and here we are! My kids start school again in just 30 days and my mind is blown! I sort of feel like we haven’t really had a summer and I think the cooler temps of June are to blame for that. It’s been a weird summer, and sadly, it’s almost over.

Do you have any last minute summer vacations planned?

Last Week’s Reads:Screen Shot 2019-07-09 at 5.07.54 PMThe Editor by: Steven Rowley (Putnam) – Pub Date: April 2, 2019

I was so pleasantly surprised by this one. I had no idea that Jackie O was an editor, so after finding this out, I went down the internet rabbit hole and tried to learn more about her fascinating life. (I wrote a fuller review here.) I enjoyed Rowley’s writing style and learning about the book publishing process. I’ve seen lots of mixed reviews for this one, but I fell solidly on the side of love and enjoyment!

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

Don’t let the small size of this book fool you! It’s not long but it’s packed. It didn’t take much time before I was reaching for my pen to underline ALL THE LINES. Sadly, it’s not out until October (2019), but it’s definitely worth the wait!

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

I definitely am not as crazy about this book as the rest of #bookstagram seems to be, but I did enjoy it. With Big Little Lies and Gossip Girl vibes, it was a highly entertaining ride! It dragged on a little long for me and I struggled to finish. Also, I really didn’t prefer the ending…it left me a little dissatisfied. 

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

Holy moly…what did I just read?!?! Remember those chain letters when you were a little kid? They always ended with the threat that if you’re the one to break the chain, dire consequences would happen. Now imagine this same concept where you have to kidnap a kid in order to get your kidnapped kid back! It’s intense and so much better than I was expecting! I read this one in a day and literally had the hardest time putting it down. I think it’s the perfect summer thriller!

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

This seems to be the IT book of the summer. I was happy to get a copy through my Book of the Month subscription (sign up here, if you haven’t done so already! It really is one of my favorite bookish treats to myself each month!). I finished this one yesterday, and there’s a lot I need to wrap my brain around before I can be truly honest about my feelings. (Warning: graphic sexual content) #reviewtocome

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

#bookstagrammademedoit! This one is everywhere and after the heaviness of Three Women, I’m ready for something a little less intense. These aren’t always my go-to genre, but every now and again, I enjoy a book from this category (most recently, The Flatshare by Beth O’Leary, my review here).

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

Still { s l o w l y } making my way through this one! I like it, it’s just not a page turner for me!

DNF:Screen Shot 2019-07-09 at 5.28.54 PMNaturally Tan by: Tan France (St. Martin’s Press) – Pub Date: June 4, 2019

I saw multiple rave reviews of this one, but Tan just kept coming across as pretentious to me. I didn’t enjoy his voice at all and ended up DNFing it.

*** Star-Crossed by: Minnie Darke (Crown) – Pub Date: May 21, 2019

I think this one could have potential, but it was taking more brain power than I was interested in investing to understand the astrology verbiage associated with each character.

What did you read last week?

My Week in Books (7/3/19)

(#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.)

Last week I was a guest on Sarah’s Book Shelves podcast where we talked about the books of 2019 that were the most deserving of the hype, least deserving of the hype, and the hidden gems…so far. (You can download and listen to the episode here!)

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On that episode, I made the comment that I have had an incredible reading year and I’ve not really had a reading slump. Y’all know what I’m about to say, right?! Since then, I have been in a major slump…I’m DNFing books left and right and not really connecting with anything I’m reading.

I’ve forgotten how frustrating reading slumps are!

I’m crossing my fingers I’ve that this week my reading life turns around! New week, new month, new start, yes?

On that note, send me any book recommendations that will help me beat this slump!

Last Week’s Reads:

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*** Searching for Sylvie Lee by: Jean Kwok (William Morrow) – Pub Date: June 4, 2019

I love Summer Reading Guides and this book was part of Modern Mrs Darcy Summer Reading. I wanted to love this one, but it fell very flat for me. I was bored and probably really should have DNF’d it, but I was curious what the heck happened to Sylvie. #IdRatherBeReading #summerstooshort

Currently Reading:

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

Just started so it’s too soon to tell! I’ve seen a lot of mixed reviews, but my trusted sources all seem to lean more towards liking it. Also, Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis?! Yes, please!

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

This is going to be a slower read for me, as I really only read it in the morning – a chapter or two at a time. I have been a subscriber to Gulotta’s newsletter for awhile and I really enjoy her writing.

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

Don’t let the small size of this book fool you! It’s not long but it’s packed. It didn’t take much time before I was reaching for my pen to underline ALL THE LINES. I gotta wait to finish this one when I can tune everything else out and really focus.

DNF:

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Ayesha At Last by: Uzma Jalaluddin (Berkley) – Pub Date: June 4, 2019

I gave it a valiant effort, but I just couldn’t get into this one. I think because I read (and enjoyed) Unmarraigeable earlier this year, it made it harder to get invested in Jalaluddin’s version. Many others have read and loved this one, so seek out more reviews before taking my word for it. (This was another Modern Mrs Darcy Summer Reading pick. #IdRatherBeReading #summerstooshort)

*** The Body in Question by: Jill Ciment (Pantheon) – Pub Date: June 11, 2019

Literally some of my most trusted reading sources (Annie B. Jones and Sarah’s Book Shelves) loved this one! (It’s on Sarah’s Summer Reading Guide.) I don’t understand why. 🤷🏼‍♀️ But that’s ok…different books for different folks. I read almost 60% of this one and just could not force myself to read another page. 

What did you read last week?

My {3} Week{s} in Books (6/10-6/24)

(#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.)

Well, well, well. If a three week round-up doesn’t tell you something about the craziness of June, I don’t know what will. After a whirl wind weekend in NYC (which was amazing!), we came home to my daughter’s dance recital week. Between rehearsals and two shows – and a possible broken foot (it wasn’t; we had it x-rayed) – and family in from out-of-town…needless to say, I’m A LOT behind on my Week in Books posts.

{The} Last {3} Week’s Reads:

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*** The Flatshare by: Beth O’Leary (Flatiron) – Pub Date: May 28, 2019

The cover alone for this one almost made me pass it up. But I’m so glad I saw several reviews online that finally challenged me to pick it up because THIS BOOK is cuuuuute! The writing immediately connected me to the characters; they were quirky yet human at the same time. Tiffy and Leon alternated telling their side of the story through alternating chapters. This can be risky as some readers may prefer one storyline over the other, but I loved both of these characters (though Leon’s voice was a little annoying – but not enough to ruin the book)! Even the secondary characters were great! They were the kinds of friends we all wish to have in our lives.

Had I read this one sooner, it would have been on my Summer Reading Guide. It’s the perfect book to throw into your beach/pool bag!

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

This collection of essays basically just made me miss my mama (who passed away 5 ½ years ago). She was the ultimate grandma – sacrificing everything to be with her grandkids. Even when she was barely out of the hospital (literally a day later) after a radical surgery, she was on the sidelines of my 4-year-old’s soccer game. Are you kidding me?!? My kids had won the grandparent lottery – only to have it ripped away from them. When I’m trying to be positive about it, I realize they were lucky to know that kind of love for any amount of time; it’s more than some kids ever get. But man, the sting is fierce when I think about all they lost when she passed away.

The essays in the book were on point…even though I’m not a grandparent myself, I found myself relating to the stories in her essays. I took note of many thoughts for when I am a grandma – what to do as well as what not to do! I was reminded of a lot of memories of my childhood with my grandparents, so that was fun! Also, the title – Nanaville – as a place…I LOVE it!

While the stories are very relatable, there’s a lot that is particular to Quindlen and her family specifically. You can look past it and make it relevant to yourself though. As mentioned previously, this book made me miss my mama…and my kids’ grandma. Be mindful of this if one of your parents are gone.

My Sister, the Serial Killer by: Oyinkan Braithwaite (Doubleday) – Pub Date: November 20, 2018

I enjoyed the quick and succinct writing style and the book’s length because otherwise, it would have been a DNF for me.

The #bookstagram hype for this one is real…everyone RAVES about this book, but overall, it didn’t do much for me. It lacked connection for me. I felt the characters were very surface level and I really didn’t connect with any of them. Overall, it felt very underdeveloped for me.

*** Stop Doing That Sh*t by: Gary John Bishop (Thorsons) – Pub Date: May 31, 2019

This book reminds us to get out of our own way. Self-sabotage is a prevalent thing in my life, so this book was a great reminder!

Fall and Rise: The Story of 9/11 by: Mitchell Zuckoff (Harper) – Pub Date: April 20, 2019

There’s no doubt that this book may be too much for some people – especially New Yorkers and/or family members who lost a dear loved one during the attacks of 9/11. But if you can find it within yourself to sit down with this book, I’d encourage you to do so. As mentioned in the foreword of the book, there’s an entire generation alive now that were not here when these attacks happened. While reading this book, I shook my head in disbelief, I cried tears and felt my heart break. But I also felt admiration for the strength, bravery, and resiliency of so many Americans that day. It’s important for the history of our country to read this story – to never forget those innocent lives lost that day and changed our world from that moment on.

This book arose from a newspaper article Zuckoff wrote just six days after the terror attacks. It’s called Six Lives and you can read it here.

Summer of ’69 by: Elin Hilderbrand (Little, Brown & Company) – Pub Date: June 18, 2019

It seems as if Elin Hilderbrand’s novels can be hit or miss for most people. I’ve never read any of her books, but knew I wanted to read this one when I learned it was about a summer on Nantucket Island during the Kennedy era. While a little more historical context would have made this one much more fun, I still enjoyed the complicated family drama that ensued. Also, as a midwesterner all my life, summers on Martha’s Vineyard, Montauk, and Nantucket Island have always seemed like a fairy tale to me, so this account of a summer on the East Coast was very appealing to me. It was the perfect way to kick off my summer reading and I really enjoyed it!

My Lovely Wife by: Samantha Downing (Berkley) – Pub Date: March 26, 2019

Another example of #bookstagrammademedoit, that, unfortunately, fell flat for me as well. The storyline was predictable to me and not all that interesting. It sort of felt like books I’ve already read or movies I’ve already watch – there’s really nothing new brought to the table. Honestly, I think my expectations were just really high for this one, so it was probably inevitable that it would fall flat. Many others have really enjoyed this one, so please search out other reviews before making a final decision!

If You Want To Make God Laugh by: Bianca Marais (Putnam) – On Shelves: July 16, 2019

This book was fantastic! I was immediately thrown into 1990s post-apartheid South Africa. Three ladies with completely different backgrounds and stories eventually find their lives intertwined in the most beautiful and compassionate way. This book had all the makings of a memorable read for me – complicated relationships, broken communication that leads to all kinds of misunderstandings, motherhood, the AIDS pandemic that swept the country, especially among women and children, racism, reconciliation, forgiveness, and love. It was so beautifully written and Marais knocked this one out of the park!

While I enjoyed her first novel, Hum If You Don’t Know the Words, this one is so much better, in my opinion!

We Came Here To Forget by: Andrea Dunlop (Atria) – On Shelves: July 2, 2019

This one wasn’t even on my radar until Sarah (Sarah’s Book Shelves) mentioned it. As a former college athlete, I was immediately intrigued with the main character, Kate/Liz, as a former Olympic downhill skier. While the story talks about her skiing career a little bit, it definitely wasn’t the focus of the story. After something horrific happens, Kate/Liz is forced off the mountain. On a whim, she buys a plane ticket to Buenos Aires and escapes her current life to recuperate mentally. The story slowly unfolds in small pieces of the overall puzzle, and I was pleasantly surprised by the depth and emotion presented. The mystery element of the story had me hooked! There are two timelines to the story, and I definitely preferred one (the past) over the other (the present). Because of this, it wasn’t quite a 5-star read for me, but it was still well done and worth reading.

Currently Reading/Listening:

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*** Ayesha At Last by: Uzma Jalaluddin (Berkley) – Pub Date: June 4, 2019

This one first came on my radar after reading Anne Bogel’s Summer Reading Guide list. I’ve seen great reviews since then and I’m excited to dive in!

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

I’ve been getting weekly emails from Nicole Gulotta of Wild Words for a couple of years. I love her writing and the the way she puts things just speaks to my heart. I was lucky enough to get an ARC from the publisher and I can’t wait to read her words of wisdom!

DNF:

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🎧 God in the ICU: The Inspirational Biography of a Praying Doctor by: Dave A. Walker – Pub Date: November 19, 2011

I couldn’t get past the poor audiobook quality or the tone of the narrator. I found myself lost most of the time, though that made me sad because from what I could pick up, this seemed like it could be a great book.

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

My library hold expired before I finished, but I feel confident I got the gist of the book with what I did get read. It was a great reminder to just focus on the next step – not the long-term view, just the next right thing.

I Am Not Your Perfect Mexican Daughter by: Erika L. Sánchez (Knopf Books for Young Readers) – Pub Date: October 17, 2017

I have had this on my TBR list for a long time. I finally picked up a copy at Barnes & Noble, but within about fifty pages, I just couldn’t keep my interest in the story. I tried to read it with my daughter and the language was just too hard to maneuver for her, and I have so many other books on my list to read, I simply gave up.

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

Honestly, I think I should stop checking books out from the library. Something about knowing I can recheck it out makes it easier to DNF if I don’t immediately connect with the story. I may try this one again in the future if I happen to run across it.

Tell me, friends, what’s been your favorite reads lately?

My Week in Books (6/3/19)

(#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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Last week, I sort of unintentionally created a Summer Reading Guide. It was the happiest accident and I hope you’ll take the time to download and print a copy! I want to follow along with your summer reading and see your thoughts and feelings towards the books I chose. You can also follow the hashtag #HWRsummer2019 on Instagram!

Happy {Summer} Reading, friends!

Last Week’s Reads:

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*** Out East: Memoir of a Montauk Summer by: John Glynn (Grand Central Publishing) – Pub Date: May 14, 2019

I hadn’t heard of this one until Sarah mentioned it on one of her podcasts. I love coming-of-age (and coming out) stories, so I moved this one high up on the TBR list.

The first half of the book reminded me of the a tv show I used to watch (not sure of the name) on Bravo or MTV about young New Yorkers that make the trek to the Hamptons every weekend to party it up. Because this is so far removed from any lifestyle I’ve ever know, I was intrigued. But I got a little bored by the endless drinking and hookups scenes…as soon as you’ve heard it once, you’ve heard all you need to hear.

But around the halfway mark, Glynn gets to the heart of his story – not only is he incredibly lonely and full of self-doubt, but he’s starting to realize that he’s gay. His crush is also a roommate in “The Hive” – the home in Montauk that all these people descend on during the summer weekends.

Not sure how his friends or family will react to his coming out, Glynn writes his angst so beautifully. I appreciated his honesty and rawness so much. While his crush couldn’t reciprocate his feelings, I was more interested in how his parents would react to his news. Of course, as demonstrated throughout the story, they were amazingly supportive and I felt so hopeful for the rest of Glynn’s journey through love – whatever that may entail.

The only complaint I have for this book is that I would have liked more of Glynn’s coming out story and way less of his roommates’ partying and hooking up. The beauty of this story lies in Glynn’s narrative and so much of that felt wasted on other people’s stories – Ashley’s daily runs, the daily coffee trips, the room assignments. I wanted to know more about Glynn’s inner self and discovery…that would have made this more of a five-star, memorable read for me!

🎧 With the Fire on High by: Elizabeth Acevedo (HarperTeen) – Pub Date: May 7, 2019

When this one started popping up all over #bookstagram, I immediately fell in love with the cover! 😍 I’m not always crazy about YA, so I waited it out and when it showed up on my Hoopla app, I checked it out…and I’m so glad I did! I loved this book about a teenage mom trying to finish high school and raise her daughter alongside her grandma. The food descriptions had me salivating and also made me wish I understood food combinations so I could make meals like the one described.

This book is brilliantly written. And though it’s a little idealistic at times, I still found myself so connected to the characters and the story. Even as a grown adult, I felt admiration for the way Emoni conducted herself and for her determination to put her daughter first. I haven’t read the author’s previous work, Poet X, but I definitely will now!

Currently Reading/Listening:

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*** The Flatshare by: Beth O’Leary (Flatiron) – Pub Date: May 28, 2019

I have to admit that the cover kept me from picking this one up. I’m not generally one for romcom books (think Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine), but a few bookstagrammers recommended it so I gave it a shot…and I’m SO GLAD I DID! It is cuuuuute! 

Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear by: Elizabeth Gilbert (Riverhead) – Pub Date: September 22, 2015

I feel like y’all know I’m a ginormous fan of EG…but this rereading of Big Magic (a favorite from a few years ago) is not holding up as well the second time around. I may try to give it a few more days, but it may end up in my DNF pile. 🤷🏼‍♀️

*** Stop Doing That Sh*t by: Gary John Bishop (Thorsons) – Pub Date: May 31, 2019

Enjoying this one so far! I’ll have a review next week!

DNF:

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*** Places and Names: On War, Revolution, and Returning by: Elliot Ackerman (Penguin Press) – On Shelves: June 11, 2019

I read and loved Waiting for Eden earlier this year (read my review here), so I was excited to see what Ackerman had in store for his latest release. I got to about 45% and decided I’d read enough. It was good and so very different than his novel, but it just really isn’t my type of book. It gives background information into the Syrian war, as well as the Iraq and Afghanistan wars. He tells various soldiers’ stories (both American and enemy soldiers). Honestly, it’s a great book and I think it could make a great gift for a dad, husband, or brother who is interested in military and war-type books. 

*** They Called Me Wyatt by: Natasha Tynes (Rare Bird Books) – Publishing contract revoked at this time.

Due to the controversy surrounding Natasha Tyne’s tweet, I have chosen not to read or review this book…at least for now.

Tell me, friends, what’s been your favorite reads lately?

My Week in Books (5/27/19)

(#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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Am I the only one that constantly reevaluates what I feel is working on #bookstagram and what isn’t? Recently, I announced that I’d no longer include the Most Likely To Read Next section, and today I’m here to let you know that I will no longer do star ratings. I don’t do them here on the blog that much anyway, but I do over on my instagram account.

Here’s the deal: everybody’s star rating system is different. I know what a “3” rating means to me, and honestly? When I see a 3 rating on any other account, I kind of automatically dismiss the review entirely. I kind of only pay attention to 4 and 5 star ratings. I think I’d rather someone disregard a book after they read my review than to see some emojis and move on. (If you’re a stickler for those stars though, no worries…follow me on Goodreads!)

Last Week’s Reads:

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*** City of Girls by: Elizabeth Gilbert (Riverhead) – On Shelves: June 4, 2019

This is going to be one of the shortest reviews I’ve ever written: PREORDER THIS BOOK NOW (it releases next Tuesday, June 4)!

You will not regret it; in fact, it will end up on your favorites shelf just as soon as you finish it. If you were a fan of #TheSevenHusbandsofEvelynHugo, you’ll love this one just as much. It’s brilliantly done with complicated love relationships and a gorgeous study of a life full of ups and downs in NYC during the 1930s.

I listened to a podcast last year (yes, that long ago!) where Elizabeth Gilbert talked about writing this book. The love of her life had just passed away and she was devastated, but she had a deadline to meet so she threw herself into this story. I couldn’t help but read between the lines of some of the writing and I was blown away by the depth of emotions Gilbert was able to capture. I may have read entirely too much into it, but it made it that much more human to me.

*** Ask Again, Yes by: Mary Beth Keane (Scribner) – On Shelves: May 28, 2019

When I read the last sentence of this beautiful story, I knew I’d found one of my Top Ten Books of 2019. I just can’t imagine this one losing its place at the end of the year. It’s got everything I devour in a book – coming-of-age, tragedy, complicated relationships, love, forgiveness, and hope.

As neighbors, the Gleesons and Stanhopes were never close. The Standhopes kept to themselves, but you could tell something was always simmering just below the surface. On the other hand, the Gleesons looked like the All-American family – a well-respected cop and a mother of three beautiful girls. As Kate Gleeson and Peter Stanhope grow up in school together, they forge a friendship that will be tested by the ultimate tragedy.

“You think a person comes out of a house like that undamaged? You don’t see it now, Kate, but it’s there. I promise you. Marriage is long. All the seams get tested.”

Reminiscent of Everything Here is Beautiful (read my review here), Mary Beth Keane takes a careful look at mental illness and its affects – not only to the person herself, but also to those surrounding her. This story shows a long and tenuous road to forgiveness, hope, and healing. It demonstrates a beautiful portrayal of love and steadfastness, even when all the odds are stacked against you.

🎧 The Unlikely Adventures of the Shergill Sisters by: Balli Kaur Jaswal (William Morrow) – Pub Date: April 30, 2019

I have Erotic Stories for Punjabi Widows on my bookshelf and just haven’t ever gotten to it. But after listening to this one on audiobook, I believe it will make a swift climb to the top!

When their mother dies, she leaves wishes for her three daughters to take a pilgrimage back to India to spread her ashes. The girls don’t have a strong relationship as the years and misunderstandings and distance has pulled them apart. But as they journey across India to their mother’s final destination, they will also find their way back to each other.

Despite the cartoonish cover, this book is deep and emotional. The characters are all struggling with their own internal issues that gives them some depth that I wasn’t expecting. I loved the narrator’s voice and it carried me away with the story. This audiobook is long (just over 13 hours) but I wasn’t really eager for it to end.

This story was another reminder of why it’s important to consider another’s perspective before jumping to conclusions in misunderstandings. Most of the time, there are underlying circumstances that contribute to the problem at hand, and if we’d just consider these possibilities with a little empathy and understanding, our relationships would be better for it. I don’t have a sister, but this book made me wish I did!

*** Mrs. Everything by: Jennifer Weiner (Atria) – On Shelves: June 11, 2019

One of the most highly anticipated books of the summer, Mrs. Everything follows the ups and downs of a sister relationship over the span of eighty years. While I was expecting something a little lighter, I still found myself engrossed in the story of Jo and Bethie. I think it could have been about 100 pages less to appeal to a wider audience, but overall, this is a book that will be widely talked about this summer!

Currently Reading/Listening:

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🎧 With the Fire on High by: Elizabeth Acevedo (HarperTeen) – Pub Date: May 7, 2019

This one showed up on Hoopla and I have been seeing it all over #bookstagram. The reviews have been fantastic, and so far, I’m LOVING the audiobook!

*** Out East: Memoir of a Montauk Summer by: John Glynn (Grand Central Publishing) – Pub Date: May 14, 2019

Half way through and I’m confused. This book is EVERYWHERE; they hype is real. But I’m still waiting for something to happen. More when I finish.

*** Stop Doing That Sh*t by: Gary John Bishop (Thorsons) – Pub Date: May 7, 2019

Part of my self-development and morning routine reading. It’s good so far!

Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear by: Elizabeth Gilbert (Riverhead) – Pub Date: September 22, 2015

Also part of my morning reading. This is a reread so I know what I’m getting into, but it’s not as good as I remembered it being. 🤔 I’ll keep plugging away…for a little bit longer, but not much! 🤷🏼‍♀️

DNF:

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*** The Desert Sky Before Us by: Anne Valente (William Morrow) – Pub Date: May 14, 2019

This one had great potential, but there were a few things that just weren’t working for me. I appreciate that an author has to dangle some carrots in order to keep their audience engaged, but when those carrots just keep adding up and none of them are resolved, I found that I stopped caring. It ruined the overall excitement for me. Also, there were a few too convenient things that would happen. It’s just unrealistic and it was one-too-many eye rolls for me to continue. Last, though no fault of the author’s, there was some editing that clearly needed to happen. I only read through 150 pages and it was very repetitive. I got the point! Jeez. And this is one of those books we all seem to hate – the ones with no quotation marks…drove me bonkers.

In the end, this one just felt like more work than it was worth. The premise was enticing to me and I am curious how this wraps itself up, but I couldn’t get passed a few of my issues enough to slog though.

*** On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous by: Ocean Vuong (Penguin Press) – On Shelves: June 4, 2019

Liberty Hardy, Tyler Goodson, and Hunter have all read and raved about this one. For the first half, I was into it. I thought I’d found my next favorite book, but it slowly, slowly fizzled out for me. It definitely could have been the format (ebook) and/or a case of wrong time (end of school year = busy, busy, busy). Regardless, I made a deal with myself that when I find I no longer care, I’m giving up. My bookshelves overflow and I wanna move on! Maybe I’ll keep my eye out for more reviews and return to this one when I have an actual copy in hand.

Tell me, friends, what’s been your favorite reads lately?

My Week in Books (5/20/19)

(#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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My sweet grandma turns 84 today! I can’t wait to head over to her house to celebrate her. She and my grandpa had a big hand in raising me and our bond is so unbelievably close. I feel grateful for our relationship every day of my life and hope I can be half the woman she is someday. Strong and determined and unpersuadable, she knows what she wants and she gets it! Someday, I’ll write you guys a little backstory of this amazing woman I get to call Grandma!

Last Week’s Reads:

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*** The Children Act by: Ian McEwan (Anchor Books) – Pub Date: September 9, 2014

This book just wasn’t for me, though it has a high rating on Goodreads and plenty of others seemed to really enjoy the story. I was bored by the story and thought the in-depth tangents about the court cases was distracting and unnecessary.

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

The cover made me do it, but the story stole my heart. I truly don’t have the words to articulate the importance of this book; I will push this into everybody’s hands that I can. 

Jacob Tobia coming-of-gender story is raw, and powerful, and true. They start a conversation in this book that is begging to be had in America today. Throughout the book, they are reflective in ways I don’t usually see in books. For example, when reflecting on their relationship with their dad (who wasn’t very nice to them), they acknowledge his growth and accepted his reaction. It’s so easy to dismiss people that hurt us, but Tobias demonstrates what true growth, empathy, and compassion looks like. They show us how to mature.

Tobia is smart. Very smart. They went to Duke and that’s where they really gained their non-gender-conforming wings. They quickly became an activist for the LGBTQ+ community and gave a powerful voice to this group.

They are inspiring and I can’t wait to see more from them as they continue their work in LA. Please take the time to read this memoir. I guarantee it will leaves you changed for the better.

*** 1000+ Little Things Happy Successful People Do Differently by: Marc & Angel Chernoff (Tarcherperigee) – On Shelves: May 21, 2019

This one reminded me of a little bit of Tim Ferriss’ book, Tools of Titans, though ToT is by far better, in my opinion. It’s full of great reminders that we all know, yet need refreshed on every now and then. The only thing that bothers me about books like this are that it’s just regurgitated information. Many times, the author takes quotes from the internet or Pinterest and types them in a paragraph and calls it a book – it’s not. It’s a compilation of other people’s thoughts. There aren’t new ideas or commentary, so unless you want a coffee book table, you already know what this one has to say.

Piecing Me Together by: Renee Watson (Bloomsbury) – Pub Date: February 14, 2017

A great companion piece to a book I read earlier this year, Dear Martin (read my review here), this book tells the stories of race, friendship, privilege, and identity from a young woman’s perspective. At times, it felt like the fictional version of what I imagine Michelle Obama’s memoir, Becoming (read my review here), to be like.

Jade knows she has to excel in school and get good grades if she is going to break out of the poverty cycle she currently lives in. College is her only ticket out. As she navigates her high school years, she is also confronted by racial issues that make her realize the differences between her journey and her privileged classmates.

This was another read aloud with my 11-year-old. Again, it was a bit on the older side for her at times so I was glad to be there to help navigate those conversations. I appreciated the content of the book to start conversations with her to help her realize the privilege she experiences and to gain some empathy for what others may have to go though just to get a good education. We live in a rural area, so the inner city happenings aren’t something she gets a change to understand, so I’m glad this book brought some of those issues to her attention.

*** City of Girls by: Elizabeth Gilbert (Riverhead) – On Shelves: June 4, 2019

Full review coming later this week, but suffice it to say: I LOVED THIS BOOK! I think you should pre-order it if you haven’t already; you won’t be disappointed!

Currently Reading/Listening:

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*** Ask Again, Yes by: Mary Beth Keane (Scribner) – On Shelves: May 28, 2019

Rave, rave, rave reviews everywhere I look! Excited to get into the story more! Coming off City of Girls, this book has BIG shoes to fill!

🎧 The Unlikely Adventures of the Shergill Sisters by: Balli Kaur Jaswal (William Morrow) – Pub Date: April 30, 2019

Saw this one available on the Hoopla app and immediately downloaded it. I still haven’t read Erotic Stories for Punjabi Widows by the same author, but I know people loved it. I’m over half way through the audiobook and really loving the story, so I may have to add her first book to my TBR soon!

*** The Desert Sky Before Us by: Anne Valente (William Morrow) – Pub Date: May 14, 2019

Two sisters that must overcome their differences while on a scavenger hunt road trip arranged by their by their suddenly deceased mother. One of the sisters has just been released from prison. This dysfunctional and emotionally raw story seem like a great set up for me!

Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear by: Elizabeth Gilbert (Riverhead) – Published: September 22, 2015

Reading City of Girls reminding me of Big Magic – a book I previously read and loved. I decided to reread it as part of my morning routine…and in hopes for some inspiration to get back to more writing!

Tell me, friends, what’s been your favorite reads lately?