My Week in Books {4/8/20}

Life is still crazy! If I’m being honest, the first two weeks of quarantine were pretty nice, but I’m starting to reach my limit. It’s not that I need (or even want) to be social, I think it’s just the thought that I CAN’T that gets me. I’m a terrible person when it comes to being told what I can and can’t do…however, I understand. I’m not advocating to end the measures…just taking a moment to complain and throw myself a pity party. I’m still so grateful for the extra time with my kids and to read!

How about you? How are you coping? I sincerely hope you’re all doing ok and staying healthy!

Before moving onto some #minibookreviews, here are some links to my recent posts, in case you missed them:

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

Last Week’s Reads:

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📱 *** The Book of Rosy: A Mother’s Story of Separation at the Border by: Rosayra Pablo Cruz

First off, this book is important. It gives a personal account of escaping the trauma and violence that is common place in Guatamala and Mexico as a woman and her son journey towards North America. I really enjoyed the memoir part of the book – Rosayra’s personal account of immigration. At the border, she is separated from her children and lives in a jail for eighty-one days. Her bail is posted by a nonprofit group out of New York that made it their mission to fight the injustices the migrants find at the border.

Part II of the book transitioned to the head of this nonprofit company and that’s where the book lost its steam to me. I also value this part of the story, but its inclusion with Rosayra’s story felt clunky to me and didn’t transition well. Maybe it would have went a little better with some introduction, but it took me half of the first chapter to realize we had a new narrator…I thought that it was a flash forward instead of the new perspective of the nonprofit.

Earlier this year, the publication of American Dirt came under fire as not accurately depicting life south of the border. Many people expressed that these types of stories should be written by #ownvoices so that those inaccuracies would be avoided. Because of that controversy, The Book of Rosy came on my radar. I felt like it was important for me to read an personal account of immigration, and now having finished The Book of Rosy, I’m more confused than ever about the earlier outrage. While American Dirt is fiction and The Book of Rosy is nonfiction, the parallels in both books are numerous. One of the chief complaints was that American Dirt inaccurately portrayed life in Guatamala and Mexico, but The Book of Rosy contradicts that notion – also depicting life in this part of the world as scary, violent, and controlled by the cartel.

Reading both of these books is imporatant so that you can form your own opinions on the controversy, and I’m grateful for the opportunity. I would love to talk to more people as they read both of these books, so if that’s you, message me!

⭐️⭐️⭐️💫 | HarperOne | Pub Date: June 2, 2020 | 256 Pages | Ebook (ARC)| Available for Pre-Oder (contact your favorite independent bookstore)

📱*** The Knockout Queen by: Rufi Thorpe

My book twin, Sarah from Sarah’s Book Shelves, recently raved about this one, so I added it to my TBR immediately!

This is one of my favorite kinds of books: a coming-of-age story with depth and nuance. The writing was spectacular and I found that I had a hard time putting it down once I started reading. There was evident angst throughout the book that kept me compelled to keep turning the pages so I could find out what happened.

I really appreciated Bunny and Michael – and their relationship with each other. There were many secondary characters that really stood out as well – Aunt DeeDee, Terrance, and Ray (though totally unlikeable) – but the heart of the story examines the ups and downs of Bunny and Michael’s friendship.

In the end, the writing and characters of this book kept me interested and reading. I was disappointed in the abrupt ending and a few other issues that were never resolved. The story didn’t seem to hav a clear ending (and towards the end of the book, Normal People started popping into my head as a book that also left me unsatisfied).

Also, though it may be a minor grievance, but I did not appreciate the way Thorpe portrayed Bunny’s “size”. She was 6’3″ and 168 pounds…and the way you’d read it in the book, she was a monster and unlikable because of her size. I kind of get the importance of her size (no spoilers), but this is not a big girl and certainly shouldn’t have been portrayed as gross or unbecoming – which was totally the vibes I got from the descriptions. Maybe I’m sensitive because I’m 6′ tall myself, and I know I’m taller than most other women, but this aspect of the book was offensive to me!

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ | Knopf | Pub Date: April 28, 2020 | 288 Pages | Ebook (ARC) | Available for Pre-order (contact your favorite independent bookstore)

📖 The Affairs of the Falcóns by: Melissa Rivero

I can’t imagine always having to look over my shoulder in order to protect my family. What it must feel like to always fear police and immigration officials who will deport you back to your home country without a second thought. On top of that, always having to struggle financially, working every single odds and ends job you can find, regardless of the fact that you may be more qualified for a better job, but lack the necessary documentation to obtain one.

All of these issues (and more) are presented in this book. It really demonstrates the daily life of an undocumented person navigating life in NYC. It’s heartbreaking to know that there are many people living like this in our country. I’m glad I read a story that portrays that so well.

Overall, I really enjoyed the insider’s look into an undocumented family, but something about the writing didn’t fully engage me. I saw the struggles of each of the characters and appreciate their contribution to the advancement of the story, but I’m worried this will become a forgettable story to me over time. There just wasn’t that special ‘something’ that made it a compelling story for me.

⭐️⭐️⭐️💫 | ECCO | Pub Date: April 2, 2019 | 277 Pages | Hardcover | Purchase via Bookstore Link

Currently Reading:

Screen Shot 2020-04-08 at 9.58.35 AM📖 *** Oona Out of Order by: Margarita Montimore

Literally just started this one last night, so I don’t have many thoughts on it yet. But Jordan (@jordys.book.club) and Katie (@basicbsguide) both loved it, so I have high hopes!

Flatiron Books | Pub Date: February 25, 2020 | 352 Pages | Hardcover | Purchase via Bookstore Link

🎧 *** Catch and Kill: Lies, Spies, and a Conspiracy to Protect Predators by: Ronan Farrow

I have been kind of busy lately so I haven’t been able to really listen to an audiobook. The  first night I started this one, I couldn’t stop! I’m sure it’s just a matter of trying again…maybe I should take this as a sign to clean my house?!?

Little, Brown and Company | Pub Date: October 15, 2019 | 448 Pages | Audiobook | Purchase via Bookstore Link

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

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📖 *** The Women’s War (Women’s War, #1) by: Jenna Glass

It pains me to DNF this one, but it really could have used a tighter edit. The story has so much promise but it’s been a total slog for me. Once I sit down to read it, I quickly become immersed, but I find that I’m not super motivated to pick it up in the first place. DNF @ 44%.

DNF | Del Rey Books | Pub Date: March 5, 2019 | 560 Pages | Hardcover | Purchase via Bookstore Link

📱 *** Hood Feminism: Notes from the Women That a Movement Forgot by: Mikki Kendall

This is just too deep for my mindset right now. DNF @ 11%.

DNF | Viking | Pub Date: March 3, 2020 | 288 Pages | E-book (ARC) | Purchase via Bookstore Link

📖 *** Ingredients: The Strange Chemisty of What We Put In Us and On Us by: George Zaidan

Unfortunately, this was a DNF for me at 33%. It was way too sciencey for me, and though it was presented almost cartoonish (assumingly to “dumb it down” for non-sciencey people), I still didn’t get it. It was over my head and I wasn’t understanding.

Dutton | Pub Date: April 14, 2020 | 320 Pages | Hardcover | Available for Pre-order (contact your favorite independent bookstore)

#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.)

My Week in Books {4/1/20}

Let’s all take a moment and kiss the garbage that was March 2020 G O O D B Y E ! 👋🏼

I was secretly hoping we’d all wake up today and realize this whole #covid19 was a horrible April Fool’s Day joke…but no such luck. (Speaking of which, anybody have a good April Fool’s Day joke?!?)

Before moving onto some #minibookreviews, here are some links to my recent posts, in case you missed them:

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

Last Week’s Reads:

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📖 *** The Long Flight Home by: Alan Hlad

Have you heard of Once Upon a Book Club? It’s a fun monthly subscription service that not only sends you a book, it also includes 3-5 wrapped gifts that you open on corresponding pages. It brings the book to life in such a fun and unique way! If you’d like to give it a try, use my promo code HAPPIESTWHENREADING10 and enjoy!

I read a lot of historical fiction (and specifically, those focused on the World War II era), and The Long Flight Home introduced me to an aspect I haven’t heard a lot about – the use of pigeons by the British forces to help stop Hitler and his army.

“A homing pigeon can travel distances of up to six hundred miles per day, fly at speeds of seventy miles an hour, and reach altitudes as high as thirty-five thousand feet. At that height, Ollie, the temperature would be thirty-five degrees below zero, and a pilot would need a heated suit and oxygen.”

Sadly, this was the most interesting part of the book for me. And had it not been for the pigeons and the gifts, I would have DNF’d this one. The information about the pigeons was super interesting and I’m happy to have learned more about this unusual and little known part of the war efforts. Other than that though, the characters were flat, the story was also flat, and the ending was abrupt and unsatisfying.

⭐️⭐️ | Kensington Publishing Corp. | Pub Date: June 25, 2019 | 304 Pages | Hardcover | Purchase via Bookstore Link

📖 The Simple Wild (Wild, #1) by: K.A. Tucker

Though this one took quite awhile to get into, I ended up really enjoying it. (I mean…Jonah? oh la la! 😍 ). The Alaskan setting was amazing…forcing me to restrain myself from booking a flight straight to The Last Frontier (side note: The Great Alone (read my review here) also gave me similar vibes, though a much darker, grittier story). I am curious to see what happens between Jonah and Calla, but I’m not sure if I care enough to pick up the next book, Wild at Heart, which just released in February 2020.

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ | Atria Books | Pub Date: August 7, 2018 | 390 Pages | Paperback | Purchase via Bookstore Link

Currently Reading:

Screen Shot 2020-04-01 at 7.17.58 AM🎧 *** Catch and Kill: Lies, Spies, and a Conspiracy to Protect Predators by: Ronan Farrow

Holy cow…give me a second while I pick my jaw up off the ground. This book is crazy! I started yesterday afternoon and I’m already halfway through. The intricate layers of lies and coverup are shocking!

Little, Brown & Company | Pub Date: October 15, 2019 | 448 Pages | Audiobook | Purchase via Bookstore Link

📖 *** The Women’s War (Women’s War, #1) by: Jenna Glass

I like this book, I do. But it seems to be dragging on. I just got to Part II and I’m going to give it a couple chapters before making a final decision, but I’m not sure if I can read 300 more pages at this pace.

Del Rey Books | Pub Date: March 5, 2019 | 560 Pages | Hardcover | Purchase via Bookstore Link

📱 *** Hood Feminism: Notes from the Women That a Movement Forgot by: Mikki Kendall

This is one of those books that I know are important, but are written so well I’m not sure I’m smart enough or absorbing the key points. I’m going to keep trying, but I can’t slog through books right now.

Viking | Pub Date: March 3, 2020 | 288 Pages | E-book | Purchase via Bookstore Link

(#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.)

My Week in Books {3/25/20}

I’ve determined that March 2020 can go straight to you-know-where. This month has been scary and full of fear and anxiety and exhausting. I’m hoping, by some miracle, we turn a corner in April and life can resume in a more “normal” capacity.

I keep reminding myself of the sacrifices generations before us have had to make. They’ve gone off to war, stood in lines with food ration stamps, and had to flee their actual homes. I’m grateful that hasn’t been our reality…cooping up at home with the comforts of electricity, shelter, food, and water doesn’t seem so bad when it’s put in perspective.

And BOOKS! I have a plethora of those so this downtime has been a great time to grab some books off my shelves and READ!

Speaking of books…

🎧 If you’re looking for a way to support your favorite independent bookstore, Libro.fm is making it easy. They’re the only audiobook company that directly supports the indie bookstore of your choice. If you’re a member, consider downloading a few audiobooks to lend some support their way (you can even gift audiobooks and subscriptions!). If you’re not a member yet, follow this link and use my promo code (HAPPIEST) to get 3 audiobooks for the price of one ($14.99)!

Before moving onto some #minibookreviews, here are some links to my recent posts, in case you missed them:

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

Last Week’s Reads:

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📖 The Two Lives of Lydia Bird by: Josie Silver 🐦

When Lydia Bird’s fiancé dies, she is thrown into a grief she’s never known and one that changes her life forever. As she deals with that grief, she also realizes she’s able to visit Freddie if she takes a sleeping pill. As she navigates the real world while also visiting Freddie in an alternate universe, Lydia transforms into a different, stronger person.

If you’ve been here long, you know I love a good book about grief. This book hit all the marks for me and I truly loved reading it. It did start off a bit slow, but as the story came together, I couldn’t put it down. I loved Lydia and Jonah Jones…and I thought the depiction of grief from the spouse and friend perspectives were realistic and sympathetic. The message of hope at the end was perfect.

Thanks to the recommendation from Sara (@fictionmatters), I picked this one up and I am so happy I did! 

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ | Ballantine Books | Pub Date: March 3, 2020 | 369 Pages | Hardcover | Purchase via Bookstore Link

📖 Untamed by: Glennon Doyle 🧡

I LOVED this one – same as all of Doyle’s other books. I read it in a day! Doyle writes pain in a way that heals, and she gives women permission to embrace themselves. Her heart is gold and I appreciate her approach to life. I wish there were more people like her in the world…though her reach is far, so I hope people continue to be inspired by her!

My only complaints: some of the information felt repetitive – either regurgitated blog posts or stuff I’ve hear elsewhere before. I have to keep in mind that not everyone may have heard it, so maybe it’s best that it was included. But there were times where I felt like she ran out of new topics so she circled back to some old stuff. Also, there were a few places where Doyle kind of came off as pretentious and that really bugged me. I know she’s accomplished a lot and she’s worked hard to come into her own, but the persona that I equate her with is above tooting her own horn. And, hello! I preordered your book in November! I don’t need a reminder of what a badass you are!

Either way, those complaints don’t detract from the book. Glennon Doyle is amazing and I loved this book!

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️💫 |The Dial Press | Pub Date: March 10, 2020 | 352 Pages | Hardcover | Purchase via Bookstore Link

📖 Ninth House (Alex Stern, #1) by: Leigh Bardugo

Don’t let my ⭐️⭐️⭐️💫 stars deter you – I really, really enjoyed this book, but I know it’s not going to be for everyone. It’s got every single trigger you can imagine and it’s a huge commitment. Not only is it 450 pages, but it’s intense and you have to pay attention. The characters, landmarks, and details are all necessary as you try to navigate two separate mysteries. It’s other-wordly too, so unfamiliar territory may turn some readers off.

Having said that, if you get through the first 100 pages, the story really takes off in an intriguing and complex way. Bardugo’s world building is incredible and the lure of secret societies among the elite students of Yale is fascinating. I was satisfied with the whole story, but I’m not sure I’m enamored enough to pick up the second book when it comes out.

⭐️⭐️⭐️💫 | Flatiron Books | Pub Date: October 8, 2019 | 459 Pages | Hardcover | Purchase via Bookstore Link

Currently Reading:

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📖 *** The Long Flight Home by: Alan Hlad

This is my first box from Once Upon a Book Club and I am so excited! The Long Flight Home is WWII fiction – one of my favorite genres! – so I’m hoping the gifts along the way only make it that much more memorable!

From the Once Upon a Book Club website: “A unique reading experience! Each month you’ll receive a book (can be paperback or hardcover) to read, a 5″ x 7” quote print, along with 3-5 corresponding gifts to match a quote/item mentioned in the book. Each individually wrapped with a page number. Readers, open the gifts as they finish the corresponding page. The experience is unforgettable! It makes the reader feel as if the book is truly coming to life!

You’ll also find book club discussion questions in each monthly box. Each question will have a date next to it. Log onto our Instagram page on that date to discuss the book with other members of the Book Club community!”

If this sounds like a reading experience you’d like to try for yourself, use promo code HAPPIESTWHENREADING10 to get 10% off your box (regular price: $34.99)!

Kensington Publishing Corp. | Pub Date: June 25, 2019 | 304 Pages | Purchase via Bookstore Link

(#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.)

My Week in Books {3/18/20}

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Use promo code HAPPIEST at Libro.fm for 3-for-1 audiobooks ($14.99) and support the independent bookstore of your choice! (More details below.)

On the one hand, the #coronavirussocialdistancing 🦠😷 has given me a lot of reading time. And I feel a little bit grateful to be able to tackle so many books that are on my TBR list (though I really wish I were grabbing more of them off my #unreadshelf but I always seem to get distracted by the new, bright, and shiny books 🤷🏼‍♀️).

On the other hand, I do find it a little difficult to focus at times. It’s hard to find the balance between an enjoyable escape and being aware of what’s happening in the world around us.

I hope and pray that all of you are doing well. I hope your families are safe and healthy. And I hope that we get through this sooner than later – that it ends up being much milder than some of the most dire predictions. At this point, only time will tell, but there are so many ways to be socially responsible at this time. In the past five days, I have left my house once (my kids not at all) to stock up on some groceries. The kids are currently on Spring Break anyway, so right now they’re not missing school, though our school district has extended that break for another week (when they’ll reevaluate next steps).

🎧 What’s so great about this day and age is how much we’re all connected – through technology and social media. It’s easy to support #smallbusinesses and/or download books from your library through your smart devices. Another wonderful company that I wholeheartedly endorse is Libro.fm. They’re the only audiobook company that directly support the small independent bookstore of your choice. If you’re a member, consider downloading a few audiobooks to lend some support to your favorite bookstore (you can even gift audiobooks and subscriptions!). If you’re not a member yet, follow this link and use my promo code (HAPPIEST) to get 3 audiobooks for the price of one ($14.99)!

Before moving onto some #minibookreviews, here are some links to my recent posts, in case you missed them:

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

Last Week’s Reads:

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📖 Lab Girl by: Hope Jahren 🌱

I’ve heard great things over the years about this book, and the hype was real! I really, really enjoyed this one – much more than I would have thought possible. I loved how Jahren weaved aspects of her profession into the narrative and made it relative to her real life.

I LOVED BILL! He was incredible and their friendship over their lives was so heartwarming to me. It felt like Jahren was very much alone throughout her life and I was so happy that she and Bill found each other and continued to remain close.

I was a little annoyed that we didn’t get to know more about her relationship with her parents. In the beginning, it seemed as if her and her father were close, but then we never heard another word about him. I understood that her mother and her didn’t have a great relationship and I think it was implied that her mother also suffered from mania/bipolar disorder that probably made connection difficult, but I still would have liked to see that loose end tied up a little better.

Though it did get science-heavy at times, I still found it quite fascinating and I’m eager to get my hands on her latest book, The Story of More: How We Got to Climate Change and Where to Go from Here. It was just release on March 3rd!

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

📖 *** A Good Neighborhood by: Therese Anne Fowler 🍁

This would have no doubt been a 5-star read for me if not for the bizarre and uncomfortable obsession with one of the characters (No spoilers…but if you want to know, be sure to send me an email at happiestwhenreading@yahoo.com.)

Moving on…

This book had all the elements I love in a book – unlikeable characters, drama, young love, and gossip between neighbors that gave it that Desperate Housewives vibe. And even though the writing was totally engrossing and I couldn’t put it down or turn the pages fast enough, it still left me wanting something more when I finished the last page.

In a way, it felt like Fowler built up this huge confrontation and then totally rushed the ending. My favorite character ended up being the villian (unfairly so, imo) and it let me donw. I suppose it was to prove a point (that racism in America is unfair and damaging and the wrong people often pay the price for that viewpoint), but for me, it wasn’t executed well enough for me to buy it.

Even though I’m not over-the-moon about this book, I didn’t feel like it was a waste of my time. If anything, I’m wishy-washy because it made me uncomfortable (usually a good thing), it left me with a lot to evaluate (always a good thing), and I’m still processing my thoughts and may end up revising my rating (also a good thing). (I struggled between 3 ½- and 4-stars, ultimately settling on 4-stars with a few **reservations to note.)

This book would make an excellent book club selection for all the reasons listed above. I think there’s a lot to dissect here and if you’ve read, please comment so we can discuss! I’m dying to talk about it!

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ | St. Martin’s Press | Pub Date: March 10, 2020 | 279 Pages | ARC (Paperback) | Purchase via Bookstore Link

🎧 *** The Witches Are Coming by: Lindy West 🧙🏼‍♀️

I can honestly say that I loved every single essay in this collection of feminist power! This book is also a great example of not having to agree with every aspect of another person’s thoughts and beliefs but still being able to see value in their perspective. I think West is smart and well-articulated; I plan on returning to this collection many times. I listened to this on audio, and it was FANTASTIC!

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️💫 Hachette Books | Pub Date: November 5, 2019 | 260 Pages | ARC (Audiobook) | Purchase via Bookstore Link

📱 *** Under the Rainbow by: Celia Laskey 🌈

I love that an author was courageous enough to take on small-town homophobia!! 👏🏼👏🏼👏🏼 Living in a town very, very similar to Burr City, I felt myself nodding my head up and down over and over again!

After Burr City, Kansas is determined to be the most homophobic town in the United States, a LGTBQ non-profit group of activists moves in to try to spread awareness and acceptance among its residence. As you can imagine, they’re not welcomed with open arms, but as they continue to hold listening sessions, luaus, and information sessions, a few people start to appreciate their message.

Each chapter is a new person’s perspective. At first, I was worried I couldn’t keep them all straight, but Laskey did a wonderful job of connecting all the pieces. I loved the depth she gave each character and the message that was conveyed through this style of storytelling. Her character development was exceptional, but also frustrating. Just went I felt a deep connection to the character, it felt like the chapter ended and we moved on to a new person. Some of the stories felt dropped because of this and kind left me deflated.

I personally found most of Laskey’s homophobic behavior to be fairly accurate, unfortunately. It continues to sadden me that people can be so close-minded about a person for such ridiculous reasons. Literally just the other night at dinner, I got into a “discussion” with a local man because he called the Govenor of Colorado (who is openly gay) a deragotary name and suggested that he’s incapable of being a good govenor because of his sexual orientation. I called him out on his disgusting behavior and he quickly paid his bill and left without another glance my way – good riddance. Sometimes I feel like the only fish in the sea – but then I remember that queer people have felt this way much longer, so I dig my heels in and continue to advocate as best as I can.

P.S. I LOVE the cover…Riverhead always kills it with their covers! 😍

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ | Riverhead | Pub Date: March 3, 2020 | 288 Pages | ARC (E-book) | Purchase via Bookstore Link

📖 *** 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.

There were many times while reading that I wondered if the elite of NYC high school students truly acted this way (same as I used to do when watching Gossip Girl). I don’t know if it’s an accurate portrayal or not, but either way it’s fun to read (watch)!

I know nothing about Anna Karenina, and it’s not necessary to enjoy this book. I feel like this was a great read – not too heavy, not too light – to escape into during the beginnings of the #coronavirus pandemic.

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ | Flatiron Books | Pub Date: March 3, 2020 | 448 Pages | ARC (Hardcover) | Purchase via Bookstore Link

Currently Reading:

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📖 The Two Lives of Lydia Bird by: Josie Silver 🐦

Just started and I’m already hooked.

Ballantine Books | Pub Date: March 3, 2020 | 369 Pages | Hardcover | Purchase via Bookstore Link 

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

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📖 Scythe (Arc of a Scythe, #1) by: Neal Shusterman ⚰️

Maybe it’s the timing, I don’t know, but I’m definitely not feeling this one. It feels very slow to start and the premise and writing just aren’t grabbing me. I think I’ll pass it on to my teenage son who says “everyone” is reading it at school.

DNF @ 24% | Simon Schuster Books for Young Readers | Pub Date: November 22, 2016 | 435 Pages | Paperback | 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.)

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.)

My Week in Books {3/4/20}

Does it feel like we just celebrated Christmas just yesterday? But somehow we’re already into March and before we know it, we’ll be in the dog days of summer! 🤷🏼‍♀️

I read some good books last week, but before we get to them, here are a few posts from the past month that you may have missed:

What did you read this week?

Last Week’s Reads:

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📱 *** In Five Years by: Rebecca Serle

This is the second book I’ve read by Rebecca Serle (check out my review of The Dinner List here), and I’m here to say that I truly enjoy her writing and books. If I had to choose one of these books over the other, I’d definitely choose In Five Years

In Five Years, at its core, is about friendship, loyalty, and connection. It explores the messiness of relationships and causes the reader to meditate on the ideas of fate and destiny. Once again, I connected with Serle’s easy, yet profound, writing style and she quietly put me in a position to contemplate the “what if?” scenario.

This is a quick read, but one that will stick with you for a long time.

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ | Atria Books | Pub Date: March 10, 2020 | 272 Pages | E-Book | Purchase via Bookstore Link

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

I was blown away by this well-written book about the looming consequences of the global warming crisis. I’ve had this one on my shelf for some time, and admittedly, the environmental, non-fiction tone caused me to keep passing it over. But that was a huge mistake, as Goodell writes relatably and makes the book very easy to digest!

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. Quite frankly, I’m embarrassed by all of us, but mostly by the naysayers.

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ | Little, Brown | Pub Date: October 24, 2017 | 352 Pages | Hardcover | Purchase via Bookstore Link

📖 *** The Holdout by: Graham Moore

The courtroom setting is quickly becoming a trope that I enjoy. Miracle Creek is the first book off the top of my head that also also incorporates this idea, but The Holdout takes it to a new level by examining the lives of the jurors themselves. Not only do we get an inside look at how serving on a sequestered jury may look like, we also get a nuanced look at the American justice system and the flaws within that system.

This was a quick read that I thoroughly enjoyed. Many reviews suggest you go in blind and I would agree. There is also criticism that the reader has to suspend belief throughout the book but because I’m not legalistic in any way, I didn’t find this to be a problem. Overall, The Holdout is a quick read with a side mystery that I totally got caught up in!

 ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ | Random House| Pub Date: February 18, 2020 | 325 Pages | Hardcover | Purchase via Bookstore Link

📖 From Scratch: A Memoir of Love, Sicily, and Finding Home by: Tembi Locke

This book is gorgeous! Locke’s sheer talent for weaving words together had me in gutwrenching tears…in the best way. This is a tribute to her husband – lost way too young to cancer – and their deep, abiding love. I felt her grief in my own heart. I was transported to Italy and felt like I was walking the cobblestone pathways and eating that rich tomato pasta. This book touched all of my senses and left a gaping hole when I finished the last page.

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ | Simon & Schuster | Pub Date: April 30, 2019 | 339 Pages | Hardcover | Purchase via Bookstore Link

Currently Reading:

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

I dismissed this one because my initial 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 – and the audio of this one is excellent as well!

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

📖 Severance by: Ling Ma

I’m not sure I chose the best time to pick this one up, but I did! I think my expectations of this one might be spoiling the overall story for me – I know it’s satirical, but I’m not sure I’m smart enough to get the nuance of everything Ma is trying to say. (Also, maybe I’m just not far enough into it and things will become more clear as I continue.) Either way, I like it enough to continue. It’s giving me some Station Eleven vibes!

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

(#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.)

My Week in Books {2/25/19}

What a week it’s been! I spent Friday in the emergency room with my grandma and it was one of the most terrifying experiences of my life. The important thing is she’s back home and doing just fine; you’d never know anything happened! Then on Saturday, I spend the day back in the emergency room, but this time with my grandpa. He was admitted and got home on Monday, and again, you’d never know anything happened.

I’ve been so emotionally exhausted from last weekend’s ordeal that I’ve been absent from here and my Bookstagram account. I’ve still been reading because duh, but I just don’t have the mental energy or capacity to engage in the commenting, following, and likes game. I think it just means I need a break, and I hope my desire returns, but for now, you’ll probably see a little less of me. I want to keep up with these Week in Books posts because it’s my online journal of what I read – at this point, that’s the very least that I want to be sure to keep up with!

Anyway, onto books! Here’s some of my recent posts, in case you missed them:

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

Last Week’s Reads:

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🎧 *** Open Book by: Jessica Simpson

I’m not a huge fan of Jessica Simpson, but I was still interested in her story. She is very open and honest in this memoir, and I really appreciated it. Listening to her read her own story on audiobook was powerful. I was struck by her insecurity – always feeling not good enough and fighting her bodyweight to make the music industry happy. Though most of us aren’t celebrities, I think a lot of us can relate to those insecurities and battles with our bodies. I loved feeling like Simpson was relatable.

There is speculation that Simpson used a ghostwriter – for me, I absolutely think she did. And while I appreciate how readable it made the book, it also frustrated me because it truly didn’t sound like her voice. It kept this from being a five-star review for me (I fluctuated between 3 ½- and 4-stars, but settled on 4 because, even if it is ghostwritten, I was still captivated by her story).

I’d recommend the audiobook on this one because stories are always better told through the voice of the real person. Also, at the end, there’s a bonus of six songs that help inspire the book!

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ | Dey Street Books | Pub Date: February 4, 2020 | 416 Pages | Audiobook | Purchase via Bookstore Link

📖 *** Darling Rose Gold by: Stephanie Wrobel

The creep factor is high in this one! I don’t want to say too much and spoil the book for anyone, but I enjoyed this dark pshycological thriller even if it was predictable. I love a book with an unreliable character and in this book, you get two! And what freaked me out the most is that there are actually people like this in the world! 😳 Anyway, if you need a quick read and you like a good psychological book, this would be a great one to pick up!

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ | Berkley Books | Pub Date: March 17, 2020 | 320 Pages | E-book | Purchase via Bookstore Link

🎧 *** Me and White Supremacy: Combat Racism, Change the World, and Become a Good Ancestor by: Layla F. Saad

This is a must read, especially if you’re a white and don’t believe you’re racist and that you don’t perpetuate racist stereotypes and behaviors. It’s uncomfortable – in a good way – and helped me see where some of my blindspots are. I want to keep reading books that help open my eyes and continue to make me a better person.

(The audiobook is great, but the book is good to have as well because the contents are presented in a workbook format.)

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ | Sourcebooks | Pub Date: February 4, 2020 | 256 Pages | Hardcover | Purchase via Bookstore Link

📱 *** Big Lies in a Small Town by: Diane Chamberlain

I wish this book would have been more engaging. It’s almost like it was too long. It took me awhile to get into, but once I did, I enjoyed the story and the mystery element very much. This is the first book I’ve read of Chamberlain’s so I wasn’t totally sure what to expect from her writing. I think I liked it enough to give her another shot, but overall I think I was definitely hoping for more.

⭐️⭐️⭐️💫 | St. Martin’s Press | Pub Date: January 14, 2020 | 391 Pages | E-book | Purchase via Bookstore Link

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

This was one of the most raved about nonfiction books of last year. I heard about it all over #bookstagram and on podcasts. Because of all the hype, I was expecting (and wanting) so much more than what I got.

I can understand how this book was helpful to many women. But, 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.

⭐️⭐️⭐️ | Ballantine Books | Pub Date: March 26, 2019 | 277 Pages | Hardcover | Purchase via Bookstore Link

Currently Reading:

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

Halfway through and I’m still amazed at all the things I’m learning! Highly recommend if you’re curious about climate change, rising water levels, and where we may be heading in this modern day crisis.

Little Brown | Pub Date: October 24, 2017 | 352 Pages | Hardcover | Purchase via Bookstore Link

📖 *** Wyoming by: J.P Gritton

Picked this up on a whim because I couldn’t get to my Kindle (which I was reading Big Lies in a Small Town on) that was on my nightstand and I was trying to be nice to my sleeping husband. Anyway, this one is gritty and the writing really reminds me of Cherry, though the plots are very different.

My main reason for picking this one up is because I just don’t get to read dark and gritty books. Men write in a way so different from women and I like that diversification from time to time. But I hardly ever really love or connect to the story…so I’m not sure how this one will finish for me. Stay tuned. 

P.S. For a dark and gritty book written by a male author that is so, so good, read The Line That Held Us and thank me later!

Tin House Books | Pub Date: November 19, 2019 | 242 Pages | Paperback | Purchase via Bookstore Link

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

I loved McDougall’s previous book, Born To Run: A Hidden Tribe, Superathletes, and the Greatest Race the World Has Never Seen, and I’m not even a runner! I’ve heard unbelievable things about Running With Sherman, so I decided to give it a try on audio!

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

(#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.)