June 2019 Reading Wrap-Up

(#partner #freebooks: All books noted by asterisks (***) indicate I received the book for free from the publisher, the author, or another promotional company to review. All opinions are my own.)

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I was out of town on June 30th, so this is a little late.

I’d call my June reading month just so-so. I read some stellar reads – 5 stars! – and some meh book – 3 stars – and I DNF’d more than I ever have – 5 books! It was a bit of a roller coaster ride!

So far this year, I’ve read 87 books and my average rating is at 3.9. I’m pretty happy with that!

My favorite book of the month was If You Want To Make God Laugh by Bianca Marais, without a doubt! I can’t stop thinking about it and I read it over a week ago now. I can’t wait to add it to my Favorites Shelf and reread it again!

Non-Fiction:

Screen Shot 2019-06-22 at 9.02.49 PM⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ Fall and Rise: The Story of 9/11 by: Mitchell Zuckoff (Harper) – Pub Date: April 30, 2019

I know this is a tough book to read, especially for those personally and directly affected by the events of 9/11, but it’s also an important piece of American history. We owe it to those who so tragically gave their lives to #neverforget.

Screen Shot 2019-06-22 at 8.58.05 PM⭐️⭐️⭐️ *** Nanaville: Adventures in Grandparenting by: Anna Quindlin (6/10/19)

While this had some great reflections on motherhood, I thought it was a little too personal to Quindlen’s family to really connect with it, though I will walk away with some knowledge of how to respect boundaries as a mother-in-law someday!

 

Something Lighter:

Screen Shot 2019-06-02 at 11.44.40 AM⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ *** The Flatshare by: Beth O’Leary (6/10/19)

I almost passed this one over but I’m so glad I didn’t. It was exactly the light-hearted read I was craving. I loved both of the characters and thought the storyline was unique and well done! This is the perfect beach or pool companion!

 

Cultural/Historical Fiction:

Screen Shot 2019-06-22 at 9.06.03 PM⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ *** If You Want To Make God Laugh by: Bianca Marais (Putnam) – On Shelves: July 16, 2019

I can’t imagine that this one won’t make my Top 10 List of 2019! Set in post-apartheid Africa, it has themes of racism, motherhood, and the AIDS epidemic of the early 1990s. It was so well-written and all I can think about since finishing it is, “how soon is too soon to reread a book!?!?”

 

Complicated Family Relationships:

Screen Shot 2019-06-22 at 9.04.12 PM⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ Summer of ’69 by: Elin Hilderbrand (Little, Brown) – Pub Date: June 18, 2019

Apparently Elin Hilderbrand’s books are hit or miss. I’ve never read one of her books and I’m happy to say that I loved this one! With the just the right mix of complicated family drama, historical fiction, and a beach setting on Nantucket Island during the summer, I couldn’t put this one down!

Screen Shot 2019-06-22 at 9.05.11 PM⭐️⭐️⭐️ My Lovely Wife by: Samantha Downing (Berkley) – Pub Date: March 26, 2019

I was expecting this to be the book version of the movie, Mr. and Mrs. Smith, starring Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie. But instead, it was a mildly boring, totally predictable thriller with little unexpected twists and turns.

Screen Shot 2019-03-23 at 1.43.08 PM⭐️⭐️⭐️ My Sister, the Serial Killer by: Oyinkan Braithwaite (Doubleday) – Pub Date: November 20, 2018

Sometimes #bookstagram can rave about a book and I get a real sense of #fomo…sadly, this book didn’t deliver for the hype it got. I found the succinct writing style fantastic, but the overall storyline underwhelming.

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⭐️⭐️⭐️💫 *** We Came Here to Forget by: Andrea Dunlop (Atria) – On Shelves: July 2, 2019

This was a tough one for me because I thought it was a page-turner and I was invested in the story, but I just don’t think it will have staying power for the long haul in my mind. It’s one of those books that I like while I’m in it, but a few months from now, I’ll be lucky to recall any details about it. 

Screen Shot 2019-06-27 at 11.25.24 AM⭐️⭐️⭐️ *** Searching for Sylvie Lee by: Jean Kwok (William Morrow) – Pub Date: June 4, 2019

This one just fell in the middle of the road for me. It was interesting, but easily skimmable, which I ended up doing for the last half of the book. Looking back, I probably should have DNF’d it, but I was curious what happened to Sylvie.

I picked this one up because it’s on Modern Mrs. Darcy’s Summer Reading Guide. I’m almost halfway through the books she suggests…it’s been fun to prioritize those books! 

 

Not For Me (AKA: DNF):

Screen Shot 2019-06-22 at 9.38.33 PMI Am Not Your Perfect Mexican Daughter by: Erika L. Sánchez (Knopf Books for Young Readers) – Pub Date: October 17, 2017

As a winner of numerous book awards, I was excited to start this one with my daughter (11-years-old), but as I quickly realized, it’s not appropriate for her just yet. Without sharing the story together, my interest quickly waned…though I wouldn’t mind trying it again in the future.

Screen Shot 2019-06-22 at 9.44.16 PM🎧 God in the ICU: The Inspirational Biography of a Praying Doctor by: Dave A. Walker – Pub Date: November 19, 2011

This one definitely intrigues me – I am interested in the backstory and found the writing well done, but I could not get past the poor audiobook quality and the narrator’s voice was so low and deep, I had a hard time understanding. I’m too impatient to continually back the story up, so I gave up on this one.

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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 on this one expired before I’d finished, but I felt like I got enough of the gist to move forward. I love Emily P. Freeman’s writing and she has a way of putting things into perspective that really resonate with me. What I got through was fantastic and I’d encourage others to read it!

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

I went into this one blind and the first couple of chapters were much different than I was expecting. There was a lot of sexual talk – which I’m not opposed to – but was thrown off a bit. If I happen to run across this one again, I may give it another chance!

Screen Shot 2019-06-27 at 11.18.14 AMAyesha At Last by: Uzma Jalaluddin (Berkley) – Pub Date: June 4, 2019

Though I am in love with the cover, I was not feeling the story. A modern-retelling of Pride and Prejudice, it lacked connection for me and felt very forced. Maybe I’m simply not in the mood because I’ve already read Unmarriageable this year – and it’s the same storyline, though I enjoyed it much more.

This one is also on Modern Mrs. Darcy’s Summer Reading Guide. #IdRatherBeReading #summerstooshort

 

What was your favorite read in June?

 

 

Sarah’s Book Shelves: Episode 23

Lucky me…I got to join Sarah from Sarah’s Book Shelves for another podcast episode! This time we talked about the books of 2019 that were most deserving of the hype, least deserving of the hype, and underrated gems…at least so far! (Click here for a link to the episode!)

2019 Mid-Year Check-In - Episode Blog Post
Sarah’s Book Shelves Live is a weekly show featuring real talk about books and book recommendations from a featured guest. Each week, Sarah of the blog Sarah’s Book Shelves will talk with her guest about:
– 2 OLD BOOKS THEY LOVE
– 2 NEW BOOKS THEY LOVE
– 1 BOOK THEY DON’T LOVE
– AND 1 NEW RELEASE THEY’RE EXCITED ABOUT
Sarah gets real about all things books and serves you up a bit of snark on the side.
Here are the books mentioned (in order) on this podcast:

 

MOST DESERVED THE HYPE:Screen Shot 2019-06-26 at 2.14.50 PMDaisy Jones and the Six by: Taylor Jenkins Reid 

City of Girls by: Elizabeth Gilbert

I Miss You When I Blink by: Mary Laura Philpott

Golden Child by: Claire Adam

Ask Again, Yes by: Mary Beth Keane

 

LEAST DESERVED THE HYPE:Screen Shot 2019-06-26 at 2.20.58 PMThe Night Before by: Wendy Walker

The Dreamers by: Karen Thompson Walker

Before She Knew Him by: Peter Swanson

Normal People by: Sally Rooney

The Night Tiger by: Yangsze Choo

 

UNDERRATED GEMS:Screen Shot 2019-06-26 at 2.27.01 PMTalk To Me by: John Kenney

A People’s History of Heaven by: Mathangi Subramanian

The Body in Question by: Jill Ciment

Sugar Run by: Mesha Maren

The Last Romantics by: Tara Conklin

 

#1 BOOK OF THE YEAR SO FAR: Screen Shot 2019-06-26 at 2.29.43 PMDaisy Jones and the Six by: Taylor Jenkins Reid

City of Girls by: Elizabeth Gilbert

 

What books do you agree with? And what books should we add to the categories?

 

I am quickly coming to love recording these episodes! Sarah does a great job with her guests and if you haven’t listened to her podcast yet, do yourself (and your TBR list) a favor and give it a try!

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?

May 2019 Reading Wrap-Up

(#partner #freebooks: All books noted by asterisks (***) indicate I received the book for free from the publisher, the author, or another promotional company to review. All opinions are my own.)

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I think I’m most excited by the fact that, year-to-date, my reading average is 3.9! I credit this with DNFing books that just aren’t working for me…but what’s truly exciting about that bookish fact is that I haven’t hit a reading slump in forever! Woot woot! That’s all I really care about – so if DNFing books keeps my reading life happy, I’m here for it!

(Clink the link to head to my #minibookreview!)

Non-Fiction:

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ Present Over Perfect: Leaving Behind Frantic for a Simpler, More Soulful Way of Living by: Shauna Niequist

*** ⭐️⭐️⭐️ 1000+ Little Things Happy Successful People Do Differently by: Marc and Angel Chernoff

*** ⭐️⭐️⭐️ What Matters Most: The Get Your Shit Together Guide to Wills, Money, Insurance, and Life’s “What-Ifs” by: Chanel Reynolds

 

To Make You Think:

*** ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ The Farm by: Joanne Ramos

*** ⭐️⭐️⭐️💫 Juliet the Maniac by: Juliet Escoria

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ Sissy: A Coming-of-Gender Story by: Jacob Tobia

*** ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ Ask Again, Yes by: Mary Beth Keane

*** ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ Mrs. Everything by: Jennifer Weiner

*** ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ Out East: Memoir of a Montauk Summer by: John Glynn

 

Something Lighter:

*** ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ The Unhoneymooners by: Christina Lauren

 

Cultural/Historical Fiction:

*** ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ City of Girls by: Elizabeth Gilbert

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ The Unlikely Adventures of the Shergill Sisters by: Balli Kaur Jaswal

⭐️⭐️⭐️💫 The Night Tiger by: Yangsze Choo

*** ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ A Bend in the Stars by: Rachel Barenbaum

⭐️⭐️⭐️ Piecing Me Together by: Renee Watson

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️💫 With the Fire on High by: Elizabeth Acevedo

 

Complicated Family Relationships:

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ The Mother-in-Law by: Sally Hepworth

*** ⭐️⭐️ The Children Act by: Ian McEwan

 

DNF:

*** On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous by: Ocean Vuong

*** The Desert Sky Before Us by: Anne Valente

*** Places and Names: On War, Revolution, and Returning by: Elliot Ackerman

*** They Called Me Wyatt by: Natasha Tynes

What was your favorite read in May?

 

Mid-Year Top 10 (aka: Happiest When Reading’s Summer Reading Guide)

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IT’S HERE!

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My very first “Summer Reading Guide”!

(Click here for a printable pdf file!)

Listen, I know I ain’t no Anne Bogel or Sarah’s Book Shelves, but this is still my labor of love and I’m excited about it!

The books I chose are really just my Top Picks of the year {so far}, plus some Honorable Mentions. It’ll be interesting to see how many of these stay on my Favorite Books of 2019 list in December.

If you happen to read one of the books selected, I’d love it if you used the #HWRsummer2019 so I can follow along and hear your thoughts!

So without further ado:

If You’re Looking For Something That Will Stick With You For a Long Time:

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(Click the title to read my review):

City of Girls by: Elizabeth Gilbert

Golden Child by: Claire Adam

A People’s History of Heaven by: Mathangi Subramanian

Miracle Creek by: Angie Kim

The Last Romantics by: Tara Conklin

Ask Again, Yes by: Mary Beth Keane

 

If You’re Looking for Something Light and Fun {But Isn’t Exactly Fluffy}:

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Daisy Jones and The Six by: Taylor Jenkins Reid

Finding Dorothy by: Elizabeth Letts

 

If You’re Looking for a Memoir:

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Sissy: A Coming-of-Gender Story by: Jacob Tobia

I Miss You When I Blink by: Mary Laura Philpott

 

Honorable Mentions (aka: BONUS Books!):

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The Mother-in-Law by: Sally Hepworth

The Farm by: Joanne Ramos

The Unlikely Adventures of the Shergill Sisters by: Balli Kaur Jaswal

Queenie by: Candice Carty-Williams

Life Will Be the Death of Me:…and You Too! by: Chelsea Handler

What book do you see here that you’re most interested in? What books did I miss on this list?

Also, don’t forget to print your downloadable copy! Click here for a printable pdf file!

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?