My Week in Books (4/29/19)

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(#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.)

We headed out of town this week to watch my niece’s dance recital! It was a great weekend with family and now we’re gearing up for the last month of school. I can’t believe we’re heading into summer; this year flew by for us! Do any of you guys have fun plans for this summer?

Last Week’s Reads:

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*** The Moment of Lift: How Empowering Women Changes the World by: Melinda Gates (Flatiron) – Pub Date: April 23, 2019

  • “Saving lives starts with bringing everyone in. Our societies will be healthiest when they have no outsiders. We should strive for that. We have to keep working to reduce poverty and disease. We have to help outsiders resist the power of people who want to keep them out. But we have to do our inner work as well: We have to wake up to the ways we exclude. We have to open our arms and our hearts to the people we’ve pushed to the margins. It’s not enough to help outsiders fight their way in – the real triumph will come when we no longer push anyone out.”

    I have long believed that the change in the world we are so desperately seeking will come first through the empowerment of women. They are the ones that first demonstrate love, kindness, empathy, and compassion. Because many of our societies are patriarchal, I believe, women hold the power to be the change agents. While that’s easier to say in some cultures than others, it’s through the awareness and work of people like Melinda Gates that the opportunities are being created for all women to share in this powerful movement.

    This book is a true gem – full of insightful and educational information, I quickly had to get a highlighter because there was so much here to digest. It’s a book I will continually return to because Gates has not only presented us with some of the life-changing work she has embarked on, but she also gives us – privileged people – ideas and ways to also help empower all women of the world, especially those that are poor. She gives hope throughout the book and I have a lot of respect for the work she and her husband, Bill Gates, are doing to heal societies and to give women around the world a chance to succeed.

Miracle Creek by: Angie Kim (Sarah Crichton Books) – Pub Date: April 16, 2019

“But that was the way life worked. Every human being was the result of a million different factors mixing together…Good things and bad—every friendship and romance formed, every accident, every illness—resulted from the conspiracy of hundreds of things, in and of themselves inconsequential.”

From the first page, I had to know how this one was going to turn out. It was literary, but also very mysterious. Angie Kim weaves themes of immigration, parental and sacrificial love, morality, and courtroom drama into an engaging read that I couldn’t put down.

Admittedly, the ending frustrated me. But it also forced me to think about the choices I’d make to protect those I love. Would I do what Young did or would I do the opposite? It’s hard to ever know what one would do until put in that specific situation. I mean, I know what’s “right” in this situation, but given the circumstances in the story…would you do the “right” thing? Sometimes doing the right thing can feel so difficult. This topic alone would be so fascinating to discuss, making this a great book club selection pick!

The Girls at 17 Swann Street by: Yara Zgheib (St. Martin’s) – Pub Date: February 5, 2019

“Anorexia is the same girl with the same story, told over and over again. It does not matter what she is called; her name designates nothing. My name is Anna but anorexia got rid of it, my feelings, body, husband, life.”

Let me start by saying that this is an important book and a topic that should be given a voice. Anorexia (and bulimia) are legitimate and powerful diseases, and until recently, fairly misunderstood, I think. Zgheib tells the story of anorexia so carefully and compassionately that she gave me a clearer understanding of the disease and the perspective of those that have it. My best friend in high school had bulimia and eventually had to seek treatment for it. But she, and her family, hid it so well from the rest of us that, even I, as her best friend, never knew until it was obvious in her physique. I was too young to fully understand the issues surrounding eating disorders, and I wish I had known then what this book relays so well. 

This book is heartbreaking and demands a lot emotionally from the reader. Please be very mindful of picking this one up if eating disorders (anorexia and/or bulimia) or body image are triggering to you in any sort of way. Honestly, I do not have an unhealthy relationship with food in any sort of way and, at times, I found this book triggering even to me. I found myself analyzing my food choices in ways I never have before and a bagel with cream cheese has never looked so threatening!

PLEASE, PLEASE, PLEASE BE CAREFUL when deciding if you should pick this one up!

*** 🎧 The Girl He Used To Know by: Tracey Garvis Graves (St. Martin’s) – Pub Date: April 2, 2019

After a chance encounter many years after their relationship ended, Anika and Jonathan meet again and rekindle their romance. Alternating between present day and 10 years prior, we discover what led to their demise the first time around.

This is a sweet romance and I found myself rooting for Jonathan and Anika from the beginning. While I sort of found Jonathan’s character a little “too good to be true”, I was also hopeful that there really are men out there with his character given the circumstances of the relationship (#nospoilers).

Unexpectedly, I LOVED the friendship between Anika and her roommate, Janelle. I truly appreciated and respected this healthy, no competition relationship and wish more authors would champion these types of female friendships in books more often. Instead, it seems like the marker is over saturated with mean girls, so I found this a refreshing and wonderful portrayal!

Fans of Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine and The Light We Lost will love this one!

Possible trigger warnings: miscarriage, 9-11 events.

Currently Reading/Listening:

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*** A Veil Removed (Henrietta and Inspector Howard #4) by: Michelle Cox (She Writes Press) – Pub Date: April 30, 2019

This book is tough – I like it once I sit down and devout some time to reading it, but it’s really hard for me to want to even pick up in the first place. I kind of feel like I really just don’t care. I’m probably about halfway through…I plan on pushing through, but I feel so many other books calling to me and I may end up abandoning it. 😬

Likely to Read Next:

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*** The Farm by: Joanne Ramos (Random House) – On Shelves: May 7, 2019

I’m a huge fan of A Handmaid’s Tale and this one has been compared to it. Basically, women attend a “retreat” where all their needs are taken care of. The catch? They belong to the retreat for nine months – while they’re pregnant – and they lose all sense of autonomy. So far, this one seems to have quite a few negative reviews and DNFs which only intensifies my curiosity!

*** Juliet the Maniac: A Novel by: Juliet Escoria (Melville House) – On Shelves: May 7, 2019

Tyler Goodson gave this one five stars and that’s how this one landed on my radar. As a fourteen-year-old girl spirals into mental illness and self-destruction, this one sounds intense. The synopsis reminds me of Girl in Pieces which I really liked.

*** The Unhoneymooners by: Christina Lauren (Gallery Books) – On Shelves: May 14, 2019

A light-hearted beach read sounds about right! I’ve seen great reviews of this one already so I’m looking forward to it!

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

My Week in Books (4/22/19)

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(#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.)

{#partner #librofm) This week kicks off Independent Bookstore Day (read more here) – a one-day national party that takes place at indie bookstores across the United States on the last Saturday in April (this year it will be April 27th). To celebrate, Libro.fm wants to thank everyone who supports independent bookstores with five free audiobooks!

If you’re like me and live in a rural area where there isn’t an independent bookstore, Libro.fm allows you to still be able to support your favorite indie bookstore…which makes them my favorite place to buy audiobooks. Libro.fm is the first and only company to make it possible for customers to purchase audiobooks through their local bookstore of choice. This is an easy way to provide ongoing support to your bookstore from the convenience of your mobile device!

To thank everyone who supports independent bookstores, Libro.fm is gifting its members five free audiobooks. All you need is an account – which is free, does not require any credit card information, and does not require any commitment. What do you have to lose?

And just to sweeten the deal a little bit more…get your 5 free audiobooks at https://libro.fm/ibd?rf_code=lfm56658&cmp=IBDLLS and use HAPPIEST to also get 3-for-1 audiobooks when you join as a member! Then on Saturday, April 27th, you’ll also receive an email from Libro.fm with a link to collect your five free audiobooks!

It’s that simple! And it’s a decision you won’t ever regret!

Last Week’s Reads:

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  • *** The Bride Test (The Kiss Quotient, #2) by: Helen Hoang (Berkley) – On Shelves: May 7, 2019
    • I’m truly not a fan of romance, but Hoang creates quirky love stories unlike anyone else. I loved The Kiss Quotient last year, so I was excited to read the second book in the series. I was a little disappointed that this wasn’t a continuation of Stella and Michael’s story; we’re introduced to new characters in this book. This one didn’t hold up as well for me…There are still plenty of blush-worthy moments, but overall this one lacked engagement for me. I didn’t connect with the characters as deeply and I was just super frustrated with their lack of communication. Readers of Hoang’s first book will recognize and appreciate her writing as it is similar and if you’re looking for a quick and light summer read, give this one a try!
  • 🎧 Life Will Be the Death of Me:…And You Too! by: Chelsea Handler (Spiegel & Grau) – Pub Date: April 9, 2019
    • This book was the last thing I expected it to be. While I’ve never read any of Handler’s previous books, I know enough from her tv shows etc, to have made some presumptions about what this book would be about: drinking, joking, and pointless…BUT I WAS WRONG!! It’s so much more than that! Handler veers off from her regular course and gets real, honest, and vulnerable. This book is raw because she tackles grief, difficult family relationships, and her intense hate for the current administration and the direction of our country. She acknowledges her real sense of privilege and examines how to use her voice to initiate change. I was unexpectedly blown away by this book. I listened to it on audiobook and I think that made it come alive in a totally different way than it would have in hard copy. I saw a new side of Handler and have a greater respect for her now.
  • Finding Dorothy by: Elizabeth Letts (Ballantine) – Pub Date: February 12, 2019
    • Finding Dorothy is a true gem of a book you don’t want to miss! This is historical fiction at its finest – a sweet, whimsical, {mostly} happy story that had my heart from the first page. Alternating between 1939 in Hollywood, California and the late 1800s throughout the US’s midwest, this is the story behind the massive book, and eventual movie, hit The Wizard of Oz. I remember growing up and loving the movie {minus the #flyingmonkeys 😳}. It was so fun to go “behind the scenes” to see the inspiration behind that childhood memory. Historical fiction seems to center around WWII a lot of the time, so if you’re looking for a change of pace – and something a little less depressing – give this one a try. It’s truly magical and will give you all the feel-good vibes!
  • Normal People by: Sally Rooney (Hogarth) – Pub Date: April 16, 2019
    • I honestly don’t know what to say about this one. For me, it was a case of #bookstagrammademedoit…which usually works for me. But this one really didn’t. I didn’t love it and I didn’t hate it – I mostly feel very meh about it. Some of my most trusted sources LOVED this one (Sarah’s Book Shelves, Katie from @basicbsguide, Tyler Goodson, Novel Visits, ItsBookTalk, Annie B. Jones), so I’m not sure where the disconnect was for me. Was the writing good? Yes. Did it keep me turning the pages? Yes. Did I care about the characters? Very much so. This book had all the makings of a book I usually fall for – great character development, deep and emotional feelings, coming-of-age, layers upon layers that need to be peeled back in order to see the full picture – so I’m very confused by my ambivalent feelings. But at the end of the day, this book really didn’t make me feel anything – not one way or the other. 🤷🏼‍♀️

I Tried, But Wasn’t Feeling (aka: DNF):

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  • 🎧 White Elephant by: Julie Langsdorf (ECCO) – Pub Date: March 26, 2019
    • I DNF’d this one around the 20%-(ish) mark. I was really into and thought this was going to be a great read for me, but when I came back to it the next day, all I could think was, “Really!??! All this about a tree?” and from that point on, I could not get reengaged. Possibly a downfall of reading it on audio – maybe the hard copy would have kept me engaged – but I just couldn’t get back into it.

Currently Reading/Listening:

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  • Miracle Creek by: Angie Kim (Sarah Chichton Books) – Pub Date: April 16, 2019
    • After reading two books that fell rather flat for me (The Bride Test and Normal People), I was in need of a page-turner. Miracle Creek is all over #bookstagram and now I know why! This courtroom drama is engaging, intense, and brilliantly executed. I cannot believe this is a debut novel! I’m about half-way through and can’t imagine it not being among my favorite reads of the year!
  • *** The Moment of Lift: How Empowering Women Changes the World by: Melinda Gates (Flatiron) – On Shelves: April 23, 2019
    • Full review to come tomorrow on its Publishing Day!
  • Piecing Me Together by: Renée Watson (Bloomsbury) – Pub Date: February 14, 2017
    • My daughter and I are still making it through this one. We are both enjoying it very much, but the end-of-the-school year always keeps us running more than usual. We’re hoping to get some reading in time this week to get it finished!

Likely to Read Next:

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  • *** The Farm by: Joanne Ramos (Random House) – On Shelves: May 7, 2019
    • Women who are in desperate need of money go to the farm and become surrogate mothers. That’s about all I know about this novel, but I’m intrigued. With Handmaid’s Tale (which I LOVED) vibes, I’m hoping this is a good one!
  • *** Juliet the Maniac: A Novel by: Juliet Escoria (Melville House) – On Shelves: May 7, 2019
    • Again, I don’t know much, but Tyler Goodson gave it four stars and that’s enough for me to give it a shot! With themes of teenage mental illness, I’m interested in what this book has to offer!
  • Sissy: A Coming-of-Gender Story by: Jacob Tobia (Putnam) – Pub Date: March 5, 2019
    • First of all, this is a case of “The Cover Made Me Do It”…it’s incredible! But beyond that superficial aspect, I’m excited to read this emotional memoir about a “boy” that has fought gender stereotypes. I admire people that revolutionize our way of thinking and I believe Jacob Tobia will rock my world! 

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