Hello and Happy (mid) August – I hope your month is off to a good start. Last month was a great month of reading and I have been eager to share these titles with all of you. These monthly recap posts matter to me(shout out to the other Lazy Genius fans!), so I strive to get them on here even if lately they have been a couple of weeks late…
July was the perfect mix of fiction and non-fiction books and I had quite a few 4 & 5 star reads. I also decided I am going to start regularly sharing the books I DNFed (did not finish) and my thoughts behind this process as a reader who wants to give thoughtful but also authentic reviews.
June feels like forever ago but I didn’t want to skip sharing the books I read because while there were some disappoints, there were way more that were just amazing! I shared in my May book recap that I have been struggling to find a new balance with the kids home 24/7…it’s a work in progress for sure, especially for someone who gets easily distracted and doesn’t work well in chaos, LOL.
It’s an exciting day! I mentioned a few weeks ago HERE that I had my very first podcast interview. At the beginning of this month, I chatted with Sarah from Sarah’s Bookshelves Live about all things reading and this morning it went live!
Have you read any books lately that you highly anticipated and ended up falling flat for you? The Wives, a December Book of the Month Club selection, was super hyped up for me because I kept hearing SO much buzz, especially about the ending.
Did anyone else watch Big Love on HBO? Oh my gosh, we were way into that show and when I started The Wives I couldn’t believe my luck that it felt so similar to the whole polygamous family theme, but with a twist.
I ended up being really intrigued and engrossed by The Wives until I hit the 3/4 mark and then it all went downhill. For a majority of this book, it was impossible to put down and author Tarryn Fisher’s writing style is totally engrossing. I guess I should put a semi spoiler alert…
Okay, are you ready? I can’t stand when mental health issues are used as a big twist in a book. I get that everyone has their own perspectives with this but it is also why I couldn’t stand the book One of Us is Lying…ugh!!!
All of these totally inappropriate behaviors ended up being blamed on mental illness which was just disappointing and harmful to the stigmas that already surround mental health issues. This is actually quite a common use of a twist in thriller novels which is a bummer to me and often why I ended up disking so many of them.
So I totally can get behind a brain candy type of book and I try not to be nitpicky with those because sometimes reading a totally outlandish book is just what you need, but I just couldn’t get behind this one.
I think I am an outsider with this reaction but I always love reading reviews when someone doesn’t LOVE a book that has been getting a lot of hype, so here you go!!
I would love to know your thoughts on this one if you have read it!
Disclosure: Some of the links above are affiliate links. This means if you click through and make a purchase, I receive a small commission that helps support this blog at no cost to you. Thank you!
In the early evening of June 25, 1980, in Pocahontas County, West Virginia, two middle-class outsiders named Vicki Durian, 26, and Nancy Santomero, 19, were murdered in an isolated clearing. They were hitchhiking to a festival known as the Rainbow Gathering but never arrived; they traveled with a third woman however, who lived. For thirteen years, no one was prosecuted for the “Rainbow Murders,” though deep suspicion was cast on a succession of local residents in the community, depicted as poor, dangerous, and backward.
In 1993, a local farmer was convicted, only to be released when a known serial killer and diagnosed schizophrenic named Joseph Paul Franklin claimed responsibility. With the passage of time, as the truth seemed to slip away, the investigation itself caused its own traumas–turning neighbor against neighbor and confirming a fear of the violence outsiders have done to this region for centuries.
Emma Copley Eisenberg spent years living in Pocahontas and re-investigating these brutal acts. Using the past and the present, she shows how this mysterious act of violence has loomed over all those affected for generations, shaping their fears, fates, and the stories they tell about themselves. In The Third Rainbow Girl, Eisenberg follows the threads of this crime through the complex history of Appalachia, forming a searing and wide-ranging portrait of America–its divisions of gender and class, and of its violence.
While I love a memoir and investigation into a person or area, I think my expectations for this to be more of a true-crime deep dive made this book disappointing for me as the reader. This may just have been one of those situations where I thought this would be a different kind of book based on the book summary.
I struggled to engage with the content because I was really wishing I could get more information about the actual events related to these cases. I have recently enjoyed some of the books that portray life in Appalachia that were quite compelling but this one was just really hard to engage with and felt quite unfocused.
The Third Rainbow Girl ended up being such a slow read for me and it just didn’t hold my interest. While there was some relevant information a lot of it just seemed unnecessary and way too drawn out.
Thank you to NetGalley, LibroFM and Hachette books for advanced copies. All opinions are my own.
Disclosure: Some of the links above are affiliate links. This means if you click through and make a purchase, I receive a small commission that helps support this blog at no cost to you. Thank you!
I can’t believe that we are in the last month of 2019. I think because Thanksgiving was so late this year, it seems like the holiday season came out of nowhere! We have three weeks of school (including this one) until Christmas Break for the kids and there is a lot packed in there beforehand.
I also have ALL THESE ideas for the end of the year posts and recaps, but then normal things end up going by the wayside, like regular book reviews posts… I normally like to link to the reviews of the books I am including in these monthly recap posts, but there aren’t too many yet…I will be adding them over the next few weeks so I can be caught up by 2020. 🙂
November Reading at a Glance
November ending up being a great month of reading with a lot of 4 & 5-star reads and just a couple that were a bit of a disappointment. While I wasn’t planning on it, I did read a fair amount of non-fiction which fit in with Nonfiction November which is a popular reading challenge in the Bookstagram world.
I also read some of my very favorite books of the year this past month. I shared my Best of 2019 (so far!)favorites back in July and I am looking forward to seeing how everything stacked up at the official end of 2019 in just a few weeks!
I had a lot of anticipation about both of these titles as both Elizabeth Berg and Malcolm Gladwell are authors I have just loved in the past. Unfortunately, both The Confession Club and Talking to Strangers just did not work for me. I have a hard time connecting with either book and found Talking to Strangers quite concerning at some parts. I discuss this one more below and will be sharing my full reviews for both of these books soon.
Pagan’s writing is relatable, funny and whip-smart. Her 2019 bookI’m Fine and Neither Are You is one of my favorites of the past year. This Won’t End Wellwill be published in February and you can pre-order it now with a kindle deal HERE. This book made me laugh out loud and I just find Pagan’s writing to be so approachable and enjoyable to read.
Elizabeth Berg was one of the first authors I really got into as an adult reader. I love how she can create simple scenes and environments with complex and multifaceted characters. Unfortunately, this one just didn’t hit the high mark she has set for me in the past, but her backlist is fantastic!
The Family Upstairswas one of my most highly anticipated Fall 2019 reads. I often struggle with the thriller genre and am frequently left feeling disappointed, either because they were way too far fetched and the ending comes out of nowhere or they feel cliched and totally predictable.
There are a few I have just loved but far more that felt like a letdown…and I get it, I am rather picky about them. I like the perfect balance of detailed characters, suspense, mystery and a satisfying, yet semi-realistic ending.
The one author that has yet to let me down is Lisa Jewell, and so this made my expectations even higher for this one. I am happy to report that she has done it again! The Family Upstairs was the perfect book to cozy up with on the couch and read the afternoon away.
I was in the mood for a thriller to get sucked into and some of my book reviewing friends had really enjoyed The New Husband. It ended up being very engaging and a total page-turner. You can read my full review HERE.
Husband Material is a contemporary fiction novel that had a great balance of humor and relatability. I really appreciated how the author Emily Belden built detailed characters that have a level of depth that doesn’t always happen in this genre of writing. Because of this, I was really able to connect with the storyline and follow these characters on their path of grief and the process of moving forward.
I appreciated the discussion of death and loss, especially for younger characters who are still on the path of finding themselves while at the same time dealing with this huge loss. I am so glad I didn’t judge this one by the cover alone because while the cutesy cover might let you think this is just another “rom-com” I really found this to be so much more.
Thanks to an amazing book friend, I was able to get my hands on an ARC of American Dirt. As soon as it arrived I picked it up. I had heard ALL the hype and I often get wary of overhyped books but let me tell you, THE HYPE IS REAL! I cannot wait for this one to be released in January (you can pre-order HERE) because I know this one is going to be discussed everywhere!
Speaking of upcoming 2020 books, Such a Fun Age is another super winter release! This is one of those books that is written in a light and engaging manner but is deceptively heavy-hitting. It a compelling contemporary fiction novel that dives into racial issues from two very different standpoints as well as how we identify with ourselves and with one another. You can read my full review HERE.
From the Pulitzer Prize-winning reporters who broke the news of Harvey Weinstein’s sexual harassment and abuse for the New York Times, Jodi Kantor and Megan Twohey, the thrilling untold story of their investigation and its consequences for the #MeToo movement.
She Said is an incredibly powerful and enlightening read, not only about the sexual harassment scandal but also what goes into reporting a story of this magnitude. Kantor and Twohey pulled back the layers of both their work and the stories of the women that were a part of sharing what eventually became a movement for millions.
I was very interested to read a book by Jojo Moyes in the historical fiction genre but I didn’t get super motivated to pick it up until I started hearing a lot of my book reviewing friends just raving about it!
I absolutely loved learning about the history of the traveling library and also how it also gave women the ability to discover their own identities in a time and place when this wasn’t the social norm. This book ended up blowing me away with its multifaceted characters and layered storytelling and I will be sharing my full review soon!
Author Jill Stoddard shares that there isn’t a human that hasn’t deal with some kind of struggle or pain. These struggles can get us down or they can also speak to us and help us understand what we need in our lives to be healthier and happier. Instead of working to avoid discomfort, when we let ourselves really feel, we can then really bloom as whole and imperfect people. Allowing ourselves to feel “all the things” can help guide us on our paths instead of just trying to avoid things that “hurt”.
I could go on and on about this one because I really got so much out of it but I will just say that while books about stress and anxiety are nothing new, I loved this fresh and approachable take on the subject and I highly recommend it! You can read my full review HERE.
Cahalan’s first book,Brain on Fire, was a personal look at her own experiences and I loved that this book was a wonderful follow up to this important and timely topic as a whole. While we have come so far, we still have a way to go when dealing with mental health stigmas and treatment.
Non-fiction books like this are such a powerful and important conversation starter. While this novel was insightful and thought-provoking it wasn’t an easy read at times. With that said, sometimes discomfort is what can fuel the fire for change and I am so glad I gave this once a chance.
I am a big fan of Malcolm Gladwell’s books, but I just had a hard time connecting with this one. Not only was the title a little misleading with what the book was actually about, but it just didn’t sound like his regular voice or style which I have really related to in the past. I especially struggled with some of the stories he chose to dive into and his responses regarding sexual assault were quite astounding.
I would like to give him the benefit of the doubt but after reading Know My Name by Chanel Miller last month, I felt quite appalled when I read his discussion about Brock Turner. While I do think alcohol can cloud judgment (and consent) it does not take away from the fact that Brock Turner CHOSE to assault Chanel Miller and whether she was under the influence of alcohol or not, it is not the issue. Victim blaming is scary and real and it is disappointing that someone of this power and influence chose to blur the lines on this one.
Quiet has been recommended me to me for a couple of years and I finally got around to reading it. While some of it was a little dry, there were so many fascinating sections that really made me feel so understood. As someone who is social but also can be completely overstimulated by noise and crowds, this book made me feel so understood. I am planning on sharing my full review soon!
Everyone can relate to failure but how we react to it can change our paths entirely and keep us moving forward. Every “misstep” is a chance to assess, learn and then move up and onward. I love the balance of personal stories, accessible writing, and strategies that are approachable for everyone.
Pasricha writes with compassion and proactivity and reminds us that we are all works in progress. Sometimes self-help books can help you feel heard but not really have a plan, or make you feel like you are being talked down to and make you just feel worse. You Are Awesome contains straightforward steps that make you feel less alone but also help you move FORWARD. You can read my full review HERE.
Disclosure: Some of the links above are affiliate links. This means if you click through and make a purchase, I receive a small commission that helps support this blog at no cost to you.
“An insightful and sparkling novel that opens on a college campus and follows the friendship of four women across life-defining turning points
Assigned to the same suite during their freshman year at Quincy-Hawthorn College, Lainey, Ji Sun, Alice, and Margaret quickly become inseparable. The leafy green campus they move through together, the idyllic window seat they share in their suite, and the passion and ferocity that school and independence awakens in them ignites an all-encompassing love with one another. But they soon find their bonds–forged in joy, and fused by fear–must weather threats that originate from beyond the dark forests of their childhoods, and come at them from institutions, from one another, and ultimately, from within themselves.
The Other’s Gold follows the four friends as each makes a terrible mistake, moving from their wild college days to their more feral days as new parents. With one part devoted to each mistake–the Accident, the Accusation, the Kiss, and the Bite–this complex yet compulsively readable debut interrogates the way that growing up forces our friendships to evolve as the women discover what they and their loved ones are capable of, and capable of forgiving. A joyful, big-hearted book that perfectly evokes the bittersweet experience of falling in love with friendship, the experiences of Lainey, Ji Sun, Alice, and Margaret are at once achingly familiar and yet shine with a brilliance and depth all their own.”
August 27th, 2019
If there was a perfect summary that would describe my ideal kind of book, this would be it. I love novels that follow relationships over time, and anything that starts with a college setting is right up my alley. Commencement by J. Courtney Sullivan and Beyond The Point by Claire Gibson are great examples of this category. When I read this book synopsis last spring there was no question I was adding it to my summer reading list.
The Other’s Goldwas definitely the book I had the most anticipation about reading this summer and when it arrived on my doorstep on the release day, I couldn’t wait to dive in. I had read a few initial reviews but hadn’t heard that much buzz yet which as a reader, I prefer. Anything that is super highly praised gives me pause because it can overly hype it up in my own head.
Even the cover is perfect (and yes I know you shouldn’t judge them by that, but it is hard not to!)and I had so much I thought I would just love about The Other’s Gold…and then I started it. Ahhh, it is so hard for me to write reviews when I don’t love a book but really really wanted to. Sadly, this was just not the right fit for me.
So we meet these group of four friends at college and supposedly they bond and eventually become lifelong friends. I don’t know, I am a details person and maybe that is the problem, but while I was reading I couldn’t quite figure out what exactly it was that bonded them together. It felt forced and I couldn’t quite tell while they liked each other let alone connect with them myself. Maybe that was the point? But if it was, it definitely went over my head…
Anyway, once we moved on from the whole college scene I did find the book flowed a little more easily but then we start finding out more of these “secrets”. A lot of them came out of left-field, some were quite disturbing(especially the last two) and some just super out of character, at least as much as I felt I “knew” about them…
Maybe part of this was that I never felt like I really “knew” these women as most of the descriptions were flat and predictable so it was hard to match these intense twists with characters that I didn’t feel I understood beyond the surface level descriptions. It was wordy and angsty but lacked dimension for me. I am totally on board with books about dysfunctional relationships and tough topics. With that said, I enjoy those types of sagas when it all makes sense with more back story and I just didn’t find that here.
I think I feel more critical because I just had such high hopes for this one and I found it disappointing. Much I this definitely has to do with how much I was anticipating reading it. This was also a good reminder for me about having realistic expectations and then being pleasantly surprised when I end up really loving a book.
I enjoyed her writing style, this storyline just didn’t quite work for me and some of it felt quite uncomfortable. I did like that the book had some diversity and that Ames took on timely topics in a readable and accessible manner. And as always, I would love to know what you thought of this one if you have read it!
“Maya and Rebecca Ward are both accomplished physicians, but that’s where the sisters’ similarities end. As teenagers, they witnessed their parents’ murder, but it was Rebecca who saved Maya from becoming another of the gunman’s victims. The tragedy left Maya cautious and timid, settling for a sedate medical practice with her husband, Adam, while Rebecca became the risk taker.
After a devastating hurricane hits the coast of North Carolina, Rebecca and Adam urge Maya to join them in the relief effort. To please her husband, Maya finally agrees. She loses herself in the care and transport of victims, but when her helicopter crashes into raging floodwaters, there appear to be no survivors.
Forced to accept Maya is gone, Rebecca and Adam turn to one another—first for comfort, then in passion—unaware that, miles from civilization, Maya is injured and trapped with strangers she’s not certain she can trust. Away from the sister who has always been there to save her, now Maya must find the courage to save herself—unaware that the life she knew has changed forever.”
I am a huge Diane Chamberlain fan. I actually thought I had read every single one of her books from the last decade already but I guess not. I grabbed The Lies We Told when it was a Kindle Book Deal a few months ago. It had become lost in my sea of Kindle books until recently when a friend asked me if I had read it because she wanted to discuss it, and was irritated by it!
There is nothing I like more than discussing a book with a friend, especially when they have some strong feelings about it! 😉 And after reading it this past week, I can see why!! This book was engaging and I NEEDED to know what was going to happen…
Chamberlain is a gifted storyteller that is able to create unique and enthralling storylines that always pull me right in. I loved the first 75% of this book but the ending, oh the ending!!! One of Chamberlain’s gifts is the ability to write believable storylines and this one was just totally out of her norm. The main characters had a total change of heart and the ending was just way too unbelievable for me as the reader. There were so many interesting parts of this book but the ending had me like “NOOOOOOO!!!!” and it just totally fell short…at least for me!
You can’t win them all and I am still a die-hard Diane Chamberlain fan, but I wouldn’t call this one a favorite considering how amazing so many of her other books are. She is my go-to author suggestion when someone is looking to get back into reading or get out of a book rut. If you are looking for ones I would suggest, check out the following…