October was a pretty great month of reading even though it seems like years ago at this point…I had to consult with my book reviews and my Goodreads app to remember all my ratings, so thank goodness for those things! I wish I was the kind of person that kept a book tracking journal or an excel spreadsheet, but I am just not.
Alright, I will try to make this short and sweet so hopefully I can get my November recap up very soon.
August was an interesting month of reading. The first half I made it through quite a few books (both ebooks and audiobooks) and then the last half it really slowed down for me. I am struggling like many with the state of our country, and I have spent more time scrolling and listening to the news than I would care to admit. I certainly know it is important to be updated on what is going on in the world, but there is definitely is an amount that is good without going overboard…and I had a hard time finding a balance with this lately.
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.
So much has happened since May and it is hard to believe it was just a couple of weeks ago. You can read more about what I have been doing to incorporate more diverse reading and listening through podcasts and audiobooks in my recent blog posts HERE & HERE.
In addition, I have been trying to find a posting rhythm again on here, basically since March…I didn’t realize how much my daily routines added to my ability to accomplish all the little things. Being home with the kids has thrown that all to the wind and there is not any sense of order coming anytime soon so I think I need to find some new routines!
All these details are coming at you a couple weeks late, but I guess it’s better now than never! While I am working on posting more regularly over on Instagram, posting on here takes a lot more time..which in theory I have more of lately, but the chaos of our days would say otherwise! 😉
Reading has always been one of my coping mechanisms to handle stress but this quarantine really has thrown that for a loop. I have struggled like many to focus which has meant reading has felt challenging at times.
Thinking back to the beginning of last month and knowing it was only a little over four weeks ago feels almost unbelievable. So much has changed and continues to change and it is a scary time for everyone. I have also felt a little vulnerable to share, even on this relatively small public platform because many of my feelings seem(are?) trivial in the larger scheme of things.
Part of me can’t believe it is February already and another part of me feels like January lasted forever. The good thing about the last month feeling long is that my reading list feels the same way! I ended up having a pretty great month of reading that was heavy on the audiobooks.
LibroFM is a wonderful alternative way to enjoy audiobooks and also support small bookstores and if you haven’t heard of it before you have to check it out. Right now they have an amazing introductory offer! If you are interested in trying it out you can use my LibroFM referral link HERE.
LibroFM Influencer ALC Program
In December I learned about the LibroFM Audiobook Listening Copies (ALC) program! This program allows book influencers to listen and review upcoming audiobook releases.
If you would like to apply you can use this link HERE. My understanding is that you ave to have an official title (such as librarian, educator or press) or have a minimum of 1,000 followers if you are a “book influencer” to be approved.
How Do You Read SO Much?!
I get asked this question a lot, and I get it. I am going to do a longer blog post about this soon but my short answer is that we all have things we do in our free time and reading just happens to be the thing I prioritize. That means I choose reading over other things, not that I have found some magical hours in the day that other people don’t know about!
I don’t watch a lot of tv or movies, or have many other hobbies so when I have “downtime” reading is what I do with it! And when I do get sucked into a show (it does happen sometimes!) I read less.
Audiobooks for the WIN!
I also listen to a lot of my books, hence all the talk about audiobooks on here! This means I can read while doing a lot of other more mundane tasks, like folding laundry, cleaning, cooking, working on the computer or walking our dog. I listen during my commuting time in the car which is about an hour a day so it really adds up. Listening to an audiobook with your noise cancelling headphones is also an excellent way to “hide” from your family when you live in a house full of noisy boys. 😉
Back to the Book Recap…
Alright, so I get easily off track, and you are here for the book recap and ratings, right? January was a great reading month with a lot of 4 & 5-star reads. I did have a few books that were a bit of a disappointment but all in all, it was a good month!
January Reading Highs
My favorite books I read last month were all 2020 ARCs that were all highly anticipated reads and did not disappoint! In Five Years by Rebecca Serle (Publishing 3/10/20) Truths I Never Told You by Kelly Rimmer (publishing 4/14/20) Little Secrets by Jennifer Hillier (Publishing 4/21/20) and The Night Swim by Megan Goldin (publishing 8/4/20. I finished Atomic Habits at the very beginning of the month but it was one of my favorite (published in) 2019 books! You can read the full list HERE.
January Reading Lows
My reading lows were The Third Rainbow Girl, Grown Ups, and The Wives. I will link to my full book reviews when I share my ratings below. These all had a lot of potential for me but ended up being disappointing.
This book was the last book I started in 2019 and was the perfect way to welcome not only a new year but a new decade.
Clear’s writing is relatable and accessible and in this genre of writing, this is definitely not always the case. So much of this book spoke to me but I especially appreciated his sections discussing compound effects and how small changes over time can have a very big impact and how the best make to make a change is to make the habit part of your identity.
Atomic Habits was helpful to me both personally and professionally and I can’t recommend it enough!
Trick Mirror by Jia Tolentino
I became intrigued by Jia Tolentino’s 2019 release Trick Mirror when I started to see some buzz about it online. When I heard it discussed on the @10thingstotellyou podcast I knew I had to read it! I love any kind of cultural criticism related to the digital age, societal norms, and expectations, feminist discourse, etc.
In Trick Mirror, Tolentino shares nine personal essays that are insightful, researched and thought-provoking. Just like any essay/short story type book, I did connect with some of the essays more than others but I loved the idea of the “trick mirror” and how there is so much gray area when we really dive deep into hot button issues.
Tolentino shares critique of reoccurring themes while also wading into muddy waters of her own which felt like a great balance as the reader. Her writing is definitely lengthy and does sometimes come across as a stream of consciousness at times, which may not work as well for you if you like things straight and to the point.
I really enjoyed her perspective and especially connected with her essays Always Be Optimizing (even as a Pure Barre enthusiast!), The Cult of Difficult Women and I Thee Dread. I listened to this one on audio!
Grown Ups by Emma Jane Unsworth
I was super intrigued by the concept of Grown-Upsby Emma Jane Unsworth. The strong focus on social media mixed with the desire for approval from others was timely and in a nutshell, life in the digital age. I ended up enjoying the mixed media style which I wasn’t sure would work for me at first.
Unfortunately, I just had a hard time connecting with the main character, Jenny, for much of this book. I understand that this book is party a satire, but the obsession and thought process that went into presenting her life a certain way was funny at first but then I just became disinterested.
As someone who is also in my mid-thirties but also in a very different life stage, I just could not relate. I think some of this would be great in a shorter essay format but it just felt dragged out and sometimes a little cringe-worthy. A lot of this is just my perspective and I can see this being a huge hit for many, it just wasn’t for me.
I have been on a thriller/mystery kick again and this was recommended to me after I finished Little Secrets by Jennifer Hillier. Jar of Hearts is her 2018 release and it was addicting, fast-paced and just what I was looking for. I listened to this one on audio!
The Escape Room by Megan Goldin was one of my favorite thrillers of 2019. You can read my full review HERE.
When I saw that author Megan Goldin was publishing another book this summer I couldn’t wait to get my hands on. While I try to read my ARCs in some kind of order when I saw the book summary of The Night Swim I couldn’t wait…
After the first season of her true-crime podcast became an overnight sensation and set an innocent man free, Rachel Krall is now a household name―and the last hope for thousands of people seeking justice. But she’s used to being recognized for her voice, not her face. Which makes it all the more unsettling when she finds a note on her car windshield, addressed to her, begging for help.
The small town of Neapolis is being torn apart by a devastating rape trial. The town’s golden boy, a swimmer destined for Olympic greatness, has been accused of raping a high school student, the beloved granddaughter of the police chief. Under pressure to make Season Three a success, Rachel throws herself into interviewing and investigating―but the mysterious letters keep showing up in unexpected places.
Someone is following her, and she won’t stop until Rachel finds out what happened to her sister twenty-five years ago. Officially, Jenny Stills tragically drowned, but the letters insists she was murdered―and when Rachel starts asking questions, nobody seems to want to answer. The past and present start to collide as Rachel uncovers startling connections between the two cases that will change the course of the trial and the lives of everyone involved.
Electrifying and propulsive, The Night Swim asks: What is the price of a reputation? Can a small town ever right the wrongs of its past? And what really happened to Jenny?
A domestic thriller with a true-crime plotline? Sign me up! I will be sharing my 5-star book review for this one soon, but definitely add it to your Summer 2020 Reading List ASAP!
You Are Not Alone started off on a great note for me as far as thrillers go. The first scene totally grabbed my attention and immediately made me want to know more. I appreciated that the book summary was pretty undescriptive, which helped me not make any assumptions about the plotline.
Unfortunately, it just went a little downhill for me after that and I found keeping up with all the characters tedious, especially with the jumping between past and present. I didn’t find any of them particularly likable and some of their choices just made me think “huh?!”.
The pace did pick up at the end but it just felt a little too unbelievable for me at that point. Without a strong connection to the characters, the ending wrapped up too quickly.
*You can read my full review of You Are Not AloneHERE.
Grace is Gone by Emily Elgar
Grace is Gone is a plot-driven mystery and suspense novel inspired by real-life events pulled straight from the news headlines. If you are a true crime fanatic, there might not be a lot of surprises for you with this one, but otherwise, this is a page-turner that dives into not only a crime but also a mental disorder.
Although there wasn’t a lot of intrigue for me because I was previously familiar with this case, I enjoyed Elgar’s writing style immensely and the characters were well developed which I always appreciate in this genre of writing.
Her writing was simple yet incredibly purposeful. I loved the balance of suspense, family dynamics and life in a small town and is a great reminder of the question, who can you really trust?
Little Secrets was engaging from the very first page and I just love Jennifer Hillier’s writing style so much. Her characters are multifaceted and the plot has enough twists and turns to keep me guessing but not so much that they just felt like they came out of nowhere.
I love a book where things look a little too perfect on the outside to be true and this book has all of that and more. It does involve the kidnapping of a small child but it has so many other elements that made it rise above this common thriller plotline. I so enjoy a good domestic thriller and this one is a roller coaster of suspense with a super satisfying ending. Highly recommend!
*You can read my full review of Little SecretsHERE.
Follow Me is a psychological thriller full of twists and turns and kept me captivated until the end. I loved that the storyline was based around social media and the idea that nothing is ever as shiny or perfect as it may appear online.
This page-turner is shared in alternating chapters between the main character Audrey, her best friend Cat and a third narrator who is only known by the reader as “him.” I thought this was such a clever way to have the story unfold and I loved that it kept me guessing.
Follow Mewas creepy but light enough for a weekend or beach read which was exactly what I was looking for.
Truths I Never Told Youcaptivated me from the very beginning. The topics in this book were also something I could personally relate to. While this might not be the case for all readers, I think this is a powerful and important read either way. In the age of new parenthood being portrayed in such a polished (and often super unrelatable or not totally honest manner) on social media, this book was just so spot-on and important.
Rimmer is absolutely amazing at writing stories that are both compelling and nuanced. She doesn’t shy away from interweaving thought-provoking and sometimes very challenging topics while also being absolute page-turners.
I was super impressed with Rimmer’s ability to write about the struggles of new motherhood when dealing with some of the mental health issues and general ambivalence that can arise and are often not talked about. This is something that is starting to be more common in nonfiction writing about motherhood but not in such a readable fiction format.
Truths I Never Told Youalternates between Beth, a new mother in the mid-1990s and her mother Grace who was struggling immensely in the 1950s with raising her four young children. Just like in The Things We Cannot Say, there is a family mystery element that keeps us guessing until the very end. This part of the book is woven so beautifully between the layers of family dynamics and the important complexities of her carefully crafted and multifaceted characters.
I can’t wait to share more about this book when it is published this spring and I already know it will be one of my top books of 2020.
*You can read my full review of Truths I Never Told YouHERE.
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. If you are interested in reading more, you can see my full review of The WivesHERE.
This was my first 5-star 2020 read and still am thinking about it now. In Five Yearswas the absolute perfect mix of being completely engrossing, thought-provoking and I also COULD NOT put it down.
And the ending, oh my goodness I am not a crier when I read usually but this one just gave me all the feels. I love how this novel was unexpected and how sometimes the best things are not what we initially expected.
It was such a beautiful story of love, loss, and friendship and it ended up being my first 5-star read of 2020. and I can’t wait for its publication date in March and I look forward to sharing more about it then!
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. This one was just not for me.
Happy & You Know It is basically a beach read on steroids. I was looking for some escape reading and hade a perfect mix of twists and humor. It’s fast-paced, witty and a little dark. While it was a little out there with the exaggerated plot, it totally worked in so many ways. It had a relatable take on upper-class new motherhood, social media and other cultural phenomena.
You either loved or hated these characters which were part of the appeal. It was super readable, engaging and not as predictable as I originally thought. I found this book to be was the perfect brain candy. that was the perfect balance of being ridiculous and totally relatable at the same time. This will make the perfect summer vacation read!
I have recently gotten into the contemporary romance genre and I have found that I really love ones that incorporate a little more unconventional themes. I can’t do cheesy but sometimes a lighter book is just what you are looking for and these books are great for that.
Last year I read The Girl He Used to Know by Tracey Garvis Graves and enjoyed it so much. You can read my review HERE.
I love books about second chances and also loved seeing the transformation of not only this relationship but also the characters individually. Even though it was an easy read it was also unforgettable.
I kept hearing great things about The Bromance Club and finally picked up a copy. I love the idea of a guys book club and it is the perfect balance of being a rom-com and also a heartwarming tale of men supporting one another in their personal growth.
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!
Who else is feeling so good to be getting back into the swing of things? I love structure and routines and the fresh start to a new year. This is our first full week back at school and work and I am here for it!
One of the hardest parts of juggling parenthood and work-life is when your schedule is all thrown off because it ends up feeling like you aren’t doing any of it well…which is pretty much how the last three weeks have felt for me…
I am happy to be getting back into the swing of things and we have lots of exciting work events coming up in the next couple of months.
I also had quite a few nonfiction ARCs with the end of December publication dates that I was looked forward to reading. This past month my reading was either really great or disappointing…there wasn’t a lot of in-between!
Dear Edwardwas a surprisingly touching read and the perfect book to end to 2019 for me. While this book centered on loss and tragedy, it is also a book full of hope. We neet 12-year-old Edward, who is the lone survivor of a plane crash that killed one-hundred-plus passengers including his own immediate family members, his mom, dad, and brother.
We follow Edward on his path through grief which includes flashbacks to the passengers who were also on board the flight that day. While this book sounds like it would be quite depressing to read, I really found it to be quite inspiring in so many ways.
This past fall I was invited to participate in the St. Martin’s Press/Thomas Dunne Books Blog Tour for the upcoming December release, The Glittering Hour. One of the wonderful things about reading advanced copies of books is that a lot of times I get to read books before they have been super hyped up, which means I go into it without a lot of expectations either way!
I went into this book not really knowing anything about the plotline or author’s previous writing (Letters to The Lost in 2015). I was immediately entranced by the vividly detailed characters and storyline and loved being immersed in the mid-1920s and 1930s.
Told in a dual storyline, we meet the main characters Selina, and her daughter Alice. I love getting the backstory to themes and storylines and so this back and forth really worked for me. I so enjoyed following along on this treasure hunt of secrets alongside Alice. This book was not only beautifully written but totally engaging from the very beginning.
You can read my full review of The Glittering HourHERE.
“When all we crave is to understand and be understood, You’re Not Listening shows us how.”
In You’re Not Listening, author Kate Murphy explains what listening truly is and isn’t, and how important it is to our connection with ourselves and one another. Not only is this book super fascinating but it is always making me rethink so many things!
In our technology-filled world, there are so many new ways for us to interact, yet we are all longing for connection more than ever before. Many of us long for the days of simplicity and meaningful face to face conversations. When we do interact, it is often rushed and interrupted by the distractions of the fast-paced world around us.
I loved the balance of informative research and relatable text that made You’re Not Listening both engaging and thought-provoking. I also appreciated that Murphy emphasizes that listening skills are learned through implementation and practice and that it is something we can always learn, no matter how old we are.
You can read my full book review of You’re Not ListeningHERE.
I think expectations tend to be rather high when taking on a retelling, especially one like Little Women. For many people, Little Women is a book that was foundational for their love of reading. When I saw that Meg & Jowas a contemporary retelling of this classic novel, I was intrigued but also a little worried about my own expectations of it.\
I ended up enjoying the modern tale of family, work, love, and siblinghood but I struggled when comparing it to Little Women itself. For me, this story was entertaining as a stand-alone contemporary fiction novel, but it just didn’t work with its goal of retelling of Little Women.
Long Bright River alternates between past and present and shares the lives of Mickey and Kacey, two sisters who each are involved in the opioid crisis in very different ways. When Kacey goes missing, Mickey starts unraveling the clues of her disappearance while also bringing us back in time to share how each of them got to the places they are in.
This book was thought-provoking and sometimes was uncomfortable to read, which is a good thing in my opinion! It is part mystery and part family drama, which I think is why it worked for me so well…because we really get to know these women and their stories. I had a hard time putting this one down and can’t stop thinking about it now.
You can read my full review of Long Bright RiverHERE.
Our first 2020 Better Together Book Club selection is The Gift of Failure by Jessica Lahey! This book has been on my TBR list FOREVER and I was so excited to finally get around to reading it, and it did not disappoint!
Jessica will be joining us for a Q&A and book discussion of her book which we are super excited about and I am excited to share my full review soon!
I think my lack of connection with this book has to do a lot with what my expectations were when I read the book summary compared to my actual reading experience. I was just expecting something very different!
I enjoy Sarah Knight’s books so much. Her blunt wisdom and practical techniques are approachable and relatable. I am working on being less of a “yes” person and one of the biggest things I have learned(and am still working on!) is that saying “NO” can actually help you say “YES” to the things that really matter to you.
In F*ck No, Knight offers practical ideas that can help you say “no” in a variety of circumstances while also being realistic about it which I really appreciated. Saying “yes” all the time sounds like a good thing, but then you just feel spread too thin and aren’t really there for the people and things that you really want to be prioritizing.
When I saw that authors Siegel and Bryson were releasing a new parenting book, I couldn’t request The Power of Showing Up fast enough! Their past writing has been such a formative part of my own parenting.
Siegel and Bryson always share their knowledge, research, and experiences in an accessible and compassionate way. While they have decades of work in this area they make brain development and psychology approachable and easy to understand have the ability to write in a way that makes you feel heard while also empowering you with new tools and ideas.
The Power of Showing Up is another wonderful addition to their collection of books that speak to you whether you are a parent, caregiver, teacher, etc. They take on attachment theory and share the powerful reminder that the most important thing we can do for our children and to be there for them.
You can read my full review of The Power of Showing UpHERE.
From the New York Times bestselling author of Commonwealth and State of Wonder, comes Ann Patchett’s most powerful novel to date: a richly moving story that explores the indelible bond between two siblings, the house of their childhood, and a past that will not let them go. The Dutch House is the story of a paradise lost, a tour de force that digs deeply into questions of inheritance, love, and forgiveness, of how we want to see ourselves and of who we really are.
After raving reviews from some of my Book Reviewing Buddies, I listening to The Dutch House by Ann Patchett on audio. I love a family saga that spans decades so The Dutch House was right up my alley.
Even better, it was narrated by Tom Hanks, who was just perfect! This book is a slow burn but completely enthralling and Patchett’s detailed writing portrayed these multifaceted characters was spot on.
*My full review of The Dutch House is coming soon but I highly recommend this book especially on audio!
I am a big fan of self-help books in general but I am especially drawn to the idea of confronting our own anxieties. In Everything Isn’t Terrible, author Kathleen Smith presents an approachable explanation of the Bowen theory of therapy which involves not only looking at ourselves as individuals but also at our relationship systems…
“Because when we feel anxious, we often try to make other people change. We try to calm everyone else down so we can finally relax. But if you can work on managing yourself in these relationships, it’s likely that your family, your workplace, and even the greater world will calm down a little too.”
Smith uses this approach in the work she does with her therapy clients and shares valuable examples in her writing regarding this methodology then gives us questions and ways to put these ideas into practice.
You can read my full review of Everything Isn’t TerribleHERE.
You Were There Too is a unique take on the regular contemporary romance novel and I was very excited when Berkley asked me to be a part of the Blog Tour this past fall.
It was one of those books that when I saw that it included elements of dreams I wasn’t sure exactly where it was going to go. Anything that takes on a more fantastical side can sometimes lose me quickly as a reader. I am so glad I hung on though!
This book was so much more emotional and the characters had a depth that made this book one of those ones I felt super connected to. The dream elements added so much to the storyline, I think because there were so many “real life” issues and situations that pulled it into reality for me.
You can read my full review of You Were There Too and learn more about my BOOK GIVEAWAY 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. Thank you!