Everything I Read in August 2020 {Book Recap & Ratings}

What I read in August 2020

August Reading…

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.

Continue reading “Everything I Read in August 2020 {Book Recap & Ratings}”

Life Lately…{Pandemic Fatigue, The COVID-19 Pool Club & True Crime Podcasts}

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Hello! I have been meaning to share a personal post for a while now, but it just hasn’t happened. I have had a hard time focusing on much of anything “extra” lately and I have noticed that things that used to feel easy feel very daunting now…maybe this is pandemic fatigue? I have found that when I do have a little downtime, I “waste it”, either mindlessly scrolling or cleaning and organizing a house that never stays that way for long because we are here pretty much 24/7 now…maybe because it gives me some sense of control?

Continue reading “Life Lately…{Pandemic Fatigue, The COVID-19 Pool Club & True Crime Podcasts}”

Everything I Read in March 2020 {Book Recap & Ratings}

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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. 

How It’s Going…

global crisis{image via Liz & Mollie}

Continue reading “Everything I Read in March 2020 {Book Recap & Ratings}”

January 2020 Book Recap & Ratings {Gen The Bookworm Monthly Reading Wrap-Up}

book recap

Happy February!

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 #AudiobookSwitch

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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

ALC program at LibroFM

In December I learned about the LibroFM Audiobook Listening Copies (ALC) program! This program allows book influencers to listen and review upcoming audiobook releases.

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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!

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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

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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

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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.

On to the Book Ratings!

Jame Clear

Atomic Habits by James Clear

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⁣

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!

Jia Tolentino

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!

Emma Jane Unsworth

Grown Ups by Emma Jane Unsworth

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I was super intrigued by the concept of Grown-Ups by 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.

Jennifer Hillier

Jar of Hearts by Jennifer Hillier

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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!

Megan Goldin

The Night Swim by Megan Goldin

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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!

Book of the Month book selection

You Are Not Alone by Greer Hendricks & Sarah Pekkanen

⭐️⭐️⭐️

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 Alone HERE.

Emily Elgar

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?

Jennifer Hillier

Little Secrets by Jennifer Hillier

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️💫⁣

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 Secrets HERE.

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Follow Me by Kathleen Barber

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

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 Me was creepy but light enough for a weekend or beach read which was exactly what I was looking for.

You can read my full review of Follow Me HERE.

Kelly Rimmer

Truths I Never Told You by Kelly Rimmer

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Truths I Never Told You captivated 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 You alternates 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 You HERE.

Tarryn Fisher

The Wives by Tarryn Fisher

⭐️⭐️⭐️

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 Wives HERE.

Rebecca Serle

In Five Years by Rebecca Serle

This was my first 5-star 2020 read and still am thinking about it now. In Five Years was 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!

Emma Copley Eisenberg

The Third Rainbow Girl by Emma Copley Eisenberg

⭐️⭐️💫

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.

You can read my full review HERE.

Laura Hankin

Happy and You Know It by Laura Hankin

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️💫⁣

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!

Lyssa Kay Adams

The Bromance Book Club by Lyssa Kay Adams

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

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.


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December 2019 Book Recap & Ratings {Gen The Bookworm Monthly Reading Wrap-Up}

Gen The Bookworm reading wrap-up

Hello January!

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.

Photography Workshop & Book Club Update

This week we are teaching our first photographer workshop of 2020 (you can read more about what that looks like in my photography life blog post HERE)  and we also have our first Better Together book club of 2020 where we will be discussing The Gift of Failure with THE AUTHOR Jessica Lahey! If you live in the area, we would love to have you join us!

December Reading

I am slowly but surely getting caught up with the last month of blogging and I am excited to be sharing about December 2019 book wrap-up today.

I like to try and do some “catch-up” reading during the month of December and read highly recommended titles of the year that I hadn’t gotten around to yet which included The Seven or Eight Deaths of Stella Fortuna and The Dutch House.

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!

December Highs

5-star books

The Power of Showing Up, Long Bright River, The Gift of Failure and The Dutch House were my very favorite books I read in December.

December Lows

do not recommend

Meg & Jo and Saint X were both books I highly anticipated and were disappointing reads for me.

December 2019 Reading Wrap-Up

Dear Edward book summary

Dear Edward by Ann Napolitano

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️💫⁣

Dear Edward was 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.

You can read my full review of Dear Edward HERE.

Iona Grey

The Glittering Hour by Iona Grey

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️💫⁣

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 Hour HERE

Kate Murphy nonfiction

You’re Not Listening by Kate Murphy

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️💫⁣

“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 Listening HERE

Little Women retelling

Meg & Jo by Virginia Kantra

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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 & Jo was 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.

You can read my full review of Meg & Jo HERE.

Liz Moore book of the month club

Long Bright River by Liz Moore

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⁣

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 River HERE

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The Gift of Failure by Jessica Lahey

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⁣

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!

Alexis Schaitkin

Saint X by Alexis Schaitkin

⭐️⭐️⭐️

I had a lot of anticipation about Saint X by Alexis Schaitkin and it was just one of the 2020 books I was the most excited about. Unfortunately, after a really great start, it ended up being a reading letdown for me.

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!

You can read my full review of Saint X HERE

Sarah Knight

F*ck No! by Sarah Knight

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️💫⁣

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.

You can read my full review of F*ck No HERE

parenting book

The Power of Showing Up by Daniel Siegel M.D. & Tina Payne Bryson Ph.D.

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⁣

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 Up HERE

Juliet Grames

The Seven or Eight Deaths of Stella Fortuna by Juliet Grames

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

From Calabria to Connecticut: a sweeping family saga about sisterhood, secrets, Italian immigration, the American dream, and one woman’s tenacious fight against her own fate.

Stella Fortuna came highly recommended by some of my book reviewing friends and I thought it would be a great way to round out my 2019 audiobook reads.

*My full review of Stella Fortuna is coming soon. 

The Dutch House book review

The Dutch House by Ann Patchett

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⁣

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

Dr. Kathleen Smith

Everything Isn’t Terrible by Dr. Kathleen Smith

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️💫⁣

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 Terrible HERE

Colleen Oakley

You Were There Too by Colleen Oakley

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

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!

Lucas Shares HIS Book Recommendations! {Gen The Bookworm Guest Post}

Books Ideas for HIM…

book stack

It’s that time of the year when people often are looking for recommendations on what books might be good to gift to a spouse, family member or close friend. I have received so many questions about what I might suggest buying for a husband, partner, boyfriend, dad or brother.

While I don’t like to generalize and everyone is different, I do find that what I like to read isn’t always what many of the male readers I know are interested in. So, if you are looking for some suggestions from some very different genres than I usually talk about here, this post is for you!

Meet Lucas!

My husband Lucas is a big reader but he also reads very different books from me. Last week I asked him if he might like to share what he has read this past year and some of his book recommendations. He was a little reluctant but I am persistent! He put this together the other night and I added the photos and book covers for your viewing pleasure!

Lucas as a Reader

Lucas has been a reader for as long as I have known him (the mid-2000s!). I remember when we were newly dating and I would first spend the night over at his house. I would borrow one of his James Patterson books to read before falling asleep as he always had a stack of them on his nightstand.  I didn’t like the books very much, but I did appreciate that he loved reading too!

In 2009 we honeymooned in St. John USVI. Every day we would pack a lunch, drive to a different beach and then read, him in the sun and me in the shade. It was amazing!  I am going to let him take over now to share more about himself as a reader…enjoy!


Introduction:

guest post

Let me start by saying that by no means am I a literary expert! I didn’t study literature or English in school and read the “classics” only because they were assigned. I do however enjoy reading. I read every night. Some nights it’s just 5-10 pages. Some nights it’s 40-50 pages…though those days are becoming rarer and rarer as our 9:30 PM bedtime sneaks up on us quickly with the kids staying up later now.

In fact, my motivation for sharing is partly (mostly) selfish.  Perhaps “Gen the Bookworm “will be happy enough with my contributions to her blog that she’ll put her book down for a while…

Gen hoped that I could provide a different perspective on titles and authors that would be different from her mostly female readers and sharers.  While I passed on an official what’s on your nightstand series post, Gen thought that perhaps I could provide some ideas for books that could be given to a husband or boyfriend or father as the holidays approach.  

Hard Copy Books to a Kindle

vacation reading

Prior to receiving a Kindle as a birthday gift a couple years ago I mostly stuck with the same few authors.  I’d wait until Dan Brown or John Grisham or David Baldacci (to name a few) came out with a new book and purchase the hardcover, read it, and then wait until the next book was published by one of my favorite authors.  My father and I would trade books back and forth as we both enjoy the same authors.  

Kindle Paperwhite

Once I switched to reading on a Kindle (I was VERY hesitant to use a digital reader and now I read on it almost exclusively) I discovered some wonderful new authors.  Utilizing the Libby App also helped me broaden the scope of the authors that I read. Often the wait times on the Libby app are quite long for newer releases by popular authors.  In turn, I found that wonderful, entertaining books could be borrowed with no wait times.

Dan Brown

Deception Point

It also helped me to read titles from popular authors that are maybe less well known/received.  (By the way, the best Dan Brown novel is a NON-Robert Langdon story. While I did enjoy Angels and Demons, The DaVinci Code, The Lost Symbol, etc., my favorite Dan Brown novel is Deception Point.  I’ve read it at least a half a dozen times). 

Vince Flynn

Mitch Rapp

I discovered Vince Flynn recently and am working my way through as many of his titles as I can.  Red War, Order to Kill, The Last Man…any of the counter-terrorism operative Mitch Rapp novels are fantastic. And you don’t have to read them in order to follow along. The Mitch Rapp character is a stone-cold bad-ass and I can’t recommend those novels highly enough!  

Robert Crais

L.A. Requiem

I’ve also enjoyed a couple Robert Crais novels recently.  I especially enjoyed L.A. Requiem. The two Crais novels I’ve read center on private investigators Elvis Cole and Joe Pike and both were great reads.  

Michael Connelly and Clive Cussler

Clive Cussler

I’ve read the Harry Bosch novels by Michael Connelly for years.  I like some of Clive Cussler’s books…particularly the NUMA Files and Oregon Files novels (Devil’s Gate and Skeleton Coast were good). 

Michael Crichton

Pirates Latitudes

Regarding lesser-known titles from popular authors…certainly most folks have either seen or read one of the many Jurassic Park adaptations, but I found Pirate Latitudes to be entertaining.  It was kind of cheesy and far-fetched, but it was a perfect vacation read from our recent family trip this fall.

Archer Mayor…also a fellow Vermonter!

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The Archer Mayor, Joe Gunther novels are good reads (I read Tag Man most recently and am waiting for my dad to finish his newest novel Bomber’s Moon).  And Archer Mayor is from Vermont!

Tom Clancy

Command Authority

I’ve always enjoyed Tom Clancy and am currently reading Command Authority. Though the new Amazon Prime series “Jack Ryan” is affecting my enjoyment of both the book and the show…I NEVER pictured CIA operative Jack Ryan as John Krasinski! 

Non-Fiction

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Most of my reading is fiction.  The occasional non-fiction titles I read are typically auto-biographies by an athlete or musician that I am fond of, however, after watching Chernobyl on HBO (which I HIGHLY recommend…even though this is a book blog!) I read Voices from Chernobyl

It was incredibly powerful and moving, and also obviously sad and emotional. It is based on the author’s interviews of over 500 “eyewitnesses” that were involved with the victims, clean-up, medical care of victims, etc in the years following the Chernobyl disaster.  

books to gift

(I was also recently gifted The Boats in the Boat and I have that on my reading list.)

Hopefully, this is helpful!  While I’ll still purchase new releases from my favorite authors, I’m happy to have stumbled upon authors that I’d previously never read. 

And bad news loyal readers…the bookworm was already asleep when I went upstairs 🙁  


I told Lucas I would let him write whatever he wanted and I would just copy and paste it…so I hope you enjoyed his recommendations, and his humor! 😉

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.

The Kids Are in Bed by Rachel Bertsche | Dutton Books {Book Review}

Parenting Book

The Kids Are in Bed by Rachel Bertsche

Book Summary:

Journalist, bestselling author of MWF Seeking BFF, and mother of two Rachel Bertsche tries to find calm among the chaos and reclaim a personal life while raising her young kids and offers solutions for how all parents can do the same, once The Kids Are in Bed.

Picture it—it’s 8:30 p.m. You close the door to your child’s room just as you hear your partner closing the dishwasher. Your home is clean (enough). You’ve dealt with all the last-minute work emails. And now it’s time for an hour or two of glorious freedom. What do you do? Read the book you’ve been waiting to crack open all day? Chat on the phone with a friend, glass of wine in hand, or go out and meet old friends and share a whole bottle? Or, like many modern parents, do you get caught up in chores, busywork, and social media black holes?

Recent time-use studies show that even working parents have as many as 30 hours of leisure time a week, yet very few people know how to actually use that time to do something— anything!—pleasurable and fulfilling. In an original survey conducted for this book, 71 percent of parents said their free time didn’t feel free at all, because they were still thinking about all the things they should be doing for their kids, their jobs, and their households.

Rachel Bertsche constantly found herself in exactly that bind. Using a combination of memoir, interviews with scientists and parenting experts, and input from moms and dads all over the country, Rachel figured out how to transform her own patterns and reconnect to her pre-kids life. In The Kids Are in Bed, other parents can learn how to do the same, and truly enjoy the time after lights out.

Publication Date:

January 7th, 2020

Genre:

Parenting/Time Management

My Rating:

⭐️⭐️⭐️💫

My Review:

parenting time management

The Kids Are in Bed was my first book by Rachel Bertsche. In a society where people (and especially parents) are feeling more burnt out than ever before, I love the idea of rethinking the time that we DO have. The Kids Are in Bed shared some proactive ideas for parents about not getting “stuck” in every day (sometimes very monotonous) family life grind and utilizing the downtime that you do have in your daily/weekly/monthly schedules.

I thought Bertsche really succeeded at sharing helping everyday tips and hack to not falling into the trap of not having enough time for ourselves, our marriage, friendships, etc. While life may look a lot different than it did “before kids” and the “downtime” we have may well be less, when we look at our habits and chunks of time, it can help us adjust the way we utilize it.

I did find that the stories in The Kids Are In Bed were primarily about her own very specific situation (with fairly young children), and although she did share ideas cited directly from other sources, I would have loved for there to be a bigger variety of examples of family life, especially with different aged children.

The challenges vary so much as you move through the life stages of having kids at home from babies to teens…all with their own set of positives and challenges. I think this would open this book up to a larger audience and also help broaden the perspective beyond her own immediate experiences.

Thank you to NetGalley and Dutton Books for an advanced copy. All opinions are my own.

Know My Name by Chanel Miller | Viking & Penguin Audio {Book Review}

Chanel Miller

Know My Name by Chanel Miller

Book Summary:

The riveting, powerful memoir of the woman whose statement to Brock Turner gave voice to millions of survivors.

She was known to the world as Emily Doe when she stunned millions with a letter. Brock Turner had been sentenced to just six months in county jail after he was found sexually assaulting her on Stanford’s campus. Her victim impact statement was posted on BuzzFeed, where it instantly went viral–viewed by eleven million people within four days, it was translated globally and read on the floor of Congress; it inspired changes in California law and the recall of the judge in the case. Thousands wrote to say that she had given them the courage to share their own experiences of assault for the first time.

Now she reclaims her identity to tell her story of trauma, transcendence, and the power of words. It was the perfect case, in many ways–there were eyewitnesses, Turner ran away, physical evidence was immediately secured. But her struggles with isolation and shame during the aftermath and the trial reveal the oppression victims face in even the best-case scenarios. Her story illuminates a culture biased to protect perpetrators, indicts a criminal justice system designed to fail the most vulnerable, and, ultimately, shines with the courage required to move through suffering and live a full and beautiful life.

Know My Name will forever transform the way we think about sexual assault, challenging our beliefs about what is acceptable and speaking truth to the tumultuous reality of healing. It also introduces readers to an extraordinary writer, one whose words have already changed our world. Entwining pain, resilience, and humor, this memoir will stand as a modern classic.

Publication Date:

September 24th, 2019

Genre:

Memoir

My Rating:

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

My Review:

Chanel Miller book review

While I knew she was a great writer from reading her victim impact statement (you can read it on Buzzfeed HERE) when she was known for so many years as “Emily Doe”, I was blown away by Know My Name by Chanel Miller. Her voice is strong and her writing is filled with details, reflection, humility, and even hope. I listened to this one on Audible but I also purchased a hardcopy because I knew it was one that I needed to have in my own collection. 

I loved how poignantly Chanel Miller shared what it is like to deal with very private grief while at the same time needing and move forward with daily life…I loved learning about her amazingly supportive family unit and her ability to see the good in people, like the men who stepped in to help the night of her attack. While she only speaks for herself, she really is speaking for a generation and I can’t recommend this one enough.

“We don’t fight for our own happy endings. We fight to say you can’t. We fight for accountability. We fight to establish a precedent. We fight because we pray we’ll be the last ones to feel this kind of pain.”

-Chanel Miller


Disclosure: Some of the links above are affiliate links. This means if you click through and make a purchase, it helps support this blog at no cost to you. Thank you! 

You Are Awesome by Neil Pasricha |Gallery Books {Book Review & Self-Help Book Discussion}

you are awesome

You Are Awesome by Neil Pasricha

Book Summary:

From Neil Pasricha—New York Times, million-copy bestselling author of The Book of Awesome series and The Happiness Equation, thought leader for the next generation, and one of the most popular TED speakers in the world—comes a revelatory and inspiring book that will change the way we view failure and help us build resilience.

We are lucky. For most of us, famine, plague, economic depression, and other life-threatening catastrophes are the stuff of history books. We’re living in an era with the highest-ever rates of longevity, education, and wealth. Cars drive us home as our phones entertain us before we arrive to food delivered to the front door. We have it all!

But there’s just one side effect. We no longer have the tools to handle failure…or even perceived failure. When we fall, we lie on the sidewalk crying. When we spill, we splatter. When we crack, we shatter.

We are turning into an army of porcelain dolls.

A rude email from the boss means calling in sick. Only two likes on our post means we don’t have friends. Cell phones show us we’re never good enough. Yesterday’s butterflies are tomorrow’s panic attacks. Record numbers of students have clinical anxiety. And what about depression, loneliness, and suicide?

All rising!

What do we desperately need to learn?

RESILIENCE. And we need to learn it fast.

Read You Are Awesome to learn:
• The single word that keeps your options open after failure
• What every commencement speech gets wrong
• 3 ways to dramatically accelerate your ability to learn and adapt
• The 2-minute morning practice that helps eliminate worry
• Why you need an Untouchable Day (and how to get one)
• and much, much more…

Because the truth is, you really are awesome.

Publication Date:

November 5th, 2019

Genre:

Self-Help & Personal Growth

My Rating:

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️💫

My Review:

It’s no secret that I am a huge fan of personal development and self-help books. I think they can sometimes get a little misunderstood and there are books in that genre that are totally cringe-worthy but there are also some books that have changed my life.

Brene Brown books

1. The Gifts of Imperfection 

2. I Thought It Was Just Me

3. Daring Greatly

These three books by Brene Brown totally changed my perspective in so many ways. I am not a re-reader of books but I have reread (and re-listened) to these so many times.

Jen Sincero

1. You Are a Badass

2. You are a Badass at Making Money

3. You Are a Badass Every Day

Sometimes just smaller tidbits from the books stick with me, like in Jen Sincero’s You Are a Badass series.

“The only failure is quitting. Everything else is just gathering information.”

“We use words to communicate, and when you communicate optimism, inspiration and general badassery, you inspire other people and draw those who can help you toward you. Choosing your words wisely is one of the easiest and most powerful steps in changing your reality.”

“Once you start taking action you’ll be able to discover more things you like, more things you don’t like, and a clearer picture of what you desire to do will begin to form. Taking action leads to answers, mulling ideas around in your head forever leads to indecision and grouchiness.”

-Jen Sincero

Neil Pasricha

You Are Awesome

Neil Pasricha

I was immediately drawn into You Are Awesome because of how relatable the writing is. Neil Pasricha is charismatic and resilient and the writing is conversational like you are talking with a good friend.

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.

Resilience & Positivity

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Resilence is a skill and often the people that are most resilient aren’t ones that have had the easiest path in life but are the ones that use those bumps in the road to learn and grow. Positively doesn’t mean you don’t have struggles, it means using perspective to take what you can from them and continue on.  

I loved this book so much and I know it is one that I will refer back to again and again.

Thank you to Gallery Books for an advanced copy. All opinions are my own. 


Disclosure: Some of the links above are affiliate links. This means if you click through and make a purchase, it helps support this blog at no cost to you. Thank you!