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

⭐️⭐️⭐️

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

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️💫

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

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⁣

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.

genthebookworm-8

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.


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!

 

The Glittering Hour by Iona Grey | Thomas Dunne Books {Gen The Bookworm Book Review}

 

The Glittering Hour

The Glittering Hour by Iona Grey

Book Summary:

Award-winning author Iona Grey’s next unforgettable historical about true love found and lost and the secrets we keep from one another

Selina Lennox is a Bright Young Thing. Her life is a whirl of parties and drinking, pursued by the press and staying on just the right side of scandal, all while running from the life her parents would choose for her.

Lawrence Weston is a penniless painter who stumbles into Selina’s orbit one night and can never let her go even while knowing someone of her stature could never end up with someone of his. Except Selina falls hard for Lawrence, envisioning a life of true happiness. But when tragedy strikes, Selina finds herself choosing what’s safe over what’s right.

Spanning two decades and a seismic shift in British history as World War II approaches, Iona Grey’s The Glittering Hour is an epic novel of passion, heartache, and loss.

About the Author:

Iona Grey is the author of the award-winning Letters to the Lost. She has a degree in English Literature and Language from Manchester University, an obsession with history and an enduring fascination with the lives of women in the twentieth century. She lives in rural Cheshire with her husband and three daughters.

Publication Date:

December 10th, 2019

Genre:

Historical Fiction/Romance

My Rating:

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️💫⁣

My Review:

Iona Grey

The Glittering Hour 

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. 

The Glittering Hour has an “unlikely love story” that skews this one more towards the romance genre than just historical fiction and it was one of my favorite parts of this book. All the characters were well developed and multifaceted which made me feel like I was a part of this journey with them.  I loved the themes of hidden secrets, family dynamics, love and loss that made this book and characters so memorable. The ending was emotional and super satisfying and I can’t wait to hear other people’s thoughts now that it is out in the world!

Book Giveaway!

I will be sharing a social media post later today with a chance to enter my BOOK GIVEAWAY for The Glittering Hour, so stay tuned!

Glittering Hour Blog Tour - Facebook

Thank you to St. Martin’s Press for inviting me to be a part of this Blog Tour and for providing me with 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, I receive a small commission that helps support this blog at no cost to you. Thank you!

 

 

 

Twice in a Blue Moon by Christina Lauren | Gallery Books {Book Review}

book review of Twice in a Blue Moon

Twice in a Blue Moon by Christina Lauren

Book Summary:

“Sam Brandis was Tate Jones’s first: Her first love. Her first everything. Including her first heartbreak.

During a whirlwind two-week vacation abroad, Sam and Tate fell for each other in only the way that first loves do: sharing all of their hopes, dreams, and deepest secrets along the way. Sam was the first, and only, person that Tate—the long-lost daughter of one of the world’s biggest film stars—ever revealed her identity to. So when it became clear her trust was misplaced, her world shattered for good.

Fourteen years later, Tate, now an up-and-coming actress, only thinks about her first love every once in a blue moon. When she steps onto the set of her first big break, he’s the last person she expects to see. Yet here Sam is, the same charming, confident man she knew, but even more alluring than she remembered. Forced to confront the man who betrayed her, Tate must ask herself if it’s possible to do the wrong thing for the right reason… and whether “once in a lifetime” can come around twice.

With Christina Lauren’s signature “beautifully written and remarkably compelling” (Sarah J. Maas, New York Times bestselling author) prose and perfect for fans of Emily Giffin and Jennifer Weiner, Twice in a Blue Moon is an unforgettable and moving novel of young love and second chances.”

Publication Date:

October 22, 2019

Genre:

Contemporary Romance

My Rating:

⭐️⭐️⭐️

My Review:

Christina Lauren

Ever since I read Love and Other Words I have been a huge fan of books by Christina Lauren(the pen name for the writing duo Christina Hobbs and Lauren Billings). These women know how to develop relatable characters while also introducing a variety of scenarios for their engaging novels to take on. I think because I loved Love and Other Words SO much, the bar has been set high for me. While the premise of Twice in a Blue Moon was promising, and I do enjoy the idea of “second chance romance” this one fell flat.

I really struggled to connect or find any believability with these main characters and their romance. Knowing each other for a couple of weeks as teenagers…becoming lovers and sharing their deepest darkest secrets and then there being a HUGE betrayal just didn’t work for me. It was all just too quick and then way too dramatic. I get it, teenager love can work in many storylines (hello Love and Other Words!!), but in this situation, it just didn’t.

This lack of believability and connection with Tate and Sam made it hard to really feel engaged with the storyline and I felt myself rolling my eyes more than feeling engrossed in the writing. Maybe it’s just me, but I just didn’t love this one.

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

Regretting You by Colleen Hoover | Montlake Romance {Book Review}

Colleen Hoover book review

Regretting You by Colleen Hoover

Book Summary:

“Morgan Grant and her sixteen-year-old daughter, Clara, would like nothing more than to be nothing alike.

Morgan is determined to prevent her daughter from making the same mistakes she did. By getting pregnant and married way too young, Morgan put her own dreams on hold. Clara doesn’t want to follow in her mother’s footsteps. Her predictable mother doesn’t have a spontaneous bone in her body.

With warring personalities and conflicting goals, Morgan and Clara find it increasingly difficult to coexist. The only person who can bring peace to the household is Chris—Morgan’s husband, Clara’s father, and the family anchor. But that peace is shattered when Chris is involved in a tragic and questionable accident. The heartbreaking and long-lasting consequences will reach far beyond just Morgan and Clara.

While struggling to rebuild everything that crashed around them, Morgan finds comfort in the last person she expects to, and Clara turns to the one boy she’s been forbidden to see. With each passing day, new secrets, resentment, and misunderstandings make mother and daughter fall further apart. So far apart, it might be impossible for them to ever fall back together.”

Publication Date:

December 10th, 2019

Genre:

Family Fiction, Contemporary Romance

My Rating:

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⁣

My Review:

Colleen Hoover book review

I know it is probably hard to believe but Regretting You is my first Colleen Hoover book EVER!! Her books have been recommended to me for years but I just didn’t know where to start. When I saw an advanced copy of Regretting You on NetGalley I knew I had to see what all the fuss was about. I was immediately drawn into the storyline and found it to be a totally engrossing read.

Regretting You ended up being a very engaging book that I loved reading while on vacation. This book was told partly from a teenager POV and although I wasn’t sure at first, I found that I was able to relate to both of the main characters even though I am around the age of the mother in this female relationship.

I was pleasantly surprised that Hoover took on some deeper and thought-provoking topics. My favorite part of this book was how it dealt with grief and loss and I loved seeing this from multiple perspectives. There is a YA romance that was enjoyable enough but also a little predictable but the other parts really shined through this for me.

Colleen Hoover’s Backlist:

Verity and It Ends With Us by Colleen Hoover

I am definitely going to dive into Colleen Hoover’s backlist list now! I asked one of my Hoover loving friends, Kailey at @kmc_reads, and she suggested It Ends With Us so that will be coming up soon for me. I have heard great things about Verity but it might be a bit too creepy for me although the reviews I have read just raved about it. If you have read her books I would love to know your favorite to add to my reading list!

Thank you to NetGalley and Montlake Romance for an advanced copy.


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

My Fall 2019 Reading List | 12 Highly-Anticipated Fall 2019 Book Releases!

Highly Anticipated Fall 2019 Book Releases

2019 Reading…

While we are still in summer mode over here, you can tell fall is around the corner. There is a chill in the air in the mornings and the start of school for the kids is under two weeks away.

I always get excited to look ahead to a new season, especially when it comes to reading. This summer has had some spectacular book releases including a book I think might be my favorite EVER!

best books of 2019

The Best Books of 2019 (so far!)

2019 has been a great reading so far, considering how many favorites I had just during the first half of it! I am excited to see what ends up being on my top reads at the end of December if any of these fall reads make their way to the list.

My Fall 2019 Reading List:

This Tender Land by William Kent Krueger

This Tender Land by William Kent Krueger

Publication Date:

September 3rd, 2019

Genre:

Coming of Age Fiction

Book Summary:

“For fans of Before We Were Yours and Where the Crawdads Sing, a magnificent novel about four orphans on a life-changing odyssey during the Great Depression, from the New York Times bestselling author of Ordinary Grace. 

1932, Minnesota—the Lincoln School is a pitiless place where hundreds of Native American children, forcibly separated from their parents, are sent to be educated. It is also home to an orphan named Odie O’Banion, a lively boy whose exploits earn him the superintendent’s wrath. Forced to flee, he and his brother Albert, their best friend Mose, and a brokenhearted little girl named Emmy steal away in a canoe, heading for the mighty Mississippi and a place to call their own.

Over the course of one unforgettable summer, these four orphans will journey into the unknown and cross paths with others who are adrift, from struggling farmers and traveling faith healers to displaced families and lost souls of all kinds. With the feel of a modern classic, This Tender Land is an en­thralling, big-hearted epic that shows how the magnificent American landscape connects us all, haunts our dreams, and makes us whole.”

Red at the Bone by Jacqueline Woodson

Red at The Bone by Jacqueline Woodson

Publication Date:

September 17th, 2019

Genre:

Fiction/Family Life Fiction

Book Summary:

“An extraordinary new novel about the influence of history on a contemporary family, from the New York Times-bestselling and National Book Award-winning author of Another Brooklyn and Brown Girl Dreaming.

Two families from different social classes are joined together by an unexpected pregnancy and the child that it produces. Moving forward and backward in time, with the power of poetry and the emotional richness of a narrative ten times its length, Jacqueline Woodson’s extraordinary new novel uncovers the role that history and community have played in the experiences, decisions, and relationships of these families, and in the life of this child.

As the book opens in 2001, it is the evening of sixteen-year-old Melody’s coming of age ceremony in her grandparents’ Brooklyn brownstone. Watched lovingly by her relatives and friends, making her entrance to the soundtrack of Prince, she wears a special custom-made dress. But the event is not without poignancy. Sixteen years earlier, that very dress was measured and sewn for a different wearer: Melody’s mother, for her own ceremony– a celebration that ultimately never took place.

Unfurling the history of Melody’s parents and grandparents to show how they all arrived at this moment, Woodson considers not just their ambitions and successes but also the costs, the tolls they’ve paid for striving to overcome expectations and escape the pull of history. As it explores sexual desire and identity, ambition, gentrification, education, class and status, and the life-altering facts of parenthood, Red at the Bone most strikingly looks at the ways in which young people must so often make long-lasting decisions about their lives–even before they have begun to figure out who they are and what they want to be.”

Twice in a Blue Moon
Twice in a Blue Moom by Christina Lauren

Twice in a Blue Moon by Christina Lauren

Publication Date:

October 22nd, 2019

Genre:

Contemporary Romance

Book Summary:

“From the New York Times bestselling author of The Unhoneymooners and the “delectable, moving” (Entertainment Weekly) My Favorite Half-Night Stand comes a modern love story about what happens when your first love reenters your life when you least expect it…

Sam Brandis was Tate Jones’s first: Her first love. Her first everything. Including her first heartbreak.

During a whirlwind two-week vacation abroad, Sam and Tate fell for each other in only the way that first loves do: sharing all of their hopes, dreams, and deepest secrets along the way. Sam was the first, and only, person that Tate—the long-lost daughter of one of the world’s biggest film stars—ever revealed her identity to. So when it became clear her trust was misplaced, her world shattered for good.

Fourteen years later, Tate, now an up-and-coming actress, only thinks about her first love every once in a blue moon. When she steps onto the set of her first big break, he’s the last person she expects to see. Yet here Sam is, the same charming, confident man she knew, but even more alluring than she remembered. Forced to confront the man who betrayed her, Tate must ask herself if it’s possible to do the wrong thing for the right reason… and whether “once in a lifetime” can come around twice.

With Christina Lauren’s signature “beautifully written and remarkably compelling” (Sarah J. Maas, New York Times bestselling author) prose and perfect for fans of Emily Giffin and Jennifer Weiner, Twice in a Blue Moon is an unforgettable and moving novel of young love and second chances.”

The Family Upstairs by Lisa Jewell

The Family Upstairs by Lisa Jewell

Publication Date:

November 5th, 2019

Genre:

Mystery, Domestic Thriller & Suspense

Book Summary:

“From the New York Times bestselling author of Then She Was Gone comes another page-turning look inside one family’s past as buried secrets threaten to come to light. 

Be careful who you let in.

Soon after her twenty-fifth birthday, Libby Jones returns home from work to find the letter she’s been waiting for her entire life. She rips it open with one driving thought: I am finally going to know who I am.

She soon learns not only the identity of her birth parents, but also that she is the sole inheritor of their abandoned mansion on the banks of the Thames in London’s fashionable Chelsea neighborhood, worth millions. Everything in Libby’s life is about to change. But what she can’t possibly know is that others have been waiting for this day as well—and she is on a collision course to meet them.

Twenty-five years ago, police were called to 16 Cheyne Walk with reports of a baby crying. When they arrived, they found a healthy ten-month-old happily cooing in her crib in the bedroom. Downstairs in the kitchen lay three dead bodies, all dressed in black, next to a hastily scrawled note. And the four other children reported to live at Cheyne Walk were gone.

In The Family Upstairs, the master of “bone-chilling suspense” (People) brings us the can’t-look-away story of three entangled families living in a house with the darkest of secrets.”

 

What Happens in Paradise by Elin Hilderbrand

What Happens in Paradise by Elin Hilderbrand

Publication Date:

October 8th, 2019

Genre:

Contemporary Fiction

Book Summary:

Secret lives and new loves emerge in the bright Caribbean sunlight, in the follow-up to national bestseller Winter in Paradise

A year ago, Irene Steele had the shock of her life: her loving husband, father to their grown sons and successful businessman, was killed in a plane crash. But that wasn’t Irene’s only shattering news: he’d also been leading a double life on the island of St. John, where another woman loved him, too. 

Now Irene and her sons are back on St. John, determined to learn the truth about the mysterious life -and death – of a man they thought they knew. Along the way, they’re about to learn some surprising truths about their own lives and their futures. 

Lush with the tropical details, romance, and drama that made Winter in Paradise a national bestseller, What Happens in Paradise is another immensely satisfying page-turner from one of American’s most beloved and engaging storytellers.”

Wild Game by Adrienne Brodeur

Wild Game by Adrienne Brodeur

Publication Date:

October 15th, 2019

Genre:

Memoir

Book Summary:

“A daughter’s tale of living in the thrall of her magnetic, complicated mother, and the chilling consequences of her complicity.

On a hot July night on Cape Cod when Adrienne was fourteen, her mother, Malabar, woke her at midnight with five simple words that would set the course of both of their lives for years to come: Ben Souther just kissed me. 
 
Adrienne instantly became her mother’s confidante and helpmate, blossoming in the sudden light of her attention, and from then on, Malabar came to rely on her daughter to help orchestrate what would become an epic affair with her husband’s closest friend. The affair would have calamitous consequences for everyone involved, impacting Adrienne’s life in profound ways, driving her into a precarious marriage of her own, and then into a deep depression. Only years later will she find the strength to embrace her life—and her mother—on her own terms.  

Wild Game is a brilliant, timeless memoir about how the people close to us can break our hearts simply because they have access to them, and the lies we tell in order to justify the choices we make. It’s a remarkable story of resilience, a reminder that we need not be the parents our parents were to us.”

 

Talking to Strangers by Malcolm Gladwell

Talking to Strangers by Malcolm Gladwell

Publication Date:

September 10th, 2019

Genre:

Non-Fiction, Communication & Sociology

Book Summary:

“Malcolm Gladwell, host of the podcast Revisionist History and #1 bestselling author of The Tipping Point, Blink, Outliers, David and Goliath, and What the Dog Saw, offers a powerful examination of our interactions with strangers—and why they often go wrong.

How did Fidel Castro fool the CIA for a generation? Why did Neville Chamberlain think he could trust Adolf Hitler? Why are campus sexual assaults on the rise? Do television sitcoms teach us something about the way we relate to each other that isn’t true?

Talking to Strangers is a classically Gladwellian intellectual adventure, a challenging and controversial excursion through history, psychology, and scandals taken straight from the news. He revisits the deceptions of Bernie Madoff, the trial of Amanda Knox, the suicide of Sylvia Plath, the Jerry Sandusky pedophilia scandal at Penn State University, and the death of Sandra Bland—throwing our understanding of these and other stories into doubt. Something is very wrong, Gladwell argues, with the tools and strategies we use to make sense of people we don’t know. And because we don’t know how to talk to strangers, we are inviting conflict and misunderstanding in ways that have a profound effect on our lives and our world. In his first book since his #1 bestseller, David and Goliath, Malcolm Gladwell has written a gripping guidebook for troubled times.”

If I Could Tell You

If Only I Could Tell You by Hannah Beckerman

Publication Date:

October 15th, 2019

Genre:

Fiction & Family Drama, Family Life Fiction

Book Summary:

“Hannah Beckerman pens a life-affirming novel that tells the story of a family divided and the secret that can possibly unite them—a must for fans of This Is Us.

“I loved it (even though it made me cry).”—Jojo Moyes

 A secret between two sisters.

A lifetime of lies unraveling.

Can one broken family find their way back to each other?

Audrey’s dream as a mother had been for her daughters, Jess and Lily, to be as close as only sisters can be. But now, as adults, they no longer speak to each other, and Audrey’s two teenage granddaughters have never met. Audrey just can’t help feeling like she’s been dealt more than her fair share as she’s watched her family come undone over the years, and she has no idea how to fix her family as she wonders if they will ever be whole again.

If only Audrey had known three decades ago that a secret could have the power to split her family in two, and yet, also keep them linked. And when hostilities threaten to spiral out of control, a devastating choice that was made so many years ago is about to be revealed, testing this family once and for all.

Once the truth is revealed, will it be enough to put her family back together again or break them apart forever?”

Olive, Again by Elizabeth Strout

Olive, Again by Elizabeth Strout

Publication Date:

October 25h, 2019

Genre:

Family Life Fiction

Book Summary:

“New York Times bestselling author and Pulitzer Prize winner Elizabeth Strout continues the life of her beloved Olive Kitteridge, a character who has captured the imaginations of millions of readers.

Prickly, wry, resistant to change yet ruthlessly honest and deeply empathetic, Olive Kitteridge is “a compelling life force” (San Francisco Chronicle). The New Yorker has said that Elizabeth Strout “animates the ordinary with an astonishing force,” and she has never done so more clearly than in these pages, where the iconic Olive struggles to understand not only herself and her own life but the lives of those around her in the town of Crosby, Maine.

Whether with a teenager coming to terms with the loss of her father, a young woman about to give birth during a hilariously inopportune moment, a nurse who confesses a secret high school crush, or a lawyer who struggles with an inheritance she does not want to accept, the unforgettable Olive will continue to startle us, to move us, and to inspire moments of transcendent grace.”

 

Happy Like This by Ashley Wurzbacher

Happy Like This by Ashley Wurzbacher

Publication Date:

October 15th, 2019

Genre:

Fiction Short Stories

Book Summary:

“The characters in Happy Like This are smart girls and professional women—social scientists, linguists, speech therapists, plant physiologists, dancers—who search for happiness in roles and relationships that are often unscripted or unconventional.

In the midst of their ambivalence about marriage, monogamy, and motherhood and their struggles to accept and love their bodies, they look to other women for solidarity, stability, and validation. Sometimes they find it; sometimes they don’t.

Spanning a wide range of distinct perspectives, voices, styles, and settings, the ten shimmering stories in Happy Like This offer deeply felt, often humorous meditations on the complexity of choice and the ambiguity of happiness.”

 

Fair Play by Eve Rodsky

Fair Play by Eve Rodsky

Publication Date:

October 1st, 2019

Genre:

Non-Fiction, Marriage/Family, Time Management

Book Summary:

“A revolutionary, real-world solution to the problem of unpaid, invisible work that women have shouldered for too long–from a woman tapped by Reese Witherspoon’s Hello Sunshine as the expert on this topic for a new generation of women.

It started with the Sh*t I Do List. Tired of being the “shefault” parent responsible for all aspects of her busy household, Eve Rodsky counted up all the unpaid, invisible work she was doing for her family — and then sent that list to her husband, asking for things to change. His response was… underwhelming. Rodsky realized that simply identifying the issue of unequal labor on the home front wasn’t enough: She needed a solution to this universal problem. Her sanity, identity, career, and marriage depended on it. 

The result is Fair Play: a time- and anxiety-saving system that offers couples a completely new way to divvy up domestic responsibilities. Rodsky interviewed more than five hundred men and women from all walks of life to figure out what the invisible work in a family actually entails and how to get it all done efficiently. With four easy-to-follow rules, 100 household tasks, and a figurative card game you play with your partner, Fair Play helps you prioritize what’s important to your family and who should take the lead on every chore from laundry to homework to dinner. 

“Winning” this game means rebalancing your home life, reigniting your relationship with your significant other, and reclaiming your Unicorn Space — as in, the time to develop the skills and passions that keep you interested and interesting. Are you ready to try Fair Play? Let’s deal you in.”

Before and After by Lisa Wingate and Judy Christie

Before and After by Judy Christie & Lisa Wingate

Publication Date:

October 22nd, 2019

Genre:

Non-Fiction, Women in History, Adoption & True Crime

Book Summary:

“The incredible, poignant true stories of victims of a notorious adoption scandal—some of whom learned the truth from Lisa Wingate’s bestselling novel Before We Were Yours and were reunited with birth family members as a result of its wide reach

From the 1920s to 1950, Georgia Tann ran a black-market baby business at the Tennessee Children’s Home Society in Memphis. She offered up more than 5,000 orphans tailored to the wish lists of eager parents—hiding the fact that many weren’t orphans at all, but stolen sons and daughters of poor families, desperate single mothers, and women told in maternity wards that their babies had died.

The publication of Lisa Wingate’s novel Before We Were Yours brought new awareness of Tann’s lucrative career in child trafficking. Adoptees who knew little about their pasts gained insight into the startling facts behind their family histories. Encouraged by their contact with Wingate and award-winning journalist Judy Christie, who documented the stories of fifteen adoptees in this book, many determined Tann survivors set out to trace their roots and find their birth families.

Before and After includes moving and sometimes shocking accounts of the ways in which adoptees were separated from their first families. Often raised as only children, many have joyfully reunited with siblings in the final decades of their lives. In Before and After, Wingate and Christie tell of first meetings that are all the sweeter and more intense for time missed and of families from very different social backgrounds reaching out to embrace better-late-than-never brothers, sisters, and cousins. In a poignant culmination of art meeting life, long-silent victims of the tragically corrupt system return to Memphis with Wingate and Christie to reclaim their stories at a Tennessee Children’s Home Society reunion . . . with extraordinary results.”


I hope this list gives you some new reading inspiration. I would also love to hear what is on your fall reading list!

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

 

 

Nine Highly Rated Paperbacks for Your End of Summer Reading List | Book Recommendations

fiction summer reading list

Ready to Travel…Summer Reading:

The other day I met a friend for coffee at Target and she told she was going camping and wanted to bring along a book to read and was hoping for some suggestions. She was looking for something enjoyable and also easy to travel with…meaning she didn’t want to bring a bunch of hardcover books.

I have noticed an uptick in people asking for reading suggestions lately which makes me so happy! I thought it was the perfect time to hop on over to the book section at Target and see what was readily available if you were looking for a book to grab and go!

I do order many of my books online but there is something about being able to run into a store and pick something up last minute. All of these books are readily available at your local Target, Barnes & Noble and will be easy to find at an airport bookstore and the best part…they are all around the $10 mark!

Gen The Bookworm summer reading paperback suggestions

The Perfect Couple is one of my very favorite Elin Hilderbrand books and I have many! This one has all the elements of her quintessential Nantucket beach reading style along with a captivating murder mystery. It’s Nantucket wedding season, also known as summer-the sight of a bride racing down Main Street is as common as the sun setting at Madaket Beach. The Otis-Winbury wedding promises to be an event to remember: the groom’s wealthy parents have spared no expense to host a lavish ceremony at their oceanfront estate.

Book Summary:
“It’s Nantucket wedding season, also known as summer-the sight of a bride racing down Main Street is as common as the sun setting at Madaket Beach. The Otis-Winbury wedding promises to be an event to remember: the groom’s wealthy parents have spared no expense to host a lavish ceremony at their oceanfront estate.

But it’s going to be memorable for all the wrong reasons after tragedy strikes: a body is discovered in Nantucket Harbor just hours before the ceremony and everyone in the wedding party is suddenly a suspect. As Chief of Police Ed Kapenash interviews the bride, the groom, the groom’s famous mystery-novelist mother, and even a member of his own family, he discovers that every wedding is a minefield-and no couple is perfect. Featuring beloved characters from The Castaways, Beautiful Day, and A Summer Affair, The Perfect Couple proves once again that Elin Hilderbrand is the queen of the summer beach read.”


Gen The Bookworm summer reading suggestions

I know, I can’t stop sharing about Life and Other Inconveniences, but Kristan Higgins is truly one of my favorite summer reading authors. She has the ability to share relatable and real storylines that have both humor and heart. You can read my full review HERE.

Book Summary:

“Emma London never thought she had anything in common with her grandmother Genevieve London. The regal old woman came from wealthy and bluest-blood New England stock, but that didn’t protect her from life’s cruelest blows: the disappearance of Genevieve’s young son, followed by the premature death of her husband. But Genevieve rose from those ashes of grief and built a fashion empire that was respected the world over, even when it meant neglecting her other son.

When Emma’s own mother died, her father abandoned her on his mother’s doorstep. Genevieve took Emma in and reluctantly raised her–until Emma got pregnant her senior year of high school. Genevieve kicked her out with nothing but the clothes on her back…but Emma took with her the most important London possession: the strength not just to survive but to thrive. And indeed, Emma has built a wonderful life for herself and her teenage daughter, Riley. 

So what is Emma to do when Genevieve does the one thing Emma never expected of her and, after not speaking to her for nearly two decades, calls and asks for help?”


book review at Gen The Bookworm

All We Ever Wanted has all the elements of Emily Giffin’s easy reading style. In addition, she shares a storyline with a thought-provoking and relevant topic that many of us will be able to relate to with the many complexities of modern life.

While this certainly isn’t literary fiction, I think that is exactly why it worked. I loved how she was able to take a timely topic and incorporate it into her accessible writing style. It was engrossing to read while also sparking discussion in a way her books haven’t done before.

Book Summary:

“Nina Browning is living the good life after marrying into Nashville’s elite. More recently, her husband made a fortune selling his tech business, and their adored son has been accepted to Princeton. 

Yet sometimes the middle-class small-town girl in Nina wonders if she’s strayed from the person she once was.

Tom Volpe is a single dad working multiple jobs while struggling to raise his headstrong daughter, Lyla. His road has been lonely, long, and hard, but he finally starts to relax after Lyla earns a scholarship to Windsor Academy, Nashville’s most prestigious private school.

Amid so much wealth and privilege, Lyla doesn’t always fit in—and her overprotective father doesn’t help—but in most ways, she’s a typical teenaged girl, happy and thriving.

Then, one photograph, snapped in a drunken moment at a party, changes everything. As the image spreads like wildfire, the Windsor community is instantly polarized, buzzing with controversy and assigning blame.

At the heart of the lies and scandal, Tom, Nina, and Lyla are forced together—all questioning their closest relationships, asking themselves who they really are, and searching for the courage to live a life of true meaning.”


book review and recommendation

I read Before We Were Yours on vacation a couple of years ago and I will never forget it. Lisa Wingate shares a powerful and heartbreaking story that is based on true life events with compassion while also being completely compelling as a reader.

Book Summary:

“Memphis, 1939. Twelve-year-old Rill Foss and her four younger siblings live a magical life aboard their family’s Mississippi River shantyboat. But when their father must rush their mother to the hospital one stormy night, Rill is left in charge—until strangers arrive in force. Wrenched from all that is familiar and thrown into a Tennessee Children’s Home Society orphanage, the Foss children are assured that they will soon be returned to their parents—but they quickly realize the dark truth. At the mercy of the facility’s cruel director, Rill fights to keep her sisters and brother together in a world of danger and uncertainty.

Aiken, South Carolina, present day. Born into wealth and privilege, Avery Stafford seems to have it all: a successful career as a federal prosecutor, a handsome fiancé, and a lavish wedding on the horizon. But when Avery returns home to help her father weather a health crisis, a chance encounter leaves her with uncomfortable questions and compels her to take a journey through her family’s long-hidden history, on a path that will ultimately lead either to devastation or to redemption.

Based on one of America’s most notorious real-life scandals—in which Georgia Tann, director of a Memphis-based adoption organization, kidnapped and sold poor children to wealthy families all over the country—Lisa Wingate’s riveting, wrenching, and ultimately uplifting tale reminds us how, even though the paths we take can lead to many places, the heart never forgets where we belong.”


book recommendations

The Wedding Party by Jasmine Guillory is on my own summer reading list and I am planning on taking it on our upcoming summer vacation to Maine.  So many of my book reviewing friends have suggested it and I have been holding off on reading it specifically because I wanted to save it for our trip.

I love a good contemporary romance that is enjoyable yet not too cheesy and Guillory excels at this. It sounds like the perfect poolside read and after loving her book The Wedding Date, I have high hopes for this one.

Book Summary:

“Maddie and Theo have two things in common:

1. Alexa is their best friend
2. They hate each other

After an “oops, we made a mistake” night together, neither one can stop thinking about the other. With Alexa’s wedding rapidly approaching, Maddie and Theo both share bridal party responsibilities that require more interaction with each other than they’re comfortable with. Underneath the sharp barbs they toss at each other is a simmering attraction that won’t fade. It builds until they find themselves sneaking off together to release some tension when Alexa isn’t looking, agreeing they would end it once the wedding is over. When it’s suddenly pushed up and they only have a few months left of secret rendezvouses, they find themselves regretting that the end is near. Two people this different can’t possibly have a connection other than the purely physical, right?

But as with any engagement with a nemesis, there are unspoken rules that must be abided by. First and foremost, don’t fall in love.”


book recommendation & review

The Dream Daughter is one of my favorite books ever. Diane Chamberlain’s books are so unique and she has this ability to weave storylines they are thought-provoking while also being completely engrossing. I am a details person and I love how she builds multifaceted characters and mystery and intrigue at the same time. I need to do a whole post about my favorite Diane Chamberlain books because I have many, but I loved The Stolen Marriage, Necessary Lies, Pretending to Dance and The Silent Sister.

The Dream Daughter had me on the edge of my seat while also constantly making me think “what would I do in this situation?”. You are able to see the story from multiple viewpoints because she does such a wonderful and in-depth presentation of the main characters. This was very different from a lot of her past books with the time-traveling aspect but it stayed true to her roots with the general concept and flow of the book. You can read my full review HERE.

Book Summary:

“When Carly Sears, a young woman widowed by the Vietnam war, receives the news that her unborn baby girl has a heart defect, she is devastated. It is 1970, and she is told that nothing can be done to help her child. But her brother-in-law, a physicist with a mysterious past, tells her that perhaps there is a way to save her baby. What he suggests is something that will shatter every preconceived notion that Carly has. Something that will require a kind of strength and courage she never knew existed. Something that will mean an unimaginable leap of faith on Carly’s part.

And all for the love of her unborn child.

The Dream Daughter is a rich, genre-spanning, breathtaking novel about one mother’s quest to save her child, unite her family, and believe in the unbelievable. Diane Chamberlain pushes the boundaries of faith and science to deliver a novel that you will never forget.”


book recommendations

How to Walk Away was my first book by Katherine Center book. I loved reading something that introduces me to a new author to love and anticipate their next piece of writing. While I am a fan of contemporary romance, I am quite particular about giving many a high rating.

The storyline is semi-predictable but it is the character development that Center just does so well and that makes her books so satisfying. I enjoyed watching Margaret’s journey towards healing and she had the perfect mix of vulnerability and strength that kept me rooting for her while also being relatable.

Katherine Center excels at infusing both humor and also resilience into her characters and I just enjoy her books so much. Her newest release Things You Save In a Fire is not out in paperback yet but it was a 5 star read for me which doesn’t happen a lot with this genre!

Book Summary:

“Margaret Jacobsen has a bright future ahead of her: a fiancé she adores, her dream job, and the promise of a picture-perfect life just around the corner. Then, suddenly, on what should have been one of the happiest days of her life, everything she worked for is taken away in one tumultuous moment. 

In the hospital and forced to face the possibility that nothing will ever be the same again, Margaret must figure out how to move forward on her own terms while facing long-held family secrets, devastating heartbreak, and the idea that love might find her in the last place she would ever expect. 

How to Walk Away is Katherine Center at her very best: an utterly charming, hopeful, and romantic novel that will capture the reader’s hearts with every page.”


book recommendation

This is How It Always Is by Laurie Frankel a story about family, marriage, secrets and daily life. This book was so beautifully written and timely. I read it a couple of years ago while celebrating our own wedding anniversary and it was the perfect balance of a book that makes you think while also being completely heartwarming and heartwrenching at the same time.

“Well. Usually, boys don’t wear dresses to preschool,” Rosie admitted carefully. “Or tights.”
“I’m not usually,” said Claude. This, Rosie reflected, even at the time, was true.

In a world where sexuality and society norms are a part of political discussions and also everyday life, this book is amazingly powerful and so timely. Frankel’s approachable writing not only educates but also shares a powerful message. She shares the idea of self-acceptance and allowing everyone to be who they really are while also taking into account the complexities of everyday life and just trying to do the best we can as parents and as human beings.

Book Summary:

“This is how a family keeps a secret…and how that secret ends up keeping them.

This is how a family lives happily ever after…until happily ever after becomes complicated.

This is how children change…and then change the world.

This is Claude. He’s five years old, the youngest of five brothers, and loves peanut butter sandwiches. He also loves wearing a dress and dreams of being a princess.

When he grows up, Claude says, he wants to be a girl.

Rosie and Penn want Claude to be whoever Claude wants to be. They’re just not sure they’re ready to share that with the world. Soon the entire family is keeping Claude’s secret. Until one day it explodes.

This Is How It Always Is is a novel about revelations, transformations, fairy tales, and family. And it’s about the ways this is how it always is: Change is always hard and miraculous and hard again, parenting is always a leap into the unknown with crossed fingers and full hearts, children grow but not always according to plan. And families with secrets don’t get to keep them forever.”


book recommendations

Then She Was Gone by Lisa Jewell is a psychological thriller that ended up having the perfect amount of character complexities and suspense, which if you know my particular expectations of this type of books, you know I rarely find! I love her writing style and how she keeps me totally absorbed in the storyline.  It was gripping and kept me guessing until the end.

Book Summary:

“Ellie Mack was the perfect daughter. She was fifteen, the youngest of three. She was beloved by her parents, friends, and teachers. She and her boyfriend made a teenaged golden couple. She was days away from an idyllic post-exams summer vacation, with her whole life ahead of her.

And then she was gone.

Now, her mother Laurel Mack is trying to put her life back together. It’s been ten years since her daughter disappeared, seven years since her marriage ended, and only months since the last clue in Ellie’s case was unearthed. So when she meets an unexpectedly charming man in a café, no one is more surprised than Laurel at how quickly their flirtation develops into something deeper. Before she knows it, she’s meeting Floyd’s daughters—and his youngest, Poppy, takes Laurel’s breath away.

Because looking at Poppy is like looking at Ellie. And now, the unanswered questions she’s tried so hard to put to rest begin to haunt Laurel anew. Where did Ellie go? Did she really run away from home, as the police have long suspected, or was there a more sinister reason for her disappearance? Who is Floyd, really? And why does his daughter remind Laurel so viscerally of her own missing girl?”


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. You can read more about this HERE in my FAQs section. Thank you! 

June 25th New Book Releases | Happy Publication Day!

June 25th Book Releases

summer reading list

New Book Releases:

June has had some amazing new book releases and it isn’t over yet! If you are still looking for some fiction books to add to your summer reading list, you are in luck! This week there is a great mix of suspense, romance, and contemporary fiction being released, sure to meet your own summer reading desires.

Reading Choices Based on the Season

Just like with any other kind of media, everyone has very different ideas of what is preferable.  My reading definitely changes by the season and there are books genres I tend to read more this time of the year than in the winter for instance. The pace of life, the weather, and my workload all play into what my preferences are for reading.

What Does Summer Reading Mean to YOU?

During the spring and summer, I tend to pick books that are a little more fast paced. I like books that are easier to pick up and put down in shorter spurts of time and so they need to be engaging enough to keep my interest. Family dramas or fiction books that are meant to savor are tougher for me to read this time of year, but I totally love them in January. What about you?!

And Now on to The New Book Releases!

psychological thriller

Dear Wife by Kimberly Belle

If you are looking for an addicting psychological thriller that will keep you guessing, this is it! I am reading it now and loving it! As you might know, I am quite picky about thrillers and find myself let down by quite a few of them so this is a big compliment! Ha!

Book Genre:

Psychological Thriller/Domestic Thriller

Goodreads Rating:

4.26-star rating

Book Summary:

“CAN SHE ESCAPE THE PERSON SHE ONCE LOVED?

Beth Murphy is on the run…

For nearly a year, Beth has been plotting to leave her abusive husband. This is her one chance at freedom—one that requires a new look, new name and new city. Each part of her plan has to be carefully thought out, because one small slip and her violent husband will find her.

Sabine Hardison is missing…

A couple hundred miles away, Jeffrey returns home from a work trip to find his wife, Sabine, is missing. Wherever she is, she’s taken almost nothing with her. Her abandoned car is the only trace of her the police have to go on, and all signs point to foul play.

The detective on the case will stop at nothing to bring this missing woman home. Where is Sabine? And who is Beth? As Beth’s husband starts piecing together her whereabouts, she’ll have to make a decision about her future that will leave readers breathless.”


summer reading

The Most Fun We Ever Had by Claire Lombardo

Book Genre:

Multigenerational Fiction

Goodreads Rating:

3.84-star rating

Book Summary:

“A dazzling, multigenerational novel in which the four adult daughters of a Chicago couple–still madly in love after forty years–recklessly ignite old rivalries until a long-buried secret threatens to shatter the lives they’ve built.

When Marilyn Connolly and David Sorenson fall in love in the 1970s, they are blithely ignorant of all that’s to come. By 2016, their four radically different daughters are each in a state of unrest: Wendy, widowed young, soothes herself with booze and younger men; Violet, a litigator-turned-stay-at-home-mom, battles anxiety and self-doubt when the darkest part of her past resurfaces; Liza, a neurotic and newly tenured professor, finds herself pregnant with a baby she’s not sure she wants by a man she’s not sure she loves; and Grace, the dawdling youngest daughter, begins living a lie that no one in her family even suspects. Above it all, the daughters share the lingering fear that they will never find a love quite like their parents’.

As the novel moves through the tumultuous year following the arrival of Jonah Bendt–given up by one of the daughters in a closed adoption fifteen years before–we are shown the rich and varied tapestry of the Sorensons’ past: years marred by adolescence, infidelity, and resentment, but also the transcendent moments of joy that make everything else worthwhile.

Spanning nearly half a century, and set against the quintessential American backdrop of Chicago and its prospering suburbs, Lombardo’s debut explores the triumphs and burdens of love, the fraught tethers of parenthood and sisterhood, and the baffling mixture of affection, abhorrence, resistance, and submission we feel for those closest to us. In painting this luminous portrait of a family’s becoming, Lombardo joins the ranks of writers such as Celeste Ng, Elizabeth Strout, and Jonathan Franzen as visionary chroniclers of our modern lives.”


summer reading list

Evvie Drake Starts Over by Linda Holmes

If you are looking for an engaging fiction/romance this is it. I enjoyed that this was a romance book that was actually relatable and the main characters had regular issues they had to acknowledge and address. I appreciated that the issues were not only highlighted but dealt with and this made this book so much stronger. This also added some much-needed depth while also having plenty of light-hearted moments. This was a fun feel-good read that also highlighted many important real-life issues which to me as the reader was a perfect balance! You can read my full review HERE.

Book Genre:

Contemporary Fiction/Romance

Goodreads Rating:

4.21-star rating

Book Summary:

“In a small town in Maine, recently widowed Eveleth “Evvie” Drake rarely leaves her house. Everyone in town, including her best friend, Andy, thinks grief keeps her locked inside, and she doesn’t correct them. In New York, Dean Tenney, former major-league pitcher and Andy’s childhood friend, is struggling with a case of the “yips”: he can’t throw straight anymore, and he can’t figure out why. An invitation from Andy to stay in Maine for a few months seems like the perfect chance to hit the reset button.

When Dean moves into an apartment at the back of Evvie’s house, the two make a deal: Dean won’t ask about Evvie’s late husband, and Evvie won’t ask about Dean’s baseball career. Rules, though, have a funny way of being broken–and what starts as an unexpected friendship soon turns into something more. But before they can find out what might lie ahead, they’ll have to wrestle a few demons: the bonds they’ve broken, the plans they’ve changed, and the secrets they’ve kept. They’ll need a lot of help, but in life, as in baseball, there’s always a chance–right up until the last out.”


summer reading

How Could She by Lauren Mechling

Book Genre:

Contemporary/Friendship Fiction

Goodreads Rating:

4.21-star rating

Book Summary:

“After a devastating break-up with her fiancé, Geraldine is struggling to get her life back on track in Toronto. Her two old friends, Sunny and Rachel, left ages ago for New York, where they’ve landed good jobs, handsome husbands, and unfairly glamorous lives (or at least so it appears to Geraldine). Sick of watching from the sidelines, Geraldine decides to force the universe to give her the big break she knows she deserves, and moves to New York City. 

As she zigzags her way through the downtown art scene and rooftop party circuit, she discovers how hard it is to find her footing in a world of influencers and media darlings. Meanwhile, Sunny’s life as an It Girl watercolorist is not nearly as charmed as it seemed to Geraldine from Toronto. And Rachel is trying to keep it together as a new mom, writer, and wife–how is it that she was more confident and successful at twenty-five than in her mid-thirties? Perhaps worst of all, why are Sunny and Rachel–who’ve always been suspicious of each other–suddenly hanging out without Geraldine?

Hilarious and fiercely observed, How Could She is an essential novel of female friendship, an insider’s look into the cutthroat world of New York media–from print to podcasting–and a witty exploration of the ways we can and cannot escape our pasts.”


I hope you find something you love from this list! <3

The Unhoneymooners by Christina Lauren | Gallery Books | Book Review

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“Olive Torres is used to being the unlucky twin: from inexplicable mishaps to a recent layoff, her life seems to be almost comically jinxed. By contrast, her sister Ami is an eternal champion . . . she even managed to finance her entire wedding by winning a slew of contests. Unfortunately for Olive, the only thing worse than constant bad luck is having to spend the wedding day with the best man (and her nemesis), Ethan Thomas.

Olive braces herself for wedding hell, determined to put on a brave face, but when the entire wedding party gets food poisoning, the only people who aren’t affected are Olive and Ethan. Suddenly there’s a free honeymoon up for grabs, and Olive will be damned if Ethan gets to enjoy paradise solo.

Agreeing to a temporary truce, the pair head for Maui. After all, ten days of bliss is worth having to assume the role of loving newlyweds, right? But the weird thing is . . . Olive doesn’t mind playing pretend. In fact, the more she pretends to be the luckiest woman alive, the more it feels like she might be.

With Christina Lauren’s “uniquely hilarious and touching voice” (Entertainment Weekly), The Unhoneymooners is a romance for anyone who has ever felt unlucky in love.”


I was so excited to start this newest book, The Unhoneymooners, by the talented duo Christina Lauren. I wouldn’t call myself a huge lover of the romance genre but their books are so much more than that. They have the Rom-Com feeling but they have imperfect characters and not everything always goes as planned which I think makes these books so much more powerful and enjoyable.

The Unhoneymooners was another wonderful addition to their growing collection. I enjoyed the laugh out loud wedding drama and the tumultuous rollercoaster rider of a relationship between Ethan and Olive. It has plenty of emotions and misunderstandings as well as some steamy moments which you can always count on with these authors.

I also loved learning more about Olive’s tight-knit Mexican family. You could see how her close relationship with her twin sister Ami, caused her to second guess herself and ultimately have to decide what was more important, keeping her happy or the truth.

Thank you to NetGalley and Gallery Books for a copy of this book. All opinions are my own.