It’s Monday, What Are You Reading? (5/22/17)

May 22, 2017 It's Monday! What are you reading? 10

I posted my 2017 Summer Reading Guide last week, so check it out if you haven’t already! There’s a variety of types of beach reading on there…not just super fluffy novels with covers featuring women in beach chairs. And, I’ll continue adding books to my Summer Reading Guide for the next two months, so keep checking back!

And, now that I’m done plowing through review books to consider for the Summer Reading Guide, I’ve got a bit of time to read some other things I’ve had on my list. And, my library holds are actually cooperating for once by coming in when I actually have time to read them!

Hosted by The Book Date.

This post contains affiliate links.

I finished reading…

White Fur, One of the Boys, Do Not Become Alarmed


White Fur
 by Jardine Libaire (May 30, 2017)

Most gorgeously written thing I’ve read in awhile and one of my favorite books of the year so far! Mini review coming soon.
Affiliate Link: Pre-Order from Amazon

One of the Boys by Daniel Magariel (March 14, 2017)
This book is short (176 pages), but absolutely brutal. It’s well written and went in a different direction than I expected, which I was happy about. My big hiccup was an Epilogue that made no sense and was completely unnecessary. But, 4 stars overall.

Affiliate Link: Buy from Amazon

Do Not Become Alarmed by Maile Meloy (June 6, 2017)
This page-turner about two American couples whose children go missing while on a cruise through Central America is perfect for the beach if you’re looking for something fast-paced! I flew through it and will be adding it to my 2017 Summer Reading Guide.

Affiliate Link: Pre-Order from Amazon

I’m currently reading…

Women in the Castle by Jessica Shattuck


The Women in the Castle
 by Jessica Shattuck (March 28, 2017)

Ya’ll probably know I’m a little burned out of WWII novels, but Georgia Hunter’s recent debut (We Were the Lucky Ones) opened my mind back up to them. So, I’m giving this one a shot. It’s a library hold, so I’ll likely abandon it quickly if it’s not working for me.

I tried, but wasn’t feeling…

Gypsy Moth Summer by Julia Fierro


The Gypsy Moth Summer
 by Julia Fierro (June 6, 2017)
This novel by the author of Cutting Teeth started off with one of the most intriguing first lines I’ve read in awhile (“Before that summer of ’92, when the gypsy moths swarmed Avalon Island and Leslie Day Marshall, golden-headed prodigal daughter, returned with her black husband and brown children to claim her seat as First Lady, the island’s crimes were minor.”). Unfortunately, I got bored with the pretty much nothing that happened after that and gave up at 17%. However, I’m willing to give it another shot if someone tells me it’s great.

Upcoming reading plans…

People We Hate at the Wedding by Grant Grinder


The People We Hate at the Wedding by Grant Grinder (June 6, 2017)

I have to admit, this book solely caught my eye because of its fantastic title. Then, I realized the premise seemed similar to Seating Arrangements (my review), which I loved, and it was blurbed by Jennifer Close (author of The Hopefuls). This is one of those books that could either be glorious or atrocious. I’m going to find out. 

I was reading…

One Year Ago: I read one of the most hyped books of Summer 2016.

Two Years Ago: I read one of my favorite debuts of 2015!

How was your reading week?

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The Fact of a Body by Alexandria Marzano-Lesnevich: An Emotionally Gut-Wrenching True Crime / Memoir Mash-Up

May 18, 2017 Memoirs 4

The Fact of a Body by Alexandria Marzano-LesnevichNonfiction – Memoir / True Crime
Released May 16, 2017
336 Pages
Bottom Line: Read it.
Affiliate Link: Buy from Amazon
Source: Publisher (published by Flatiron Books)

Headline

Though not perfect, The Fact of a Body is a thoroughly unique, complex, and emotionally gut-wrenching mash-up of true crime story and dysfunctional childhood memoir.

Plot Summary

Marzano-Lesnevich interweaves the painful story of her upbringing in an abusive family with the true story of the murder of a five year-old boy by a sex offender (Ricky Langley).

Why I Read It

A mash-up of a dysfunctional childhood memoir with true crime literally couldn’t be any farther up my alley. Plus, Celeste Ng, author of Everything I Never Told You (my review), called it a “marvel.”

Major Themes

Crime, Mental Illness, Pedophilia, Childhood Trauma, Abuse, Family Secrets

What I Loved

  • This memoir / true crime mash-up is totally unique and was mostly (see below) successful for me. Marzano-Lesnevich interweaves the true story of the murder of five year old Jeremy Guillory by convicted sex offender Ricky Langley (and Langley’s childhood and coming of age) with the story of her own family and childhood, which resembles Ricky’s in surprising ways.
  • The farther I read, the more sense it made to meld these two stories into one book.
  • Marzano-Lesnevich’s exploration of the making of a sex offender is frightening and heart-breaking all at the same time. And, the juxtaposition of reading about the perpetrator of a sex crime alongside the victim of a sex crime gives this story incredible depth and nuance…and certainly brought up some complex feelings for me.
  • By the end of the book, I was just heart-broken about all of it and surprisingly emotionally gutted.

What I Didn’t Like

  • The Fact of a Body has been compared to In Cold Blood, Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil, Serial, and Making A Murderer. For me, the Serial and Making A Murderer comparisons were unfounded and misleading. Serial and Making A Murderer focused heavily on “is or isn’t the suspect actually guilty?” And, that’s not what The Fact of a Body does at all. Rather, you know who the perpetrator is right away and there is never any question of his guilt. The Fact of a Body is more an exploration into the psyche of a killer and sex offender…a la In Cold Blood.
  • Initially, I found the writing style and structure a bit tedious. The shifts between Ricky/Jeremy and Marzano-Lesnevich’s childhood were jumpy and Marzano-Lesnevich injected her own opinions/speculation into the Ricky/Jeremy story with statements like “he must have been thinking X” or “maybe he does Y,” which I found annoying. However, either I eventually got used to the style or things smoothed out farther into the book, because it bothered me much less by the end.

A Defining Quote

But how could I fight for what I believed when as soon as a crime was personal to me, my feelings changed? Every crime was personal to someone.

Good for People Who Like…

True Crime, dysfunctional childhood memoirs, dysfunctional families, emotional gut-wrenchers

Other Books You May Like

Another true crime book focusing on the psyche of a killer:
In Cold Blood by Truman Capote

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2017 Summer Reading Guide

May 16, 2017 Book Lists 28

2017 Summer Reading Guide


Summer reading means something a bit different to everyone. Some people like to put their brains completely on vacation with fun, easy reads. Some people like an action-packed page turner. Some people want something with a bit more substance. And some might like to head off the beaten path.

Personally, my only requirements for summer reading are avoiding books that take a ridiculous amount of concentration and/or demand to be read in perfect peace and quiet.

I’ve read every book that appears on this list and will continue to add new selections throughout the summer. And, stay tuned for my list of My Most Anticipated Books of Summer 2017 (i.e. books that will be published this summer, but that I haven’t read yet) on Tuesday, May 23.

Previous Summer Reading Lists: 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016

This post contains affiliate links and I will be compensated if you make a purchase after clicking on my links.

2017 Summer Reading Guide

Something Fun

Dead LettersDead Letters, Caite Dolan-Leach by Caite Dolan-Leach
Fiction – Debut (Released February 21, 2017)
353 Pages
Affiliate Link: Buy from Amazon

Plot Summary: When Ava Antipova gets word that her wild twin sister (Zelda) is dead, she leaves her Paris graduate program to return to her family’s vineyard in upstate New York…only to find circumstances surrounding her sister’s death that are a bit off and a message from Zelda.

My Thoughts: This debut novel has absolutely everything and is one I’ll be recommending to just about everyone I know for a long time. It has a perfectly paced plot, a dysfunctional family, a mystery, great writing, snarky humor, and depth. And, it’s one of those rare books that I can comfortably categorize as “literary” AND “brain candy.” Continue Reading…

Rabbit CakeRabbit Cake by Annie Hartnett
Fiction – Debut (Released March 7, 2017)
338 Pages
Affiliate Link: Buy from Amazon

Plot Summary: Twelve year-old Elvis Babbitt and her family try to make sense of their mother’s unexpected death.

My Thoughts: Despite the serious topic, Rabbit Cake is a sweet, delightful, and whimsical story about a family coming together after a tragedy. The Scout Finch-like Elvis is quirky, endearing, and full of morbid, yet charming humor. I immediately fell in love with her voice as narrator. Plus, check out this first line: “On my tenth birthday, six months before she sleepwalked into the river, Mom burned the rabbit cake.”

StartupStartup, Doree Shafrir by Doree Shafrir
Fiction (Released April 25, 2017)
304 Pages
Affiliate Link: Buy from Amazon

Plot Summary: Katya (a young and hungry technology reporter for TechScene) pursues a juicy story about Mack McAllister, the twenty eight year-old founder of a mindfulness app startup (called TakeOff) in this satire about New York City startup culture.

My Thoughts: Doree Shafrir is a culture writer for Buzzfeed, so it’s not surprising that her social commentary on the NYC startup world is biting and snarky. In Startup, she skewers douchey startup founders, the South by Southwest technology festival, and the lack of diversity at startups and the venture capital firms that fund them. But, beneath the snark is a human workplace story that spreads its tentacles into marriage, motherhood, and women in the workplace.

The Most Dangerous Place on EarthMost Dangerous Place on Earth, Lindsey Lee Johnson by Lindsey Lee Johnson
Fiction (Released January 10, 2017)
288 Pages
Affiliate Link: Buy from Amazon

Plot Summary: A tragedy that occurred when a community of wealthy high school students were in middle school creates ripple effects for the students and teachers.

My Thoughts: This was not the twisty page turner I expected. It’s more about the characters and how every single one of them is either trying to be someone they’re not or perceived to be someone they’re not…a fairly accurate description of high school in my book. The story captures the levers of high school power and makes you realize how silly they are. And, despite one hiccup with the ending, it’s an easy, yet thought provoking read with stellar writing as a bonus.

The TakedownThe Takedown by Corrie Wang by Corrie Wang
Fiction – Young Adult (Released April 11, 2017)
384 Pages
Affiliate Link: Buy from Amazon

Plot Summary: When someone posts a video of Kyla Cheng (the big girl on campus) in a compromising position with her youngish professor on school grounds, she embarks on a crusade to take down her “hater.”

My Thoughts: I don’t normally read YA, but The Takedown was completely addictive! It’s is a unique twist on the “demented high school students” (think The FeverReconstructing Amelia) reading category and is set in a world where technology is pervasive and invasive. Wang’s astute portrayal of high school girls (especially those at an elite Brooklyn private school) absolutely plays out Kyla’s view that “there are only two ways to emerge from high school. Scarred or worshipped.” The first paragraph of The Takedown smacks you in the face and you won’t want to put this super fun read down for a second after that! 

Trophy SonTrophy Son by Douglas Brunt by Douglas Brunt
Fiction – Sports (
Release Date May 30, 2017)
288 Pages
Affiliate Link: Buy from Amazon

Plot Summary: Thanks to his father’s rigorous and stifling coaching, tennis prodigy Anton Stratis has never known much outside of his sport…until he decides to take control of his life.

My Thoughts: Though this novel is set inside the grueling world of elite tennis and the professional tennis circuit, it’s really a unique spin on the coming of age story, an indictment of the world of overbearing sports parents, and a story about a fraught relationship between father and son. With the elite sports setting of You Will Know Me by Megan Abbott (my review) and the father/son dynamic of The Great Santini by Pat Conroy (my review), Trophy Son is a book you can fly through.

Something Fast-Paced / Intense

Based on a True StoryBased on a True Story by Delphine de Vigan by Delphine de Vigan
Fiction (Released May 9, 2017)
384 Pages
Affiliate Link: Buy from Amazon

Plot Summary: Based on a True Story (a smash hit in France already) is the memoir-style story of a writer’s toxic female friendship…and how it essentially destroyed her.

My Thoughts: Though the book is technically fiction, the main character shares the author’s name and general background. The story begins with a titillating Prologue and continues with a creepy, Single White Female vibe that left me dying to know how things would play out. It’s incredibly emotionally tense and de Vigan’s gorgeous writing helps accomplish this. The entire time I was reading, I understood that Based on a True Story was completely messing with my head with its “is this story true or isn’t it?” vibe. Continue Reading…

Dark Matter by Blake CrouchDark Matter by Blake Crouch
Fiction – Thriller / Sci-Fi (Released July 26, 2016)
354 Pages
Affiliate Link: Buy from Amazon
Source: Library (Publisher: Crown)

Plot Summary: After college physics professor Jason Dessen is abducted at gunpoint one night, he awakens in another world.

My Thoughts: Despite the hype, I avoided this book for quite awhile because I’m decidedly NOT into sci-fi. But, Dark Matter is sci-fi like The Martian (my review) is sci-fi (i.e. it has broad appeal). There’s definitely some science in it, but the story is deeply human and is more about life choices than the science. The story begins with a “WTF is going on here” vibe reminiscent of The Beautiful Bureaucrat (my review). I had no idea what was going on for awhile, but could not stop reading. Dark Matter is a page-turner in the purest sense…with an action-level on par with an episode of 24

If We Were VillainsIf We Were Villains by M.L. Rio by M.L. Rio
Fiction – Debut (Released April 11, 2017)
352 Pages
Affiliate Link: Buy from Amazon

Plot Summary: After spending ten years in prison, Oliver Marks is ready to tell the story of the tragedy that happened to his seven best friends and fellow Shakespeare theatre students during their fourth year at Dellecher, an intense Conservatory for the arts. 

My Thoughts: If We Were Villains is the dark campus novel I’ve been craving ever since loving Christopher J. Yates’s Black Chalk three years ago…and is one of my favorite books of 2017 so far. It’s a sinister, Gothic campus novel jam-packed with emotional tension. After the 20% mark, I could not put this book down! Special Note: references to and excerpts from Shakespeare’s plays are incorporated throughout this book. But, you do not have to read them closely or understand them to love this book! Continue Reading…

The Roanoke GirlsRoanoke Girls by Amy Engel by Amy Engel
Fiction (Released March 7, 2017)
276 Pages
Affiliate Link: Buy from Amazon

Plot Summary: When Lane Roanoke hears her cousin (Allegra) is missing, she returns to the Kansas estate where she spent one fateful summer as a teenager and must face the dark truth about her family.

My Thoughts: The Roanoke Girls features quite possibly the most dysfunctional (although, supremely F’d up is probably more accurate) family I’ve ever encountered in fiction. It’s the kind of book that I was slightly embarrassed to be reading, but was completely unable to put down. Think The Flowers in the Attic on steroids mixed with a bit of Sweet Home Alabama. It’s a fast, if not demented and twisted, read!

The SleepwalkerThe Sleepwalker by Chris Bohjalian by Chris Bohjalian
Fiction – Thriller (Released January 10, 2017)
304 Pages
Affiliate Link: Buy from Amazon

Plot Summary: When Annalee Ahlberg, a notorious sleepwalker, disappears from her home in the middle of the night, her husband and two daughters try to piece together what happened.

My Thoughts: Chris Bohjalian’s most recent books are giving him quite a reputation for coming up with mysteries…with more. They have the who-done-it/why-done-it elements of your run-of-the-mill mystery, but he layers on something deeper. In 2016’s The Guest Room, it was sex-trafficking, and in The Sleepwalker, it’s parasomnia. I found the parasomnia angle fascinating…it’s much more than the book’s title suggests. Continue Reading…

Something with Substance

All Grown UpAll Grown Up by Jami Attenberg by Jami Attenberg
Fiction (Released March 7, 2017)
208 Pages
Affiliate Link: Buy from Amazon

Plot Summary: All Grown Up is a raw, compact story of a young woman (Andrea) trying to find her way in the world, but it’s taking longer than society says it should.

My Thoughts: Attenberg uses little snapshots of Andrea’s life to share her struggles with being single in New York City and provide “yes, that’s exactly how it is” commentary on how society treats single ladies in their thirties. Andrea’s floundering is frustrating, but also relatable and endearing. What really made All Grown Up for me was the unexpectedly funny writing. It’s snarky and filled with the type of dry, morbid humor that may not be for everyone. All Grown Up tackles the quarter-life crisis theme in a brutally honest rather than grating way and is one of my favorite books of 2017 so far!

All the Ugly and Wonderful ThingsAll the Ugly and Wonderful Things by Bryn Greenwood by Bryn Greenwood
Fiction (Released August 9, 2016)
352 Pages
Affiliate Link: Buy from Amazon

Plot Summary: After Wavy, the daughter of a meth dealer father and addict mother, witnesses Kellen’s (one of Wavy’s father’s “employees”) motorcycle accident, he takes her under his wing, leading to an unlikely relationship.

My Thoughts: I was all over the place with my feelings about All the Ugly and Wonderful Things, but I ended up in an emotionally invested and somewhat surprising (to me) place. I immediately loved the voice of Amy, Wavy’s cousin, and the storyline of Wavy’s integration into her extended family’s normal way of life the first of many times she stayed with them. Then, I became thoroughly creeped out by the story’s direction once Wavy returns to her parents at the ranch (her home and the site of her father’s meth cooking business). Continue Reading…

Before the WindBefore the Wind by Jim Lynch by Jim Lynch
Fiction (Released April 19, 2016)
306 Pages
Affiliate Link: Buy from Amazon

Plot Summary: Josh Johannssen and his somewhat estranged family, a sailing dynasty, reunite in an attempt to win the Pacific Northwest’s prestigious Swiftsure race.

My Thoughts: Before the Wind plops the dysfunctional family element of Ann Patchett’s Commonwealth into a sailing environment with brilliant results. Within the first five pages, Lynch delves into the psyche of sailors and boaters in general and his writing about sailing is filled with “yes, that’s exactly how it is” moments. Note: you do not have to be into sailing to love this book…it’s first and foremost a story about a family! Continue Reading…

Swimming LessonsSwimming Lessons by Claire Fuller by Claire Fuller
Fiction (Released February 7, 2017)
356 Pages
Affiliate Link: Buy from Amazon

Plot Summary: Swimming Lessons tells the story of the volatile marriage between famous author Gil Coleman and Ingrid…through letters Ingrid hid in Gil’s books prior to her disappearance and their daughters’ returns home to care for their ailing father.

My Thoughts: Though Swimming Lessons didn’t immediately grab me, its steady revelations about the Coleman marriage and increasing complexity eventually pulled me in. The publisher’s blurb makes Swimming Lessons sound like it will be a mystery, but it’s actually an exploration of a troubled marriage. The “mystery” part of the story is somewhat ancillary and, once I wrapped my head around that, I enjoyed the book much more. Continue Reading…

The Fall of Lisa BellowFall of Lisa Bellow by Susan Perabo by Susan Perabo
Fiction – Debut (
Released March 14, 2017)
352 Pages
Affiliate Link: Buy from Amazon

Plot Summary: After Meredith Oliver witnesses the abduction of a her classmate (but not necessarily friend), Lisa Bellow, she and her entire family struggle to process the impact of being the one left behind.

My Thoughts: The Fall of Lisa Bellow is a psychologically suspenseful novel that gets to the nasty little heart of things, a type of story I’m always game for. This story is not about what happened to Lisa Bellow, but about the survivors and survivor’s guilt. It’s about the often ungenerous, but brutally honest thoughts, of those who escaped the worst. And, it’s about the minefield of life as a middle school girl. Continue Reading…

The WanderersThe Wanderers by Meg Howrey by Meg Howrey
Fiction (Released March 14, 2017)
384 Pages
Affiliate Link: Buy from Amazon

Plot Summary: Prime Space (a private space exploration company) puts Helen, Sergei, and Yoshi (the meticulously selected crew for Prime’s first manned mission to Mars) through an incredibly life-like, seventeen months-long simulation (called Eidolon) of the mission.

My Thoughts: The Wanderers will appeal to fans of Andy Weir’s The Martian (my review), but manages to be its own thing entirely in a more psychological, less page-turnery way…and is the most unique book I’ve read all year. It’s first and foremost a story about getting the astronauts psychologically ready for a Mission to Mars, which takes years. Continue Reading…

The Woman Next DoorWoman Next Door by Yewande Omotoso by Yewande Omotoso
Fiction (Released February 7, 2017)
288 Pages
Affiliate Link: Buy from Amazon 

Plot Summary: Two next door neighbors (Marion and Hortensia) can’t stand each other and are constantly plotting how to figuratively take the other one down, yet The Woman Next Door ends up being a story about friendship and regret and a lesson in how you never really know what’s going on in someone else’s life.

My Thoughts: The Woman Next Door was a fantastic surprise for me…and it’s likely to end up on my Underrated Gems of 2017 list. It’s like Grumpy Old Men crossed with Desperate Housewives set in South Africa and involving race. The story kicks off with snarky humor before taking a more contemplative turn. Plus, the writing shines! Continue Reading…

This Is How It Always IsThis Is How It Always Is by Laurie Frankel by Laurie Frankel
Fiction (Released January 24, 2017)
336 Pages
Affiliate Link: Buy from Amazon

Plot Summary: When Claude, the youngest son of a family of five boys, starts to realize he wants to be a girl, the family must learn how to best support Claude and adjust to the situation.

My Thoughts: This Is How It Always Is is an accessible story about a weighty topic that had me feeling a whole range of emotions…it’s the kind of book many people will enjoy, yet will also provide excellent discussion for book clubs. It’s heart-warming, but also heart-breaking. It’s unexpectedly funny, sad, inspirational, and made me angry at times. Continue Reading…

Something Different

Adnan's Story by Rabia ChaudryAdnan’s Story by Rabia Chaudry
Nonfiction – True Crime (Released August 9, 2016)
410 Pages
Affiliate Link: Buy from Amazon

Plot Summary: Adnan Syed family friend and lawyer Rabia Chaudry explores everything that wasn’t included in the Serial podcast.

My Thoughts: If you loved the original Serial podcast (focusing on the murder of Hae Min Lee and the subsequent arrest and trial of her ex-boyfriend, Adnan Syed), this book is for you! It covers all the angles of the case that Serial left out, the family’s reaction to Adnan’s arrest and trial and the podcast, and where Syed’s case is now. I enjoyed it on audio! Continue Reading…

Anything Is PossibleAnything is Possible by Elizabeth Strout by Elizabeth Strout
Fiction – Linked Short Stories (Released April 25, 2017)
272 Pages
Affiliate Link: Buy from Amazon

Plot Summary: The companion work to My Name is Lucy Barton: a collection of interconnected short stories focusing on the characters from Lucy Barton’s small hometown of Amgash, Illinois.

My Thoughts: My Name Is Lucy Barton (my review) was one of my favorite books of 2016…and the beautiful simplicity of Strout’s writing in her follow-up immediately took me back to my experience with Lucy Barton. Anything is Possible is a subtle book that grew on me the farther I read and I loved the theme of small-town life with threads of darkness running just beneath the surface. It feels like a novel told from different characters’ perspectives and would be a perfect choice for readers that are new to short stories. And, fans of Lucy Barton to get to learn more about her childhood as the town outcast and how the town’s residents view her success now.

Born a Crime by Trevor NoahBorn A Crime by Trevor Noah
Nonfiction – Memoir (Released November 15, 2016)
304 Pages
Affiliate Link: Buy from Amazon

Plot Summary: The Daily Show host Trevor Noah’s memoir about growing up as a mixed race child in apartheid South Africa.

My Thoughts: I guess Born A Crime is technically a celebrity memoir, but it’s actually not that at all. It is a heartfelt, funny, sad, and warm story about growing up as an outcast in an incredibly oppressive place. Though I studied apartheid in school, Born A Crime really provided color on what it was like to be there…and I learned so much that was included in the textbooks. I’m always thrilled to be educated while feeling like I’m being entertained and that’s exactly how I felt about Born A Crime. Also fantastic on audio!

Hungry HeartHungry Heart by Jennifer Weiner by Jennifer Weiner
Nonfiction – Memoir (Released October 11, 2016)
432 Pages
Affiliate Link: Buy from Amazon

Plot Summary: Bestselling author Jennifer Weiner’s memoir-style essay collection about her childhood, writing, her struggle with her weight, marriage, and motherhood…and the Bachelor/ette.

My Thoughts: You probably know Jennifer Weiner from her bestselling novels Good in Bed and In Her Shoes or her hilarious and pointed live-tweeting of the Bachelor/ette shows. But, her memoir reminded me that there is far more to this lady than enlivening my Twitter feed on Monday nights. Hungry Heart is an incredibly relatable memoir about a girl gradually growing comfortable in her own skin. Though the book was overly long and a bit repetitive towards the end, it was the perfect mix of light-hearted humor and real-life struggle! Continue Reading…

Settle for More by Megyn KellySettle for More by Megyn Kelly
Nonfiction – Memoir (Released November 15, 2016)
352 Pages
Affiliate Link: Buy from Amazon

Plot Summary: Ex-Fox News (and current NBC) anchor Megyn Kelly discusses her childhood, career as a lawyer, transition into broadcast journalism, and her brawl with Donald Trump.

My Thoughts: Don’t worry, ya’ll, this is not a political memoir! In fact, Kelly barely discusses politics at all in this book. Instead, it’s filled with girl power, solid values, hard work, women in the workplace, and balancing a career with motherhood (plus, the story of falling in love with her husband, author Douglas Brunt, is adorable!). This book was a delightful surprise for me! It’s also great on audio…read by Kelly. Settle for More would also make a fantastic graduation present for a young woman about to chase her career dreams!

The Rules Do Not ApplyRules Do Not Apply by Ariel Levy by Ariel Levy
Nonfiction – Memoir (Released March 14, 2017)
224 Pages
Affiliate Link: Buy from Amazon

Plot Summary: Current New Yorker staff writer Levy takes a brutally raw and honest look at her life including love, massive loss, and bad decisions in her searing memoir of self-examination.

My Thoughts: I immediately fell for the writing in this memoir…her style is rambling – covering topics from crafting her career as a professional writer to gardening to covering the Caster Semenya story to her views on marriage in general and gay marriage specifically (she’s a bisexual) to infidelity to Mike Huckabee to late-in-life pregnancy – but it flows seamlessly. It’s a risky thing to market a book as “for readers of Cheryl Strayed” and, while I’m not putting Levy on equal footing with the giant, the comparison is not unfounded. Continue Reading…

The Stranger in the WoodsThe Stranger in the Woods by Michael Finkel by Michael Finkel
Nonfiction (Released March 7, 2017)
224 Pages
Affiliate Link: Buy from Amazon

Plot Summary: The true story of Christopher Knight, the man who lived alone in the Maine forest for 27 years before finally being arrested for stealing food and essentials from nearby vacation homes.

My Thoughts: This is one strange, but completely captivating story. It’s like a mash-up between a wilderness story and a study of the introverted personality trait, coupled with a look at today’s extraversion-oriented society. Christopher Knight is one of those people who makes you want to figure out what makes him tick. This is a quick read (or listen, in my case!) that’s perfect for fans of Jon Krakauer (particularly Into the Wild) and Quiet by Susan Cain.

Looking for a specific book recommendation? I’ve got you covered!
Participate in a limited time, free trial of my
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It’s Monday, What Are You Reading? (5/14/17)

May 15, 2017 It's Monday! What are you reading? 27

Happy belated Mother’s Day! Every Mother’s Day, my one request is a full morning of alone time / peace and quiet. I go to breakfast by myself (with my Kindle, of course) and then find somewhere pleasant to read for the rest of the morning. It’s heavenly. After this year’s breakfast, I got a 30 minute foot and calf massage (while reading, obviously).

Hosted by The Book Date.

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I finished reading…

Trophy Son by Douglas Brunt, Rabbit Cake by Annie Hartnett


Trophy Son
 by Douglas Brunt (May 30, 2017)
Awesome light read! Bonus if you’re a tennis fan, but not necessary. Mini review coming closer to pub date. 
Affiliate Link: Pre-Order from Amazon

Rabbit Cake by Annie Hartnett (March 7, 2017)
It’s rare that I read novels that I’d describe as charming, delightful, and sweet, but Rabbit Cake is exactly that! If you like endearing child narrators (a la Scout Finch) or are looking for a “happy” book, Rabbit Cake is for you!

Affiliate Link: Buy from Amazon

I’m currently reading…

White Fur by Jardine Libaire


White Fur
 by Jardine Libaire (May 30, 2017)
Ya’ll, I’m reading a love story and loving it! I normally steer clear of these because most feel cheesy to me, but this one is gritty, raw, and uncomfortable. Plus, the writing is absolutely gorgeous!
Affiliate Link: Pre-Order from Amazon

Upcoming reading plans…

One of the Boys by Daniel Magariel


One of the Boys by Daniel Magariel (March 14, 2017)
My library hold for this novel about three boys and their father starting over after their parents divorce finally came in! I hear it’s a pretty emotionally brutal read, but Susie at Novel Visits loved it. Plus, brutally emotional books don’t generally bother me.

I was reading…

One Year Ago: I read a delightful little gem of a novel.

Two Years Ago: I was reading a pretty awesome debut novel!

How was your reading week?

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Based on a True Story by Delphine de Vigan: Spoiler Discussion

May 11, 2017 Discussions 5

This post is full of spoilers, so STOP READING AFTER THE FIRST SECTION if you don’t want to know the ending (or other details).

Based on a True Story by Delphine de Vigan SpoilerFiction – Thriller
Released May 9, 2017
384 Pages
Bottom Line: Read it.
Affiliate Link: Buy from Amazon 
Source: Publisher (Bloomsbury USA)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This post contains affiliate links.

I’ve been somewhat burned out of psychological thrillers lately, especially those that are billed as “the next Gone Girl and/or The Girl on the Train.” I generally find that the big twist is either entirely predictable or completely outlandish…and neither one of those situations leaves me feeling satisfied. Completely outlandish is what killed the last thriller I tried (Behind Her Eyes). I wrote a spoiler discussion with all the gory details.

So, I recently tried going international for a satisfying thriller and it worked!

Based on a True Story (a smash hit in France already) is the memoir-style story of a writer’s toxic female friendship. It begins with a titillating Prologue and continues with a creepy, Single White Female vibe that left me dying to know how things would play out. It’s incredibly emotionally tense and de Vigan’s gorgeous writing helps accomplish this.

The first half of the book lays the psychological groundwork for the more action-packed second half. Why is L interested in Delphine? What could L possibly have done to make Delphine stop writing and essentially ruin her life?

The entire time I was reading, I understood that Based on a True Story was completely messing with my head. Much of the allure comes from the “is this story true or isn’t it?” vibe that permeates the entire story, so that’s what we’ll pick apart here.

I haven’t come close to figuring out where I stand on all these questions…and that’s one of the beauties of this story! You’ll keep turning it over in your mind for awhile and it’s a book that will spark debates, making it a great choice for book club.

STOP HERE IF YOU DON’T WANT TO KNOW SPOILERS!

Is Based on a True Story REALLY based on a true story?

I went into Based on a True Story thinking the book was, in fact, based on a true story. Aside from the obvious (the title), the publisher leads its blurb with this:

[…] a chilling work of fiction–but based on a true story–about a friendship gone terrifyingly toxic and the nature of reality.

And closes with this:

This sophisticated psychological thriller skillfully blurs the line between fact and fiction, reality and artifice. Delphine de Vigan has crafted a terrifying, insidious, meta-fictional thriller; a haunting vision of seduction and betrayal; a book which in its hungering for truth implicates the reader, too–even as it holds us in its thrall.

But, as I was reading, I started to completely question this assumption. A huge theme in the story is the idea that fictional entertainment (books, movies, TV shows) that are “based on a true story” (or marketed as such) are much more compelling for the audience than pure fiction. It’s the type of book L is trying to force Delphine to write next.

And I challenge all of us – you, me, anyone – to disentangle true from false. And in any case, it could be a literary project to write a whole book that presents itself as a true story, a book inspired by so-called real events, but in which everything, or nearly everything, is invented.

Based on a True Story is filled with these types of quotes! Are they a clue that we readers have been conned and that this is not, in fact, a true story? Is this entire book a huge indictment of the lemming-like nature of readers in general?

Based on a True Story could be pure fiction and that title could just refer to this prevailing theme in the book. But, would the publisher go so far as to mislead the public in its marketing blurb?

I’ve tried all kinds of Google searches and found very few actual news articles indicating whether this story is true or any English language in-depth interviews with de Vigan. She’s also not on Twitter. The only thing I’ve seen is a translation of a French language interview with de Vigan in Paris Match Magazine in a blog post by Susie at Novel Visits where she quoted as answering “in one form or another” when asked if there was an L. in her life.

Did Delphine imagine L?

It’s clear towards the end of the book that even Delphine herself questions whether L actually existed. When she figures out she’s been had (in a delightfully The Usual Suspects kind of way!), she tries to find tangible evidence of L’s existence in her life and she cannot find a shred.

It’s possible Delphine could have imagined L in the throes of a deep depression. But, I think the (pretty dang awesome, I might add!) ending pretty much negates this possibility.

If L didn’t exist, who submitted the “novel” in Delphine’s name to her publisher? Delphine could have written it while she was depressed, but would she really have no zero memory of it whatsoever? I guess it’s possible if you also believe she invented L entirely.

But, I’m not sure I buy that Delphine imagined L. while deeply depressed.

I see three possible interpretations of Based on a True Story.

Based on a True Story ends with The End*, the calling card L uses for her ghostwriting. This leads me to the following three interpretations of the book:

  1. Based on a True Story really is closely based on something that actually happened to de Vigan…and Based on a True Story is the actual book the very real L submitted to Delphine’s publisher under Delphine’s name. But, then, can the publisher release this book under de Vigan’s name in good conscience while knowing she didn’t actually write it?
  2. Like #1, Based on a True Story is based on some version of something that actually happened to Delphine, but Delphine really did write the book about her experience. But if this is true, then why did Delphine sign off with L’s calling card? To trick the reader? As a cheeky nod to L? This piece has me stumped.
  3. Based on a True Story is completely fiction (written by de Vigan) and the title refers to the theme I discussed above. Ending the book with L’s calling card is just a cheeky nod to her and the story. Maybe even inserted at the last minute by the publisher. But, again, why would be publisher then state it’s “based on a true story” in the marketing blurb?

I think all this ambiguity is intentional and meant to make the book more compelling…which it absolutely did for me.

As to which theory I personally subscribe to…I think it’s #2…mainly because of the quote Susie at Novel Visits found in the French language Paris Match MagazineBut, I admit I’m still questioning myself. There are holes in all three theories.

How do you feel about all the ambiguity? And, about never finding out who L really was or why she wanted to insinuate herself in Delphine’s life?

About knowing for sure if the book is based on a true story?

Part of me loves the fact that I finished the book weeks ago and am still trying to parce this all out. But, another, lazier, part of me wants the key to the castle…right now!

I’m definitely the type of reader who doesn’t mind an open or ambiguous ending…as long as it isn’t super abrupt and makes sense with the story. In this case, I think the ambiguity was intentional and well-crafted, so it doesn’t make me want to throw the book across the room.

Knowing who L really was or why she wanted to insinuate herself into Delphine’s life?

Initially, I was annoyed that this was never answered. But, now that some time has gone by, I’m much more focused on whether the story is true or not. L’s motive almost seems beside the point.

Let’s discuss! What did you think of Based on a True Story? How do you feel about all the ambiguity?

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Ten Read-Alikes I’m Dying to See

May 9, 2017 Book Lists 29

Top 10 Read-Alikes I'm Dying to See


Today’s Top Ten Tuesday (hosted by the Broke and the Bookish) topic is Ten Things on our Reading Wishlist.

Read-alikes are similar books that would appeal each other’s fans. Whenever you see books described by the publisher as “the next _____” or “for fans of _____”….those are read-alikes. Actually, those are what the publisher wants to you believe are read-alikes so they can sell lots of books. Hence, the egregious overuse of Gone Girl and The Girl on the Train comparisons that never seem to live up to the originals.

With this list, I’m not looking for the publisher’s view, but for books that actually do remind me of and come close to living up to the originals! For example, If We Were Villains by M.L. Rio (my review) actually did remind me of The Secret History and Black Chalk (my review) recently. So, cheers to not having to include those books on this list!

Ten Read-Alikes I’m Dying to See

Another City, Not My Own by Dominick Dunne
Well, I actually just want another author like Dominick Dunne. He wrote about the real crimes of the rich and famous in a delightfully gossipy and snarky way. He covered the OJ Simpson trial (in Another City, Not My Own), the Martha Moxley murder/Michael Skakel trial, the Billy Woodward murder, and financier Edmond Safra’s death, among others. There’s no one out there now quite like him.

Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn
You’d think this would be an easy read-alike to find given the number of books publishers slap with “the next Gone Girl” label! Alas, not so. I’m on the hunt for a psychological thriller that has a twist or ending that is completely surprising, yet not outlandish…and that, with hindsight, fits with the story.

Seating Arrangements by Maggie Shipstead (my review)
Like Gone Girl, tons of subsequent books have been marketed as “for fans of Seating Arrangements.” But, I haven’t found one that actually hits the right fun, but still dark and snarky tone of the original.

Shelter by Jung Yun (my review)
So many people I recommended this to loved it…and asked for more like it. I’ve got nothing! Find me another book that is as fast-paced, yet gorgeously written, emotionally brutal, and chock full of substantive issues!

The Devil in the White City by Erik Larson
The Devil in the White City is such a perfect and entertaining blend of true crime and history. The recent Killers of the Flower Moon kind of gets there, but didn’t have me quite as enthralled as The Devil in the White City.

The Dinner by Herman Koch (my review)
Koch has such a distinctive style (biting social commentary, has his characters think and say things that regular people would never admit to thinking…but probably do) and The Dinner is his masterpiece in my opinion. It’s tight, action-packed, and exemplary of his trademark style. His subsequent books don’t quite hit The Dinner‘s mark.

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson
Can you tell thrillers have been letting me down lately?! I’m in the market for another super unique, twisty, dark thriller with a bad*ss lady heroine!

The Interestings by Meg Wolitzer (my review)
“Group of friends making their way in New York City” books are a dime a dozen…and I approach each one hoping for the next The Interestings. Easier said than done. Recent underwhelming attempts are The Futures and Why We Came to the City.

The Swans of Fifth Avenue by Melanie Benjamin (my review)
I’ve recommended this book out the wazoo since reading it last year and I haven’t heard of anything else like it. It’s technically a novel, but is based on real events and uses real names. Benjamin even manages to write in a style reminiscent of Truman Capote, the main character in her novel.

Where’d You Go, Bernadette? by Maria Semple (my review)
This is another Seating Arrangements-type situation. Tons of books claim to be “the next Where’d You Go, Bernadette?” and none of them quite hit the right tone. Even Semple’s follow-up book, Today Will Be Different, didn’t do it.

What read-alikes are you dying to see? And, do you have read-alike recommendations for these books?

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It’s Monday, What Are You Reading? (5/8/17)

May 8, 2017 It's Monday! What are you reading? 17

Mother’s Day is only 6 days away and I’ve got you covered for the perfect Mother’s Day gift! Request a Personalized Book Recommendation for your Mom and I’ll get you a 2-3 recommendations tailored to her specific taste (or treat yourself!). Sign-up here!

Last week was particularly hectic in my personal life and I felt fairly distracted with my reading until things settled down late in the week. I’ve switched gears to some lighter books, which are better matches for the life craziness right now!

I haven’t talked much about my back injury lately…but I’ve been plugging away. I’m still in physical therapy twice a week and am gradually increasing the intensity of my workouts. They still aren’t anywhere close to what I was doing pre-injury, but I feel like I’m making baby steps progress. Last week, I ran a whole mile without a walk interval for the first time since the injury – so yay? I’m also learning to accept that it now takes a lot more to loosen my muscles than it did before this happened. So, the time I’m spending on stretching, foam rolling, and doing Jasyoga has dramatically increased.

Hosted by The Book Date.

This post contains affiliate links.

I finished reading…

Woman No 17, The Fact of a Body


Woman No. 17
 by Edan Lepucki (May 9, 2017)
My feelings about this book didn’t change during the last 40% (i.e. where I left you last week). I never really got the “sinister, sexy noir” or the “female friendship” elements…or figured out what the book is truly about. Mini review to come.

The Fact of a Body by Alexandria Marzano-Lesnevich (May 16, 2017)
My thoughts about this part memoir / part true crime are all over the place. I’m not sure what I expected, but it definitely wasn’t quite what I got. I found it a bit tedious and clunky initially, but ended up appreciating how the two stories linked up by the end. Warning: this one is an emotional gut-wrencher. Mini Review to come.

Affiliate Link: Buy from Amazon

I’m currently reading…

Trophy Son by Douglas Brunt


Trophy Son
 by Douglas Brunt (May 30, 2017)
I’m almost done with this novel about a young tennis prodigy with an overbearing sports father and it’s exactly the type of book I need right now! It’s a unique spin on a coming of age story and I’m flying through it. Bonus if you’re a tennis fan, but that’s not necessary to enjoy it! 

Affiliate Link: Buy from Amazon

Upcoming reading plans…

I’m not quite sure! I’ve been powering through May ARC’s for the last few weeks and I might try to fit in something from my “must try before the end of the year” list. Or, I might tackle my one remaining May ARC.

Rabbit Cake, White Fur

 

Rabbit Cake by Annie Hartnett (March 7, 2017)
Susie at Novel Visits recently put this debut novel featuring a lovable twelve year old girl narrator on my radar and since then I’ve been hearing a lot of great buzz about it.

White Fur by Jardine Libaire (May 30, 2017)
Diane at Bibliophile by the Sea raved about this 1980’s NYC love story. I normally avoid books about romance, but I hear this one is untraditional and gritty, which is much more up my alley. This is the aforementioned “one remaining May ARC.”

I was reading…

One Year Ago: I was reading one of last year’s buzziest books.

Two Years Ago: I was reading one of the few YA novels I read last year.

How was your reading week?

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April 2017 Monthly Round-Up

May 4, 2017 Monthly Round-Ups 15

April 2017 Monthly Round-Up

This post contains affiliate links and I will make a small commission if you make a purchase after clicking on my links.

April Reading / Life

My Favorite Book(s) of the Month

Best Books of the Month

Based on a True Story by Delphine de Vigan (May 9, 2017)
Fiction, 384 Pages
Affiliate Link: Buy from Amazon

If We Were Villains by M.L Rio (April 11, 2017), My Review
Nonfiction, 352 Pages
Affiliate Link: Buy from Amazon

PS – last year’s Best Book of April was Shelter by Yung Jun (my review)…one of my Top 3 Books of 2016!

Best Selling Book(s) of the Month (via my affiliate links)

Black Chalk by Christopher J. Yates
Dead Letters by Caite Dolan-Leach
Lillian Boxfish Takes a Walk
by Kathleen Rooney
The Roanoke Girls by Amy Engel

May Releases I’m Excited About

Based on a True Story by Delphine de Vigan (May 9)
The Fact of a Body by Alexandria Marzano-Lesnevich (May 16)
Trophy Son by Douglas Brunt (May 30)
White Fur by Jardine Libaire (May 30)

Most Popular Posts

Posts Actually Published in April
It’s Monday, What Are You Reading? (4/10/17)
Book of the Month Club April 2017 Selections: What Would I Choose?

How to Ask for Book Recommendations…So You Find Books You’ll Love

Overall Posts
Book Club Recommendations

Behind Her Eyes and THAT Ending: Spoiler Discussion
A Gentleman in Moscow by Amor Towles: On Appreciating, Yet Not Loving a Book*

*Ya’ll, this is the first time a book review has been one of my top posts! Who knew not liking A Gentleman in Moscow would get me so many pageviews?!

Favorite Posts by Fellow Bloggers

How was your reading month?

Looking for a specific book recommendation? I’ve got you covered!
Participate in a limited time, free trial of my
new PERSONALIZED BOOK RECOMMENDATION service!

Book of the Month Club May 2017 Selections: What Would I Choose? (Plus a Paula Hawkins Freebie!)

May 1, 2017 Book Recommendations 16

Book of the Month Club May 2017 Selections

This post contains affiliate links and I will be compensated if you make a purchase after clicking on my links.


Do you want to know more about the five Book of the Month Club May 2017 selections before making your choice(s)?

Welcome to my monthly feature “Book of the Month Club Selections: What Would I Choose?”! Every month, I provide commentary on the books that are chosen as that month’s Book of the Month Club selections and tell you which book(s) I would choose.

If you loved The Girl on the Train, May is the month to join Book of the Month Club! New members will get a free copy of Paula Hawkins’s new novel, Into the Water, which I’ve heard is even better than The Girl on the Train! Use Promo Code WATER.

This month, I’ve *kind of* read two of the Book of the Month Club May 2017 selections, yet I’d recommend selecting a different book. 

Book of the Month Club April 2017 Selections

Woman No 17 by Edan LepuckiWoman No. 7 by Edan Lepucki (Released: May 9, 2017)
320 Pages
Average Goodreads Rating: 3.72
Selected By: Kim Hubbard (Books Editor for People Magazine)

A sinister, sexy noir about art, motherhood, and the intensity of female friendships, set in the posh hills above Los Angeles, from the New York Times bestselling author of California.

My Thoughts:
I’m about 60% through this novel and it’s not what I expected. I’m not seeing the “sinister, sexy noir” or the “female friendship” elements. And, I’m still unclear what the book is truly about. I do love the character of Lady’s older son (Seth), but that’s only one of a number of muddled storylines. A fellow book blogger who is already reading it right now has similar thoughts. Kirkus Reviews seemed lukewarm about it, while Publisher’s Weekly and Shelf Awareness are more generous.

Love Interest by Cale DietrichThe Love Interest by Cale Dietrich (Released: May 16, 2017)
384 Pages
Average Goodreads Rating: 4.02
Selected By: Stacey Armand (“You Be the Judge” Winner)

There is a secret organization that cultivates teenage spies. The agents are called Love Interests because getting close to people destined for great power means getting valuable secrets.

Caden is a Nice: The boy next door, sculpted to physical perfection. Dylan is a Bad: The brooding, dark-souled guy, and dangerously handsome. The girl they are competing for is important to the organization, and each boy will pursue her. Will she choose a Nice or the Bad?

My Thoughts:
Yikes! This novel definitely does not sound like my cup of tea. I’d never heard of it until the May selections came out, but I’ve since learned it’s a YA debut. If you like YA, this one supposedly features a love triangle and some thriller elements. Publisher’s Weekly warned the reader is left with “dangling threads” and “unanswered questions,” so make sure you’re okay with open endings.

The Leavers by Lisa KoThe Leavers by Lisa Ko (Release Date: May 2, 2017)
352 Pages
Average Goodreads Rating: 4.01
Selected By: Elizabeth Kiefer (Refinery 29)

One morning, Deming Guo’s mother, an undocumented Chinese immigrant named Polly, goes to her job at the nail salon and never comes home. No one can find any trace of her. […] He is eventually adopted by two white college professors who move him from the Bronx to a small town upstate.

Set in New York and China, The Leavers is a vivid and moving examination of borders and belonging. It’s the story of how one boy comes into his own when everything he’s loved has been taken away–and how a mother learns to live with the mistakes of her past.

My Thoughts:
This novel is one of the most highly anticipated debuts of this year. It’s already won the 2016 PEN/Bellwether Prize for Socially Engaged Fiction. And, Ann Patchett (one of my favorite authors) called it “beautifully written, ambitious, and moving.” I thought I would enjoy it because I love stories about immigrants’ experience trying to fit into American culture.

However, I had a hard time connecting with the characters and kept zoning out, so I put it down at the 13% mark. Since then, Gabby at 500 Books said this about it:

[…] while I won’t rave about it because I didn’t love it, it got much, much better when you started to get the mom’s side of the story. I wish the whole book had been about the mom, honestly, because Deming/Daniel’s story was a struggle for me. 

Priestdaddy by Patricia LockwoodPriestdaddy by Patricia Lockwood (Released: May 2, 2017)
352 Pages
Average Goodreads Rating: 4.54
Selected By: Nina Sankovitch (Bestselling Author)

From Patricia Lockwood—a writer acclaimed for her wildly original voice—a vivid, heartbreakingly funny memoir about having a married Catholic priest for a father.

My Thoughts:
This memoir has been billed as great for fans of dysfunctional family memoirs (sign me up!) and just prior to learning what this month’s Book of the Month Club selections would be, I’d added it to my TBR list! It was on Publisher’s Weekly Best Summer Books 2017 List and has Lockwood has been compared to Jenny Lawson (Let’s Pretend This Never Happened) and Carrie Brownstein (Hunger Makes Me a Modern Girl). It’s supposedly funny and serious and her priest father is apparently quite the eccentric character.

Warning: I hear her humor is raunchy and sexually explicit, so steer clear if that stuff bothers you. Maybe check out her Twitter feed to get a sense of her voice and style of humor.

Since We Fell by Dennis LehaneSince We Fell by Dennis Lehane (Released: May 9, 2017)
432 Pages
Average Goodreads Rating: 3.70
Selected By: Sarah Weinman (writer, editor and “Crime Lady”)

Since We Fell follows Rachel Childs, a former journalist who, after an on-air mental breakdown, now lives as a virtual shut-in. In all other respects, however, she enjoys an ideal life with an ideal husband. Until a chance encounter on a rainy afternoon causes that ideal life to fray. As does Rachel’s marriage. As does Rachel herself.

My Thoughts:
I have never read Dennis Lehane before, but he also wrote bestsellers Mystic River and Shutter Island, among others.  Since We Fell strikes me as somewhat of a psychological thriller and is this month’s fiction selection that is most appealing to me. Library Reads included Since We Fell on their May 2017 list of books librarians across the country love. Kirkus gave it a starred review and Publisher’s Weekly praised its character development, calling it an “expertly wrought character study masquerading as a thriller.”

What Book of the Month Club May 2017 selection(s) would I choose?

My choices this month would be Priestdaddy or, if you’re in the mood for fiction, Since We Fell!

Make your Book of the Month Club selections by Saturday, May 6th.

Join Book of the Month Club…

Book of the Month Club is a subscription service for people who like to try new books from a curated selection and like to read in hardcover format. Through Book of the Month Club, you can get a hardcover book for generally significantly less than you’d pay in a bookstore or through Amazon. And, you get to try something new that has been vetted by one of Book of the Month Club’s well-read judges!

Sign up for any of the subscription plans below and you get to choose one of five books selected by Book of the Month Club’s panel of judges (including a surprise guest judge). Book of the Month Club will then mail your chosen book to your house with a cute note. You also have the option to purchase additional books for $9.99 each and to skip a month if you want.

Sign up for a Book of the Month Club membership (pricing below)!

1-month: $5 for first month, $14.99/month if you choose to continue
3-month: $9.99 for first 3 months, $14.99/month if you choose to continue
6-month: only available as a gift
12-month: $11.99/month

Special May Deals:
1) NEW members get a FREE copy of The Girl on the Train author Paula Hawkins’s new novel, Into the Water, with the purchase of a 3 month subscription.
2) Anyone who gifts a BOTM membership will get 1 month free for him/herself! Gifts are available in 3, 6 or 12 month plans. This offer runs through May 14th. The free month can be redeemed at any time after the gift is purchased.


*All book descriptions are from Goodreads.

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It’s Monday, What Are You Reading? (5/1/17)

May 1, 2017 It's Monday! What are you reading? 13

Mother’s Day is just around the corner and I’ve got you covered for the perfect Mother’s Day gift! Request a Personalized Book Recommendation for your Mom and I’ll get you a 2-3 recommendations tailored to her specific taste (or treat yourself!). Sign-up here!

Those International thrillers I was digging into last week were hit and miss…and now I’m trying to read all my May ARCs before the middle of the month so I can hopefully include a few more titles on my 2017 Summer Reading Guide!

I also briefly tried a couple books that I didn’t even read long enough to put in my usual “I tried, but wasn’t feeling…” section. I couldn’t connect with the writing style of No One Is Coming to Save Us by Stephanie Powell Watts and I kept zoning out while reading Fake Plastic Love by Kimberley Tait.

Finally, my commentary on the May Book of the Month Club selections is now up! I wasn’t super impressed with this month’s selections…mainly because I DNF’d one and didn’t love another that I’d already read. But, there are some awesome special deals this month!

Hosted by The Book Date.

This post contains affiliate links.

I finished reading…

Based on a True Story, The Dry by Jane Harper


Based on a True Story
 by Delphine de Vigan (May 9, 2017)
I’m still trying to think through how I feel about this book. What I do know is it’s a complete mindf*uck! It’s emotionally tense, ambiguous, and there is a lot to figure out. It’s definitely not for everyone, but it is a book that begs to be discussed after you finish it, making it a great book club selection. Spoiler discussion to come.
Affiliate Link: Pre-Order from Amazon

The Dry by Jane Harper (January 10, 2017)
People seem to love this Australian mystery and the beginning stood out to me as a mystery that A) lacked the usual cheesy cop banter of police novels and B) had strong character development (both good things in my book!). Sadly, the ending was all kinds of mystery cliche and made the overall book just okay for me. Not sure what all the hype is about here.

I’m currently reading…

Woman No 17 by Edan Lepucki


Woman No. 17
 by Edan Lepucki (May 9, 2017)
I’m about 60% through this “sinister, sexy noir about art, motherhood, and the intensity of female friendships, set in the posh hills above Los Angeles” (Goodreads) and I’m not sure the blurb is an accurate description. I’m not seeing the “sinister, sexy noir” or the “female friendship” elements. And, I’m still unclear what the book is truly about. 

Upcoming reading plans…

The Fact of a Body by Alexandria Marzano-Lesnevich


The Fact of a Body
 by Alexandria Marzano-Lesnevich (May 16, 2017)
I’ve been SO psyched to read this true crime memoir! Celeste Ng (author of Everything I Never Told You and the upcoming Little Fires Everywhere) said it was “equal parts gripping and haunting and will leave you questioning whether any one story can hold the full truth.” Plus, it’s been recommended for fans of the Serial podcast and Making A Murderer. This one sounds 100% up my alley. I’m now praying it lives up to the hype I’ve created in my head.

I was reading…

One Year Ago: The Expatriates broke a reading slump!

Two Years Ago: I’d just finished a book blogger darling and was reading my first 5 star short story collection.

How was your reading week?

Looking for a specific book recommendation? I’ve got you covered!
Participate in my limited time, free trial of my
new PERSONALIZED BOOK RECOMMENDATION service!