What I’m Reading Now (7/17/17)

July 17, 2017 It's Monday! What are you reading? 24

I was at a wedding this weekend in Colorado, which was absolutely gorgeous. I had some solo travel time, so I got a fair amount of reading done. And bonus…I spotted Bachelor Ben Higgins in the Denver airport!

I’ve been on a hot streak with books about crime lately…both fiction and nonfiction. So, I’ll be doing a crime books round-up soon!

I also finished Who Thought This Was a Good Idea? by Alyssa Mastromonaco on audio and I highly recommend it if you’re interested in what goes on behind the scenes at the White House (and on the campaign trail). Though Mastromonaco was an Obama staffer, the book is not political at all from an issues standpoint. I haven’t gotten too far into another audiobook because I’ve been listening to lots of podcasts lately…and the comments section of my recent podcast round-up just generated even more for me to try!

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I finished reading…

Quicksand by Malin Persson Giolito, American fire by Monica Hesse


Quicksand
 by Malin Persson Giolito
 (March 7, 2017)
5 star good! Squarely in my dark, twisty, demented high schoolers wheelhouse. I was completely engrossed and the 500 pages flew by. Mini review to come and I’ll be adding this to my 2017 Summer Reading Guide.

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American Fire: Love, Arson, and Life in a Vanishing Land by Monica Hesse (July 11, 2017)
If you haven’t read much true crime and think you might want to try some, American Fire is the perfect gateway book! It’s a well-told story about a crime, a unique community, and a doomed relationship. I loved it! Mini review to come.

Affiliate Link: Buy from Amazon

I’m currently reading…

The Lauras by Sara Taylor


The Lauras
 by Sara Taylor (August 1, 2017)
This story of a mother/daughter road trip where they explore the mother’s past is Taylor’s sophomore novel (her debut, The Shore (my review), was long-listed for the Baileys Women’s Fiction Prize and, after finally getting my head around the structure, I loved it!). I’m about 20% into The Lauras and not really into it at this point. I’ll probably give it a little longer before deciding whether to move on.

I tried, but wasn’t feeling…

Ill Will by Dan Chaon


Ill Will
 by Dan Chaon (March 7, 2017)
I’d had this novel about two unsolved crimes (one past and one present) on hold at the library for awhile now. Unfortunately, after initially intriguing me, I got bored and realized I didn’t care what happened to the characters. DNF at 13%.

Upcoming reading plans…

Unless one of my library holds comes in, I’m going to continue with August releases!

See What I Have Done by Sarah Schmidt


See What I Have Done
 by Sarah Schmidt (August 1, 2017)
Continuing with my crime book theme, this debut novel is a fictional recounting of the famous Lizzie Borden murders of 1892. Sounds promising!

was reading…

One Year Ago: I read a delightful foodie/friendship memoir and was mentioned on The Book Riot Podcast!

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

How was your reading week?

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Read One, Skip One: Goodbye, Vitamin and What We Lose

July 13, 2017 Mini Book Reviews 12

Today’s installment of Read One, Skip One is all about short debut novels told in a vignette style…which can be somewhat of a risky structure for a novel. On the one hand, it’s nice to be able to read in little snippets and, on the other, it can sometimes be hard to get engrossed in a vignette-style story. Today, we have one very successful vignette-style book…and one not so much (for me at least).

Goodbye Vitamin by Rachel KhongGoodbye, Vitamin by Rachel Khong
Fiction – Debut (
Released July 11, 2017)
208 Pages
Affiliate Link: Buy from Amazon
Source: Publisher (Henry Holt)

Plot Summary: Ruth returns to her parents’ home in the L.A. area to help care for her father, who is suffering from Alzheimer’s.

My Thoughts: Goodbye, Vitamin is the type of book that could get overlooked because it’s all about the intangibles, but don’t make the mistake of overlooking this one! Though this story is about a sad and serious topic, it has a lightness to it and is amusing at times. The story is told through Ruth’s journal entries that read like little vignettes, a format that worked for me in this case because I absolutely adored Ruth’s endearing, witty, real, and relatable voice. It was the overwhelming reason I enjoyed Goodbye, Vitamin so much.

What do I do all day? I don’t even know. I dig hair out of the bathroom drain with a chopstick. I listen to what sounds like a dog whimpering, and which turns out to be a squirrel talking to another squirrel. I watch a woman in scrubs walk by our living-room window, neatly eating a taco.

I read messages on Alzheimer’s caregiver forums – threads about Medicare, about the best brand of adult diaper, about what to do if your loved one accuses you of stealing his money. Consensus: Be calm, apologize.

On a different board, I read the messages about how to find your life’s passion. Consensus: try everything.

In addition to caring for her father (which she has a dry sense of humor about), she struggles with regular quarter-life crisis issues including a recent break-up and figuring out what she wants to do with her life. Ruth also learns more about her parents’ marriage and has a hard time processing her understanding of them as people beyond their roles as parents. Plus, there’s a spot-on segment about The Bachelor (Juan Pablo, specifically), which I greatly appreciated! Don’t miss this tiny, little gem!

What We Lose by Zinzi ClemmonsWhat We Lose by Zinzi Clemmons
Fiction – Debut (
Released July 11, 2017)
192 Pages
Affiliate Link: Buy from Amazon
Source: Publisher (Viking)

Plot Summary: Thandi, raised by her South African mother and American father in Philadelphia, struggles with the loss of her mother, her identity, and the ramifications of South African apartheid on her extended family who remains there.

My Thoughts: This debut coming of age novel has been getting lots of pre-publication buzz, but it didn’t come together for me. It reads like a memoir and I actually double-checked that it was, in fact, a novel after I started reading. Clemmons shared brilliant and brilliantly worded commentary on terminal illness, grief, race, the violence in post-apartheid South Africa, and the cultural differences between her and her South African cousins.

American blacks were my precarious homeland – because of my light skin and foreign roots, I was never fully accepted by any race. Plus my family had money, and all the black kids in my town came from the poorer areas. I was friends with the kids who lived on my block and were in my honors classes – white kids. I was a strange in-betweener.

Unfortunately, that brilliance was inconsistent. The novel is structured into vignettes that jump around in time and don’t always hang together. It felt jumpy and prevented me from becoming engrossed in the story for any sustained period of time. Though What We Lose didn’t work for me, I did see enough snippets of brilliance to make me want to keep my eye out for what Clemmons does next.

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17 Awesome Podcasts I’ve Been Listening to Lately (Bookish and Non)

July 11, 2017 Podcasts 30

17 Awesome Podcasts I've Been Listening To Lately


Podcasts are my one of my favorite forms of entertainment these days…mostly because they make boring tasks way more interesting and they work for me during times when audiobooks don’t. So, I thought it was about time to share the awesome podcasts I’ve been listening to lately (some of which are brand, spankin’ new!)!

I should absolutely be embarrassed about some of these (I know my mom will be), but I like a healthy mix of high and lowbrow entertainment.

I focused on newer-to-me podcasts for this post, so I haven’t included a few huge podcasts that I’ve been listening to for a long time (The Book Riot Podcast, All the Books, and What Should I Read Next?). 

Podcasts about Books and Reading

Annotated
Just launched (as in 2 weeks ago) by the folks at Book Riot, Jeff O’Neal and Rebecca Schinsky (co-hosts of The Book Riot Podcast) host what they’ve described as “This American Life for books.” Only one episode has dropped so far (“Is It 1984 Yet?”), but it was a fascinating one!

Drunk Booksellers
In this monthly podcast, hosts Kim and Emma interview different booksellers about books and bookstores…and feature a special cocktail. The talk is often boozy and profane, which is fine with me! There hasn’t been a new episode since May, but I’m hoping that will change soon.

From the Front Porch
Annie Jones and Chris Jensen of The Bookshelf in Thomasville, Georgia talk “books, small business, and life in the South.” I’ve recently gotten some fantastic book recommendations from this podcast, especially from Annie. She steered me in the right direction on Rabbit Cake and Standard Deviation…and now I’m anxiously awaiting American Fire (out today) thanks to her (and Book of the Month Club). I’m a big fan of their monthly reading recaps and “Love it or Loathe it” feature (where they break down whether they loved or hated a particular book…most recently A Separation).

Just the Right Book with Roxanne Coady
Hosted by the owner of R.J. Julia Booksellers (an independent bookstore in Madison, CT), Just the Right Book features author interviews, reading discussions, and book recommendations. I’m partial to her author interviews and have recently loved episodes featuring Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, John Grisham, and Yewande Omotoso (author of The Woman Next Door).

Reading Glasses
I literally just started listening to this podcast hosted by Brea Grant and Mallory O’Meara where they “help you get more out of your literary experiences.” I enjoyed a recent episode on caring about book awards and am planning to dig into their backlist with Readers in a Non-Reader World and Navigating New Releases.

Podcasts with Great Blogging Tips

Brilliant Business Moms
Hosted by Beth Anne Schwamberger, owner of Brilliant Business Moms, which provides practical business advice and community support for “Mamapreneurs.” The podcast highlights practical business advice from mom entrepreneur guests. While not every episode is pertinent to bloggers, many of them are! I’ve learned a ton about social media, email marketing, branding, and how to think creatively from Beth Anne and her guests.

The Chopped Podcast
Hosted by Marly McMillen of NamelyMarly.com, this podcast is actually for food bloggers, but much of the information is applicable to blogging in general. She generally interviews a guest and recent episodes on SEO (#124) and Google Analytics (#129) are chock full of awesome information that bloggers should know, but probably don’t.

The Strategy Hour Podcast
Abagail and Emylee help female online entrepreneurs “break down their Oprah-sized dreams to create a functioning command center to tame the chaos of their business.” Their podcast, blog, and online courses are chock full of tips that are applicable to book bloggers…email marketing, social media, how to run a successful launch, how to stay mentally positive, and much more. Their “badass boss babe” attitude will make you feel like you can do literally anything!

Non-Trashy Entertainment Podcasts

30 for 30 Podcasts
Y’all have probably heard of ESPN’s 30 for 30 documentary series…well, it just became a brand spanking new podcast! 30 for 30 tackles sports stories “that touch on larger themes beyond sports.” The first episode featuring the U.S. decathlon duo (and Reebok marketing juggernauts) Dan and Dave grabbed my Olympics-loving heart.  

Revisionist History
Malcolm Gladwell (author of Outliers and The Tipping Point) “reinterprets something from the past: an event, a person, an idea. Something overlooked. Something misunderstood.” Season 2 premiered recently with episodes on L.A. golf courses (I swear, this is fascinating) and a look at a terrorist who switched sides. Some of my favorite episodes from Season 1 are The Big Man Can’t Shoot (about granny-style free throw shooting in the NBA) and Carlos Doesn’t Remember (about how hard it is to overcome hardship in the American school system).

Sorta Awesome
Co-hosted by Megan Tietz, Rebekah Hoffer, Laura Tremaine, and Kelly Gordon, Sorta Awesome is “geared toward women who want to stay current on all things awesome, including culture, media, trending conversations and general girlfriend chat.” They talk about anything and everything and I’m not always interested in every episode. But, a couple episodes have really stuck with me (The Awesome Freedom of the Don’t Do List and S-Town by Serial: Thoughts and Theories) and they often talk books, including a monthly preview of the Book of the Month Club selections.

Trashy Entertainment Podcasts (i.e. The Bachelor franchise and other reality TV)

Channel 33’s Bachelor/ette Party
Juliet Litman and a guest host break down The Bachelor franchise shows without spoilers. I’m generally on Juliet’s page about which contestants are terrible and which are pretty awesome…and she has a massive and awkwardly open crush on Ben Higgins.

Channel 33’s Jam Session
The Ringer‘s Juliet Litman (also co-host of Bachelor/ette Party, mentioned above) and Mallory Rubin talk celebrity gossip and pop culture. Juliet, in particular’s, take on things is right up my alley. She and I are often on the same page about the celebrities who are douchebags and general douchebag behavior.

Mouthing Off with Olivia Caridi
Olivia Caridi, resident Bachelor villain from Ben Higgins‘ season, talks to various reality TV stars. She’s a smart and witty interviewer (she was a broadcast journalist before going on The Bachelor) and isn’t afraid to call B.S. on some of her guests. She interviews lots of past Bachelor contestants, but also branches out from Bachelor Nation (into Southern Charm, which makes me happy!).

Reality Steve Podcast
Y’all have probably heard me talk about Reality Steve before…he’s the blogger that spoils all the Bachelor franchise shows every season. And, provides a look behind the curtain of reality TV and The Bachelor/ette in particular. He’s gotten me to watch the show an entirely different way. On the podcast, he interviews past contestants who are no longer under contract with ABC (so they spill tons of dirt) and is now branching out into other people from the reality TV world.

The Ben and Ashley I Almost Famous Podcast
Co-hosts ex-Bachelor Ben Higgins and ex-Bachelor and Bachelor in Paradise contestant/resident crier Ashley Iaconetti chat about all things Bachelor and interview past contestants. They have a silly dynamic and I promise Ashley is actually smart and articulate (despite her showing on the Bachelor shows). Though there are definitely some things that annoy me about this podcast (particularly Ben’s tendency to talk down to and over Ashley and the cheesy “call-ins” they do), but the juicy gossip does outweigh the bad.

Do you listen to podcasts? What awesome ones have you been listening to lately?

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What I’m Reading Now (7/10/17)

July 10, 2017 It's Monday! What are you reading? 29

I was on vacation and not posting on the blog last week, so here comes a double dose of books! Vacation was full of swimming (the kids…not me since swimming still hurts my back), boating, kayaking, fishing, and hanging out with family. I read some, but not a ton.

Highlights of the week were my son catching a good size Spanish Mackerel, which my brother turned into delicious fish tacos for dinner) and my daughter learning how to dive. Oh, and both my children participated in their first official running race. My son did great and I ended up carrying my daughter for the entire (fun?) run. 

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I finished reading…

Final Girls, Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine, Double Bind


Final Girls by Riley Sager
 (July 11, 2017)
Yet another thriller that totally disappointed me. This time, it was because the ending completely jumped the shark (a frequent occurrence in thrillers that always turns me off) and I had trouble buying the main character’s decision-making.

Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman (May 9, 2017)
This debut novel is getting so much buzz and I liked it alright, but it definitely didn’t blow me away. I’m still processing exactly how I feel about it…though I do know I loved Eleanor. Things were a bit too neat and tidy for my taste, but that will definitely make it appealing to others. Review to come (most likely).

Affiliate Link: Buy from Amazon

Double Bind: Women on Ambition edited by Robin Romm (April 11, 2017)
I’d been reading an essay here and there from this collection, so it’s taken me quite awhile to finish it! Like many essay collections, it was hit and miss for me. But, it’s definitely chock full of sage nuggets of insight into the various ways women view ambition.

Affiliate Link: Buy from Amazon

I’m currently reading…

Quicksand by Malin Persson Giolito


Quicksand
 by Malin Persson Giolito
 (March 7, 2017)
I saw this Swedish “courtroom thriller” about a school shooting on Read it Forward’s Favorite Reads of March 2017, but I literally haven’t heard a peep about it since…except when I went to put it on hold at my local library, the hold list was a mile long! So, people out there are reading it…just not the corner of the bookish internet that I normally frequent. Anyway – I’m just over halfway through and it’s awesome…has a deliciously dark Cruel Intentions vibe.

I tried, but wasn’t feeling…

The Windfall by Diksha Basu


The Windfall
 by Diksha Basu
 (June 27, 2017)
DNF at 34%. I liked the very beginning of this novel, but quickly got bored. Nothing much was happening and I was hoping for more biting social commentary about the wealthy.

Upcoming reading plans…

What She Ate, American Fire


What She Ate: Six Remarkable Women and the Food That Tells Their Stories
 by Laura Shapiro
 (July 25, 2017)
I haven’t read a food book in awhile and this essay collection focusing on the meaning of food for famous women including Eleanor Roosevelt, Eva Braun (Hitler’s mistress), and Helen Gurley Brown (editor of Cosmopolitan magazine) caught my eye!

American Fire: Love, Arson, and Life in a Vanishing Land by Monica Hesse (July 11, 2017)
This nonfiction about a series of arson fires in a small town on the Eastern Shore of Virginia supposedly reads like a page turner and is great for fans of the S-Town podcast (check!), In Cold Blood (check!), and Hillbilly Elegy (check again!). Plus, that small Eastern Shore town is about 40 miles north of where my father-in-law grew up, where my husband and I got married, and where we still vacation every summer.

was reading…

One Year Ago: I shared Catherine at Gilmore Guide and I’s ridiculous texts about the U.S. Olympic Swimming trials…and read a backlist winner.

Two Years Ago: I shared my July 4th vacation reading…one of which was one of my Best Books of 2015!

How was your reading week?

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Book of the Month Club July 2017 Selections: What Would I Choose?

July 1, 2017 Book Recommendations 8

Book of the Month Club July 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.

In addition to the five July selections, Book of the Month Club is offering two extras this month (which Book of the Month Club members can add to their boxes for only $9.99 each):

Unlike last month, I’m excited about a number of the July selections! I’ve already read two and really liked one of those! Plus, two other picks are on my TBR list.

Book of the Month Club July 2017 Selections

Final Girls by Riley SagerFinal Girls by Riley Sager (Release Date: July 11, 2017)
352 Pages
Average Goodreads Rating: 4.09
Selected By: Liberty Hardy (co-host of Book Riot‘s All the Books podcast)

Ten years ago, college student Quincy Carpenter went on vacation with five friends and came back alone, the only survivor of a horror movie–scale massacre. In an instant, she became a member of a club no one wants to belong to—a group of similar survivors known in the press as the Final Girls.

My Thoughts:
Stephen King called this “the first great thriller of 2017,” but he also compared it to Gone Girl, which is somewhat irritating (because this comparison is egregiously overused). I just finished it and thought it was kind of “meh” (2 stars). Renee at It’s Book Talk (a blogger whose taste I often agree with) had trouble believing in the story and I agree. It was one of those endings that jumped the shark and I had some issues with Quincy’s decision-making along the way. On the flip side, the generally tough Kirkus gave it a starred review and called Sager “a fresh voice in psychological suspense.” I should also probably note that I tend to have trouble with thrillers in general. 

American Fire by Monica HesseAmerican Fire by Monica Hesse (Release Date: July 11, 2017)
288 Pages
Average Goodreads Rating: 4.09
Selected By: Elizabeth Kiefer (Books & Senior Features Editor, Refinery 29)

Though it’s hard to believe today, one hundred years ago Accomack was the richest rural county in the nation. Slowly it’s been drained of its industry—agriculture—as well as its wealth and population. In an already remote region, limited employment options offer little in the way of opportunity. A mesmerizing and crucial panorama with nationwide implications, American Fire asks what happens when a community gets left behind. Hesse brings to life the Eastern Shore and its inhabitants, battling a punishing economy and increasingly terrified by a string of fires they could not explain. The result evokes the soul of rural America—a land half gutted before the fires even began.

My Thoughts:
I’ve had this nonfiction on my TBR list ever since Annie Jones from From the Front Porch podcast recommended it and called it a combination of In Cold Blood and Hillbilly Elegy, both of which are completely up my alley. Plus, Annie has steered me right twice recently with Rabbit Cake and Standard Deviation. I’m also hearing American Fire has a page-turner feel, which is somewhat rare for nonfiction. Kirkus gave it a starred review and called it a “true crime saga that works in every respect.” I’ll definitely be reading American Fire this month!

The Child by Fiona BartonThe Child by Fiona Barton (Released: June 27, 2017)
384 Pages
Average Goodreads Rating: 4.05
Selected By: Cristina Arreola (Bustle Books Editor)

As an old house is demolished in a gentrifying section of London, a workman discovers a tiny skeleton, buried for years. For journalist Kate Waters, it s a story that deserves attention. She cobbles together a piece for her newspaper, but at a loss for answers, she can only pose a question: Who is the Building Site Baby?

My Thoughts:
The Child is a psychological thriller by the author of The Widow (a New York Times bestseller). As you may know, this is not my go-to genre. But, if it is yours, The Child has been getting some good reviews. Author Lee Child said it is “tense, tantalizing, and ultimately very satisfying…definitely one of the year’s must-reads.” Publisher’s Weekly gave it a starred review and cautioned readers that they would be rewarded for patience with the early slow pace with “a stunning, emotionally satisfying conclusion.” And, it’s received the obligatory comparisons to Gone Girl and The Girl on the Train that get applied to virtually every psychological thriller published over the last few years. My tip to you: take these comparisons with a grain of salt. 

The Windfall by Diksha BasuThe Windfall by Diksha Basu (Released: June 27, 2017)
304 Pages
Average Goodreads Rating: 3.76
Selected By: Rachel Syme (Writer, Editor, soon to be Random House-published author)

A heartfelt comedy of manners for readers of Seating Arrangements and Crazy Rich Asians, Diksha Basu’s debut novel unfolds the story of a family discovering what it means to be nouveau riche in modern India. 

My Thoughts:
The Windfall is a unique spin on the fun “wealthy people behaving badly” category. Catherine at Gilmore Guide to Books (who I trust implicitly about these types of books) gave it 4 stars and called it the “Indian version of the Clampetts as they head to Beverly Hills with their oil money.” She also said it “strikes the perfect balance between humor and tenderness, blending compassion with comedy.” I’ve read the first 20 pages and am intrigued so far! This one should be your pick if you’re looking for a fun beach read!

Goodbye Vitamin by Rachel KhongGoodbye, Vitamin by Rachel Khong (Release Date: July 11, 2017)
208 Pages
Average Goodreads Rating: 4.15
Selected By: Isaac Fitzgerald (Books Editor at Buzzfeed Books)

A young woman (Ruth) returns home to care for her failing father in this fine, funny, and inescapably touching debut, from an affecting and wonderfully original new literary voice.

My Thoughts:
I’ve read this book and really liked it (4 stars)…it’s sweet, heart-warming, honest, and funny! Though it’s about a sad and serious topic, it has a lightness to it. The story is told through Ruth’s journal entries that read like little vignettes. And, I absolutely adored Ruth’s endearing, witty, and relatable voice. This is a book that could possibly get overlooked (but shouldn’t!) because it’s appeal is in the intangibles. It was also one of Buzzfeed‘s 22 Exciting New Books You Need to Read This Summer.

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

I’m going to take the easy way out this month because I truly am really excited about multiple selections…and they’re so different from each other!

My choice(s) this month would be:

Make your Book of the Month Club selections by Thursday, July 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: $10
2-month: $10 per month, then $15 per month
3-month: $10 per month, then $15 per month

Special July Deal:
Finally, we’re giving away our sturdy canvas tote to anyone who signs up for two months (or more) and uses code: TOTALLY at checkout. 


*All book descriptions are from Goodreads.

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June 2017 Monthly Round-Up

June 29, 2017 Monthly Round-Ups 15

June 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.

June Reading / Life

  • After an amazing month of reading in May (with 3 favorite books of the month), June was definitely slumpy for me in quality and quantity. I read 10 books, but a few of them were only around 200 pages long, so I feel like I sort of cheated.
  • I also had 4 DNF’s…which always makes a slump seem slumpier.
  • Both my favorite books of the month involved astute commentary about marriage…one fiction (Standard Deviation) and one non (Lots of Candles, Plenty of Cake). And, a third book about marriage (Small Hours) didn’t measure up.
  • Anna Quindlen brought me twice the love this month with One True Thing.
  • I read two thrillers this month (shocking for me!)…one winner (Since We Fell) and one loser (Final Girls).
  • A couple slim July releases (What We Lose and Goodbye, Vitamin) definitely helped my June book count! Too bad only one was a winner.
  • And, The Skies Belong to Us (somewhat interesting at times, but I kept zoning out) and My Year of Running Dangerously (sweet and engaging story about a father and daughter training for a marathon together) rounded out my audiobooks.
  • My free trial of my personalized book recommendation service ended on Father’s Day and fulfilled 75 recommendation requests! I couldn’t have been happier with how many people participated and am getting the feedback survey results in now. Once I analyze the survey results and think through next steps, I’ll share everything I learned in a blog post. Many thanks to everyone who participated!
  • Look for my commentary on the July Book of the Month Club selections on Saturday. Sneak peek: I’ve already read two of the selections and, unlike last month, am really excited about this month’s picks!

Best Books of the Month

My Favorite Book(s) of the Month

Lots of Candles, Plenty of Cake by Anna Quindlen (April 24, 2012)
Nonfiction – Memoir, 182 Pages
Affiliate Link: Buy from Amazon

Standard Deviation by Katherine Heiny (May 23, 2017)
Fiction, 336 Pages
Affiliate Link: Buy from Amazon 

PS – last year’s Best Book of June was Dear Fang, With Love by Rufi Thorpe (my review)!

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

Dead Letters by Caite Dolan-Leach (my review), which continues to take this category month after month.

July Releases I’m Excited About

Goodbye, Vitamin by Rachel Khong (July 11)
American Fire by Monica Hesse (July 11)
Tornado Weather by Deborah E. Kennedy (July 11)
Careers for Women by Joanna Scott (July 25)

Most Popular Posts

Posts Actually Published in June
Best Books of 2017 So Far
3 More Books That Are Perfect for Summer Reading: Beartown, Since We Fell, Standard Deviation
Book of the Month Club June 2017 Selections: What Would I Choose?

Overall Posts
2017 Summer Reading Guide
Book Club Recommendations

Behind Her Eyes and THAT Ending: Spoiler Discussion

Favorite Posts by Fellow Bloggers

And, next month I need to be better about keeping track of posts I love…big fail for me this month!

How was your reading month?

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Best Books of 2017 So Far

June 27, 2017 Annual "Best Books" Lists 23

Can you believe it’s already time for the Best Books of 2017 So Far?!

Last year, 60% of the books on my June Best Books of 2016 So Far list ended up on my overall favorite books of 2016 list. Which, based on the massive reading slump I had during the first few months of last year, is kind of shocking.

I don’t feel like the beginning of this year has been as slumpy as last year, so we’ll have to see how many of this year’s halftime crop make it to the finish line…

Hosted by The Broke and The Bookish.

This post contains affiliate links.

 Best Books of 2017 So Far


All Grown Up by Jami Attenberg (my review)
The book that definitely isn’t for everyone, but was for me…

Based on a True Story by Delphine de Vigan (Spoiler Discussion)
The book that totally messed with my head…

Beartown by Fredrik Backman (my review)
Started to fill the empty hole Friday Night Lights left in me…

Dead Letters by Caite Dolan-Leach (my review)
The book I’ve been recommending to absolutely everyone and the top seller via my affiliate links…

If We Were Villains by M.L. Rio (my review)
The dark, campus novel I’d been searching for ever since loving Black Chalk

The Stranger in the Woods by Michael Finkel (my review)
Best nonfiction of the year so far…and best audiobook.

The Wanderers by Meg Howrey (my review)
The psychology of going to Mars…and the most unique book I’ve read all year…

This Is How It Always Is by Laurie Frankel (my review)
Had me feeling a full range of emotions…

Trophy Son by Douglas Brunt (my review)
A new addition to my Best of the Brain Candy list and the first of my two winning sports novels this year…

White Fur by Jardine Libaire (my review)
The most gorgeous writing of the year so far…and a love story I actually enjoyed!

What are your favorite books so far this year?

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What I’m Reading Now (6/26/17)

June 26, 2017 It's Monday! What are you reading? 27

I actually finished two books and one audiobook last week…I’m shocked! I’m sure it’s because my kids finally finished school for the year and because both books were only around 200 pages. And, the audiobook I finished was My Year of Running Dangerously by Tom Foreman, which I really enjoyed!

I went to the doctor for my back and hip pain and will be getting an MRI this week. The good news is she didn’t think it was disc related. The bad news is she thinks I might have a tear or a strain in my glute connectors/attachments, which can also cause pain in the lower back area. We’ll see what the MRI says, but in the meantime, no running or swimming. I can ride my bike and do strength training, though…silver linings!

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I finished reading…

What We Lose by Zinzi Clemmons, Goodbye Vitamin by Rachel Khong


What We Lose
 by Zinzi Clemmons (July 11, 2017)

There were flashes of brilliance in this debut novel, but it was overall really jumpy and I had trouble getting into it. Mini review to come.

Goodbye, Vitamin by Rachel Khong (July 11, 2017)
A sweet novel about a young girl who goes home to help take care of her Dad, who is suffering from Alzheimer’s. I adored Ruth’s (the narrator and main character) voice! Mini review to come.
Affiliate Link: Buy from Amazon

I’m currently reading…

Final Girls by Riley Sager


Final Girls by Riley Sager
 (July 11, 2017)
Y’all know I’m skittish about thrillers, but Stephen King called this one “the first great thriller of 2017.” So, I’m giving it a shot. However, he also said you’d like this if you liked Gone Girl, which caused me to immediately lose a tiny bit of respect for him. Mr. King, you are too good to stoop to a Gone Girl comparison! 

I tried, but wasn’t feeling…

Outer Cape by Patrick Dacey, Who is Rich by Matthew Klam


The Outer Cape
 by Patrick Dacey
 (June 27, 2017)
DNF at 16%. One of the main characters is just insufferable and I couldn’t deal any longer…even though dislikable characters don’t generally bother me.

Who Is Rich? by Matthew Klam (July 4, 2017)
DNF at 5%. Meg Wolitzer (who I adore) called this novel “funny, dark, big, and bold,” but there was a massive rundown of characters right out of the gates and I got bored. However, given Wolitzer’s endorsement, I’d be willing to give this one another shot if another blogger I trust likes it.

Upcoming reading plans…

Unless one of my library holds comes in…

Tornado Weather by Deborah Kennedy


Tornado Weather
 by Deborah E. Kennedy
 (July 11, 2017)
This debut novel about a young girl who goes missing in a small town has been compared to Everything I Never Told You, which I loved. It sounds like it could be one of those books that includes a crime, but
the story is about much more than the crime, which I also love. 

I was reading…

One Year Ago: I read a disappointing book by an author whose previous book I loved.

Two Years Ago: I was on vacation and not writing blog posts!

How was your reading week?

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3 More Books That Are Perfect for Summer Reading: Beartown, Standard Deviation, Since We Fell

June 22, 2017 Book Lists 18

When I originally posted my 2017 Summer Reading Guide, I said I’d be adding more books that are perfect for summer reading to that list throughout the summer. Well, here’s the first installment of add-ons! And, they are GOOD.

BeartownBeartown by Fredrik Backman by Fredrick Backman
Fiction – Sports (
Released April 25, 2017)
432 Pages
Affiliate Link: Buy from Amazon
Source: Library (Simon & Schuster)

Plot Summary: While small, down and out Beartown goes crazy over its youth ice hockey team’s run in the Swedish national tournament, something explosive happens to throw the town’s and team’s hopes into jeopardy.

My Thoughts: I was hesitant to read Beartown because I abandoned Backman’s smash hit, A Man Called Ove, pretty early on. But, Beartown is an entirely different story and is one of my favorite books of the year so far! Beartown has been compared to Friday Night Lights, which is accurate in that this is a story of a town who’s hopes are declining every day and whose youth sports team is really the only thing it’s residents have to be proud of. Backman makes you feel the core emotions of sports…what makes something that can seem frivolous mean so much to some people.

It’s only a game. It only resolves tiny, insignificant things. Such as who gets validation. Who gets listened to. It allocates power and draws boundaries and turns some people into stars and others into spectators. That’s all.

Like Friday Night LightsBeartown is far more than just sports fiction. It’s about high school, marriage, intense pressure on young children, bullying, class, and violence. The first paragraph smacked me in the face and I was fully engrossed until the very end. It’s a book you can fly through…I couldn’t stop turning the pages even though I easily guessed the what and who of what happened (thanks to a super spoiler-y comparison a major book blogger made to another book…GRR). Beartown would make a fantastic summer reading book and is jam packed with discussion material for book clubs.

Since We Fell by Dennis LehaneSince We Fell by Dennis Lehane
Fiction – Thriller (
Released May 9, 2017)
432 Pages
Affiliate Link: Buy from Amazon
Source: Library (Ecco)

Plot Summary: After a traumatic experience as a broadcast journalist covering the earthquake in Haiti, Rachel becomes a recluse despite her happy marriage…until she begins to question everything about her life and is sucked into something far bigger than she ever imagined.

My Thoughts: Since We Fell is the first psychological thriller I’ve enjoyed in ages! Maybe that’s because it reads more like character-driven fiction, especially in the first half. The twists do hit like an avalanche eventually…there’s just a solid set-up to make you care about the characters first. And, those twists all surprised me, yet made sense with the story, which is the number one criteria that a thriller must have for me to enjoy it…and where most thrillers fall apart for me. Since We Fell is a thriller for people who have been frustrated with psychological thrillers lately…and, if this isn’t enough, check out this first line:

On a Tuesday in May, in her thirty-fifth year, Rachel shot her husband dead. He stumbled backward with an odd look of confirmation on his face, as if some part of him had always known she’d do it.

Standard Deviation by Katherine HeinyStandard Deviation by Katherine Heiny
Fiction (
Released May 23, 2017)
336 Pages
Affiliate Link: Buy from Amazon
Source: Purchased (Knopf)

Plot Summary: When Graham and his bubbly second wife (Audra) become friends with Graham’s introverted first wife (Elspeth), Graham begins to ponder the state of his marriage and his family (including a ten year old son with Asberger’s).

My Thoughts: Standard Deviation is one of those novels where not a ton happens, but the “yes, that’s exactly how it is” writing and spot-on commentary about marriage, introverts and extraverts, and parenting carry the story. It’s an honest rumination on a not perfect, but not completely dysfunctional marriage. Though Graham and Audra certainly have their issues, there is a clear love for each other that was a nice change of pace from my usual fare of stratospherically dysfunctional marriages/families. I loved Graham’s (who narrated the book) salty, dry sense of humor and the way he honestly addressed the aspects of marriage and parenting that it’s socially expected of people to always portray as unicorns and rainbows.

Graham didn’t admit this to anyone, even Audra, but part of him was secretly pleased that Matthew had been caught looking at porn on a school computer. Wasn’t that—wasn’t that something normal kids did?

Audra is a massive chatterbox and someone who I don’t think I could be friends with in real life, but her total lack of filter made her amusing to read about. The collision between Audra’s extraversion (she constantly invites random people over for dinner and to stay as houseguests in their NY apartment) and Graham’s introversion, as well as Matthew’s Asberger’s, added a bit more intrigue to the story. My only complaint was an overly abrupt ending that will probably irritate some people. If you like straight talk about marriage, this book is for you!

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It’s Monday, What Are You Reading? (6/19/17)

June 19, 2017 It's Monday! What are you reading? 27

And the June weather nonsense continues where I live…we got a few nice days last week, but now it’s back to chilly rain and should continue that way through the middle of next week. Where is summer?!

I’d been doing well with rehabbing my back injury, but I swam last week thinking it would be great for my back (people say swimming is great for back injuries) and how wrong I was. It absolutely killed and I’ve also been fighting some hip pain, so I’m going to an actual doctor next week to figure out what’s wrong. 

Thank you to everyone who participated in my Personalized Book Recommendation free trial, which is now officially over. I fulfilled 74 recommendation requests…whew…and I hope you enjoyed the book recommendations you got! I’m still in the process of sending out feedback surveys, but once those are complete, I’ll do a summary post sharing what I learned (which was a lot)!

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I finished reading…

One True Thing by Anna Quindlen


One True Thing
 by Anna Quindlen (August 30, 1994)
Anna Quindlen served the purpose I’d hoped she would (pulling me out of an epic June reading slump)! Though I didn’t love One True Thing quite as much as Every Last One (my review), it was still a solid 4 star read and I reveled in Quindlen’s “yes, that’s exactly how it is” writing about life. Mini review to come.

I’m currently reading…

Since We Fell by Dennis Lehane


Since We Fell by Dennis Lehane
 (May 9, 2017)
I’m almost finished with this psychological thriller and it’s the first one I’ve really enjoyed in a long time (maybe because it reads more like literary fiction, especially in the first half, than like a thriller)! It will definitely be going on my 2017 Summer Reading Guide!

Upcoming reading plans…

Outer Cape by Patrick Dacey


The Outer Cape
 by Patrick Dacey
 (June 27, 2017)
The Outer Cape is Dacey’s follow-up novel to his short story collection, We’ve Already Gone This Far, and is set in the same fictional town. It’s a story of family and small town life and sounds generally up my alley.

I was reading…

One Year Ago: I was reading a book that ended up on my Best Books of 2016 (So Far) list and did my first Sprint Triathlon of last year.

Two Years Ago: I’d just finished a totally demented book that ended up on my Best Books of 2015 list!

How was your reading week?

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