When Questionable Editorial Decisions Torpedo Books

September 21, 2017 Discussions 0

Have you ever read a book and come upon a particular part that made you wonder, to borrow from Alyssa Mastromonaco’s memoir title, “who thought that was a good idea?!” 

Especially frustrating is that I absolutely adored specific parts of these books, meaning questionable editorial choices tarnished what would otherwise have been winners for me.

I realize things like this are strictly a matter of taste. Something that makes my head explode might totally delight another reader. But, why pull a stunt when you’ve already got something great? And, that’s what happened with the three books I’m going to talk about today.


Sourdough by Robin SloanSourdough is a quirky book melding the technology and food (baking, to be exact) worlds. I was immediately interested in the story and Lois, the main character. She receives a sourdough “starter” as a gift and dives headfirst into the art of bread baking as an escape from her soul-crushing computer coding job.

Sloan had me feeling actual emotions towards the starter itself…almost as if it was a human character. I was rooting for it like it was a sports team and I was thrilled about this! 

BUT…literally a few pages later, he made the starter sing. I first thought this was an exaggerated way to describe a realistic sucking or bubbling sound a starter could make. But, then he started comparing it to actual music. And, had it make faces. And, pit it against another starter as if it were an American Gladiator competition. Wha?! Too much. Who thought this was a good idea?

*For me, the starter’s over-the-top antics didn’t fully torpedo this book. I still enjoyed it and would recommend it to others, I just could have done without the eye roll-inducing moments.

The Resurrection of Joan Ashby

Resurrection of Joan Ashby by Cherise WolasI loved the first half or so of this story about a woman whose life dream was to be a writer. At a young age, she decided she would forego marriage and children to focus on her goal. Yet, she got married and had children anyway. It’s a beautifully written, introspective story about Joan’s inner struggle between her very real love for her family, her continued desire to achieve literary success, and her resentment of the choices she’s been forced to make. 

BUT…this book is 544 pages. That’s long for an introspective story. And, at least 100 and probably more (I didn’t actually count, but this is my estimated guess) of those pages are excerpts from Joan the character’s writing. I admit that I generally hate what I’ll call “stories within stories.” They pull me out of the central storyline and kill a book’s momentum for me.

This case felt particularly egregious because of the sheer quantity, the overall length of the book, and Joan’s writing’s lack of relevance in helping the reader gain more insight into her life. Who thought this was a good idea?!

*For a more comprehensive review, Catherine at Gilmore Guide to Books captured my thoughts on The Resurrection of Joan Ashby perfectly.

The Twelve Mile Straight

Twelve Mile Straight by Eleanor HendersonAfter reading the first chapter of this doorstop of a historical fiction novel, I thought I was going to love it. It had a great first line, was hard-hitting, and hooked me immediately. 

But, the story just went on and on and on. I felt like I was reading this book for weeks (it was actually 10 days). Henderson told the extended backstories of seemingly almost every character in the book, which could have been cut back. I just wanted the story to be tighter, because it certainly had good bones (to use a real estate term).

And, by the time I got to the end, I didn’t care about the answers to most of the major questions…I just wanted to be done. Who thought this was a good idea?

*To be fair, I didn’t have much time to read during the first half of The Twelve-Mile Straight and I wonder if I would’ve felt differently had I been able to invest more time and mental energy to it up front.

Young Jane Young

Young Jane Young by Gabrielle ZevinI’ve already reviewed Young Jane Young here, but it’s a perfect example of today’s topic, so I’m going to talk about it again. I loved the first half of this one and particularly the focus on the reverberating impact of a public cheating scandal on the female cheatee…and how different it is from the impact on the male cheater. 

BUT…part of the second half was written as a Choose Your Own Adventure story. Not only that, it was a FAKE Choose Your Own Adventure story! Choices were indicated at certain points in the story, but there was never an alternate path to actually go down. This whole thing felt like a kids’ comic book to me and didn’t fit at all with the style or tone of the first half of the book. Who thought this was a good idea?!

Has a book ever left you wondering “who thought this was a good idea?” Tell me about your experience!

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Was 2017 the Summer of Overhyped Books?

September 19, 2017 Discussions 19

Was 2017 Summer of Overhyped Books


I don’t think I’ve ever had a bigger season of reading disappointment than this past summer. And, I’ve been hearing similar things from other book bloggers and on reading-related podcasts.


Many of the books that didn’t work for me this summer had been hyped up by publishers and the book media…making the crash hurt that much worse. At the end of every year, I write a post called 5 Books That Deserved the Hype…and 5 That Didn’t. Y’all, 5 books isn’t enough to account for all the overhyped books this summer, much less an entire year! Let’s review the offenders…

Books Blurbed by Beloved Authors

I’m a sucker for books blurbed by authors I love. But, I also fall into the trap of thinking that means the blurbed book will be similar to said beloved author’s books. While this does occasionally pan out for me, it generally didn’t during the 2017 summer of overhyped books. I quickly DNF’d both of these examples…

Hyped, But Disappointing Debuts

I’ve historically had good luck with debuts. But, this summer brought us a crop that were hyped by publishers as well as traditional book media (and some podcasters), but that I don’t think have connected on a large scale with regular readers (i.e. people not enmeshed in the book world)…and, they didn’t connect with me.


Book of the Month Club Selections

I have to preface this by saying that I have read countless Book of the Month Club selections that I’ve adored and I anxiously await the announcement of their picks every month. But, I’ve read a couple of Book of the Month Club stinkers this summer. Let me repeat again…this is an anomaly overall!


  • The Windfall by Diksha Basu (July selection). I know some people that liked this one, but I wasn’t one of them and I’ve heard of a number of others who thought it was completely inane.
  • Final Girls by Riley Sager (July selection). Also, Stephen King called it the “first great thriller of 2017.” This book is not universally disliked by any means, but I thought the ending completely jumped the shark. And after publication, there was the minor scandal surrounding Riley Sager being a male using a pen name that many assumed referred to a female author.

Here’s what I’d like to know about the traditional media’s new release preview lists: how are they put together?

Has someone at the publication actually vetted the books that are included on the list? Do the journalists compiling these lists do their own research to determine which books they’re actually interested in? OR, do the journalists merely talk to people in the book industry, who tell them which books to include?


It’s kind of like including the methodology in a summary of survey results or findings of a study. This information really impacts the way the results are interpreted! And, it would certainly help me determine which new release lists to pay the most attention to.


I do have to commend Publisher’s Weekly for linking to its reviews of all the books on its Fall Preview list, meaning someone at Publisher’s Weekly has actually vetted these books. The Millions occasionally links to an internal review and publicizes the name of the staffer that recommended each book included in its Great 2017 Book Preview. But, Buzzfeed, Elle Magazine, and Bookish need to get a little more transparent.


If any of you know insider details about how the traditional media’s new release preview lists are put together, I’d love to hear them in the comments!


As for me, I obviously personally research every book I include in my “Most Anticipated Books of X Season” posts and indicate specifically when I’ve already read a book I included. That being said, I know from my own experience that it’s hard to pick winners in advance. I haven’t always been successful (I average about 50% or so per season). I’d like to get more successful and will be even more explicit about how I’ve compiled my list after the summer of overhyped books.


How do you feel about the books of Summer 2017? How do you feel about hyped books in general? And, how do you feel about hyped new release lists?


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What I’m Reading Now (9/18/17)

September 18, 2017 It's Monday! What are you reading? 27

And my September reading continues to be choppy and unfulfilling. I spent last week desperately trying to finish a book I thought I’d love, but ended up getting sick of. Over the next few weeks, I need to get my hands around our new school/activity routines and how to fit in some good reading.

On a better note, I re-started physical therapy for my back/SI joints/abductor injury after aggravating it a bit unpacking boxes during our move. I tried a new-to-me therapy called dry needling that involves inserting a needle into my pain points and jigging it around to release the muscles. Sounds awful, but it’s doing wonders.

#Buildsarahsbookshelves Library Update

I’m putting together a very selective library for my new (but small) built-in bookshelves and am sharing each book I acquire on Instagram (follow me at sarahsbookshelves)! And, I’m trying to acquire all these new books at rock bottom prices.

So many new books are coming in every day now for the bookshelves! I’m now starting to think about how to organize the shelves and am sifting through all the advice I’ve received. The Havenly has a simple guide for “styling” your bookshelves (I kind of hate this term, but it’s apparently what interior designers use) that recommends arranging your books by color. I have a pretty awesome red pile coming together…

Hosted by The Book Date.

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I finished reading…

Twelve Mile Straight by Eleanor Henderson

The Twelve-Mile Straight
 by Eleanor Henderson (September 12, 2017)
Man. This book. I think I could’ve loved it, but it took me so long to read it that I just wanted to be finished by the end. More to come in a discussion post.
Affiliate Link: Buy from Amazon

I’m currently reading…

Cuban Affair by Nelson DeMille

The Cuban Affair
 by Nelson DeMille (September 19, 2017)
I’m about 25% through DeMille’s latest novel about the Cuban Thaw, which also debuts a new main character (Mac McCormick). So far, McCormick is pretty similar to DeMille’s old main character (John Corey) and The Cuban Affair is pretty standard DeMille. We’ll see how things progress.

Upcoming reading plans…

Best Kind of People by Zoe Whittall

The Best Kind of People
 by Zoe Whittall (September 19, 2017)
I’ve already peeked at the first few pages of this novel about a well-liked prep school teacher who gets accused of “sexual impropriety” and the initial writing drew me in! I’m hoping it can save my September reading.

was reading…

One Year Ago: I was reading one of the biggest hits of 2016, but it was kind of a slog for me.

Two Years Ago: I summed up my Labor Day vacation reading.

How was your reading week?

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Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng Has Broader Appeal Than Everything I Never Told You

September 14, 2017 Fiction 23

Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste NgFiction
Released September 12, 2017
384 Pages
Bottom Line: Read it.
Affiliate Link: Buy from Amazon
Source: Complimentary from Publisher (Penguin Press)









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


Little Fires Everywhere is an engrossing story about a family and a community that you can sink right into…and may have even broader appeal than Everything I Never Told You.

Plot Summary

When nomadic artist Mia Warren and her daughter (Pearl) rent an apartment from Elena Richardson in Shaker Heights, Elena’s entire family becomes enmeshed in the Warrens’ lives, resulting in uncovered secrets, unanticipated consequences, and a raging debate about what it means to be a mother.

Why I Read It

Ng’s debut, Everything I Never Told You, was a smash hit with me and others (it was Amazon’s Best Book of 2014), so Little Fires Everywhere might be the 2017 book I’ve been anticipating the most!

Major Themes

Family Life, Secrets / Betrayal, Motherhood, Teen Angst, Art, Suburbia

What I Liked

  • Little Fires Everywhere‘s premise didn’t jump out at me initially. It’s not entirely clear what this book is about. Yet…the way Ng told this story had me engrossed immediately. It’s the kind of story where you sink right into the community and the characters’ lives. I’m a bit hard-pressed to pick out specific things I loved about it…yet, I loved the book as a whole. Little Fires Everywhere is greater than the sum of its parts.
  • The set-up for this story reminded me a bit of the tv show The O.C. – an outsider sort of infiltrates a wealthy family and supposedly idyllic community with far-reaching consequences (Pearl Warren = Ryan Atwood).
  • It starts out as a story of a family and a community…and then takes an interesting turn. Ng presented a Jodi Picoult-esque situation (i.e. one with valid arguments for both sides and where there is no clear right answer) and forced me to think about what I’d do in a similar situation
  • Ng painted a vivid picture of the Shaker Heights community while making you feel that it was the only place this story could play out the way it did:

    In fact, the city’s motto was – literally, as Lexie would have said – “Most communities just happen; the best are planned”: the underlying philosophy being that everything could – and should – be planned out, and that by doing so you could avoid the unseemly, the unpleasant, and the disastrous.

  • Little Fires Everywhere is more action-packed than Everything I Never Told You and, I believe, has the potential for even broader appeal.
  • And, the debate-starting issues it deals with make it a great book club selection!

What I Didn’t Like

  • I had to suspend belief and just roll with some of the plot points…the coincidences were a little too big. But, while I recognized this as I was reading, it didn’t bother me or influence my opinion of the book as a whole.

A Defining Quote

Sometimes you need to scorch everything to the ground, and start over. After the burning the soil is richer, and new things can grow. People are like that, too. They start over. They find a way.

Good for People Who Like…

Dysfunctional families, Secrets/Betrayal, Motherhood, Engrossing Plot & Characters, Suburban Life

Other Books You May Like

More stories about families facing unconventional situations:
Every Last One by Anna Quindlen (my review)

Miller’s Valley by Anna Quindlen

Another story about what it means to be a mother:
The Mothers by Brit Bennett (my review)

And, of course, Celeste Ng’s debut novel:
Everything I Never Told You (my review)

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12 Books I Loved Before I Started Blogging

September 12, 2017 Book Lists 25

Books I Loved Before I Started Blogging

Last week was all about books I didn’t like, but we’re flipping the coin this week. There are so many books that I adored years ago, way before I started blogging, that I don’t talk about much here.

So, today I’m going to spotlight 12 Books I Loved Before I Started Blogging

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12 Books I Loved Before I Started Blogging

A Prayer for Owen Meany by John Irving
I honestly haven’t read much John Irving since I started this blog, but he still remains one of my all-time favorite authors and Owen Meany is my favorite book of his. It’s on my all-time favorites list and is due for a re-read!

American Wife by Curtis Sittenfeld
I love fiction that’s inspired by real people and this one had me all kinds of curious about the inner life of Laura Bush.

Another City, Not My Own and anything else by Dominick Dunne
Dunne is the man responsible for getting me started reading about “wealthy people behaving badly” with his nonfiction about wealthy and/or famous people in criminal situations. I loved his snark, his tenacity in taking down prominent people who took advantage of being prominent, his gossipy tidbits…and his Vanity Fair column. RIP Mr. Dunne.

Beach Music by Pat Conroy
My love for Pat Conroy began when I was pretty young and I read all my favorite books by him before I started this blog. Beach Music is one of the few that I haven’t re-read in the past five years and I’m due. I also have a slight concern that it won’t hold up for me…luckily, my cousin is test-driving it as we speak!

Boomerang: Travels in the New Third World by Michael Lewis
Awhile back, Michael Lewis was one of my all-time favorite authors. He can make the most mundane financial stories riveting and is a master at clearly explaining complicated financial concepts so non-finance nerds (like me!) can understand. In Boomerang, he investigates how the 2000’s real estate bubble and 2008 crash impacted various foreign countries. He melds finance and hilarious studies of each country’s culture into what I think is his most entertaining book! Sadly, his latest two books (Flash Boys and The Undoing Project) have missed the mark for me.

My Life in France by Julia Child
I used to read a ton of food / cooking memoirs before I started blogging and this was one of my favorites. Julia’s booming personality shines through and I enjoyed reading about the period when she first fell in love with food.

No Angel and The Spoils of Time Series by Penny Vincenzi
The British Spoils of Time series are juicy, multi-generational, historical fiction sagas that are full of drama. These were my guilty pleasure reading way back when!

Philistines at the Hedgerow : Passion and Property in the Hamptons by Steven Gaines
Rich people real estate porn set in the Hamptons. Similar to Michael Gross, but without the crushing, excruciating detail.

The Charm School by Nelson DeMille
Another of my old-school favorite authors! The Charm School is one of his more unique books and it made me wonder if something like The Charm School might have actually existed in the USSR during the Cold War. Bonus: DeMille has a new book (The Cuban Affair) coming out on September 19th!

The Emperor of Ocean Park by Stephen L. Carter
This was the first book that introduced me to Stephen L. Carter’s political thrillers. His books are page-turning thrill rides, but they’re smart and throw in a fascinating look into upper crust, Harlem society. I went on to read four more of his books, including Back Channel most recently.

The Secret History by Donna Tartt
Believe it or not, I knew nothing about all the hype surrounding this book when I read it. I just wasn’t plugged into the book world back then. It blew me away. I went on to find out that it blew most everyone else away too. 

The Tender Bar by J.R. Moehringer
I remember picking up this coming of age memoir on a complete whim, knowing nothing about it. It’s stuck with me and introduced me to J.R. Moehringer’s writing, which is right up my alley.

What are some of your old favorites?

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What I’m Reading Now (9/11/17)

September 11, 2017 It's Monday! What are you reading? 15

Every year the first week of school is crushingly busy. And, every year I forget just how crazy it is. Figuring out new routines, getting set up on all the different online systems for each child, all the forms, all the forms, all the forms…

This year was no different and I barely had time to read. I don’t think I’ve had a week all year when I’ve read less. I made it 30% through one book this week. I’m LOVING the book…I just need some good chunks of time to sit down with it. It’s frustrating, isn’t it, when you love a book, but aren’t getting to focus on it?!

#Buildsarahsbookshelves Library Update

I’m putting together a very selective library for my new (but small) built-in bookshelves and am sharing each book I acquire on Instagram (follow me at sarahsbookshelves)! And, I’m trying to acquire all these new books at rock bottom prices.

The books are going to start arriving fast and furious now…I just ordered a bunch from Amazon so we can take a first pass at getting the shelves organized in the next couple weeks. This week’s addition is The Unraveling of Mercy Louis (my review) one of my favorite books of 2015…it’s a great choice if you love Southern literature and/or badass female characters!

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I finished reading…

Sourdough by Robin Sloan

 by Robin Sloan (September 5, 2017)
Aaah. This book. I could have absolutely adored it. But, it jumped the shark in a couple places. I’m still glad I read it, but it wasn’t as delightful as it could have been. I’ll be discussing it more in an upcoming post about questionable editorial decisions.
Affiliate Link: Buy from Amazon

I’m currently reading…

Twelve Mile Straight by Eleanor Henderson

The Twelve-Mile Straight
 by Eleanor Henderson (September 12, 2017)
This is a long, immersive, multi-generational family saga set in 1930’s Georgia. It’s SO good and reminds me of Mudbound. I just wish I had hours and hours of uninterrupted reading time to devote to it. It’s been slow going (I’m around 30% through) only because of my schedule. I’m hoping to really dig in this week.
Affiliate Link: Buy from Amazon

I tried, but wasn’t feeling…

Burning Girl by Claire Messud


The Burning Girl by Claire Messud (August 29, 2017)
DNF at 20%. The story hadn’t gone anywhere by that point and that was too long for me.

Upcoming reading plans…

Cuban Affair by Nelson DeMille

The Cuban Affair
 by Nelson DeMille (September 19, 2017)
DeMille was one of my favorite authors awhile back. His latest books (Radiant Angel, my review) didn’t live up to his older stuff for me, but I’m hoping his debut of a new lead character (Mac McCormick) will shake things up. 

was reading…

One Year Ago: I was on vacation!

Two Years Ago: And vacation again!

How was your reading week?

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August 2017 Monthly Round-Up

September 7, 2017 Monthly Round-Ups 8

August 2017 Monthly Round-Up


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August Reading / Life

  • And, the summer of slumpiness continues through August. My reading this month was extremely unfocused…mostly due to moving. I read less (9 books) and with less concentration than I have all year. A couple super short books are the only reason I even hit 9.
  • Lots of library holds came in this month: The HeirsThe Hate U Give, and Exit West. And, other than the hands-down winner this month (Emma in the Night, my review), most of my relative successes came from the library!
  • Ann Patchett’s memoir on writing, The Getaway Car, was only 45 pages, but it was outstanding. I’m not an aspiring writer (as in writing an actual book rather than a blog), but much of her advice can be applied to work in general. And, I love her grounded take on things.
  • My audiobooks were hit and miss: I didn’t really connect with Sheryl Sandberg’s Option B (but, possibly could during a period of grief), but Kate Fagan’s What Made Maddy Run was eye-opening. It’s a must-read for parents, especially parents of young athletes.
  • Finally, I read two very confusing ARCs (advance reader copies): I adored parts of Young Jane Young (my review) and The Resurrection of Joan Ashby, but borderline inexplicable editorial choices tarnished both books for me.
  • We can’t forget the DNF’s: two super hyped debut novels (Stay With Me and My Absolute Darling), and South Pole Station.
  • Check out my commentary on the September Book of the Month Club selections…I’ve read 2.5 of this month’s selections and have to say it’s a great month to join! I’m also working on a new addition to my monthly Book of the Month Club feature…another tool to help you pick the Book of the Month Club selection that you’re most likely to enjoy!
  • Finally, I’m continuing to share my small, but highly selective library for my new, built-in bookshelves on Instagram. So far, I’ve acquired 4 books for a total of $2.00 – pretty thrifty! Follow me at @sarahsbookshelves to see what books make the cut!

Best Book of the Month

My Favorite Book(s) of the Month

Emma in the Night by Wendy Walker (August 8, 2017), My Review
Fiction – Mystery/Thriller, 320 Pages
Affiliate Link: Buy from Amazon

PS – last year’s Best Book of August was Dear Mr. M by Herman Koch (my review)! 

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

By a landslide…
Emma in the Night by Wendy Walker (my review)

September Releases I’m Excited About

Sourdough by Robin Sloan (September 5)
Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng (September 12)*
The Twelve-Mile Straight by Eleanor Henderson (September 12)
The Cuban Affair by Nelson DeMille (September 19)
The Best Kind of People by Zoe Whittall (September 19)

*I’ve already read it and it’s awesome!

Most Popular Posts

Posts Actually Published in August
My Most Anticipated Books of Fall 2017

Eight Campus Novels That Will Make You Want To Go Back To School…Or Not
Book of the Month Club August 2017 Selections: What Would I Choose?

Overall Posts
Book Club Recommendations

Best Books of 2017 So Far
Behind Her Eyes and THAT Ending: Spoiler Discussion (#WTFthatending)

Favorite Posts by Fellow Bloggers

How was your reading month?

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10 Hyped Books I Wish I Hadn’t Finished (i.e. DNF’d)

September 5, 2017 Top Ten Tuesday 37

Top 10 Hyped Books I Wish I Hadn't Finished


Talking about the books you didn’t like is somewhat of a controversial topic among book bloggers. You’ll never hear a peep about the books some bloggers didn’t like and other bloggers tell you all about the books that didn’t connect. 

I’ve always chosen to talk openly about the books that didn’t click with me because my goal to is to make this blog as useful for readers as possible. Knowing which books (especially hyped ones) may not be the right choices for them is valuable information for readers. So, here are 10 Hyped Books I Wish I Hadn’t Finished…and I’m getting a little snarky.

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10 Hyped Books I Wish I Hadn’t Finished

Along the Infinite Sea by Beatriz Williams (my review)
 the cheesiness of the romance

Big Little Lies by Liane Moriarty (my review)
Why: the crushing quantity of grating mommy drama (but, interestingly, I loved the HBO series!)

City on Fire by Garth Risk Hallberg (my review)
the long, drawn out (to the tune of 300 pages) non-ending

Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert
 I lost all interest after the Italian food porn of the “Eat” section

Let’s Pretend This Never Happened by Jenny Lawson (my review)
Why: the anxiety I was getting just reading the scattered story-telling style of her adult life (though her childhood stories contained some gems!)

See What I Have Done by Sarah Schmidt (my review)
 because she never really delved deep into the part that truly interested me (Lizzie Borden’s arrest and trial) 

The Casual Vacancy by JK Rowling (my review)
because I never really got the point of it all

The Resurrection of Joan Ashby by Cherise Wolas
because the second half was predominantly “stories within stories,” which drive me crazy

The Twelve Lives of Samuel Hawley by Hannah Tinti (my review)
because the violence all ran together and I skimmed a lot towards the end

Young Jane Young by Gabrielle Zevin (my review)
because Choose Your Own Adventure…and an overall gimmicky second half

What hyped books do you wish you’d DNF’d?

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What I’m Reading Now (9/4/17)

September 4, 2017 It's Monday! What are you reading? 22

Happy Labor Day, y’all! We had a low key weekend, which we desperately needed. Recharged the batteries (well, partially anyway) and got the kids organized for the first day of school tomorrow.

My reading got a bit more focused again after the chaos of moving. Don’t get me wrong, the chaos isn’t over yet, it’s just lessened slightly. Now I just need some books that 100% hit the spot!

Hosted by The Book Date.

This post contains affiliate links.

I finished reading…

Exit West by Mohsin Hamid

Exit West by Mohsin Hamid (March 7, 2017)
I really loved parts of this hyped novel, but thought others were kind of meh. The writing was searingly gorgeous and Hamid particularly cut to the bone when talking about the violence. But, my interest faded once Saeed and Nadia left their hometown and I felt like the story petered out a bit towards the end. Surprisingly, the magical realism that I was so hesitant about didn’t bother me too much.

I’m currently reading…

Sourdough by Robin Sloan

 by Robin Sloan (September 5, 2017)
I’m almost finished with this one and I have mixed feelings about it. It’s definitely quirky and delightful in some ways, but some other elements take things a bit too far. PS – Sourdough is a September Book of the Month Club selection (my thoughts on all the selections)!

Upcoming reading plans…

Burning Girl by Claire Messud


The Burning Girl by Claire Messud (August 29, 2017)
I was first on the pre-release library hold list for Messud’s coming of age novel about two best friends. I read The Emperor’s Children years ago and don’t remember much about it, but lots of readers I trust have been buzzing about Messud’s latest!

was reading…

One Year Ago: I was reading a book about the Patty Hearst kidnapping.

Two Years Ago: I had just finished one of my favorite debuts of 2015!

How was your reading week?

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

September 1, 2017 Book Recommendations 17

Book of the Month Club September 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 September 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 September selections, Book of the Month Club is offering three extras this month (which Book of the Month Club members can add to their boxes for only $9.99 each):

Y’all, this month’s selections are AWESOME! Totally makes up for last month. I’ve read and loved two of them, just started a third, and have heard great things about a fourth. If you’ve been toying with joining (details at the end of this post), you’ve got some great choices this month!

And one announcement: I’m working on an additional tool to help you make the best Book of the Month Club selection for you! Look for that in the coming month or so…

Book of the Month Club September 2017 Selections

Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste NgLittle Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng (Release Date: September 12, 2017)
384 Pages
Average Goodreads Rating: 4.4 on 538 ratings
Selected By: Kim Hubbard (Books Editor for People Magazine)

In Shaker Heights, a placid, progressive suburb of Cleveland, everything is planned […]. And no one embodies this spirit more than Elena Richardson, whose guiding principle is playing by the rules.

Enter Mia Warren – an enigmatic artist and single mother – who arrives in this idyllic bubble with her teenaged daughter Pearl, and rents a house from the Richardsons. Soon Mia and Pearl become more than tenants: all four Richardson children are drawn to the mother-daughter pair. But Mia carries with her a mysterious past and a disregard for the status quo that threatens to upend this carefully ordered community.

My Thoughts:
Following Ng’s award-winning debut (Everything I Never Told You, my review), Little Fires Everywhere is one of the most anticipated new releases this year. I’ve read it and it’s NOT a sophomore slump! It’s premise didn’t really jump out at me, yet the way Ng told this story had me engrossed immediately. It’s the kind of story where you sink into the community and the characters’ lives…and, I think it has the potential for even broader appeal than Everything I Never Told You. Michelle at That’s What She Read (a blogger who has steered me in the right direction on a couple key books this year – The Wanderers and Emma in the Night!) loved it too. And, not surprisingly, Kirkus and Publisher’s Weekly both gave it starred reviews.

Emma in the Night by Wendy WalkerEmma in the Night by Wendy Walker (Released: August 8, 2017)
320 Pages
Average Goodreads Rating: 3.9 on 1,338 ratings
Selected By: Guest Judge Krysten Ritter (actress and soon-to-be published author)

From the bestselling author of All is Not Forgotten comes a thriller about two missing sisters, a twisted family, and what happens when one girl comes back…

My Thoughts:
My regular readers know I’ve recently had a hard time finding thrillers I love. Well, I 5 star-loved Emma in the Night! It’s the most satisfying psychological thriller I’ve read since Gone Girl! No lie…here’s my review. What made it so satisfying? I questioned who was telling the truth the entire time I was reading and, best of all, the ending was surprising, yet absolutely made sense with the story (which is my number one criteria for a successful thriller). I’m not saying Emma in the Night is one of those ubiquitous Gone Girl copycats…it just left me feeling equally as satisfied. Don’t believe me? Here are some other reviews from sources I trust: Novel Visits, Running N ReadingDoing Dewey, Kirkus Reviews, and Publisher’s Weekly

Sing Unburied Sing by Jesmyn WardSing, Unburied, Sing by Jesmyn Ward (Release Date: September 5, 2017)
304 Pages
Average Goodreads Rating: 4.32 on 325 ratings
Selected By: Elizabeth Kiefer (Books & Senior Features Editor, Refinery 29)

In Jesmyn Ward’s first novel since her National Book Award winning Salvage the Bones, this singular American writer brings the archetypal road novel into rural twenty-first-century America. Drawing on Morrison and Faulkner, The Odyssey and the Old Testament, Ward gives us an epochal story, a journey through Mississippi’s past and present that is both an intimate portrait of a family and an epic tale of hope and struggle.

My Thoughts:
Sing, Unburied, Sing is Ward’s sophomore effort following her National Book Award-winning Salvage the Bones. Tara at Running N Reading says it’s “definitely an emotional, somewhat heavy, read and entirely worth the time and effort.” She also said the “publisher’s description thankfully doesn’t give away too much and there is so much more in store for readers.” Susie at Novel Visits called it “raw” and said the writing was “beautiful.” Publisher’s Weekly and Kirkus both gave it starred reviews. If you like a good emotional gut-wrencher, this one is your pick! Though I DNF’d Salvage the Bones, I do plan to give this one a try once my life calms down a bit (for me, the timing isn’t right for a heavy, emotional gut-wrencher).

Lies She Told by Cate HolahanLies She Told by Cate Holahan (Release Date: September 12, 2017)
304 Pages
Average Goodreads Rating: 3.96 on 213 ratings
Selected By: Stacey Armand (“You Be the Judge” Contest Winner)

Liza Jones has thirty days to write the thriller that could put her back on the bestseller list. In the meantime, she’s struggling to start a family with her husband, who is distracted by the disappearance of his best friend, Nick.

Beth is a new mother who suspects her husband is cheating on her while she’s home alone providing for their newborn. […] But before she realizes it, she’s tossing the body of her husband’s mistress into the river.

Then the lines between fiction and reality begin to blur.

My Thoughts:
Lies She Told is the only September selection that I hadn’t heard of…but, I now know it’s a psychological thriller. It’s gotten a lot of blurbs, but this one from Library Journal jumped out at me: “Recommended for anyone who enjoys Paula Hawkins or Gillian Flynn, primarily because it’s better.” You know I’m super skeptical of the ubiquitous The Girl on the Train and Gone Girl comparisons, so there’s also that. It got a starred review from Kirkus and a good, but not starred review from Publisher’s Weekly. And, Crime by the Book said this “book within a book” mystery is “pure, binge-worthy entertainment.”

Sourdough by Robin SloanSourdough by Robin Sloan (Release Date: September 5, 2017)
272 Pages
Average Goodreads Rating: 4.09 on 151 ratings
Selected By: Dana Schwartz (Author)

Lois Clary is a software engineer at General Dexterity, a San Francisco robotics company with world-changing ambitions. She codes all day and collapses at night, her human contact limited to the two brothers who run the neighborhood hole-in-the-wall from which she orders dinner every evening. Then, disaster! Visa issues. The brothers close up shop, and fast. But they have one last delivery for Lois: their culture, the sourdough starter used to bake their bread. She must keep it alive, they tell her—feed it daily, play it music, and learn to bake with it.

When Lois comes before the jury that decides who sells what at Bay Area markets, she encounters a close-knit club with no appetite for new members. But then, an alternative emerges: a secret market that aims to fuse food and technology. But who are these people, exactly?

My Thoughts:
I adored Sloan’s quirky debut about a bookstore mixed in with a bunch of technology (odd, but it worked!), Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore (my review). So, I expected a ton of quirk in his take on food…and the technology in this one takes the form of robotics. I’m about 20% through so far and am enjoying it…it’s definitely quirky, a bit funny, and has a main character that I’m rooting for (however, the tech talk has gone a bit far a few times). Kirkus wasn’t a fan, calling it “Fluffy but overbaked.” Hmm. Publisher’s Weekly also said it “overreaches.” Double hmm. We’ll see how I end up feeling as I read farther.

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

This is a tough one for me because I’m not over the moon about any of the choices. There’s a chance I would skip this month.

If you’re looking for a page turner that you won’t be able to put down, Emma in the Night is the ticket!

If you want something a bit more literary, you can’t go wrong with Little Fires Everywhere.

Make your Book of the Month Club selections by Sunday, August 6th.

How to 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.

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*All book descriptions are from Goodreads.

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