Search Results for: young jane young

Read One, Skip Two: Shadow of the Lions, See What I Have Done, and Young Jane Young

August 17, 2017 Mini Book Reviews 15

I moved this week, so life has been crazy! Hence the round-up of August mini-reviews you’re getting today. Two of these books are already out and one is coming on August 22.

Shadow of the Lions by Christopher SwannShadow of the Lions by Christopher Swann
Fiction (
Released August 1, 2017)
368 Pages
Bottom Line: Read it.

Affiliate Link: Buy from Amazon
Source: Publisher (Algonquin)

Plot Summary: After his life spirals out of control following the success of his first novel, Matthias returns to teach at his old boys’ boarding school, where his best friend (Fritz) vanished from campus during their senior year.

My Thoughts: Y’all know I’m a sucker for boarding school novels. But, I’ve had read some stinkers over the past few years. Shadow of the Lions is NOT one of the stinkers! It’s been described as a “literary thriller,” which I’m not sure I agree with. I’d say it’s more of a literary “mystery” than a “thriller” because it doesn’t have all the heart-pounding franticness that a thriller brings to mind.

The story begins with a wistful feeling as Matthias returns to campus and reminisces about his time there as a student and Fritz’s disappearance. And, it gradually picks up speed as Matthias decides he wants to find out what happened to Fritz once and for all. This is also a story about male friendship…the kind of bond that can only be developed in extremely close quarters with shared experiences (i.e. living together in dorms, in the military, etc). Shadow of the Lions is one of those books that you don’t have to think too hard about (I need these sometimes!), but that has enough depth to keep you interested…and is the final book I’m adding to this year’s Summer Reading Guide!

See What I Have Done by Sarah SchmidtSee What I Have Done by Sarah Schmidt
Historical Fiction – Debut (
Released August 1, 2017)
336 Pages
Bottom Line: Skip it.

Affiliate Link: Amazon
Source: Publisher (Atlantic Monthly)

Plot Summary: A fictional telling of the famous, unsolved Lizzie Borden murders of 1892.

My Thoughts: I love books about crime. I love fiction based on real people and/or events. I love books about dysfunctional families. See What I Have Done is all of these things, but I didn’t love it. Most of the story centers around the Borden family dynamics (each family member has their own motives to have possibly killed Abby and Andrew Borden) and the days immediately following the murders. Oddly for a story involving crime and a dysfunctional family, it moved slowly and I got bored around the 40-50% mark. I kept expecting things to move along to Lizzie’s arrest and the subsequent trial (the part of the story I find most intriguing), but that didn’t happen until three quarters of the way through. And, when we finally did hear about it, it was covered only briefly and on a surface level (we never even got to hear about the evidence that led to Lizzie’s arrest). When I finished, I felt like I didn’t know much more about the murders than I did before I read the book.

Young Jane Young by Gabrielle ZevinYoung Jane Young by Gabrielle Zevin
Fiction (
Release Date: August 22, 2017)
320 Pages
Bottom Line: Skip it.

Affiliate Link: Amazon
Source: Publisher (Algonquin)

Plot Summary: When intern Aviva Grossman’s affair with her much older, married Congressman boss becomes public, she must figure out how to get her life back in order.

My Thoughts: Zevin’s last book, The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry (my review), was my favorite book of 2014, so I had high expectations going into Young Jane Young. And, I did love the first half. Young Jane Young is an “issue” book without feeling too much like an “issue” book. The storyline closely mirrors the Bill Clinton/Monica Lewinsky scandal, which I was fascinated with when it happened. But, Young Jane Young explores the reverberating impact of a public scandal like this on the female cheatee…and how different it is from the impact on the male cheater. It illuminates the gross double standard that exists in today’s society and how that can truly wreck lives. Zevin had me glued through this point.

But, a gimmicky second half sent things sailing downhill. First, the writing style and tone of the story completely changed during the section told from Ruby’s (Aviva’s daughter) perspective (which was written in a one-sided email exchange with her pen pal). I didn’t like that we never heard from the pen pal either. But, what really sent me over the edge was the final section told from Aviva’s perspective that was written as a Choose Your Own Adventure story (yes, you read that correctly). What?!! There was a point to it, but it still didn’t work for me…mainly because I thought I was reading an adult novel, not a kids’ comic book. To be fair, this was clearly mentioned in the book’s blurb, but I must have skimmed right over that part. I imagine Young Jane Young will be a somewhat controversial read, so it would make a great book club selection even though it didn’t work for me.

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Book of the Month August 2018 Selections: What Book Should You Choose?

August 1, 2018 Book Recommendations 17

Book of the Month August 2018

This post contains affiliate links and I will be compensated if you make a purchase after clicking on my links, but I’m also a paying customer.


Welcome to my monthly feature “Book of the Month Selections: What Book Should You Choose?”! Every month, I provide commentary on the books that are chosen as that month’s Book of the Month selections that will hopefully help you choose your pick, and tell you which book(s) I’m going to choose. AND, I provide you with the most up to date version of my Ultimate Guide to the Book of the Month Judges with free, downloadable template (below).

This month Book of the Month brings us chick-lit romance and music…plus, Grit Lit, a police procedural, and a complicated female friendship. 

Choose the best Book of the Month selection for you every time!

Check out my fun new tool to help you pick the best Book of the Month selection for your taste: my Ultimate Guide to the Book of the Month Judges and free, downloadable template to help you find your go-to BOTM judge!

Book of the Month August 2018 Selections

Dinner ListThe Dinner List by Rebecca Serle (Release Date: September 11, 2018)
288 Pages
Average Goodreads Rating: 3.91 on 170 ratings
Selected By: Natalie Reece (Creator of Birchbox Book Club)

At one point or another, we’ve all been asked to name five people, living or dead, with whom we’d like to have dinner. Why do we choose the people we do? And what if that dinner was to actually happen?

When Sabrina arrives at her thirtieth birthday dinner she finds at the table not just her best friend, but also three significant people from her past, and well, Audrey Hepburn. As the appetizers are served, wine poured, and dinner table conversation begins, it becomes clear that there’s a reason these six people have been gathered together.

My Thoughts:
Rebecca Serle is known for her YA romances (including the Famous in Love series). The Dinner List is chick-lit / romance, but is not YA as far as I can tell. It sounds a bit like a rom-com and has been compared to One Day by David Nichols. The premise sounds completely ridiculous to me, but may appeal to you! Amanda from the Gun in Act One book blog rated it 5 stars and said she was “expecting a fluffier read”, but got “totally caught up.” She “felt like a fly on the wall watching Sabrina between her BFF, her ex-boyfriend and the amazing Audrey Hepburn.” Goodreads reviewers said it’s heart-wrenching and heart-warming, will make you feel, and alternates chapters between the dinner table and Sabrina’s past. Other reviewers said it has a slow start before the story really takes off (but it apparently does) and couldn’t get past the unrealistic premise. This one might be best for the type of reader who can just suspend disbelief and go with the story. P.S. – three authors I love blurbed this book, but I’ve learned not to put too much stock in author blurbs: Stephanie Danler (Sweetbitter), Gabrielle Zevin (The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry, Young Jane Young), and Jennifer Close (The Hopefuls).

Line That Held UsThe Line That Held Us by David Joy (Release Date: August 14, 2018)
272 Pages
Average Goodreads Rating: 4.29 on 55 ratings
Selected By: Siobhan Jones (Book of the Month Editorial Director)

[…] a remarkable novel about the cover-up of an accidental death, and the dark consequences that reverberate through the lives of four people who will never be the same again.

The Line That Held Us is a story of friendship and family, a tale balanced between destruction and redemption where the only hope is to hold on tight, clenching to those you love. What will you do for the people who mean the most, and what will you grasp to when all that you have is gone? The only certainty in a place so shredded is that no one will get away unscathed.

My Thoughts:
David Joy writes gritty, Southern fiction (aka Grit Lit) set in Appalachia and I really liked his debut novel, Where All Light Tends to Go (my review). I’ve already read the first half of The Line That Held Us and, so far, it has a very similar feel to Where All Light Tends to Go. Gritty, bleak, yet containing characters trying to do their best within their messed up world. The plot clips along and I’m turning the pages quickly. If things continue like this, it’ll be a 4 star read for me. Goodreads reviewers said it’s bleak, disturbing, violent, and not for the squeamish, but also profound. Joy makes the familiar feel fresh and avoids many Grit Lit cliches (drugs, senseless violence). They also warned of some graphic descriptions of a body decomposing (which I think I’ve already read and they weren’t that bad). If you liked Bull Mountain (my review), The Line That Held Us will probably be up your alley!

Goodbye ParisGoodbye, Paris by Anstey Harris (Release Date: August 7, 2018)
288 Pages
Average Goodreads Rating: 4.09 on 65 ratings
Selected By: Steph Opitz (Book Reviewer at Marie Claire)

Jojo Moyes meets Eleanor Oliphant in Goodbye, Paris, an utterly charming novel that proves that sometimes you have to break your heart to make it whole.

Grace […] built a quiet life for herself in her small English village, repairing instruments and nurturing her long- distance affair with David, the man who has helped her rebuild her life even as she puts her dreams of a family on hold until his children are old enough for him to leave his loveless marriage.

But when David saves the life of a woman in the Paris Metro, his resulting fame shines a light onto the real state of the relationship(s) in his life. Shattered, Grace hits rock bottom and abandons everything that has been important to her, including her dream of entering and winning the world’s most important violin-making competition. Her closest friends–a charming elderly violinist with a secret love affair of his own, and her store clerk, a gifted but angst-ridden teenage girl–step in to help, but will their friendship be enough to help her pick up the pieces?

My Thoughts:
Goodbye, Paris seems to be the “happy book” of the bunch (possibly along with The Dinner List). It’s also a romance…sort of. Goodreads reviewers said it’s about disappointment and heart-break, but ultimately hopeful. They mentioned the memorable side characters (which can sometimes make the book!) and the quirkiness of the story. And, though this is a romance, reviewers talked about the focus on friendship, especially in times of crisis. Finally, some mentioned that Grace’s decisions are hard to understand and empathize with.

Sweet Little LiesSweet Little Lies by Caz Frear (Released: August 14, 2018)
352 Pages
Average Goodreads Rating: 3.96 on 7,720 ratings
Selected By: 
Louisa Luna (Author of Two Girls Down)

Cat Kinsella was always a daddy’s girl. Until the summer of 1998 when she sees her father flirting with seventeen-year-old Maryanne Doyle.

When Maryanne later disappears and Cat’s father denies ever knowing her, Cat’s relationship with him is changed forever.

Eighteen years later, Cat is now a Detective Constable with the Met. Called to the scene of a murder in Islington, she discovers a woman’s body: Alice Lapaine has been found strangled, not far from the pub that Cat’s father runs.

When evidence links Alice to the still missing Maryanne, all Cat’s fears about her father resurface.

My Thoughts:
This debut novel is the winner of the UK’s Richard & Judy “Search for New Talent Competition” (previous finalists include Fiona Barton’s The Widow) and is the first in a series. Goodreads reviewers, more than anything else, cautioned that this is NOT a psychological thriller despite what the title and cover would lead you to believe. It’s actually a British police procedural with a psychological angle. They said there is late 1990’s nostalgia, a past/present dual narrative, that you don’t know who to believe, and that the ending was surprising, yet made sense in hindsight (super important for me). They also mentioned it’s overly long and some said it was slow. Sweet Little Lies is being marketed to fans of Tana French, Kate Atkinson, Flynn Berry, Megan Abbott (based on just the descriptions, this comparison seems like a stretch to me), Susie Steiner, and Lisa Gardner.

Air You BreatheThe Air You Breathe by Frances de Pontes Peebles (Release Date: August 21, 2018)
464 Pages
Average Goodreads Rating: 4.13 on 45 ratings
Selected By: Diane Guerrero (Actress, Orange is the New Black and Jane the Virgin)

The story of an intense female friendship fueled by affection, envy and pride–and each woman’s fear that she would be nothing without the other.

Skinny, nine-year-old orphaned Dores is working in the kitchen of a sugar plantation in 1930s Brazil when in walks a girl who changes everything. Graça, the spoiled daughter of a wealthy sugar baron, is clever, well fed, pretty, and thrillingly ill behaved. Born to wildly different worlds, Dores and Graça quickly bond over shared mischief, and then, on a deeper level, over music.

[…] Music will become their shared passion, the source of their partnership and their rivalry, and for each, the only way out of the life to which each was born. But only one of the two is destined to be a star. Their intimate, volatile bond will determine each of their fortunes–and haunt their memories.

My Thoughts:
de Pontes Peebles is an internationally successful author and The Air You Breathe is historical fiction about a complicated female friendship and a musical theme. It seems to have the “females locked in professional competition” vibe of Megan Abbott’s Give Me Your Hand and the “friendship between a wealthy woman and her maid” vibe of Fruit of the Drunken Tree. Goodreads reviewers compared it to Elena Ferrante’s Neapolitan Series and the movie Beaches (with Bette Midler). They said the setting came alive and the writing was gorgeous (I read the first few pages and I did really like the writing).

What Book of the Month Club August 2018 selection(s) will I choose?

I’m choosing The Line That Held Us…I’m currently reading the e-galley and would love a hardcover to photograph for Instagram!

I’m also adding The Air You Breathe…after researching this one, I’m intrigued.

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

What book will you choose this month?

This Month’s Special Deals

NEW MEMBER DEAL: Anyone who purchases a new BOTM subscription will get a credit for a free book! Use code HEATWAVE.

ANNUAL PAYMENT DEAL: BOTM is now a monthly subscription service. However, given that some members preferred paying upfront, they are now offering a 12-month option. Members who sign up for 12 months will pay $149.99/year. That’s $12.50/book, instead of the standard price of $14.99/month.

How to Join Book of the Month…

Book of the Month 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, 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’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’s panel of judges (including a surprise guest judge). Book of the Month 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 membership (NEW pricing below)!

New members will sign up for a membership that renews monthly:

A book of your choice for $14.99 / month
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Six 2017 Books That Deserved the Hype…and Eight That Didn’t

December 8, 2017 Book Lists 39

It’s hard to define what makes a book “hyped.” Does this mean a book was nominated for or won awards? Was being breathlessly chattered about in the book blogging world? Was getting big marketing dollars or a huge advance from its publisher? Was on many “most anticipated books of X” lists? Had glowing early reviews? Based on an author’s previous work? Everyone in your real life was reading and loving it? My 2017 Books that Deserved the Hype list landed mostly in the awards and marketing dollars from publishers categories.

Sadly, I said a big, fat “UGH” when I finished compiling my 2017 Books that Deserved the Hype list. There were so many more books that didn’t deserve the hype than those that did. My trust in the traditional media and publishers for book recommendations is waning fast. I’ll be delving into this a bit more (numerically!) in 2018, but suffice it to say that the books that caught my eye this year were generally not the ones that the serious literary critics and publishers thought everyone should / would love.

Linking up with A Month of Favorites hosted by Traveling with TEstella’s Revenge, and GirlXOXO.

This post contains affiliate links (plus: here’s your Amazon Smile-specific affiliate link).

Six 2017 Books That Deserved the Hype

2017 Books that Deserved Hype

Anything Is Possible
 by Elizabeth Strout (mini review)
New York Times 100 Notable Book of the YearEsquire Magazine and Harper’s Bazaar Best Book of 2017

Beartown by Fredrick Backman (review)
Amazon Best Book of 2017, tons of regular reader buzz

Goodbye, Vitamin by Rachel Khong (review)
O MagazineEsquire Magazine and Refinery 29 Best Book of 2017

Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng (review)
Goodreads Choice Award Winner for FictionBook of the Month Book of the Year Nominee, 5 Week New York Times Bestseller (combined print and e-book), tons of regular reader buzz, and AmazonEsquire MagazineHarper’s BazaarPop Sugar, and Refinery29 Best Book of 2017

The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas
O Magazine and Pop Sugar Best Book of 2017, Goodreads Choice Award Winner for Debut and Young Adult, #1 New York Times Bestseller, National Book Award Longlist for Young People’s Literature

The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugoby Taylor Jenkins Reid (review)
Pop Sugar Best Book of 2017, Book of the Month Book of the Year Nominee, tons of regular reader buzz

You’ll be hearing more about most of these books later, so no commentary just yet!

…and Eight That Didn’t

2017 Books That Didn't Deserve Hype

Behind Her Eyes
 by Sarah Pinborough (spoiler discussion)

Accolades: Massive pre-publication hype (i.e. #WTFthatending hashtag campaign), Book of the Month Book of the Year NomineePop Sugar Best Book of 2017
My Take: Completely outlandish ending and a ridiculous key to the story (see spoiler discussion for more details).

Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman (review)
Accolades: Tons of regular reader buzz, Book of the Month selection

My Take: Kind of cheesy in rom-com way and a major piece of the ending felt like a cop-out.

Exit West by Mohsin Hamid
Accolades: Kirkus Best Literary Fiction of 2017, New York Times 100 Notable Books of 2017, and AmazonO Magazine, New York TimesEsquire Magazine, Time MagazineHarper’s Bazaar Best Book of 2017
My Take: I certainly appreciated parts of this book (i.e. the writing), but the story petered out by the end and overall I was left with a “meh” feeling.

Final Girls by Riley Sager
Accolades: Stephen King called it the “first great thriller of 2017”, Book of the Month Book of the Year Nominee, and Pop Sugar Best Book of 2017
My Take: The ending was outlandish and completely jumped the shark, which is the death-knell of thrillers for me.

Sing, Unburied, Sing by Jesmyn Ward (review)
Accolades: National Book Award Winner for Fiction, Kirkus Best Literary Fiction of 2017, New York Times 100 Notable Books of 2017, Book of the Month Book of the Year Nominee, and Publisher’s WeeklyWashington Post, New York Times, Time MagazinePop SugarRefinery29 Best Book of 2017
My Take: I could objectively see the elements that have the critics falling all over themselves. But, something didn’t quite connect with me, I kept zoning out while reading, and I was never dying to pick it up. Also, the ghost element absolutely did not work for me.

The Resurrection of Joan Ashby by Cherise Wolas (review)
Accolades: Kirkus Best Debut of 2017, tons of pre-publication buzz
My Take: The inclusion of “stories within the story” (in this case, Joan’s own writing) added at least a hundred unnecessary pages to an already overly long book and pulled me out of the central story.

What We Loseby Zinzi Clemmons (review)
Accolades: Kirkus Best Debut of 2017 and Esquire MagazineElle MagazineHarper’s BazaarRefinery29 Best Book of 2017
My Take: Written in vignettes that felt jumpy, preventing me from focusing on the story.

Young Jane Young by Gabrielle Zevin (review)
Accolades: Tons of pre-publication and regular reader buzz
My Take: The last part of the book is a Choose Your Own Adventure story…except it’s a fake one. Enough said.

And, those are just the books I actually finished. I abandoned (i.e. DNF’d)… 

All of these books were nominated for or received literary awards and/or appeared on numerous “Best Books of 2017” lists from publications like KirkusNew York Times, Time MagazinePop Sugar, and Refinery29.

What books do you think deserved their hype this year? Which ones do you think didn’t?

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When Questionable Editorial Decisions Torpedo Books

September 21, 2017 Discussions 18

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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August 2017 Monthly Round-Up

September 7, 2017 Monthly Round-Ups 8

August 2017 Monthly Round-Up


This post contains affiliate links.

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.

This post contains affiliate links.

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 (8/14/17)

August 14, 2017 It's Monday! What are you reading? 26

I did a lot of reading last week, but it’s probably the last time this summer that you’ll see that out of me! We’re moving into our new house next week and life is about to get disorganized and hectic. I’ve got some posts pre-scheduled for this week, but the last couple weeks of August might be on the quieter side.

#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.

Absolutely free via a gift certificate to Larchmont’s Anderson’s Book Shop (bringing my to date spending on this project to $2.00…pretty dang good for 2 hard cover novels!), my second acquisition is:

Book 2 in the #buildsarahsbookshelves (where I’m slowly accumulating a very selective collection of beloved books to live on my first set of built-in bookshelves!) series is here! _ IF WE WERE VILLAINS by M.L. Rio is one of my favorite books so far this year! It’s a dark, twisty campus thriller that takes me back to older favorites THE SECRET HISTORY and BLACK CHALK. @sureasmel @flatiron_books Link to my full review in profile. _ And, this addition to my library was basically free via a gift certificate to @andersonsbooks in Larchmont from my good friend (thanks, @marblong). And its local Larchmont roots inspired the location for this picture…Manor Park, the most gorgeous spot in Larchmont! _ Stay tuned to see what else makes the shelves! #bookstagram #amreading #indiebookstore #bookloversday

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Hosted by The Book Date.

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I finished reading…

The Heirs, Young Jane Young

The Heirs
 by Susan Rieger (May 23, 2017)
It’s a nice, easy read with good, if not overly elaborate writing. But, very different from The Divorce Papers (her debut novel).
Affiliate Link: Buy from Amazon

Young Jane Young by Gabrielle Zevin (August 22, 2017)
I. Have. Thoughts. You’ll hear them on Thursday. Just know that they firmly hit opposite ends of the spectrum.

I’m currently reading…

The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas

The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas (February 28, 2017)
My library hold for this one finally came in after months and months of waiting. But, it’s been well worth it! I flew through the first 100 pages when I couldn’t fall asleep the other night. High readable, super compelling, and heart-breaking. I can see why people are buzzing about this one. 

Affiliate Link: Buy from Amazon

I tried, but wasn’t feeling…

Stay with Me, My Absolute Darling

Stay With Me by Ayobami Adebayo (August 22, 2017)

I had high hopes for this debut…and so does the publishing industry. Sadly, the writing style wasn’t for me. DNF at 5%. Yup, 5%.

My Absolute Darling by Gabriel Tallent (August 29, 2017)
Another debut that has gotten some serious buzz. And it’s really tough to read at times (just horrible things happen to the 14 year old female main character), but that wasn’t why it didn’t work for me. I didn’t click with the writing style (yet again)…it’s too stream-of-conciousness for me and there is too much description of surroundings. I got interested when Turtle meets Jacob and Brett, but that interest waned again quickly. DNF at 37%.

Upcoming reading plans…

South Pole Station by Ashley Shelby

South Pole Station by Ashley Shelby (July 4, 2017)
Of course a couple of my library holds came in all at one time! I was excited about this book right when it came out, but haven’t heard much about it since. I’m going to give it a try if my hold hasn’t expired by the time I finish The Hate U Give. It’ll probably be one of those “if it doesn’t grab me literally immediately, I’m moving on” types of “tries.”

was reading…

One Year Ago: I was reading a quintessential NYC author.

Two Years Ago: I was reading one of 2015’s biggest books…that I was conflicted about.

How was your reading week?

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July 2017 Monthly Round-Up

August 3, 2017 Monthly Round-Ups 10

July 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.

July Reading / Life

  • July has continued my summer of slumpiness. I seriously think I DNF’d the same number of books I actually read this month.
  • I also didn’t read as much (9 books) as in the previous few months…mostly because we’re moving in a couple weeks and I’ve been a bit frazzled preparing for that. Our move is actually happening in August, so you might see a quieter blog next month.
  • July seemed to be a month of crime books…some winners (QuicksandAmerican Fire) and some not (See What I Have Done). While we’re on the topic of fire, Celeste Ng’s hotly anticipated Little Fires Everywhere (out 9/12) is smokin’ GOOD!
  • I expected to love Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine…but, it appears I’m one of the only ones who didn’t love it.
  • Shadow of the Lions was a solid 4 star boarding school mystery…it’s out on 8/1, so keep your eyes peeled!
  • And to round out my nonfiction, I read and listened to a couple solid choices: Double Bind: Women on AmbitionWho Thought This Was a Good Idea? (audiobook), and I Didn’t Come Here to Make Friends (audiobook). Yes, this last one is, in fact, Bachelor winner Courtney Robertson’s behind-the-scenes tell-all. I should probably be embarrassed about including it here…but it was a fun, juicy listen for this Bachelor fan!
  • Check out my commentary on the August Book of the Month Club selections…though I’m not jumping for joy over this month’s choices. On the bright side, I’m 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 putting together a small, but highly selective library for my new, built-in bookshelves and will be tracking my progress over on Instagram. Follow me at @sarahsbookshelves to see what books make the cut!

My Favorite Book(s) of the Month

Best Book of the Month

Quicksand by Malin Persson Giolito (March 7, 2017)
Fiction, 512 Pages
Affiliate Link: Buy from Amazon

PS – last year’s Best Book of July was Mudbound by Hillary Jordan (my review)!

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

It’s a tie between…
Quicksand by Malin Persson Giolito (my review)
Final Girls by Riley Sager (how is this possible?! I didn’t even like it and didn’t review it!)
Beartown by Fredrik Bachman (my review)

August Releases I’m Excited About

Shadow of the Lions by Christopher Swann (August 1)
Young Jane Young by Gabrielle Zevin (August 22)
Stay With Me by Ayobami Adebayo (August 22)
The Burning Girl by Claire Messud (August 29)

Most Popular Posts

Posts Actually Published in July
Best Books of 2017 So Far
Book of the Month Club July 2017 Selections: What Would I Choose?
17 Awesome Podcasts I’ve Been Listening to Lately (Bookish and Non)

Overall Posts
Best Books of 2017 So Far
Book Club Recommendations

Page Turner Books

Favorite Posts by Fellow Bloggers

How was your reading month?

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My Most Anticipated Books of Summer 2017

May 23, 2017 Book Lists 34

Most Anticipated Books of Summer 2017

In case you missed it last week, I posted my 2017 Summer Reading Guide, which is chock full of awesome books for summer that I’ve already vetted. Today’s Most Anticipated Books of Summer 2017 list focuses on upcoming releases that I’m excited about, but (for the most part) have not yet read. I hope I’ll be adding many of these to my Summer Reading Guide as the summer goes on.

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


Do Not Become Alarmed by Maile Meloy (June 6, Riverhead)
Bookpage included this novel on its 2017 preview and Ann Patchett (one of my favorite authors, most recently of Commonwealth) called it “smart and thrilling and impossible to put down.” I’ve almost finished this one and it’s a perfect page-turning beach read…as long as you’re not traveling with kids in a foreign country! 

From a beloved, award-winning writer, the much-anticipated novel about what happens when two families go on a tropical vacation and the children go missing.

The People We Hate at the Wedding by Grant Grinder (June 6, Flatiron Books)
I’ve got to be honest…I put this book on my TBR list mostly because of the title. And, also because it sounds a bit like Seating Arrangements (my review) and Jennifer Close (author of The Hopefuls) called it “family dysfunction at its best” (and ya’ll know I can’t resist that). 

A bitingly funny, hugely entertaining novel in which a fractured family from the Chicago suburbs must gather in London for their eldest daughter’s marriage to an upper-crust Englishman, proving that the harder we strain against the ties that bind, the tighter they hold us close.

Stephen Florida by Gabe Habash (June 6, Coffee House Press)
Ya’ll know how much I love sports fiction and this novel has a bit of a John Irving ring to it. Not to mention Hanya Yanigahara (author of A Little Life, one of my favorite books of 2015) called it “a coming-of-age story with its own, often explosive, rhythm and velocity.”

Foxcatcher meets The Art of Fielding, Stephen Florida follows a college wrestler in his senior season, when every practice, every match, is a step closer to greatness and a step further from sanity. Profane, manic, and tipping into the uncanny, it’s a story of loneliness, obsession, and the drive to leave a mark.

The Bright Hour by Nina Riggs (June 6, Simon & Schuster)
I realize trying to match When Breath Becomes Air (see below) could be a fool’s errand, but I’m still intrigued. Especially since it’s gotten starred reviews from Kirkus, Publisher’s Weekly, and a blurb from Lucy Kalanithi (Paul Kalanithi of When Breath Becomes Air‘s widow). 

An exquisite memoir about how to live—and love—every day with “death in the room,” from poet Nina Riggs, mother of two young sons and the direct descendant of Ralph Waldo Emerson, in the tradition of When Breath Becomes Air.


Who Is Rich? by Matthew Klam (July 4, Random House)
When Meg Wolitzer (author of The Interestings) calls a book “funny, dark, big, and bold,” that’s all I need to hear. Plus, blurbs from Jonathan Tropper and Curtis Sittenfeld. 

Two people, who are married to other people, meet at a conference for artists and writers in a charming seaside village. Rich, a formerly sort-of-famous cartoonist, and Amy, a student of narrative painting, shared a moment of passion the summer before, and have returned to see what happens next. In the wicked events that follow, both of their lives completely unravel.

What We Lose by Zinzi Clemmons (July 11, Viking)
This debut novel has been compared to The Mothers (one of my favorite books of last year) and was #1 on Buzzfeed’s list of 22 Exciting New Books You Need to Read this Summer

From a debut author of rare, haunting power, a stunning novel about a young African-American woman coming of age—a deeply felt meditation on race, sex, family, and country.

Goodbye, Vitamin by Rachel Khong (July 11, Henry Holt)
Another debut novel that made Buzzfeed’s list of 22 Exciting New Books You Need to Read this Summer! And Stephanie Danler (author of Sweetbitter) said this about it: “I don’t know that I’ve ever seen a more candid portrait of love between family members.” 

Freshly disengaged from her fiancé and feeling that life has not turned out quite the way she planned, thirty-year-old Ruth quits her job, leaves town and arrives at her parents’ home to find that situation more complicated than she’d realized. Her father, a prominent history professor, is losing his memory and is only erratically lucid. Ruth’s mother, meanwhile, is lucidly erratic. But as Ruth’s father’s condition intensifies, the comedy in her situation takes hold, gently transforming her all her grief.

Final Girls by Riley Sager (July 11, Dutton)
I’m desperately searching for a satisfying thriller and Stephen King called this one “the first great thriller of 2017.” If Stephen King is wrong, then I’m give up. It also got a starred review from Kirkus.

An intense and imaginative horror story, Final Girls follows the lone survivor of a massacre, who must reclaim her locked-away memories when faced with another threat ten years later.


The Lauras by Sara Taylor (August 1, Hogarth)
I loved Taylor’s 2015 debut novel, The Shore (my review), and have been looking forward to her follow-up! 

The gritty, fierce, and winning story of an unforgettable pair on a road trip across the United States, and their shared journey into the past.

See What I Have Done by Sarah Schmidt (August 1, Atlantic Monthly Press)
Yay – fiction based on true crime! I went through a period of loving these a few years ago, but haven’t read one in awhile. I’m looking forward to this!

In this riveting debut novel, Sarah Schmidt recasts one of the most fascinating murder cases of all time (the Lizzie Borden case) into an intimate story of a volatile household and a family devoid of love.

The Futilitarians by Anne Gisleson (August 22, Little, Brown)
Gisleson has been compared to Cheryl Strayed (Tiny Beautiful Things, one of my absolute favorite memoirs) and Jami Attenberg (author of All Grown Up) said it was her favorite memoir of the year. 

A memoir of friendship and literature chronicling a search for meaning and comfort in great books, and a beautiful path out of grief.

Young Jane Young by Gabrielle Zevin (August 22, Algonquin Books)
Zevin’s previous novel, The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry (my review) was my favorite book of 2014. And, I love the focus of her latest on the double standards between men and women facing public scandal. 

Young Jane Young‘s heroine is Aviva Grossman, an ambitious Congressional intern in Florida who makes the life-changing mistake of having an affair with her boss‑‑who is beloved, admired, successful, and very married‑‑and blogging about it.

*All book summaries (in block quotes) are from Goodreads.

What Summer 2017 books are you looking forward to?

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January 9, 2017 0

General Fiction

A Separation by Katie Kitamura
All Grown Up by Jami Attenberg
Beartown by Fredrik Backman
Dead Letters
by Caite Dolan-Leach
Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman
Everybody’s Son by Thrity Umrigar
Exit West by Mohsin Hamid
Fear by Dirk Kurbjuweit
Goodbye, Vitamin by Rachel Khong
If We Were Villains by M.L. Rio
Imagine Me Gone
by Adam Haslett
One of the Boys by Daniel Magariel
One True Thing by Anna Quindlen
Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng
Rabbit Cake by Annie Hartnett
Shadow of the Lions by Christopher Swann
Sing, Unburied, Sing by Jesmyn Ward
Small Hours by Jennifer Kitses
Sourdough by Robin Sloan
Standard Deviation by Katherine Heiny
Startup by Doree Shafrir
Swimming Lessons by Claire Fuller
The Best Kind of People by Zoe Whittall
The Fall of Lisa Bellow by Susan Perabo
The Futures
 by Anna Pitoniak
The Hearts of Men by Nickolas Butler
The Heirs by Susan Rieger
The Immortalists by Chloe Benjamin
The Most Dangerous Place on Earth by Lindsey Lee Johnson
The Party by Elizabeth Day
The Resurrection of Joan Ashby by Cherise Wolas
The Roanoke Girls by Amy Engel
The Twelve Lives of Samuel Hawley by Hannah Tinti
The Wanderers by Meg Howrey
The Woman Next Door by Yewande Omotoso
This Is How It Always Is by Laurie Frankel
Trophy Son by Douglas Brunt
Unraveling Oliver by Liz Nugent
Woman No. 17 by Edan Lepucki
What We Lose by Zinzi Clemmons
White Fur by Jardine Libaire
Young Jane Young by Gabrielle Zevin

General Nonfiction

Adnan’s Story by Rabia Chaudry (Audiobook)
American Fire by Monica Hesse
Better Than Before by Gretchen Rubin
Black Dahlia, Red Rose by Piu Marie Eatwell
Bobos in Paradise by David Brooks (Audiobook)
Books for Living by Will Schwalbe (Audiobook)
Daring Greatly by Brene Brown (Audiobook)
How Not to Hate Your Husband After Kids by Jancee Dunn (Audiobook)
Killers of the Flower Moon by David Grann
Option B by Sheryl Sandberg and Adam Grant (Audiobook)
Ranger Games by Ben Blum
Reading People by Anne Bogel (Audiobook)
Shattered by Jonathan Allen and Amie Parnes (Audiobook)
Spark by John Ratey (Audiobook)
Strangers in their Own Land by Arlie Russell Hochschild
The Almost Nearly Perfect People
 by Michael Booth (Audiobook)
The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin (Audiobook)
The Prisoner in his Palace by Will Bardenwerper (Audiobook)
The Skies Belong to Us by Brendan Koerner (Audiobook)
The Sociopath Next Door by Martha Stout (Audiobook)
The Stranger in the Woods by Michael Finkel (Audiobook)
The Unwinding by George Packer (Audiobook)
Valley of the Gods by Alexandra Wolfe (Audiobook)
What Made Maddy Run by Kate Fagan (Audiobook)

Historical Fiction

Lillian Boxfish Takes A Walk by Kathleen Rooney
Mothering Sunday
by Graham Swift
See What I Have Done by Sarah Schmidt
The Heart’s Invisible Furies by John Boyne
The Rules of Magic by Alice Hoffman
The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Jenkins Reid
The Twelve Mile Straight by Eleanor Henderson

Memoirs / Personal Essays

A Mother’s Reckoning by Sue Klebold (Audiobook)
A Short Guide to a Happy Life by Anna Quindlen
After the Eclipse by Sarah Perry
Born A Crime
by Trevor Noah (Audiobook)
Daring to Drive by Manal Al-Sharif (Audiobook)
Dear Fahrenheit 451 by Annie Spence
Double Bind: Women on Ambitions by Robin Romm
Forty Autumns by Nina Willner
Gift from the Sea
by Anne Morrow Lindbergh (Audiobook)
How Reading Changed My Life by Anna Quindlen
I Didn’t Come Here to Make Friends by Courtney Robertson (Audiobook)
Lots of Candles, Plenty of Cake by Anna Quindlen (Audiobook)
My Year of Running Dangerously by Tom Foreman (Audiobook)
Relentless Spirit
by Missy Franklin (Audiobook)
Settle for More by Megyn Kelly (Audiobook)
String Theory
by David Foster Wallace
Tell Me More by Kelly Corrigan
The End of Your Life Book Club by Will Schwalbe (Audiobook)
The Fact of a Body by Alexandria Marzano-Lesnevich
The Getaway Car by Ann Patchett
The Rules Do Not Apply by Ariel Levy
Unbelievable by Katy Tur (Audiobook)
What I Talk About When I Talk About Running by Haruki Murakami (Audiobook)
Who Thought This Was a Good Idea? by Alyssa Mastromonaco (Audiobook)

Mysteries / Thrillers

Based on a True Story by Delphine de Vigan (Spoiler Discussion)
Behind Her Eyes
by Sarah Pinborough (Spoiler Discussion)
Dark Matter by Blake Crouch
Do Not Become Alarmed by Maile Meloy
Emma in the Night by Wendy Walker
Final Girls by Riley Sager
Grist Mill Road by Christopher J. Yates
Quicksand by Malin Persson Giolito
Since We Fell by Dennis Lehane
The Cuban Affair by Nelson DeMille
The Dry by Jane Harper
The Sleepwalker
by Chris Bohjalian

Short Stories

Always Happy Hour by Mary Miller
Anything is Possible by Elizabeth Strout

Young Adult

The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas
The Takedown
 by Corrie Wang

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