Posts By: Sarah Dickinson

Podcast Episode 16: Meredith and Kaytee (Behind the Scenes of the Currently Reading Podcast)

April 24, 2019 Podcast 0

Currently Reading Podcast

 

In Episode 16, Meredith Monday Schwartz and Kaytee Cobb join me to go behind-the-scenes of the Currently Reading Podcast.

This post contains affiliate links (plus: here’s your Amazon Smile-specific affiliate link), through which I make a small commission when you make a purchase (at no cost to you!).

Highlights

  • The segment Currently Reading guests are always the most nervous about.
  • How (and how fast) Currently Reading came together.
  • What Meredith and Kaytee did not want Currently Reading to be.
  • How Meredith and Kaytee’s relationship has changed since starting Currently Reading.
  • The biggest challenges of running Currently Reading (PS – Kaytee’s and Meredith’s are different).
  • Meredith and Kaytee’s dream guests for Currently Reading…and Sarah’s for Sarah’s Book Shelves Live.
  • Meredith and Kaytee share the biggest similarities and biggest differences in their reading tastes.
  • The book all three of us loved despite thinking the premise was completely preposterous.
  • A bonus book recommendation from Meredith.
  • A tangent about Goodreads‘ skewed ratings because of people not rating books they don’t like and/or finish.
  • What Meredith and Kaytee would do if they hated a book a guest wanted to press into everyone’s hands.

Meredith’s and Kaytee’s Book Recommendations

Two OLD Books They Love

Two NEW Books They Love

Two Books They Didn’t Love

Two New Releases They’re Excited About

Other Books Mentioned

Other Links

The Currently Reading Podcast

Podcast Website | Instagram | Facebook

Currently Reading Podcast

About Meredith

Meredith Monday SchwartzInstagram

Meredith Monday Schwartz is a married mom of 4 and full-time CEO of a large wedding website. She lives in the SF Bay Area and loves the cool temperatures and high number of bookstores that make up the gorgeous place she calls home. She’s been an avid reader since she was 4. She’s a very introverted INFJ, so she reads to re-charge. Her very favorite thing to do if she’s not reading is… wait for it… to talk about books! She’s so grateful that, in Kaytee, she’s found the perfect partner.

About Kaytee

Kaytee CobbInstagram | Blog | Twitter| Goodreads

Kaytee is married to her best friend, a mama of 4 littles, a big fan of Jesus, and a homeschool mom and director (kind of like the principal of our homeschool co-op). She tries not to lose her mind while juggling all these roles by reading books. She’s attempting to reach “professional” reading level by regularly devouring 200 or more books in a calendar year! She’s an ESFJ, Type A, Enneagram 2w1, Obliger who obviously loves personality tests. She enjoys being around people, but her favorite thing to talk to those people about is…books!!!

Next Week’s Episode

Jaclyn and Racheal aka The Pingel Sisters (airing May 1)

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Do you listen to the Currently Reading Podcast?

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Currently Reading Podcast
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What I’m Reading Now (4/22/19)

April 22, 2019 It's Monday! What are you reading? 14

I was away this weekend with my family at my sister-in-law’s place in the mountains and had the most beautiful reading spot ever. I posted it on Instagram yesterday if you’re interested. I also managed to finish the book I was reading despite being worried I wouldn’t finish anything last week.

And, I finished I Miss You When I Blink by Mary Laura Philpott on audio…and, yes, I just read this in print form! I listened to it on audio to refresh my memory because Mary Laura is coming on the podcast! I’d love to ask her some questions from my readers / listeners, so if you’ve read this one, please leave any questions you’d like me to ask her in the comments section or feel free to email me at sarahsbookshelves@gmail.com.

Podcast

Episode 15, featuring the book and travel blogger Christine from The Uncorked Librarian, aired last week!

Episode 16, where Meredith Monday Schwartz and Kaytee Cobb go behind the scenes of the Currently Reading Podcast is coming on Wednesday.

New on the Blog

Hosted by The Book Date.
This post contains affiliate links (plus: here’s your Amazon Smile-specific affiliate link), through which I make a small commission when you make a purchase (at no cost to you!).

I finished reading…

The Mother-in-Law by Sally Hepworth

 

The Mother-in-Lawby Sally Hepworth (April 23, 2019)
This one was a pleasant surprise! I DNF’d her last book (The Family Next Door), so I almost didn’t pick this one up. But, then I started hearing good things from a couple people I trust and I’m glad I gave it a shot! It deftly portrays the complicated mother-in-law/daughter-in-law dynamic and is a solid family drama.
Affiliate Link: Buy from Amazon

I’m currently reading…

Ask Again Yes

 

Ask Again, Yesby Mary Beth Keane (May 28, 2019)
The buzz about this family drama has been slowly gaining steam recently (Annie Jones rated it 5 stars and Mary Laura Philpott, author of I Miss You When I Blink, “loooooved it”) and I’ve been looking forward to picking it up. I’m only 6% in, but I like the writing style and am interested to see where things go.
Affiliate Link: Buy from Amazon

I tried, but wasn’t feeling…

what I'm reading now

 

The Night Before by Wendy Walker (May 14, 2019)
DNF at 28%
I loved Wendy Walker’s last thriller, Emma in the Night (it’s the only thriller other than Gone Girl I’ve ever rated 5 stars), but this one just wasn’t doing anything for me. And, the writing wasn’t as good as I remember it being in Emma either.
Affiliate Link: Buy from Amazon

The Farm by Joanne Ramos (May 7, 2019)
DNF at 32%
The Farm was fine and I probably would’ve kept reading at any other time of year, but right now I’m laser-focused on great books for my 2019 Summer Reading Guide (coming in mid-May), so I’m quick to DNF at the moment. Regardless, I didn’t care much what happened to the characters.

Affiliate Link: Buy from Amazon

Upcoming reading plans…

Montauk by Nicola Harrison

 

Montauk by Nicola Harrison (June 4, 2019)
This debut historical fiction about a woman who goes to Montauk for a summer meaning to reconnect with her husband, but finding herself instead is a bit of a risk. It came to me unsolicited from the publisher and I haven’t heard a peep about it from my trusted recommendation sources, but I’m going to give it a shot. Plus, I love a Hamptons setting.

How was your reading week?

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Alcohol & Advil: Miracle Creek and Southern Lady Code

April 18, 2019 Mini Book Reviews 6

Alcohol and Advil Literary Style

 

Welcome to Alcohol & Advil, where I pair a book likely to cause a “reading hangover” (i.e. the alcohol) with a recovery book (i.e. the Advil)! For me, the “alcohol” is usually a book that I either absolutely loved or one that punched me in the gut in an emotionally depleting way…and, in this case, it’s both.

I should call this my tropical beach edition of Alcohol & Advil. I read both these books while on vacation and the alcohol in this case was a drink called a Cucumber Swizzle (kind of like a Moscow Mule, but with cucumber in it).

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

The Alcohol

Miracle CreekMiracle Creekby Angie Kim
Fiction – Mystery / Thriller (Release Date: April 16, 2019)
368 Pages
Affiliate Link: Buy from Amazon
Source: Publisher (Sarah Crichton Books)

Plot Summary: When there is an explosion at Korean immigrant Young and Pak Yoo’s “Miracle Submarine” alternative autism treatment facility, resulting in two deaths, everyone at the facility that day becomes targets of the investigation.

My Thoughts: Miracle Creek is a courtroom drama, but it’s so much more than that. It’s highly literary and tackles multiple serious issues, yet doesn’t forego the fast-moving plot of a traditional courtroom drama. The story starts off with a bang…literally and figuratively. I was hooked immediately. Each person involved in the explosion at Miracle Submarine has their own secrets and knows little parts of the story that others don’t know…meaning no one has the complete picture. And, you can tell that Angie Kim was a trial lawyer in real life…the courtroom drama portion of the story is masterful with multiple legitimate suspects (without resorting to gimmicks) and evidence that looks one way when considered through a particular lens and a totally different way when considered through another.

In addition to the “who caused the explosion and why” angle to the story, Miracle Creek addresses children with severe disabilities (including autism) and what life is like for those who care for them. It’s about the thoughts probably anyone in the position of caregiver to a disabled family member has at their toughest moments, but are unacceptable to speak out loud. It’s about the experience of immigrating to the U.S. and trying to fit in, but also trying to retain some of your native culture and identity. It’s about being Korean American in particular. And, it illuminates how the legal system can sometimes subvert the truth. Miracle Creek is the most thoughtful courtroom drama I’ve ever read and would make an excellent book club pick. A 5 star read for me and I can confidently say it will be on my Best Books of 2019 list come December!

We’ve been lying about so many things for a year, deciding for ourselves what’s just or not, what’s relevant or not. We’re all to blame.

The Advil

Southern Lady Code Southern Lady Code by Helen Ellis 
Nonfiction – Memoir / Essays (Release Date: April 16, 2019)
224 Pages
Bottom Line: Read it.
Affiliate Link: Buy from Amazon
Source: Publisher (Doubleday)

Plot Summary: Ellis (an Alabama native living in New York City) shares her outrageous take on Southern etiquette and eccentricities. 

My Thoughts: Ellis’s short story collection, American Housewife (my review), was hit and miss for me, but the hits led me to believe I’d love her brand of nonfiction social commentary. And, I was mostly right! Ellis has an inappropriate, outrageous sense of humor (my favorite!). And, pairing it with her spot-on social commentary on the South can be magic. Ellis now lives in New York, which I think gives her some necessary perspective on the South that makes her commentary even better. She covers marriage, thank-you notes, general etiquette (courtesy of her mother), and crazy stories from her childhood a la Jenny Lawson (I loved these).

Some of these essays are outrageously funny, while some are still fairly outrageous (but less so for Ellis), but also poignant. And, the ones with some poignancy were my favorites. She writes poignantly about her decision to be child-free in “Free to Be…You and Me (and Childfree)” and her friend Meredith’s work as an Assistant District Attorney in the Bronx in “Serious Women.” And, her social commentary shines in “Party Foul” (a crazy story from her childhood) and “Emily Post for the Apocalypse” (her mother’s view on manners for “extreme situations”). The only mis-step for me was the mini-essays that are collections of one-sentence thoughts on a topic…these just didn’t work for me and broke up the rhythm of collection. Southern Lady Code was exactly the balm I was looking for following the immersive experience of Miracle Creek!

“Sorry you saw something that offended you” is Southern Lady Code for: Get that stick out of your butt, Miss Prissy Pants.

What’s the last book that gave you a reading hangover? And, what did you cure it with?

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Miracle Creek and Southern Lady Code
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Podcast Episode 15: Christine from The Uncorked Librarian (Books Set Abroad)

April 17, 2019 Podcast 3

books set abroad

 

In Episode 15, Christine from The Uncorked Librarian talks literary travel and books set abroad.

This post contains affiliate links (plus: here’s your Amazon Smile-specific affiliate link), through which I make a small commission when you make a purchase (at no cost to you!).

Highlights

  • Why Christine became a “rogue librarian.”
  • Why Christine is “notorious for breaking into libraries.”
  • Why it’s harder than you think to visit libraries abroad.
  • Christine’s top U.S. and International literary travel destinations.
  • How the Icelanders make Christmas Eve the best bookish day ever (via Iceland’s Book Flood).
  • Iceland’s crazy book publishing stat.
  • Christine shares an upcoming YA release (which I think is the first YA book we’ve ever had on the show!).

Christine’s Book Recommendations

Two OLD Books She Loves

Two NEW Books She Loves

One Book She Didn’t Love

One Upcoming Release She’s Excited About

Other Books Mentioned

Other Links

About Christine

Uncorked LibrarianInstagram | Blog | Twitter | Pinterest

I am a MLIS graduate from the University of South Florida.  I have a BA in English and History from Smith College.  The travel bug completely took over after my year as a Fulbright Scholar in Depok, Indonesia.  In Indo, I taught English at a public high school.  Basically, I posed as Miss America for the year.  In reality, I played a lot of Uno, read the entire Sookie Stackhouse series, and stood in front of 600 students each week, wildly gesturing and sweating.  Best job and experience in my life to-date.

I hold certifications in TEFL and Youth Development.  In the office-like world, I possess more than 10 years of urban program management experience. My work focused on literacy and teaching.  In addition, I spent five years in the public library systems.

Today, I am a board member for a nonprofit that brings the joys of reading to families.  When not promoting literacy, I parade around (more like beach down) as a pilot’s wife with four furry children in the sunshine state.  Obsessions include: YA books, brewery yoga, olives, decorating my home with owl everything, caticorns, and Sicily.  I have a reputation for finding breweries and wineries anywhere I go.

Next Week’s Episode

Behind the Scenes of Currently Reading Podcast with Kaytee Cobb and Meredith Monday Schwartz (airing April 24)

Support the Podcast

  • Share
    If you like the podcast, I’d love for you to share it with your reader friends…in real life and on social media (there’s easy share buttons at the bottom of this post!).
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    Search for “Sarah’s Book Shelves” in Apple Podcasts…or wherever you listen to podcasts!

 

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  • Feedback
    I want this podcast to fit what you’re looking for, so I truly do want your feedback! Please tell me (email me at sarahsbookshelves@gmail.com or DM me on social media) what you like, don’t like, want more of, want less of, etc. I’d also love to hear topics you’d like me to cover and guests you’d like to hear from.

Do you enjoy literary travel?

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What I’m Reading Now (4/15/19)

April 15, 2019 It's Monday! What are you reading? 9

Following my vacation reading hot streak, I hit a streak of DNF’s before finally settling in with an outstanding memoir last week! I’m focusing in on potential candidates for my 2019 Summer Reading Guide, which is coming in mid-May!

And, I’m listening to I Miss You When I Blink by Mary Laura Philpott on audio…and, yes, I just read this in print form!. I’m listening to it on audio to refresh my memory because Mary Laura is coming on the podcast! I’d love to ask her some questions from my readers / listeners, so if you’ve read this one, please leave any questions you’d like me to ask her in the comments section or feel free to email me at sarahsbookshelves@gmail.com.

Podcast

Episode 14, featuring Lindsey J. Palmer (author of the February 2019 novel Otherwise Engaged), aired last week. I’m trying to have more authors on the podcasts since hearing that from you in my Reader Survey!

Episode 15, featuring the book and travel blogger Christine from The Uncorked Librarian is coming on Wednesday.

New on the Blog

Hosted by The Book Date.
This post contains affiliate links (plus: here’s your Amazon Smile-specific affiliate link), through which I make a small commission when you make a purchase (at no cost to you!).

I finished reading…

Out East by John Glynn

 

Out Eastby John Glynn (May 14, 2019)
This coming of age / coming out memoir set in a Montauk share house is so much more emotional than you’d expect from a summer share memoir. I immediately started stalking Glynn’s instagram after finishing to find pictures of all the people in the book and some clue as to his current relationship status.
Affiliate Link: Buy from Amazon

I’m currently reading…

The Night Before by Wendy Walker

 

The Night Before by Wendy Walker (May 14, 2019)
I loved Wendy Walker’s last thriller, Emma in the Night (it’s the only thriller other than Gone Girl I’ve ever rated 5 stars). I’m only about 20% through it, but it’s so far not blowing me away like Emma did. We’ll see how things progress.
Affiliate Link: Buy from Amazon

I tried, but wasn’t feeling…

what I'm reading now

 

Like Lionsby Brian Panowich (April 30, 2019)
DNF at 35%
I’m so sad about this sequel to the 2015 Grit Lit thriller Bull Mountain that I absolutely loved. I already shared my thoughts on why I DNF’d here.
Affiliate Link: Buy from Amazon

Furious Hours by Casey Cep (May 7, Knopf)
DNF at 14%
Another DNF I’m so sad about. True crime about Harper Lee trying to write an In Cold Blood style book about an Alabama minister who was killing his family for insurance money sounds fascinating. But, the writing was dry and there were numerous long, historical background tangents that were boring and unnecessary for the story.
Affiliate Link: Buy from Amazon

Upcoming reading plans…

Strangers and Cousins

 

Strangers and Cousins by Leah Hager Cohen (May 14, 2019)
Annie Jones loved this family novel set at a wedding. Also, I’ll read any book with that premise.

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April 2019 Books to Read (and Skip)

April 12, 2019 Mini Book Reviews 8

April 2019 Books to Read

 

Y’all, I was really excited about my April releases (and I had a lot of them on my radar) and they actually exceeded my already high expectations! And, my 2019 Summer Reading Guide (coming in late May) will thank April for bringing it so many great books!

Hosted by Modern Mrs. Darcy.
This post contains affiliate links (plus: here’s your Amazon Smile-specific affiliate link).

Favorite Books of April 2019

Normal PeopleNormal Peopleby Sally Rooney
Fiction (Release Date: April 16, 2019)
288 Pages
Affiliate Link: Buy from Amazon
Source: Book of the Month (Publisher: Hogarth)

Plot Summary: Irish teenagers Connell and Marianne are first drawn to each other in high school when Connell’s mother works as Marianne’s parents’ housekeeper…and, their relationship becomes confusing as they navigate the social dynamics of both high school and college.

My Thoughts: Normal People (which has been long-listed for the 2018 Man Booker Prize) is my first experience with Sally Rooney, but many readers loved her previous novel, Conversations with Friends. This is the kind of relationship book that is utterly riveting, but also made me feel a little uncomfortable in the best way possible (like White Fur and Tender). Connell and Marianne’s relationship is far from straightforward and is downright maddening at times, but I was rooting hard for them and completely engrossed in their story. Rooney made their story feel incredibly intimate, to the point where I almost felt like I was invading their privacy. I also loved the exploration of social and class dynamics in high school and college (when the story begins in high school, Connell is working class, but popular and Marianne is wealthy, but an outcast) and how those can change over time. There’s a bit of a coming of age element as they both wrestle with their identities and they face challenges stemming from Marianne’s family life. This is an unconventional love story and a character-driven novel I couldn’t put down…I could’ve read it in one sitting if I’d had a good chunk of time! 5 stars! PS – I should tell you this story involves a fair amount of sex and also does not use quotation marks for dialogue (neither of those things bothered me, but they might bother some people).

He can’t help Marianne, no matter what he does. There’s something frightening about her, some huge emptiness in the pit of her being. […] Still, he would lie down and die for her at any minute, which is the only thing he knows about himself that makes him feel like a worthwhile person.

Miracle CreekMiracle Creek by Angie Kim
Mystery / Thriller (Release Date: April 16, 2019)
368 Pages
Affiliate Link: Buy from Amazon
Source: Book of the Month (Publisher: Sarah Crichton Books)

Miracle Creek is absolutely one of my favorite books of the month (5 stars!), so I wanted to include it in this round-up. But, it’s also perfect for an Alcohol & Advil pairing, so stay tuned for that next week!

 

 

 

Also Read These

I Miss You When I BlinkI Miss You When I Blinkby Mary Laura Philpott
Nonfiction – Memoir / Essays (Release Date: April 2, 2019)
288 Pages
Affiliate Link: Buy from Amazon
Source: Publisher (Atria Books)

Plot Summary: Mary Laura Philpott had an enviable life by conventional standards (i.e. happy marriage, children, career, house, etc), yet she still felt unsettled and unsatisfied. These essays are about her experience trying to navigate that.

My Thoughts: I’ve been on a kick with “women who get women” memoirs over the past few years (i.e. maybe because I’m in the marriage / kids and “who am I through all that” stage?) and Mary Laura Philpott is an excellent addition to my club of go-to authors (also including Anna Quindlen and Kelly Corrigan). Philpott writes about this unsettling stage of life with openness, humor, and relatability. She’s got spunk and she’s someone I could imagine grabbing a glass of wine with. She’s a Type A personality who got satisfaction from achieving each “success” rung on a clearly defined ladder (ex: grades in her youth, job promotions post college)…when adult life hit and there was no clearly defined success ladder, she struggled with feeling satisfied. I can totally relate to her in this respect (I also relate to her dislike of habitual lateness!) and it’s one of the reasons I started the blog and the podcast. She nails very specific experiences…handling your children’s holiday gift lists, volunteering at your children’s school and/or on charity boards, and motherhood in general. If you enjoy “maintaining your identity through marriage and motherhood” books, I Miss You When I Blink should be next on your list! And, it would be an excellent book club pick. PS – Philpott works at Parnassus Bookstore in Nashville (author Ann Patchettt is co-owner!) and is a hilarious follow on Instagram!

The to-do list was supposed to get smaller and smaller as you checked off everything you meant to do and approached the finish line of bona fide adulthood. Instead, you got to the end of the list and didn’t feel like you’d arrived anywhere.

Better SisterThe Better Sisterby Alafair Burke
Mystery / Thriller (Release Date: April 16, 2019)
336 Pages
Affiliate Link: Buy from Amazon
Source: Publisher (Harper)

Plot Summary: When uber-successful Chloe Taylor’s lawyer husband (Adam) is murdered in their East Hampton home, her sister Nicky (who is Adam’s ex-wife) re-enters the picture to help Chloe navigate the investigation and support Adam and Nicky’s son (Ethan).

My Thoughts: The Better Sister is my second Alafair Burke thriller (my first was The Wife) and she’s becoming a go-to mystery / thriller author for me. She’s a former prosecutor and it shows in her thrillers. They’re marketed as psychological thrillers and do have certain elements of those, but there’s also excellent legal / courtroom drama…and that’s what sets Burke apart for me. The Better Sister is actually more courtroom drama than psychological thriller, but it’s also a dysfunctional family story. It’s about marriage, divorce, keeping up appearances, sisters, and teenage angst. And, Burke does not resort to gimmicks to shock the reader. She just uses straight-up suspense without all the outlandish twists. If you’re sick of all the ridiculous gimmicks in psychological thrillers these days, The Better Sister (and Alafair Burke in general) is for you! PS – the cover is terrible and has nothing to do with the actual story.

“When girls feel lost, they hurt themselves. Boys hurt others.”

The Editor by Steven RowleyThe Editorby Steven Rowley
Fiction – Brain Candy (Release Date: April 2, 2019)
320 Pages
Affiliate Link: Buy from Amazon
Source: Publisher (Putnam)

Plot Summary: When debut novelist James Smale sells his semi-autobiographical novel to Doubleday (his editor turns out to be Jacqueline Onassis), he is forced to address his frayed relationship with his mother.

My Thoughts: The Editor is a marriage of a dysfunctional family novel and a publishing world / literary life novel…with some fun celebrity allure sprinkled on top. The premise of having Jackie O be Smale’s fictional book editor could have been preposterous and silly, but she really was an editor at Doubleday during her “third act” of life and James Smale’s experience probably did happen to multiple authors, so it came across as whimsical and poignant to me. Plus, Rowley didn’t have Jackie overtake the story…he worked in just the right amount of Kennedy anecdotes in a way that didn’t feel forced. Rowley’s real life family is intimately intertwined with his novel and I loved seeing how events with his family played out as he tried to work out the next step with his novel. The Editor is a delightful (but, not annoyingly so) book if you’re looking for a fun, light read.

“May I say,” Jackie begins before pausing. “Without knowing the circumstances. Women like your mother and me, from our generation, we were duty bound. Things were expected of us, marriage and motherhood. But we were girls once, with dreams and aspirations of our own. When we see our children succeed, of course part of their accomplishments are our own. But it also reminds us that life doesn’t turn out for everyone the way they dreamed.”

The DNF’s

Cape May by Chip CheekCape Mayby Chip Cheek (April 30, 2019)
DNF at 11%
This debut novel about a newlywed couple from Georgia honeymooning in Cape May, New Jersey in the 1950’s and falling in with a group of cosmopolitan socialites was fine, but kind of boring. Not good enough to make my 2019 Summer Reading Guide, so I put it down.

 

 

Like Lions by Brian PanowichLike Lionsby Brian Panowich (April 30, 2019)
DNF at 35%
I loved Panowich’s 2015 Grit Lit thriller Bull Mountain and was excited for the sequel. Sadly, there were just too many new characters I didn’t really care about and too much violence without a purpose for me.

 

 

Trust ExerciseTrust Exercise by Susan Choi (April 9, 2019)
DNF at 3%
This one is getting lots of hype from the critics, but I don’t think it will catch on with regular readers. The writing was virtually indecipherable for me…very stream of consciousness, which is not my thing. I knew very quickly this one wasn’t for me because of the writing.

 

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April 2019 Books to Read

What’s the best book you’ve read so far this month?

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Podcast Episode 14: Lindsey J. Palmer (Author of Otherwise Engaged)

April 10, 2019 Podcast 1

Lindsey J Palmer

 

In Episode 14, Lindsey J. Palmer (author of Otherwise Engaged) joins me to talk about her book and her reading and writing life.

This post contains affiliate links (plus: here’s your Amazon Smile-specific affiliate link), through which I make a small commission when you make a purchase (at no cost to you!).

Highlights

  • Lindsey’s interviews with Kyle Chandler and Connie Britton (from Friday Night Lights).
  • Authors pulling from real life for their fiction…and how that impacts their real life friends and family.
  • Lindsey’s experience writing a novel (her second, If We Lived Here) that pulled parts from her own marriage.
  • If Lindsey is able to choose a favorite of her own books.
  • How Lindsey manages to write novels with a full-time job and a two year old child.
  • When Lindsey fits in reading time.
  • Lindsey’s Go-To Authors.
  • Why publication day is both the best and worst day of authors’ lives.
  • What Lindsey thinks of the term “chick lit”.

Lindsey’s Book Recommendations

Two OLD Books She Loves

Two NEW Books She Loves

One Book She Didn’t Love

One Upcoming Releases She’s Excited About

Other Books Mentioned

Other Links

About Lindsey

Lindsey J. PalmerAuthor Website | Instagram | Twitter | Facebook

After a childhood spent devouring every book and magazine I could get my hands on and dreaming up stories that took place along the Oregon Trail, I left the suburbs of Boston to attend the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia. As an English major and Benjamin Franklin Honors Scholar, I continued devouring every book and magazine I could get my hands on and dreaming up stories (most of which didn’t take place along the Oregon Trail).

Post-college, I shipped out to bucolic Vermont to teach creative writing and Pilates to high school kids at a summer arts camp. There, I picked blueberries, ran across rolling hills, and realized I was not nearly mature enough to be teaching anyone much of anything.

And so I moved to Manhattan and broke into magazine publishing, starting at Glamour and then moving on to Redbook and next Self, where I was Features Editor. I worked on stories about relationships and sex, parenting, social activism, career and finances, and well-being; I interviewed the occasional V.I.P. (including Michelle Obama and both Kyle Chandler and Connie Britton, a.k.a. Coach and Mrs. Taylor for Friday Night Lights fans); and I gathered material for what would eventually become my debut novel, PRETTY IN INK.

After nearly a decade in publishing, I decided I was finally ready to try my hand at teaching again. So I waved goodbye to magazines and began my Master’s of English Education at Teachers College, Columbia University. I took classes on Shakespeare and adolescent literature, and talked books with teenagers. I then joined the faculty of NEST+m, a Manhattan public high school, as the A.P. Literature and Creative Writing teacher, plus advisor of the literary magazine, the yearbook, and National Honor Society. During my three years of teaching, I aspired to be a slightly more down-to-earth reincarnation of my favorite fictional teacher, Miss Jean Brody.

These days, I work as a scriptwriter at BrainPOP, an animated educational site for kids. I spend my days researching topics as diverse as Nuclear Fusion, Emily Dickinson, and the Tuskegee Airmen, and then translating what I’ve learned into an engaging, narrative format. My scripts get made into short films to be shown in classrooms grades 4-10, nationwide and around the world.

I live in Brooklyn, NY with my husband and 1-year-old daughter.

Next Week’s Episode

Travel books and books set abroad with Christine from The Uncorked Librarian (airing April 17)

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Q1 2019: My Best Book Recommendation Sources

April 9, 2019 Stats 8

Q1 2019 Book Recommendation Sources

 

As many of you probably know, I started tracking my recommendation sources a couple years ago and using that information to pick better books. As often as possible, I’m choosing books that have already been read and recommended by trusted recommendation sources rather than from publishers’ catalogs or various “Most Anticipated” book lists. The key to success is the “already read” part because it provides an opinion beyond “does the premise sound good on paper?” and independent of publishers’ marketing machines.

Each quarter, I’m sharing my reading quality and my best recommendation sources. 

My Q1 2019 Reading Quality

 % Successful Books ATTEMPTED (includes DNFs)  63%
 % Successful Books FINISHED (does not include DNFs)  83%

My Successful Books Attempted is slightly below last year (64%). My goal is to keep this success rate above 50% all year long, so I’m pleased with 63% even though it’s slightly lower than last year.

The second number gives me an extra incentive to DNF books that aren’t working for me and is slightly below last year’s number (86%).

How I Calculate My Best Book Recommendation Sources

This year, I’m approaching my best recommendation sources a little differently this year. I’m basically going to make this like a race through the end of the year.

  • Each quarter, I’ll share my best recommendation sources for the entire year to date, rather than just that quarter. That way, I can see who’s moving up and down as the year progresses. Plus, it might be fun for y’all to watch!
  • I’m also factoring in unsuccessful recommendations by measuring % of total recommendations that are successful.

All my Q1 top recommendation sources recommended NET 3 successful books each (meaning # successful recommendations minus # of unsuccessful recommendations)…so, to break the tie I looked at each source’s “% successful recommendations” as well.

The reason I don’t want to use % successful recommendations as my only metric is it could cause sources with 1 successful recommendation (100%) to beat out sources with, for example, 4 successful and 1 unsuccessful recommendation (75%).

And, this entire calculation is a work in progress. I’ll be tinkering with the best way to do this all year. Hopefully, I’ll have a foolproof calculation by the end of the year to include in my 2020 Rock Your Reading Tracker!

My Best Book Recommendation Sources for Q1 2019

Read It Forward’s Best Books of the Month Lists  100%
(The Care and Feeding of Ravenously Hungry Girls, Inheritance, Daisy Jones & the Six)
She Reads 2019 Book Preview 100%
(The Suspect, The Care and Feeding of Ravenously Hungry Girls, The Editor)
Laura Tremaine  100%
(Inheritance, Daisy Jones & the Six, Normal People)
Ashley Spivey  80%
(Otherwise Engaged, Daisy Jones & the Six, I Miss You When I Blink, Normal People)
Novel Visits  80%
(This Will Only Hurt a Little, The Last Romantics, Daisy Jones & the Six)
Bustle 2019 Book Preview  67%
(The Suspect, The Care and Feeding of Ravenously Hungry Girls, Inheritance, Daisy Jones & the Six, I Miss You When I Blink, Normal People)
Annie Jones from From the Front Porch podcast  63%
(The Care and Feeding of Ravenously Hungry Girls, Daisy Jones & the Six, I Miss You When I Blink, The Editor, Normal People)

 

Key Takeaways

  • My overall reading quality is about the same as last year…which makes sense because last year was when I started tracking my recommendation sources. However, last year’s reading quality and this quarter’s reading quality are both over 40% better than before I started tracking my recommendation sources.
  • The sources with the most successful recommendations (Annie Jones and Bustle’s 2019 Book Preview) aren’t the ones with the best percentages…which also makes sense. The more recommendations you take from someone, the higher the chance that source will eventually recommend a book that doesn’t work out.
  • Tyler Goodson is missing from this list…he was one of my best recommendation sources last year, but I haven’t had as good a luck with his recommendations this year. But, so far this year, he’s actually negative territory with 2 successful recommendation sources and 4 unsuccessful ones. I’ll be interested to see if that changes.

Who have been your best and worst recommendation sources lately?

How I Keep Track of My Reading Quality and Best Recommendation Sources…and You Can Too!

Are you thinking it takes me hours to calculate my reading quality and keep track of my Best and Worst recommendation sources every month? Well, it totally could, but it doesn’t. I use my “Rock Your Reading” Tracker, which automatically calculates my reading quality for me and helps me easily keep track of my recommendation sources.

If you’re interested in tracking your own reading quality and recommendation sources, you can purchase my tracker for $11.99! Go here for more details or purchase below!

 

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Purchase the tracker…

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Q1 2019 Book Recommendation Sources
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What I’m Reading Now (4/8/19) – A Double Shot

April 8, 2019 It's Monday! What are you reading? 13

I was on vacation last week for my kids’ Spring Break, so you probably noticed the blog was quiet and there was no new podcast episode. We had a great week (snorkeling, fishing, sailing, tubing, beach/pool sitting, and eating, of course!) and I got lots of reading done, so I’ve got books to tell you about today! And, my outrageously good March reading seems to be continuing into April. I’ll take it!

Podcast

Episode 14, featuring Lindsey J. Palmer (author of the February 2019 novel Otherwise Engaged), is coming on Wednesday!

New on the Blog

Hosted by The Book Date.
This post contains affiliate links (plus: here’s your Amazon Smile-specific affiliate link), through which I make a small commission when you make a purchase (at no cost to you!).

I finished reading…

what I'm reading now

 

Normal Peopleby Sally Rooney (April 16, 2019)
5 stars! This book isn’t for everyone, but I loved the intimate focus on one complex, unconventional relationship. It was kind of sad and disturbing, but also a bit realistic. Mini review coming.
Affiliate Link: Buy from Amazon

Miracle Creekby Angie Kim (April 16, 2019)
What an awesome surprise from Book of the Month’s April picks! It’s an extremely thoughtful and literary courtroom drama that’s so much more than a courtroom drama. 5 stars and mini review coming.
Affiliate Link: Buy from Amazon

Southern Lady Code by Helen Ellis (April 16, 2019)
Helen Ellis’ essay collection about Southern ladies (duh!) was full of mostly (but not all) hits! If you like bawdy humor and spot-on social commentary about the South, this one is for you. Mini review coming.
Affiliate Link: Buy from Amazon

The Better Sisterby Alafair Burke (April 16, 2019)
This is my second Burke thriller and I love what she does with thrillers (and, y’all know that means a lot coming from me)! She’s a former prosecutor and it shows in her writing…both of her books I’ve read (The Wife is the other one) have a nice balance of psychological thriller and courtroom drama. And, she hasn’t resorted to outlandish plot twists in either of her books I’ve read.
Affiliate Link: Buy from Amazon

I’m currently reading…

Like Lions

 

Like Lionsby Brian Panowich (April 30, 2019)
Like Lions is the sequel to the 2015 Grit Lit thriller Bull Mountain that I absolutely loved. I’m only 30% into Like Lions so far and it hasn’t grabbed me like Bull Mountain did, but I’m certainly interested enough to keep reading.
Affiliate Link: Buy from Amazon

I tried, but wasn’t feeling…

 

Cape Mayby Chip Cheek (April 30, 2019)
DNF at 11%
This debut novel about a newlywed couple from Georgia honeymooning in Cape May, New Jersey in the 1950’s and falling in with a group of cosmopolitan socialites was fine, but kind of boring. Not good enough to make my 2019 Summer Reading Guide, so I put it down.

Upcoming reading plans…

Furious Hours

 

Furious Hours by Casey Cep (May 7, Knopf)
I think I’m going to call this one “literary true crime.” Following To Kill a Mockingbird, Harper Lee was apparently writing a true crime book about an Alabama minister who killed his entire family. Furious Hours is the story of that minister, plus Harper Lee’s attempt to write a book about it. 

How was your reading week?

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Book of the Month April 2019 Selections: What Book Should You Choose?

March 30, 2019 Book Recommendations 7

Book of the Month April 2019 Selections

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).

Way to go, Book of the Month! For the third month in a row, there are multiple selections that I’m interested in! I hadn’t been happy with the picks over the past year or so, but I feel like they’ve turned things around the past few months! I’ve read and loved two of this month’s selections (Normal People and Miracle Creek).

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

I’ve just updated my Ultimate Guide to the Book of the Month Judges to reflect the February 2018 structural changes that significantly changed the judges that appeared regularly. Here’s a free, downloadable template to help you find your go-to BOTM judge!

Book of the Month April 2019 Selections

Normal PeopleNormal People by Sally Rooney
Literary Fiction (Release Date: April 16, 2019)
288 Pages
Average Goodreads Rating: 4.14 on 26,872 ratings
Selected By: Grace Atwood (founder of The Stripe blog and co-host of Bad on Paper Podcast)

At school Connell and Marianne pretend not to know each other. He’s popular and well-adjusted, star of the school football team, while she is lonely, proud and intensely private. But when Connell comes to pick his mother up from her job at Marianne’s house, a strange and indelible connection grows between the two teenagers—one they are determined to conceal.

My Thoughts:
Normal People (which has been longlisted for the 2018 Man Booker Prize) was my first experience with Sally Rooney (author of Conversations with Friends) and I adored it! This is the kind of relationship book that is utterly riveting, but also made me feel a little uncomfortable (like White Fur and Tender). Connell and Marianne’s relationship is far from straightforward and is downright maddening at times, but I was rooting hard for them and completely engrossed in their story. I also loved the exploration of social and class dynamics in high school and college and how those can change over time. There’s a bit of a coming of age element to the story as they both wrestle with their identities and they face challenges stemming from Marianne’s family life. This is an unconventional love story and a character-driven novel I couldn’t put down! I should also tell you this story involves a fair amount of sex and also does not use quotation marks for dialogue. Others who loved Normal People: Resh at The Book Satchel, Tyler Goodson, Laura Tremaine, bookseller Pam Cady, and Annie Jones.

Miracle CreekMiracle Creek by Angie Kim
Mystery / Thriller (Release Date: April 16, 2019)

368 Pages
Average Goodreads Rating: 4.29 on 258 ratings
Selected By: Liberty Hardy (co-host of Book Riot‘s All the Books podcast)

A literary courtroom drama about a Korean immigrant family and a young, single mother accused of murdering her eight-year-old autistic son.

My Thoughts:
This debut novel is a unique spin on the courtroom thriller, bringing in the Korean immigrant perspective and an unconventional treatment for autism among other things. Kim is a former trial lawyer and a mother of a real-life “submarine” patient (the type of “oxygen therapy” explored in the book). It’s been compared Everything I Never Told You, Defending Jacob, and Pachinko (quite an array of read-alikes). Goodreads reviewers said the story is told through different points of view (POVs), that it’s a page-turning thriller with excellent character themes (immigration, parenthood, grief, disability, and caregiving), and that the characters are nuanced…telling lies while still engendering the reader’s sympathy. Overall, the Goodreads reviews are excellent and I had to scroll way down to find less than a 5 star review. PS – I’m about 30% through Miracle Creek and am loving it so far…and, I agree with the general themes of the Goodreads reviews so far!

All That You Leave BehindAll That You Leave Behind by Erin Lee Carr
Nonfiction – Memoir (Release Date: April 9, 2019)
256 Pages
Average Goodreads Rating: 4.64 on 25 ratings
Selected By: “Book of the Month” (I’m not sure what this means…it’s the first time I’ve seen it!)

A celebrated journalist, bestselling author, and recovering addict, David Carr was in the prime of his career when he collapsed in the newsroom of The New York Times in 2015. Shattered by his death, his daughter Erin Lee Carr, an up-and-coming documentary filmmaker at age twenty-seven, began combing through the entirety of their shared correspondence–1,936 items in total.

What started as an exercise in grief quickly grew into an active investigation: Did her father’s writings contain the answers to the questions of how to move forward in life and work without your biggest champion by your side? How could she fill the space left behind by a man who had come to embody journalistic integrity, rigor, and hard reporting, whose mentorship meant everything not just to her, but to the many who served alongside him?

My Thoughts:
This memoir is an honest and raw look at Carr’s relationship with her father, a larger than life, but complicated media figure. And, part of the story is told through email exchanges between Erin and her father. Goodreads reviewers said Carr doesn’t try to sugarcoat her story and is honest about her and her dad’s faults. They mention she addresses multi-generational addiction, grief, and navigating Carr’s own media career. They loved hearing David Carr’s voice (through the email exchanges) and readers who aren’t familiar with David or Erin Carr liked it anyway. Carr is being compared to Kelly Corrigan (Glitter & Glue, Tell Me More) and Ariel Levy (The Rules Do Not Apply).

Lost and WantedLost and Wanted by Nell Freudenberger
Literary Fiction (Release Date: April 2, 2019)
336 Pages
Average Goodreads Rating: 3.90 on 58 ratings
Selected By: Siobhan Jones (Book of the Month Editorial Director)

Helen Clapp is a physics professor. She doesn’t believe in pseudo-science, or time travel and especially not in ghosts. So when she gets a missed call from Charlie, her closest friend from university with whom she hasn’t spoken in over a year, Helen thinks there must be some mistake. Because Charlie died two days ago.

Through the grief of the husband and daughter Charlie left behind, Helen is drawn into the orbit of Charlie’s world, slotting in the missing pieces of her friend’s past. And, as she delves into the web of their shared history, Helen finds herself entangled in the forgotten threads of her own life.

My Thoughts:
Tara from Running N Reading shared this book as her upcoming release she was excited about on shared on Episode 6 of my podcast and she’s now read it and loved it. She says it’s not for everyone and there’s lots of science-y stuff in there (the protagonist is a physicist), but she loves Freudenger’s writing and outlook on the world. She recommends it for fans of Meg Wolitzer and Ann Patchett. Goodreads reviewers said it’s a bit science fiction-y, but with crossover appeal and it’s not a mystery or a ghost story despite appearances. It deals with themes of women in science, women in the workplace, and female friendship, and is a “life’s big questions” type of novel. Some said the story fell flat…not much happened and when something finally did, it was a bit underwhelming. I read an excerpt and loved the writing. Tyler Goodson (one of my best recommendation sources) also rated it 5 stars.

Beyond the PointBeyond the Point by Claire Gibson
Literary Fiction (Release Date: April 2, 2019)
528 Pages
Average Goodreads Rating: 4.32 on 63 ratings
Selected By: Etaf Rum (Author of A Woman is No Man)

Duty. Honor. Country. That’s West Point’s motto, and every cadet who passes through its stone gates vows to live it. But on the eve of 9/11, as Dani, Hannah and Avery face four grueling years ahead, they realize they’ll only survive if they do it together.

The world—of business, of love, and of war—awaits Dani, Hannah, and Avery beyond the gates of West Point. These three women know that what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger. But soon, that adage no longer rings true—for their future, or their friendship. As they’re pulled in different directions, will their hard-forged bond prevail or shatter?

My Thoughts:
This debut novel of female friendship was blurbed by Kate Quinn (author of The Alice Network and The Huntress). The author grew up at West Point where her dad was a professor and apparently really makes the setting come alive. Goodreads reviewers said the story features female athletes trying to play basketball for West Point and it follows their friendship for a 7 year period (right after high school through a couple years after West Point). It addresses the discrimination they face at West Point and is hard to put down. One reviewer also mentioned faith plays a big role with one of the women. Annie Jones discussed this book in her March Reading Recap podcast episode (I think she liked it, but didn’t give it a star rating because she knows the author). And, the author interviews real female West Point grads in a P.S. section that’s apparently not to be missed.

What Book of the Month April 2019 selection(s) will I choose?

I’m choosing two books this month…Normal People (because I’ve already read and loved it and want a hard copy for my shelves) and Miracle Creek (same situation as Normal People)!

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

What book will you choose this month?

This Month’s Special Deals

NEW MEMBER DEAL: New members can get a free book when they join. Use code APRILSHOWERS.

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
Add extra books to your shipment for $9.99 each
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Book of the Month April 2019 Selections