Category: Monthly Round-Ups

March 2017 Monthly Round-Up

March 30, 2017 Monthly Round-Ups 17

March 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.

March Reading / Life

Best Books of the Month

My Favorite Book(s) of the Month

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

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

PS – last year’s Best Book of March was The Throwback Special by Chris Bachelder (my review)…one of my Underrated Gems of 2016!

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

Dead Letters by Caite Dolan-Leach (my review)

April Releases I’m Excited About

No One Is Coming to Save Us by Stephanie Powell Watts (April 4)
Somebody with a Little Hammer by Mary Gaitskill (April 4)
Marlena by Julie Buntin (April 4)
Killers of the Flower Moon by David Grann (April 17)

Anything Is Possible by Elizabeth Strout (April 25)

Most Popular Posts

Posts Actually Published in March
My Most Anticipated Books of Spring 2017
Four Books I Just Added to My All-Time Favorites List
Five New Books You Can Read in a Weekend

Overall Posts
Book Club Recommendations
Behind Her Eyes and THAT Ending: Spoiler Discussion
My Best All-Around Go-To Book Recommendations

Favorite Posts by Fellow Bloggers

How was your reading month?

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February 2017 Monthly Round-Up

March 3, 2017 Monthly Round-Ups 18

February 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.

February Reading / Life

  • My 2017 reading kicked into gear in February with a number of super high quality books! Literally four of my February books could have been my Best Book of January.
  • I adored the writing and emotional tension of A Separation and All Grown Up, but they are the kind of books that I realize won’t appeal to everyone…consequently inspiring my 12 Books That Aren’t For Everyone…But WERE For Me list.
  • I read two page turners in February; one was a winner (Dark Matter, enabling me to check 4 books off my 2016 Books I Missed list!) and one not so much (Behind Her Eyes, but I did get a Spoiler Discussion post out of it).
  • My audiobooks were so-so: The Unwinding by George Packer didn’t offer much new insight, Bobos in Paradise: The New Upper Class and How They Got There by David Brooks was mildly entertaining, and The Valley of the Gods: A Silicon Valley Story (about Silicon Valley culture) was fairly interesting, but didn’t leave a lasting impression.
  • And, I think I’ll be recommending This Is How It Always Is and Dead Letters to many people for the foreseeable future.
  • I attended my first author event (I know, that’s kind of ridiculous) for my friend, Georgia Hunter and her astounding novel, We Were the Lucky Ones. It was fantastic to hear Georgia discuss her novel with Thomas Kail (director of Hamilton) and meet some of her family members whose stories she told in her novel.
  • Book of the Month Club selections are due on Monday…don’t forget to get yours in or sign up for a subscription if you want to get in for March (and you should because this month’s selections are particularly awesome)! Check out my commentary on the this month’s selections, including which book I’d choose.
  • Finally, I spent a big chunk of February trying to heal my thrown out back. After a couple weeks of physical therapy, massage, and rest, I’m finally starting to feel better! I’m still not back to running or intense workouts, but will hopefully be there soon.

Best Books of the Month

My Favorite Book of the Month

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

PS – last year’s Best Book of February was Tender by Belinda McKeon (my review)…also one of my favorites of 2016!

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

We Were the Lucky Ones by Georgia Hunter (author Q&A)

March Releases I’m Excited About

All Grown Up by Jami Attenberg (March 7)
The Hearts of Men by Nickolas Butler (March 7)
The Fall of Lisa Bellow by Susan Perabo (March 14)
The Twelve Lives of Samuel Hawley by Hannah Tinti (March 28)

Most Popular February Posts

Behind Her Eyes and THAT Ending: Spoiler Discussion
12 Books That Aren’t For Everyone…But WERE For Me
Book of the Month Club February 2017 Selections: What Would I Choose? (my commentary on the March selections is also up)

Favorite Posts by Fellow Bloggers

How was your reading month?

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January 2017 Monthly Round-Up

February 7, 2017 Monthly Round-Ups 18

January 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.

January Reading / Life

  • And…we have a very late January round-up! I changed up last week’s posting schedule at the last minute, so the round-up got pushed to this week. I promise there will be better planning next month.
  • My 2017 reading kicked off with a bit of a lackluster month…even though I read 11 books, which is more than I usually finish. Quantity rather than quality in general.
  • I liked many of my 2017 reads (The SleepwalkerThe Most Dangerous Place on Earth, Always Happy Hour, and Swimming Lessons), but none of them completely blew my mind. And, The Futures was just a flat out dud.
  • I read/listened to 3 books from my Ten 2016 Books I Missed list (Imagine Me Gone, Adnan’s Story, and Mothering Sunday) and liked them all. Plus, one was this month’s Best Book of the Month!
  • Two of my audiobooks were misses: The Almost Nearly Perfect People, which I think might have been more successful in book form, and Relentless Spirit (Olympic gold medal swimmer Missy Franklin’s memoir), which just shouldn’t have been written in the first place (at least at this point in her life).
  • I also got all introspective about the state of this blog (here and here) and shared that I’d be trying some new things in the coming months. The first “new thing” is a monthly feature commenting on the Book of the Month Club selections…and sharing which book(s) I would choose. Check out my commentary on the February selections!

Best Book of the Month

Mothering Sunday by Graham Swift (April 19, 2016)
Fiction, 192 Pages
Affiliate Link: Buy from Amazon

February Releases I’m Excited About

A Separation by Katie Kitamura (February 7)
Swimming Lessons by Claire Fuller (February 7)
We Were the Lucky Ones by Georgia Hunter (February 14)
The Brain Defense by Kevin Davis (February 28)

Most Popular January Posts

Eight Underrated Gems of 2016
My Most Anticipated DEBUTS of Winter 2017
Ten 2016 Books I Missed

Favorite Posts by Fellow Bloggers

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December 2016 Monthly Round-Up

December 30, 2016 Monthly Round-Ups 21

December 2016 Monthly Round-Up

December Reading

  • This month was all about backlist reading. Every December, a traditionally slow month for new releases, I try to make time to read a couple books from my backlist TBR. This year’s choices (The Book of Unknown Americans, This is the Story of a Happy Marriage, and Every Last One) were all winners.
  • Thanks to Catherine at Gilmore Guide, I’ve been on an Anna Quindlen kick. 2016’s Miller’s Valley got things rolling and Every Last One was even better!
  • My 2017 releases started with one winner and one disappointment. My friend, Georgia Hunter’s, debut novel, We Were the Lucky Ones, is a fast-moving World War II story based on her own family. Keep it on your radar for February 14 (from Viking)! Emily Ruskovich’s debut novel, Idaho, has gotten some good early buzz, but it didn’t quite gel for me.
  • I was shocked that I didn’t love Michael Lewis’ latest book, The Undoing Project. I’m a huge Lewis fan, but this was a disappointment.
  • I only managed to finish one audiobook (Grit), but it was a winner and it made me more mindful of reinforcing grit in my children.
  • I didn’t write a single book review in December and it was a nice break. I did share my Best Books of 2016 and Best Debuts of 2016. And, check back on Sunday for my 2016 Reading and Blogging Stats.
  • Finally, the blog had its best month of pageviews since inception by doubling its previous best month. This was mostly due to one post (Five 2016 Books That Deserved the Hype…And Five That Didn’t) that got repinned 362 times.

Best Book of the Month

Every Last One by Anna Quindlen (April 13, 2010)
Fiction, 299 Pages
Affiliate Link: Buy from Amazon

Most Popular December Posts

Five 2016 Books That Deserved the Hype…And Five That Didn’t
My Most Anticipated Books of 2017
Ten New-to-Me Authors I Read in 2016

Favorite Posts by Fellow Bloggers

  • Amanda at Bookshelf Monstrosity‘s If You Like Ann Patchett… post was especially timely considering my recent love of Commonwealth and interest in delving into her backlist (starting with This is the Story of a Happy Marriage this month).
  • Stacy at The Novel Life‘s list of 13 Amazing Author TED Talks includes some authors I’ve read and enjoyed (Susan Cain, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, and Angela Duckworth) and some that I want to read/listen to (Brene Brown, Shonda Rhymes).
  • Books are my Favourite and Best shared the books that pop up again and again on various Best Books of 2016 lists (Top 3 are Homegoing, The Underground Railroad, and Swing Time). Getting all those lists confused in your head? This is post is for you!

Library Checkout

December was a big library month for me, so I thought I’d sneak in an update here. I’m linking up with River City Reading‘s Library Checkout feature.

Checked Out, Read:
The Book of Unknown Americans by Cristina Henriquez
This is the Story of a Happy Marriage by Ann Patchett
Every Last One by Anna Quindlen

 

Checked Out, To Be Read:
Lab Girl by Hope Jahren
Adnan’s Story by Rabia Chaudry (audio cheat)

 

Holds:
The Pigeon Tunnel by John Le Carre
Dark Matter by Blake Crouch

 

Returned Unread:
News of the World by Paulette Jiles

 

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November 2016 Monthly Round-Up

December 1, 2016 Monthly Round-Ups 23

November 2016 monthly round-up

November Reading / Life

  • This month was all about Nonfiction November and I was reminded that this really is my favorite blogging event out there! I love taking a break from my regular reading patterns and ARCs to focus entirely on nonfiction. And, I love discovering new blogs and new books. Check out all my Nonfiction November discoveries here.
  • Despite all this nonfiction, my favorite book of the month was a novel I tacked on right at the end (Before the Wind) thanks to Catherine at Gilmore Guide.
  • But, I was thrilled with all the nonfiction I read and listened to and there wasn’t a single disappointing book in the bunch….my favorite being Five Days at Memorial.
  • On a less positive note, we’ve been dealing with serious water damage at our house. We’re living in a construction zone and devoting more time than I would like to the repair process, which means less time for reading. Boo!
  • On Thanksgiving, I ran my first running race (a hilly 5K Turkey Trot) in a year. Since I started focusing more on triathlon, I haven’t entered pure running races nearly as often as I used to. But, I’ve been working on my running technique this Fall and was anxious to see how it would translate to a race. My time was about 25 seconds faster than last year’s and just 5 seconds off my all-time best on that course (which was set right after training for a half marathon, when I was running a lot more than I am now), which was good for 3rd in my age group! But, the best part was that the run felt easier and smoother than ever before. Progress, ya’ll.

Best Book of the Month

Before the Wind by Jim Lynch (April 19, 2016)
Fiction, 309 Pages
Affiliate Link: Buy from Amazon
Review coming…

Most Popular November Posts

Nonfiction November 2016: Fiction/Nonfiction Book Pairings Link-Up
Books That Make Perfect Holiday Gifts 2016
Nonfiction November 2016: Be the Expert…Dysfunctional Childhood Memoirs

Favorite Posts by Fellow Bloggers

  • It’s Best Books of the Year list time and Books are my Favourite and Best is compiling all those lists in one place. Plus, she’ll be sharing the books that pop up again and again under #allthelists.
  • Since I haven’t seen a movie in at least five years, Rory at Fourth Street Review‘s The Cinematic Glory of My Teenage Years post was right up my alley. Blue Crush, Sweet Home Alabama, She’s All That; yep, yep, yep.
  • Ya’ll know I have a soft spot for dysfunctional family books…so, Susie at Novel Visits‘ list of 10 Novels About Families grew my TBR list.
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October 2016 Monthly Round-Up

November 3, 2016 Monthly Round-Ups 21

October 2016 Monthly Round-Up

October Reading / Life

  • For the second month in a row, I have two best books of the month…lucky me! Not only are Commonwealth and The Mothers my two favorite books of the month, but they’re also two of my favorites of the year.
  • And, All the Ugly and Wonderful Things (ended up enjoying after being initially creeped out) and Miss Jane (just so-so for me, despite being longlisted for the National Book Award) rounded out my October fiction.
  • My October in audio was all about sports. Age is Just A Number (Olympic swimmer Dara Torres’ memoir) and The Sports Gene educated me about the body as it relates to peak performance and got me to make some major changes in how I work out. Check out my Litsy account (@sarahsbookshelves) for mini reviews of both.
  • I also read very different memoirs: Jennifer Weiner’s Hungry Heart (a win!) and Pat Conroy’s My Reading Life (not my favorite Conroy nonfiction).
  • Finally, I was thrilled to be Kate at Parchment Girl‘s October Featured Blogger! Hop on over to hear about Friday Night Lights, comfort food, the classics I haven’t read…and, books I’m loving!
  • Now, on to Nonfiction November! It’s ON after all and I hope you all can participate!

Best Book(s) of the Month

Commonwealth by Ann Patchett (September 13, 2016)
Fiction, 336 Pages
Affiliate Link: Buy from Amazon

The Mothers by Brit Bennett (October 11, 2016)
Fiction, 288 Pages
Affiliate Link: Buy from Amazon

Most Popular October Posts

My Best All-Around, Go-To Book Recommendations
Ten Terrible Family Members of Fiction
The Girls on the Train Movie: Will it settle a conspiracy theory? (Spoiler Alert!)

Favorite Posts by Fellow Bloggers

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September 2016 Monthly Round-Up

September 30, 2016 Monthly Round-Ups 13

September 2016 Monthly Round-Up

September Reading / Life

  • I gotta tell ya, I’m thrilled September is over! While September weather is my favorite, all this back-to-school rigamarole is definitely not. I know I sound like a broken record, but it did impact my reading.
  • September was the month of nonfiction for me! And I’m shocked since I was so excited for all the Fall fiction coming out in September. I read two 5 star memoirs in a row (When Breath Becomes Air, Hillbilly Elegy) and thoroughly enjoyed Originals on audio. The only nonfiction that didn’t work for me was The Long Shadow of Small Ghosts.
  • Sadly, I didn’t have a single fiction success this month (The Trouble With Goats and Sheep, A Gentleman in Moscow, and Cruel Beautiful World). 
  • I joined Litsy and like it far more than I thought I would. Plus, I think it’s going to be a great place for me to review audiobooks, which I don’t currently review on my blog or on GoodreadsFollow me at sarahsbookshelves!

Best Book(s) of the Month

Hillbilly Elegy by J.D. Vance (June 28, 2016)
Nonfiction – Memoir, 272 Pages
Affiliate Link: Buy from Amazon

When Breath Becomes Air by Paul Kalanithi (January 19, 2016)
Nonfiction – Memoir, 208 Pages
Affiliate Link: Buy from Amazon

October Releases I’m Excited About

The Mothers, Hungry Heart, Boat Rocker


The Mothers
 by Brit Bennett (October 11)

Hungry Heart by Jennifer Weiner (October 11)
The Boat Rocker by Ha Jin (October 25)

Top Backlist Books on my “To Be Read” List

Nobody’s Fool by Richard Russo
The Devil All the Time by Donald Ray Pollock
The Sympathizer by Viet Thanh Nguyen

Most Popular September Posts

Koch’s Distinct Style Makes Dear Mr. M A Winner, Despite Plot Inconsistencies
Ten Authors Who Should Host A Podcast
The Best of the Brain Candy: Books That Are Light AND Smart

Favorite Posts by Fellow Bloggers

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August 2016 Monthly Round-Up

September 1, 2016 Monthly Round-Ups 14

August 2016 Monthly Round-Up

August Reading / Life

  • Overall, my August reading wasn’t quite as high quality as July. But I read nine books, which I’m kind of shocked about since the Olympics were completely taking over my brain!
  • The blog briefly morphed from book-focused to all things Olympics with my Best of 2016 Olympic Swimming recap, Olympic Figures That Would Make Intriguing Book Characters, and 8 Books About the Olympics posts. Thanks to all you non-Olympics obsessed bookworms for tolerating my side passion!
  • And, the Olympics of course inspired some of my August book/audio choices: Off Balance by 1996 Olympic gymnast Dominique Moceanu (audiobook) and You Are An Ironman by Jacques Steinberg, both solid sports books.
  • Reading highlights from this month were Dear Mr. M, which kicked off my September releases with a bang, The Hopefuls, which was one of my top summer 2016 reads, and American Heiress, which hit home just how crazy the Patty Hearst kidnapping story actually was.
  • My only real disappointment was How I Became A North Korean.

Best Book of the Month

Dear Mr. M by Herman Koch (September 6, 2016)
Fiction, 416 Pages
Affiliate Link: Buy from Amazon

September Releases I’m Excited About

A Gentleman in Moscow, Commonwealth, Lesser Bohemians


A Gentleman in Moscow
 by Amor Towles (September 6)
Commonwealth
 by Ann Patchett (September 6)

The Lesser Bohemians by Eimear McBride (September 20)

Top Backlist Books on my “To Be Read” List

Nobody’s Fool by Richard Russo
The Devil All the Time by Donald Ray Pollock
The Sympathizer by Viet Thanh Nguyen

Most Popular August Posts

My Most Anticipated Books of Fall 2016
Ten Quintessential, Contemporary New York City Novels
Ten Books from My Pre-Blogging TBR That I Still Haven’t Read

Favorite Posts by Fellow Bloggers

 
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July 2016 Monthly Round-Up

August 2, 2016 Monthly Round-Ups 23

July 2016 Monthly Round-Up

July Reading / Life

  • I read nine books in July, which is a lot for me. The addition of audiobooks has definitely jacked up my numbers.
  • Other than this month’s favorite (Mudbound), lighter choices tended to work best for me and I read three that I’ll be adding to my 2016 Summer Reading Guide (All Is Not ForgottenSiracusa and You Will Know Me).
  • I listened to Dataclysm on audio, but it probably would’ve worked better in print with the number of graphs and charts he tried to verbally explain. And, I finally got to Tiny Beautiful Things and the audio was amazing…it’s the first audiobook I’ve ever rated 5 stars.
  • I loved parts of How to Set A Fire And Why, was comforted by Dinner with Edward, and (mostly) enjoyed Behold the Dreamers.
  • On the TV viewing front, my husband and I have been really into The Chef’s Table, a Netflix documentary series spotlighting respected chefs and restaurants and recently started Last Chance U, about college football.
  • Most importantly, the Olympics starts this weekend! Do you have any idea how excited I am?! Get ready for a couple Olympics-themed blog posts and lots of Olympics chatter on Twitter!

Best Book of the Month

Mudbound by Hillary Jordan (March 4, 2008)
Fiction, 354 Pages

Affiliate Link: Buy from Amazon

August Releases I’m Excited About

July 2016 Monthly Round-Up


Bright, Precious Days
 by Jay McInerney (August 2)
War Porn by Roy Scranton (August 2)
The Lauras by Sara Taylor (August 4)

Top Backlist Books on my “To Be Read” List

Nobody’s Fool by Richard Russo
The Devil All the Time by Donald Ray Pollock
The Sympathizer by Viet Thanh Nguyen

Most Popular July Posts

Ten Books Set Outside the U.S.
Ten Non-Bookish Things About Me
Top Ten Tuesday: Bucket Lists and Rabbit Holes

Favorite Posts by Fellow Bloggers

  • The “business books” on The Book Wheel’s 5 Books to Change Your Career Outlook list don’t sound like the boring kind! I added Originals to my TBR list.
  • I always love Ann at Books on the Table’s eclectic recommendation lists…and I really enjoyed three books on her What to Read Next – July list!
  • Shannon at River City Reading shared how she can spot a favorite in the first 10 pages based on “style, sentence structure, and voice.”
  • Despite not being much of a music person, I loved Rory at Fourth Street Review’s creativity in talking about Stephen King’s Revival by creating a literary mix tape.
 




June 2016 Monthly Round-Up

July 5, 2016 Monthly Round-Ups 20

June 2016 Monthly Round-Up

June Reading/Life

  • I read eight books in June, which is a lot for me (two < 200 pagers definitely helped!), but the quality wasn’t quite as fantastic as in May. However, it’s still a lot better than it was earlier this year and I think that has a lot to do with reducing my ARC reading…specifically, letting others vet some books before I read them.
  • I added two new books (Grunt and Before the Fall) to my 2016 Summer Reading Guide and will be adding two more (Never Leave Your Dead and Sons and Daughters of Ease and Plenty) as soon as I post my reviews.
  • I was sadly disappointed with Listen to Me, especially since I loved Pittard’s Reunion so much two years ago. And, I just didn’t get Grief is the Thing with Feathers.
  • I continued my trend of light nonfiction working well for me on audio with Modern Romance by Aziz Ansari.
  • I completed my second sprint triathlon race (recap) in Stamford, CT and am currently deciding whether to sign up for another one in August.
  • And, on the topic of sports…I spent a good chunk of last week watching the U.S. Olympic Swimming Trials and dissecting them over text with Catherine from Gilmore Guide to Books. You can check out some of the highlights of our oh-so-professional analysis here!

Best Book of the Month

Dear Fang, With Love by Rufi Thorpe (May 24, 2016)
Fiction, 303 Pages

Affiliate Link: Buy from Amazon

July Releases I’m Excited About

The Heavenly Table, Home Field, You Will Know Me


The Heavenly Table by Donald Ray Pollock (July 12)

Home Field by Hannah Gersen (July 26)
You Will Know Me by Megan Abbott (July 26)

Top Backlist Books on my “To Be Read” List

Nobody’s Fool by Richard Russo
The Devil All the Time by Donald Ray Pollock
The Sympathizer by Viet Thanh Nguyen

Most Popular July Posts

Best Books of 2016 So Far
How Do You Feel About Epilogues?
Top 10 Reasons I Love the Summer Olympics

Favorite Posts by Fellow Bloggers