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

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

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

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

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

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This post contains affiliate links.

I finished reading…

One True Thing by Anna Quindlen


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

I’m currently reading…

Since We Fell by Dennis Lehane


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

Upcoming reading plans…

Outer Cape by Patrick Dacey


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

I was reading…

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

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

How was your reading week?

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How to Keep Reading When Life Gets Crazy

June 15, 2017 Discussions 26

How to Keep Reading When Life Gets Crazy


Life can get totally crazy sometimes…especially every May/June for parents of school age children (if you want more details, read this). All those permission forms to fill out, special events to attend at school, theme days to remember, and changes in schedule. It all makes my head spin.

Something like reading can be one of the first things to fall by the wayside during all the chaos. It’s a hobby for most people. It’s expendable.

I don’t know about you, but reading has a calming influence on me. So, it’s during these chaotic times that reading becomes even more of a sanity essential. Taking a few minutes here and there to squeeze in some reading does wonders for my patience, parenting, and ability to let things go.

So, how to keep reading when life gets crazy? Let’s get to it…

Carry A Book Everywhere

Ladies, I know you carry those gigantic purses all over the place! There is room in there for a book, e-reader, or tablet.

And, if you’re in the 1% of women that don’t go the gigantic purse route, I’m sure you keep your phone on you most of the time…keep an e-book on it! Which will enable you to…

Take Advantage of Small Snippets of Time

I think some people feel like they need large blocks of quiet time to do any reading. If I thought that way, I would literally never read. I’d love to have a couple quiet hours to really dig into a book, but that doesn’t really fit into my life right now. And, I bet the same goes for many of you.

But, a couple 5 or 10 minute increments can add up to an hour before you know it…

Here some places where you can squeeze in an extra bit of reading:

  • When you wake up before your alarm
  • During or after your workout (bet you’ll hold those stretches longer if you’re reading!)
  • When you arrive somewhere a few minutes early (i.e. picking up your children from school, meeting friends for dinner, etc)
  • During your commute…if you ride a bus or train.
  • During your lunch hour at work
  • While waiting in any line or waiting room
  • During your children’s after-school activities (i.e. soccer practice, swimming lessons…just look up when it’s your child’s turn!)
  • Before bed (I can’t fall asleep without reading)

Embrace Audiobooks

This one was admittedly tough for me, but when I finally figured it out I was able to add 1-2 books to my monthly reading! If you can find your audiobook niche (mine is lighter nonfiction), it will make mundane tasks a lot more enjoyable.

Tasks that can be improved with audiobooks:

  • Driving
  • Household chores (cleaning, laundry, organizing, yard work, paying bills, etc)
  • Grocery shopping…and putting away said groceries
  • Getting dressed in the morning / undressed at night
  • Cooking
  • Exercising (if that’s your jam…audiobooks tend not to work for me while exercising)
  • While doing mundane tasks at work that don’t require lots of concentration

Choose Some Things NOT to Do

This section is inspired by the eye-opening book The Life-Changing Magic of Not Giving a F*ck by Sarah Knight (whose subtitle is “How to Stop Spending Time You Don’t Have with People You Don’t Like Doing Things You Don’t Want to Do”), which teaches you how to de-clutter your life (rather than your house, a la Marie Kondo) and Episode 79 of the Sorta Awesome podcast, entitled The Awesome Freedom of the Don’t Do List.

We can’t do everything in life…or at least can’t do it all well. Especially over the last few years, it’s become clear that I have to choose a couple meaningful things to focus on doing well…and get comfortable with saying no to lots of stuff that doesn’t fall those buckets.

Things I don’t do:

  • Attend many weeknight activities…like Book Club (I know, this makes no sense!), wine nights, etc. I will occasionally grab dinner with a few close friends, but it’s literally like once a month.
  • Join volunteer organizing committees at my children’s schools. I’ve found that being on an organizing committee or in charge of really anything ends up taking far more time than you thought you’d committed to. Instead, I choose to contribute by being a pair of hands (chaperoning soccer, working a booth at Carnival, etc) and by providing items for various events (i.e. bottled water for Reading Celebration, etc).
  • Worry about keeping my house perfectly neat all the time.
  • Put on make-up or do my hair during the week (I literally don’t even blow-dry my hair unless I’m going out to dinner on a weekend).
  • Run a lot of errands. I try to do everything I can online so I don’t waste time running around town.
  • Shop. I genuinely don’t like shopping, so that makes it pretty easy not to waste time doing it.

Where can you squeeze some extra reading into your day?

And, what can you add to your DON’T do list so you can spend more time doing the things you love?

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It’s Monday, What Are You Reading? (6/12/17)

June 12, 2017 It's Monday! What are you reading? 38

Oh my gosh, y’all! June weather, June busyness, and June books…they’ve all stunk! This past weekend was really the first time we’ve had summer weather where we live. I was in jeans and long sleeves last week, but finally got some great beach time in this weekend. The schools are just crushing us with inconsequential tasks, events to attend, and early dismissals, so life has been pretty chaotic.

And, the icing on the cake has been that almost all my June review books have left a lot to be desired. I think I’ve sampled and/or DNF’d more books than I’ve actually finished this month. I guess this is payback for my epic May

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I finished reading…

Small Hours by Jennifer Kitses


Small Hours
 by Jennifer Kitses (June 13, 2017)
I probably made a mistake reading this book about marriage right after another book about marriage (Standard Deviation). The writing didn’t stick with me as much and it just seemed ho-hum compared to Standard Deviation.

I’m currently reading…

One True Thing by Anna Quindlen


One True Thing
 by Anna Quindlen (August 30, 1994)
Anna Quindlen is fast becoming a go-to author for me (though, I realize I’m super late to this party). She truly gets life and that shines through in this emotional gut-wrencher about a daughter going home to care for her mother while she’s dying of cancer. It’s exactly what I needed to pull me out of this epic June slump.

PS – I also just listened to her essay collection Lots of Candles, Plenty of Cake and it was like seeing a therapist. She just has such a grounded, practical outlook on life that really puts things in perspective for me. Highly recommend for anyone craving a “life wisdom” type read!

I tried, but wasn’t feeling…

The Bright Hour by Nina Riggs, Stephen Florida by Gabe Habash
The Bright Hour by Nina Riggs (June 6, 2017)
I’d heard so many great things about this memoir prior to publication (even a comparison to When Breath Becomes Air), but the writing was uneven for me. There were poignant sections about Riggs’ illness, but then she’d go off on fairly boring philosophical tangents about various works of literature and authors. DNF’d at 14%.

Stephen Florida by Gabe Habash (June 6, 2017)
I’ve had fantastic luck with sports fiction lately (Trophy SonBeartown), but three times was not the charm. The protagonist in this novel was downright painful to listen to….I couldn’t even make it through the sample. It’s got a ton of 5 star reviews on Goodreads and Amazon. Not sure what’s going on there or whether I didn’t give it enough of a chance. Have any of you read it?

Upcoming reading plans…

Since We Fell by Dennis Lehane


Since We Fell
 by Dennis Lehane
 (May 9, 2017)
This psychological thriller was a Book of the Month Club May selection and my library hold has finally come in! I’m hoping it will make a good addition to my 2017 Summer Reading Guide.

I was reading…

One Year Ago: I was reading a thriller that ended up on my 2016 Summer Reading Guide.

Two Years Ago: I was reading a 5 star thriller (a rarity for me!).

How was your reading week?

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Alcohol & Advil: White Fur and Do Not Become Alarmed

June 8, 2017 Mini Book Reviews 11

Alcohol and Advil Literary Style


Welcome back 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 the former.

The Alcohol

White Fur by Jardine LibaireWhite Fur by Jardine Libaire
Fiction (
Released May 30, 2017)
384 Pages
Bottom Line: Read it.
Affiliate Link: Buy from Amazon 
Source: Publisher (Hogarth Books)

Plot Summary: Jamey Hyde (a wealthy Yale student from the Upper East Side) and Elise Perez (Hyde’s New Haven neighbor who grew up in Connecticut public housing) embark on a relationship, which Jamey’s family is determined to destroy.

My Thoughts: The premise of this book sounds completely cheesy and I’m normally not a fan of love stories in my reading, but I loved this one! It’s raw, gritty, edgy, and uncomfortable…while also managing to be a study of class in America. And, it features the most gorgeous writing I’ve seen in months! The settings of 1980’s New Haven and New York City certainly account for some of the grittiness, but Libaire’s writing and storytelling takes care of the rest. And, Libaire’s spot-on and perfectly worded social commentary about the wealthy provides a nice change of pace from Jamey and Elise’s dark and intense relationship.

Binkie, the one and only. He can hear her rings clacking on the plastic phone, and he chuckles, envisioning with amusement the bejeweled and suntanned manicured grip his grandmother thinks she has on his balls. And she does.

I don’t normally describe love stories as suspenseful, but this one kicks off with a Prologue that had me dying to know how Jamey and Elise would get from Point A to Point Z. My only complaint is that the actual Point Z didn’t work for me…it didn’t fit well with the rest of the story. Nevertheless, White Fur is one gorgeously written, highly literary, and totally unique (so unique that I can’t think of a single book to compare it to) love story…and is one of my favorite books so far this year!

The Advil

Do Not Become Alarmed by Maile MeloyDo Not Become Alarmed by Maile Meloy
Fiction (
Released June 6, 2017)
352 Pages
Bottom Line: Read it.
Affiliate Link: Buy from Amazon
Source: Publisher (Riverhead)

Plot Summary: While on a holiday cruise through Central America, cousins Liv and Nora’s children (along with two friends) disappear during a shore excursion.

My Thoughts: Following the gorgeous writing of White Fur, I was looking for a purely plot-based book and I found it in Do Not Become Alarmed. Though the plot requires the reader to suspend belief a few times, I flew through this novel.

The bulk of the action takes place in an unnamed Central American country that’s supposed to be “the Switzerland of Central America” and very safe for tourists…based on clues in the novel, it sounds like a fictional Costa Rica. The story is told from the perspectives of the different sets of parents (who have their own dynamics and are experiencing cracks in their relationships with each other as a result of the children’s disappearances) and the missing children. It’s a “shit hits the fan on an International vacation” story in the vein of Siracusa (my review) and would be a perfect vacation read…as long as you’re not traveling with young children through Central America! And, it’s going on my 2017 Summer Reading Guide.

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May 2017 Monthly Round-Up

June 6, 2017 Monthly Round-Ups 18

May 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.

May Reading / Life

  • After reading 14 books in April, I’m back to a more normal-for-me reading level with 9 books in May. Not one of them was a real dud and I truly couldn’t decide between the 3 (yes, I realize this is totally ridiculous!) books that are my favorites of the month!
  • Three of those were massive winners with two 5 star sports novels (Trophy Son and Beartown) and a 4.5 star gorgeously written, gritty love story (White Fur).
  • Do Not Become Alarmed and Rabbit Cake made perfect additions to my 2017 Summer Reading Guide!
  • The Fact of a Body by Alexandria Marzano – Lesnevich (my review) and One of the Boys by Daniel Magariel were both solid 4 star reads.
  • My audiobooks were decent: Shattered by Jonathan Allen and Amie Parnes and Spark by John Ratey.
  • My free trial of my personalized book recommendation service will be ending on Father’s Day, so it’s time to get in any last minute requests. And, I’ve got you covered for Father’s Day gift recommendations!
  • Today is the last day to choose your June Book of the Month Club selection(s). Check out all the details and my commentary on which selection I’d choose here!
  • I graduated to 1x/week of physical therapy for my lower back (down from 2x/week), so I’m now able to fit Barre class back in! I went to my first one today since the injury and, man, am I out of Barre shape. Bring on the soreness…

My Favorite Book(s) of the Month

Best Books of the Month

Trophy Son by Douglas Brunt (May 30, 2017), My Review
Fiction – Sports, 288 Pages
Affiliate Link: Buy from Amazon

Beartown by Fredrick Backman (April 25, 2017)
Fiction – Sports, 432 Pages
Affiliate Link: Buy from Amazon

White Fur by Jardine Libaire (May 30, 2017)
Fiction, 320 Pages
Affiliate Link: Buy from Amazon

PS – last year’s Best Book of May was Sweetbitter by Stephanie Danler (my review)…one of my Best Books of 2016!

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

Dead Letters by Caite Dolan-Leach (My Review)
Based on a True Story by Delphine de Vigan (Spoiler Discussion)
The Woman Next Door by Yewande Omotoso (My Review)

The Roanoke Girls by Amy Engel (My Review)
If We Were Villains by M.L. Rio (My Review)
White Fur by Jardine Libaire

June Releases I’m Excited About

Do Not Become Alarmed by Maile Meloy (June 6)
The Bright Hour by Nina Riggs (June 6)
Stephen Florida by Gabe Habash (June 6)
Small Hours by Jennifer Kitses (June 13)

Most Popular Posts

Posts Actually Published in May
2017 Summer Reading Guide
My Most Anticipated Books of Summer 2017
Ten Read-Alikes I’m Dying to See

Overall Posts
Book Club Recommendations
Behind Her Eyes and THAT Ending: Spoiler Discussion
A Gentleman in Moscow by Amor Towles: On Appreciating, Yet Not Loving a Book

Favorite Posts by Fellow Bloggers

How was your reading month?

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It’s Monday, What Are You Reading? (6/5/17)

June 5, 2017 It's Monday! What are you reading? 22

Whew! Last week was super crazy with personal stuff, which led to lots of jumping around with my reading. I had some child-free travel (including a 7 hour train ride!), so I expected to get a ton of reading done, but things didn’t really pan out that way. I finally settled on one book, but am also mixing in an essay from Double Bind: Women on Ambition by Robin Romm here and there. 

I was also planning to read The Animators last week, but just couldn’t concentrate on it. It’s definitely a book I’ll be coming back to at a better time thanks to recommendations from Susie at Novel Visits and Tara at Running N Reading.

If you’d like to join Book of the Month Club this month, tomorrow is your last day to get the June selections. Go here for my thoughts on the June picks and to sign up! One of my favorite books I read in May is a June selection!

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This post contains affiliate links.

I finished reading…

Standard Deviation by Katherine Heiny 

Standard Deviation by Katherine Heiny (May 23, 2017)
I really enjoyed this look at a not perfect, but not completely dysfunctional either marriage between an introvert and an extreme extravert. Lots of “yes, that’s exactly how it is” writing! Mini review to come.

Affiliate Link: Buy from Amazon

I’m currently reading…

Small Hours by Jennifer Kitses


Small Hours
 by Jennifer Kitses (June 13, 2017)
I’m about 40% through this debut novel about a marriage told 24-style (hour by hour over the course of a single day) and the jury is still out. The first quarter was a little slow, but it’s picked up since then. Will have to see where it goes from here.

I tried, but wasn’t feeling…

Brain Defense by Kevin Davis


The Brain Defense by Kevin Davis (February 28, 2017)
Parts of this book (the individual case studies) were super interesting, but others (the historical aspects of neuroscience) were less so. I had trouble sustaining my concentration and put it down after 38%.

Upcoming reading plans…

I’m not quite sure yet, but probably one of these June 6 releases.

The Bright Hour by Nina Riggs, Stephen Florida by Gabe Habash
The Bright Hour by Nina Riggs (June 6, 2017)
This memoir is being compared to When Breath Becomes Air and even has a blurb from Lucy Kalanithi (Paul Kalanithi of When Breath Becomes Air‘s widow). I have to make sure I’m emotionally ready before reading this one.

Stephen Florida by Gabe Habash (June 6, 2017)
I’ve been on a super hot run with sports fiction lately (Trophy SonBeartown) and so I figure let’s keep the streak alive with some wrestling. This debut novel has a bit of a John Irving ring to it and 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.”

I was reading…

One Year Ago: I was reading one of my favorite books of last year…foodie fiction!

Two Years Ago: I was reading a quintessential New York City novels and participated in a 10K trail run.

How was your reading week?

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

June 1, 2017 Book Recommendations 15

Book of the Month Club June 2017 Selections

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


Do you want to know more about the five Book of the Month Club May 2017 selections before making your choice(s)?

Welcome to my monthly feature “Book of the Month Club Selections: What Would I Choose?”! Every month, I provide commentary on the books that are chosen as that month’s Book of the Month Club selections and tell you which book(s) I would choose.

I’ve read (and loved!) one of the Book of the Month Club June 2017 selections and there are two books you can get before their official release dates! 

Book of the Month Club May 2017 Selections

Sisters Chase by Sarah HealyThe Sisters Chase by Sarah Healy (Release Date: June 27, 2017)
304 Pages
Average Goodreads Rating: 4.29
Selected By: Liberty Hardy (co-host of Book Riot‘s All the Books podcast)

A gripping novel about two sisters who are left homeless by their mother’s death and the lengths the fierce older sister will go to protect her beloved young charge.

My Thoughts:
I hadn’t heard of The Sisters Chase prior to seeing it as a Book of the Month Club selection, despite the fact that it’s apparently been getting a fair amount of buzz. It’s been described as book club fiction with some psychological suspense crossover and supposedly has some family secrets. The publisher also compared it to Liane Moriarty (Big Little Lies) and Diane Chamberlain (The Silent SisterThe Keeper of the Light trilogy). Bestselling novelist Joshilyn Jackson called it “wise and fierce and bittersweet” and Diane Chamberlain said “each chapter ends on a note of suspense and surprise that demands you turn the page.” So, it sounds like this one is for readers who love a twisty, suspenseful novel filled with family secrets. 

White Fur by Jardine LibaireWhite Fur by Jardine Libaire (Released: May 30, 2017)
384 Pages
Average Goodreads Rating: 3.74
Selected By: Laia Garcia (Deputy Editor, Lenny Letter)

A stunning star-crossed love story set against the glitz and grit of 1980s New York City.

My Thoughts:
I’ve already read this one! I’m not normally a fan of love stories, but this one is raw, gritty, edgy, and uncomfortable…while also managing to be a study of class in America. It features the most gorgeous writing I’ve seen in months and perfectly worded social commentary about the wealthy. Though the ending left a little to be desired for me, but it’s still one of my favorite books of the year so far! And, it’s not just me: Diane at Bibliophile by the Sea and Susie at Novel Visits loved it too.

Chemistry by Weike WangChemistry by Weike Wang (Released: May 23, 2017)
224 Pages
Average Goodreads Rating: 4.01
Selected By: Leigh Haber (Books Editor, O Magazine)

A luminous coming-of-age novel about a young female scientist who must recalibrate her life when her academic career goes off track.

My Thoughts:
This debut novel covers a young woman’s big quarter life crisis question: what do you really want to do with your life? And, it’s said to be funny and provide perspective on the Chinese immigrant experience. Catherine at Gilmore Guide to Books (one of my most trusted book blogger friends) said the unnamed narrator is “very unusual and a bit endearing.” The Millions said, “A traditional family, a can’t-miss fiancé, and a research project in meltdown provide sufficient catalyst to launch the protagonist off in search of that which cannot be cooked up in the lab” in its Great 2017 Book Preview. And, Ann Patchett (author of Commonwealth) loved it. I read the sample (which, admittedly was not very long) and found the writing style a bit odd. 

A Million Junes by Emily HenryA Million Junes by Emily Henry (Released: May 16, 2017)
350 Pages
Average Goodreads Rating: 4.37
Selected By: Katie Cotugno (Bestselling Author)

Romeo and Juliet meets One Hundred Years of Solitude in Emily Henry’s brilliant follow-up to The Love That Split the World, about the daughter and son of two long-feuding families who fall in love while trying to uncover the truth about the strange magic and harrowing curse that has plagued their bloodlines for generations.

My Thoughts:
A Million Junes is Henry’s follow-up to her successful debut, The Love That Split the World. It’s a YA (Young Adult) romance and has magical realism, both of which are totally not up my alley. The premise sounds a bit like the Hatfields/McCoys situation of the 1800’s. It was generally positively reviewed by Publisher’s Weekly and Kirkus (though it did not get a starred Kirkus review). Jeff Zentner (author of YA hit The Serpent King) said “this book is utterly spellbinding in every way.”

Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Jenkins ReidThe Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Jenkins Reid (Release Date: June 13, 2017)
400 Pages
Average Goodreads Rating: 4.29
Selected By: Steph Opitz (Book Reviewer at Marie Claire)

An unforgettable and sweeping novel about one classic film actress’s relentless rise to the top—the risks she took, the loves she lost, and the long-held secrets the public could never imagine.

My Thoughts:
Believe it or not, I’ve never read Taylor Jenkins Reid. I know that her work generally falls into the “women’s fiction/chick lit/beach read/whatever your favorite term is” bucket. Modern Mrs Darcy said she wished she’d included it on her list of 17 Books Everyone Will Be Talking About This Summer and also said this book is a bit of a departure for Reid. Novelist Emily Giffin (author of the Something Borrowed series) called it “a spellbinding novel about love, glamour and the price of fame.” Kirkus compares Evelyn to Marilyn Monroe and Elizabeth Taylor (though does not give it a starred review). If you think this one might be for you, you can check out the excerpt at Entertainment Weekly!

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

My choice this month would be White Fur, especially if you love gritty stories and gorgeous writing!

Make your Book of the Month Club selections by Tuesday, June 6th.

Join Book of the Month Club…

Book of the Month Club is a subscription service for people who like to try new books from a curated selection and like to read in hardcover format. Through Book of the Month Club, you can get a hardcover book for generally significantly less than you’d pay in a bookstore or through Amazon. And, you get to try something new that has been vetted by one of Book of the Month Club’s well-read judges!

Sign up for any of the subscription plans below and you get to choose one of five books selected by Book of the Month Club’s panel of judges (including a surprise guest judge). Book of the Month Club will then mail your chosen book to your house with a cute note. You also have the option to purchase additional books for $9.99 each and to skip a month if you want.

Sign up for a Book of the Month Club membership (pricing below)!

1-month: $10
2-month: $10 per month, then $15 per month
3-month: $10 per month, then $15 per month


*All book descriptions are from Goodreads.

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Read One, Skip One: Trophy Son and Woman No. 17

May 30, 2017 Mini Book Reviews 10

Trophy Son by Douglas BruntTrophy Son by Douglas Brunt
Fiction – Sports (
Released May 30, 2017)
288 Pages
Bottom Line: Read it.
Affiliate Link: Buy from Amazon
Source: Publisher (St. Martin’s Press)

Plot Summary: Thanks to his father’s rigorous and stifling coaching, tennis prodigy Anton Stratis has never known much outside of his sport…until he decides to take control of his life.

My Thoughts: Though this novel is set inside the grueling world of elite tennis and the professional tennis circuit, it’s really a unique spin on a coming of age story, an indictment of the world of overbearing sports parents (check out this article Brunt wrote for Time on the topic!), and a story about a fraught relationship between father and son. It’s about the psychological and emotional side of professional tennis and the experience of a young and ill-equipped man trying to figure out who he is in the midst of the bubble. Brunt nailed the feelings of a young athlete with an overbearing sports parent and the panicked feeling that goes along with losing your mental edge.

He shouldn’t have been here, but I knew why a guy like that stayed. Not the money. Not even the game. It was the lifestyle. And that’s the irony.  The sick truth of it, for any top player, for any child prodigy gone pro, for me and my relationship with tennis. We hung on to this thing that crippled our humanity because now that our humanity was crippled, this thing was all that we believed could make us happy anymore.

Brunt’s writing is superb…not in the overly literary sense, but in the entertaining, snarky, and “yes, that’s exactly how it is” sense. And, he writes about tennis like a true, longtime fan rather than like a writer who researched tennis for his book. I was rooting for Anton to come out of it all without completely dying inside and I even got a little teary at the end! With the elite sports setting of You Will Know Me by Megan Abbott (my review) and the father/son dynamic of The Great Santini by Pat Conroy (my review), Trophy Son is a book you can fly through and is going on my Best of the Brain Candy list. 

Woman No 17 by Edan LepuckiWoman No. 17 by Edan Lepucki
Fiction (
Released May 9, 2017)
320 Pages
Bottom Line: Skip it.
Affiliate Link: Amazon
Source: Publisher (Hogarth)

Plot Summary: When recently separated Lady Daniels hires S (a young artist) as a live-in nanny for her toddler son so she can write her memoir, S becomes more involved in events affecting Lady’s family (including her teenaged son) than she ever imagined.

My Thoughts: Woman No. 17 was not at all what I expected. It was described in the publisher’s blurb as “sinister, sexy noir about art, motherhood, and the intensity of female friendships, set in the posh hills above Los Angeles.” Unfortunately, I didn’t get the “sinister, sexy noir” vibe and the art piece struck me as ridiculous (though, I’m admittedly not an art person).

It’s hard for me to really pin down what this story is about…there are multiple storylines, which felt muddled to me. Is it about Lady navigating her newly separated status? Her friendship with S? Her relationship with her children, particularly her teenage son? S’s oddball art project? S’s relationship with her parents? I have no idea! The most compelling story for me was Lady’s relationship with her teenage son, Seth, and I think I would have been happier had the book focused just on that. Or, at least been described in the blurb as a story about a mother and her son rather than a story about “female friendship.” Seth himself is a multi-faceted, engaging character that (possibly inadvertently) carried the book in my view. Sadly, it wasn’t enough for an overall win.

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It’s Monday, What Are You Reading? (5/29/17)

May 29, 2017 It's Monday! What are you reading? 34

Happy Memorial Day, ya’ll! And my thanks to everyone who gave their lives for our country, is serving our country, or has served in the past.

I discovered that, after plowing through lots of ARCs and lighter books to potentially include in my 2017 Summer Reading Guide, I needed a break from both. For once, library holds cooperated with my timing and three came in last week. I read about 10 pages of Into the Water (Paula Hawkins’s follow-up to The Girl on the Train) before abandoning it and lasted just a tad longer with Patricia Lockwood’s memoir Priestdaddy.

After all that book-hopping, I finally landed on one of my favorite books of the year so far!

Hosted by The Book Date.

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I finished reading…

Beartown by Fredrick Backman 

Beartown by Fredrick Backman (April 25, 2017)
I absolutely adored (5 star adored) this story about a small hockey town, despite DNF’ing Backman’s earlier hit, A Man Called Ove. Beartown has a Friday Night Lights vibe (which you know gets me every time!) and was completely engrossing. I’ll be adding it to my 2017 Summer Reading Guide.

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I’m currently reading…

Brain Defense by Kevin Davis


The Brain Defense
 by Kevin Davis (February 28, 2017)
I needed something very different after finishing Beartown, so I’m attempting this nonfiction about the use of neuroscience as a defense in criminal trials. I’m only 11% through so far, but am fascinated by the particular case Davis chose to use to illustrate this phenomenon.

I tried, but wasn’t feeling…

Women in the Castle by Jessica Shattuck, The People We Hate at the Wedding by Grant Grinder


The Women in the Castle by Jessica Shattuck (March 28, 2017)

Given my burnout from WWII novels, I’m not surprised that I got bored with this one fairly quickly and sent it back to the library.

The People We Hate at the Wedding by Grant Grinder (June 6, 2017)
I read 18% of this light read and it was fine, but wasn’t really holding my interest. I realized I needed a bit of a break from reading so many light books for my Summer Reading Guide…plus library holds started coming in…so I put it aside. I may go back to it, though.

Upcoming reading plans…

The Animators by Kayla Rae Whitaker
The Animators by Kayla Rae Whitaker (January 31, 2017)
I actually started this novel about female friendship right before my library hold of Beartown came in, so I’m planning to go back to it. Susie at Novel Visits recommended it months ago and I’ve been meaning to get to it ever since.

I was reading…

One Year Ago: I was reading a so-so book about demented high school students.

Two Years Ago: I was re-reading To Kill A Mockingbird, which was the only good thing to come out of the publication of Go Set A Watchman.

How was your reading week?

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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.

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June

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.

July

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.

August

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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