14 Favorite Book Quotes

March 6, 2018 Bookish Posts 18

Favorite Book Quotes

Putting this post together gave me the opportunity to go down the favorite book quotes rabbit hole and it was a hole I didn’t realize how much I wanted to go down! I loved revisiting some of my favorite parts of my favorite books and I need to do it more often.

These aren’t my favorite book quotes of all time, but rather my favorite quotes of the ones I could get my hands on easily at the moment! Some probably would fall into my all-time favorites bucket, but I can’t know that for sure.

Finally, I realized as I was putting this together, that I could’ve written the entire thing in Cheryl Strayed quotes.

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Linking up with Top Ten Tuesday hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl

14 Favorite Book Quotes

Beartown by Fredrick Backman (my review)
On ice hockey, but this could really pertain to any sport…

It’s only a game. It resolves tiny, insignificant things. Such as who gets validation. Who gets listened to. It allocates power and draws boundaries and turns some people into stars and others into spectators. That’s all.

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Books for Living by Will Schwalbe (my review)
On reading and recharging…

Reading is a respite from the relentlessness of technology, but it’s not only that. It’s how I reset and recharge. It’s how I escape, but it’s also how I engage. And reading should spur further engagement.

Affiliate Link: Buy from Amazon

Lots of Candles, Plenty of Cake by Anna Quindlen (my review)
On parenting…

Being a parent is not transactional. We do not get what we give. It is the ultimate pay-it-forward: We are good parents, not so they will be loving enough to stay with us, but so they will be strong enough to leave us.

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Standard Deviation by Katherine Heiny (my review)

You know, it would be far simpler and more effective if you could march your houseguest over to a bench in Central Park and say, You just sit right there while I go home and read the newspaper in peace. I’ll be back to pick you up in two hours. And if your houseguest was of the older, feebler variety, and you feared they might be mugged or beaten in the park, you could take them to a movie, possibly a matinee. Actually, there should be a houseguests’ club, like the kids’ club in a resort, where your houseguest could watch movies and play games and have a snack while you recharged your batteries.

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Tell Me More by Kelly Corrigan (my review)
I’m probably one of these people…

Accepting things as they are is difficult. A lot of people go to war with reality.

Affiliate Link: Buy from Amazon

The Mothers by Brit Bennett (my review)
On betrayal…

The how of any betrayal was the hardest part to justify, how the lies could be assembled and stacked and maintained until the truth was completely hidden behind them.

Affiliate Link: Buy from Amazon

The Prince of Tides by Pat Conroy (my review)
The memorable first line of The Prince of Tides probably encapsulates virtually all of Conroy’s work…

My wound is my geography. It is also my anchorage, my port of call.

Affiliate Link: Buy from Amazon

The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Jenkins Reid (my review)
On intimacy…

People think that intimacy is about sex. But intimacy is about truth. When you realize you can tell someone your truth, when you can show yourself to them, when you stand in front of them bare and their response is ‘you’re safe with me’ – that’s intimacy.

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Tiny Beautiful Things by Cheryl Strayed (my review)
You didn’t think you were getting out of here without a Cheryl Strayed quote, did you? Or two?

Trust yourself. It’s Sugar’s golden rule. Trusting yourself means living out what you already know to be true.

Or two?

Do you know what boundaries are? The best, sanest people on the planet do […]

Or three? This one on motherhood…

But as the mother of two children, I can tell you what most moms will: that mothering is absurdly hard and profoundly sweet. Like the best thing you ever did. Like if you think you want to have a baby, you probably should. I say this in spite of the fact that children are giant endless suck machines. They don’t give a whit if you need to sleep or eat or pee or get your work done or go out to a party naked and oiled up in a homemade Alice B. Toklas mask. They take everything. They will bring you to the furthest edge of your personality and abso-f*cking-lutely to your knees. They will also give you everything back. Not just all they take, but many of the things you lost before they came along as well.

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To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
On reading…

Until I feared I would lose it, I never loved to read. One does not love breathing.

Affiliate Link: Buy from Amazon

When Breath Becomes Air by Paul Kalanithi
On living…

At those critical junctures, the question is not simply whether to live or die but what kind of life is worth living.

Affiliate Link: Buy from Amazon

White Fur by Jardine Libaire (my review)
On the wealthy, snobby grandmother…

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.

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Do you find yourself collecting literary quotes? What are some of your favorites?

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What I’m Reading Now (3/5/18)

March 5, 2018 It's Monday! What are you reading? 19

Well, we survived the random windstorm this past weekend! We only lost power for one night and managed to only lose small branches around our house…could’ve been way worse. Our neighbors lost a huge Pine, roots and all, but luckily it fell away from their house.

And, it looks like I read a ton of books last week, but it’s kind of deceiving. I was almost done with one book and a second audiobook at the start of the week, then read a third. Also, I’m slowly working my way through Tools of Titans by Tim Ferris. It’s over 700 pages, but is written in short vignettes and I read about one a night. So, this one will take me awhile. So far, I’m learning a ton about Health (the first section) and have already picked up one exercise that’s really made my back feel better.

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March Book of the Month selections are here! I hadn’t heard of any of these picks before, but after doing some research, I’m definitely interested in a couple! Judging by the collective reactions to last month’s picks (people thought they were uninteresting and too well-known), they might be happier this time around since these seem to be lesser known titles.⠀ _⠀ ⠀ For those of you who lamented the judges’ disappearance in last month’s picks, I have semi-good news for you! The judges are back…kind of. There won’t be a 5 judge panel like we’re used to, but we will see judges make appearances mixed in with “editorial team [members], brand ambassadors, members, and members of our Readers Committee.” Kind of annoying for those of us who have been following specific judges for awhile and know who our Go-To Judges are, but we’ll have to see how things go…⠀ _⠀ ⠀ I’ve got commentary on all the selections AND my ULTIMATE GUIDE TO THE BOOK OF THE MONTH CLUB JUDGES to help you choose the right book for your reading taste. LINKS IN PROFILE #affiliate⠀ *⠀ *⠀ *⠀ *⠀ *⠀ *⠀ #bookstagram #bookofthemonth #bookofthemonthclub #botm #bookgram #amreading #bookworms #instabooks #bookblogger #booklovers #booklover #bibliophile #biblio #bookaddict #bookaddiction @bookofthemonth

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I finished reading…

I'm Not Your Perfect Mexican Daughter, Laura and Emma, Endurance
I Am Not Your Perfect Mexican Daughter
 by Erika L. Sanchez (October 17, 2017)
I ended up liking this one even though I could really feel the YA-ness in the ending. I do think it would be an important and helpful book for young girls to read. Mini Review to come.
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Laura & Emma by Kate Greathead (March 13, 2018)
I really liked this debut mother/daughter novel set in 80’s – 90’s NYC. Laura, the mother is somewhat of an offbeat character and I liked the voice. It’s been compared to Gilmore Girls, which I can see in the premise, but not in the characters or style. Mini Review to come.

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Enduranceby Scott Kelly (October 17, 2017) – Audiobook
It took me the entire month of February to listen to this 12 hour audiobook! It’s Astronaut Scott Kelly’s (Former Congresswoman Gabby Gifford‘s brother-in-law) story of his year on the International Space Station. Hearing about what it’s like to live on the Space Station was mostly really interesting, though the book could have been shorter. Would make a great “Dad” book and is going on my Books for Guys list.

Affiliate Link: Buy from Amazon

I’m currently reading…

Tangerine by Christine Mangan

by Christine Mangan (March 20, 2018)
This debut novel about a female friendship set in 1950’s Morocco comes recommended by one of my Go-To Recommendation Sources (Annie Jones from From the Front Porch podcast and was a Library Reads March pick). I’ve literally just read the first few pages so far.

Upcoming reading plans…

Alternate Side by Anna Quindlen

Alternate Side
 by Anna Quindlen (March 20, 2018)
I absolutely adore Anna Quindlen (Lots of Candles, Plenty of Cake and Every Last One), but I’ve heard her new novel may not be among her best. I’m still going to give it a shot. After all, average Quindlen is still a lot better than many other authors’ best work. 

was reading…

One Year Ago: I was reading my first 5 star book of 2017!

Two Years Ago: I was in the middle of a string of books I wish I hadn’t read.

How was your reading week?

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

March 1, 2018 Book Recommendations 18

Book of the Month March 2018

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

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

I hadn’t heard of any of these selections before…but, judging from the reaction to last month‘s overly well-known picks, this might be a good thing. After doing a bit of research, I’m now interested in a couple!

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

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

For those of you who followed the uproar last month when Book of the Month removed the judges’ endorsements from the February selections…Book of the Month has brought the judges back…kind of. There won’t be a 5 judge panel like we’re used to, but we will see judges make appearances mixed in with “editorial team [members], brand ambassadors, members, and members of our Readers Committee.” Kind of annoying for those of us who have been following specific judges for awhile and know who our Go-To Judges are, but we’ll have to see how things go. Check out more details of how Book of the Month chooses the monthly selections and their rationale for making changes in how the selections are presented.

Book of the Month March 2018 Selections

Not That I Could TellNot That I Could Tell by Jessica Strawser (Release Date: March 27, 2018)
320 Pages
Average Goodreads Rating: 4.09 on 261 ratings
Selected By: Elizabeth Mitchell (Readers Committee Member)

When a group of neighborhood women gathers, wine in hand, around a fire pit where their backyards meet one Saturday night, most of them are just ecstatic to have discovered that their baby monitors reach that far. It’s a rare kid-free night, and they’re giddy with it. They drink too much, and the conversation turns personal. By Monday morning, one of them is gone.

Everyone knows something about everyone else in the quirky small Ohio town of Yellow Springs, but no one can make sense of the disappearance. […] As the police investigation goes from a media circus to a cold case, the neighbors are forced to reexamine what’s going on behind their own closed doors—and to ask how well anyone really knows anyone else.

My Thoughts:
Doesn’t the description for this one sound like Big Little Lies?! And, Goodreads reviewers mentioned it would be a good choice for fans of Liane Moriarty. They also said it was an easy, quick read and that the story was told from several points of view. Amy at Read a Latte (a blogger I trust) says it “is not quite a thriller. It’s more an examination of the lives of these women, and the questions that circulate when a perceived perfect neighborhood starts to show cracks.” This one sounds up my alley, especially since I’m on the hunt for lighter reads. 

Astonishing Color of AfterThe Astonishing Color of After by Emily X.R. Pan (Release Date: March 20, 2018)
480 Pages
Average Goodreads Rating: 4.5 on 136 ratings
Selected By: Liberty Hardy (co-host of Book Riot‘s All the Books podcast)

Leigh Chen Sanders is absolutely certain about one thing: When her mother died by suicide, she turned into a bird.

Leigh, who is half Asian and half white, travels to Taiwan to meet her maternal grandparents for the first time. There, she is determined to find her mother, the bird. In her search, she winds up chasing after ghosts, uncovering family secrets, and forging a new relationship with her grandparents. And as she grieves, she must try to reconcile the fact that on the same day she kissed her best friend and longtime secret crush, Axel, her mother was taking her own life.

Alternating between real and magic, past and present, friendship and romance, hope and despair, The Astonishing Color of After is a novel about finding oneself through family history, art, grief, and love.

My Thoughts:
This is a debut YA (Young Adult) novel by a Midwest author born to Taiwanese immigrant parents. Goodreads reviewers said it’s heartbreaking, beautiful, has a bit of magical realism, gorgeous writing, and a half Asian/half white main character. They also mentioned Chinese/Taiwanese culture and depression are major themes. John Green called it “brilliantly crafted, harrowing and a very special book.” Gayle Forman called it “inventive and heart-wrenching.” The few critical reviews I found on Goodreads mentioned having trouble with a literary device where emotions are labeled with colors.

Rainbirds Rainbirds by Clarissa Goenawan (Release Date: March 6, 2018)
336 Pages
Average Goodreads Rating: 4.1 on 84 ratings
Selected By: 
Siobhan Jones (Book of the Month Editorial Director)

Clarissa Goenawan’s dark, spellbinding literary debut opens with a murder and shines a spotlight onto life in fictional small-town Japan.

Ren Ishida is nearly finished with graduate school when he receives news of his sister Keiko’s sudden death. She was viciously stabbed one rainy night on her way home, and there are no leads. Ren heads to Akakawa to conclude his sister’s affairs, still failing to understand why she chose to abandon the family and Tokyo for this desolate town years ago.

As he comes to know the figures in Akakawa, from the enigmatic politician to his fellow teachers and a rebellious, alluring student named Rio, Ren delves into his shared childhood with Keiko and what followed, trying to piece together what happened the night of her death.

My Thoughts:
Clarissa Goenawan is apparently a rising Singaporean literary star and Rainbirds is her debut. Set in 1990’s, Rainbirds is part whodunnit and part ghost story. Goodreads reviewers frequently compared it to Haruki Murakami’s style. They also said it has a minimalist writing style (which is very Japanese), a hint of magical realism, a brooding atmosphere, and that grief is a major theme. Many said it was quiet, yet hard to put down, and that the mystery is a minor plot element (i.e. the story is more about Ren finding himself and getting to know his sister posthumously). Some found the ending frustrating. Rainbirds was on Bustle’s Most Anticipated Book of 2018, Huffington Post’s 60 Books We Can’t Wait to Read in 2018, and received a starred review from Library Journal. If you like serious literary fiction, this one’s for you!

Other People's HousesOther People’s Houses by Abbi Waxman (Release Date: April 3, 2018)
352 Pages
Average Goodreads Rating: 3.97 on 111 ratings
Selected By: 
Skye Sherman (Brand Ambassador)

The author of The Garden of Small Beginnings returns with a hilarious and poignant new novel about four families, their neighborhood carpool, and the affair that changes everything.

My Thoughts: Other People’s Houses sounds like light fiction (i.e. Brain Candy) and the plot actually sounds somewhat similar to Not That I Could Tell (and Desperate Housewives!). It was blurbed by Emily Giffin, so you know that means it’s fairly light reading. Goodreads reviewers mentioned that it’s told from multiple points of view, has snarky, irreverent humor, and dysfunctional families. Many of the negative reviews mentioned extremely harsh language and raunchy sex talk that was over the top and unnecessary. This type of raunchy humor is apparently her trademark and it seems to be a love it or hate it kind of thing. Finally, some that loved her debut (The Garden of Small Beginnings) were underwhelmed by her follow-up. Sounds like you need to have a specific sense of humor to appreciate this one.

Last Equation of Isaac SeveryThe Last Equation of Isaac Severy by Nova Jacobs (Release Date: March 6, 2018)
352 Pages
Average Goodreads Rating: 4.06 on 53 ratings
Selected By: Sophia Bush (Actress)

The Family Fang meets The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry in this literary mystery about a struggling bookseller whose recently deceased grandfather, a famed mathematician, left behind a dangerous equation for her to track down—and protect—before others can get their hands on it. 

My Thoughts:
The Last Equation of Isaac Severy is a debut novel with a treasure hunt vibe whose premise sounds like Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore. However, some Goodreads reviewers debunked the comparisons to The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry and Penumbra because the bookstore is apparently a minor plot point compared to the eccentric family and the math. They also said there is a lot going on in the beginning with the plot (to the point where some couldn’t make heads or tails of what was going on), but that things eventually clicked. 

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

I’m going to choose Not That I Could Tell!

The premise sounds intriguing, it sounds like it could be a good candidate for my 2018 Summer Reading Guide and, most importantly, a blogger I trust (Amy at Read a Latte) gave it 5 stars.

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

What book will you choose this month?

This Month’s Special Deals

In addition to the five February selections, Book of the Month Club is offering one extra this month (which Book of the Month Club members can add to their boxes for only $9.99 each):

NEW MEMBER DEAL: Anyone who purchases a new BOTM subscription will get their first month free! Use code YESPLZ.

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
Skip any month you want
Free shipping, always

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February 2018 Monthly Round-Up

February 27, 2018 Monthly Round-Ups 28

February 2018 monthly round-up

Can you believe I got my Monthly Round-Up done by the end of the month?! I sure can’t…there’s a first for everything!

I didn’t read quite as many books this month (7 compared to 9 last month) and it was harder to pick a clear-cut winner (but I forced myself to!). I also didn’t finish a single audiobook this month (my current audiobook is 12 hours long and I’ve been listening to lots of podcasts lately).

On the personal front, I’ve been playing lots of tennis. It’s been fun and frustrating all at the same time (I’m super rusty and get really nervous during matches!). I’ve substituted some of my running with tennis and reducing the repeated pounding of regular running has been a good thing for my back and hip issues. And, turns out tennis can be quite a cardio workout!





  • Leave a note in the comments section or email me at sarahsbookshelves@gmail.com to participate in my new “Readers Recommend” feature!
    I’m starting a new feature where regular blog readers (i.e. those of you who do not have your own book blogs) share some of their best book recommendations (again, thanks to the Reader Survey for this idea!) and I’d love your participation! All you have to do is answer a few book related questions via email. Email me or leave a note in the comments if you’re interested in participating!

February Quality and Recommendation Sources

Reading Quality (Jan-Feb 2018 Cumulative)

  • % Successful Books Attempted (includes DNF’s) = 52% (still above my 43% success rate from 2017)
  • % Successful Books Finished (does not include DNFs) = 87%

Successful Recommendation Sources

If you’re interested in tracking these types of stats, my “Rock Your Reading” Tracker does all the heavy lifting for you! Enter your book details and it automatically compiles everything into Summary Charts in real time! Go here for more details.

March Releases I’m Excited About

Bachelor Nation by Amy Kaufman (March 6)
Laura & Emma by Kate Greathead (March 13)
Tangerine by Christine Mangan (March 20)
Alternate Side by Anna Quindlen (March 20)

Most Popular Posts

Posts Actually Published in February
February 2018 Books to Read (and Skip)

12 Unconventional Love Stories for Readers Who Don’t Like Romance
Book of the Month February 2018 Selections: What Book Should You Choose?

Overall Posts
Book Club Recommendations
Behind Her Eyes and THAT Ending: Spoiler Discussion (#WTFthatending)
Am I the Only One Who Didn’t Love Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine?

Favorite Posts by Fellow Bloggers

I’m sorry for the light list this month…I honestly forgot to keep track of my favorite posts until the end of the month. I promise you’ll get a better list next month!

How was your reading month?

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What I’m Reading Now (2/26/18)

February 26, 2018 It's Monday! What are you reading? 21

I’m deep into reading my March releases and I have to say that they’re so far not living up to February’s books. But, that’s OK because I’m starting to dive into possible candidates for my 2018 Summer Reading Guide, which is one of my favorite features to put together every single year! In other news…

If you’re a Sarah’s Book Shelves reader who does not have your own blog, I’d love for you to participate in my new “Readers Recommend” feature!
In “Readers Recommend,” regular blog readers (i.e. those of you who do not have your own book blogs) will share some of their best book recommendations (again, thanks to the Reader Survey for this idea!). All you have to do is answer a few book related questions via email. Email me at sarahsbookshelves@gmail.com or leave a note in the comments if you’d like to participate!

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If you’re a new follower, I love Pat Conroy…he’s my favorite author of all-time. If you’ve been around for awhile, I’m going to stain you about Pat Conroy yet again. I have a weakness for Southern literature, especially the dark kind, and Conroy was the master at it. The lowcountry is as much of a character as any of the actual people in his books and he brings its alluring beauty and its dark underbelly alive. ⠀ _⠀ ⠀ Here’s my dilemma. Now that Conroy is gone, I’ve been trying to find an author who writes in a similar style and I’ve come up empty. Do you have any recommendations for me?⠀ *⠀ *⠀ *⠀ *⠀ *⠀ #bookstagram #amreading #bookworm #instabooks #bookblogger #booklover #booklovers #booksofinstagram #bookgram #bookblogger #bookaddict #bookaddiction #patconroy #southernliterature #southernfiction ⠀

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I finished reading…

Flight Attendant by Chris Bohjalian

The Flight Attendant
 by Chris Bohjalian (March 13, 2018)
Bohjalian’s thrillers have been reliable standbys for me over the last few years, but things slipped a bit with this one. It was fine, but I didn’t like it as much as The Guest Room or The Sleepwalker. And, I definitely had some specific issues that I’ll share in an upcoming mini review. 

I’m currently reading…

I Am Not Your Perfect Mexican Daughter

I Am Not Your Perfect Mexican Daughter
 by Erika L. Sanchez (October 17, 2017)
I’m about halfway through this YA novel that was longlisted for the 2017 National Book Award for Young People’s Literature and, so far, I love the voice of Julia, but it did drag a bit through the second quarter. We’ll see how it wrap up.

I tried, but wasn’t feeling…

Girls Burn Brighter by Shobna Rao

Girls Burn Brighter
 by Shobha Rao (March 6, 2018)

Last week, I was 13% through this novel about female friendship in India and I was having trouble getting into the characters and my mind kept wandering. I haven’t picked it up since then and am now moving on. I’ve since heard it’s an incredibly brutal story and I don’t think I have that in me right now.

Upcoming reading plans…

Laura and Emma

Laura & Emma
 by Kate Greathead (March 13, 2018)
This debut novel is a mother/daughter story set in upper crust Manhattan and is apparently quirky and told in vignettes. Tyler Goodson, the manager of Avid Bookshop in Athens, GA and one of my newest Go-To Recommendation Sources gave it 5 stars.

was reading…

One Year Ago: I rated a couple books 5 stars that others didn’t love as much.

Two Years Ago: I was reading one of my favorite books of 2016!

How was your reading week?

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2018 Reader Survey Q&A

February 23, 2018 Community 14

2018 Sarah's Book Shelves Reader Survey Q&A

Welcome to Part 2 of the Sarah’s Book Shelves Reader Survey results! Yesterday, I shared all the results except your questions and comments in Part 1.

Many of you had great questions and comments for me in your survey responses. Since this survey is anonymous, I can’t respond to you directly, so I’m addressing any questions/comments that warranted a response here.

2018 Reader Survey Q&A

Q: At what point should you DNF a book if it isn’t interesting or going well to start with? I read to page 66-68 is that too short or too long?

A: There’s no hard and fast rule. I believe you should DNF a book when you realize you’re not interested in it. Personally, I give a book 25% if I’m undecided and will sometimes check Goodreads reviews or contact friends who have read already it to see if I should continue. I’ve DNF’d a book after reading only one page, at the 80% mark, and everywhere in between!

Q: I would love to see an audiobook list for people who listen while doing other activities. I am training for a half-marathon and am looking for audiobooks that are easy enough to follow when I tend to occasionally zone out. People who listen while doing chores and other activities would appreciate the list, too, I think. Thanks!

A: I totally understand your frustration…I feel the same way about audiobooks! And, I actually first tried them when training for a half-marathon as well! Kindred spirits. I found that nonfiction works better for me than fiction and lighter nonfiction works best. Here are some types of audiobooks that have worked well for me and my favorite audiobooks of 2017. I also enjoy listening to podcasts (and actually prefer them to audiobooks when working out).

Also, I’m getting more and more requests for audiobook content, so I’ll be sharing them in my weekly What I’m Reading Now posts as well as posting more frequent audiobook recommendation lists.

Q: Would like to see daily posts.

A: And, I’d love to give you daily posts! But, I have two young children and don’t have extra childcare to run this blog. I fit it in in my spare time. Unfortunately, this currently doesn’t allow for daily posts, but things could possibly change in the future!

Q: Children’s recommendation of the month.

A: Children’s books would be a whole new area to keep up with and it’s not where my true love of reading lies, so I won’t be adding children’s book coverage at this time. However, the blog Booking Mama hosts a weekly link-up where bloggers can share posts related to children’s literature that I recommend checking out for children’s book recommendations.

Q: I do not like chic lit, fluffy fiction, is there anyway to differentiate?

A: I tend to use the term “Brain Candy” when I’m talking about lighter fiction that many people refer to as “chick lit.” Steer clear of books I describe using that term! I’ll also start using the differentiators “Literary Fiction” and “Fiction – Brain Candy” in my genre labels; however, categorizing a book as lighter fiction is somewhat of a judgement call…it’s different for everyone!

Q: Enrolling in email has not worked for me. Also – talking about what constitutes “literary fiction” would be nice. I’ve seen you classify some things as more “literary” that I would classify as more “light” fiction…

A: I’m sorry you’ve had trouble signing up for the email list! Please email me at sarahsbookshelves@gmail.com and I’m happy to manually sign you up.

To continue from the last question, classifying “literary” vs. “light” fiction is somewhat of a judgment call, so everyone won’t always agree on this point. Talking more about what I consider “literary” is a great idea for further discussion. I’d love it if you could email me (at sarahsbookshelves@gmail.com) some examples of books that I classified as “literary” that you considered “light” fiction and I can discuss them in a blog post.

Q: (1) I have a book club in real life, but might be fun to try an online/facebook book club with your readers. Give notice about a book and then pick a day when people will discuss/post on Facebook about it. Not sure it will work but might be worth a try and a way for your readers, who are all avid books readers I assume, to get to know each other.

(2) feature a readers recommend each week or month — guest post and/or just a recommendation from one of your readers for a book that you haven’t reviewed yet.

(3) weekly or monthly book recommendation based on reader request and parameters (similar to what NYT is doing now).

A: (1) I’ve heard from many of you that finding people to talk books with is one of your biggest reading problems. The good news is I will be starting a Facebook group for Sarah’s Book Shelves readers (as part of my forthcoming Patreon page) and will absolutely consider some sort of discussion around a particular book.

(2) I love this idea! Thanks for sharing and look out for something like this in the future.

(3) Another great idea! Let me noodle on it…

Q: I like when you promote other blogs. I’ll keep reading yours, don’t worry. I would like to find some more to read.

A: I love promoting other blogs and there are some awesome ones out there! In my monthly round-ups, I include some of my favorite posts of the month by fellow bloggers. I also share other bloggers’ content on social media, mostly on Twitter (follow me @SarahsShelves) and Pinterest (follow me here). I also have a new feature coming up that will spotlight favorite blogs: a quarterly review of my Go-To Book Recommendation Sources (many of which are my favorite bloggers).

In the meantime, here are some of my favorite book blogs:

Q: All the book blogs I’ve scanned and the few I follow seem to be directed at other bloggers. You all get ARCs, have your conversation and it’s over. By the time “just average readers” have read the book (those of us who have to wait for publication dates), the conversation has passed. Which is why I generally skip the Discussion posts. If it’s a book I’m interested in, there are probably spoilers.

A: I appreciate this feedback, especially since I discovered through this survey that less than 30% of my readers have their own blogs (so know that you’re in good company)! I’ll take this to heart moving forward.

I do try to post my book reviews on or after a book’s publication date, but you will see books pop up in my weekly What I’m Reading Now posts before their publication dates because I’m sharing what I’m reading in real time. This can be a good way to find books for your TBR list.

My regular book reviews and Read it, Skip it posts never, ever contain spoilers (I feel strongly about reviews that give too much of the plot away!), so you can feel comfortable reading those before you’ve read the book. If a post contains spoilers, it always has “Spoiler” in the post title.

Q: How would I know that a book is well written? With excellent language?

A: Such a great question and, unfortunately, a really hard one to answer! I think “well written” means something different for everyone. For me, it’s writing that speaks to me…and that’s usually simple, spare, hard-hitting prose. I’m not a fan of overly formal, flowery writing, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t “good” writing. It just means it doesn’t appeal to me! I’ll often say a book has “my kind of writing” and I wrote a whole post trying to figure out what that means.

Q: Could you add direct links to the different series you do? For example, I love your pairings of the alcohol and hangover (since that is such a true reading phenomenon) but it would be nice to be able to click on a link and access all the pairings.

A: Yes – great idea! I’ll get these up soon. And, I’m thrilled you love the Alcohol & Advil pairings!

Did any of your burning questions get answered here? Always feel free to email me with your questions, suggestions, and comments at sarahsbookshelves@gmail.com.

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2018 Sarah’s Book Shelves Reader Survey Results

February 22, 2018 Community 24

Sarah's Book Shelves Reader Survey Results

First of all, a huge thank you to the 148 of you who took the time to complete the First Annual Sarah’s Book Shelves Reader Survey! It wasn’t the shortest survey in the world and I appreciate you taking the time to tell me about yourselves and provide feedback about the blog. And because of y’all, we now know all kinds of fun stuff about who reads this blog!

I had so much fun reading the results and getting to know you better…and I was even completely surprised by a few things! I hope you enjoy getting to know each other as much as I have…

Getting to Know You

  • Almost all (97%) of you are women.
  • Almost half of you are between 45 and 64 years old and another almost half are between 25 and 44.
  • Just over 70% of you do not have your own blogs. This doesn’t surprise me quite as much as the other items on this list, but it’s important for me to keep in mind when I’m writing posts. The readers I hear from most in the comments section generally do have their own blogs. And, please please don’t feel like you have to have your own blog to comment here…I’d especially love to hear from all the “regular readers” out there!
  • Y’all like to cook / bake, run / walk (and exercise in general), watch TV / movies, write, travel, and garden. What do most of these activites have in common? They can all be solitary activities…am I detecting some Introverts out there?
  • Your favorite TV show is This is Us. Your favorite magazine / website is Real Simple. Your favorite podcast is What Should I Read Next? (Modern Mrs. Darcy‘s podcast), but the overall category winner was people who don’t listen to podcasts at all (y’all should try them…I’m getting so many great books recommendations from podcasts these days!).

A Few Surprises

  • Over 75% of you do not have children at home (either because you don’t have children at all or have grown children). This absolutely floored me…maybe because I have young children at home and wrongly assumed many of my readers had a similar family situations.
  • Y’all read a TON, which I knew, but I didn’t realize quite how high your numbers would be! 2/3 of you read more than 50 books a year and 1/4 of you read more than 100 books a year. Of course, I’m sure the super heavy readers are also the ones who would find it fun to complete this survey, so that could have skewed the numbers!
  • When I asked you why you keep visiting Sarah’s Book Shelves, 84% of you said the book reviews! I’m so shocked because book reviews tend to get less traffic than other types of posts. But, you love them, so they’ll stick around. Glad I learned this in the survey because I’d been toying with cutting back on reviews.
  • Despite the volume of cat pictures you see on #bookstagram, not a single one of you mentioned your cat when I asked what you liked to do other than read. On the contrary, some of you mentioned your dogs! So, who would’ve thought…bookworms can be dog people too!

Your General Reading Habits

  • More than 50% of you like to read hard copy books (hardcover or paperback).
  • You love using your local library (75% of you). And, over 50% of you buy books from Amazon.
  • Your favorite genres are serious literary fiction (66%), mysteries / thrillers (65%), historical fiction (64%), and lighter fiction (56%).
  • 90% (WOW!) of you get your best book recommendations from book blogs, followed by social media and friends.
  • Most of you (67%) track your reading on Goodreads, followed by 28% in a paper journal and 20% in a spreadsheet (if you’re one of these readers, check out my “Rock Your Reading” Tracker!). Personally, I use Goodreads and the “Rock Your Reading” Tracker (because it gives you way more stats than Goodreads does).

Favorite Books You Read in 2017

The Heart’s Invisible Furies  14
Little Fires Everywhere 12
Beartown 11
This Is How It Always Is 8
A Gentleman in Moscow
Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine
The Alice Network
Dear Fahrenheit 451
Best Day Ever

I’m not surprised by the first four, as I loved them all and three of them made my Best Books of 2017 list. Given you like to read this blog, it’s not surprising we have similar taste!

Then, it gets interesting. I didn’t particularly like A Gentleman in Moscow (my review) or Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine (my review) and wrote contrarian reviews of both. We can’t agree on everything and that’s what makes talking books so much fun!

Least Favorite Books You Read in 2017

Idaho 4
Never Let Me Go
Lincoln in the Bardo
A Gentleman in Moscow
Final Girls
Little Fires Everywhere
Exit West
My Absolute Darling
Sing, Unburied, Sing
White Fur
Behind Her Eyes
The Woman in Cabin 10
A Man Called Ove

There are a number of critical darlings / award winners on this list (IdahoNever Let Me GoLincoln in the BardoSing, Unburied, SingExit West). I also didn’t like some of these. Interestingly, Little Fires Everywhere (my review) popped up on both lists! For more about my issues with critical darlings last year, check out my post on the Best Books of 2017 Lists I Agree With…and the Ones I Don’t.

And, many of you mentioned DNFing books you weren’t enjoying, which I’m a huge fan of! Why waste time reading a book you don’t like?! We’re not in school anymore, after all.

Your Biggest Reading Problems

  • Time (40)
    Me too…no matter how much time I get to read, I always want more! And, I’m not surprised you feel the same. I did write a post about how to fit in more reading time and one about types of books that work well when you’re super busy. Cheers to hoping we all get more reading time!
  • Finding the Right Books for Your Taste (22)
    I struggle with this one too! It’s hard to get a good sense of your reading taste, but also remain open to new types of books. I’ve recently been focusing less on the book selections themselves and more on who the recommendation comes from (my “Rock Your Reading Tracker” is helping me keep track of my best recommendation sources!) and it’s helping!
  • Finding People to Talk Books With (21)
    This is one of my favorite things about blogging about books. And, I’m working on creating a Facebook Group for Sarah’s Book Shelves readers to talk books with each other in a more informal setting! The Facebook Group will be open to all Patreon supporters (coming later this year) and anyone who participated in the Free Trial of my Personalized Book Recommendations service last Spring.
  • Avoiding getting distracted by social media/phone/TV (10)
    A sign of the times, right? I’ve heard of people setting their phone’s timer to help them read for certain periods of time. The Offtime app filters and blocks distracting communications. Personally, I don’t use social media notifications…and I sometimes put my phone on airplane mode.

Your Questions and Feedback

Thank you for the many great questions and comments you had for me! I had originally planned to answer them in this post, but it got to be too dang long. 

Don’t worry, I’ll respond to all your questions and comments in a separate post tomorrow!

What do you think about all these awesome blog readers? Are you surprised by anything?

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What I’m Reading Now (2/19/18)

February 19, 2018 It's Monday! What are you reading? 29

Two weeks had gone by since I had the flu, I thought I’d escaped infecting the rest of my family. No such luck…my daughter and my husband both had it last week. The silver lining was that the Olympics were on and, if I have to be housebound, I’d like it to be during the Olympics!

Is it ridiculous to say it’s been stressful keeping up with all this Olympics viewing…and The Bachelor…and The Bachelor Winter Games…and trying to go to bed at a decent time? I probably shouldn’t admit all that in public…

Hosted by The Book Date.
This post contains affiliate links (plus: here’s your Amazon Smile-specific affiliate link).

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Follow me at sarahsbookshelves, check out the post here

Valentine’s Day is tomorrow, so I bet you’re seeing a ton of posts sharing the best romances, best couples of literature, “literary crushes,” etc. Well, I’m just not that big a fan of romances…the cheese factor is too much for me. ⠀ _⠀ ⠀ Most people probably wouldn’t even call the books on this list love stories, but they’re the kind of love stories I can handle. The love fits organically into a story with a different focus and is low on the cheese factor.⠀ LINK IN PROFILE WITH FULL LIST⠀ _⠀ ⠀ How do you feel about romances? Do you prefer the traditional or unconventional type?⠀ *⠀ *⠀ *⠀ *⠀ *⠀ #bookstagram #amreading #bookworm #instabooks #bookblogger #booklover #booklovers #booksofinstagram #bookgram #bookblogger #bookaddict #bookaddiction #valentinesday #lovestories @tjenkinsreid @tayari @ahoffmanwriter @algonquinbooks @atriabooks @simonandschuster @bookofthemonth #bookofthemonth ⠀

A post shared by Sarah’s Book Shelves (@sarahsbookshelves) on

I finished reading…

Castle of Water, Woman in her Thirties
Castle of Water by Dane Huckelbridge (April 4, 2017)
This is a tough one. It was just too neat and tidy for me…but, lots of readers will love it. There were just too many moments where you have to suspend rational belief for the story to hold up. I did like the ending, though. If you like your stories neatly laid out, give this one a try!
Affiliate Link: Amazon

Woman Last Seen in Her Thirties by Camille Pagan (February 27, 2018)
Finally…the fun (but not silly) read I’d been looking for! It’s an easy read with a thread of darkness…which is how I like my easy reads. Plus, there’s salty humor and real talk about aging, marriage, divorce, and piecing your life back together. This was my first time reading Pagan and I like her style…I’ll definitely be going back to her for light reads in the future!
Affiliate Link: Pre-Order from Amazon

I’m currently reading…

Girls Burn Brighter by Shobna Rao

Girls Burn Brighter
 by Shobha Rao (March 6, 2018)

I’m 13% through this novel about female friendship in India. It’s average Goodreads rating is 4.3 and I wonder if I’m reading the same book. I’m having trouble getting into the characters and my mind keeps wandering. Has anyone else read it? Should I keep going or is this going to be one of those hyped books (e.g. Sing, Unburied, Sing) that isn’t for me?

I tried, but wasn’t feeling…

Lost Girls of Camp Forevermore by Kim fu
The Lost Girls of Camp Forevermore by Kim Fu (February 13, 2018)

DNF at 25%. This novel felt choppy and I couldn’t get into the characters.

Upcoming reading plans…

Unless some library holds come in…

Flight Attendant by Chris Bohjalian

The Flight Attendant
 by Chris Bohjalian (March 13, 2018)
Bohjalian’s page turners always have an unique element that makes them stand out from the sea of run-of-the-mill thrillers out there. I’m hoping this will be a good candidate for my 2018 Summer Reading Guide.

was reading…

One Year Ago: I read one of the most polarizing books of last year.

Two Years Ago: I was deep in a reading slump.

How was your reading week?

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February 2018 Books to Read (and Skip)

February 15, 2018 Mini Book Reviews 33

February 2018 Books to Read

This is technically supposed to be a “Read it, Skip it” post, but my February reading was so good that I didn’t actually finish any books I’d recommend you skip! However, I did include a couple February books I DNF’d to account for the skip it portion.

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

Read These

And, don’t forget my favorite novel of 2018 so far, An American Marriage, which I already reviewed!

All the Castles Burned by Michael NyeAll the Castles Burned by Michael Nye
Fiction – Debut (Released February 13, 2018)
384 Pages
Affiliate Link: Buy from Amazon
Source: Publisher (Publisher: Turner)

Plot Summary: Owen Webb, a scholarship student at the prestigious Rockcastle School (a private day school for boys) embarks on an obsessive, dangerous friendship with Carson Bly, the son of a wealthy and absent father.

My Thoughts: All the Castles Burned was such a pleasant surprise for me (because it had not come recommended by someone who had already read the book…i.e. it was a risk that paid off!). It’s a classic coming of age story with some dysfunctional family drama, some “outsider enters the realm of the wealthy” dynamics, a foreboding friendship, a father/son angle, a touch of romance, and basketball. You can feel the tension simmering and you know things will explode at some point. It’s just a matter of when and how. The writing is stellar, especially for a debut, and I highlighted often. While basketball does play a significant role in the story and there is occasional overkill on the details of the game, basketball’s role in the story is similar to baseball’s in The Art of Fielding. I’d recommend this one for fans of Shadow of the Lions (my review) and Unraveling Oliver.

It’s like a part of being a fully formed human didn’t exist in him. […] Or if it was like carving a Halloween pumpkin, cutting and scraping out the inside, only to take a knife and cut a smiling face into the surface and place a lone candle inside to shine that deceptive, grinning light.

Sunburn by Laura LippmanSunburn by Laura Lippman
Mystery / Thriller (Release Date: February 20, 2018)
384 Pages
Affiliate Link: Pre-Order from Amazon
Source: Publisher (William Morrow)

Plot Summary: When Polly and Adam meet at a bar in tiny Belleville, Delaware in the 1990’s each is merely passing through. As they become more enamored with each other, they discover both are keeping secrets.

My Thoughts: For new readers, I’ve had a dicey track record with thrillers lately, but Sunburn is a thriller that I actually liked a lot! But, I was more confident than usual because it was recommended by Annie Jones from From the Front Porch podcast (one of my Go-To Recommendation Sources) and Megan Abbott, one of my few trusted thriller authors. Sunburn is an unconventional love story where essentially everyone is messing with everyone else. There’s not a single character who is 100% likable or trustworthy (take note if dislikable characters tend to bother you!). The first half focuses on peeling back the layers of the characters (i.e. it’s not super fast-paced) and had me wondering who exactly was pulling the strings. Then, the action picks up in the second half. I’m still mulling over whether I buy the ending in the context of these characters, but all in all Sunburn kept me quickly turning the pages even while sick with the flu!

The goal is never the man. Never. Men are the stones she jumps to, one after another, toward the goal.

I'll Be Gone in the Dark by Michelle McNamaraI’ll Be Gone in the Dark by Michelle McNamara
Nonfiction – True Crime (Release Date: February 27, 2018)
352 Pages
Affiliate Link: Pre-Order from Amazon
Source: Publisher (Harper)

Plot Summary: McNamara, previously a true crime writer and blogger at TrueCrimeDiary.com, investigated the unsolved crimes of a 1970’s-80’s serial rapist (approximately 45 rapes per the FBI’s Wanted poster) and murderer (approximately 12 murders per the FBI’s Wanted poster) that she dubbed the Golden State Killer (also known as the EAR for East Area Rapist).

My Thoughts: The best true crime books put themselves on another tier by telling the story in a compelling, engrossing way and avoiding getting bogged down in overly dry details. I’ll Be Gone in the Dark does just that. It’s up there with The Stranger Beside Me (but not quite approaching In Cold Blood) in the true crime genre for me. The story is just as much about McNamara and her investigation as it is about the Golden State Killer, who came to dominate her life before she died unexpectedly while writing this book. Many sections are pieced together from her notes and interview recordings, but it doesn’t destroy the flow of the book at all. In fact, it adds more poignancy to the story. The story of the Golden State Killer is chilling and I found I couldn’t read this book at night…but isn’t that what you want out of true crime?

He attacked in different jurisdictions across California that didn’t always share information or communicate well with each other. By the time DNA testing revealed that crimes previously thought to be unrelated were the work of one man, more than a decade had passed since his last known murder, and his capture wasn’t a priority. He flew under the radar, at large and unidentified.

Skip These

I didn’t finish a single February book I didn’t like (that’s the goal, so yay!), so I’m going to share my DNF’s (aka did not finish) and a few thoughts about each one here.

Great Alone, Glass Forest

The Great Alone
 by Kristin Hannah (February 6, 2018)

I know I’m probably in the minority on this one, but I DNF’d it at 37%. I enjoyed the Alaska setting, but I got kind of bored. And, I was incredibly frustrated with Cora’s decision-making…I couldn’t stomach reading any more of it.

The Glass Forest by Cynthia Swanson (February 6, 2018)
At the 14% mark, this dysfunctional family novel was fine (but no more than that). But, I just kept thinking about other books I was excited to read. I’ll pick it up again if any of my Go-To Recommendation Sources say it’s awesome.

What have been your favorite February 2018 books?

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12 Unconventional Love Stories for Readers Who Don’t Like Romance

February 13, 2018 Book Lists 39

Unconventional Love Stories

So…Valentine’s Day is actually one of my least favorite holidays. I feel pressure to participate in the cheesiness even though cheesy feels so uncomfortable to me. Luckily, my husband isn’t really into Valentine’s Day either.

Since it’s almost the big red day, you’re probably seeing lots of lists of “the best romances, etc” around the bookish internet. Here’s what bugs me about traditional “romances.” The predictable (no matter how unrealistic) happy endings, the cheesy dialogue, the equally cheesily written love scenes. Shall I go on? I promise, you won’t find those elements in these unconventional love stories. Most readers probably wouldn’t even call these love stories. But, I do and they’re the kind I prefer.

This post contains affiliate links (plus: here’s your Amazon Smile-specific affiliate link).
Linking up with Top Ten Tuesday hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl

12 Unconventional Love Stories for Readers Who Don’t Like Romance

All the Ugly and Wonderful Things by Bryn Greenwood (my review)
Some would call this love story horrifying. I definitely did at times. But, it’s also different than anything I’ve ever read and Greenwood makes you question what you thought were your rock solid convictions.

Affiliate Link: Buy from Amazon

An American Marriage by Tayari Jones (my review)
What happens to a love story when a husband of only a year and a half goes to prison? Oprah sure wants her book club members to find out!

Affiliate Link: Buy from Amazon

Dark Matter by Blake Crouch (my review)
Most people probably wouldn’t consider this sci-fi page turner a love story. But, ultimately, Jason is fighting tooth and nail to be with his wife and child…his idea of home.

Affiliate Link: Buy from Amazon

Mothering Sunday by Graham Swift (my review)
An illicit affair between a British heir and his neighbor’s maid. It definitely doesn’t have a happy ending, but I finished the book completely satisfied.

Affiliate Link: Buy from Amazon

Our Souls at Night by Kent Haruf (my review)
Two older people (Louis and Addie) stop caring what everyone else thinks and do what they need to do to be happy. It’s sort of like they read The Life-Changing Magic of Not Giving a F*ck by Sarah Knight.

Affiliate Link: Buy from Amazon

Sunburn by Laura Lippman
A love story where the two lovebirds are totally messing with each other and you have no idea who will come out on top.

Affiliate Link: Pre-Order from Amazon

Sweetbitter by Stephanie Danler (my review)
This is the kind of love story that many of us had in our youth (especially if you lived in NYC) and look back on with horror. We wish we would’ve been stronger, smarter, and valued ourselves more. It’s raw and most definitely not sweet.

Affiliate Link: Buy from Amazon

Tender by Belinda McKeon (my review)
A story of friendship, unrequited love, desperation and obsession. This one will make you uncomfortable…I was cringing often.

Affiliate Link: Buy from Amazon

The Roanoke Girls by Amy Engel (my review)
Probably the most F’d up love story you’ll ever read (with a love story you can actually root for buried amid the horror)…starring a supremely dysfunctional family.

Affiliate Link: Buy from Amazon

The Rules of Magicby Alice Hoffman
Love permeates this story about family and magic. Can the Owens children find love? Should they? 

Affiliate Link: Buy from Amazon

The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugoby Taylor Jenkins Reid (my review)
The true love story of this book isn’t the one you think it will be.

Affiliate Link: Buy from Amazon

White Fur by Jardine Libaire (my review)
A classic “wrong side of the tracks” love story…told in a raw, gritty, edgy, and uncomfortable way.

Affiliate Link: Buy from Amazon 

How do you feel about romances? Do you prefer the traditional or unconventional type?

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