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

July 1, 2017 Book Recommendations 8

Book of the Month Club July 2017 selections

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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.

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

Unlike last month, I’m excited about a number of the July selections! I’ve already read two and really liked one of those! Plus, two other picks are on my TBR list.

Book of the Month Club July 2017 Selections

Final Girls by Riley SagerFinal Girls by Riley Sager (Release Date: July 11, 2017)
352 Pages
Average Goodreads Rating: 4.09
Selected By: Liberty Hardy (co-host of Book Riot‘s All the Books podcast)

Ten years ago, college student Quincy Carpenter went on vacation with five friends and came back alone, the only survivor of a horror movie–scale massacre. In an instant, she became a member of a club no one wants to belong to—a group of similar survivors known in the press as the Final Girls.

My Thoughts:
Stephen King called this “the first great thriller of 2017,” but he also compared it to Gone Girl, which is somewhat irritating (because this comparison is egregiously overused). I just finished it and thought it was kind of “meh” (2 stars). Renee at It’s Book Talk (a blogger whose taste I often agree with) had trouble believing in the story and I agree. It was one of those endings that jumped the shark and I had some issues with Quincy’s decision-making along the way. On the flip side, the generally tough Kirkus gave it a starred review and called Sager “a fresh voice in psychological suspense.” I should also probably note that I tend to have trouble with thrillers in general. 

American Fire by Monica HesseAmerican Fire by Monica Hesse (Release Date: July 11, 2017)
288 Pages
Average Goodreads Rating: 4.09
Selected By: Elizabeth Kiefer (Books & Senior Features Editor, Refinery 29)

Though it’s hard to believe today, one hundred years ago Accomack was the richest rural county in the nation. Slowly it’s been drained of its industry—agriculture—as well as its wealth and population. In an already remote region, limited employment options offer little in the way of opportunity. A mesmerizing and crucial panorama with nationwide implications, American Fire asks what happens when a community gets left behind. Hesse brings to life the Eastern Shore and its inhabitants, battling a punishing economy and increasingly terrified by a string of fires they could not explain. The result evokes the soul of rural America—a land half gutted before the fires even began.

My Thoughts:
I’ve had this nonfiction on my TBR list ever since Annie Jones from From the Front Porch podcast recommended it and called it a combination of In Cold Blood and Hillbilly Elegy, both of which are completely up my alley. Plus, Annie has steered me right twice recently with Rabbit Cake and Standard Deviation. I’m also hearing American Fire has a page-turner feel, which is somewhat rare for nonfiction. Kirkus gave it a starred review and called it a “true crime saga that works in every respect.” I’ll definitely be reading American Fire this month!

The Child by Fiona BartonThe Child by Fiona Barton (Released: June 27, 2017)
384 Pages
Average Goodreads Rating: 4.05
Selected By: Cristina Arreola (Bustle Books Editor)

As an old house is demolished in a gentrifying section of London, a workman discovers a tiny skeleton, buried for years. For journalist Kate Waters, it s a story that deserves attention. She cobbles together a piece for her newspaper, but at a loss for answers, she can only pose a question: Who is the Building Site Baby?

My Thoughts:
The Child is a psychological thriller by the author of The Widow (a New York Times bestseller). As you may know, this is not my go-to genre. But, if it is yours, The Child has been getting some good reviews. Author Lee Child said it is “tense, tantalizing, and ultimately very satisfying…definitely one of the year’s must-reads.” Publisher’s Weekly gave it a starred review and cautioned readers that they would be rewarded for patience with the early slow pace with “a stunning, emotionally satisfying conclusion.” And, it’s received the obligatory comparisons to Gone Girl and The Girl on the Train that get applied to virtually every psychological thriller published over the last few years. My tip to you: take these comparisons with a grain of salt. 

The Windfall by Diksha BasuThe Windfall by Diksha Basu (Released: June 27, 2017)
304 Pages
Average Goodreads Rating: 3.76
Selected By: Rachel Syme (Writer, Editor, soon to be Random House-published author)

A heartfelt comedy of manners for readers of Seating Arrangements and Crazy Rich Asians, Diksha Basu’s debut novel unfolds the story of a family discovering what it means to be nouveau riche in modern India. 

My Thoughts:
The Windfall is a unique spin on the fun “wealthy people behaving badly” category. Catherine at Gilmore Guide to Books (who I trust implicitly about these types of books) gave it 4 stars and called it the “Indian version of the Clampetts as they head to Beverly Hills with their oil money.” She also said it “strikes the perfect balance between humor and tenderness, blending compassion with comedy.” I’ve read the first 20 pages and am intrigued so far! This one should be your pick if you’re looking for a fun beach read!

Goodbye Vitamin by Rachel KhongGoodbye, Vitamin by Rachel Khong (Release Date: July 11, 2017)
208 Pages
Average Goodreads Rating: 4.15
Selected By: Isaac Fitzgerald (Books Editor at Buzzfeed Books)

A young woman (Ruth) returns home to care for her failing father in this fine, funny, and inescapably touching debut, from an affecting and wonderfully original new literary voice.

My Thoughts:
I’ve read this book and really liked it (4 stars)…it’s sweet, heart-warming, honest, and funny! Though it’s about a sad and serious topic, it has a lightness to it. The story is told through Ruth’s journal entries that read like little vignettes. And, I absolutely adored Ruth’s endearing, witty, and relatable voice. This is a book that could possibly get overlooked (but shouldn’t!) because it’s appeal is in the intangibles. It was also one of Buzzfeed‘s 22 Exciting New Books You Need to Read This Summer.

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

I’m going to take the easy way out this month because I truly am really excited about multiple selections…and they’re so different from each other!

My choice(s) this month would be:

Make your Book of the Month Club selections by Thursday, July 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

Special July Deal:
Finally, we’re giving away our sturdy canvas tote to anyone who signs up for two months (or more) and uses code: TOTALLY at checkout. 

*All book descriptions are from Goodreads.

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June 2017 Monthly Round-Up

June 29, 2017 Monthly Round-Ups 15

June 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.

June Reading / Life

  • After an amazing month of reading in May (with 3 favorite books of the month), June was definitely slumpy for me in quality and quantity. I read 10 books, but a few of them were only around 200 pages long, so I feel like I sort of cheated.
  • I also had 4 DNF’s…which always makes a slump seem slumpier.
  • Both my favorite books of the month involved astute commentary about marriage…one fiction (Standard Deviation) and one non (Lots of Candles, Plenty of Cake). And, a third book about marriage (Small Hours) didn’t measure up.
  • Anna Quindlen brought me twice the love this month with One True Thing.
  • I read two thrillers this month (shocking for me!)…one winner (Since We Fell) and one loser (Final Girls).
  • A couple slim July releases (What We Lose and Goodbye, Vitamin) definitely helped my June book count! Too bad only one was a winner.
  • And, The Skies Belong to Us (somewhat interesting at times, but I kept zoning out) and My Year of Running Dangerously (sweet and engaging story about a father and daughter training for a marathon together) rounded out my audiobooks.
  • My free trial of my personalized book recommendation service ended on Father’s Day and fulfilled 75 recommendation requests! I couldn’t have been happier with how many people participated and am getting the feedback survey results in now. Once I analyze the survey results and think through next steps, I’ll share everything I learned in a blog post. Many thanks to everyone who participated!
  • Look for my commentary on the July Book of the Month Club selections on Saturday. Sneak peek: I’ve already read two of the selections and, unlike last month, am really excited about this month’s picks!

Best Books of the Month

My Favorite Book(s) of the Month

Lots of Candles, Plenty of Cake by Anna Quindlen (April 24, 2012)
Nonfiction – Memoir, 182 Pages
Affiliate Link: Buy from Amazon

Standard Deviation by Katherine Heiny (May 23, 2017)
Fiction, 336 Pages
Affiliate Link: Buy from Amazon 

PS – last year’s Best Book of June was Dear Fang, With Love by Rufi Thorpe (my review)!

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

Dead Letters by Caite Dolan-Leach (my review), which continues to take this category month after month.

July Releases I’m Excited About

Goodbye, Vitamin by Rachel Khong (July 11)
American Fire by Monica Hesse (July 11)
Tornado Weather by Deborah E. Kennedy (July 11)
Careers for Women by Joanna Scott (July 25)

Most Popular Posts

Posts Actually Published in June
Best Books of 2017 So Far
3 More Books That Are Perfect for Summer Reading: Beartown, Since We Fell, Standard Deviation
Book of the Month Club June 2017 Selections: What Would I Choose?

Overall Posts
2017 Summer Reading Guide
Book Club Recommendations

Behind Her Eyes and THAT Ending: Spoiler Discussion

Favorite Posts by Fellow Bloggers

And, next month I need to be better about keeping track of posts I love…big fail for me this month!

How was your reading month?

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Best Books of 2017 So Far

June 27, 2017 Annual "Best Books" Lists 23

Can you believe it’s already time for the Best Books of 2017 So Far?!

Last year, 60% of the books on my June Best Books of 2016 So Far list ended up on my overall favorite books of 2016 list. Which, based on the massive reading slump I had during the first few months of last year, is kind of shocking.

I don’t feel like the beginning of this year has been as slumpy as last year, so we’ll have to see how many of this year’s halftime crop make it to the finish line…

Hosted by The Broke and The Bookish.

This post contains affiliate links.

 Best Books of 2017 So Far

All Grown Up by Jami Attenberg (my review)
The book that definitely isn’t for everyone, but was for me…

Based on a True Story by Delphine de Vigan (Spoiler Discussion)
The book that totally messed with my head…

Beartown by Fredrik Backman (my review)
Started to fill the empty hole Friday Night Lights left in me…

Dead Letters by Caite Dolan-Leach (my review)
The book I’ve been recommending to absolutely everyone and the top seller via my affiliate links…

If We Were Villains by M.L. Rio (my review)
The dark, campus novel I’d been searching for ever since loving Black Chalk

The Stranger in the Woods by Michael Finkel (my review)
Best nonfiction of the year so far…and best audiobook.

The Wanderers by Meg Howrey (my review)
The psychology of going to Mars…and the most unique book I’ve read all year…

This Is How It Always Is by Laurie Frankel (my review)
Had me feeling a full range of emotions…

Trophy Son by Douglas Brunt (my review)
A new addition to my Best of the Brain Candy list and the first of my two winning sports novels this year…

White Fur by Jardine Libaire (my review)
The most gorgeous writing of the year so far…and a love story I actually enjoyed!

What are your favorite books so far this year?

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What I’m Reading Now (6/26/17)

June 26, 2017 It's Monday! What are you reading? 27

I actually finished two books and one audiobook last week…I’m shocked! I’m sure it’s because my kids finally finished school for the year and because both books were only around 200 pages. And, the audiobook I finished was My Year of Running Dangerously by Tom Foreman, which I really enjoyed!

I went to the doctor for my back and hip pain and will be getting an MRI this week. The good news is she didn’t think it was disc related. The bad news is she thinks I might have a tear or a strain in my glute connectors/attachments, which can also cause pain in the lower back area. We’ll see what the MRI says, but in the meantime, no running or swimming. I can ride my bike and do strength training, though…silver linings!

Hosted by The Book Date.

This post contains affiliate links.

I finished reading…

What We Lose by Zinzi Clemmons, Goodbye Vitamin by Rachel Khong

What We Lose
 by Zinzi Clemmons (July 11, 2017)

There were flashes of brilliance in this debut novel, but it was overall really jumpy and I had trouble getting into it. Mini review to come.

Goodbye, Vitamin by Rachel Khong (July 11, 2017)
A sweet novel about a young girl who goes home to help take care of her Dad, who is suffering from Alzheimer’s. I adored Ruth’s (the narrator and main character) voice! Mini review to come.
Affiliate Link: Buy from Amazon

I’m currently reading…

Final Girls by Riley Sager

Final Girls by Riley Sager
 (July 11, 2017)
Y’all know I’m skittish about thrillers, but Stephen King called this one “the first great thriller of 2017.” So, I’m giving it a shot. However, he also said you’d like this if you liked Gone Girl, which caused me to immediately lose a tiny bit of respect for him. Mr. King, you are too good to stoop to a Gone Girl comparison! 

I tried, but wasn’t feeling…

Outer Cape by Patrick Dacey, Who is Rich by Matthew Klam

The Outer Cape
 by Patrick Dacey
 (June 27, 2017)
DNF at 16%. One of the main characters is just insufferable and I couldn’t deal any longer…even though dislikable characters don’t generally bother me.

Who Is Rich? by Matthew Klam (July 4, 2017)
DNF at 5%. Meg Wolitzer (who I adore) called this novel “funny, dark, big, and bold,” but there was a massive rundown of characters right out of the gates and I got bored. However, given Wolitzer’s endorsement, I’d be willing to give this one another shot if another blogger I trust likes it.

Upcoming reading plans…

Unless one of my library holds comes in…

Tornado Weather by Deborah Kennedy

Tornado Weather
 by Deborah E. Kennedy
 (July 11, 2017)
This debut novel about a young girl who goes missing in a small town has been compared to Everything I Never Told You, which I loved. It sounds like it could be one of those books that includes a crime, but
the story is about much more than the crime, which I also love. 

I was reading…

One Year Ago: I read a disappointing book by an author whose previous book I loved.

Two Years Ago: I was on vacation and not writing blog posts!

How was your reading week?

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3 More Books That Are Perfect for Summer Reading: Beartown, Standard Deviation, Since We Fell

June 22, 2017 Book Lists 18

When I originally posted my 2017 Summer Reading Guide, I said I’d be adding more books that are perfect for summer reading to that list throughout the summer. Well, here’s the first installment of add-ons! And, they are GOOD.

BeartownBeartown by Fredrik Backman by Fredrick Backman
Fiction – Sports (
Released April 25, 2017)
432 Pages
Affiliate Link: Buy from Amazon
Source: Library (Simon & Schuster)

Plot Summary: While small, down and out Beartown goes crazy over its youth ice hockey team’s run in the Swedish national tournament, something explosive happens to throw the town’s and team’s hopes into jeopardy.

My Thoughts: I was hesitant to read Beartown because I abandoned Backman’s smash hit, A Man Called Ove, pretty early on. But, Beartown is an entirely different story and is one of my favorite books of the year so far! Beartown has been compared to Friday Night Lights, which is accurate in that this is a story of a town who’s hopes are declining every day and whose youth sports team is really the only thing it’s residents have to be proud of. Backman makes you feel the core emotions of sports…what makes something that can seem frivolous mean so much to some people.

It’s only a game. It only 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.

Like Friday Night LightsBeartown is far more than just sports fiction. It’s about high school, marriage, intense pressure on young children, bullying, class, and violence. The first paragraph smacked me in the face and I was fully engrossed until the very end. It’s a book you can fly through…I couldn’t stop turning the pages even though I easily guessed the what and who of what happened (thanks to a super spoiler-y comparison a major book blogger made to another book…GRR). Beartown would make a fantastic summer reading book and is jam packed with discussion material for book clubs.

Since We Fell by Dennis LehaneSince We Fell by Dennis Lehane
Fiction – Thriller (
Released May 9, 2017)
432 Pages
Affiliate Link: Buy from Amazon
Source: Library (Ecco)

Plot Summary: After a traumatic experience as a broadcast journalist covering the earthquake in Haiti, Rachel becomes a recluse despite her happy marriage…until she begins to question everything about her life and is sucked into something far bigger than she ever imagined.

My Thoughts: Since We Fell is the first psychological thriller I’ve enjoyed in ages! Maybe that’s because it reads more like character-driven fiction, especially in the first half. The twists do hit like an avalanche eventually…there’s just a solid set-up to make you care about the characters first. And, those twists all surprised me, yet made sense with the story, which is the number one criteria that a thriller must have for me to enjoy it…and where most thrillers fall apart for me. Since We Fell is a thriller for people who have been frustrated with psychological thrillers lately…and, if this isn’t enough, check out this first line:

On a Tuesday in May, in her thirty-fifth year, Rachel shot her husband dead. He stumbled backward with an odd look of confirmation on his face, as if some part of him had always known she’d do it.

Standard Deviation by Katherine HeinyStandard Deviation by Katherine Heiny
Fiction (
Released May 23, 2017)
336 Pages
Affiliate Link: Buy from Amazon
Source: Purchased (Knopf)

Plot Summary: When Graham and his bubbly second wife (Audra) become friends with Graham’s introverted first wife (Elspeth), Graham begins to ponder the state of his marriage and his family (including a ten year old son with Asberger’s).

My Thoughts: Standard Deviation is one of those novels where not a ton happens, but the “yes, that’s exactly how it is” writing and spot-on commentary about marriage, introverts and extraverts, and parenting carry the story. It’s an honest rumination on a not perfect, but not completely dysfunctional marriage. Though Graham and Audra certainly have their issues, there is a clear love for each other that was a nice change of pace from my usual fare of stratospherically dysfunctional marriages/families. I loved Graham’s (who narrated the book) salty, dry sense of humor and the way he honestly addressed the aspects of marriage and parenting that it’s socially expected of people to always portray as unicorns and rainbows.

Graham didn’t admit this to anyone, even Audra, but part of him was secretly pleased that Matthew had been caught looking at porn on a school computer. Wasn’t that—wasn’t that something normal kids did?

Audra is a massive chatterbox and someone who I don’t think I could be friends with in real life, but her total lack of filter made her amusing to read about. The collision between Audra’s extraversion (she constantly invites random people over for dinner and to stay as houseguests in their NY apartment) and Graham’s introversion, as well as Matthew’s Asberger’s, added a bit more intrigue to the story. My only complaint was an overly abrupt ending that will probably irritate some people. If you like straight talk about marriage, this book is for you!

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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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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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