Tag: It’s Monday! What Are You Reading?

It’s Monday, What Are You Reading? (3/27/17)

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

After the stumbling block of two weeks ago, my reading is now back on track in a big way. I absolutely adored the book I read last week and have had back-to-back fantastic audiobooks. I never talk much about the audiobooks I listen to because I find that listening to them with the intent to review makes me enjoy them less, but I do occasionally mention them if they really wow me. So, you’re getting a couple of those this week.

My son’s and my March Madness brackets fell apart a bit yesterday. The only team we have left alive is Gonzaga. It was a good run while it lasted!

Hosted by The Book Date.

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I finished reading…

The Wanderers, The Strange in the Woods

The Wanderers by Meg Howrey (March 14, 2017)
I absolutely loved this book…it’s one of my favorites so far this year. It’s been compared to Station Eleven and The Martian, but I think it’s closest to being a much more subtle and philosophical version of The Martian. Review to come.
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The Stranger in the Woods by Michael Finkel (March 7, 2017)
This is story of “the last true hermit” is the best audiobook I’ve listened to this year. It’s strange, yet captivating and is perfect for fans of Jon Krakauer (particularly Into the Wild) and Quiet by Susan Cain (yes, I realize this is an odd pair of comparisons). It will make an appearance on my 2017 Summer Reading Guide for sure!

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I’m currently reading…

The Twelve Lives of Samuel Hawley, What I Talk About When I Talk About Running

The Twelve Lives of Samuel Hawley by Hannah Tinti (March 28, 2017)
I’m about 25% through this literary thriller/coming of age novel and I like it, but it’s not blowing my mind at this point. I do feel invested in the characters, though, so am looking forward to seeing what happens to them.

What I Talk about When I Talk about Running by Haruki Murakami (July 29, 2008)
I’d been hearing about this memoir from the Japanese literary sensation (author of 1Q84) for years, but a chapter in Will Schwalbe’s Books for Living was what really got me interested in it. It’s about long distance running (duh), writing, solitude, triathlons, and changing the way you live your life. I adore it.

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Upcoming reading plans…

I should probably get started on April releases, but this book I’ve had my eye on for months just came in from the library!

Lillian Boxfish Takes a Walk, Kathleen Rooney


Lillian Boxfish Takes a Walk
 by Kathleen Rooney (January 17, 2017)
I’m hoping this story about an 85 year-old woman who reflects on her life as she takes a walk around Manhattan in 1984 will be a new addition to my badass ladies reading category.

I was reading…

One Year Ago: I’d just finished The Nest and was starting a couple blah books.

Two Years Ago: I was reading potential books for my 2015 Summer Reading Guide.

How was your reading week?

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It’s Monday, What Are You Reading? (3/20/17)

March 20, 2017 It's Monday! What are you reading? 28

Hosted by The Book Date.

My late February / early March reading streak has finally hit a roadblock. And, a book by an author who has only ever received 5 stars from me did it. Couldn’t be more shocked.

It’s been a big basketball week in our house. This is the first year my son has cared about March Madness (or basketball at all)…but, he’s now obsessed. He did his own bracket in my husband’s office pool and helped me with my picks (he correctly picked the Villanova AND Louisville upsets and so far has me leading The Ladies Bracket with my high school buds for the first time ever!).

I’d also like to thank Julianne from Outlandish Lit for very thoughtfully helping me tweak my social media follow buttons. I’m old (in tech expertise terms) and don’t know much about coding, so I was so relieved to get some help from someone in the know. I now have links to my Pinterest and Instagram accounts on the blog, so follow me over there! Also, check out Julianne’s blog, Outlandish Lit, if you haven’t already!

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I finished reading…

The Rules Do Not Apply, The Hearts of Men 

The Rules Do Not Apply by Ariel Levy (March 14, 2017)
I really enjoyed this raw, brutally honest memoir. It’s been marketed as “for fans of Cheryl Strayed,” which is a pretty unattainable bar, but the comparison in this case is not entirely unfounded.

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The Hearts of Men by Nickolas Butler (March 7, 2017)
I had high hopes for Butler’s third book after loving Shotgun Lovesongs and Beneath the Bonfire. Sadly, I couldn’t connect to these characters and there were a lot of seemingly random elements that never came together into a coherent whole for me.

I’m currently reading…

The Wanderers, Meg Howrey


The Wanderers
 by Meg Howrey (March 14, 2017)
I’m about 25% through this novel about a group of astronauts training for the first mission to Mars. It’s been billed as “Station Eleven meets The Martian” (both books I loved) and, so far, is the most unique book I’ve read all year. I’m loving it even though I don’t have any special interest in space.
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I tried, but wasn’t feeling…

The Arrangement, Sarah Dunn


The Arrangement by Sarah Dunn (March 21, 2017)
I was looking for a fun read to include in my Summer Reading Guide, but only made it 10% through this story about a couple who tries an open marriage before getting annoyed with the characters and turned off by the hints of Liane Moriarty-esque Mommy politics.

Upcoming reading plans…

Twelve Lives of Samuel Hawley


The Twelve Lives of Samuel Hawley
 by Hannah Tinti (March 28, 2017)
This story about a father and a daughter, which has been billed as a literary thriller and a coming of age novel, has been getting some pre-publication buzz and sounds right up my alley.

I was reading…

One Year Ago: An online defensive driving course was seriously cutting into my reading time.

Two Years Ago: Not loving Hausfrau put me in the minority.

How was your reading week?

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It’s Monday, What Are You Reading? (3/13/17)

March 13, 2017 It's Monday! What are you reading? 29

Hosted by The Book Date.

I spent last week trying to settle down and get our household in order following a rough week. Thankfully, my heart rate is finally settling into a non-racing pace and my hot reading streak continues.

I’m continuing to rehab my injured back and was thrilled to finally be able to go for a couple very slow and short jogs last week. Baby steps, ya’ll. Weirdly, I discovered the treadmill is much harder on my back than running outdoors. If anyone has any actual insight into this, I’d love to hear it! And, my foam roller and Jasyoga “Lower Back Love” video have both continued to be my best friends (in addition to my Physical Therapist, of course).

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I finished reading…

The Woman Next Door, The Fall of Lisa Bellow


The Woman Next Door
 by Yewande Omotoso (February 7, 2017)

I was so pleasantly surprised by this novel! It started out with a dose of snarky humor and ended on a more introspective note. And, it was a more substantial book than I’d expected going in.
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The Fall of Lisa Bellow by Susan Perabo (March 14, 2017)
I liked Perabo’s first full length novel, but not as much as I loved her short story collection, Why They Run the Way They Do (my review). I’ll warn anyone thinking about reading it that the publisher’s blurb creates unrealistic expectations (shocker!) by calling it “suspenseful.” The suspense is more in the emotional sense rather than the page-turning sense…as the story focuses on the psychological impact of being the one left behind in an abduction on a middle school girl and her family.
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I’m currently reading…

The Rules Do Not Apply, Ariel Levy


The Rules Do Not Apply by Ariel Levy (March 14, 2017)
I’m just over halfway through this memoir by a staff writer at The New Yorker (who also happens to originally be from my town). I love her voice and this woman has lived quite an interesting life.
Affiliate Link: Buy from Amazon

Upcoming reading plans…

The Hearts of Men, Nickolas Butler


The Hearts of Men by Nickolas Butler (March 7, 2017)
Prior to The Hearts of Men, Nickolas Butler had published two books in his career (Shotgun Lovesongs, Beneath the Bonfire) and I rated both 5 stars. He’s one of my rising stars to watch who could end up becoming an all-time favorite author. I’m hoping his latest novel about two boys that become friends at Boy Scout camp continues the 5 star streak.

I was reading…

One Year Ago: I didn’t love a book that ended up becoming a critical darling.

Two Years Ago: I was reading one of my favorite books of 2015 and one I’m still recommending often.

How was your reading week?

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It’s Monday, What Are You Reading? (3/6/17)

March 6, 2017 It's Monday! What are you reading? 18

Hosted by The Book Date.

I followed up one dysfunctional family with an even more dysfunctional one in last week’s reading…then moved on to dysfunctional neighbors. But, my sizzling reading streak is still going strong…fingers crossed it continues!

If you’re interested in signing up for Book of the Month Club, the March selections are fantastic (they include 2 of my favorite books I read in February)! Selections are due TODAY at 7 pm EST.

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I finished reading…

The Roanoke Girls, Amy Engel


The Roanoke Girls by Amy Engel (March 7, 2017)
This is the kind of book that I was almost embarrassed to be reading, but also could not put down. The premise is a bit preposterous, but I had to find out what was going to happen with quite possibly the most demented family I’ve come across in fiction (and that’s saying a lot). PS – that premise is super creepy and could be a huge turn-off for some people.
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I’m currently reading…

Woman Next Door, Yewande Omotoso


The Woman Next Door by Yewande Omotoso (February 7, 2017)
I’m 65% through this U.S. debut novel about two next door neighbors in South Africa that hate each other and it’s full of the snarky humor I love.
Affiliate Link: Buy from Amazon

Upcoming reading plans…

Fall of Lisa Bellow, Susan Perabo


The Fall of Lisa Bellow
 by Susan Perabo (March 14, 2017)
I loved Susan Perabo’s short story collection, Why They Run the Way They Do (my review), and have been anticipating her debut novel. It’s about the girl who is left behind when a classmate is abducted.

I was reading…

One Year Ago: Pat Conroy had just passed away and I’d fittingly just finished reading another Southern novel.

Two Years Ago: I was trying to cover from A Little Life with a YA novel (it didn’t work).

How was your reading week?

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It’s Monday, What Are You Reading? (2/27/17)

February 27, 2017 It's Monday! What are you reading? 43

Hosted by The Book Date.

Last week’s reading was filled with super high highs and frustrating lows. I loved the one book I finished and am LOVING my current read. But, I also had two DNF’s, one of which was The Barrowfields, which I mentioned in last week’s update that I had put down, but was considering revisiting. Well, I didn’t and have now moved on.

I was also visiting family last week since my kids were off from school and we had a lot going on, so I didn’t fit in as much time with my current book as I would’ve liked. Back to our routine this week.

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I finished reading…

All Grown Up, Jami Attenberg


All Grown Up by Jami Attenberg (March 7, 2017)
I loved this tiny novel about a single woman in her upper thirties living in NYC for it’s truth-telling, salty writing, and gallows humor, but I don’t think it’s necessarily for everyone. It’s really different from her last novel, Saint Mazie (my review). More to come in an upcoming post.
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I’m currently reading…

Dead Letters, Caite Dolan-Leach


Dead Letters by Caite Dolan-Leach (February 21, 2017)
Ya’ll, read this book ASAP!! Or save it for your beach trip because it’s perfect for that too! I’m not quite done yet (75%), but am absolutely loving Dead Letters. It has everything – a great plot, a dysfunctional family, a mystery, great writing, and depth. It’s one of those rare novels that I can see myself recommending to absolutely everyone! And a huge thanks to Catherine at Gilmore Guide for putting this novel on my radar…because I hadn’t heard a thing about it before she told me I must read it.

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I tried, but wasn’t feeling…

What You Don't Know, Joann Chaney


What You Don’t Know
 by Joann Chaney (March 7, 2017)
I took a chance on this thriller because Liberty Hardy recommended it on a recent All the Books podcast episode. Unfortunately, I couldn’t get past the cheesy writing and dynamic between the two members of the detective team.

Upcoming reading plans…

The Roanoke Girls, Amy Engel


The Roanoke Girls
 by Amy Engel (March 7, 2017)
I heard this dysfunctional family story possibly takes dysfunction to an entirely new level. Which is hard to do with me. We’ll see.

I was reading…

One Year Ago: I was having a reading hangover following Tender.

Two Years Ago: I was reading one of my favorite books of 2015 (and a massive critical darling).

How was your reading week?

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It’s Monday, What Are You Reading? (2/20/17)

February 20, 2017 It's Monday! What are you reading? 33

Hosted by The Book Date.

Last week was a busy one! I attended Georgia Hunter’s launch event in NYC for her gorgeous debut novel, We Were the Lucky Ones. She discussed the book with Thomas Kail, the director of Hamilton, and tons of her family members were in attendance. I met the son of Genek, who was the Kurc brother that spent time in a Siberian labor camp. And, he was charming!

On the reading front, I’m already digging into March releases, because there are a gazillion March books I’m dying to read. I also posted my spoiler discussion of Behind Her Eyes, specifically focusing on the ending (#WTFthatending).

Finally, I threw out my back last Sunday and have been in physical therapy all week. I’m not able to work out normally and won’t be for at least another two weeks. My regular blog readers can probably guess this is driving me crazy! Luckily, my PT does involve some things that can be called “working out” and I was psyched to wake up on Saturday morning a bit sore from Friday’s PT. Needless to say, my foam roller is coming in quite handy! 

The silver lining of this injury is that’s it’s made me truly appreciate having the ability to stay active and particularly to do that outdoors whenever possible. Sometimes it takes (temporarily) losing something to truly appreciate the joy it brings you.

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I finished reading…

A Separation, Katie Mitamura


A Separation
 by Katie Kitamura (February 7, 2017)
I really loved this dark story about a marriage. However, I don’t think it’s for everyone. Despite The Millions saying it’s “poised to be the literary Gone Girl of 2017,” it is not a plot-based story. In fact, this might be the most egregious Gone Girl comparison I’ve seen yet…which does nothing but turn off this book’s ideal reader and attract, but ultimately disappoint, the wrong one! If you love dark stories driven by the writing and emotional tension, then I highly recommend you give this one a try.
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I’m currently reading…

All Grown Up, The Barrowfields


All Grown Up
 by Jami Attenberg (March 7, 2017)
I’m 70% through this story of a single woman in her upper thirties living in NYC is one of the winter 2017 books I was most anticipating. It’s darkly humorous and I can somewhat relate to Andrea’s situation of being single in NYC (something I was in my mid-upper twenties). It’s really different from her last novel, Saint Mazie (my review).

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The Barrowfields by Phillip Lewis (March 7, 2017)
I was hoping this debut Southern coming of age story would be this year’s My Sunshine Away (my review) or Only Love Can Break Your Heart (my review), but I was a bit bored through the first 40%. I’ve temporarily put it aside to read All Grown Up, but plan to give it one more shot (since the reviews are generally positive) before moving on for good.

I tried, but wasn’t feeling…

Everything Belongs to Us, Yoojin Grace Wuertz


Everything Belongs to Us by Yoojin Grace Wuertz (February 28, 2017)
I honestly didn’t make it very far with this one (5%). I kept zoning out and had heard some less than stellar reviews recently, which didn’t give me much motivation to keep pushing.

Upcoming reading plans…

What You Don't Know, Joann Chaney


What You Don’t Know
 by Joann Chaney (March 7, 2017)
I’m really craving a fantastic thriller (Behind Her Eyes did not fill this void), so I paid attention when Liberty Hardy recommended this debut about a Denver serial killer on a recent All the Books podcast episode.

I was reading…

One Year Ago: One of my favorite books of 2016!

Two Years Ago: The only Erik Larson book I’ve ever been disappointed with.

How was your reading week?

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It’s Monday, What Are You Reading? (2/13/17)

February 13, 2017 It's Monday! What are you reading? 56

Hosted by The Book Date.

I think I’m getting my reading mojo back! I branched way out of my comfort zone last week with two genres I don’t normally read: psychological thrillers and sci-fi. Both were page turners and set me up nicely to return to something more in my comfort zone. I guess it pays to shake things up sometimes!

Also, my husband and I took a night away from the kids last weekend, which is always much appreciated and provided some good reading time in the hotel spa’s relaxation room.

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I finished reading…

Behind Her Eyes, Dark Matter


Behind Her Eyes by Sarah Pinborough (January 31, 2017)

I’ve been somewhat burned out by the psychological thriller genre and this book reminded me why. And – #WTFthatending is definitely a love it or hate it kind of thing. I’ll be sharing all my thoughts in an upcoming Spoiler Discussion post.
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Dark Matter by Black Crouch (July 26, 2016)
This was a library hold that unexpectedly came in…which is proving to be a good way to force myself to read the 2016 Books I Missed (this is the 4th book I’ve read from that list so far). Man, was this a page turner. It was completely out of my usual wheelhouse (I guess it’s technically sci-fi, but in the same accessible way The Martian is) and I had no idea what was going on for awhile, but not one bone in my body wanted to stop turning the pages.
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I’m currently reading…

A Separation, Katie Mitamura


A Separation
 by Katie Kitamura (February 7, 2017)
I’m about 25% through this one and had lowered my expectations after reading some underwhelming Amazon reviews. But, I immediately loved the writing style and tone. I think this one will work for me…despite those haters on Amazon.

Upcoming reading plans…

Everything Belongs to Us, Yoojin Grace Wuertz


Everything Belongs to Us by Yoojin Grace Wuertz (February 28, 2017)
This debut novel about two South Korean women navigating their country’s economic revolution has been recommended for readers of Anthony Marra (author of The Tsar of Love and Techno).

I was reading…

One Year Ago: I was trying desperately to get out of a reading slump.

Two Years Ago: I was reading some just-OK books, but was about to pick up a massive winner!

How was your reading week?

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It’s Monday, What Are You Reading? (2/6/17)

February 6, 2017 It's Monday! What are you reading? 39

Hosted by The Book Date.

I had a great reading week last week with the first 2017 release that really blew me away! I’ve been waiting for this and the particular book that did it came out of left field.

I also had some library holds come in: The Unwinding by George Packer on audio (how am I going to finish an 18 hour audiobook in 2 weeks?!) and Human Acts by Han Kang (which I tried after finishing This Is How It Always Is, but the timing wasn’t right…I may get back to it).

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I finished reading…

This Is How It Always Is, Laurie Frankel


This Is How It Always Is
 by Laurie Frankel (January 24, 2017)

My favorite book of 2017 so far! This story of a family of five boys, the youngest of which knows he wants to be a girl at a very young age, had me feeling every possible emotion. Plus, it’s the best book club selection I’ve come across in a long time. Review to come.
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I’m currently reading…

Behind Her Eyes, Sarah Pinborough


Behind Her Eyes
 by Sarah Pinborough (January 31, 2017)

It’s been awhile since I’ve read a psychological thriller, but I needed something different following This Is How It Always Is and I have to admit the marketing push that’s whipping everyone into a frenzy about the ending has me curious (I’m a total sucker). I’m about 40% in so far and I’m feeling a Spoiler Discussion post coming…
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I tried, but wasn’t feeling…

Desperation Road, Michael Farris Smith


Desperation Road
 by Michael Farris Smith (February 7, 2017)
I just wasn’t into it and didn’t much care where it was going. I can’t even remember anything about it now…even though I only stopped reading it less than a week ago. Bailed at 20%.

Upcoming reading plans…

A carryover from last week:

A Separation, Katie Mitamura


A Separation
 by Katie Kitamura (February 7, 2017)
This might be the Winter 2017 novel I’m most excited about. It’s about an unraveling marriage and Rebecca Schinsky mentioned on Book Riot’s Holiday Recommendations podcast that she was also excited about this one. I don’t have an advance copy, so will have to wait for February 7.

How was your reading week?

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It’s Monday, What Are You Reading? (1/30/17)

January 30, 2017 It's Monday! What are you reading? 38

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Thanks so much to everyone who shared their thoughts on the state of this blog last week! The basic gist of many of your comments boils down to this:

  • I should create whatever content brings me the most satisfaction (my blog readers be damned…haha!).
  • I have some readers who don’t necessarily share my taste in books, which is interesting. I’m curious what keeps them reading if its’ not the books.
  • Lists and discussion posts are popular (lining up with my pageviews data).
  • Others are struggling with the book review dilemma (i.e. least favorite posts to write and least viewed posts) as well, but no one has really figured out the key to this castle.
  • People seem to be (cautiously?) intrigued by the book recommendations project, which I’ll share more about later.

I’m still mulling over my next steps. But, I’m going to try some different things over the next few months to see what sticks. You might see me occasionally branch out from writing just about books, cut back on (though not eliminate) traditional book reviews, and try some new features.

And, I’d love to hear your feedback whenever you see new content!

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I finished reading…

Most Dangerous Place on Earth, Lindsey Lee Johnson


The Most Dangerous Place on Earth
 by Lindsey Lee Johnson (January 10, 2017)
This wasn’t the twisty page turner about demented high school students that I expected…it was more about the characters (don’t worry, some of those characters are definitely demented) and the writing was stellar. I preferred it this way.
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Swimming Lessons by Claire Fuller (February 7, 2017)
Another novel that wasn’t quite what I was expecting. But, I ended up really liking it. I’ll post a review after thinking on it a bit more.

Affiliate Link: Pre-Order from Amazon

I’m currently reading…

Desperation Road, Michael Farris Smith


Desperation Road
 by Michael Farris Smith (February 7, 2017)
I’m only 15% into this Grit Lit novel from the author of 2013’s Rivers. It didn’t grab me immediately, but I also don’t feel like I need to put it down just yet.

Upcoming reading plans…

A Separation, Katie Mitamura


A Separation
 by Katie Kitamura (February 7, 2017)
This might be the Winter 2017 novel I’m most excited about. It’s about an unraveling marriage and Rebecca Schinsky mentioned on Book Riot’s Holiday Recommendations podcast that she was also excited about this one. I don’t have an advance copy, so will have to wait for February 7.

How was your reading week? 

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It’s Monday, What Are You Reading? (1/23/17)

January 23, 2017 It's Monday! What are you reading? 40

Hosted by The Book Date.

After a scattered reading stretch, I started to find my stride this week…and I seem to be devouring short books at the moment.

On a more contemplative note, I spent some time last week thinking about Sarah’s Book Shelves and where I want to take it. I’ve been in the same routine (3 posts per week: Monday update, a list or discussion post, and a book review or mini reviews) for well over a year now and things are starting to feel a bit stale (at least to me). I’ve been thinking about this for quite awhile, but I’m finally feeling motivated to take some action.

Here’s what I know:

  • What I really love about being a book person is the matchmaking; recommending the right books to the right people.
  • My least favorite part of the running the blog (other than making graphics!) is writing book reviews…they also are my least viewed types of posts.
  • I’d like to make this blog (or something it ends up growing into) a career at some point. It’s the first thing I’ve ever done that I’m truly passionate about.

As a first step, I’m planning to test run a small project on the blog around Mother’s/Father’s Days. It’s more book recommending rather than reviewing, and if people seem interested in it, then I’ll try to role it out on a larger scale.

And, as readers and participants in this space, I’d love your feedback on what you want more of, less of, and what you’d like to see from this blog. Feel free to share in the comments or email me directly at sarahsbookshelves@gmail.com.

I finished reading…

Always Happy Hour, Mothering Sunday


Always Happy Hour
 by Mary Miller (January 10, 2017)
Last week I mentioned these stories were running together in my head a bit, despite the fact that I was enjoying them. In the second half, each story started to stand out more and my favorite two stories came near the end. Mini review to come.

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Mothering Sunday by Graham Swift (April 19, 2016)
This tiny book about an affair between a maid and the heir to the neighboring estate in 1920’s England was completely unique, yet not weird and gorgeously written. It had a bit of a Downton Abbey feel. You can read it in a day…and you should!

Affiliate Link: Buy from Amazon

I’m currently reading…

Most Dangerous Place on Earth, Lindsey Lee Johnson


The Most Dangerous Place on Earth
 by Lindsey Lee Johnson (January 10, 2017)

I always get sucked into demented high school novels, yet often end up disappointed (recently by Girls on Fire and Dare Me). But, this one is bucking the trend so far (about halfway).
Affiliate Link: Buy from Amazon

I tried, but wasn’t feeling…

The Antiques, Kris D'Agostino


The Antiques
 by Kris D’Agostino (January 10, 2017)
Last week I said “the success of this book will depend entirely on the writing, though, so we’ll see how it pans out.” Well, the writing didn’t exactly pan out. I bailed at 13%.

Upcoming reading plans…

Swimming Lessons, Claire Fuller


Swimming Lessons
 by Claire Fuller (February 7, 2017)
I’ve been hotly anticipating this sophomore novel from the author of Our Endless Numbered Days (one of my favorite debuts of 2015). This time around, Fuller untangles the mystery of a marriage.

How was your reading week? And, please share any thoughts you have on blog in the comments. Thank you!

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