July 2019 TBR: The Reading Rush Readathon

Hello, July! I cannot believe we’re officially halfway through 2019! So far this year has been crazy busy with a lot of life changes, but I’m happy that I’ve continued to make reading a priority throughout it all. And at this exact moment, I’m feeling super motivated! So my July TBR is pretty ambitious, but I’d really like to knock a bunch of books off of my TBR… so that I can buy more, of course 😊

I recently have become familiar with the Reading Rush readathon, formerly called BooktubeAthon. I read all about the rules and challenges HERE and now I can’t wait to participate! While this readathon technically takes place on July 22nd-28th, I thought it would be fun to create my entire July TBR based on this readathon’s challenges. (And any of you who are sticklers for rules, don’t worry – I will only submit books that I read during that week to the official readathon page. Any books I read outside of that week are for my satisfaction only!!)

Below are the 7 reading challenges for this readathon. I tried to find at least 2 books on my physical TBR shelf to fit each challenge and will be picking from this master list throughout the month. I think I will leave myself the shortest book(s) in each category to read during the ACTUAL readathon week, because I’d like to complete the additional challenge of reading 7 books in total!

Challenge 1: Read a book with purple on the cover

This challenge was pretty easy, and I actually had three books come to mind almost immediately:

  • The Color Purple by Alice Walker
  • The Astonishing Color of After by Emily X.R. Pan
  • Foolish Hearts by Emma Mills

Challenge 2: Read a book in the same spot the entire time

This challenge is a little different in that it doesn’t matter WHAT book I pick, it just matters WHERE I read it! I think I will likely complete this challenge either in my car (with an audiobook) or on an airplane, as I will be traveling a couple of times this month. So the books I selected are just books that I’d love to complete this month that don’t fit into any of the other challenges:

  • Maxed Out by Katrina Alcorn
  • Truly Madly Guilty by Liane Moriarty

Challenge 3: Read a book you meant to read last year

I distinctly remember writing both of these book titles down last year and buying them after hearing an executive of my company mention their greatness, buuut I hadn’t gotten around to actually reading them.

  • Moneyball by Michael Lewis
  • Good to Great by Jim Collins

Challenge 4: Read an author’s first book

As far as I could find, both of these were the first books written by these authors – if anyone knows differently, please do let me know so I can be accurate here!

  • The Tipping Point by Malcolm Gladwell
  • Sometimes I Lie by Alice Feeney

Challenge 5: Read a book with a non-human main character

This was probably the toughest challenge for me as I don’t usually read fantasy, and I’ve read all of my sci fi books that might fit the prompt. But alas, I found two that I’m pretty sure count!

  • The Number Devil by Hans Magnus Enzensberger
  • Artemis Fowl by Eoin Colfer

Challenge 6: Pick a book that has five or more words in the title

And then, conversely, this challenge was the easiest for me to find several books that qualify!

  • The Science of Harry Potter by Mark Brake and Jon Chase
  • The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen R. Covey
  • The 7 Habits of Highly Effective Families by Stephen R. Covey
  • The Proper Care and Feeding of Husbands by Dr. Laura Schlessinger
  • How to Disappear Completely and Never be Found by Sara Nickerson

Challenge 7: Read and watch a book to movie adaptation

I know that a lot of the books I’ve already mentioned actually have movie adaptations and I COULD double up on challenges, but instead I found two more books that I haven’t listed and would be really glad to get to!

  • Holes by Louis Sachar
  • The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins

18 books in total! Will I get to all of them this month? No, definitely not. But I like my chances of sticking to this list in general, with a variety of genres and book lengths to keep me motivated and on track.

Let me know if you plan on participating in this readathon – what books are you reading, and do you have any suggestions for some of the prompts?


June 2019 TBR

For months that I create a TBR for myself, I currently have a 50% success rate. The one where I did follow the whole TBR was a month with a readathon, which I think had something to do with keeping my motivation up and also enough rules/structure to feel like I had to follow through. Maybe this month will be the same!

This month is the next round of Buzzwordathon, a readathon hosted by booktuber Booksandlala. This round, her chosen buzzword is “you.” After a quick search through my bookshelves, I found 4 books that I have not read that have “you” in the title. Much more manageable than the 7 I tackled last round of this readathon 🙂

Below is my TBR for the month, with the readathon books plus a few I want to get to that won’t be during Buzzwordathon!

Readathon Books

The Five People You Meet in Heaven by Mitch Albom (contemporary) – I believe I have read this book before in my life, but it’s been several years. Very short and I remember it being pretty inspirational, so I’d like to knock it out again!

I Shouldn’t Be Telling You This by Kate White (female nonfiction) – a girlboss book that claims to tell women all of the secrets men don’t want them to know when it comes to being successful and rising to the top of a business.

Do You Realize? by Kevin A. Kuhn (science fiction) – picked this one up as part of my Bookstore Scavenger Hunt challenge and am super excited to read it! I haven’t seen anyone mention it before but the premise looks right up my alley: a middle-aged man stuck in a rut is selected to beta test an app that allows him to journey through alternate versions of his past.

How Lucky You Can Be by Buster Olney (sports) – really don’t know anything about this book – it’s my husband’s book and is only on our shelves because it’s sports-related. But I definitely am willing to try new genres and can’t think of a better time to try the sports category!

Non-Readathon Books

Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte (classic) – I’ve been meaning to read this one for a veryyy long time. I’ve heard many people say it’s their favorite book or favorite classic of all time, and also I’ve seen a few retellings (Jane Steele) that look really interesting to me – but I want to read the original first!

Scythe by Neal Schusterman (dystopia) – So many people rave about this book and I LOVE dystopias, so I don’t know why I’ve waited so long to pick it up. No more, even if it doesn’t fit in this month’s readathon I’m determined to get to it!

The Breakdown by B.A. Paris (thriller) – in April I read my second 5-star read from B.A. Paris. Since I already own another one by her, and since I don’t have any other thrillers on my TBR, I really want to read this one and hopefully love it as much as the others!

What’s on your TBR this month? Let me know if you’re participating in any readathons or if you prefer to read whatever speaks to you in that particular moment. I’m still figuring out exactly what my preference is 🙂


May 2019 Reading Wrap-Up

As I foreshadowed in my last wrap-up, May was a sloooow reading month. The slowest I’ve had yet this year… only 4 books read, 2 of them being audiobooks. I think that’s okay, though – I’ve been extremely busy with moving and being pregnant and traveling and it’s nice to be able to slow down when I need to. I’m still WAY ahead on my yearly reading goal, and I’m motivated to pick it up back up again in June!

This month’s quick stats:
4 books (2 audiobooks)
536 pages
4 authors (4 female)
1 nonfiction | 3 fiction
Year-to-date quick stats:
37 books (4 audiobooks)
10,268 pages
34 authors (22 female)
13 nonfiction | 24 fiction

Title: Year of Yes
Author: Shonda Rhimes
Genre: Female Nonfiction
Pages: 0 (audiobook)
My Rating: 4 stars

Brief Summary: This story is about TV writer Shonda Rhimes’s “Year of Yes” that she forced herself to take – that is, an entire year where she says yes to every opportunity that comes her way. Previous to this “Year of Yes,” she felt stuck in a rut, succeeding professionally but failing in all other parts of her life. Once she started saying yes to parties, events, and speaking engagments – ESPECIALLY the ones she was afraid of attending – her life changed for the better, making her a happier and healthier person overall.

My Thoughts: It’s hard to deny that this book is entertaining. Shonda is a renowned TV writer, after all, so she knows how to make stories exciting and dramatic and funny. What makes this memoir different from so many that I’ve read is the fact that it covers a very short period of her life – only one year, with a few backstories and follow-ups when necessary. This really makes it so that only the most impactful stories made the book – no long, dragging childhood stories or tales about her struggling as a writer. What I also really enjoyed about this book is the variety of “yes”es – it wasn’t JUST about saying yes to opportunities, which I think is obvious and overused. She highlighted saying yes to family time, saying yes to taking care of yourself, and saying yes to saying no. All of those topics I found particularly interesting and, more importantly, helpful! If you’re a memoir person or you feel like your in somewhat of a rut in your life, I’d recommend giving this one a go, and I think the self-narrated audiobook only added to the effect!

Title: The Sun is Also a Star
Author: Nicola Yoon
Genre: Contemporary
Pages: 344
My Rating: 2 stars

Brief Summary: This book takes place over the span of one single day. Daniel and Natasha are two strangers living in New York City who meet and instantly feel an undeniable connection. The problem is that the timing of their meeting is totally wrong – Daniel is preparing for an important interview with a college representative to pursue a career he has no interest in, while Natasha is fighting a battle for her family who is facing deportation back to Jamaica the next day.

My Thoughts: I wanted to love this one… but between the slow pace, choppy chapters, and unrealistic (in my opinion) love story, it was just not for me. I never felt fully invested in the characters or the story and also didn’t particularly love the ending. I really would only recommend this book if you enjoy overly-cheesy insta-love stories.

Title: Radio Silence
Author: Alice Oseman
Genre: Contemporary
Pages: 0 (audiobook)
My Rating: 3 stars

Brief Summary: This book is told from the perspective of Frances, a girl who spends most of her time studying, illustrating, and listening to her favorite YouTube show/podcast called Universe City, narrated by an anonymous character named Radio Silence. When Frances is offered the opportunity to illustrate for the show, she finds out who the anonymous creator is and realizes how much their lives (pasts and futures included) really relate.

My Thoughts: At the end of the day, I really can’t say this book was overly memorable for me. I enjoyed the story and the characters, but nothing happened that made me enjoy or dislike anything specific about it. I think I may be a little too old to relate to the struggles of preparing for college (even though I was going through it only 6 years ago), which I think is the main aspect most lovers of this book connect with. It is possible that if I had read it physically, as opposed to listening to the audiobook, I would have enjoyed my own pacing and voicing more, so I may try to reread sometime in the future if I continue hearing glowing reviews!

Title: The Outsiders
Author: S.E. Hinton
Genre: Classic
Pages: 192
My Rating: 4 stars

Brief Summary: This classic novel is about a boy named Ponyboy who has a close-knit group of brothers and friends who spend their time going to movies, hitting on ladies, and feuding with rival teens (Socs) from the other side of town. One night some members of his crew take things a little too far and Ponyboy finds himself on the run, fending for himself and growing up extra quickly.

My Thoughts: I did not read this book in school like many of my friends did growing up, so I never understood the jokes or references commonly made to it – “Stay gold, Ponyboy,” for example. But now I have, and I’m so glad! This story was touching and emotional and a quick read, so really no reason not to pick it up.


4 books may not be my best reading month, but it’s still something. I’m thankful for audiobooks making long, work-related road trips more enjoyable and putting me closer to my goals. I definitely have some higher reading goals for June through the rest of the year! How are you doing 5 months into the new year?


April 2019 Reading Wrap-Up

Well, well… no, the title of this post is not a typo. This is my April wrap-up… being posted at the end of May. April was a WHIRLWIND of a month, and here’s why:

  1. On April 1st my husband started a new job, for which we relocated to a new state. With that came all of the house buying/selling fun and packing/moving/unpacking wonderfulness. The good news is that I LOVE our new house and at this point we’re about 95% unpacked and settled!
  2. At the very end of March, my husband and I found out that I’m expecting! So on top of all the moving business, I personally struggled with some extreme exhaustion and a little bit of morning sickness.

All that to say that April was a pretty slow reading month and an even slower blogging month. I did still manage to get through 6 books, which I think warrants its own wrap-up. Continue reading to see the six books I read and my thoughts on them, and come back on Monday for my May wrap-up!

This month’s quick stats:
6 books (1 audiobook)
1,114 pages
6 authors (5 female)
1 nonfiction | 5 fiction
Year-to-date quick stats:
33 books (2 audiobooks)
9,732 pages
30 authors (18 female)
12 nonfiction | 21 fiction

Title: Those People
Author: Louise Candlish
Genre: Thriller/Mystery
Pages: 282
My Rating: 3 stars
Release Date: June 11, 2019
Thanks to NetGalley and SFK Press for providing me with this eARC in return for an honest review!

Brief Summary: This thriller is about several neighbors on one street who are forced to deal with a new couple moving in down the road. The new couple is causing serious disturbances throughout the neighborhood with their loud metal music blasting every night, their used car business taking up valuable street parking space, and the eyesores created by their home renovations – which do not appear to be quite up to code. It seemed only a matter of time before someone got hurt, but when an innocent person ends up dead in an accident on the new home owners’ property, everyone in the neighborhood finds themselves looking guilty.

My Thoughts: I was SO intrigued by this story and the beginning of the book had me absolutely hooked. I loved the alternating perspectives between each of the neighbors and the alternating timelines before and after the accident though police interviews and first-person narratives. It really showed the neighborhood dynamics well and exposed the issues outsiders don’t often see between neighbors and family members. I was intrigued by the mystery, but it became a little convoluted because of how many characters were followed and how many of them realistically could have been involved in the accident. (I suppose it makes for a good mystery to have multiple likely subjects, but literally everyone had a motive and an opportunity here, which then had the inverse effect – no one stood out as guilty).

The reveals in this thriller seemed underwhelming to me. This could have been due to the fact that there were multiple, which again is usually a good thing in thrillers, but in this case left me feeling like I needed more closure in the end. Maybe a reread of this one would help some of the details and intricacies of the mystery fall into place, but I probably won’t be picking it back up for a while.

Title: Animal Farm
Author: George Orwell
Genre: Classic
Pages: 141
My Rating: 4 stars

Brief Summary: This classic may not need much of an introduction, but the synopsis of this story is that a farm full of animals decides to revolt against the farm owner (a human) and try to run the farm themselves. They determine all of these new rules for the farm including no animal shall kill another animal, all animals are equal, and above all else – two legs = bad, four legs = good. Eventually the farm politics get shuffled and some animals feel slighted by other animals’ actions, and the utopia that was their animal farm turns into a political mess.

My Thoughts: It’s exposed right in the introduction of the book that it is an allegory based on Communist Russia, and knowing that going in definitely gives the story some added depth. I do not consider myself a political person, so this story actually did a great job of making the political claims easier to understand and not so convoluted with political figures and parties. It’s a classic that I’m glad to have read because of its deeper meanings and implications.

Title: Girl Code
Author: Cara Alwill Leyba
Genre: Female Nonfiction
Pages: 143
My Rating: 4 stars

Brief Summary: This is a female entrepreneur empowerment book at its finest. Cara is a super inspiring woman and this book draws inspiration not only from her successes, but several other girl bosses’ successes as well. Through interviews, storytelling, and even worksheet pages, this book aims to give you whatever motivation you need to do that thing you’ve been wanting to do but haven’t yet.

My Thoughts: Is anything in this book absolutely profound? No. I’m sure all of these points have been made in other books by other female entrepreneurs. I really liked the interviews with other women, though, because it allows the reader to get multiple perspectives and pull inspiration from whoever you connect with the most. It’s also a quick read, so you can get the information you need and get on with your life!

Title: Bring Me Back
Author: B.A. Paris
Genre: Thriller/Mystery
Pages: 291
My Rating: 5 stars

Brief Summary: This thriller is about a man named Finn who is still struggling from the disappearance of his girlfriend, Layla, 12 years ago. Although Layla’s body was never found, the officials and those around him have all considered her dead. He’s not so sure, though, and suddenly signs start appearing all around him to make him think she’s still alive – and she wants to come back to him. Not only does he have to deal with his emotions related to her disappearance, he also has to consider how Layla fits into his life now, 12 years later.

My Thoughts: I was just saying I needed a really great thriller to get into, as all the recent ones I’ve been reading have been disappointing. Well, this one absolutely did it! I loved the premise, I loved the writing style and book format, and I really, really enjoyed the twist(s). I had a few theories about the ending, none of which ended up being true. Some veteran thriller readers MIGHT be able to crack the mystery here, but I thoroughly enjoyed being surprised and not seeing it coming. This is the second 5-star thriller I’ve read from B.A. Paris (I also loved Behind Closed Doors), and now I’m doubly excited to get to The Breakdown, her only other thriller, which I happily already own!

Title: Daisy Jones & The Six
Author: Taylor Jenkins Reid
Genre: Historical Fiction
Pages: 0 (audiobook)
My Rating: 4 stars

Brief Summary: This book is a unique historical fiction following Daisy Jones & The Six, a fictitious rock and roll band from the 1970s. Told exclusively in interview format, each member of the band retells the story of the band’s rise to success in their own perspective.

My Thoughts: I have seen all of the hype surrounding this book, just like I had seen the hype before picking up Evelyn Hugo. In Evelyn Hugo’s case, it completely lived up to all of the hype and then some – it was an easy 5 stars. With Daisy Jones, although not a 5-star read for me, I can absolutely see why the hype is there just the same. First of all, the storytelling is so unique – the interview format provides insight to each of the character’s minds, but only as much as they’re willing to put on record. Plus, we have to deal with the inaccuracies of human memories – there are many instances of two characters’ memories conflicting with each other’s, which makes for a humorous but also realistic interview feel. The plotline itself is also intriguing, as everyone wants to know the behind-the-scenes and the making of successful musicians. I found some parts to drag just a little bit, and some of the characters less intriguing than others, which is why this book is ultimately only 4 stars for me. But for anyone with a particular interest in 70s music or feminist characters, I think this book knocks it out of the park. If I wasn’t convinced before, I’m now fully on the TJR train and will be reading every book she writes in the future and hopefully getting to all of her past works someday, too!

Title: Nine Women, One Dress
Author: Jane L. Rosen
Genre: Contemporary
Pages: 257
My Rating: 2 stars

Brief Summary: This contemporary is about nine women in and around New York City who all end up, in one way or another, buying/wearing/borrowing the “it” dress of the season. (For clarification, the same dress design, not all the same physical dress).

My Thoughts: I was really excited for this one, as it was giving me major Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants vibes. I was simultaneously disappointed and relieved to find out its not (disappointed because I LOVE the Sisterhood, relieved because nothing can really live up to it).

In short, I did not enjoy this book. My biggest struggle was trying to keep track of all of the characters. There were so many different storylines happening and I didn’t connect with any of them. Think about it – 9 women is a lot to keep track of, let alone all of the side characters they’re each interacting with. The book wasn’t long enough to fully develop or wrap up every story, and they didn’t intertwine as much as I thought they would. Ultimately I felt dissatisfied and disappointed in the book and don’t think I would recommend it to anyone!


So that was April! Again, my May wrap-up will come on Monday – since the moving process and pregnancy are obviously ongoing, it was another slow reading month – but I can feel myself getting energy back and am excited to get back into the swing of things (reading and blogging included) in June!

Let me know if you read anything great in April or May – I really didn’t get a chance to read many blogs within the last couple of months either, so tell me your highlights 🙂


April 2019 TBR: Reading Books I ALREADY Own

Sooo last month I claimed that I don’t typically like to stick to TBRs, but I created one for March anyway in preparation for an ambitious readathon. Turns out I actually enjoyed having the TBR pushing me to pick up the next book on the list right after finishing one! So I figured I’d try it out for another month.

I’m new to this book blogging thing, and I’m already falling victim to impulsively buying books I see someone recommend or that calls my name at the bookstore, making my physical TBR grow faster than I can keep up with. Plus I’m moving this month! Which means book mail could easily get lost in the house-moving shuffle, a risk I’m not willing to take. Due to all these factors, I want to focus my efforts this month on reading books that I already own. I’ve got ten on the list now, and if I could get through more that’d be great!

Classics

Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte

Animal Farm by George Orwell

The Color Purple by Alice Walker

Nonfiction

Influencer by Kerry Patterson and Joseph Grenny

Moneyball by Michael Lewis

Girl Code by Cara Alwill Leyba

The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen R. Covey

Fiction

Nine Women, One Dress by Jane L. Rosen

Truly Madly Guilty by Liane Moriarty

The Art of Fielding by Chad Harbach


Here’s to hopefully another month of 10+ reads! Have you read any of the books I’ve listed above, or do you have any books on your TBR this month that you’ve owned for a while and been meaning to get to?


March 2019 Reading Wrap-Up

March was another AWESOME reading month for me! So awesome that I read nearly the same number of books in March as I did in January and Feburary combined. Fingers crossed I can keep this momentum going!

A large contributor to the 13 books I was able to complete this month was Buzzwordathon, a week-long readathon during which I read 7 books. Instead of repeating my thoughts, here’s a link to my post recapping the 7 books I completed that week and what I thought of them! Spoiler: I think one of the books I read became my new favorite for the year, if not all-time 🙂

As for the other 6 books I completed in March, below are the mini-reviews starting with my least favorite (1 star… yikes) up to my two 5-star reads. Feel free to let me know how you’re doing on your reading goals so far this year and if you’ve read any of the books I list here!

This month’s quick stats:
13 books
4,192 pages
13 authors (6 female)
5 nonfiction | 8 fiction
Year-to-date quick stats:
27 books (1 audiobook)
8,618 pages
25 authors (14 female)
11 nonfiction | 16 fiction

Title: Not All Migrate
Author: Krystyna Byers
Genre: Contemporary
Pages: 205
My Rating: 1 star
Release Date: June 4, 2019
Thanks to NetGalley and SFK Press for providing me with this eARC in return for an honest review!

Brief Summary: This book is about a man named Mark who has just lost his wife and two daughters in a car accident. When the autopsy report comes back, the doctors tell him that his wife had had an unknown drug in her system at the time of death. This prompts Mark to look into the drug, why his wife had been on it, and who had sold it or given it to her in the first place.

My Thoughts: Right off the bat, I was extremely intrigued by this book’s synopsis. Unfortunately, instead of being suspenseful or realistic in any way, this story was just all-around strange.

To start, we never get any information on what kind of man Mark was before losing his family other than the fact that he worked a lot of long hours at his corporate job. While it’s understandable that a tragedy like this would change him, it became unfathomable that his new personality or behaviors could ever resemble the hard-working family man he supposedly was before. All of the other characters in the book were even less-developed than Mark, so I wasn’t invested in any of them.

The second and biggest problem I have is with the book’s plot – Mark is supposed to be searching for answers about his family’s accident and the myserious drug his wife was on… but once he finds the drug, he becomes an addict himself and loses sight completely of his original goals. (That’s not a spoiler, this addiction part is essentially the entire book). I just didn’t get it, or believe it. With that said, while this book was very much NOT for me, it is possible that someone else could find it entertaining because of the out-of-the-box storyline and graphic drug experiences. I just warn that if you are looking for a traditional thriller, this is not it.

Title: He Will Kill You
Author: Charlie Gallagher
Genre: Thriller
Pages: 314
My Rating: 3 stars
Content Warnings: Domestic abuse, rape
Thanks to NetGally and Joffe Books for providing me with this eARC in return for an honest review!

Brief Summary: Told in multiple perspectives, this book primarily follows two women, Grace Hughes and Maddie Ives. Grace is a victim of domestic abuse and a prisoner within her own home. Although she’s spoken with the police before, she’s too scared to seek the help she needs in order to escape the danger she’s in. Maddie a detective with a passion for saving women in abusive relationships and is doing everything she can to bring Grace to safety. Maddie’s also on the police team for an unrelated crime within the same city: a car bomber on the loose and sure to strike again.

My Thoughts: I was so drawn in at the start of this book. I was heavily invested in all of the different storylines and couldn’t wait to find out what was going to happen. Around the halfway mark, things started to change (and the big twist was revealed, I suppose) and I began to lose interest. Although I was satisfied with the ending, it didn’t quite live up to everything I was hoping for. I did write an entire spoiler-free review for the book, which you can read here if you’re looking for more details to help determine if this book is for you!

Title: Things My Son Needs to Know about the World
Author: Fredrik Backman
Genre: Nonfiction/Humor
Pages: 208
My Rating: 4 stars
Release Date: May 7, 2019
Thanks to NetGalley and Atria Books for providing me with this eARC in return for an honest review!

Brief Summary: This book is actually a collectino of essays that Backman has written for his infant son to read in the future. They range in length, in format, and in tone – from silly to serious, and everything in between.

My Thoughts: This book is really sweet. If you are a fan of Fredrik Backman as an author, you will love reading this and getting to know him better as a person and as a father. The essay format helps prevent any one part becoming too long-winded or redundant. Overall sweet, funny, and meaningful.

Title: The Glass Castle
Author: Jeannette Walls
Genre: Memoir
Pages: 288
My Rating: 4 stars

Brief Summary: This memoir follows Jeannette, her three siblings, and her parents as they roam the country in and out of homelessness and poverty. Starting with stories from her very young childhood through present-day, she describes all of the hardships they went through and triumphs they had as a family and how they continued to impact her even as a successful adult.

My Thoughts: Oddly enough, I found this book both heart-breaking and heart-warming at the same time. Some of the stories were really tough to read, as no one could ever wish for children to go through the things that Jeannette and her siblings did. But, she saw the good in most situations and upheld an overwhelming love for both of her parents despite their flaws and lack of responsibility when it came to raising children, which I think is really admirable.

Title: The Girl He Used to Know
Author: Tracey Garvis Graves
Genre: Contemporary
Pages: 291
My Rating: 5 stars

Brief Summary: This novel follows the love story of Jonathan and Annika, told within two different timelines. The first timeline is about when they first met in college and how they fell in love the first time. The second timeline is ten years later, when they are reconnecting and rekindling their love. We know that something happened within those ten years to cause them to break up and fall out of love, but we don’t know what.

My Thoughts:This book is BEAUTIFUL. I found myself completely falling in love with both of the characters, twice. The really special thing about this book is that it features Annika, who has high-functioning autism. Throughout the story we learn about the difficulties she faces trying to pick up on social cues and navigate through uncomfortable situations in which she doesn’t know how she’s supposed to behave. The beautiful thing is that Jonathan loves her not despite her mental health issues, but actually because of them, and not in an unrealistic way. We as readers fall in love with her at the same time, making it feel completely genuine.

Title: The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo
Author: Taylor Jenkins Reid
Genre: Historical Fiction
Pages: 400
My Rating: 5 stars

Brief Summary: In this novel, Evelyn Hugo is about as big of a star as they come. Now an elderly woman, she’s finally decided to provide an exclusive interview to unknown magazine reporter Monique Grant about her life that has been kept secret for so many years. Through the interview, Evelyn walks through each of the seven husbands she had throughout her life, their impact on her life and career, and if she has an answer to the question everyone’s been asking, “Who was the love of your life?”

My Thoughts: I don’t know if there’s much I can say about this book that hasn’t already been said – it has been sooooo hyped…. and it’s completely worth it. The story is complex, well thought-out, and perfectly told in a unique format. The characters are dynamic and easy to relate to – even if you don’t always like them. The message is important and the ending is impactful. I loved it.


And that’s it! I’m pretty glad I had a separate Buzzwordathon wrap-up to keep this list from getting too long. Let me know if you prefer long wrap ups or several smaller posts!


Buzzwordathon Wrap-Up | 7 Books in 7 Days | Did I Succeed?

Last week I attempted to read 7 books in 7 days and WOW… that was a lot of reading. I was participating in Buzzwordathon, a readathon hosted by Booktubers BooksandLala and ChelseaDolling Reads with the goal of reading as many books with the designated buzzword(s) in the titles as possible. This round’s words were Who, What, Where, When, Why, and How. I went for all of the words plus one extra – 7 books in total.

Did I succeed? Technically no.. but I was SO close. I’m still extremely happy with and proud of the reading I got done and even may have found my new favorite book…. 😊 Read on to find out what books I got through and my thoughts on each of them!

Title: The Woman Who Smashed Codes
Author: Jason Fagone
Genre: Historical Nonfiction
Pages: 341
My Rating: 4 stars

Brief Summary: This historical nonfiction/biography is about Elizebeth Friedman, a codebreaking expert who decoded enemy messages for the US throughout both World Wars. She and her husband, William Friedman, also a code breaker, essentially invented the modern science of cryptology and are now regarded as the “Adam and Eve” of the NSA. This book tells Elizebeth’s story from her very first job deciphering hidden messages within Shakespeare’s works through her most secretive work unmasking Nazi spies and playing a large part in winning WWII.

My Thoughts: Ummm, I want to be Elizebeth Friedman when I grow up. I find the subject of cryptology extremely interesting (The Imitation Game being one of my favorite movies), and Elizebeth’s intelligence, bravery, and humility is super inspiring. This book is pretty long and sometimes reads like a textbook, but the story is very interesting and I’m really glad I got to learn about Elizebeth’s life.

Title: What We Saw
Author: Aaron Hartzler
Genre: YA Mystery/Contemporary
Pages: 321
My Rating: 3 stars
Content Warnings: Rape and Sexual Assault

Brief Summary: We jump into this story the day after a big high-school party at which the main character, Kate, got so drunk that she had to be taken home early. While Kate is recovering from her hangover and piecing together the previous night’s events with her friends, it becomes clear that much more went down than Kate had originally thought. The next week, a charge of sexual assault is filed by one of Kate’s classmates against some of the school’s star basketball players, which causes uproar from the school and community. Kate then finds herself looking for answers – did it actually happen, and if so, who is responsible?

My Thoughts: This book is clearly important, as it covers a highly sensitive topic so relevant in today’s society. I think it does a great job of keeping the story and descriptions appropriate for young readers, while still being clear with its message. I found some parts of the writing repetitive (so. much. fist bumping.) and the ending was predictable, but I can definitely appreciate the book’s intent and would absolutely recommend it to a young adult audience.

Title: Where’d You Go, Bernadette
Author: Maria Semple
Genre: Contemporary
Pages: 347
My Rating: 4 stars

Brief Summary: Through a string of letters and emails, 15-year-old Bee is piecing together her mother, Bernadette’s, life from before she went missing. The fact that Bernadette is so mysterious and secretive with her identity has put a serious strain on her relationships with neighbors and other moms at Bee’s school. But would she really abandon Bee and her husband right before they’re supposed to leave for an Antarctic vacation? Bee’s determined to find out not only where her mother is, but what she’s seemingly been hiding from everyone in her life.

My Thoughts: First off, I love the format of this book, told primarily in emails and letters. It allows us to get a little glimpse into each the characters’ perspectives, without reading all of their thoughts – we only get to know the things they’re willing to reveal to put down on paper. I thought the storyline was great, fast-moving enough to stay interested in the mystery at hand but with enough detail to feel like we know the characters pretty intimately. I agree with all of the high praise I’ve seen about this book, and think it will make a great movie!

Title: Little Fires Everywhere
Author: Celeste Ng
Genre: Contemporary
Pages: 336
My Rating: 5 stars

Brief Summary: This story takes place almost exclusively within Shaker Heights, an affluent neighborhood with strict aesthetic guidelines and expectations of its residents to maintain a pristine image. We first meet the Richardson family, made up of 4 children in high school, a hard-working lawyer for a father, and a mother who is filled with a sense of pride and generosity by renting a nearby home to a struggling artist and her high-school aged daughter. The two families get to know each other quite well, but suddenly find themselves on two different sides of a custody battle between a Shaker Heights couple attempting to adopt a baby whose birth mother is putting up a fight. Everyone in the community seems to have a different opinion on what’s best for the baby, which proves to be a much more complex question than it appeared upon first glance.

My Thoughts: I think this might be my new favorite book. I loved it SO much. All of the characters were well-developed through extensive backstories (I think this is where some people might find the book to be slow, but I really enjoyed reading the backgrounds) and the plot connected with me deeply. It made me think hard about what I would do in the situation, who I would most likely side with, and how easily opinions can change once you know personally the people on both sides of the argument. Celeste Ng did a really nice job interweaving multiple story lines in a realistic and impactful way – and I already can’t wait to reread this story!

Title: When to Rob a Bank
Authors: Steven D. Levitt and Stephen J. Dubner
Genre:Nonfiction/Economics
Pages: 350
My Rating: 3 stars

Brief Summary: This book is actually a collection of blog posts taken from the Freakonomics blog, created by the authors who originally wrote the book Freakonomics. These blog posts speak on similar topics – interesting ways that economics shape our world and ways we can use that knowledge to our advantage.

My Thoughts: I had seen a lot of negative reviews on this book, perhaps because some of the blog posts are not politically correct or present an unpopular viewpoint. I actually really enjoyed it for that reason – it made me look and think differently about a number of issues I previously thought were pretty black-and-white. For example, it talks about why we shouldn’t necessarily be looking to eliminate all plastic packaging when it comes to food items, and in another post about the actual environmental effects of car emissions and whether walking short distances is as environmentally-friendly as we’ve been taught to believe. Other sections were purely entertaining, like a collection of 6-word mottos for America and the best aptonyms of all time, which are names that sound similar to the person’s profession (e.g. a funeral home director named Eikenberry (“I can bury”) or an insurance guy named Justin Case). Yes, there were a number of articles that I skimmed because I was disinterested and some that I did not agree with, but in my opinion the good outweighed the bad and made it worth the read.

Title: Why We Broke Up
Author: Daniel Handler
Genre: Contemporary
Pages: 354
My Rating: 2 stars

Brief Summary: This book is told as one long letter from high-school-aged Min to her now-ex-boyfriend Ed, detailing all of the reasons they – spoiler alert – broke up. She’s writing it to go along with a box of things she is returning to Ed, so each chapter highlights a different item and explains how it specifically contributed to their breakup.

My Thoughts: After reading this book, I have to wonder if I’m just not a fan of YA contemporaries. I found myself the whole time thinking “you should have broken up with him a long time ago because this guy is a complete d-bag.” I think the concept of this book is great, love the breakup letter accompanying the box full of returned stuff, and I really enjoyed the illustrations done by Maira Kalman. I just didn’t like the story or the characters, too much immaturity for me to feel like I could relate at all!

Title: How Not to Be Wrong: The Power of Mathematical Thinking
Author: Jordan Ellenberg
Genre:Nonfiction/Mathematics
Pages: 437
My Rating: TBD!

Brief Summary: This book is described by Goodreads as the Freakonomics of math – aka how math is everywhere in the world and how by understanding it a bit better, we can understand trends and explanations for social, economic, and environmental activities all around us.

My Thoughts: Unfortunately, this is the one book I did not complete this week. I am about 300 pages in though, so I’ve gotten a decent feeling for it so far – and as an engineer I’m loving everything about this book. I loved math growing up, especially calculus because it really does explain so much of the world. This book is doing a really great job of taking those complex concepts and simplifying them so that even people who are not mathematically-minded can understand and appreciate how much the mathematical concepts are reflected in the real world. Waiting for the aha-moment that this book promises: how we can use this information not just to understand our world but to really shape our own lives and start to make different decisions because of it!

Other than finishing this last book, I think I’m a little burnt out from reading and probably will take the rest of March off. But I had a lot of fun creating this TBR for Buzzwordathon and definitely will be taking part in more readathons going forward!