November 2019 Reading Wrap-Up

In my November TBR post, I revealed my ambitious reading plans for the month that included reading all of the Goodreads Thriller nominees and participating in Tome Topple, Buzzwordathon, and Sci Fi Month. I’m pleasantly surprised with my ability to stick (mostly!) to that original plan and ended up having a great reading month. Below are all of the books I completed along with which readathon/challenge it fulfilled for me. I’d love to know if you read any of the books below or participated in the readathons I mentioned above!

This month’s quick stats:
9 books (3 audiobooks)
2,480 pages
10 authors (7 female)
0 nonfiction | 9 fiction
This year’s quick stats:
101 books (22 audiobooks)
25,969 pages
95 authors (52 female)
24 nonfiction | 77 fiction

Title: Illuminae
Author: Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff Genre: Science Fiction
Pages: 596
My Rating: 3 stars
Readathon/Challenge: Sci Fi Month

Brief Summary: This book tells the story of Kady and Ezra, two teenagers forced to evacuate their home planet (not Earth) and board two different warships in a space battle between powerful space entities. The book is most notable for its unique writing style – the story is told dossier-style through emails, medical reports, memos, IMs, interviews, etc.

My Thoughts: My thoughts on this book are actually a little bit conflicting – on one hand, I absolutely love the multi-media format and thought it added an interesting element to the sci-fi story and made for a fun reading experience. I also really came to enjoy the relationship between the two main characters and found myself rooting hard for them not only to survive but to reconnect with each other in the end. However, that’s where my love for the story ends – the rest of it I actually found to be extremely confusing and boring. It took a long time for me to understand (if I ever did fully understand…) the universe they were in, what had happened in the past, and what they were fighting for in the present. I don’t typically love action movies or books, so I’m not surprised that I didn’t love the action scenes, but I also can’t think of a single OTHER character in the book that I fully knew, understood, or cared for. I do think I would pick up the second book in the series, because again I love the format and do think a lot of work went into building the story, but I’m not rushing out to buy it right this second.

Title: The Whisper Man
Author: Alex North
Genre: Thriller
Pages: 0 (audiobook)
My Rating: 2 stars
Readathon/Challenge: Goodreads Mystery/Thriller Nominees

Brief Summary: This book follows a few different perspectives of people living in a town where, 20 years ago, five young boys (like ages 7-8) were abducted and killed. The man responsible for the murders has been caught and become known in the town as the “Whisper Man” because of the way he would sit outside of their windows and whisper creepy things to in the days leading up to their disappearances. Now, 20 years later, the town is reeling because a new little boy has gone missing, and although the people and authorities know it can’t be the Whisper Man because he’s being held in jail, the similarities are eerie and have people wondering if there was an accomplice to the previous murders and if that accomplice could be back, looking for more little boys to abduct and kill.

My Thoughts: The premise of this book is super creepy – I mean, abducted and murdered children is absolutely a topic that makes the hair on the back of my neck stand up, and this book did a good job of building the suspense between the past and the present. Once the initial creepiness wore off, though, I found this mystery a little disappointing in that it didn’t do anything super original or surprising in any way. I would have loved a few more twists or something that would really make this book stand out in my mind, but unfortunately, I think most of the details will fade in my memory and this book will drop far down on my list of good or favorite thrillers.

Title: The Mother-In-Law
Author: Sally Hepworth
Genre: Thriller
Pages: 0 (audiobook)
My Rating: 4 stars
Readathon/Challenge: Goodreads Mystery/Thriller Nominees

Brief Summary: This book shifts back and forth between the perspectives of a mother-in-law and daughter-in-law with a complicated relationship. They didn’t exactly start off on the right foot, and since then their relationship has consisted of tip-toeing around each other, not exactly outwardly fighting but each knowing that the other isn’t her biggest fan. When one day the mother-in-law turns up dead, everyone else in the family begins to wonder about secrets within the family and whether the apparent suicide is what it appears to be, or if foul play could be involved.

My Thoughts: I’ll start this review by saying that I absolutely would not consider this book to be a thriller – although there is the mystery element of the murder/suicide, the majority of the story reads like a contemporary or chick-lit book. We get to know the past of the relationship between the mother- and daughter-in-law, plus the upbringings of both and how that affected their family dynamic. I surprisingly enjoyed the story because of these complex relationships and dynamics, and ultimately I was satisfied with the eventual reveal of the mystery. Was it the most thrilling thing I’ve ever read? No, but I can still appreciate a story with many layers and that actually tackles many hard-hitting issues a lot of families may deal with.

Title: My Sister, the Serial Killer
Author: Oyinkan Braithwaite
Genre: Thriller
Pages: 226
My Rating: 2 stars
Readathon/Challenge: Goodreads Mystery/Thriller Nominees

Brief Summary: This book follows a young woman named Korede, who frequently gets phone calls from her sister telling her that she accidentally killed her boyfriend and needs help cleaning it up. Korede has gone along with her sister three times now, covering up her mess and her crimes, but now she is conflicted because her sister’s new boyfriend is someone Korede actually has feelings for and doesn’t want to turn up dead – does she try to warn him and risk turning in her sister, or stay silent and risk another deadly accident?

My Thoughts: I’ve definitely seen this book around the Bookternet quite a bit, with reviews that differ greatly. Of the critiques I’ve seen, most say that the writing is chopping, the pacing is off, and the book itself is too short for the plot to fully developed. After finishing the book, I actually didn’t mind any of those things and disliked it for completely different reasons. In my opinion, the story is completely dull and I really hated almost all of the characters. I wasn’t rooting for anyone, I wasn’t scared or shocked by anything in the plotline (I mean, the title is pretty clear on what you can expect), and I didn’t really understand the point of any of the side stories that were thrown in. I wouldn’t say that I regret reading this book, but I’m disappointed after all of the buzz I’ve been seeing about it this year and definitely wouldn’t consider it a top thriller.

Title: Thunderhead
Author: Neal Schusterman
Genre: Dystopia
Pages: 504
My Rating: 4 stars
Readathon/Challenge: Tome Topple

Brief Summary: This is the second book in the very popular Arc of a Scythe series by Neal Schusterman, in which we follow characters in a futuristic world where humans have conquered mortality and the only way to die is to be selected and gleaned by a Scythe. Scythes are highly-respected and highly-trained members of the society tasked with gleaning a certain number of people every year in order to keep population under control. Otherwise, the world is a completely perfect and self-sufficient place, thanks to the Thunderhead – an entity based on todays “Cloud” that is all-knowing and all-controlling in terms of managing hunger, income, crime, etc. This second book continues the story of two apprentice scythes from the first book in the series and dives much deeper into the Thunderhead’s role itself.

My Thoughts: I read Scythe, the first book, earlier this year and absolutely loved it. I am very happy to say that Thunderhead is a very solid second book that didn’t suffer from “second book syndrome” at all in my opinion. I loved learning more about the world and each of the characters, and the new characters and plot advancements were enough to keep me invested throughout the book and intrigued for the third and final book in the series. This is a must-read for lovers of the dystopian genre!

Title: The Night Circus
Author: Erin Morgenstern
Genre: Fantasy
Pages: 0 (audiobook)
My Rating: 3 stars
Readathon/Challenge: Tome Topple

Brief Summary: This fantasy book is generally about a traveling magical circus that pops up in random locations all over the world and is open to the public from dusk to dawn. When people attend the circus, they are awe-struck by the experience – delicious food and smells, dazzling decorations, and highly entertaining performers everywhere they look. Throughout this story, we get to know the behind-the-scenes members of this circus, including the originator himself and many of the employees and performers who make it all come together, including two young magicians raised in preparation for a competition with each other to determine whose powers are greater.

My Thoughts: I am not a very big fantasy reader, so I knew that it was unlikely that I’d fall head-over-heels in love with this book like everyone else seems to… but after finishing it, I’m actually a little confused by the hype. I will say that the writing is absolutely BEAUTIFUL and the descriptions of the circus absolutely make me wish I could go and experience it for myself. But the plot…. Is non-existent? The synopsis makes it sound like there will be a fast-paced, action-packed competition between two magicians, but that is so not what happens, and I found myself both bored and confused as I waited longer and longer for any action to happen. Plus all of the other side characters and stories were a little confusing and also took away from any sort of action. Overall it’s hard to say that I hated it, because I definitely wanted to finish the story, but even harder to say that I loved – or even liked – it. I’d love to hear some feedback from anyone who loves this story – did you go in with different expectations, or did I miss something in the story that made it more impactful?

Title: Wilder Girls
Author: Rory Power
Genre: Science Fiction
Pages: 353
My Rating: 3 stars
Readathon/Challenge: Sci Fi Month

Brief Summary: This book has been described as many things – a fantasy/sci fi/horror gender-bent retelling of Lord of the Flies has been the most common description that I’ve seen. The story follows a group of girls being quarantined on Raxter Island, where they were attending an all-girls school until a mysterious disease broke out and started causing mutations and eventually killing most of the inhabitants. Because nobody knows what the disease is or what is causing it, people on the mainland don’t want to risk it spreading and choose to keep the girls stranded on the island with few resources being shipped over every couple of days to keep the survivors alive until some kind of cure is found. This leaves the girls extremely hungry, scared, and determined to find out more about the island’s inhabitants and history to explain their mysterious situation.

My Thoughts: This book was good – even great at the beginning – but just wasn’t ENOUGH for me. I wanted more time with the characters, more information and background when it came to the setting, and definitely more answers at the end. I really enjoyed the story itself but all of the lingering questions left me unsatisfied and hesitant to recommend it to people who don’t know what they’re getting into.

Title: Nine Perfect Strangers
Author: Liane Moriarty
Genre: Contemporary
Pages: 450
My Rating: 3 stars
Readathon/Challenge: Buzzwordathon

Brief Summary: This contemporary story follows nine individuals as they check in to a 10-day health resort that promises to completely change their lives through mysterious and unconventional measures. The “patients” don’t quite know what to expect, but most are willing to try just about anything to get their lives back on track – something that the staff know well and even use to their advantage at times.

My Thoughts: I have been reading a LOT of thrillers and sci-fi lately, so it was nice to get back into contemporary and just read about characters living their lives – and in this case, trying to improve them. I thought the character development was great – this book is told through over 10 character perspectives, so the fact that I could easily keep all of them straight and actually end up invested and caring about all of them is really impressive. I loved the first half of the story (the slower and arguably more boring half) because I was so interested in each of the characters and intrigued enough in the situation to really want to know how they would all change by the end. The twist(s) that happened throughout the second half seemed unrealistic and unnecessary to me, though, and took away from my enjoyment a bit. I’d recommend this book to people who really enjoy character-driven books almost bordering on character studies, and then say to keep an open mind about where the story may go!

Title: Miracle Creek
Author: Angie Kim
Genre: Thriller
Pages: 351
My Rating: 4 stars
Readathon/Challenge: Goodreads Mystery/Thriller Nominees

Brief Summary: This mystery follows the story and court case after an explosion at an oxygen-treatment center leaves two people dead, a handful of people injured, and a bunch of people looking suspicious as the mystery is revealed of what ultimately caused the disaster.

My Thoughts: I wouldn’t call this book your typical thriller – much more of a mystery, as the tragic event happens right away and the entire rest of the book is filling in the pieces of what really happened. A good majority of the book is told through the court case following, and although I wouldn’t normally pin myself as a courtroom-mystery-lover, I actually did really enjoy this story as a whole, including the courtroom scenes and way of revealing the mystery.

Title: Station Eleven
Author: Emily St. John Mandel
Genre: Dystopia
Pages: 333
My Rating:  stars
Readathon/Challenge: Buzzwordathon


Although I do wish I could have completed a few more books in November, overall I’m happy with my reading experiences and hopeful that I will finish the year off strong with a good reading month in December. I’d love to know what reading plans you have for the last month of the year!


2019 Goodreads Choice Awards – My Thriller Rankings!

My Original Predictions

If you’re new to my blog or didn’t see my GR Choice Award post from the end of October, I decided this year to take a page out of Booktuber Booksandlala‘s book and read all of the finalists in the Mystery/Thriller category in order to place a fully unbiased vote. Because this is a somewhat daunting task – reading 10 books within the two weeks after the finalists are announced – I decided to make some predictions and get a head start by listing and reading some of the most-hyped thrillers that I’ve seen this year. I’m happy to report that 6 of my predictions actually did end up in the Top 10, and of those I had already read 5 – leaving only 5 more to read within the last two weeks!

The Finalists

Below are the Top 10 Finalists in the Mystery & Thriller category of the Goodreads Choice Awards. I’ve listed them in order of number of rankings on Goodreads, which in my prediction post I also mentioned is most likely the order in which they will get the most votes, ultimately meaning the book with the most ratings will win, regardless of actual average rating. I also included a column to indicate whether each book was in my original predictions list or not.

TitleAuthor# RatingsAvg. RatingPredicted?
The Silent PatientAlex Michaelides166,6474.05Yes
An Anonymous GirlGreer Hendricks & Sarah Pekkanen64,0713.84Yes
My Sister, the Serial KillerOyinkan Braithwaite61,6243.78No
The Turn of the KeyRuth Ware44,8453.99Yes
The Mother-in-LawSally Hepworth37,1904.00No
The Lost ManJane Harper35,6864.21Yes
Lock Every DoorRiley Sager30,1583.99Yes
Run AwayHarlan Coben26,4214.07Yes
The Whisper ManAlex North21,6104.10No
Miracle CreekAngie Kim20,2533.96No

My Rankings

The great news is that I was successful in my goal – I was able to pick up and give every single book on this list a shot. (The bad news? One of them I DNF’d because of how much I disliked it…). So, I feel VERY confident that I am able to place an unbiased vote in this category, which is a really great feeling! Below is MY personal list of rankings of these books, from my LEAST favorite down to my FAVORITE thriller on the list of finalists, and my vote for best mystery/thriller of the year.

10. The Lost Man by Jane Harper
My Rating: 1 star
My Thoughts: This book is about two men whose brother turns up dead in the middle of the Australian desert, and the two remaining brothers are left to solve the mystery of his death. Unfortunately I DNF’d this book near the beginning – I tried reading it in physical form and via audiobook, but I just couldn’t get into the story at all. After reading other reviews of the book, it appears that it’s slow-moving throughout the whole book, and I just didn’t think I could push through.

9. My Sister, the Serial Killer by Oyinkan Braithwaite
My Rating: 2 stars
My Thoughts: This book follows a young woman named Korede whose sister has killed three of her past boyfriends and calls on Korede to clean up her messes and help her cover up her crimes. Although this is one of the most-hyped thrillers of the year, I did not enjoy the characters or story at all. I didn’t find anything shocking (thanks to the title, there’s not much to be surprised by) and there is really no mystery being solved, either. Very disappointing!

8. The Whisper Man by Alex North
My Rating: 2 stars
My Thoughts: This book is set in a town where, 20 years ago, five young boys were abducted and killed by a man known as the “Whisper Man” because of the way he would sit outside their windows and whisper creepy things in the nights leading up to their disappearances. I thought the premise of this book was very adequately creepy, but ultimately the mystery was pretty unsurprising and unoriginal. I would have loved a few more twists to help the story stand out in my memory a little more!

7. An Anonymous Girl by Greer Hendricks & Sarah Pekkanen
My Rating: 3 stars
My Thoughts: I REALLY wanted to like this book, which is about a young woman who enters a psychological study that she thinks is going to be a one-time-thing, but actually ends up consuming a large part of her daily life after she becomes more involved in the study and the psychologist running it. I was really intrigued by the unique format that this story is told (two different perspectives, one of them told in second-person), but I soon grew bored with it and found myself not caring at all what happened to the characters.

6. Run Away by Harlan Coben
My Rating: 3 stars
My Thoughts: This book follows Simon, a middle-aged man with three children, the oldest of whom is a daughter who has gotten mixed up with the wrong crowd in college, dating an obvious drug dealer, and when he turns up dead, she runs away and goes missing. Simon is then determined to take matters into his own hands and go searching for his missing daughter. I’m not exactly sure why, but this thriller felt very different to me than other thrillers I usually read. It took a little while to get into, but once I was well into the book, things started clicking and I actually found myself pretty invested in the story. I enjoyed the way things came together in the end, and although not life-changing or a new favorite, this book was a pleasant surprise and a solid read for me.

5. The Silent Patient by Alex Michaelides
My Rating: 3 stars
My Thoughts: This was a VERY popular thriller this year, about a woman who killed her husband in their home and hasn’t spoken a single word in the 6 years since the incident. The firt half had me COMPLETELY hooked. I loved the mystery and enjoyed the format in which it was told. By about 3/4 of the way through the book, I had some theories that ultimately ended up being correct, which did take away from some of the enjoyment of the ending for me. But, I do very much understand the hype of this book and why so many people have considered it their favorite thriller of the year.

4. The Mother-in-Law by Sally Hepworth
My Rating: 4 stars
My Thoughts: This book shifts back and forth between the perspectives of a mother-in-law and daughter-in-law with a rocky relationship. When one day the mother-in-law turns up dead, everyone in the family begins to wonder about what secrets everyone else has been hiding. Although I actually wouldn’t consider this book a thriller, and the mystery aspect is a little weak, I surprisingly still enjoyed the story because of the complex character dynamics. Was it the most exciting book I’ve ever read? No, but I can still appreciate that it had many layers and the little mystery it did have was wrapped up nicely.

3. Miracle Creek by Angie Kim
My Rating: 4 stars
My Thoughts: This mystery follows the story and court case after an explosion at an oxygen-treatment center leaves two people dead, a handful of people injured, and a bunch of people looking suspicious as the mystery is revealed of what ultimately caused the disaster. I wouldn’t call it your typical thriller – much more of a mystery, as the tragic event happens right away and the entire rest of the book is filling in the pieces of what really happened. A good majority of the book is told through the court case following, and although I wouldn’t normally pin myself as a courtroom-mystery-lover, I actually did really enjoy this story as a whole, including the courtroom scenes and way of revealing the mystery.

2. Lock Every Door by Riley Sager
My Rating: 4 stars
My Thoughts: Another extremely-hyped thriller this year, this book follows Jules, a young woman hired to be an apartment-sitter for a luxury apartment in Manhattan. Soon after starting, she starts to notice weird and creepy things about the apartment’s occupants and the building itself, making her question whether the arrangement is too good to be true. This one definitely lived up to all of its hype – the atmosphere is just so creepy and intriguing and the mystery and reveals were well-crafted. Most people either love or hate the big twist/reveal at the end, but I definitely fall on the love side and think that Riley Sager really can do no wrong at this point.

1. The Turn of the Key by Ruth Ware
My Rating: 5 stars
My Thoughts: This book follows Rowan, a young woman who has been hired by a wealthy family to be a nanny caring for the three children living at home. Told in letter-form, after-the-fact, the story is told from Rowan’s perspective as she tries to defend herself from the murder of one of the children. So many bloggers and Booktubers are calling this book the perfect thriller, and I have to agree – I loved everything about it. The writing and atmosphere are so well-done, and I truly did not know which direction the mystery was going to go. If you have not read this book and are looking to pick up one thriller from this year, I think this is the one to choose.


So clearly, my pick for best thriller is The Turn of the Key by Ruth Ware! Again, I thought it was really enjoyable to read all of these thrillers throughout the last couple of months and be able to place my vote having read (or tried to read) every single book on the list.

I’d love to know if anyone else tried this challenge this year, but even if not – which book did you vote for in the Goodreads Choice Awards?


October 2019 Reading Wrap-Up

In my October TBR post, I said that this month was ALLLLL about the thrillers. And it totally was. I ended up reading 15 books in October, 12 of which were mystery/thrillers, and 12 of which I’m predicting could end up on the 2019 Goodreads Choice Awards Mystery & Thriller nominee list (see those predictions here). I’m super proud of meeting my reading goals this month and pleasantly surprised with how many books I loved – I’d definitely say I found myself some new favorite thrillers this month!

I typically wrap up my reading in chronological order of how I read the books, but this time I think I will start with all of my thrillers, ordered from favorite to least favorite, and then into the non-thrillers at the end.

This month’s quick stats:
15 books (4 audiobooks)
3,657 pages
15 authors (8 female)
1 nonfiction | 14 fiction
This year’s quick stats:
92 books (19 audiobooks)
23,489 pages
86 authors (45 female)
24 nonfiction | 68 fiction

Title: Verity
Author: Colleen Hoover
Genre: Thriller
Pages: 314
My Rating: 5 stars

Brief Summary: This book is about a young woman named Lowen who is hired as a writer to complete the remaining books in a series started by a famous author, Verity Crawford, who suffered an accident that has left her unable to finish her work. In order to perform this job, Lowen agrees to move into the Crawford household for a short period in order to sort through Verity’s office to find any notes on the series that may have been previously prepared. Spending so much time in Verity’s home and going through her things, Lowen starts to uncover much more about Verity than she ever bargained for – and that’s really all I want to say about the plot!

My Thoughts: I was so, so, so pleasantly surprised by this book – I couldn’t put it down! It feels weird to say that I enjoyed reading it, because some parts are so messed up that enjoyment is not quite the right word, but I was completely immersed. Everything from the basic plot to the characters to the pacing I thought was done perfectly, and I personally loved the ending. I do consider it to be a thriller and think it’s a little odd that people are arguing that it’s not… but as a Colleen Hoover rookie I can’t speak to how different it is from her other books. All I can say is that I was on the edge of my seat reading this book and if Colleen Hoover wants to continue dabbling in the thriller world, I will continue to read.

Title: The Turn of the Key
Author: Ruth Ware
Genre: Thriller
Pages: 0 (audiobook)
My Rating: 5 stars

Brief Summary: This book follows Rowan, a young woman who has been hired by a wealthy family as a nanny caring for the three children living at home. The story is actually told in letter-form, after-the-fact, as it is known by the reader that Rowan has been charged for the murder of one of the children, and she is recounting the experience from the beginning to prove her innocence.

My Thoughts: I’m sure most people at this point have heard of this book and all of the hype that surrounds it – so many book bloggers and Booktubers are calling it the perfect thriller, and I actually would have to agree. The writing and atmosphere of this book are so well done, I truly did not know which direction the story was headed and what the solution to the mystery was going to end up being. I listened to the audiobook and would highly recommend – not only did it help immerse me fully into the story, it also helped me speed through the book as quickly as possible since I was so interested to get to the ending!

Title: The Last Time I Lied
Author: Riley Sager
Genre: Thriller
Pages: 370
My Rating: 5 stars

Brief Summary: This is the second thriller novel written by Riley Sager, and it follows young woman Emma as she returns to the same summer camp that she last attended when she was 15 years old. Her first time at the camp, Emma’s three bunkmates went missing, were never found, and caused the camp to be shut down due to safety concerns for the campers. 15 years later, the camp is reopening and Emma goes back as an instructor with hopes of getting closure for her three friends lost all those years ago.

My Thoughts: I feel like this book has been SEVERELY underhyped compared to Riley Sager’s other two thrillers, and I have to say that this one is by far my favorite. I absolutely loved the fun and creepy setting of the summer camp and thought that the mystery, twists, and reveals were smart and ultimately shocking – at least to me. I felt fully invested in the story and characters and was itching to get to the end so I could get some answers. Although there was one MAJOR plot hole that I noticed (would love to discuss with others that have read it 😊), I honestly enjoyed the book so much that I’m willing to overlook it and still give it a 5-star rating.

Title: Lock Every Door
Author: Riley Sager
Genre: Thriller
Pages: 368
My Rating: 4 stars

Brief Summary: This thriller, Riley Sager’s latest release, follows Jules, a young woman hired to be an apartment-sitter for a luxury apartment in Manhattan for six weeks. Although the apartment building is creepy and the job comes with some odd ground rules, the pay is so good that Jules can’t possibly turn the opportunity down. Soon after starting, however, she starts to notice weird things about the apartment and other tenants in the building and questions whether the arrangement is too good to be true.

My Thoughts: Another extremely-hyped thriller that actually lived up to the hype for me. The atmosphere was just as creepy and intriguing as everyone has said, and I think the mystery and reveals were well-crafted. Unfortunately, my reading experience was tainted JUST SLIGHTLY due to the fact that I knowingly spoiled the ending for myself before picking the book up. I think the ending really would have shocked me if I didn’t know what was going on going in, but I still thoroughly enjoyed my reading experience and am already looking forward to Riley Sager’s 2020 release.

Title: The Silent Patient
Author: Alex Michaelides
Genre: Thriller
Pages: 323
My Rating: 3 stars

Brief Summary: This book is told in two perspectives – one is from Theo, a psychotherapist who is interested in treating Alicia Berenson, a woman who killed her husband in their home and hasn’t spoken a single word in the 6 years since the incident. Theo believes he can get her to speak and finally shed some light on the tragedy, what happened, and whether Alicia is truly guilty of the crime. The second perspective is from Alicia, told through the journal entries she wrote recounting her life and relationship with her husband several months leading up to the incident.

My Thoughts: I went into this book pretty much completely blind to the synopsis, and I’m really glad I did. The first half had me COMPLETELY hooked. I loved the mystery and enjoyed the format in which it was told. By about ¾ of the way through the book, I had formed some theories, some of which turned out to be correct. I don’t consider myself a great mystery-solver, nor do I usually try to guess the endings of books, but for this one I just so happened to do so and unfortunately it did take some of the satisfaction out of it for me. I still think it’s a good thriller, and understand why so many people have read and loved it, but ultimately not my favorite of the month.

Title: Run Away
Author: Harlan Coben
Genre: Thriller
Pages: 0 (audiobook)
My Rating: 3 stars

Brief Summary: This book follows Simon, a middle-aged man with three children, the oldest of whom is a daughter who has gotten mixed up with the wrong crowd after her college experience didn’t quite go according to plan. She is dating an obvious drug dealer, and when he turns up dead, she runs away and goes missing. Simon is then determined to take matters into his own hands and go searching for his daughter, navigating the dark world of drugs and dangerous men that he can’t believe his daughter has been involved with.

My Thoughts: I’m not exactly sure why, but this book felt very different to me than other thrillers I usually read. It could be because I’m unfamiliar with the author, or I’m unfamiliar with following a middle-aged man instead of a 20-something young woman, but something in the tone of this book I felt difficult to connect with, especially at the beginning. But I pushed through (thanks to the audiobook), and about halfway through things started clicking and I finally started to feel invested in the story. I enjoyed the way things came together in the end, thought the mystery was smart and well-revealed, and although I don’t think I found a new favorite author or thriller, am satisfied with the read.

Title: Two Can Keep a Secret
Author: Karen M. McManus
Genre: Thriller
Pages: 329
My Rating: 3 stars

Brief Summary: This book follows high-schooler Ellery as she and her twin brother move to Echo Ridge, a small town that their mother grew up in and their aunt went missing from at age 17. Soon after arrival, one of the teachers at the high school turns up dead and a public threat is made by an anonymous person that one of the homecoming queen nominees will be next, and the entire town is left fearing for the safety of themselves and everyone around them.

My Thoughts: Unfortunately I don’t have too much to say about this book… YA thrillers are not my favorite to begin with, and this one didn’t do anything particularly special to stand out in my mind. I wouldn’t say that anything about it was bad – I actually think the ending was pretty good – but the plot

Title: An Anonymous Girl
Author: Greer Hendricks & Sarah Pekkanen
Genre: Thriller
Pages: 0 (audiobook)
My Rating: 3 stars

Brief Summary: This book is about a young woman who enters a psychological study that she thinks is going to be a one-time-thing but actually ends up consuming a large part of her daily life. Although she doesn’t think she is in any immediate danger, she starts to question the motives of the individual running the study and wondering if the payment, although generous, is worth having her own morality scrutinized in such detail.

My Thoughts: I wanted to like this book, and for the first half I was intrigued by the unique format of the story, but ultimately I grew bored with it and found myself not caring what happened to the characters. I think that I’ll soon forget most of the details of the book, which to me is a big indicator that it didn’t resonate or impact me much at all.

Title: Someone We Know
Author: Shari Lapena
Genre: Thriller
Pages: 292
My Rating: 3 stars

Brief Summary: This is a domestic thriller following several members of a neighborhood with lots of secrets. When one of the women turns up dead, everyone starts pointing fingers and wondering if they can trust their neighbors, friends, and even own family.

My Thoughts: Ugh… the more I think about this book, the more upset I get about it – 3 stars might be generous. I think the writing is good – Shari Lapena knows how to write in a way to keep you turning the pages – and the mystery is fairly well-crafted…. but there is just so much cheating and lying that it totally goes out of the realm of possibility for me. Not every married person is having an affair and has a burner phone, so it’s annoying when every character in a book is/does. It actually made the ending far less shocking to me, because every person was made out to look shady and had a motive for being the murderer.

Title: The Institute
Author: Stephen King
Genre: Thriller
Pages: 0 (audiobook)
My Rating: 2 stars

Brief Summary: This novel is about Luke Ellis, a young boy who is kidnapped in the middle of the night and brought to “The Institute,” a compound where several kids are being held captive and studied for their apparent telekinetic or telepathic abilities.

My Thoughts: Although the synopsis of this book sounds right up my alley, I was super disappointed by this book. I really didn’t get much of a thriller/horror vibe at all – much more of a dystopia/action-type book, but even so I found it to be pretty below average. Not only did I not feel any suspense or pull to the characters and their well-being, but I also found the plot as a whole to be unoriginal and the ending extremely unsatisfying.

Title: My Lovely Wife
Author: Samantha Downing
Genre: Thriller
Pages: 374
My Rating: 2 stars

Brief Summary: This book is said to be “Dexter meets Mr. and Mrs. Smith” – it follows a married couple who, 15 years into their relationship, gets bored and decides to start murdering people to keep their spark alive.  

My Thoughts: This thriller, although very well-loved in the book community, was just not for me. I found the first 300 pages just flat-out boring, and by the time things actually got interesting, it all happened and wrapped up way too quickly. I completely understand and agree with the comparison to Dexter – I personally didn’t enjoy that show either, so it’s clearly something with me not caring to watch/read from the serial killer’s perspective!

Title: Inspection
Author: Josh Malerman
Genre: Thriller
Pages: 383
My Rating: 2 stars

Brief Summary: This book is about J, a boy who has been raised for his entire life in a single building along with 25 other boys without the knowledge or influence of the female gender. A couple of miles away, the very same experiment is being done on a set of 26 girls raised without ever coming into contact with a male. As the kids grow older, some of them start to ask questions and the experiment authorities start to fear failure of the experiment they’ve been working so long to keep intact.

My Thoughts: Again, the premise of this book sounds just like something I would love, but I found myself completely underwhelmed by the execution. I would not consider it to be a horror or thriller in any capacity, as there was no suspense or thrill in the entire first 300 pages. The last bit of the book, although action-packed, didn’t have me invested enough to care about the outcome.

Title: Recursion
Author: Blake Crouch
Genre: Science Fiction
Pages: 326
My Rating: 5 stars

Brief Summary: This sci-fi book is all about memories. We follow two different individuals, the first being Barry, a New York City cop investigating a new disorder showing up in individuals called False Memory Syndrome, where sufferer’s minds are suddenly infiltrated by memories of entire lives they have not lived, causing some of them to go mad and eventually resort to killing themselves to make the false memories stop. The other main character is Helena, a researcher studying the effects of dementia and Alzheimer’s and working on a solution to allow those suffering to preserve memories to be revisited later, when memory loss causes them to forget the most precious people and moments in their lives.

My Thoughts: I love love love Blake Crouch’s sci-fi writing. I loved Dark Matter when I read it earlier this year, and I think I loved this one even more because of how much I enjoyed the characters themselves. I really appreciate how Blake Crouch’s plots and science elements are just enough to keep your mind reeling, but not too much so that you feel lost or stupid for not fully understanding (it is still fiction, after all). This book doesn’t necessarily have much more twists and turns, so I wouldn’t call it a mystery/thriller, but that’s not what I wanted out of it so I was completely satisfied with the story and complex journey that these characters were on. Highly recommend to fans of Dark Matter, highly don’t recommend to anyone who didn’t care for that book – I found them to be very similar in a lot of ways.

Title: Nineteen Minutes
Author: Jodi Picoult
Genre: Contemporary
Pages: 455
My Rating: 3 stars

Brief Summary: This book follows several different members of a community impacted by a school shooting. It dives into all of the characters’ (including the shooter himself) relationships, upbringings, and understandings of the world both before and after the incident, revealing insights and asking questions about humanity at its core.

My Thoughts: This is definitely a tough book to review because of its highly sensitive subject matter, but I have to say that I appreciate the intent of this book to show that everybody’s life is complex – whether you’re a popular kid, a well-established working adult, a loner, or someone in-between, everyone has highs and lows that no one else can possibly understand. With that, everyone – even a “monster” capable of shooting another human – has loved ones and redeeming human qualities, too. Not every issue is black and white, and not every person can be tagged as good or evil. Outside of the hard-hitting stuff, I found his book to be pretty entertaining but maybe a bit too long. It switches between character perspectives and timelines often, which was sometimes hard to keep straight, and I didn’t love the ending, but again it’s hard to say that this book is overall good or bad when its intent seems to be just to get you to think a little deeper about things you may judge prematurely.

Title: Through a Daughter’s Eyes
Author: Mary DeJong
Genre: Memoir
Pages: 123
My Rating: 5 stars

Brief Summary: This nonfiction book goes back and forth between memories and written accounts of the author’s life watching her father battle cancer. It captures some of her happiest memories, playing basketball with her dad and playing at the park with her best friends, and some of her worst, getting the news that her dad has passed away and standing at her father’s funeral as a middle-school student.  

My Thoughts: Full disclosure, this is absolutely a biased review as I went to high school with the author of this book and know the community that was impacted by this loss. But with that, I think that this book is as emotional and powerful as it gets, even for being so short in length. I loved the format and getting the different timelines and perspectives and was totally immersed. I feel like after reading this book I’ve been given some new perspective on family and life and really appreciate that.


I’m extremely happy with the reading I got done in October, and I’m happy to say that I still feel motivated going into November – which is good, considering my ambitious November TBR. I’d love to know if you’ve read any of the books above or what your reading plans are for November – we’re getting down to crunch time for finishing everything we want by the end of the year!!


August 2019 Reading Wrap-Up

I started out my September TBR post last week by saying how excited I am for it to be September and all of the exciting things I have to look forward to this fall! I’m sure I’m not alone in that love for fall activities and cozy fall weather – but August has definitely been a whirlwind, trying to cherish these last bits of summer while I still have them.

For those reasons, August was a bit of a slower reading month, and I only have 7 books to wrap up (4 of them were actually audiobooks, so that’s really telling of my reading habits!), but still a good reading month in itself and I definitely found some great reads to recommend. As usual, my reading stats and then mini-reviews for each book are below!

This month’s reading stats:
7 books (4 audiobooks)
1,171 pages
7 authors (4 female)
1 nonfiction | 6 fiction
Year-to-date quick stats:
66 books (12 audiobooks)
17,018 pages
61 authors (34 female)
21 nonfiction | 45 fiction

Title: Swapping Purples for Yellows
Author: Matthew Duffus
Genre: Contemporary
Pages: 285
My Rating: 4 stars
This ARC was provided to me for free by SFK Press, but I am under no obligation to review positively or otherwise. All thoughts are completely my own and are posted on my own accord!

Brief Summary: This book follows the Sutherlands, your typical middle-class family with plenty of drama but trying to hold it together, if not for their own sakes but for everyone else’s. Alternating between Rob, the father and professor at the local university, Molly, the mother struggling with her identity and gambling issues, and their two teenage daughters, this slice-of-life story dives into each character’s thoughts, feelings, and problems over the course of an action-packed weekend.

My Thoughts: At the very least, I thought this was an entertaining slice-of-life story in which readers can find at least one character to relate to. At the most, though, I think this story is a real teacher of empathy and reminder that you never really know what is going on behind-the-scenes of someone else’s life. With the length of this story only spanning three days, you get such an in-depth view to all of the characters’ perspectives and nuanced situations that you can’t help but root for all of them and none of them at the same time. Do I think this book had such a profound message that I’ll be thinking about it every day for months to come? No, but I can appreciate a story that gets me out of my own head and into the shoes of a person/family with a life as complex as mine.

Title: The Unhoneymooners
Author: Christina Lauren
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Pages: 0 (audiobook)
My Rating: 2 stars

Brief Summary: This is a very popular contemporary novel that features an enemies-to-lovers romance plotline. Olive and Ethan are the maid of honor and best man in a wedding where every single OTHER person – including the bride and groom – gets food poisoning and becomes violently ill. Because of the illness, the bride and groom cannot attend their non-refundable honeymoon, so Olive and Ethan step up to redeem the trip – even though they hate each other.

My Thoughts: Like I said, this book is super popular and I’ve seen it hyped everywhere on the bookternet, and I wanted to love it. I actually think that if I watched this book as a movie, I’d love the light-hearted cheesiness of it, and I’d appreciate that it only took up an hour and a half of my time. But I listened to the 10-ish hour audiobook instead, and it just felt like a waste of my time. If you love rom-com books and are looking for a light summer read, this probably would be right up your alley! I just didn’t find anything great about it. Plus – I’ve lived in the Minneapolis/St. Paul area, which is where these characters are from, and at first I thought it was cool hearing them mention places I know and have been to myself. But I don’t know, when the audiobook narrator mispronounces Mankato and Menards… it loses its charm pretty quick. Overall just not my cup of tea, and I will probably steer clear of rom-com books like this one in the future.  

Title: Gone
Author: Michael Grant
Genre: Dystopia
Pages: 558
My Rating: 3 stars

Brief Summary: This book, probably intended for a middle-grade audience, is a dystopia that follows a group of kids all under the age of 15 after every single adult instantaneously disappears. Nobody knows why it happened, where they went, or what they are supposed to do now that the kids are completely on their own.  

My Thoughts: I’ve said it before, but there is a special place in my heart for dystopias, no matter who they are intended for. I really loved the focus on kids in this one – no adult characters for us to follow even if we wanted to. The story was super intriguing and kept me turning the pages. I was disappointed in the middle and ending though – absolutely zero questions were answered. There are something like 5 more books in the series, each of them probably consisting of 500+ pages, and I just don’t want to have to read all of them to get to the bottom of the mysteries uncovered here. So I will not be continuing, but I would recommend this book to any dystopia-lovers ready to dive into the whole, long series.

Title: On the Island
Author: Tracey Garvis Graves
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Pages: 328
My Rating: 5 stars

Brief Summary: This contemporary novel alternates between perspectives of teacher/tutor, Anna, and student, T.J., the two victims of a tiny plane crash between islands in the Maldives on the way to T.J.’s family’s vacation home for the summer. When their pilot has a heart attack and dies on the way down, Anna and T.J. land in the water alone and eventually wash up onto shore with nothing more than the clothes on their backs. As they struggle to live on the island until the authorities can locate them, their relationship becomes possibly the most important factor in their survival.

My Thoughts: This is the second novel I’ve read by Tracey Garvis Graves (first was The Girl He Used to Know), and my second 5-star rating. I just love her books – her character development is amazing and I always end up caring so deeply for both characters in the relationship despite all of the flaws they inevitably have. This story particularly is also incredibly suspenseful – I spent every page wondering if Anna & T.J. were going to survive, and if they did, what was going to happen to their relationship. Can’t wait to keep on reading TGG’s books.

Title: Influencer: The Power to Change Anything
Author: Kerry Patterson, et. al.
Genre: Business/Nonfiction
Pages: 0 (audiobook)
My Rating: 4 stars

Brief Summary: This book is a non-fiction guide to identifying the vital behaviors that lead to any rapid and profound change, whether in an individual or organization. It teaches how to apply strategies for changing both thoughts and actions, making change not only possible, but inevitable.

My Thoughts: I always enjoy self-help-type books that offer real stories and case studies showing how the strategies being highlighted actually work in the real world, and this book definitely had a lot of that. I thought the information was simple and clear and presented in a helpful way. Definitely recommend to anyone looking to make changes happen on an individual or organizational basis.

Title: Forever, Interrupted
Author: Taylor Jenkins Reid
Genre: Contemporary
Pages: 0 (audiobook)
My Rating: 4 stars

Brief Summary: This book is about Elsie, a young woman whose husband is suddenly killed after only two weeks of being married. After his death, Elsie has to deal not only with her grief, but also with getting to know her mother-in-law who never even knew her son was in a relationship – let alone married. We alternate between reading about the early stages of Elsie and Ben’s relationship and Elsie’s present-day struggles.

My Thoughts: This book was HARD to rate! On one hand, it’s a really nice love story that we get to see develop between Elsie and Ben. But then we are constantly thrust back into the tragedy of his death, and those sections are really, really hard to read. Ultimately I think the fact that this book made me feel so much is a testament to the storytelling and writing, so it deserves a good rating – but readers should definitely know going in that the story is extremely sad.

Title: Jane Steele
Author: Lyndsey Faye
Genre: Classic Retelling
Pages: 0 (audiobook)
My Rating: 3 stars

Brief Summary: This is a retelling of the classic novel Jane Eyre, centered around a character named Jane Steele. Though her life and personality are like Jane Eyre in many ways, there is one major difference – Jane Steele is a serial killer.

My Thoughts: I had some mixed feelings about this one. The things that I liked include the fact that Jane Steele is a fan of Jane Eyre, and even references the classic novel several times throughout the book. I thought it was a clever way to incorporate the old story and help me relate to the main character with our mutual enjoyment of Jane Eyre. I also ultimately enjoyed the story of Jane Steele’s life and particularly liked the ending. However, for a non-classic, I thought this book really dragged on. One of the benefits of being a classic retelling, in my opinion, is the option to keep the interesting parts/themes of an old story but take out all of the wordiness and unnecessary description that classics are known for. Also, I thought that the fact that Jane Steele was a serial killer ended up being a much less exciting and prominent part of the story than I expected. Some people may find that to be a positive, since there are many other key plot points that make the story unique, but it’s used as such an attention-grabber that I just expected it to be more of the focus. I still would recommend this story for lovers of Jane Eyre, but anyone else may want to skip it!


Let me know if you have read any of these books, if they are on your TBR, or what you are planning on reading this fall!


Mid-Year Reading Summary

And just like that, I guess 2019 is already halfway over! Because my reading goal has been going SO well and I’ve already read 45 of the 52 books I wanted to complete by the end of this year, I thought now would be a good time to recap all of that reading, mention some standout favorites so far, and set some new goals for the remainder of the year.

General Reading Summary

Books Completed: 45
Pages Read: 12,821
Authors Read: 41
Overall Genre Breakdown: 30 fiction, 15 nonfiction

Detailed Reading Summary

Reading Statistics

Female: 25 (61%)
Male: 16 (39%)

Physical Books: 36 (80%)
eBooks: 5 (11%)
Audiobooks: 4 (9%)

Contemporaries: 14 (31%)
Thrillers/Mysteries: 7 (16%)
Female Nonfiction: 6 (13%)
Memoirs: 4 (8.9%)
Miscellaneous: 4 (8.9%)
Classics: 3 (6.7%)
Dystopias: 2 (4.4%)
Historical Fiction: 2 (4.4%)
Science Fiction: 2 (4.4%)
Sports: 1 (2.2%)

1 star: 1 (2.2%)
2 stars: 4 (8.9%)
3 stars: 13 (29%)
4 stars: 18 (40%)
5 stars: 9 (20%)

Favorite Reads

In the table up in the detailed reading summary, you can see that the nine books I rated 5 stars are written in pink. I could say that all of those are my “favorites” so far of the year – and that would be true – but I really want to highlight the 5 books that really stand out in my mind as must-reads.

  1. Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng
    This book, when I read it, immediately stood out as a new possible favorite book of all time. The writing was great, the characters were interesting, and the storyline included a lot of sensitive topics that I felt connected to and enjoyed reading the different sides of (custody disagreements, parenting styles, general feelings of inclusion and belonging). I actually don’t think this book would be everyone’s cup of tea because it is a pretty slow-moving contemporary, but I really, really enjoyed it.
  2. The Girl He Used to Know by Tracey Garvis Graves
    This was another emotional one for me. I’m not a big crier when it comes to reading, but this book got me about as close to tears as possible. I also don’t consider myself a romance lover, but the storyline of the couple in this book is really special. I think people could learn a lot about empathy by reading this book, so it’s a big recommendation from me. You can find my full review of this book here.
  3. I Shouldn’t Be Telling You This by Kate White
    This is the only nonfiction book on my favorites list – in fact, it’s the only nonfiction book that I’ve rated 5 stars so far this year. It is full of extremely useful and relevant tips for any woman with a career – whether you’re in the magazine industry like her or the engineering industry like me. It’s long enough to really dive into important topics but moves fast enough and covers enough different topics to keep it from getting too drawn-out or preachy. It includes both entertaining anecdotes to give context to her points and actionable pieces of advice to feel like you’re actually getting something out of it. Overall a great read for anyone, whether you’re just starting in a career or you’re already in management or beyond.
  4. Dark Matter by Blake Crouch
    This is by far one of the most-hyped books I’ve picked up this year, and to me it totally lived up to all of the great reviews. It’s primarily science fiction, but reads like a thriller and makes you contemplate your own life like a hard-hitting contemporary might. I never felt bored, but I also never felt like it got too over-the-top with action or unbelievability.
  5. The Sense of an Ending by Julian Barnes
    I originally went into this book with very little knowledge about the plot – and I’d recommend that anyone wanting to read this book do the same. All I’ll say is that this book is similar in vibe to The Perks of Being a Wallflower – nostalgic, a little slow-moving, with a really powerful ending. I was shocked by how much the story impacted me and how much I was left thinking about it days, weeks, and now even months after finishing it.

Rest of Year Goals

Considering the fact that I only have 7 books to read before completing my 2019 Reading Challenge, I definitely think it’s necessary to up my goal, at least unofficially (I’ll probably leave it alone on Goodreads). The logical next goal would be 90 books, which is double what I read in the first half. But part of me wants to go for 100 🙂

Other goals I have for the rest of the year include:

  • Continuing to post monthly wrap-ups on my blog so that I can keep all of my thoughts and reviews in one place.
  • Starting to do monthly challenges to read certain types of books (keep an eye out for my August TBR for an example).
  • Continuing to read primarily female authors
  • Continuing to read at least 2 non-fiction books every month

But mostly, my goal is just to keep reading as much as I possibly can!


January-June Monthly Wrap-Ups

Book Reviews

Book Recommendations


Buzzwordathon Wrap-Up | June 2019 | YOU

For my second round of Buzzwordathon, a readathon hosted by booktubers Booksandlala and Chanelletime, I went in with the much more (in my opinion) reasonable goal of 4 books in 7 days. [As opposed to my last, highly ambitious attempt of 7 books in 7 days – read about how that went here!]

For those not familiar with Buzzwordathon, it’s a week-long readathon with the goal of reading only books with a particular word in the title. This round’s buzzword was “you.” I chose 4 books on my owned TBR to tackle, and I’m happy to say that I completed all of them! Below are mini-reviews of the books I read and my thoughts on each of them – I’m very happy to say that not only was it a great week for my page count, but also for my enjoyment. No books lower than 3 stars, and two 5-stars!

Title: I Shouldn’t Be Telling You This
Author: Kate White
Genre: Female Nonfiction/Business Self-Help
Pages: 345
My Rating: 5 stars

Brief Summary: Kate White, the editor-in-chief of Cosmopolitan magazine, wrote this book to be a complete career guide for young women in any industry. It covers everything from how to apply for and land your first job, to how to impress your boss, to how to get promoted, to how to manage other people, all the way up to how to handle reaching the “big job” that you’ve spent your whole career striving for.

My Thoughts: I wrote on Goodreads that this is one of, if not THE, best career-focused self-help books I’ve ever read. Even though my industry is COMPLETELY different from the magazine/media industry, there were so many helpful tips throughout this book. It’s long enough to actually flush out all of her points (a big pet peeve of mine in self-help books is when they say a catchy, inspirational tip but then don’t follow up on how it’s actually useful), but moved quickly enough to cover a LOT of ground – pretty much an entire career. I didn’t ever find myself skimming or getting bored. Overall I’m just really happy to own and have read this book, and I can absolutely see myself reaching for it again as I reach different points in my career.

Title: The Five People You Meet in Heaven
Author: Mitch Albom
Genre: Contemporary
Pages: 196
My Rating: 3 stars

Brief Summary: This novel follows Eddie, an amusement park maintenance worker who suddenly reaches the end of his 83-year-old life. After death, he goes through a journey of meeting five people who have died before him and were integral in his life, whether he knew it at the time or not. He learns lessons about his life, his death, the world around him, and the impact his seemingly simple life left.

My Thoughts: This book is as heartwarming and inspirational as the title makes it seem. I think it is aimed at a younger audience, so I’m not surprised that I found the stories to be pretty simple and the life lessons a little cliché, but they are good life lessons nonetheless.

Title: Do You Realize?
Author: Kevin A. Kuhn
Genre: Science Fiction
Pages: 400
My Rating: 5 stars

Brief Summary: This book follows George, a middle-aged man who finds himself completely stuck in a rut in his life. His relationship with his wife is fine, his kids are fine, and his job is fine, but he is not fulfilled in any way. Suddenly his life is shifted when he meets a strange man on the subway offering to let him beta test an app on a new Apple watch that lets him travel to parallel universes and alternate realities of his life, effectively letting him time travel and relive key moments in his life. Around the same time, one of his family members is in an accident that has him wondering if he is living his life to the fullest, or if he could be doing more, a major question that shifts his entire mindset.

My Thoughts: This book – which I picked up on a complete whim on my Bookstore Scavenger Hunt – was the BEST surprise! I absolutely loved this story. It’s reminiscent in a way of Blake Crouch’s Dark Matter – so if you enjoyed that book, I think you would enjoy this one, too. But, it’s also very different. Both books explore parallel universes, but Dark Matter does it in a thriller-y way, while this book is much more contemporary in style. Not only did this book keep me entertained, it also made me think deeply about some of life’s biggest mysteries and left me feeling fulfilled and even inspired.

Title: How Lucky You Can Be
Author: Buster Olney
Genre: Sports Memoir
Pages: 215
My Rating: 3 stars

Brief Summary: Don Meyer was a well-renowned college basketball coach who was in a car accident right before his 2008 season. This book tells the story of his coaching life before and after the accident, trying to prove himself as an effective coach and then having to re-develop his entire coaching style after losing one of his legs.

My Thoughts: I think my reading experience would have been a lot better had I known who Don Meyer was before this book. [This book actually belongs to my husband, a big sports fan – I never would have picked it up if we didn’t already own it]. However, I can still appreciate a well-written book with heart-wrenching and heart-warming stories about an incredible coach and person. Very inspiring.


And with that, my second round of Buzzwordathon is over! Though 4 books in a week may not be the MOST impressive, I’m still really happy that I read and enjoyed four full books. Not only that, I’m left feeling refreshed (not burnt out) and ready to finish out June strong! How’s your June going?!


5 Books to Read if You’re Short on Time

You know what’s really fun? Watching Booktube videos or reading bloggers’ TBRs that consist of 20+ books in one month. Those people are incredible. But my monthly cap is right around 6-10 books, and I’m sure most people (non-readers) see even THAT amount and think it’s an outrageous number of books to get through. People are busy with jobs and kids (and Netflix) and often don’t have hours upon hours to devote to reading. If you’re looking for book recommendations but want to keep it quick, this list is for you: five of my favorite books with low page counts.

A Business Book

Title: Leadership and Self-Deception
Author: The Arbinger Institute
Pages: 180
My Rating: 5 stars

If I could recommend one book for all of my coworkers, bosses, and family members to read, it would be this one. Marketed as a business book, it does go into strategies to get more out of your team and become a better team player yourself. But the brilliance is in the fact that these strategies carry over into all parts of your life, from family to romantic relationships to one-off conversations with people you interact with every day. Plus, the book reads like a novel, with a main character learning these lessons right along with the reader, preventing it from sounding too preachy and also addressing some of the “what about in this situation?” questions you might find yourself asking. For anyone looking to improve themselves personally or professionally, I highly recommend this book.

A Classic Novel

Title: The Alchemist
Author: Paulo Coelho
Pages: 197
My Rating: 4 stars

I’m not the biggest classics reader, but I’m trying to change that. I’ve always been nervous about them not living up to the hype, but in my opinion this one certainly did. It’s an entertaining story with many life lessons intertwined, and not over-explained or as wordy as some classic novels seem to be. If you’re dipping your toes into classics, I’d recommend starting with this one.

A Contemporary

Title: The Sense of an Ending
Author: Julian Barnes
Pages: 163
My Rating: 5 stars

This book caught me completely by surprise! I’d describe it as the adult version of The Perks of Being a Wallflower – very nostalgic in tone and deals with some hard-hitting subject matter. If you’re looking to completely shake up the way you view the world (and are prepared for a shocking ending), definitely give this book a try.

A Female Nonfiction

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

This is my most recent read on the list! I find that a lot of female nonfiction books to repeat the same information, some of it inspiring but most of it over-the-top and cliche. This book has a view of those moments, but the format makes for a quick read and with interviews from several girl bosses, you get a variety of perspectives. If you’re looking for inspiration to start a new job or try something you’ve never done before, this should do the trick!

A Thriller

Title: Behind Closed Doors
Author: B.A. Paris
Pages: 293
My Rating: 5 stars

I was trying to keep all of the books on this list under 200 pages, but I actually don’t know of any thrillers that meet that requirement. I’m sure they’re out there, but I haven’t read any of them! So for this list I’d rather recommend my favorite thriller for someone who doesn’t want to waste their time sifting through the mediocre. This book is terrifying because of how realistic it’s made out to sound, and really makes you wonder what you would do in the main character’s situation. And at under 300 pages, I’d still argue it’s shorter than most other domestic thrillers!


I would LOVE to hear if any of you have recommendations for short reads. Sometimes a quick book in the right genre is exactly what you need to get yourself out of a reading slump, sometimes you need to squeeze a short book into your goals for a particular readathon, and sometimes you’re just busy and don’t want to spend a week (or more) on a single book! Let me know your favorite book with the smallest page count.