Contemporaryathon TBR | September 2019

Well, well… better late than never when it comes to planning a readathon TBR, am I right? I’ve decided to partake in this month’s round of Contemporaryathon (a week-long readathon hosted by I think 4 different Booktubers) mainly because I can fit the challenges in with a few books I’m already planning to read by the end of this month!

Contemporaryathon starts TODAY and goes through this Sunday, September 29th. Still time to join in if you’re interested! Here is a link to one of the announcement videos, in which you can go deeper into the challenges, get some recommendations, and be linked to the three other co-hosts.

Contemporaryathon Round 5 Challenges

  1. Read a 2019 release
  2. Read a book with yellow on the cover
  3. Read a book that is diverse from your own experiences
  4. Read a book with an illustrated cover
  5. Read a book with a dark or hard-hitting storyline
  6. Read a book with plants on the cover
  7. Read a book that is beloved by someone in the book community (plus shout them out!)

The rules of this readathon are pretty relaxed – the only real requirement is to read “contemporary” books, which in itself can even be up for interpretation – but essentially any book without any speculative or fantastical elements. You can choose to follow none or all of the challenges, and you are free to double- (or triple- or quadruple-…) up on challenges if you find books that hit multiple!

My Contemporaryathon TBR

I’m choosing to keep my TBR fairly attainable this week with 3 books. I did manage to get these to cover all 7 challenges, thanks to one book that actually hits 4 of them. See below for the books I chose and what challenges they each fulfill!

Nineteen Minutes by Jodi Picoult

This book was recommended and lent to me by my mother-in-law, which is a big reason I’m trying to prioritize it. Nothing I hate more than borrowing something from someone and accidentally never returning it!

Challenges Covered:
2 – Read a book with yellow on the cover
5 – Read a book with a dark or hard-hitting storyline – I believe this book is all about a school shooting – a highly sensitive topic that I’m sure will be VERY hard-hitting and emotional. I wouldn’t be surprised if I shed a few tears…

One True Loves by Taylor Jenkins Reid

On top of helping me fulfill one last contemporaryathon challenge, this book will also round out my goal to read all of TJR’s books. Be on the look out for a post likely early next year ranking all of them!

Challenges Covered:
6 – Read a book with plants on the cover

Red, White, and Royal Blue by Casey McQuiston

I was not originally planning on reading this book this month… but things just kind of worked out – it fulfills 4 readathon challenges, was available immediately at my library, and WAS on my someday TBR – so I’m glad to knock it out!

Challenges Covered:
1 – Read a 2019 release
3 – Read a book that is diverse from your own experiences – this book features a male-male romance. Not only is that not something that I have experienced in my life (obviously, as a woman), but it’s also not something I think I’ve ever read in a book before!
4 – Read a book with an illustrated cover
7 – Read a book that is beloved by someone in the book community – This is extra fitting as this book is HIGHLY beloved by ChelseaDollingreads, one of my favorite Booktubers, one of the hosts of this readathon, and who I would consider to be one of the biggest consumers of the contemporary genre – if she recommends a contemporary, I expect it to be one of the best of its genre!

That’s it – like I said, keeping it reasonable this week! I’d love to know if you’re participating in Contemporaryathon this round and what you’re reading – if you’re not, let me know what you’re planning on reading the rest of September regardless!

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!

Bullet Journal Setup | 2019 Reading Trackers

I have always loved all things stationery – notebooks, planners, and lately looking at beautiful bullet journal spreads all over Pinterest and Instagram. I wanted to start one myself to have a place to keep my reading information that isn’t just an Excel spreadsheet – though we all know how much I love my spreadsheets, too.

At first I thought I’d wait to start a reading bullet journal until 2020, but then I figured there was no harm in trying it out yet this year – this way I can test out different trackers and art styles and hopefully have a few more skills come January!

It may not be much yet, but I wanted to share my first few spreads in the bullet journal. I have it updated through July and plan on keeping it updated throughout the rest of this year, possibly adding more spreads if I feel like something else is missing!

Spread 1: 2019 At-A-Glance

This first spread is something I see at the start of most bullet journals online – a very basic overview of the entire year. I think this is helpful to have as a reference to check dates and as a beginning to the bullet journal to indicate that it is for the 2019 calendar year.

Spread 2: 2019 Reading Challenge and Page Tracker

On this second spread I decided to test the waters on my illustration skills. I saw a bookshelf spread somewhere online and decided to modify it to track my progress against my new 2019 reading goal of 100 books. Each month has a designated color, and at the end of the month I will color in the number of books I completed that month. Hopefully by the end of the year all of the books will be colored in!

On the right side you’ll see my version of a page tracker. This helps me see with a quick glance how many days out of the year I have been reading. I wanted to try to incorporate a gradient system so that the darker the block is, the more pages I read that day. I don’t think this system is quite perfect, but I think it still looks aesthetically pleasing.

Spread 3: 2019 Reading Statistics

I love tracking reading statistics every month and throughout the year to see if I am favoring any genres in particular or what other trends emerge. This page is an easy way for me to keep a tally and make those comparisons without having to go into my spreadsheet and count everything up. If you’re also a statistics lover, take a look at my Mid-Year Reading Summary post for some pretty graphs with a lot of the same information!

At this point you may notice that I do not have any sort of over-arching theme for my bullet journal. I really wanted to focus on getting used to the materials, color combinations, and different writing/illustrating styles before committing to just one.

Spread 4: 2019 Books Completed

And lastly, my fourth spread is simply a list of all of the books I have completed so far this year. The spreadsheet I keep on my computer lists out each book’s genre, number of pages, Goodreads rating, and more – but this is a quick reference just to see the titles, authors, and dates completed.

That’s all I have so far – safe to say I’m already hooked. I didn’t want to overwhelm myself with monthly spreads and trackers yet, because I think that functionality and practice are the two main goals for the rest of this year when it comes to bullet journaling.

BUT! I would LOVE to see any reading trackers or beautiful spreads you have done or have seen – please leave me links to check out for inspiration and for me to connect with different people as I start this fun new hobby!

July 2019 Reading Wrap-Up

July 2019… AKA my biggest, and possibly best, reading month so far of the year! 14 books completed, 9 of them being either 4- or 5-star reads. I’d call that a success!

In my July TBR post, I mentioned that not only was I planning on participating in The Reading Rush readathon, but I loosely set my entire month’s TBR based on the readathon’s prompts. I didn’t read every single book on that TBR, nor did I read the 7 books in 7 days for the readathon itself, but I think this month overall was still a resounding success. See below for all of the books I completed and my thoughts!

This month’s quick stats:
14 books (4 audiobooks)
3,026 pages
15 authors (7 female)
5 nonfiction | 9 fiction
Year-to-date quick stats:
59 books (8 audiobooks)
15,847 pages
56 authors (32 female)
20 nonfiction | 39 fiction

Title: Foolish Hearts
Emma Mills
My Rating:
4 stars

Brief Summary: This young adult contemporary is about Claudia, a high school girl who finds herself accidentally eavesdropping on the breakup of her school’s “it” couple, Iris and Paige. This puts her on rocky terms with Iris right before being assigned her partner for multiple English class assignments and to work their school’s play together, making for a very interesting senior year filled with drama, rumors, boy band fandom, new friends and relationships.

My Thoughts: Just adorable. I don’t read a lot of young adult because of how ridiculous and dramatic I find some of the characters and storylines, but this one actually broke through the cheesiness and reminded me of exactly the type of story I would have read when I was in middle school – in a good way!

Title: A Keeper
Graham Norton
My Rating:
3 stars
Release Date: August 13, 2019
Thanks to NetGalley and Atria Book for the eARC in exchange for an honest review!

Brief Summary: Elizabeth is a divorced, single mom stuck with the unfortunate task of going through her late mother’s home and belongings. In doing this, she finds a collection of old letters that she can only assume are from her father, a man she was never told much about. This book flashes back and forth between the two women’s lives to reveal the events that actually happened all those years ago, and what Elizabeth is going to do about it after finding out.

My Thoughts: This book is definitely a page-turner. I was super intrigued by the story and enjoyed it alternating between past and present. I wish some of the mystery’s reveals were more shocking or suspenseful, but I enjoyed the story altogether. I would specifically recommend this book to people who like slow-burning mysteries that aren’t necessary thrillers!

Title: 7 Habits of Highly Effective People
Stephen R. Covey
My Rating:
2 stars

Brief Summary: This book, originally published in 1989, is a very highly-regarded self-help book promising to share the seven habits that successful individuals implement in their everyday life to achieve that success.

My Thoughts: I felt extremely “meh” about this one. I found it to be outdated, preachy, and long-winded. I do think it has some fundamentally good advice, but I can think of at least one or two other books that say what this book was trying to say, but in more concise and impactful ways. If you’re an avid self-help reader, I’d skip this one – you can find the principles elsewhere.

Title: The Perfect Stranger
Megan Miranda
My Rating:
4 stars

Brief Summary: This thriller follows Leah, a former journalist who moved out of Boston and into rural Pennsylvania to become a teacher. Strange things start happening to the people around her – her roommate suddenly goes missing, and a different woman who looks eerily like Leah is found assaulted by a nearby lake. She works with police officer named Kyle, who she also happens to strike a romantic connection with, to solve these mysteries and find out if they are connected in any way.

My Thoughts: I had a great experience reading this thriller – very creepy and twisty, great pacing, and I really didn’t know which characters to trust. I enjoyed the entire plot along with the ending and at first was planning to give this read 5 stars. The only reason I lowered it down to a 4 is because it was pretty quick to leave my memory in the days after putting it down – but overall very enjoyable and I’d highly recommend for thriller fans and/or fans of Megan Miranda. Planning on getting to more of her books soon!

Title: Brave, Not Perfect
Reshma Saujani
Female Nonfiction
0 (audiobook)
My Rating:
4 stars

Brief Summary: This book is written by Reshma Saujani, a lawyer and politician who gave a popular TED Talk about her experience running for Congress (and losing), and later starting the non-profit organization Girls Who Code – two difficult life choices that have shaped her life and success to this day. This book relates those experience to a lesson she thinks should be taught to girls everywhere at every age – to strive for bravery, not perfection, in a world that historically has encouraged the exact opposite.

My Thoughts: I picked up this book for a book club at my workplace and found it INCREDIBLY relatable and inspiring. I absolutely love the Girls Who Code organization, so I’ll admit I probably was biased because of my admiration for the author to begin with, but I think she makes excellent points about the way girls are raised today and gives plenty of actionable tips to help prevent the perfectionist tendencies engrained within ourselves and that we want to avoid passing on to future generations.

Title: Sometimes I Lie
Alice Feeney
My Rating:
4 stars

Brief Summary: Another thriller, this one follows Amber, a young woman who regains consciousness within a hospital bed, where she has been stuck in a coma for several days. Though she cannot open her eyes or speak, she can hear the people around her – the doctors, her husband and sister, and a mysterious individual who sneaks into her room at night. This book alternates between three timelines: present day in the hospital, the days leading up to the accident that brought her there, and twenty years in the past to help solve the puzzle of Amber’s life and those around her.

My Thoughts: I’ve been known to really dislike thrillers that give the main character memory problems – the only ones that I’ve enjoyed (this one and What Alice Forgot) I think do it in the best way, though, with an actual accident that can be attributed to causing memory loss. Aside from the gap in Amber’s memory, I think this story was well-crafted and I enjoyed putting all of the pieces together that relate Amber’s family, coworkers, and others to her accident and the current state of her life. Maybe a little predictable, but still overall enjoyable.

Title: The Astonishing Color of After
Emily X.R. Pan
My Rating:
5 stars

Brief Summary: This contemporary story follows Leigh in the months following her mother’s suicide. In the midst of her grief, she is given reason to believe that her mother has actually returned as a bird and is urging her to travel to Taiwan to meet her maternal grandparents for the first time. Believing she is following her mother’s wishes, and believing that doing so will bring her mother closer and possibly offer some insight to her death, Leigh goes on a journey between past and present, real and fantastical, to find out more than she thought possible about her mother, her family, and herself.

My Thoughts: This book is undeniably beautiful – on the outside (because the cover IS gorgeous) and on the inside. I couldn’t help but fall in love with the writing and the story, even though magical realism is not my usual cup of tea. All of the characters are super well-developed, and I feel like I learned a lot about people and cultures different from me and my own. I also think this book covers the delicate topics of suicide and loss in a way that will resonate with a lot of different people, as hard as it is to address.

Title: Holes
Louis Sachar
0 (audiobook)
My Rating:
5 stars
RR Prompt Fulfilled: Read a book and watch the movie adaptation

Brief Summary: This middle-grade story is about a boy named Stanley who is sent to a correctional camp after being accused of stealing a pair of tennis shoes. At the camp, Stanley and the rest of the campers are forced to dig one hole, each, every day – five feet in diameter and five feet deep. The book alternates between Stanley’s experience and the historical story of the campsite, which may be more closely related than Stanley first realizes.

My Thoughts: I mean, how could I rate this any fewer than 5 stars? I grew up LOVING the movie, which follows the book almost identically. The nostalgia combined with the humor and life lessons this book provides makes it a classic and a book I can’t wait for my future kids to read!

Title: Maxed Out: American Moms on the Brink
Katrina Alcorn
My Rating:
5 stars
RR Prompt Fulfilled: Read a book with 5+ words in the title, Read an author’s debut book

Brief Summary: Kristina Alcorn was a 37-year-old mother with a great husband, three healthy kids, and a thriving career when she suddenly found herself pulling her car over to avoid having a major panic attack on the freeway – with her kids in tow. Wondering how someone like herself, with a supportive partner and flexible workplace, could possibly be struggling with work-life balance, she tried to look both within herself and to her peers to see if she was alone or if parenthood is a bigger struggle than anyone makes it out to be. Turns out it is, and Kristina set out to find if there’s anything that can be done about it, if only to help herself out of the breakdown she was spiraling into. This book is a recollection of that time in her life when she re-learned how to be a mother PLUS truly thrive in her professional and social lives.

My Thoughts: As a mother-to-be (due in December!) this book highlighted all of the fears I have about having a kid and planning to keep the rest of my life (marriage, job, social events) intact. While it was a little scary to read about this seemingly perfect mother completely break down under the stress, it ultimately showed me that I won’t be alone in ANY of the feelings I might have in motherhood. And that is a REALLY comforting feeling. I found this book entertaining, relatable, reassuring, and most importantly helpful. Highly recommend to all moms (and dads!) out there just trying to stay above water.

Title: The Number Devil
Hans Magnus Enzensberger
My Rating:
3 stars
RR Prompt Fulfilled: Read a book with a non-human main character

Brief Summary: This fictional story is about Robert, a school-aged boy who hates math but is visited in his dreams by a “number devil.” The devil leads him through all kinds of mathematical theories and makes them fun and interesting, putting fun cartoonish twists on them and creating easy ways to remember and utilize them later on.

My Thoughts: I love that this book tries to make math fun. I absolutely love finding patterns and things within numbers and found myself pleasantly surprised by learning a few things myself from the number devil. I do think it’s a LITTLE over-the-top with the whimsy, subtly renaming some of the terms, which I think would make it confusing to carry things from this book over into math class (for example, the book always calls prime numbers “prima donnas,” which is catchy and easy to remember, but it might take a while for a kid to make the connection when their teacher tries teaching prime numbers for the first time). But I think that if this book can convince someone that math/numbers are fun, then that’s a great thing!

Title: The Color Purple
Alice Walker
My Rating:
4 stars
RR Prompt Fulfilled: Read a book with purple on the cover

Brief Summary: This classic novel is about Celie, a young, woman of color living in the southern United States writing letters first to God, then to her long-lost sister separated from Celie at childhood. She tells of her experience bearing children at an extremely young age, being married off to a man who is in love with another woman, and eventually finding true love herself. The book covers absolutely everything from sexism and feminism to racism to LGBTQ+ rights to sexual and domestic abuse.

My Thoughts: I first read this book in high school I believe as an optional AP English assignment. Reading it again now, I actually can’t believe I was encouraged to read it then – it is extremely graphic with its sexual descriptions and has some really disturbing subject matter. But if you can get through all of that, it’s really incredible how hopeful the narrative still is, even with all of the abuse and hardship Celie goes through she still has the strength to hope for a brighter future and for health and happiness for those around her. I don’t know if I have much else to say about this book that hasn’t already been said, because it is such a classic, but if you have not yet read this book and are prepared for the powerful yet disturbing story of Celie’s life, then I agree with everyone else that this is a must-read.

Title: Moneyball
Michael Lewis
0 (audiobook)
My Rating:
3 stars
RR Prompts Fulfilled: Read a book you meant to read last year, Read a book in the same spot the entire time

Brief Summary: This book primarily is about the Oakland A’s, a baseball team that has had to overcome budgetary challenges to stay competitive with the best teams in the MLB. They must get creative with drafting strategies, finding recruits with talents invisible to the big-budget teams but that they can rely on to produce winning results for the A’s.  

My Thoughts: At the risk of sounding like a complete idiot, I honestly didn’t expect this book to focus quite so heavily on baseball. This book was recommended by a top executive at my company, so I thought there would be parallels drawn between the baseball world and the business world – but no, this is a baseball book through and through. If you know that going in, and if you’re interested in learning about baseball statistics and strategies, then I do think there are a lot of really interesting stories in here and facts that I had no idea about, as a pretty casual baseball fan.

Title: Stargirl
Jerry Spinelli
0 (audiobook)
My Rating:
4 stars

Brief Summary: This middle-grade contemporary is known as a celebration of nonconformity, a story about a teenager named Stargirl who transfers to Mica Area High School and completely throws everyone for a loop. The other students don’t know whether to marvel at her confidence or shun her for being so different – and one boy named Leo is the most confused of all as he ends up falling for her and her unconventional ways.

My Thoughts: Again, hard not to love this one if you read it as a child or teen, which I did! I think everyone can relate with wanting to fit in in high school and having conflicting feelings about those who choose to stand out, and this book does an excellent job of describing those complexities and teaching the lessons of accepting others even when it doesn’t seem like the popular choice.

Title: The Science of Harry Potter
Mark Brake and Jon Chase
My Rating:
2 stars

Brief Summary: As the title suggests, this book dives into some of Harry Potter’s most intriguing magical elements (Platform 9 ¾, flying broomsticks, talking paintings, etc.) and evaluates whether any of them would be feasible today or in the future as backed by science.

My Thoughts: I was unfortunately super disappointed by this book. I picked it up on a whim, as someone who has enjoyed all of the Harry Potter movies (unfortunately not yet the books!) and a lover of all things science-y and analytical. But I found myself REALLY bored by some of the book’s sections and skipped ahead just to the ones I was interested in, and unfortunately even those weren’t as interesting as I’d hoped.

Note to self: Next time I plan on reading 14 books in a month, maybe try writing some of these summaries/reviews as I go instead of leaving them to the very end. That was a lot for one night!

Whew – and with that all done, on to August and yet another ambitious TBR! Definitely let me know how your July went, if you have read any of the books I mentioned above, and what your plans are for the next month and rest of the year! Happy reading!

August TBR: 99 Cent Books

I’ve had the idea for a while to start doing themed TBRs every month… and while I don’t want to give away what that means for the future, I can say that this month is the start of that – and what better thing for books to have in common than being really, really cheap?

While searching Alibris (one of my favorite book-buying sites) for books on my “someday” TBR, I found that a large number of them cost only 99 cents – typically it’s because the book has been well-loved by a library or other previous owner, so the books are by no means in mint condition – nor are they brand-new releases. But I don’t mind small wear and tear at all – I actually really like giving books a new home and second (or third, or fourth) life!

Full disclosure, once shipping is added these books cost more than 99 cents each – but the good news is that the more I buy from the same seller, the less each book’s shipping costs end up being. This haul ended up costing me about $4 to $5 per book, which I would still consider extremely affordable.

Also, I know there is some controversy over used books and whether we should be buying old copies when we can afford new, full-priced books and support the author with the purchase. Although I see both sides of the argument, ultimately I think reusing and recycling things does good for our planet. So I’m happy with buying a mix of brand-new books, which I buy to support the authors, and used books, which I buy to give a second life.

With ALL that being said, time to get into the TBR. Below are 8 books that I’m planning to read in August, all of which were purchased online for 99 cents!

A Contemporary

On the Island by Tracey Garvis Graves (2012)

A Classic

Rebecca by Daphne Du Maurier (1938)

A Classic Retelling

Jane Steele by Lyndsay Faye (2016)

A Dystopia

Gone by Michael Grant (2008)

A Fantasy

Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor (2011)

A Miscellaneous Nonfiction

The Geeks Shall Inherit the Earth by Alexandra Robins (2009)

A Science Fiction

Golden State by Ben Witners (2019)

A Thriller/Mystery

The Casual Vacancy by JK Rowling (2012)

Many of these are out of my comfort zone or were purchased on somewhat of a whim, so I would LOVE to know if you’ve read any of the books above and what you thought!

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

June 2019 Reading Wrap-Up

I’m so happy to say that after quite the two-month reading slump, I’m back and motivated as ever. This month I read 8 books, tied for my best month so far this year!

Another round of Buzzwordathon was held in June, accounting for 4 of my 8 books. Instead of repeating everything I said in my Buzzwordathon Wrap-Up post, I’ll just link it for you to check out here. Feel free to go back and read that one if you’re curious what my readathon books were!

As for the remaining four books, below are my summaries and mini-reviews of each of them. As usual, my monthly and year-to-date stats are laid out as well. I can’t believe how well I’m doing on my reading goals this year, and I’m excited to post a mid-year wrap up next week to expand on those goals a little more and talk about my favorite books that I’ve read so far in 2019!

This month’s quick stats:
8 books
2,553 pages
8 authors (4 female)
2 nonfiction | 6 fiction
Year-to-date quick stats:
45 books (4 audiobooks)
12,821 pages
41 authors (25 female)
15 nonfiction | 30 fiction

Title: The Breakdown
Author: B.A. Paris
Genre: Thriller
Pages: 328
My Rating: 3 stars

Brief Summary: Ever since driving past a parked car in the woods, in the rain, and not stopping to help the woman inside, Cass has felt extremely uneasy about the entire situation – even though she had no reason to believe the woman was in danger. Later, when it’s revealed that the woman was murdered in that exact location, Cass’s guilt goes to the next level. Along with constantly thinking about how she should have saved the woman, Cass starts to forget little things in her daily life – where she left her car, if she took her medication, the alarm code for their house, etc. When she starts getting ominous phone calls to her house, she gets paranoid that the killer is now out for her, but no one in her life – including her husband – seems to believe her.

My Thoughts: Before this book, I had read Paris’s two other thrillers and given them both 5 stars – so I was incredibly excited to read this one. I liked the start of the story, but I quickly became annoyed with the fact that the main character started forgetting things and that became the cause of her unreliability as a narrator and as a human in her own life. I don’t know guys, am I the only one tired of thrillers with main (female) characters who have memory problems? It seems like a lazy way to leave out details that later become important in the mystery. But if there is anyone who particularly LIKES when characters can’t remember things about their days and the unreliability that that causes, you probably would really enjoy this book! I love Paris’s writing style and overall the rest of the story kept me intrigued throughout the entire book, but unfortunately is my least favorite of her thrillers so far. It looks like her next is coming out early 2020, so I’m definitely excited for that 😊

Title: Honeymoon with Death
Author: Vivian Conroy
Genre: Thriller
Pages: 193
My Rating: 4 stars
Release Date: July 1, 2019
Thanks to NetGalley and Canelo for providing me with this eARC in return for an honest review!

Brief Summary: This book is tagged to be “the perfect 1920s cosy crime caper.” It follows newlywed Damaris on her honeymoon to a small island in Greece, a trip planned and provided by her new husband. Upon arriving, she starts to get the feeling that she’s been here before, which can’t be possible as she never traveled anywhere as a child or growing up. To add to her uneasiness, she starts seeing things that later disappear and at the peak of her confusion finds herself standing over a dead body, unable to explain how she got there. Luckily for Damaris, there is one man on the island who doesn’t think she is crazy OR guilty – an inspector named Jasper who has the feeling there is more going on around the island than meets the eye.

My Thoughts: What did I just say about women in thrillers having memory problems and those being the only cause of suspicion and unreliability for the otherwise stable main character? Interesting… but again I will digress, as the memory problems were only a small portion of this book’s mystery and I otherwise found myself very engrossed in the story and all of the characters. I really liked the vacation vibe, something I have not read a lot of within the thriller category, and the alternating perspectives that the author used to give points of view from many of the characters. For how complex the mystery is and number of characters, I never got too confused and I really enjoyed the reveals and how everything was pieced together. Overall I think this is a solid thriller and definitely recommend to those who enjoy inspector/detective style mysteries.

Title: Scythe
Author: Neal Shusterman
Genre: Dystopia
Pages: 433
My Rating: 5 stars

Brief Summary: In a futuristic world where technology has advanced so much that humans have achieved immortality, the only form of population control comes from scythes – highly-respected individuals given the responsibility to “glean”, or kill, a certain number of people each year. While everyone in the world recognizes the power these scythes contain, most would never want that level of responsibility or guilt that undoubtedly goes with it. Citra and Rowan are two teenagers chosen to become apprentices, studying under a scythe for a year and then given the opportunity to become one themselves – resulting in them having to make monumental decisions including whether they can accept the responsibility, handle the difficult job, and exactly what type of scythes they will end up becoming.

My Thoughts: THIS is a dystopia done right. I love the complexity of this dystopian world and the way that Shusterman describes it. Not only is it interesting and entertaining to read about, it’s plausible to assume that our current world could evolve into something that resembles the book’s world (which, of course, is slightly terrifying). I also enjoy that this book’s conflicts don’t center around a corrupt government like so many dystopias do, and there is no “chosen one” main character that has us puzzled as to how or why they are the ones able to start a revolution. Instead, it contains relatable characters, intriguing twists, and many moments that had me questioning the definition of humanity in the realm of this book’s world. Definitely worth the hype that I have seen this book receive, and I look forward to reading the subsequent books in the series.

Title: Jane Eyre
Author: Charlotte Bronte
Genre: Classic
Pages: 443
My Rating: 4 stars

Brief Summary: Jane Eyre is the story of an orphan who grows up having to provide and fend for herself completely. Going from her unkind aunt’s house to boarding school with few friends to working as a governess (tutor/teacher) at a rich family’s estate, Jane becomes accustomed to shrinking into the background, only speaking when spoken to and not offering more of her opinion than asked. When she eventually falls in love with her employer and starts feeling more attention on her, she must make a decision about the kind of life she truly wants for herself.

My Thoughts: I’m not really sure what I expected from this book – I knew very little going in, other than the obvious fact that it’s a classic novel beloved by many. Like most classics, I found MANY parts of the book to be unnecessarily drawn out and slow. To get through it, I bounced back and forth between my phyiscal copy and the audiobook. I probably would have given my reading experience a 2 or 3 – but looking back on the story now that I’ve finished the book, I do think it’s beautiful and I can appreciate the long, descriptive portions as a testament to the classic that it is. What I most like about the book is that we as readers and the other characters in the book come to love Jane not for her beauty (as it’s actually mentioned several times that Jane is not pretty), but for her character and morals that extend throughout the entire book. I’m very glad to have finally read this book and now be in the know as to what all of the hype is about!

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?

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?!

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?