December 2019 TBR: 12 Books before Christmas

Hello December! I wish I could express just how excited I am for this month – Christmas has always been my favorite holiday, and this year it will be even more special because I am expecting a baby ANY day now! I can’t wait to see how much better this little Christmas baby makes the holiday season, which for me is already so full of love and family and joy.

BUT… in the back of my mind I still know that I have SO MANY BOOKS that I want to get in before the end of the year. I know that between the holiday craziness and a newborn baby I will DEFINITELY not get to most of the books that I want to, but I’ve picked 12 that I WANT to and feasibly think I CAN read before the end of the month – and as an extra little challenge, I named this post 12 Books before Christmas so that I can hopefully spend the last full week of the year completely enjoying my family without stressing or thinking about any reading goals I have yet to complete 🙂

There’s not much of a rhyme or reason to this TBR, but I have included the 12 books I want to read below with the short blurbs on why!

Title: Station Eleven
Author: Emily St. John Mandel
Genre: Dystopia

Why I Want to Read It: These first two books on my list are a little bit of a cheat – I’ve actually finished them both already. (It’s the 4th of the month, and every day counts!!) This is a book that I had seen hyped all over the internet, claiming to be a creepy, sort of hard-hitting post-apocolyptic dystopia novel about a traveling Shakespeare troupe navigating a world whose population has been wiped out by 99.99%. I’ll save my full thoughts for my December wrap-up, but unfortunately this one did not live up to the hype for me!

Title: Artemis
Author: Andy Weir
Genre: Science Fiction

Why I Want to Read It: Again, I already have read it – but this had recently been added to my shelves as a thrift store find. I loved both the book and the movie of The Martian by Andy Weir, so I thought this book by him might be worth a try. Again, full thoughts to come, but I was so extremely pleased to find that I loved this one just as much!

Title: An Unwanted Guest
Author: Shari Lapena
Genre: Thriller

Why I Want to Read It: I have read all three other books by Shari Lapena, including her 2019 release Someone We Know, and to be honest my opinion on her is still up in the air. I believe the three other books I have rated 2, 3, and 4 stars – so I’m hoping this one will help me solidify my thoughts on whether I connect with Shari Lapena’s writing or not!

Title: The Dilemma
Author: B.A. Paris
Genre: Thriller

Why I Want to Read It: Behind Closed Doors by B.A. Paris is one of my all-time favorite thrillers – I absolutely loved the writing, the story, and the way I was left thinking about it for hours/days/months after finishing it. I was lucky enough to receive an eARC of this book, set to be released in January, and I’m pumped to read more of her writing in this new thriller that I really don’t know anything about.

Title: The Bridge of Little Jeremy
Author: Indrajit Garai
Genre: Contemporary

Why I Want to Read It: I was sent a physical copy of this book by a representative of the author in return for a review, based on my feelings about Nineteen Minutes by Jodi Picoult. I expect this book to similarly be very character-focused and potentially hard-hitting, which I’m excited to get into and share my thoughts about this previously unknown-to-me book and author.

Title: Until We Meet Again
Author: Michael Korenblit and Kathleen Janger
Genre: Historical Fiction

Why I Want to Read It: This one’s an interesting one – this book actually belongs to my husband, who recommended I read it several months ago. I haven’t gotten around to it yet because it seems to be quite out of my comfort zone, but I’d really like to fit it in by the end of the year so that I can relay my thoughts back to him 🙂

Title: The Death of Mrs. Westaway
Author: Ruth Ware
Genre: Thriller

Why I Want to Read It: This year Ruth Ware became one of my favorite thriller authors after reading only one book – The Turn of the Key – and I now want to get to ALL of her backlist titles. I’ve been told that they aren’t as good as her most recent release, but I’d like to make that decision for myself – starting with this one!

Title: Heroine
Author: Mindy McGinnis
Genre: Contemporary

Why I Want to Read It: I read The Female of the Species by Mindy McGinnis early on this year and gave it 4 stars – I really connected with the hard-hitting story, complex characters, and McGinnis’s style of writing. Since this seems to have more of that hard-hitting subject matter, I have high hopes that I’ll enjoy this book just as much.

Title: Everything I Never Told You
Author: Celeste Ng
Genre: Contemporary

Why I Want to Read It: You might see a theme here, but I read Celeste Ng’s Little Fires Everywhere this year and – spoiler alert – it’s ending up in my Top 10 of 2019 (post to come!). This is her only other full-length novel to date, and I can’t wait to dive in (pun intended, see the cover) to this one and hopefully love it as well. A bonus is that it’s pretty short and should be easy to squeeze in!

Title: Night Film
Author: Marisha Pessl
Genre: Thriller

Why I Want to Read It: Marisha Pessl is an author that I have not yet explored yet but think that I will really love, based on reviews of her books Night Film and Neverworld Wake. This one I just happened to stumble upon in a thrift store, so I picked it up and would love to prioritize it this month!

Title: My Grandmother Asked Me to Tell You She’s Sorry
Author: Fredrik Backman
Genre: Contemporary

Why I Want to Read It: One more time – I’ve read one book so far by Fredrik Backman, A Man Called Ove. That book really surprised me in how much it impacted me by the end, and I hear that that’s what all of his books do. I hope to get to Backman’s entire backlist eventually, but this one by the end of the year will be good enough progress towards that goal for me.

Title: Sharp Objects
Author: Gillian Flynn
Genre: Thriller

Why I Want to Read It: Gillian Flynn has been hit-or-miss for me with her last two books; I absolutely adored the book and movie of Gone Girl, but then was extremely disappointed in how much I disliked Dark Places. This one will be the tie-breaker – is Gillian Flynn one of my favs, or was Gone Girl an anomoly for me?


Just writing about these books has made me excited all over again to read them – I’d love to hear if you’ve read any of these books before and what you thought of them. If not, what are you planning on reading in December? I realize now that I have absolutely no seasonal reads, and I’m treating this month more like a catch-up month for my physical TBR – are you planning on reading holiday-themed books for the month instead?

Hope everyone has/is having a wonderful holiday season!


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?


Spookathon 2019 TBR

In my October TBR post, I announced that I want to read ALL THE THRILLERS this month 😊 okay, not all of them, but a lot of them. I had 10 on my initial list, and hoping to get to even more than that if I can.

What better time to participate in a spooky readathon to motivate me to keep chugging through that list? Below are the challenges created by Booktuber Booksandlala, who created and is hosting Spookathon from October 14th-20th. The overarching goal is to read as many thrillers as possible throughout that week, but there are 5 specific challenges to also hit:

  1. Read a thriller
  2. Read a book with red on the cover
  3. Read a book with a spooky word in the title
  4. Read a book with a spooky setting
  5. Read something you wouldn’t normally read

My TBR right now consists of 3 books, which I can double up to make hit all of the challenges. I really like to go into my thrillers blind, so instead of any type of synopsis I’ll just share what I DO know about the books (if anything) and a short explanation on how they complete the challenges.

Title: Two Can Keep a Secret
Author: Karen M. McManus
Challenges Hit: 1, 2, 3

I know close to nothing about this book, but have seen it floating around the bookternet enough for it to have made its way onto my TBR – bonus that it hits 3 challenges as a thriller with red words and the spooky word “secret” in the title!

Title: Lock Every Door
Author: Riley Sager
Challenges Hit: 1, 4

I am so excited to finally get to read this book! I have recently read and enjoyed Riley Sager’s other two thrillers and have heard that this one is even better. This takes place in a big, creepy apartment building, fulfilling the spooky setting challenge #4!

Title: Run Away
Author: Harlan Coben
Challenges Hit: 1, 5

This is the book I know the least about – I consider it to fill challenge #5 because this is an author I have never heard of and never would have picked up without having previously done research on books that have a chance to be nominated for Goodread’s Thriller category in about a month.


I’d love to know who else is participating in Spookathon this year and what’s on your TBR! Or, have you read any of these three books?


October 2019 TBR | Reading the Most-Hyped Thrillers of the Year

October is almost here! Bring on the spooky décor, costume parties, and THRILLERS 😊 I’ve had a great start to fall so far and am super excited for Halloween and the holiday season coming up. In October, I definitely will be getting my thriller fix when it comes to reading, as my plan is to read some of the most-hyped thrillers that have come out this year!

In preparation for this TBR, I went onto Goodreads and made an Excel list of all of the thrillers I can think of with their respective ratings and number of ratings. Because I want to read the most-hyped books, I ordered them in order of NUMBER of ratings so that I know these have been the most-read out of all thrillers I could find or think of.

Most of these books I am planning on checking out from my library or listening to on Scribd – because of that, I’m not 100% sure which books I’ll have access to at any given time during the month, so my goal is to read 7 of the 10 listed below.

And lastly before getting into it, because these are all thriller/mystery books, I want to go into reading them without much knowledge of the plot so that I can be fully surprised by all of the twists and turns. Because of that, I don’t have any sort of synopsis to share for any of them! All I know is that lots of people have read and enjoyed them 😊

The Silent Patient by Alex Michaelides

134,155 Ratings

4.05 Average Rating

Verity by Colleen Hoover

57,836 Ratings

4.38 Average Rating

An Anonymous Girl by Greer Hendricks and Sarah Pekkanen

57,621 Ratings

3.85 Average Rating

Recursion by Blake Crouch

29,581 Ratings

4.22 Average Rating

My Lovely Wife by Samantha Downing

28,937 Ratings

3.93 Average Rating

The Turn of the Key by Ruth Ware

24,042 Ratings

4.03 Average Rating

Two Can Keep a Secret by Karen M. McManus

23,657 Ratings

3.98 Average Rating

Run Away by Harlan Coben

23,000 Ratings

4.08 Average Rating

Lock Every Door by Riley Sager

21,627 Ratings

4.03 Average Rating

Before She Knew Him by Peter Swanson

19,100 Ratings

3.84 Average Rating

If you love thrillers… PLEASE let me know which ones of these you have read and what has been your favorite! Also, let me know if there are any thrillers you think are missing from my list 🙂

Happy reading!


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!


September TBR: Catching Up on my Physical TBR

Hello, September! And with that, hello FALL!

I have many reasons to be excited for fall this year – we live in a new state that should (hopefully) be warmer than the North Dakota/Minnesota falls I’m used to (glorified winters), I’m planning on attending LOTS of football games ranging from middle-school level all the way up to a couple of NFL games, and best of all, we’re having a baby around the end of November/early December!!

With all of this busy-ness happening in real life, I’m finding myself with much less time to devote to reading, and I don’t want to commit to a bunch of new books within a fun theme that I’ll inevitably fail to read and then feel indebted to for months to come (foreshadowing August’s wrap-up a little bit…)

So instead, I’m committing to September as a catch-up month for my physical TBR. Here’s a list of 12 books that I own physically and are my highest priority to finally get to. Some of them you may recognize from past TBRs, some are newish to me and I’m too excited to wait to get to, and some I have been pushing off but I really just need to finish them off. Let me know if you have a backlist of TBR books you’re still hoping to get to this year, and if any of you are joining me in making September a catch-up month!

Bonus – for the next 3-ish days, Jana at Reviews from the Stacks is running a giveaway on her blog to celebrate hitting her Goodreads reading goal! Definitely give her blog some love and enter the giveaway by commenting on her post here if you’re interested in winning a gift card!


My one ARC

Appalachain Book of the Dead by Dale Neal

Why I want to read it: This book comes out on September 3rd, and as usual with ARCS I’d love to get a review out on Goodreads and Amazon on or before that date. I’ve started this book already and have about 190 pages left – my opinion is still very much up in the air!

Brief Summary: This is a fictional book that’s been described as a “metaphysical thriller,” following many characters in the middle of nowhere questioning the location of a killer on the loose.

Books that have been on my bookshelf for FAR too long

The Art of Fielding by Chad Harbach

Why I want to read it: This is a book that has been recommended to me many times by my husband. It’s a hefty book based on sports, but I’m optimistic and excited to finally get into it.

Brief Summary: This fictional story follows members of a collegiate baseball team and other members of the college as their lives entertwine throughout the baseball season.

The Tipping Point by Malcolm Gladwell

Why I want to read it: Leftover from my July (Reading Rush) TBR, this is one book I’m surprised I haven’t read yet. I read and enjoyed Outliers and am sure this one by Malcolm Gladwell will be worthwhile.

Brief Summary: This nonfiction book centers around the magical moment when a small idea or behavior crosses a threshold and becomes a massive phenomenon – how we can recognize that point and use it to our advantage in personal and business settings.

Hatchet by Gary Paulson

Why I want to read it: As did probably everyone else, I read this book in middle school and have very fond memories. I’d love to reread this one since it’ll be a short, easy read.

Brief Summary: Brian is a young boy and the sole passenger on a small plane when the pilot has a heart attack and the plane crashes. Suddenly Brian finds himself completely alone in the woods with nothing but a hatchet to survive.

The Proper Care and Feeding of Husbands by Dr. Laura Schlessinger

Why I want to read it: I bought this one last year as a recommendation from one of my favorite lifestyle/family bloggers, Jordan Page. Hoping it’s not too problematic and actually offers some good marriage advice.

Brief Summary: This nonfiction book suggests that wives play a huge role in ensuring a successful marriage and offers the advice needed to nurture and feed their husbands accordingly.

Truly Madly Guilty by Liane Moriarty

Why I want to read it: I bought this one on a whim from Barnes & Noble a while ago and it’s been taunting me from my shelves ever since. I have consistently found other books to knock it out of my priority list, but finally getting this one read will feel like a big accomplishment.

Brief Summary: I don’t know much about the plot of this book and actually don’t want to – but I believe it follows several different adults, couples, and families and how their lives entertwine.

A couple of thrillers by an author I’m dying to get to

Final Girls by Riley Sager

Why I want to read it: I haven’t read any Riley Sager yet, but obviously the bookternet loves his thrillers. I’m very excited to give this debut novel a try and make my way through all of his books!

Brief Summary: All that I really know about this one is that it centers around the idea of the “final girls” or sole survivors of horror movies.

The Last Time I Lied by Riley Sager

Why I want to read it: Ditto. I’m also excited because both of these books are on Scribd, so could be easy audiobooks to squeeze in.

Brief Summary: Again, I know nothing about the plot of this book and would love to keep it that way!

August books I just didn’t get to

Golden State by Ben Winters

Why I want to read it: Plain and simple, this book looks right up my alley and I’m expecting to love it!

Brief Summary: This book is a science-fiction, alternate reality story based in a California-like society.

The Geeks Shall Inherit the Earth by Alexandra Robbins

Why I want to read it: Started this one, really liked the intro and the format the book takes, very interested to see what other points it makes.

Brief Summary: This nonfiction book studies quirk theory, or the reason why some individuals are outcasted in school settings but just may be more set up for success in the future.

The Casual Vacancy by J.K. Rowling

Why I want to read it: No strong pull to the story itself, but I’m very interested in this non-Harry-Potter JK Rowling read.

Brief Summary: This mystery/thriller is about a mysterious death in a small town – classic.

Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor

Why I want to read it: Fantasy is very outside of my comfort zone, so that’s why this one has been slipping for me. Not sure if I’ll end up loving it or hating it, but I’m willing to give it a try!

Brief Summary: I believe this is some sort of Romeo and Juliet-inspired fantasy story.


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!


May 2019 Reading Wrap-Up

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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


April 2019 Reading Wrap-Up

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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


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.