13 Books Read in 30 Days! Quick Lit for December 2018Read More
Nonfiction November is winding down and I’m walking away with a ton of new books on my TBR list. Nonfiction is interesting. I find that I end up really enjoying it or abandoning it- I’m really not sure why I didn’t read more before.
This month, I started two nonfiction books that I did not finish. I stopped Lady Killers after about 25%. I loved the feminist angle- hey, women can be psychopaths, too!- but the killers presented were from a long time ago and I just wasn’t enjoying it. The other one I quit on was a case of not the right time for the book. JD Vance grew in in the Appalachia and made it out of poverty to become a Yale educated lawyer. A lot of people loved Hillbilly Elegy- from the little I did read it was leaning toward the self congratulatory and if I’m being honest, I didn’t care to spend my time reading about another white dude. (I know. I don’t want to read in an echo chamber, but I’m not quite ready). If I am going to read a story about a person who came over extreme odds to become successful, I’ll read Tara Westover’s memoir, Educated.
I finished 2 nonfiction books this month and loved them both. Bad Blood was an incredible. Elizabeth Holmes is one of the youngest unicorn’s Silicon Valley has ever seen. Her company, Theranos, alleged to be able perform over 200 blood tests from just a finger prick… but the technology never worked. John Carreyrou does a fantastic job investigating the story and synthesizing all of the information into an incredible narration. Highly recommend on audio!
Speaking of recommended on audio… I’ve spent the last week listening to Becoming by Michelle Obama, and it was exceptional. She has the best speaking voice and I so enjoyed hearing her story, from her childhood on the south side of Chicago, to her time at Harvard Law, to meeting Barack, and their time in the White House. It moved me and I can definitely see myself reading this again.
Here are other peoples’ picks from Nonfiction November that made their way to my TBR list!
New to my TBR (Hosted by Katie at Doing Dewey) It’s been a month full of amazing nonfiction books! Which ones have made it onto your TBR? Be sure to link back to the original blogger who posted about that book.
The Glass Castle, Jeanette Walls | An author’s incredible story about growing up with selfish parents and the siblings that learned to fend for themselves. This is a book that’s been following me around forever, but Allison at Mind Joggle pushed me over the edge. That, and I was recently out at dinner with a friend and she couldn’t believe I haven’t read it yet- and neither could the woman at the table beside us. Message received!
The Stranger in the Woods (on audio), Christopher Knight | A man lives alone in the forest of Maine without talking to another person for 27 years. Sarah at Sarah’s Book Shelves called this one of her favorite audiobooks of all time, so I’m sold.
A Beautiful, Terrible Thing, Jen Waite | Another Sarah's Book Shelves recommendation. This is Waite’s memoir about being married to a cheating sociopath, when “that could never happen to me” actually does.
Whoever Fights Monsters: My Twenty Years Tracking Serial Killers for the FBI, Robert Ressler | The subtitle tells you everything you need to know about why it made it on my list. Somehow, I’ve never heard of this! Thanks to Kazen at Always Doing and her Serial Killer Summer for this recommendation!
Speaking of books that are so in my wheelhouse I can’t believe I’ve not read them yet: Bloodsworth, by Tim Junkin. It’s the story of Kirk Bloodswood, the first death row inmate exonerated by DNA. Thanks to Dee at Dees Book Blog for the rec!
Finally, Maggie O’Farrell’s I Am, I Am, I Am wins the award for the most mentioned (tied with Educated, which was already on my list, and I’ll Be Gone in the Dark, which I’ve already read). Thanks to Sarah's Bookshelves, Bibliobeth, and Reading Beyond for listing!
That’s it! I’m delighted to know that #NonfictionNovember is hosted yearly, because I think knowing that it’s a thing will affect my reading next year. Not that I need more recommendations- but I’m excited to see what everyone else added!
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Well October has been a month so far, hasn’t it? Theres so much going on in the world; I sometimes struggle to find ways I can make a difference. I want to be educated and I want to inform others. One of the things I’ve been working on this year is tracking my reading. I want to make sure I’m reading authors from a variety of backgrounds, especially stories from women and people of color. I love that this space allows me to connect with other readers from around the world and I want to be sure that I’m sharing books from all kinds of authors. I read widely to broaden my horizons, listen to the stories from people from all backgrounds, and to get inspired to facilitate change.
Here’s what I’ve read over the past month.
This was a slim book that knocked my socks off. Set in Nigeria, it’s a story about two very unique sisters. Ayoola is the beautiful younger sister with a nasty habit of killing off her boyfriends. Korede is the responsible older sister who is always bailing Ayoola out of unfortunate situations. She’s generally happy to save her, but when Ayoola sets her sights on the man that Korede is secretly in love with she starts to unravel. This book is dark and satirical look at family, culture, and obligation. I read this as an ARC from Netgalley- it’s out November 20th. Rating: 3.75/5
This is probably one of the more unique books I’ve read this year. I’ve been a fan of Hank Green for years. He is the younger brother of John Green-of The Fault in Our Stars fame-but he’s a celebrity of his own right. He’s the creator of Sci Show, Vlog Brothers, and a myriad of other internet based endeavors. An Absolutely Remarkable Thing was wonderful. It’s sorta sci-fi, sorta speculative fiction. April May stumbles across the titular Remarkable Thing and has no idea what she’s looking at. As any Gen X’er would, she makes a YouTube video about it, and it immediately goes viral. It’s partly a story about being famous in the digital media age, but I honestly think this one is best gone in knowing little. Rating: 4.5/5.
I've got such mixed feelings about this book! I loved the premise- Fi coms home one day to find that a new family has moved into her beloved multi-million dollar home. She’s estranged from her husband Bram and has no idea who these people are or how they got there. The story is told in a really unique way- we get to hear her size of the situation via The Victim podcast. Bram tells his story through a word document. The beginning sucked me in but the pacing was wrong- I kept waiting for the other shoe to drop and it never did. It was also about 100 pages too long. Rating: 2.75/5
This will land on my favorites list for 2018. Never one to shy away from the tough stuff, Jodi Picoult is at it again. The book opens with an active shooter situation at the last standing abortion clinic in Mississippi. There is no easing into this book. It’s told in reverse, so you get plopped straight into the meat of the story. The characters were vivid and my heart was beating the whole time. No matter which side of the debate you fall on, this one will make you think. Full review here. Rating: 4.5/5.
This saying can be over used but when it fits, it fits- Just Mercy is required reading. Bryan Stevenson tells the story of how he came to be the founder of the Equal Justice Initiative, an organization dedicated to racial justice and challenging wrongful convictions. This book was heartbreakingly sad, but I couldn’t look away. Stevenson did such a good job infusing facts about the broken criminal justice system and true stories about those incarcerated. He brought humanity to these people and he’s such an inspiration. I can’t overstate how much I loved this book. 5/5
TL;DR- I recommend My Sister the Serial Killer, An Absolutely Remarkable Thing, A Spark of Light, and Just Mercy.
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This was the sequel to Beartown, and did the almost impossible; the sequel was as good, if not better than the first book! The town is still reeling after the events from last year and, making matters worse, nearly all of the star players for Beartown were recruited by rival team Hed. Backman is so talented- there are a lot of characters and a lot of story lines going on, but he manages to make the entire thing cohesive. This is a heartbreaker- so I'd advise against reading this in public. Rating- 5
When Life Gives You Lululemons | Lauren Weisberger
I've loved Lauren Weisberger's stories since her Devil Wears Prada days. Her latest focuses specifically on Emily Charlton, Miranda Preiestly's senior assistant. She’s been away from the agency for ten years working on her own image consulting business. Business isn’t what it onced was and she needs a big break. She gets involved with Karolina, a supermodel who’s amid a huge domestic scandal and works to help her get her life back. I thought the book was fine- a breezy beach read, but I honestly can’t remember much of the meat of the plot so that says something. Rating, 3.5
I had this on my list for the ten buzzy book I want to read in 2018 list, and I’m so glad I got to it. I loved it! It's got 12 narrators and I had to take extensive notes to help me keep things straight, but it was so worth it. It was moving and powerful, but also accessible. I loved reading stories about today’s Native Americans. Great debut! Rating, 5
Z: A Novel of Zelda Fitzgerald | Therese Anne Fowler
Even though I read a lot of thrillers/ contemporary fiction, I do like historical fiction when it's well done. Z - A Novel of Zelda Fitzgerald is a great example of the kind of historical fiction I like. The author did such a good job of bringing Zelda to life. It was fascinating to read about her husband's writing process and to see how many other famous people they associated with, but it was also pretty depressing to read about their downfall. Zelda was talented in her own right but didn't get to fully follow her own dreams because she always had to be Scott's muse. Still, this was well done and made me want to read more of Fitzgerald/ Zelda's/ Hemingway's works. Rating, 4.
You might know the name Sarah Pinborough from her book last year, Behind Her Eyes with the fitting tagline of #WTFthatending. Cross Her Heart is different from Behind Her Eyes, in that it’ more of a slow burn and domestic drama than straight thriller, but I really enjoyed it. Her writing is gripping but know going in that it’ a bit slow for the first third. There’s no weird twist in this one, so if Behind Her Eyes wasn’t to your taste I’d recommend giving this one a try. Rating, 4.75
TL;DR- Books I'd recommend you add to your TBR list: Us Against You, I’d Rather Be Reading, There There, Z, Cross Her Heart.
It was a good 30 days.
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It's been a minute since I did a monthly reading wrap up! That wedding really took a lot outta me. Happily, things are back to their normal schedule, so I wanted to share the 10 books I managed to read during this time. Some great ones, a fantastic re-read, one I'm glad I made myself finish, and one that really annoyed me.
First, my favorite for the month!
I really enjoyed this! Believe Me has such a unique premise- Clare is a British woman who has come to New York to pursue acting. She can't work, since she's here on a student visa, and she hasn't gotten her big break yet so shes pursuing other options. She works for a law firm in entrapment- she gets hired to try and get cheating husbands to sleep with her to get evidence for the wives. She's working on her acting skills and getting by- until one of the clients turns up dead the next morning.
The book takes many turns and I never really knew what was real and what was an act. I really loved the author's last book, The Girl Before, and I think I enjoyed this even more. Warning: this is one dark book so if you're sensitive to violence, you might want to skip it. From this depraved reader, it gets 4.5 stars.
This was my first Elin Hilderbrand and it won't be my last. We have a lavish wedding set in Nantucket on the groom's wealthy family estate. It looks like it'll be a beautiful event until the morning of the wedding, the maid of honor washes to shore. Dead. And the bride was the one who found her.
We get to find out what happened from many characters' perspectives. I can get squirrelly if there are too many people trying to tell the story, but the author is so skilled and definitely pulled it off. There's Benji the groom, Celeste the sheltered zookeeper bride, Greer the elegant mystery writer and mother of the groom, Tag the gregarious patriarch, Featherleigh the struggling family friend, Merritt, the beautiful influencer MOH (And the deceased)... & So many more. Nearly everyone is a suspect- and all have their secrets to hide. This was the best summer read and has me wanting to visit Nantucket. I hope I get to read more about these characters down the road! Rating, 4 stars.
This was a Reece Witherspoon Book Club Pick, which automatically made me nervous. Her picks have been hit or miss for me (really disliked The Last Mrs. Parrish) and was worried Something In The Water would be overrated. I don't know if it was the setting I read it in or the fact that I was on my also on my honeymoon, as the characters in the book were, but this kept me entertained. (For more entertainment- check out the reviews on Amazon. Some people were piiiissed after reading this). All is well in Fiji for Mark and Erin, until they come across a mysterious bag in the water. What they find changes the course of both of their lives. There was a lot of tension and action, which kept me turning the pages. The main character makes some very interesting choices that at times had me yelling at her, but I enjoyed the ride. It was a great beach read, but not a thriller that's going to change my life. Overall, 3.5/5 stars.
I re-read this in anticipation of the HBO adaptation. Breezed through it and was immediately reminded why Gillian Flynn is an icon in the thriller genre. This book was ddaaarrrkkk (but I loved it). So creative, so disturbing, and very very entertaining. I read this when it first came out years ago but having read so many more thrillers since then, I'm pleasantly surprised that this was as entertaining as a re-read. This is possibly my favorite Gillian Flynn (and when are we getting more??) Rating- 5/5.
I was enchanted by The Subway Girls. It's told from the perspectives of Charlotte in the 40s and present day Olivia. Charlotte is a young woman on the cusp of graduation who's choosing between her life with Sam, the expected choice, and the life in advertising that she truly dreams of. Olivia is a modern day ad exec who finds herself in a remarkably similar situation as Charlotte was 60+ years ago. The dialog was a bit off for me and I preferred Charlotte's story but the premise was clever and touching. I can see this sitting nicely with fans of Beatriz Williams (think The Secret Life of Violet Gant). All told, 3.75/5.
Mackenzie Cooper has been publicly shamed- she was driving distracted while trying to find her daughter's friends house and got into an accident that resulted in her young daughter's death. The media drags her and creates a new rule against having your phone in your hand while driving- the Mackenzie Cooper law. She and her husband divorce and the book begins as we meet Mackenzie in her new life. She's working under a new name as an artist and makeup artist, and is doing her best. When her only friends's son gets wrapped up in a public situation, Mackenzie has to decide if she's willing to put herself at risk of being discovered by the media to be there for her friend. This book was one that I found to be too long by about 1/3, but I'm totally glad I finished. There was depth here and I couldn't leave without finding out what happened to the characters. 3.75/5.
Ah. Mary Kubica. She's one of my auto read authors and I've either loved or loathed all of her books. (Favorite was The Good Girl). In her latest book, Jessie is grieving. Her mother has just died of cancer, and, inspired to make something of her life, she's decided to go back to school. Only when she goes to apply for financial aid, she finds that the social security number she has been using isn't hers. In fact, it belongs to a deceased girl. She goes into a downward spiral and is wracked with insomnia, causing her to question what's real and what isn't. This was an incredibly fast paced novel, so I enjoyed that piece. I also love her books because they're set in Chicago. BUT. The last 10%. Oy. I don't think I've been this frustrated in awhile. If you've read this, please tell me what you thought in the comments below. If you haven't read it yet, please do so we can discuss. :) 2/5 stars.
This is a back list pick from an author that I love, B.A. Paris. I thought Bring me Back, her latest, was so clever, so I was excited to read her debut. Jack and Grace seem like the perfect couple. Their friends love coming over to their perfect home for dinner parties and always marvel at how connected the two newlyweds seem. Grace thought that her happily ever after might never come, because she's the legal guardian of her sister with Down's Syndrome. So when she meets Jack and he seems to be as in love with her sister as she is, she's smitten. She agrees to marry him and he build the perfect home for them to start their life together. We quickly find out that not everything is as it seems on the outside. I enjoyed this, but I can't say I loved it. The plot moved way too fast for it to be anywhere near believable (and I'm a master at suspending my disbelief). I thought it was a great debut and would recommend it to other readers, but trigger warning for violence and abuse. Overall, 3.5/5 stars.
Listened to book 2 in the Mr. Mercedes series. As always, it was a solid story. At first, I couldn't figure out how John Rothstein and Morris Bellamy were going to tie into the Mr. Mercedes story, but we get there eventually. There's a big buildup to book 3, and I have a feeling things are about to get even more creepy. Plus, I loved the re-appearance of Bill Hodges and his partners Jerome and Holly. 4/5 stars.
I loved this unique little book. Despite the classic-looking cover, there's a rather modern premise: a Evangelical family on reality TV grapples with the youngest daughter's pregnancy. There were themes of feminism, reproductive rights, and sexuality and I was pleasantly surprised. I thought the ending was a little rushed, but I'd definitely still recommend it. Rating- 4/5
TL;DR- Books I'd recommend you add to your TBR list: Believe Me, The Perfect Couple, Sharp Objects, Finders Keepers, The Book of Essie.
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Time for a monthly wrap up! I referred back to April Quick Lit and it feels like a lifetime ago since I've read those titles. I'm so thankful that my bookstagram and blog (and Goodreads) help me remember what I've read, because I'm quite sure without it I'd have no idea. So far I've read 47 books this year and am 18 ahead of "schedule"- my original goal was 65. Do you keep track of your reading in Goodreads? Definitely add me if you are- I love seeing what everyone else is reading. But on to what I've read this month!
Trouble the Water | Jacqueline Friedland | #freebook
This book was a departure from my usual reading but I really loved it. The writing was simple- I hate the temptation to overwork historical fiction- and this was really accessible. I found myself turning the pages and racing to the end like I would any thriller. I loved the characters and the omnipresent narration. This is Southern Historical Fiction/ romance wrapped up in neat packaging. I also really appreciated the slavery and abolitionist discussion- if anything, I would have liked more of that. I can tell a lot of research went into this book and I'd recommend it for fans of Kindred.. Well done, Jacqueline Friedland! Rating, 4/5
How to Walk Away | Katherine Center | #freebook
Margaret has a fear of flying. All is going perfectly in her life- she and her Golden Boy boyfriend Chip are recent grads who have just landed competitive jobs in their field. It's Valentine's Day, and despite said fear of flying she agrees to let Chip show of his now quite yet minted pilot's license. There's an accident ans suddenly, everything she thought she was sure of dissolves. If you're looking for a compulsively readable book about resiliency with a side of humor, this is for you! 4.5
Little Fires Everywhere | Celeste Ng
One of my favorites of the year, for sure. (Even though I know I'm about the last to pick it up). In idyllic 1990s Shaker Heights Ohio, privilege abounds. There are large homes with manicured lawns and every decision is made with a clear plan in place. Until Mia Warren and her daughter Pearl enter the bubble and rent a home from the Richardson's. The two families quickly intertwine and each Richardson has their own relationship with Pearl. At the center of the story is an adoption that causes the community members to choose sides and go against one another, but there's really much more to it. It's not a mystery or a thriller- it's a story about family and fitting in, sacrifices and the road less traveled. I LOVED Ng's writing style and will be picking up Everything I Never Told You as soon as I can. Can't wait to see Reece's / Kerry's adaptation! 4.75/5
The Last Time I Lied | Riley Sager | #freebook
I was excited to read this, since I loved Sager's last book, Final Girls. We have another girl who is the last girl standing after a tragedy- at summer camp 15 years ago, Emma's three roommates snuck out in the middle of the night and were never seen again. Emma is now an artist who paints massage paintings with a secret- in every photo, she hides a scene of the girls she lost so long ago. Francesca Harris-White, Camp Nightingale's wealth benefactor, approaches Emma with news that she's re-opening the camp. What's more, she wants Emma to come back and teach a painting class. Emma decides to return for closure, but quickly finds that the past doesn't do the best job of staying buried. This took me an extremely long time to get into (for me), about two weeks. I think it's because I wasn't connecting to Emma or to the camp setting. That said, once I was about 70% of the way through I raced to the end to see the resolution. Not my favorite but I think it'd be great for readers who have a connection to camp. 3/5
Bring Me Back | B.A. Paris | #freebook
I LOVED Bring Me Back! Finn and Layla are young and in love. Until Layla goes missing while they're on vacation and is never seen again. Brought together by grief, Finn falls in love with Layla's sister, Ellen. And they're happy, until months before the wedding clues begin to surface that suggest Layla might still be alive. And that she might want FInn back. I found this to be a total page turner- a contained thriller with a few red herrings thrown in that kept me guessing the whole time. Fans of The Woman in the Window should like this one! 5/5
The Queen of Hearts | Kimmery Martin
I won't lie- the cover got me to read this one. This was a true beach read chock full of friend drama. It centers on Zadie and Emma, best friends who met in medical school and are now practicing physicians in Charlotte. Then Dr. X- the McDreamy of it all- reappears and turns their relationship inside out. The author is an ER doctor herself (a fact which blows my mind! Where does she find the time to write...) There was a fair amount of medical jargon and detail that made the setting more real. All in all, this wasn't my favorite. I couldn't connect with the characters and there were too many characters introduced that didn't really add anything to the plot or the story. Those with experience working in healthcare may be more connected to this than I was. 2.75/5.
Tell Me Lies | Carola Lovering | #freebook
I think that a very specific demographic will like this book, but those of us that fall into that demographic will love it. Tell Me Lies opens with 25 year old Lucy Albright heading to a wedding for college friend Bree. She's got a pit in her stomach about it and despite trying to tell herself otherwise, she knows it's because he'll be there. The he that she never stopped thinking about. We flash back to freshman year, when she's moved across the country to go to a small liberal arts college and see her begin to experiment, find herself, make friends, and give in to the pull of Stephen, who is totally wrong for her. I loved the writing style and the story. There's not a ton of action- and trigger warnings for gaslighting, eating disorders, drugs, and cheating- but this really spoke to me. I was immersed in the characters and it was fascinating to read both Lucy and Stephen's inner perspective. Stephen was an absolute sociopath- but I think we've all known varying degrees of Stephen. These characters made me mad, made me reflect back on my own college experience, and will absolutely stick with me. 4.5/5
That's it from me! What have you been reading?
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