Book Review: Emma in the Night

Author: Wendy Walker
Published: August 8th 2017
Genre: Mystery/Thriller
FLW Rating: 4/5

“Cass Tanner was taking them all on a journey, and the only way they would find Emma was to go along for the ride.”

As soon as I read this line, I knew it had to be the start of my review. Emma in The Night was a wild ride. That is truly the best way to describe this book. But buckle up and enjoy it because there’s no point digging and guessing. Cass has it all planned out, and she’s going to take you to the answer.

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But let me back up.

Emma in the Night is the story of two sisters, Cass and Emma, and the mystery of their disappearance. When one of the girls returns alone after being missing for three years, she immediately shares her story with detectives to help them find her sister, Emma. Every line of Cass’ story was scrutinized – inserting doubt to the reader and adding a level of mystery to the explanation being presented.

The book alternates it’s points of view between Cass Tanner and one of the detectives working the case. So after each segment of Cass’s story, you’ll get the reaction from Dr. Winter, who has been working the case for three years and knows they are so so close to the answer. It’s not always a strict back and forth, but there is enough direct scrutiny of Cass’s statements to feel like you’re getting the whole picture, the facts and the fiction.

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For me, the beginning gripped me from page one – I was dying to hear the revelation of the case that had stumped everyone from the beginning. Similarly, the end was incredible. The reveal was well constructed and so well done. However, the middle dragged and lost my attention as I wondered where this was all heading. For that reason, I can’t list this mystery among the greats, but still very strongly encourage you to read and enjoy it! Just promise me you won’t wonder where it’s all going, because that ruins the fun. Just pick your feet up, and get read to be pulled in!

Book Review: An American Marriage

Author: Tayari Jones
Published: February 2017
Genre: Literary Fiction
FLW Rating: 5/5

I went in to my February Book of the Month selection thinking I should skip the month, and would ONLY get a book of The Great Alone was an option. Fast forward to reviewing the choices, and I couldn’t turn down An American Marriage once I read the description. It sounded like a story that I needed to read if I was going to understand the America we live in today. This may sound dramatic but incarceration and racism, particularly in the South, is a topic that has gotten me fired up in the past few years. For more on that topic you should definitely read Hell is a Very Small Place by Jean Casella. Anyway, I read the following description and decided I had to have this book:

Newlyweds Celestial and Roy are the embodiment of both the American Dream and the New South. He is a young executive, and she is an artist on the brink of an exciting career. But as they settle into the routine of their life together, they are ripped apart by circumstances neither could have imagined.

Roy is arrested and sentenced to twelve years for a crime Celestial knows he didn’t commit. Though fiercely independent, Celestial finds herself bereft and unmoored, taking comfort in Andre, her childhood friend, and best man at their wedding. As Roy’s time in prison passes, she is unable to hold on to the love that has been her center. After five years, Roy’s conviction is suddenly overturned, and he returns to Atlanta ready to resume their life together.

This stirring love story is a profoundly insightful look into the hearts and minds of three people who are at once bound and separated by forces beyond their control. An American Marriage is a masterpiece of storytelling, an intimate look deep into the souls of people who must reckon with the past while moving forward—with hope and pain—into the future.

From the description, I gathered that the book would probably be heavy, but I couldn’t have anticipated how hard hitting it would be. It may be my age (28 to the characters’ early 30s) and relationship status (living with my boyfriend of a few years 🙂 ), but this book hit home so hard. At my stage in life I spend a lot of time dreaming of my future – the house I’ll hopefully own and the children I’ll hopefully raise. I can only imagine being a few years down the line – a newlywed couple with a house they bought together and kids on the horizon – and then having the rug ripped out from under you and told to put everything on pause for 12 years because of a false accusation.

The writing structure was unique, but it really worked for this book. The first hundred pages or so are written as an exchange of letters between the newlyweds, and then it transitions to a multiple narrator style for the rest of the book. This change could have been abrupt but I found it worked really well in this case!

Honestly, I don’t have anything negative to say about this book, except only read it if you’re willing to experience all the unfairness of today’s world.

If you want to join BOTM  and experience great books like this that may otherwise not be on your radar, use my referral link for a discount on your first month!

What you should pick for your BOTM Extra

It’s January 24th, so naturally I’m already gearing up for next month’s Book of the Month selections.

I bought my mom a Book of the Month membership for Christmas, and got a free book credit in the deal, so I’ve been trying to figure out what book I should get. Whenever I go diving through the BOTM archives, I’m just reminded of all the books I’ve loved so far!

Since I’m doing The Unread Shelf Project, I think I’m going to buy a book I’ve already read to have on my shelf (Tossing up The Woman in Cabin 10 or Into Thin Air) But, if you have found yourself in a similar situation – or just want to add an extra to your box here are my top five suggestions!

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If you’re looking for a well researched, slow-burning, character rich, historical fiction novel: Pachinko by Min Jin Lee (my review)

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If you’re looking for a book that will destroy you and put you back together again, while making you consider different types of relationships from your own: All the Ugly and Wonderful Things by Bryn Greenwood (my review)

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If you want to experience life on the Galapagos Islands, with a touch of WWII espionage intrigue: Enchanted Islands by Allison Ahmed

 

If you’re looking for the quintessential unputdownable thriller: The Woman in Cabin 10 by Ruth Ware (Confession: I don’t own The Woman in Cabin 10, yet, but these are her other two that I read this past summer!)

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If you want a new [fictional] best friend: The Hearts Invisible Furies by John Boyne

 

Honorable Mention: The Animators, The Couple Next Door, and The Profiteers.

 

 

I cannot recommend any of these enough and I’m so grateful for BOTM for bringing them in to my life!

(If you’ve been considering Book of the Month but haven’t taken the plunge, use my referral code! You’ll get a sweet deal, and I’ll get a free book)

Review: Pachinko

Author: Min Jin Lee
Published: January 2017
Genre: Historical Fiction
New York Times 10 Best Books 2017
FLW Rating: 4/5

Pachinko is a book that I will always remember, maybe not for the story, but for the history lessons I learned from it. This may just be me, but I feel like when it comes to history I tend to stick to similar cultures – American, European, maybe Russian or African at times, but very rarely do I study Asian history. Almost two years ago, I went to the Chinese American museum in New York City, and was blown away at how that population suffered upon immigrating to the US. It’s with this self awareness, that I’m so happy that I read Pachinko and that it is a New York Times Top 10 Notable Book for 2017. But I digress, Pachinko is a wonderful story set in Korea and Japan that spans almost the entire 20th century.

The story begins with a teenage girl, Sunja, who is living in the Bansu peninsula of Korea. The country has been largely oppressed by Japan who is beginning its quest to take over the region, using Korea as a stepping stone to China. Sunja lives with her mother, who, as a recent widow, provides for her family by running an inn full of interesting characters. But as Sunja grows up and moves away from the inn, she is forced to persevere – through hunger and poverty and segregation of many types. Sunja is an inspiring protagonist and as her family grows and moves, you feel yourself growing with them.

My favorite thing about this book, is of course the history, but beyond that I loved the writing. When I finished reading, I felt like I was going to mourn the loss of a dear friend (not a spoiler of the ending, just a reflection of my connection to this book), and so I kept turning the pages to the authors note. What I learned is that Min Jin Lee moved to Japan when her husband accepted a job, and she spent a lot of her time interviewing locals to prepare for this book. She had been working on the story for so many years, and wanted to make sure that it was exactly right. I think this anecdote is the purest example of what makes this book so moving and personal – the time and attention and care for the people it portrays just reflects how genuine Lee’s writing was.

While the plot may come in second to the characters and the history, it moves at the just the right pace, with just enough action to keep you turning the page. I would recommend it to someone looking for a heavier-novel or a lighter-nonfiction.

Book Review: The Lying Game

Hello Bookish Friends! It’s been a little since my last post – mostly because I am currently SO immersed in The Hearts Invisible Furies! A review should be coming pretty soon because I finally crossed the 500 page mark. But I digress…

The Lying Game by Ruth Ware was one of my most anticipated reads of the summer! When I first heard that Ruth Ware was coming out with another thriller, I added it to my Goodreads so I wouldn’t forget, texted my best reading friend, and waited patiently.

The wait for The Woman in Cabin 10 from the library was literally several MONTHS long, so I expected this to be the same situation, until I saw that Book of the Month was offering it for $9.99 with my August box! Sold!

In addition to The Woman in Cabin 10, I also read In a Dark Dark Wood by Ware, and I came to expect that a Ware thriller can be an unputdownable experience where you care deeply for the characters and truly question their survival. I set my expectations very high and I  was, honestly, disappointed.

The Lying Game is the story of four friends who witnessed a crime during their boarding school days, did not immediately realize the guilt they assumed by association, but refused to speak a word of it for the rest of their days. Until it became relevant again nearly seventeen years after they had all parted ways. 

For me, the character development fell through on this one. I felt in the dark throughout a lot of the story, without being given enough to keep me hanging on, but rather scratching my head and thinking ‘Am I missing something?’.

I felt that the plot could have been resolved easily by just saying HEY something happened when we were younger and we made some mistakes. The fact that noone in the story tried to do that, but let this lying game continue, really frustrated me.

So in the end, this was probably just a 3 Star read for me. I’ll probably read the next book Ware come out with, but I think I’ll borrow it from the library next time.

Your Turn:

Did you read this book? What did you think?

Do you think it’s hard for a writer to continue to produce great books after great books?

My mom had a saying in high school regarding high school sports, in which she said ‘It’s hard to win three times?’ Do you agree in the context of books?

Book Review: American Fire

Peeking my head up from The Secret History to bring you this review of American Fire by Monica Hesse. 🙂

LOVE IS A WEIRD ACT. An Optimistic delusion. A leap of faith and foolishness. Sometimes when it is tested, imperfections that were there from the beginning, lurking deep, can begin to work their way to the surface. Even two people who love each other deeply will always be two people, two souls. You can’t ever completely get in someone else’s head, or in someone else’s heart. It is the greatest tragedy and the greatest beauty of a relationship: that at some level, the person you are closest to will always be a total friggin’ mystery. Maybe the real mystery is why we ever do it at all. It must be something incredible.” – Monica Hesse, American Fire

I normally never start a review with a quote, but maybe I’ve been writing these wrong, because I think that quote serves as quite an intro.

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American Fire is a book I stumbled upon over the winter through a fit of boredom  – either browsing through Goodreads or Netgalley, I can’t remember, but I do remember setting a mental note for July when it would come out. So July 1st, when I saw it as a Book of the Month selection and I chose it immediately. I love when Book of the Month selects nonfiction!

The synopsis of American Fire is that two people living on the Eastern Shore of Virginia, decide to set fires to abandoned houses throughout their county, and reaked havoc on their community. Monica Hesse, the author of this book, was a journalist with (admittedly) nothing to write about and asked her boss if she could go down to Virginia to cover this story.

What Hesse brings is a compelling narrative non fiction, sprinkled with chapters that take a step back from the story and explain the context. This context ranges from the psychology behind arson, to the history of the economy of the Eastern Shore (who knew that Doritos were part of the downfall?), to different state laws which could influence the trial and sentencing for arson.

The overarching story line was told through the lives of the arsonists as well as the firefighters fighting each fire, to give you the full picture of the crime and the damage to the community.

I felt like a learned so much from the story, and enjoyed it all the while.

I find that even though I shouldn’t, I tend to compare books. The comparisons I would make for this is that it was somewhere between The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot and Deadwake (or any of the others) by Eric Larson. It reminds me of Rebecca Skloot because it truly was the story of a journalist who stumbled upon a story and invested the time and effort to develop a book, and of Eric Larson because, in my opinion, nobody writes narrative non-fiction better.

At the end of the day, I was drawn in to this story, but I was never obsessed the way I was with a Larson book. I learned so much, and those facts and feelings will stay with me – which is kind of the best that you can hope for!

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I hope you give this book a shot and let me know what you thought!

Feel Learn Wonder Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
Title: American Fire
Author: Monica Hesse
Genre: Narrative Nonfiction

 

 

Book Review: Into the Water by Paula Hawkins

When a writer has one crazy successful book, do you automatically read the next one she comes out with?

I felt conflicted about picking up a copy of Into the Water by Paula Hawkins. I truly enjoyed Girl on the Train when I read it in 2015, but it wasn’t my favorite book ever. To be honest, I’d only half-heartedly recommend GotT to friends. But I knew that with all the hype around Into the Water, including already purchased movie rights, I’d feel the urge to read it at some point. Then with Book of the Month Club offering it as an add on to my box, the answer became even simpler. Add it to my Box!

Before I even opened the book, I was seeing crazy mixed reviews. Loved it, hated it, everyone had a STRONG opinion. My opinion: I really enjoyed this book, so much more than I anticipated. At the end I couldn’t put it down, and without giving too many spoilers, I read the final sentence three times. If you read my recaps, you know I hate when an ending drags on. None of that here!

In a few words – this book was eerie and engaging until the final punch. Go get a copy! Or if you live in San Diego, come be my friend and you can borrow mine! 😉

Synopsis from Goodreads:

“A single mother turns up dead at the bottom of the river that runs through town. Earlier in the summer, a vulnerable teenage girl met the same fate. They are not the first women lost to these dark waters, but their deaths disturb the river and its history, dredging up secrets long submerged.

Left behind is a lonely fifteen-year-old girl. Parentless and friendless, she now finds herself in the care of her mother’s sister, a fearful stranger who has been dragged back to the place she deliberately ran from—a place to which she vowed she’d never return.”

 

What I liked:

That Paula Hawkins writing style. I remember learning about the phrase “Dramatic Irony” in my high school English class, and realizing how much of a rush it can give the reader. (Dramatic Irony is when the reader knows more than the characters.) Paula Hawkins writes in an almost ‘elevated dramatic irony’ (totally making that phrase up). A typical trio of chapters in a Hawkins book would include:

  1. The action is building until the scene you are anticipating is about to occur;
  2. Other characters, not at the scene speculating about the action;
  3. One of the characters involved in the action recounting the scene in the aftermath.

This style is SO compelling, leads you to turning the pages to find out what happened while also feeling a sense of dramatic irony throughout. And despite feeling like the writing was slightly calculated, it truly never bothered me because it worked so well.

What I didn’t like:

To be honest with you, I had a HARD time putting the characters together at the start. This is definitely a product of how I read it, but still – I could’ve used some family trees at the start! I read the first ten pages in Pittsburgh, PA. Then then next thirty in a park in Denver, CO. And then didn’t pick it up again until I got to San Diego, CA. I forgot some characters along the way and had to do some flipping back to get caught up. Minor gripe, but I had to have one, right?

Food for Thought:

1 – It’s interesting that this book came out so close after the Netflix series,  13 Reasons Why, which experienced so much backlash for its graphic suicide scene. Many are claiming (backed by scientific research) that having that exposure to suicide would push someone considering it in to doing it.

In this book, the mother of the teenage girl who committed suicide, claims that Nel Abbott’s research of the “suicide spot”, which created a sense of hype around it, may have tipped her daughter over the edge in to going through with it.

I found it interesting to see this concept reinforced in another piece of literature, because this was not a phenomenon I had even heard of previously. It makes me wonder, while this book doesn’t glorify suicide, and I would argue neither does “13 Reasons Why”, should we all stop writing about suicide?

“Her daughter made a senseless choice, but pockets filled with stones and hands grasping flowers, the choice had context. The context was provided by Nel Abbott”

2 – More lighthearted, but does anyone else feel like it takes a solid 100 pages (almost EXACTLY) to get in to a good book? I’ve experienced this so much over the past year, to the point where I used to get my Book of the Month box, and sit down and commit to reading 100 pages straight. If I don’t boost through the first 100, I feel like the rest of the book doesn’t resonate as much with me. In this case, I read the first 100 slowly, and while I still clearly really liked it, the second I thought to myself “wow this book is really good”, I looked down and noticed I was on page 101.

That’s all from me! I hope you pick up a copy of Into the Water by Paula Hawkins and immerse yourself in this crazy world. I’m giving this one a 5/5!

 

The Perfect Nonfiction – The Killers of the Flower Moon Book Review

The perfect nonfiction is quite a claim – and I’m not sure that I’ve found it, but I (read: Book of the Month Club) sure found a good one. I wonder if there really is a perfect nonfiction out there..

I love a good nonfiction, but I always find that they are so hit or miss. Some of my favorites recently are Deadwake by Erik Larson, Boys in the Boat by Daniel James Brown, The Profiteers by Sally Denton, The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot, and now I’m adding Killers of the Flower Moon by David Grann.

As I think about what these books have in common, I’ve broken my preferences down to four main ingredients.

  • Wow factor. It has to feel like I’m really learning something new about the world – particularly the US
  • Good character development
  • A narrative story line
  • A concise ending

Killers of the Flower Moon had the first three, but in my opinion, struggled with the ending – more on that later.

But before we go any further, a synopsis from Goodreads:

“In the 1920s, the richest people per capita in the world were members of the Osage Indian Nation in Oklahoma. After oil was discovered beneath their land, the Osage rode in chauffeured automobiles, built mansions, and sent their children to study in Europe.

Then, one by one, they began to be killed off. One Osage woman, Mollie Burkhart, watched as her family was murdered. Her older sister was shot. Her mother was then slowly poisoned. And it was just the beginning, as more Osage began to die under mysterious circumstances.

In Killers of the Flower Moon, David Grann revisits a shocking series of crimes in which dozens of people were murdered in cold blood.”

I read it quickly over the course of the last week, when I probably should’ve been studying, and finished it on the plane down to Florida. It was such an amazing story, and my only qualm with it was that the ending spent way too much timing tying up loose ends!

“History is a merciless judge. It lays bare our tragic blunders and foolish missteps and exposes our most intimate secrets, wielding the power of hindsight like an arrogant detective who seems to know the end of the mystery from the outset. “

Grann’s writing reads like a well balanced mix of prose and investigative journalism. The story begins with Mollie Burkhart, an Osage Indian with a large family and a white husband. At the outset, Mollie’s sister, Anna, is missing and it is evident that she won’t be coming home alive.

As soon as you get comfortable with Mollie’s story, Grann shifts to another angle in the story – Tom White, the Bureau of Investigation (Later named the Federal Bureau of Investigation) agent put in place to figure out what was going on in Osage County.

This part was by and large my favorite. The story unraveled so smoothly that I felt like I was spotting things that didn’t seem right, right before the next revelation was unveiled.

It was a very satisfying way to work through the story and that’s largely in part to Grann’s writing style.

The final section mostly outlined Grann’s own investigative work, so maybe he wanted to make sure he included those results. Maybe (I’m 100% speculating) he wanted to tie up all loose ends, so as to be the authoritative book of the Osage Indian Reign of Terror. Either way, I felt that the story was over before the final section, and I kind of skimmed the end.

I don’t want to spoil any more so I’ll just tell you to pick up a copy of Killers of the Flower Moon! As my next move, I’m heading to theatres to see The Lost City of Z, based on another book written by David Grann. I’ll let you know what I think!

Hellooo, New York! – Startup Book Review

Is there anything better than coming in to yourself as a twenty-something grad living in New York City?

I really don’t think there is. And that’s what makes Startup such an engaging read.

I’ve been living in Manhattan for the past four years – I moved here straight out of graduate school ready to take on the world. My experience may not have been crazy enough to write a book about but I’ve definitely had several quintessential NY experiences.

I lived in a duplex apartment – 1/2 ground floor and half basement, where you could only get cell phone service upstairs or internet downstairs. Try having work calls where you’re supposed to listen and recieve an email at the same time.

I’ve had nights out at clubs dancing on tables and meeting new people. I’ve lost friends, I’ve gained friends. I’ve had amazing work experience, and I’ve had my fair share of let downs.

I’ve explored this city from Arthur Ave in the Bronx to the 104th floor of the World Trade Center tower to Coney Island in Brooklyn.

I’ve had the best of times and the worst of times – but I have certainly loved my time here. It was the best place to be from age 23 to 27.

Why am I getting in to this? I think remembering the experiences I’ve had – this wonderful trying time of finding yourself in New York city –  is the primary reason I LOVED Startup. I felt like I had been there. It reminded me of the book Sweetbitter that I read for my book club last summer. We all related to the feeling of getting to New York and being totally lost but also totally inspired.

To me, Startup is the Sweetbitter of the tech industry. If you liked Sweetbitter – check out Startup. If you kind of liked it but the restaurant industry/ all the drugs weren’t for you – check out Startup. Didn’t read Sweetbitter yet? READ EM BOTH!

“Let’s say I was born in late June of 2006 when I came over the George Washington Bridge at seven a.m. with the sun circulating and dawning, the sky full of sharp corners of light, before the exhaust rose, before the heat gridlocked in, windows unrolled, radio turned up to some impossibly hopeful pop song, open, open, open” – Sweetbitter

Before I dive in to my thoughts on Startup here’s a quick synopsis from Goodreads:

“Mack McAllister has a $600 million dollar idea. His mindfulness app, TakeOff, is already the hottest thing in tech and he’s about to launch a new and improved version that promises to bring investors running and may turn his brainchild into a $1 billion dollar business–in startup parlance, an elusive unicorn.

Katya Pasternack is hungry for a scoop that will drive traffic. An ambitious young journalist at a gossipy tech blog, Katya knows that she needs more than another PR friendly puff piece to make her the go-to byline for industry news.

Sabrina Choe Blum just wants to stay afloat. The exhausted mother of two and failed creative writer is trying to escape from her credit card debt and an inattentive husband-who also happens to be Katya’s boss-as she rejoins a work force that has gotten younger, hipper, and much more computer literate since she’s been away.

Before the ink on Mack’s latest round of funding is dry, an errant text message hints that he may be working a bit too closely for comfort with a young social media manager in his office. When Mack’s bad behavior collides with Katya’s search for a salacious post, Sabrina gets caught in the middle as TakeOff goes viral for all the wrong reasons. As the fallout from Mack’s scandal engulfs the lower Manhattan office building where all three work, it’s up to Katya and Sabrina to write the story the men in their lives would prefer remain untold.”

The story is really centered around the three people described in the synopsis – Mack, Katya, and Sabrina. The other character of note for this review is Isabel.

Isabel was ‘hooking up’ with Mack, the CEO of her start up, and when things start to go haywire, her work situation is severely compromised. There are several other supporting characters who I would love to talk about as well, but these four tell the part of the story that I want to discuss:

As I read this book, I really hated Mack.

This is not a criticism of the book, but he just really irked me. One line from early on, where whoever is narrating at the time says something along the lines of ‘startup bros are worse than lawyers and bankers because at least the latter groups admit that they’re in it for the money.  Startup bros act like the money is a biproduct of disrupting the way things are for the better.’ (Not a real quote, just a summary!) Mack was the epitome of this.

Mack gets himself in some hot water in the book, and I’ve read a few people online saying ‘he sent some sexts, who cares?!’

To me what stood out – and why we care – was the lesson that Sabrina (age 36) passed on to Isabel (age 26) as the whole dick pic scandal was playing out. The lesson is this: It doesn’t matter if its not the “definition” of sexual harassment that you heard about in school- even if your boss isn’t smacking your butt and calling you ‘sweet cheeks’ or idk any other example like that. But if it looks like sexual harassment, and it smells like sexual harassment, it is sexual harassment. If someone with the power to promote or fire you,  makes you feel uncomfortable because of unwanted advances, it’s sexual harassment.

I could go on and on, but I think what this book brought to life is that in the startup world, the bosses aren’t always 60 year old, fat, balding, outwardly creepy old men who we would associate with sexual harassment. Not that this is the case outside of the startup world either necessarily, but it’s infinitely more common to have a young twenty-something, attractive, single, and charming CEO at a startup. So while Isabel felt like she was hooking up with an attractive coworker and not a “boss”, it was her boss, and it affected her career when it ended. On the other hand, while Mack felt like he was hooking up with an attractive coworker, he was influencing the culture of his company and his credibility to investors.

It’s a new game out there in the constantly evolving tech world, and it’s important that everyone is aware of what game they’re playing.

This message was resonated throughout the book, and I thought that in a book that is so fun to read, so easy to read, so quick to read, and so seemingly  lighthearted, it’s important to draw out the message here.

I hope this doesn’t make me a downer – I totally played along and loved the funny love triangles and sexual tensions going down in this book. It’s a great read and I highly recommend it, but also WARNING – maybe don’t buy this for your mother or your pre-teen sister because it gets pretty far in to the shady side of craigslist.

I hope you enjoy the book – let me know if you’ve read it! Since I only have six more weeks of soaking up my twenties in New York (I’m moving not turning 30), this was a great way to relish in my time here 🙂

Overall: 4 Stars.

What Happened When I Invested $145 On Books – My BOTM Story

When I got back from living abroad in the start of 2016, I had recently reignited my love of reading and was also really in to subscription boxes. These two came together in the form of a spontaneous decision to join Book of the Month Club with a 12-month subscription. The membership came with one book per month – to be selected on the 1st of the month each month. Each book was selected by a judge with a personal summary/ sales pitch. I always love to read their take, both when I’m making my decision and when I finish reading the book.

What did I get from it?

Not to be cheesy but…. Book of the Month Club totally transformed my reading life. Since many of the books were available through BOTM before they were publicly released, I always knew about hot new books coming out and I stayed up to date on the book scene to know about what was coming out. My TBR grew and grew and I was never found without a book in my purse.

In concrete terms, I received 15 brand new hard cover books – this breaks down to the 12 I paid for up front + 1 free book from BOTM  just because + 2 free books because I wasn’t happy with two of my selections. I also read 9 more BOTM selections that I received from the library or borrowed from a friend.

I never paid for an ‘extra book in my box’ and I only paid for shipping once (+$1) and it was a total accident!

The perks didn’t stop with the books I received- here’s a quick list of some of the other ways BOTM influenced my reading life.

  • I bought a kindle on Amazon Prime day. While I couldnt read BOTM books on my kindle, BOTM really helped to reignite my love of reading and I decided to invest in a Kindle Paperwhite.
  • I joined the library! I love it – it’s so easy and obviously totally free 😊
  • I started to read more than I watched TV. NYPL.com is more frequently visited than Netflix.com in my browser…
  • I started listening to the All The Books podcast by Book Riot to hear about new releases every Tuesday.
  • I started to talk all of my friends ears’ off about books.
  • I commented on my first discussion thread online (On BOTM’s discussion boards).
  • I started to visit local bookstores in New York City – my favorite, Three Lives and Co. in the West Village
  • And finally, I started this blog! I couldn’t keep all my bookish thoughts in my head anymore and had to get them out.

Bookshelf

A few months ago, Book of the Month started something called a ‘Bookshelf’ that let’s you distinguish you books on to Love, Like, and Dislike shelves. I’ll share mine here and include the books I got via other means, but were still BOTM selections. Bold indicates that it was my personal selection from BOTM!

LOVED

  • Perfect Little World by Kevin Wilson – February 2017
  • The Grownup by Gillian Flynn (Short Story) – January 2017
  • The Trespasser by Tana French – November 2016
  • A Gentleman in Moscow by Amor Towles – September 2016
  • The Woman in Cabin 10 by Ruth Ware – August 2016
  • All the Ugly and Wonderful Things by Bryn Greenwood – August 2016
  • Missing, Presumed by Susie Steiner – July 2016
  • Enchanted Islands by Allison Amend – June 2016
  • The Association of Small Bombs by Karan Mahajan – May 2016
  • The Profiteers: Bechtel and the Men Who Built The World by Sally Denton – March 2016

LIKED

  • Exit West by Mohsin Hamid – March 2017
  • The Sun Is Also A Star by Nicola Yoon – December 2016
  • You Will Know Me by Megan Abbott – December 2016
  • The Couple Next Door  by Shari Lapena – September 2016
  • Siracusa by Delia Ephron – August 2016
  • The Girls by Emma Cline – July 2016
  • Before the Fall by Noah Hawley – June 2016

DISLIKED

  • Lucky You by Ericka Carter – January 2017
  • Whatever Happened to Interracial Love by Kathleen Collins – December 2016
  • Every Man A Menace by Patrick Hoffman – November 2016
  • The Mothers by Brit Bennett – October 2016

 TO BE READ

  • Killers of the Flower Moon by David Grann – April 2017
  • Startup by Doree Shafrir – April 2017
  • The Veins of the Ocean – June 2016

While I decided not to renew my Book of the Month subscription, I would wholeheartedly suggest to any readers out there, that they should join. It has been a great way to jumpstart my love of reading!