FEBRUARY RECAP/MARCH PREVIEW

February.

IMG_20190206_131857_383

The month I read Lonesome Dove by Larry McMurtry, and that’s it! I can’t remember the last time I only read one book in a month, but to be fair Lonesome Dove should count as four books. It is long! My full review will be out next week, and I hope I’ve inspired a few of you guys to pick this one up.

I did also listen to The Bright Hour by Nina Riggs and For Better and Worse by Margot Hunt on audio, both of which were solid four star reads. My review for For Better and Worse can be found here, and my review for The Bright Hour will be out soon!

Unread Shelf Project 2019

All three books that I read/listened to came from my Unread Shelf this month!  Here are the numbers:

Unread Books at Start of Month: 16
Books Read from Unread Shelf: 3
Books Purchased: 0
BOTM Selections: 0
Books Gifted/Lent: 3
Unread Books at the End of Month: 16

So, at least I didn’t go up! And I kicked a few big ones off the shelf. I feel good about this 🙂

March Preview

After a long (short?) month of reading one book, I truly couldn’t be more excited for March. At the top of my list are two ARCs I recieved this month: Leading Men from Viking Books and Parkland from Harper Books. After that it’s back to the Unread Shelf Project Challenge and March has two great nonfiction books for me in store — Indianapolis and Blood and Ivy. I have a good feeling about this month!

Advertisements

January Recap/February Preview

General Reading Vibe

January was a great reading month. I tore through books in the beginning of the month including the two books I read for my Unread Shelf, Hungover and My Absolute Darling.

My first three reads really lined up with my Dry January challenge I embarked on this month. Hungover featured the hangover, My Absolute Darling featured an alcoholic (ugh), and one featured ill bodies and liver transplant due to alcoholism. I think the combination of reading these books and taking a break from drinking taught me a lot and made me think about my drinking habits.

In case you’re wondering how Dry January went — it was OK! I learned a lot, cheated a little, and am ready to going back to drinking moderately without guilt in February. 🙂

The end of the month slowed down for me since work got busy and I got super sick (it was a bad cold, but for me it felt awful). Overall a very solid reading month.

Books Read:

5 Star:
My Absolute Darling by Gabriel Tallent
Holidays on Ice by David Sedaris
Calypso by David Sedaris

4 Star:
When Death Becomes Life by Joshua Mezrich
The Care and Feeding of Ravenously Hungry Girls by Anissa Gray
When You Read This by Mary Adkins

3 Star:
Hungover by Shaugnessy Bishop-Stall
The Husband’s Secret by Liane Moriarty

Unread Shelf Totals

I made a strong showing with my Unread Shelf this month. It really wasn’t difficult because recently my Unread Shelf has been looking so appealing! I have a lot to choose from (for better or worse) and can always find something I’ll like. I recently separated it from my Read bookshelf, so I can look at it like my own personal bookstore.

Unread Books at Start of Month: 22
Books Read from Unread Shelf: 8
Books Purchased: 0
BOTM Selections: 1
Books Gifted/Lent: 2 (Received and read 1 this month!)
Unread Books at the End of Month: 16

Looking forward to FEBRUARY

The theme for the Unread Shelf for February is gifted books! So that’s my main focus. In terms of Unread Shelf books I want to work on books given or lent to me by my friend Christine. There are a lot of these, but I’ll be focusing on Lonesome Dove and Sing Unburied Sing.

I’m also really excited to read a few ARC’s I’ve received from including Parkland by David Cullen.

Lonesome Dove will be my biggest challenge since it’s 945 pages and will be my longest book ever, but the rest of the titles are relatively short so here’s hoping I can squeeze them all in!

It should be a (another) great reading month! ❤

 

August Reading Recap

HAPPY END OF AUGUST! I cannot believe it is here, and honestly am not sure that I’m ok with it being here!! August was full of milestones – one of my best friend’s weddings, my first building I designed being sent to the building department (!!), and, notably, the month before September (aka when all hell breaks loose in my life)! My goal for August was to read four titles with pub dates this month, without going too crazy with the pressure. I got through three of them and I feel pretty good about that!

I also listened to two of my #UnreadShelfProject2018 books on audio, read my Book of the Month pick from this month (which never happens), and (almost) completed another monthly challenge for The Unread Shelf Project 2018! So…. BOOM – I feel like I crushed it! Summaries below and links to reviews where available!!

 

The Distance Home by Paula Saunders
Rating: 4/5
Genre: Contemporary Fiction
Tone: Dark, Somber
Structure: Generally told chronologically from one perspective, with flashes to the future
Read if you like: Little Fires Everywhere, Enchanted Islands

What Happened by Hillary Clinton
Rating: 4/5
Genre: Political Memoir
Tone: Campaign-y, Friendly
Structure: Told first person from Hillary Clinton per topic of campaign challenges
Read if you like: Hillary Clinton, Politics, Unbelievable by Katy Tur

Chariot on the Mountain by Jack Ford
Rating: 5/5
Genre: Historical Fiction
Tone: Strong, Suspenseful
Structure:  Chronological, Third person from two perspectives
Read if you like: Civil War History, To Kill a Mockingbird, The Underground Railroad

Sweet Little Lies by Caz Frear
Rating: 3.5/5
Genre: Mystery
Tone: Procedural, Scheme-y, Curious (idk these are hard)
Structure: Chronologically in present tense, with a few flashback diary entries
Read if you like: Tana French books particularly Faithful Place, Law and Order

Ohio by Stephen Markley
Rating: 2/5
Genre: Contemporary Fiction
Tone: Dark, angry, complex
Structure: Four distinct points of view on one night, with flashbacks to high school years
Read if you like: Let The Great World Spin, Hillbilly Elegy, The Immortalists

Modern Lovers by Emma Straub
Rating: 3/5
Genre: Contemporary Fiction
Tone: Hope, longing, depair
Structure: Three intertwined story lines – two adult couples, and one teenage “couple”
Read if you like: Unique stories of growing up

What’s the best book you read this month?! And – are you ready for fall??

 

March Speed Reviews!

March was a busy reading month for me! I read 6 books! This may be a record – and I have to say, my reading pace was strongly assisted by embracing my Scribd audiobook subscription (more on that in a later post!). None of these books totally jumped out at me as amazing reads, so my average rating for March is 3.7. My quick reviews are below!

Janesville by Amy Goldstein

Genre: Nonfiction
Feel Learn Wonder Review: 4 Stars
Review: I read this book for my new San Diego book club. Correction: I listened to this book for my new San Diego book club. This was my very first audiobook! Janesville tells the stories of several people living and working in Janesville, Wisconsin. A huge GM plant shut down in the city in 2008/2009, and left the population devastated – both those who worked for GM and those who did not. The unexpected twist in this book (although not a spoiler) is that Janesville is also the hometown of Paul Ryan, the current Speaker of the House. During the book he was a successful congressman and also pursued a vice presidential bid. Weaving Paul Ryan’s story in to the story lines of the other citizens, added a layer of depth to the story, but I also felt like it overshadowed and politicized the stories of the Janesville residents. Nonetheless, I learned a lot about what happens in midwestern cities when the major industry ceases to exist, and I would recommend it to someone interested in broadening their awareness of some underlying factors influencing the current political climate. Needless to say, this book lead to a lively discussion!

Stay with Me by Ayobami Adebayo

Genre: Historical Fiction
Feel Learn Wonder Review: 3 Stars
Review: Stay with Me was a book I wanted to love, but unfortunately just didn’t. The story covers the life of a woman in Nigeria, a society practicing polygamy. She and her husband decide to remain monogamous for life, but they are unable to have children, which introduces an unbearable amount of outside critique and pressure for the husband to take more wives in the hopes of having children. The consequences of living through this situation take its toll on everyone involved, and while many of the plot points were big and deserved attention, the book was on to the next before the reader could process. As I talked about in my Unread Shelf post for February, since the writing was rushed and didn’t provide the context I needed, I felt ostracized and ignorant, which felt a little unfair since I was interested in learning.

The Leavers by Lisa Ko

Genre: Literary Fiction
Feel Learn Wonder Review: 4 Stars
Review: The Leavers was a understated and very real portrayal of the personal impacts of illegal immigration policy. I wish I could say that The Leavers was “heartwrenching” but to me that implies an event, or a singular moment when my heart was pulled out of chest. Instead, The Leavers slowly demonstrated the life long impacts of a family being pulled apart. Based on the way I felt closing the book, I’d say that style was even more effective. I highly recommend the book, but I will say you may not always want to pick it up and continue following along with Demi’s story.

The Confusion of Languages by Siobhan Fallon

Genre: Mystery
Feel Learn Wonder Review: 3.5 Stars
Review: The Confusion of Languages is a book I bought last summer and then couldn’t bring myself to pick up. I ended up listening to the first 100 pages on audio since I had several hours of driving by myself for a work trip. I have to say, I was very surprised by this book – not necessarily “pleasantly surprised” but just surprised. It was not the literary fiction novel that would teach me about life in Jordan, but rather a fast paced mystery novel set in Jordan, which added an element of danger to the plot. While this wasn’t an ideal genre for me, I think it was a fun genre-bending story that I was able to rush through and was thoroughly entertained by.  I wrote a little more about this one in my Unread Shelf post for March.

A Piece of the World by Christina Baker Cline

Genre: Art History/ Historical Fiction
Feel Learn Wonder Review: 4 Stars
Review: A Piece of the World was an impromptu library pick for me! I went to pick up a library hold, saw this in the New Books section, and fell in love with the cover (#duh its a famous painting for a reason). Then I read the description, which boasted an interesting look at an often untold time in American history and knew I had to take it home. This book was very much a novel – it told a story without too much suspense or intrigue, and had a tidy ending that pulled it all together. So often today, we read books that push us or thrill us and this was an excellent read in between all of those. It was slow and thoughtful and in the end I really liked it! I would recommend it to anyone, especially someone willing to slow down and smell the roses.

Still Life by Louise Penny

Genre: Mystery
Feel Learn Wonder Review: 3.5 Stars
Review: Still Life is the first of a 13 (and still going) part series following a detective, Inspector Gamache, in a small Quebec town, Three Pines. While this is a detective novel, don’t be fooled in to thinking it is a thriller. While there are twists and turns, this is one that is totally okay to read after dark and won’t keep you up all night (unlike some Ruth Wares!). That said, it was an enjoyable read with great character development and some fun mystery components. I will definitely be picking up the second book (probably in May because my April TBR is already packed!)

 

January/February Speed Reviews!

February was busy. My boyfriend and I spent two and a half weeks in New Zealand so preparing for, doing, and recovering from the trip took up pretty much the entire month. I got some reading done, but not many reviews. So I wanted to post my speed reviews here!

Sourdough by Robin Sloan

Genre: Fiction/Magical Realism
Feel Learn Wonder Review: 2 Stars
Review: Robin Sloan is the great writer who brought us Mr. Penumbra’s 24 Hour Book Store, which I, and so many other readers loved! I expected to be taken on a similar journey this time, but the plot and character development never got me fully immersed in magical world. It ended up feeling a bit flat and forced, which was a dissapointment after loving Mr. Penumbra’s so much! For those looking for a quick palate cleanser between heavier books, this is certainly an option, but I wouldn’t expect to be sucked in to another world as much as you were with Mr. Penumbras.

Left Neglected by Lisa Genova

Genre: Contemporary Fiction
Feel Learn Wonder Review: 3 Stars
Review: I read this one as a the Diverse Book Club pick for their February topic of Chronic Illness. Left Neglect is a chronic illness in which your brain cannot imagine the left side of anything – your plate, the TV, your body, or even the room you’re sitting in. Imagine someone telling you to turn left, and you having to tell them that that’s impossible because there is no left. You know its not correct, but you just cannot find the left. Left Neglected follows the life of a busy working mother-of-two who suffers from this chronic brain injury following a car accident. The book is well done, and paints the picture of what it would feel like to be in the position of both the victim and the support system, but the plot lacks an overall arch. I felt like each chapter could have been a 40 minute tv show episode, and it definitely would be a show I would  tune in to each week, but it didn’t quite work for me as a book.

Hamilton The Revolution by Lin Manuel Miranda

Genre: Theatre
Feel Learn Wonder Review: 4 Stars
Review: I went to see Hamilton the Musical on broadway in January and I LOVED it! I went in totally fresh only knowing the song “My Shot” and not even really knowing what that meant. I requested Hamtilton: The Revolution and learned so much more about the characters, the cast, and little jokes Lin Manual Miranda through in to the lyrics. This book was such a great way to fully experience the show and by the end of the book, I had the soundtrack memorized!

Swimming Lessons by Claire Fuller

Genre: Contemporary Fiction
Feel Learn Wonder Review: 3 Stars
Review: Swimming Lessons was lent to me by a friend and that usually moves a stack to the top of my TBR since I want to return it quickly. The first half of this book really worked for me. I loved the alternating narrators and the budding love stories on both sides was making this slow burn really enjoyable. Unfortunately, in the second half I became more impatient with the slow burn, and the plot seemed to drag and not come together. The ending left me wanting more, and so I had to give this one a 3 star review.

Nothing to Envy by Barbara Demick

Genre: Nonfiction
Feel Learn Wonder Review: 5 Stars
Review: READ THIS BOOK! You may notice this is my only five star review in the batch and it would seriously be 10 stars if that was an option. I loved this book. I found the writing so well done, with a great balance of historical information and personal histories. I can’t even express to you how much I learned and how glad I am that I dug a little deeper to learn about the living conditions in North Korea. I don’t want to give too much away here, because I think some of the power of this book is being blown away page after page.

 

Moving in to 2018 with Intentions Set

One thing I regret about 2017 is that I can summarize the year in to the following: four months of studying and stressing for my Professional Engineering licensing exam, six weeks of being ready to get the hell out of New York City, and six months of “adjusting” to San Diego. I feel like I let this whole year slip by as a road block to get over. So my goal for 2018, bookish and non, is to be intentional. Be present, be relaxed, be myself, and DO NOT OVERBOOK.

IMG_1818

This will hopefully involve less travel – or less travel due solely to the feeling of obligation. The people and events that were a part of my life on the east coast are still very very important to me, but it’s time that I start living my life in California. There’s so much to discover here and I’m ready to start trying a little bit harder.

IMG_1317
Our first San Diego 4th of July! Here’s to staying put on holidays to come!

On a bookish note, I want to be more intentional with my book selections. I learned in the past year that I get so fired up about non-fiction, and am pretty apathetic about historical fiction and novels. I think it’s good to challenge your reading patterns, but I can only read 30-40 books in a year, so I want them to be good ones. Books that make me feel, learn, and wonder about the world. Specifically, I want to read more about science – biographies about scientists, microhistories of different fields, and just books about nature. One thing about being a structural engineer, is that I find myself solely focused on buildings, when I got in to the field of engineering because of a much broader interest in science.

IMG_1353
One of the great nonfictions I read in 2017!

In terms of #bookstagram, I want to be more intentional with my posts. I think it was Rachael at @booksforbrunch, who wrote that she wants her bookstagram account to reflect more of her opinions and reviews than just ‘look at this book I just got in the mail!’. I think it’s a challenge to curate your feed in that way (Let’s face it – the peak desire to post is usually when you first open the package), but I think it will make my content more worthwhile and allow me to contribute more to the community.

IMG_1252
This was a fun picture to take – and ended up being my #bookstagram profile picture! I’ve never again gotten anything to balance on that ledge.

In terms of book buying, Kate at @katereadsbooks_ is the QUEEN (of many things but especially) of claiming she’s going on a book buying ban, but I think I’m going to declare 2018 a year of buying ZERO books. I want to continue my Book of the Month subscription, but otherwise I want to stick to the library. I’m heading in to 2017 with seven unread books on my shelf (and many more on my kindle) that I’ve had sitting there for the last six months.  It’s time to read them, people! So in keeping with the theme, I want to be more intentional about buying books.

IMG_1538
Here’s a book I bought in July and haven’t read yet! I will read this in 2018!

And in terms of this blog, I want to be more intentional about writing. This doesn’t mean posting less because, let’s face it, I haven’t written since September, but it means planning posts and writing them; reviewing books that I read; revising posts before posting them.

img_8724
2018 will be the year that I read the books I have stored on my kindle! Hopefully with some of this delicious banana bread cold brew.

Basically I want to be better, and I think that by slowing down I can achieve my goals.

Speed Catchup!

It’s been a while! I haven’t posted on here in maybe six weeks? Life and work both got crazy at the same time, which didn’t leave much time to write. Since it’s the end of October, let’s speed through some catch up of bookish news!

  • I read some books! Quick reviews:

The Heart’s Invisible Furies by John Boyne – 5 Stars

Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng – 4.5 Stars

The Animators by Kayla Rae Whitaker – 4.5 Stars

Where the Water Goes by David Owen – 5 Stars

Unstoppable: My Life So Far by Maria Sharapova – 5 Stars

After the Eclipse by Sarah Perry – 3.5 Stars

  • I started a book club in San Diego! We read the Animators and had a ton of fun discussing it, while drinking some wine 🙂 Our next book will be Into Thin Air.
  • I (kind of) started a book club at work! We have a women’s group at work since I work in engineering, and we decided to read books about the work place and discuss it at our next meeting. This will just be a quarterly book club! Our first book will be The Confidence Code.
  • I had a birthday! I’m officially 28! For my birthday I bought myself What Happened by Hillary Clinton, and received Unstoppable by Maria Sharapova (Already read it! 5 Stars!) and Everything I Never Told You by Celeste Ng.
  • I’ve been focusing more on #bookstagram interaction and have started messaging more with others on there. It’s been great to get to know more of the community!

I think that’s about it!

Looking forward, I have an ambitious TBR for November

  • Lincoln in the Bardo by George Saunders (2017 Man Booker Prize Winner)
  • Into Thin Air by John Krakauer
  • What Happened by Hillary Clinton
  • The Confidence Code
  • and of course, my November BOTM book!

Happy Reading! And Happy November! I cannot believe 2017 is almost over!

 

August Rundown

August was a great month for reading for me. I finished four books – and two of them were over 500 pages (woah). I also made my third trip of the summer to Denver to watch one of my best friends get married, and had a house guest from New Zealand stay with us for nine days. I’d say August was busy, and September’s about to be even crazier!

I thought I’d try a new style of monthly post this month — direct and to the point. This month I wrote a lot on the blog, so instead of rehashing it all, I’ll just point you in the direction of those posts. I hope you enjoy!

Books Read

  • American Fire (July BOTM) – 4 Stars – Review here.
  • The Secret History – 5 Stars – Review here.
  • The Alice Network – 3 Stars – Review coming soon
  • The Lying Game – 4 Stars – Review coming soon

Bookish Updates

I read a lot of #backlistbumps this summer and LOVED it. Definitely going to be a new part of my routine – thoughts here.

I read two books from the Reese Witherspoon online book club, and did some digging in to other online book clubs – thoughts here.

I lost my phone for two weeks, and it made me do a lot of #bookstagram soul searching – thoughts here.

I’m starting a real life book club! I’ll write a post on it soon but I’m really excited

Book Buzz

The hottest books of August 2017 ::drum roll please::

  • Castle of Water by Dane Huckelbridge
  • The Heart’s Invisible Furies by John Boyne
  • The Ressurection of Joan Ashby by Cherise Wolas

September TBR

  1. The Hearts Invisible Furies by John Boyne (August BOTM)
  2. Castle of Water by Dane Huckelbridge
  3. Where the Water Goes by David Owen
  4. My September BOTM
  5. My new book club’s first pick!

 

 

 

July Rundown

July was a great month – for reading and otherwise!

I started the month by reading In a Dark, Dark Wood by Ruth Ware. I read it in three days flat – finishing it right before our Fourth of July barbecue. I loved it as an easy summer read and would highly reccomend it! Review here. 5 Stars.

Right after that I picked up The Return by Hisham Matar. It took me a while to get in to this, so I assumed that I wouldn’t finish it on my plane rides to and from Denver. Well, I finished my book on my first flight and thought to myself, now what? So as I walked through the Denver airport I found a bookstore and dropped it for some impulse buys. I told myself I could get one book that had been on my list for a long time – and ended up walking out with Modern Lovers by Emma Straub and The Circle by Dave Eggers. Review for The Return here. 5 Stars.

As my travels continued, on a train from the airport to the city, I had such an awesome experience. I wrote about it on Instagram, but I was reading The Circle on the train and a construction worker on his way home from a 16 hour shift, started to ask me about my book. I told him what is was and that I just got it and we ended up chatting about books and bookstores for the rest of the ride. When we got to the station, I was a little lost trying to find my connecting train and he happened to be headed in the same direction as me, so before I knew it the two of us were running for the train and chatting about our favorite football players and other mutual interests. It was so amazing to get out of my comfort zone and talk to a stranger about books and life, all because he recognized the cover of my book.

I spent the following week reading The Circle by Dave Eggers and having some serious internal debates about the state of data collection in the world today.  I didn’t end up loving The Circle, but I’m excited to watch the movie and it definitely gave me a lot to think about! Review here.

And now as the month comes to a close, I’m (per usual) rushing to finish my August Book of the Month pick – American Fire by Monica Hesse.

Looking Ahead – My August TBR:

I went on a bit of a book buying binge in the last month, so I actually have a lot of books ready to be read!

  1. The Secret Hisotry by Donna Tartt
  2. Where the Water Goes by David Owen
  3. Modern Lovers by Emma Straub
  4. Per Usual – My August Book of the Month Club Pick

Happy end of July and here’s to ringing in the last month of Summer 😀 (although now that I live in San Diego that’s not stressing me out nearly as much!)

Your Turn: What did you read this month? Anything you’d reccomend?!

 

June Rundown

And all of a sudden it was June and we were on the road.

On the final day in May,  my boyfriend and I left on a two week road trip from New York to San Diego.  We passed through Pittsburgh, Indianapolis, St. Louis, Kansas, Denver, several of the Utah National Parks, and then smashed out a drive to San Diego on the last day. It was an amazing trip, but I almost never got alone time and was always so exhausted at the end of a day!
I had my two May Book of the Month selections to read – since clearly I didn’t get to them in May. Of the two titles, Priestdaddy by Patricia Lockwood and Into the Water by Paula Hawkins, I went with Into the Water for the roadtrip, as it seemed like it would raise less eyebrows at all of our stops along the way. As I mentioned in the review, I cracked open the book in Pittsburgh, PA, at my parents house, didn’t open it again until we got to Denver. And then read the majority of the book when we got to San Diego, and I had a laid back reading environment once again. The full review is here, but spoiler: I LOVED it (the actual review has no spoilers).
As soon as I put it down I was on to Priestdaddy, and I was loving it – enjoying the tone of the writing, but feeling shocked and sympathetic at their misfortune. And then…. I searched for ‘book club’ on meetup, found one, only had three days to read the book, downloaded Station Eleven by Emily St John Mandel and read it in three days. As happens, I got too busy to go to the book club that Sunday, but I read and enjoyed the book, and posted my review here. I gave it three stars out of five.
IMG_1252
And now as the month ends, I’m looking forward to finishing Priestdaddy, picking my July Book of the Month, and reading the three paperbacks I got from Barnes and Noble. (I almost never buy books, but I got $30 from Barnes and Noble through their class action lawsuit! Free books please!)
IMG_1166
Hope you’re all enjoying summer and especially that summer reading! Happy July!!