September Book Intentions

IMG_2054It’s the start of a new month, and that means it’s time to set book intentions for the coming weeks.

I joined the Modern Mrs. Darcy Book Club in August, so this will be my first official read as a new member. Add that to the two Facebook book club groups I’m also a part of, and I have a lot of book club reading to do this month.

I also chose my Book of the Month pick that will add to my TBR pile. On top of the books I would like to read, it’s going to be quite a busy month.

My intentions might be optimistically high, however, as I’m starting a new full-time job the day after Labor Day. It’ll be interesting to see how I’ll be able to work my reading life around my job and motherly/wifely duties. This month will be dedicated to figuring out a new normal, that’s for sure.

Here is what I’m planning to read this month:

Modern Mrs. Darcy Book Club:

  • A Curious Beginning by Deanna Raybourn

Monthly Book Club (Facebook):

  • The Nightengale by Kristin Hannah

Read With Me Book Club (Facebook):

  • A Curse So Dark and Lonely by Brigid Kemmerer
  • Cinder by Marissa Meyer

Book of the Month Pick:

  • Wild Game by Adrienne Brodeur

Other Books I Want to Read This Month:

  • A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith
  • The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Jenkins Reid
  • Educated by Tara Westover

Continued Readings:

  • City of Girls by Elizabeth Gilbert
  • Tell Me Three Things by Julie Buxbaum

What are you hoping to read this month? Make sure to let me know in the comments!

Books I Read in August

Monthly Book Round-Up-2

It’s hard to believe summer is already coming to a close. It’s been a great season for summer reading. There’s a new job on my horizon, so it makes me that much more appreciative of the time I got to spend dedicated to books and reading these past few months.

Overall, it was a good book month. I read some great books and only a couple not-so-great ones. I read a total of 10 books (half audio, half physical/ebook), which is a huge number for me. I’m not sure I’ll be able to repeat that number going forward, but I’m sure going to try!

Here is my monthly ratings round-up:


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The Bassoon King by Rainn Wilson

My Rating: ⭐️⭐️

Usually I love listening to celebrity memoirs on audio. The author gets to dictate their own story, and being an actor brings out the fun in the way a story is told. All this to say, I was quite disappointed with Rainn Wilson’s book. He told it in a droll way, and some of the subject matters he gets into are just not to my taste (spirituality, acting tips, etc.). Plus it was about 50 pages too long. There were some fun Dwight Schrute guest writing “appearances,” but beside that, this one wasn’t as fun as some other celeb memoirs I’ve read this year.


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The Tattooist of Auschwitz by Heather Morris

My Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️.5

I wrote in more detail about this novel in a past blog post (find that here), so I won’t repeat myself. This was one of the first historical fiction novels I’ve read set in World War II (which I’ve come to learn are very popular in the book community). The subject matter can be hard to digest sometimes, but I enjoyed learning more about what really happened in the concentration camps. Heather Morris has a sequel called Cilka’s Journey coming out at the end of September, and it’s best to start with this novel first.


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Dark Matter by Blake Crouch

My Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

I never would have picked this book up if it weren’t for the Facebook Monthly Book Club group. I don’t normally read sci-fi, mostly because some sci-fi concepts hurt my head to think about. This novel had a head-scratching premise (inter-dimensional universes??), but it was one that captured my interest and made me want to keep reading to find out what happened next. I listened to the audio version, otherwise I might not have been able to finish reading it on my own, if I’m being honest. Maybe that’s how I need to read sci-fi books from now on?


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Ask Again, Yes by Mary Beth Keane

My Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

My favorite book of the summer, if not the year. A family drama that spans decades, this is an excellent portrayal of how a character-driven novel should be done. It kept me wanting to read more, which isn’t always the case with contemporary novels such as these. The characters were relatable, and I found myself rooting for everyone of them, flaws and all. I can’t say enough good things about this book. This will definitely go down as one of my all-time favorites.


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All the Missing Girls by Megan Miranda

My Rating: ⭐️⭐️

This was a subpar thriller that never really captured my interest. The story is told backward over a two week period, an intriguing set-up that just didn’t pan out in the end. The story was lackluster, the characters not likable. I listened to this on audio and found my attention wavering every time I put my headphones in. Miranda’s latest novel The Last House Guest was Reese Witherspoon’s August book club pick this month. Let’s hope it’s better than this one was.


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The Almost Sisters by Joshilyn Jackson

My Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️.5

Another one I listened to on audio, but what made it stand out is that the author narrated it herself. I loved that fact, because she got to tell it in the way she envisioned when writing it. The story itself had an interesting premise: a comic book writer finds herself pregnant with a biracial baby after a one-night stand. She discovers a deep family secret when she goes back home to the South to take care of her ailing grandmother. It’s a good take on how racism is still prevalent in certain parts of our country. My issue with this novel, however, is that there were too many stories going on at once, plus I lost interest whenever the main character talked about anything related to comic books. But overall it was an enjoyable listen.


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Normal People by Sally Rooney

My Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

This was a quick read for me (it took less than a week to finish – that’s super fast for me!). A character-driven novel that focuses on two Ireland teenagers and their unusual love story, Normal People is deep yet entertaining. We follow Marianne and Connell from the end of high school into their college years and how their relationship changes. It’s a coming of age story that will make you nostalgic for your own youth and the consequences of the choices you made when you were young and inexperienced.


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Maybe You Should Talk to Someone by Lori Gottlieb

My Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

I loved this book. A therapist going to therapy to try to work out her own issues while relating some of her patients’ stories to her own. This book came out in a poignant time in my life where I’ve been going through my own psychological journey. Gottlieb’s writing makes you feel like you’re in the therapy sessions with her. She also provides information and history of psychological practices but not in a way that feels like you’re reading a textbook. And there’s a reason there’s a box of tissues on the cover. This is one of the first books I’ve read this year that had me tearing up – but in a good way! I highly recommend this book to anyone looking for a great memoir.


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Daisy Jones & the Six by Taylor Jenkins Reid

My Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

This book was so hyped that I had to know what all the fuss was about. I heard the audio version was excellent, so that’s how I decided to read it. It was a full-cast audio that included narration by Benjamin Bratt and Judy Greer, among many others. The cast did a great job, but this is the kind of book that I could also see myself devouring if I had read it on my own. The character development is excellent; each had their own unique voice and personality. The story was good too, though it kind of felt like any story about a 70s band you would see on VH1’s Behind the Music . Overall, I’d say the book stands up to the hype. I’m looking forward to reading Jenkins Reid’s previous novels.


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The Library Book by Susan Orlean

My Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

I really enjoyed this non-fiction account of the Los Angeles Public Library and the mysterious and devastating fire it endured in 1986. However, this seems like a love it or hate it type of book. If you love libraries and are interested in their history, you will love this book. Besides the fascinating history, this book has a true crime element to it that makes it hard to put down. Orlean is a great descriptive writer. How she describes the rage of the fire in the first couple chapters is so captivating. I read a couple passages aloud to my husband because of how unbelievable this true story was. Orlean is also from my neck of the woods, so it was fun to see Cleveland get a shoutout a couple times throughout the book.


 

What were your favorite reads in August? Let me know in the comments!

A Bit of TBR Housekeeping

It’s been a while since I posted anything about my TBR venture. That’s because my intention for tackling my TBR list hasn’t exactly been going to plan.

For one thing, I’ve continued to buy books (for cheap, mind you), some of which I pick up to read right away because of my excitement to read them. The Bookish Life of Nina Hill is my latest example. I heard it recommended on a podcast I listen to, was intrigued by the book’s synopsis (introverted book worm with social issues – was this written about me??), immediately ordered it on Amazon, and started reading it when it came in the mail the next day. I’ve been very much enjoying it, so no shame there.

Another reason is because there are books on my shelves that are higher on my interest level than others. And why not read what I want to read instead of slogging through something I’m not as excited about? So, I have prioritized my TBR list instead of having a number generator do it for me.

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My prioritized TBR stack.

But the biggest reason I’m changing things up is because I accepted a job offer this past week that will effectively limit my reading goals come September. It will be a big change that will require a new routine and a new normal. It’s an opportunity I’m grateful for, but my reading life will now have to be scheduled around my full-time hours.

That’s not to say I am giving up on the blog. On the contrary, I’m hoping to add new content regularly regarding what I’ve been reading, as well as some other book-related material. So, stay tuned for that, and I hope you will continue this journey with me.

As always:

Let’s get reading!

Learning About the Past Through Historical Fiction

81XAhkfzn-LI recently read a novel called The Tattooist of Auschwitz, a fictional depiction based on the real life events of a man named Lale’s harrowing three years in the concentration camp. I’ve never been the biggest fan of historical fiction, but I picked up this book based on the recommendations of the members in Facebook’s Monthly Book Club.

Let me start off by saying, I only gave this novel 3 stars on Goodreads (I would have given it 3.5, if I could). My rating in no way reflects Lale’s incredible story. It’s an important story, and anyone who is interested in learning the true horrors of the Holocaust will find what they’re looking for in these pages.

However, it was the way it was written that I had a problem with. It felt like author Heather Morris tried to fit as much information as she could into the book’s 288 pages without stopping to get to the emotional core of what the characters went through. It was a lot of telling and not showing, a concept that all my English teachers preached about not doing when I was in school.

I later learned that Morris had originally written Lale’s story as a screenplay, which makes a lot more sense as this was almost how the book read. It also makes sense why no one would ever want to adapt this story for the screen. There are quite a few horrific scenes that would be very unsettling to watch. It was extremely unsettling just to read about the countless deaths, I can’t imagine putting a visual to it.

Subpar rating aside, this novel had a profound affect on me. History was never my favorite subject in school, but as I’ve gotten older I find myself trying to understand the way the world works in relation to its past. Entertainment and media is a great gateway into interesting me on past events. Hamilton was a a big proponent in helping me understand America’s beginnings and how our country came to be. Now The Tattooist of Auschwitz has propelled me to better understand World War II, and why the Holocaust happened in the first place.

To learn more about the war, I went to a handy source –  my husband. Steve is a history buff, with a particular interest in the politics of World War II. We spent time together discussing Hitler’s background, how other countries became involved, and about the creation of Israel after the war was over. These were all topics I had never known the details of, or knew about at all (I didn’t realize Israel was such a young country). It opened my eyes to the importance of our world’s history and how things today came to be.

Becoming educated on these issues wasn’t the only plus side. Talking about the topic with my husband has opened us up to intellectual conversations on a similar interest. I think he’s enjoyed teaching me about the subject and getting to share his knowledge and opinion of it. We have also taken to watching documentaries not only about Auschwitz and World War II, but about other topical issues, as well. It has effectively brought us closer.

This is a sign of a great book; one that makes you think on a higher level as opposed to being pure entertainment (though after a book like Tattooist, it might be beneficial to read a so-called mindless book to recharge your emotional battery). It has made me interested in reading more historical fiction to which I can have further stimulating discussions with Steve. And to learn about the world in a way that is creative and not preachy.

Other great historical novels I have read this year:

  • The Gown by Jennifer Robson (post-WWII era/Princess Elizabeth’s impending wedding)
  • Before We Were Yours by Lisa Wingate (the Tennessee Children’s Home Society orphanage in the 1940s)
  • The Great Alone by Kristin Hannah (post-Vietnam War)

To learn more about The Tattooist of Auschwitz and Lale’s incredible journey (including taped interviews) check out thetattooistofauschwitz.com.

What are some historical novels that have affected you? Tell me below in the comments!