April 2020 Books Read

Monthly Book Round-Up-5

It was a slow start, but I ended up reading some really great books this month.

I think I found the genres that I’ve gravitated toward during this pandemic, and those include lighthearted literary, memoir, and true crime (because, why not?)

The books I read this month fit into those categories, and they’re some of the best in their genre. There’s even one that is giving Long Bright River a run for its money as my favorite book read this year.

I hope you and your family are staying sane. Maybe by this time next month we’ll be able to venture out again? Just in time for summer reading? Maybe??


Catch and KillCatch and Kill by Ronan Farrow

Genre: Nonfiction/True Crime

Format: Audiobook

My Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Ronan Farrow’s involvement in uncovering the Harvey Weinstein case is riveting, fascinating, and at times, stranger than fiction. Farrow is a skilled writer, and this book reads like a suspense novel. Getting an inside look at how the entertainment industry conducts its business was both enlightening and infuriating. Farrow’s narration of the audiobook was a little strange with him attempting the accents of the people he’s portraying (sometimes he’s successful, other times, not so much), but don’t let that deter you from the powerful story he tells.


Jessica SimpsonOpen Book by Jessica Simpson

Genre: Celebrity Memoir

Format: Audiobook

My Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Wow. I don’t know what exactly I was expecting going into listening to this audiobook, but holy cow was it fantastic. Jessica Simpson has experienced many traumas in her life, and she doesn’t hold back in explaining them. A lot of celebrity memoirs I’ve read have been stilted and boring, two things this book definitely isn’t. It also had a nostalgia factor for me, since I grew up in the age of boy bands and Britney and had always liked Jessica Simpson. Well, now I love her. The audiobook also has 6 songs that are only available in this format, which helped inspire her in her writing. It was an awesome bonus, especially getting to listen and knowing the back story to the lyrics.


What Alice ForgotWhat Alice Forgot by Liane Moriarty

Genre: Contemporary Fiction

Format: E-book

My Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️.5

This is arguably Liane Moriarty’s most popular book (maybe just slightly behind Big Little Lies), and one that I’ve heard nothing but praise for. The premise is centered around Alice, who wakes up after hitting her head and thinks it is ten years in the past, when she was happy and in love with her new husband. She discovers that a lot has happened within the last ten years, including three kids she has no memory of and a husband she is now in a heated divorce with. It was an enjoyable read, and one that really makes you think. What would myself from ten years ago think of my life now? (In my case, I think I would be pleasantly surprised with how my life has turned out). While I enjoyed reading it, I was also a little cynical, especially when it came to the head trauma explanation (or lack thereof). But it’s easy to see why this has been one of Moriarty’s more praised novels.


Seven HusbandsThe Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Jenkins Reid

Genre: Contemporary Fiction

Format: Hardcover

My Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

This is one of those books that I’ve seen talked about for awhile, and now seemed like the perfect time to pick it up. It’s an enjoyable “candy” read – light without a whole lot of substance. Learning about the fictional history of Evelyn Hugo’s seven husbands was a fun ride, with a big twist along the way. It’s a perfect escapism read for right now.


In Five YearsIn Five Years by Rebecca Serle

Genre: Contemporary Fiction

Format: Hardcover

My Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

I loved this book. The writing was beautiful, and the story went in directions that I was not expecting, which is a hard feat to pull off these days (in my opinion). Our main character Dannie wakes up five years in the future and lives exactly one hour before coming back to the present. It feels like you know where the story is going to go, but Serle takes you down a completely different path that I can’t really talk about without giving anything away. I was just dumbfounded by how it ended, in a completely good way. I’ve been recommending this book to people since I finished it, and I can’t wait to read more of Serle’s work.


The Giver of StarsThe Giver of Stars by Jojo Moyes

Genre: Historical Fiction

Format: Audiobook

My Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️.5

I didn’t know what I was going to think of this book, especially after the accusations of plagiarism when it first came out. But I was pleasantly surprised and ended up loving the story of a group of women in the 1930s and their traveling library (delivering books on horseback). Not to mention, I found my new favorite audiobook narrator in Julia Whelan, a phenomenal actress who brought a unique voice to each character (and there were a lot in this Kentucky-set town). I’ve always been hit or miss with Historical Fiction, but this one was a big hit for me.


Breath Becomes AirWhen Breath Becomes Air by Paul Kalanithi

Genre: Memoir

Format: E-book

My Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

This memoir is so heartbreakingly beautiful. Kalanithi mixes prose with philosophy while explaining his short life as a surgeon who finds himself faced with his own cancer. The heavy topics were surprisingly readable and relatable. Kalanithi didn’t get to finish his manuscript before he passed away in 2015. You can feel how rushed the writing is at times, but knowing why makes it forgivable. This is a tearjerker, but it’s also a great insight into life and death and how we perceive time.


Books I DNF’d this month:

The Other Wes Moore – This memoir sounded interesting (discovering someone who has the same name as you is living out a jail sentence for murder), but I couldn’t get into it.

The Other Woman – I picked this up in hopes to do a buddy read with my sister-in-law (hi, Christine!), but I’ve realized that I don’t have the mental stability to read thrillers at the moment. I’ll let my SIL determine if I should read it in the future 🙂

Let me know in the comments what good books you read this month!

April Reads 2020-3

 

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March 2020 Books Read

Monthly Book Round-Up-4

Coronavirus. COVID-19. Pandemic. Social distancing. Shelter in place.

Like everyone else, my life has been overtaken with all things coronavirus-related. It’s hard not to focus on anything else, including books.

I haven’t posted to Bookstagram since March 4; my last blog post was about the February books I read; I’m way behind on updating my book journals. You would think staying home would give me time to work on all this stuff, right?

Wrong.

Being an introvert, I enjoy my time alone, and alone time is hard to come by when everyone in the family is home. Because of this, I read more audiobooks than usual this past month.

When I need an escape, I just put my noise-cancelling headphones on to be taken on a literary journey where characters can interact with each other without fear of infection. Such simpler times those were.

I hope you are navigating through this pandemic as safely and sanely as you possibly can. What books are getting you through this difficult time? Let me know in the comments.


American RoyalsAmerican Royals by Katharine McGee

Genre: YA

Format: Audiobook

My Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️.5

I love the concept of this novel. What if George Washington had chosen the path of monarchy instead of democracy? The story is told in present day in the kingdom of George Washington the First’s descendants. It’s most definitely a YA-centered novel. Each of our four protagonists are in the midst of one love-life debacle or another. But it’s a fun, light read that ends on a cliffhanger that makes you yearn to read the next installment (that won’t be available until later this year).


KaramoKaramo by Karamo Brown

Genre: Celebrity Memoir

Format: Audiobook

My Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️

I’m not a diehard fan of Queer Eye on Netflix, so I don’t know why I’m making my way through the Fab Five’s memoirs. After reading Jonathan’s book last month, I decided to tackle Karamo’s next, as he has the most interesting background, in my opinion. (Finding out in his twenties that he fathered a son, even though he’s gay? Say what?) I liked Karamo’s philosophical wonderings and hearing about his background of being a social worker and bringing more of a counseling vibe to his “culture guru” character on the show. My biggest problem is that Karamo never 100% lives up to the actions of his past. He’s constantly apologizing for things he did wrong, which is fine, but he seems to do it in every chapter, and I found myself getting annoyed after awhile. But, overall it’s an interesting glimpse into Karamo’s life up to this point.


Long Bright RiverLong Bright River by Liz Moore

Genre: Literary Mystery

Format: Hardcover

My Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

I loved, loved, LOVED this book. As of right now, this is my favorite book I’ve read so far this year. It’s a combination of everything I look for while reading: family relationships, mystery, current issues afflicting our society (in this case, opioid use). It was so beautifully written and was a book I couldn’t wait to pick up to see what happened next, a rarity in the books I’ve read lately. A must read for anyone who enjoys literary mysteries (think Miracle Creek), which I have discovered is my new favorite genre.


Dad is FatDad is Fat by Jim Gaffigan

Genre: Celebrity Memoir/Humor

Format: Audiobook

My Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️.5

I listened to the entirety of this audiobook within a matter of a couple days. It was refreshing to read a comical take on parenthood, especially now that my husband and I are involuntarily holed up with a surly preteen and a crazy 3-year-old. Gaffigan shares stories of raising his five children with his wife in New York City. I found myself LOLing often, and nodding my head in agreement just as much. I definitely recommend this to parents who need a fun escape from what they’re currently enduring.


Such a Fun AgeSuch a Fun Age by Kiley Reid

Genre: Literary Fiction

Format: Audiobook

My Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️.5

This book was so hyped up this past winter. It was all over Instagram and was a pick for many a book club (including Reese Witherspoon’s). I had to see what all the fuss was about. I downloaded the audio version, and while I liked the narrator who read it, I just thought it was OK. None of the characters, save 4-year-old Briar, were likable. The story was a bit contrived, though it did go in directions I wasn’t expecting it to go in. It was an interesting take on issues related to race, but I’ve read better (The Hate U Give, The Nickel Boys). I’m not saying you should read it, and I’m not saying you shouldn’t read it. I just thought it was “meh”.


The UnhoneymoonersThe Unhoneymooners by Christina Lauren

Genre: Romance

Format: Ebook

My Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Talk about contrived. Everything that happened in this book was so inorganic and predictable. BUT, I still found myself enjoying it. It’s the perfect escapism book for the times we’re in at the moment. Though this can be described as “chick lit” or “fluff,” I thought it was really well written, which isn’t always the case with novels in this genre. Let your imagination hop on a plane to Hawaii with Olive and Ethan (the sister and brother of the bride and groom, who have to unexpectedly go on the trip in the newly married couple’s absence), and enjoy the sweepstakes-winning honeymoon suite and the enemies-to-lovers storyline that goes with it.


To Kill a MockingbirdTo Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee

Genre: Classic

Format: Audiobook

My Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

I remember reading this book in high school, and I remember loving it, but 20 years later I couldn’t tell you what the story was about. I decided to revisit this classic novel by listening to the audiobook read by actress Sissy Spacek. Holy. Cow. Can Sissy Spacek narrate every book? She was fantastic and brought the Southern town of Maycomb, Alabama and its inhabitants to life. While the story is excellent for its depiction of racial inequality, its true heart lies in the relationships of the characters, which explains why I loved it then and why I still love it now. Everyone should read this book at least once in their lifetime.


UntangledUntangled by Lisa Damour

Genre: Nonfiction

Format: Ebook

My Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

I urge anyone with a teenage daughter, or a daughter of any age really, to read this book. Damour is a psychologist who works with young teenagers, who also has two daughters herself, so she knows what she’s talking about here. My daughter is on the cusp of teenagedom, and I could already relate to so many things presented in this book as a parent, but it also gave me an inside look into what my daughter is going through. It’s an absolutely fascinating read, and I’ve already recommended it to anyone I think can get some great use out of it.


ColumbineColumbine by Dave Cullen

Genre: Nonfiction

Format: Paperback

My Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Why I decided to pick up this book about the 1999 Columbine school shooting in the midst of the crisis the world is going through, I’ll never know. But I’m glad I did read it, because it clears up a lot of the misconceptions of what happened on, before, and after that fateful day. I was in high school when this event happened, and I can remember the uncertainty surrounding going to school and the potential for disaster. That fear is exactly what co-conspirator Eric Harris hoped to leave behind, and it’s unfortunate to say he got exactly what he wanted. This was an eye-opening book, not only about the killers, but about the media coverage that followed, the botched handling by law enforcement, and how the community handled the aftermath. It’s not a light read, but it’s an important one.


March Reads 2020-2

Book Review: Don’t Overthink It

Don't Overthink It

Title: Don’t Overthink It: Make Easier Decisions, Stop Second-Guessing, and Bring More Joy to Your Life

Author: Anne Bogel

Genre: Nonfiction

Release Date: March 3, 2020

“You can’t control what happens in life, but you can control how you choose to interpret things.” – Anne Bogel, Don’t Overthink It

Let me make one thing clear right off the bat: I love Anne Bogel. She is one of my idols. I listened to her book podcast What Should I Read Next? before ever entering into my own book journey. I read her blog, Modern Mrs Darcy, consistently, and I’m a member of its online book club (which I pay $10 for, and it’s worth every penny).

When I saw the opportunity to become a part of Bogel’s launch team for her upcoming book, Don’t Overthink It, I jumped at the chance.

I’ve read and enjoyed Bogel’s previous books, Reading People and I’d Rather Be Reading, so I had high hopes for this one, and it didn’t disappoint.

If you find yourself overthinking over every little thing you do, from what to make for dinner for the week, rethinking that big purchase you just made, to going back and correcting every little minute detail in a project you’ve been working on, this book is for you. And as I am guilty of all of the above, this book was tailor-made for me.

Bogel mixes research on overthinking topics such as decision-making, how we choose to spend our money, and how our actions affect those around us, with her own personal experiences. I like reading nonfiction books like this, because you get to learn while also being entertained by stories.

Bogel’s tips and tricks on how to curb your overthinking habits are useful, as well. I would oftentimes think to myself “Huh. I never thought of it that way.” or “Huh. That seems like such a simple solution, why has no one brought it up before?

For example: in Chapter 8 titled “Why It’s Important to Limit Your Options,” Bogel mentions eating the same meal every day or making dinners that your family is guaranteed to like instead of worrying about making something new.

I’m constantly looking for new recipes to try and psyching myself up when making it and worrying that it’s not going to taste good or that no one will like it. Why do I put myself through that instead of just making something I’m already familiar with that I know will get eaten by everyone in my family?

Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy making new recipes, but I came to the realization that I don’t have to put myself through the overthinking and worry as often as I’ve been doing. If I limit my choices, I can take some of that mental strain off myself and be happier for it.

“Some situations in life are never going to be 100 percent resolved, so why not strive to preserve your mental energy by resolving the things you can?” – Anne Bogel, Don’t Overthink It

Bogel’s main point in this book is to reframe your thinking and spend less time worrying so you can enjoy the experience of what is happening in your life. It’s a sentiment that we all need to be reminded of, and reading this book will give you the tools you need to do just that.

My Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

 

https://amzn.to/320DhcJ

 

*As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases.*