Category Archives: Books

Birthday Book Haul!

I’ve picked up a few new books that I’d love to share with you today! My birthday was last week and not only was I gifted with some lovely books, I also went on a little shopping spree myself. One of my favorite things in the world to do is shop for used books — at thrift stores, second hand book shops, garage sales, you name it. I love finding book bargains! However, the pandemic hasn’t really allowed for that particular hobby to take place. So, for my birthday I decided to treat myself to a haul from ThriftBooks.com. Here’s what I picked up…

The Night She Died by Dorothy Simpson –
This is a British mystery featuring Detective Inspector Luke Thanet. I thought this would be a fun one to read around Thanksgiving or Christmas time because nothing says cozy to me like a procedural murder mystery!

Brazil by John Updike –
For some reason I’ve never gotten around to picking up this modern classic even though it’s been on my list forever. I think I’m going to pick this one up as soon as I finish my current read. I just can’t resist the 90s charm of this edition’s cover.

Matilda by Roald Dahl –
Just a childhood classic that I couldn’t resist for the price. I love all the illustrations by Quentin Blake and I’m happy to have this in my “formative books from my youth” collection.

The Martian by Andy Weir –
Another book that’s been on my list forever. I’ve of course seen the movie but I hear the book is even better. 😉 (Hard to imagine!) I’ve been craving more sci-fi set in space since reading The Sparrow and giving it a solid 5/5 stars.

Call Me By Your Name by Andre Aciman –
I’ve also seen this movie… I’m not one of those people that feels like they have to read a book first. If anything, seeing film adaptations makes me MORE likely to pick up a book after the fact — usually encouraging me to read something I wouldn’t normally be drawn to. I feel like that’s the case with this one. The movie was so beautiful that I want to be re-transported to that world!

Kate: The Future Queen by Katie Nicholl –
I recently got it in my head that I want to have a little trio of books on my shelf — Diana, Kate, and Meghan — so that’s what this is for. When you’re thrifting your books on the super cheap, I feel like you can indulge in dumb whims. This is one of mine! LOL

Now let’s look at the books I was sweetly gifted…

The Honest Enneagram by Sarajane Case –
My mom sent this one over to me and it was something I had put on my birthday wish list. If you read my recent blog series on mental health practices based on enneagram types, you know I’m currently pretty obsessed. This is a fantastic resource!

This is Going to Hurt by Adam Kay –
Another gift from my mom! This one is a memoir by a junior doctor on the NHS front line. My mom knows I’m drawn to any media about medicine and I can’t wait to dive into this one. I hear it is equal parts hilarious and heart wrenching.

Real Life by Brandon Taylor –
Finally, Real Life was a gift from my brother and sister-in-law. This one looks AMAZING and comes very highly recommended by many of my most trusted reviewers.

Have you read any of these books? Thoughts? Have you acquired any new books lately?

P.S. Let’s be friends on Goodreads! 

What I Read in September

September was a wonderful reading month for me! I read an 850-page Stephen King novel and still managed to knock out 5 other books over the course of month. I read one 5 star book and the rest were 4 stars! Everything I read was entertaining and captivating — just what I needed in this millionth month of social distancing.

I try to keep my reading fairly diverse in terms of genre as my tastes run the spectrum. Excited to say there are no repeat genres this month! My reads included a historical fiction, a romance, a literary fiction, a memoir, a sci-fi, and a horror/thriller.

The Book Woman of Troublesome Creek by Kim Michele Richardson

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Where I got it: Passed along to me by my mom

What I thought: Honestly would love for my official title to be Book Woman. 🙂 This was a very well done and thoroughly researched historical fiction based on the Kentucky Pack Horse library service of the 1930s. We follow our main character Cussy Carter, the last living female of the rare Blue People ancestry, as she delivers reading material to her impoverished neighbors in the hills of Eastern Kentucky. I adored Cussy and all the hill folk who came to rely on her deliveries — such a fun cast of characters to read about.

You Had Me at Hola by Alexis Daria

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Where I got it: The Book Drop subscription’s Books for Bubbly

What I thought: A great own-voices romance with a fun behind-the-scenes of a TV show premise. Although appropriately fluffy, it also dealt with some more serious topics that can go along with a life of fame (lack of privacy, consent on set, PTSD, etc). The main conflict might be difficult for some to buy–and I had my apprehensions–but by the end I thought it was handled well enough to win me over. This was a very enjoyable (and steamy) read! If you love the show Jane the Virgin then you should 100% give this book a go.

The Glass Hotel by Emily St. John Mandel

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

Where I got it: Audible

What I thought: I’m so happy this was chosen as the inaugural book for the Read ‘Em & Weep book club!!! I had seen a LOT of middle of the road reviews for this one from many Station Eleven lovers who felt this didn’t live up to Emily St. John Mandel’s previous work. Honestly, I was just planning on skipping it. But this was a rare instance of required reading saving the day because I absolutely loved it! I don’t recommend this book to folks who enjoy dipping in and out of novels. There’s just too much going on and too many characters to keep up with. I went in without reading any synopses (all I knew was hotel + ponzi scheme) which I think added to my enjoyment as I wasn’t waiting for anything to happen and was surprised when things did. 🙂 Overall – damn, can Emily St. John Mandel write.

I’m Afraid of Men by Vivek Shraya

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Where I got it: Books and Crannies

What I thought: A very short read, but it packed a lot of insight and important topics into 96 pages. Shraya explores how masculinity was imposed on her as a boy and continues to haunt her as a girl. She proposed how we might re-imagine gender for the twenty-first century and cherish what makes us different. I appreciated the vulnerability and honesty and am happy to have this little powerhouse of a book in my collection.

11/22/63 by Stephen King

Rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars

Where I got it: Library

What I thought: What a wild ride. I thought this would be the perfect book to kick off the fall season and I wasn’t wrong. In case the title didn’t clue you in, this book is centered around the Kennedy assignation. A portal to the past has been discovered and our main character, Jake Epping, is tasked with traveling back to stop Lee Harvey Oswald. However, the portal can only deliver time travelers to one specific day in September of 1958 — no matter how many times they pass through. So the book really kicked off in the perfect month for my reading experience. Then, the first half of the book follows Jake as he tries to stop a tragedy from occurring on Halloween night — more perfect fall vibes! After that first mission, the book slowed down and took it’s time getting to the fateful day in 1963 which was my reasoning for knocking off half a star. But the ending was worth the journey!

 When No One is Watching by Alyssa Cole

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Where I got it: Library (Library Book Club pick)

A truly terrifying story. I encountered several reviews prior to reading that warned to go into this one expecting a horror and I agree. The thriller classification might throw off expectations a bit. However, I didn’t have the same issues with pacing that others had (maybe because I just read an 850-page Stephen King so this felt remarkably speedy in comparison lol). I also had no problems with the romance thrown into the heart of this otherwise creepy book — this is a genre debut for Cole who normally writes romance — it didn’t feel out of place and it was well-executed. Overall, a super relevant book thematically and an enjoyable reading experience.

What was the best book you read in September? 

P.S. Check out some of the other books I’m hoping to get to this season!

FALL TBR

Hi guys! Today’s post is going to be my FALL TBR! (TBR = to be read, aka a list of books I want to read soon.) I post my seasonal TBR lists as a way to get excited about all the books I want to read over the coming months. And with the September sunshine glowing and the pumpkin spice making it’s triumphant return, it’s safe to say fall vibes are upon us!

So, without further ado, let’s jump into the TBR…

FICTION PICKS

Own Voices Romance –

You Had Me at Hola by Alexis Daria

This new release romance was sent to me by The Book Drop.

Book Club Pick – 

The Glass Hotel by Emily St. John Mandel

A story about a ponzi scheme, written by the author of Station Eleven.

Time Travel – 

11/22/63 by Stephen King

A whopper at 849 pages but I’ve heard it’s one of King’s very best.

Literary Fiction – 

The Dutch House by Ann Patchett

I’m a sucker for family dramas told over decades and this one spans five!

New Release –

Transcendent Kingdom by Yaa Gyasi

After Homegoing, Gyasi’s books are an auto-buy for me! Picked this one up as soon as it came out.

Contemporary Classic – 

Brazil by John Updike

I’ve been wanting to read a book set in Brazil and choosing one by a Pulitzer Prize-winning author felt like a safe pick.

Young Adult Sci-Fi –

Unravel Me by Tahereh Mafi

Continuing on with the second book in this series.

Saw the Movie – 

Call Me By Your Name by Andre Aciman

I finally saw this movie recently and loved it. Excited to revisit the story (and Italian villa).

NONFICTION PICKS

Memoir – 

I’m Afraid of Men by Vivek Shraya

The book itself is tiny and cute but the story packs a punch as it explores a trans artist’s relationship with masculinity.

True Crime – 

Killers of the Flower Moon: The Osage Murders and the Birth of the FBI by David Grann

This one sounds fascinating and is an important piece of American history.

Over to you! Have you read any of these books? What did you think? And I’d love for you to share some of the books you plan on reading this fall in the comments below! 

P.S. I read a total of 22 books from June – August and read everything from my Summer TBR except for The Aviator’s Wife.

If You Like That Book, You Might Like This Book || BOOK RECOMMENDATIONS pt. 3

Hi friends! Today, I’d like to offer you a few more book recommendations in the form of “if you liked this book, then you might like this other book.” I love when folks on Booktube, Bookstagram, and Goodreads include comparisons to other books in their reviews! It’s one of my favorite ways to find new reads! So, I started a bookish series here on the blog to do just that for YOU. (Here’s part 1! Here’s part 2!)

In each post, I recommend books that are similar to very popular books that are more well-known. Let’s get into it, shall we?!

If you liked Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet by Jamie Ford,
you might like Wunderland by Jennifer Cody Epstein

If Jamie Ford’s creation of a dual perspective that bounced between 1980’s America and WWII was a compelling feature for you, you should check out Wunderland which travels between similar timelines.  Wunderland is a really interesting exploration of Berlin in the early to mid 30’s and the lasting effects Nazi Germany would have on the lives of our main characters when we revisit them in the late 80’s. This is the type of historical fiction that will really make you stop and think. There were even a few chapters that could almost be read as stand-alone short stories, they were that impactful in and of themselves.

Synopsis: 

Things had never been easy between Ava Fisher and her estranged mother Ilse. Too many questions hovered between them: Who was Ava’s father? Where had Ilse been during the war? Why had she left her only child in a German orphanage during the war’s final months? But now Ilse’s ashes have arrived from Germany, and with them, a trove of unsent letters addressed to someone else unknown to Ava: Renate Bauer, a childhood friend. As her mother’s letters unfurl a dark past, Ava spirals deep into the shocking history of a woman she never truly knew.

If you liked Where’d You Go, Bernadette by Maria Semple, you might like What Alice Forgot by Liane Moriarty

If you enjoyed reading Maria Semple’s zany contemporary novel about a daughter trying to solve the mystery of her missing mom, you should check out Liane Moriarty’s zany contemporary novel about a mom trying to solve the mystery of her missing memories. What Alice Forgot is a wonderful reflection on how our pasts shape us and it will keep you on your toes until the bitter(sweet) end.

Synopsis:

Alice Love is twenty-nine, crazy about her husband, and pregnant with her first child. So imagine Alice’s surprise when she comes to on the floor of a gym and is whisked off to the hospital where she discovers the honeymoon is truly over — she’s getting divorced, she has three kids and she’s actually 39 years old. Alice must reconstruct the events of a lost decade, and find out whether it’s possible to reconstruct her life at the same time.

If you liked Wild by Cheryl Strayed,
you might like Grandma Gatewood’s Walk by Ben Montgomery

If Wild made you realize a need for your TBR to include a few more female road narratives, Grandma Gatewood’s Walk is for you. Just like Wild, it follows a woman on the move and on her own — thru-hiking one of America’s long distance trails. Grandma Gatewood, as reporters called her, became the first woman to hike the entire Appalachian Trail alone, as well as the first person—man or woman—to walk it twice and three times. She paved the way for quest seeking women all over, including Cheryl Strayed.

Synopsis: 

Emma Gatewood told her family she was going on a walk and left her small Ohio hometown with a change of clothes and less than two hundred dollars. The next anybody heard from her, this genteel, farm-reared, 67-year-old great-grandmother had walked 800 miles along the 2,050-mile Appalachian Trail. And in September 1955, having survived a rattlesnake strike, two hurricanes, and a run-in with gangsters from Harlem, she stood atop Maine’s Mount Katahdin. There she sang the first verse of “America, the Beautiful” and proclaimed, “I said I’ll do it, and I’ve done it.”

If you liked Every Day by David Levithan,
you might like Until We Meet Again by Renee Collins

Both of these books contain everything you might expect from a young adult romance, but with some fantastical, science fiction elements thrown in for good measure. In Every Day we follow “A” who wakes up each morning in a new body… but still manages to fall in love. In Until We Meet Again we follow two teens from different centuries… who still manage to fall in love.

Synopsis: 

Cassandra craves drama and adventure, so the last thing she wants is to spend her summer marooned with her mother and stepfather in a snooty Massachusetts shore town. But when a dreamy stranger shows up on their private beach claiming it’s his own—and that the year is 1925—she is swept into a mystery a hundred years in the making.

I hope you enjoyed these new recommendations and I’m excited to bring you more posts in this series in the future! Do you have any book recommendations for me based on the eight books above? POP ‘EM BELOW!! xoxo

P.S. Travel the world by book!

Travel the World by Book

For many folks around the world, the last few months have come with a LOT of cancelled travel plans. Planned trips and vacations were put on hold. Spontaneous sojourns out of state aren’t happening any time soon. And searching flight deals on sites like Kayak just doesn’t give the thrill it used to.

It seems this summer is all about quenching your wanderlust in other ways. Ways that don’t require a passport or a suitcase.

Interested in traveling the world by book? Here are a few reading challenges/lists to help you do so —

50 States Reading List: Best Books Set in Every State

 

World Reading Challenge: Books Around the Globe 2020 
(and here’s 2019 & 2018)

 

12 Great Books to Feed Your Wanderlust

 

And here are a few books I’ve read and recommend for their power to transport you — 

International Travel:

AFGHANISTAN: Silent Hearts by Gwen Florio

ENGLAND: Queenie by Candice Carty-Williams

GERMANY: My Berlin Kitchen by Luisa Weiss

NIGERIA: The Death of Vivek Oji by Akwaeke Emezi

RUSSIA: Lights All Night Long by Lydia Fitzpatrick

SINGAPORE: Crazy Rich Asians by Kevin Kwan

Domestic Travel: 

ALABAMA: Eveningland by Michael Knight

ARIZONA: The Bean Trees by Barbara Kingsolver

MAINE: Evvie Drake Starts Over by Linda Holmes

MASSACHUSETTS: Until We Meet Again by Renee Collins

NEW YORK: City of Girls by Elizabeth Gilbert

WASHINGTON: Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet by Jamie Ford

 

Happy travels!

It’s totally possible to travel the world by book! Do you have any totally-transport-you book recommendations? Share them below!! xoxo

P.S. Need another way to choose a big stack of books? Check out this readathon.

If You Like That Book, You Might Like This Book || BOOK RECOMMENDATIONS pt. 2

Hi guys! Today, I’d like to offer you a few book recommendations in the form of “if you liked this book, then you might like this other book.” I love when folks on Booktube, Bookstagram, and Goodreads include comparisons to other books in their reviews! It’s one of my favorite ways to find new reads! So, I thought it might be fun and potentially helpful to readers to start a new bookish series here on the blog. (Here’s part 1!)

Basically, I’m going to be recommending books that are similar to very popular books that are more well-known. Let’s get into it, shall we?!

If you liked A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman,
you might like Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman

If Ove was the type of grumpy yet loveable character you can’t get enough of, you definitely should meet Eleanor. Eleanor is an out-of-the-ordinary heroine whose unconscious wit will remind readers of other favorite literary curmudgeons — even though she’s a fair bit younger than most. This book is smart and funny with the same feel-good, found-family vibes you loved in A Man Called Ove.

Synopsis:

Meet Eleanor Oliphant: she struggles with appropriate social skills and tends to say exactly what she’s thinking. Nothing is missing in her carefully timetabled life of avoiding unnecessary human contact, where weekends are punctuated by frozen pizza, vodka, and phone chats with Mummy. But everything changes when Eleanor meets Raymond, the bumbling and deeply unhygienic IT guy from her office. When she and Raymond together save Sammy, an elderly gentleman who has fallen, the three rescue one another from the lives of isolation that they had been living.

If you liked My Absolute Darling by Gabriel Tallent,
you might like Lights All Night Long by Lydia Fitzpatrick

If you enjoyed reading Gabriel Tallent’s novel about 14-year-old Turtle Alveston, you should check out Lydia Fitzpatrick’s dark coming-of-age tale in which we follow 15-year-old Ilya. Lights All Night Long is a richly told story that explores ideas of belonging, home, and family and I promise you won’t be able to put it down.

Synopsis:

Fifteen-year-old Ilya arrives in Louisiana from his native Russia for what should be the adventure of his life: a year in America as an exchange student. But all is not right in Ilya’s world: he’s consumed by the fate of his older brother Vladimir, the magnetic rebel to Ilya’s dutiful wunderkind, back in their tiny Russian hometown. The two have always been close, spending their days dreaming of escaping to America. But when Ilya was tapped for the exchange, Vladimir disappeared into their town’s seedy, drug-plagued underworld. Just before Ilya left, the murders of three young women rocked the town’s usual calm, and Vladimir found himself in prison.

If you liked Me Before You by Jojo Moyes,
you might like Evvie Drake Starts Over by Linda Holmes

If Me Before You made you realize you’re a fan of contemporary romances featuring a flawed and relatable heroine, Evvie Drake Starts Over is for you. Just like Me Before You, it is full of interesting characters who are sometimes annoying and make bad decisions but that’s real life and you love them anyways! Bonus points for being set in a small town in Maine with a retired professional baseball player as the love interest.

Synopsis: 

In a small town in Maine, recently widowed Eveleth “Evvie” Drake rarely leaves her house. Everyone in town, including her best friend, Andy, thinks grief keeps her locked inside, and she doesn’t correct them. In New York, Dean Tenney, former major-league pitcher and Andy’s childhood friend, is struggling with a case of the “yips”: he can’t throw straight anymore, and he can’t figure out why. An invitation from Andy to stay in Maine for a few months seems like the perfect chance to hit the reset button.

If you liked Small Great Things by Jodi Picoult,
you might like A Map of the World by Jane Hamilton

Both of these books tackle serious subject matter by laying out a fictional tragic accident and following all the twists and turns of the human heart and courtroom proceedings to reach their dramatic conclusions. While Picoult’s book offers a thought-provoking examination of racism and A Map of the World deals with disappearing rural American life — they both present gripping moral dilemmas that will leave readers asking important questions.

Synopsis:

The Goodwins, Howard, Alice, and their little girls, live on a dairy farm in Wisconsin. Although suspiciously regarded by their neighbors as “that hippie couple” because of their well-educated, urban background, Howard and Alice believe they have found a source of emotional strength in the farm, he tending the barn while Alice works as a nurse in the local elementary school. But their peaceful life is shattered one day when a neighbor’s two-year-old daughter drowns in the Goodwins’ pond while under Alice’s care. Tormented by the accident, Alice descends even further into darkness when she is accused of sexually abusing a student at the elementary school. Soon, Alice is arrested, incarcerated, and as good as convicted in the eyes of a suspicious community.

I hope you enjoyed these new recommendations and I’m excited to bring you round 3! Have you read any of these books? What would you compare them to?

P.S. You’ll notice a few of these selection on My Top 20 Books of 2019!

SUMMER TBR

Hi guys! Today’s post is going to be my SUMMER TBR! (TBR = to be read, aka a list of books I want to read soon.) I thought it would be fun to start posting seasonal TBR lists as a way to get excited about all the books I want to read over the coming months. And with the sun shining outside my window and a massive longing to ditch work and head to a beach somewhere, it’s safe to say summer is upon us!

So, without further ado, let’s jump into the TBR…

I’m going to start with my fiction picks and then jump into the nonfiction. This is a 60/40 split which I feel is pretty spot-on with where my reading preferences currently lie. I also incorporated lots of different genres so there would be a little something of everything I personally enjoy reading!

FICTION PICKS

Contemporary Fiction – 
Castle of Water by Dane Huckelbridge

Nothing says summer like a story set on a deserted island.

Science Fiction –
The Sparrow by Mary Doria Russell

This is an older title that I’d love to get to this year.

Dark/Hard-Hitting Contemporary Fiction –
My Dark Vanessa by Kate Elizabeth Russell

Ordered this one from Books and Crannies!

Horror – 
The Southern Book Club’s Guide to Slaying Vampires by Grady Hendrix

I love reading Horror in the summer — it’s a throwback to my youth when V.C. Andrews and the I Know What You Did Last Summer books reigned supreme.

Young Adult Romance – 
The Summer I Turned Pretty by Jenny Han

A little fluff in the summer never hurt anybody.

Historical Fiction –
The Aviator’s Wife by Melanie Benjamin

I loved this author’s book Alice I Have Been so when I spotted another of her titles at a thrift store I had to pick it up.

NONFICTION PICKS

Memoir –
In the Dream House by Carmen Maria Machado

I love reading memoir no matter the season and this one has been getting so much buzz.

Political Nonfiction –
Another Day in the Death of America by Gary Younge

This book was recently recommended to me and looks extremely powerful.

Mountaineering Nonfiction –
Dead Mountain by Donnie Eichar

Honestly my favorite nonfiction genre…so I had to include something from this category!

Historical Nonfiction –
A Magnificent Obsession by Helen Rappaport

…and rounding out my list with a dose of the British monarchy. Perfection!

Over to you! Have you read any of these books? What did you think? And I’d love for you to share some of the books you plan on reading this summer in the comments below! 

P.S. Check out some of the books I own. 

Reading Books Picked by a Librarian! (4 mini book reviews)

While my local library is reopening it’s doors tomorrow, during it’s closure they kicked off a service that I was all too game to try. Grab bags! That’s right, you could roll up to the parking lot for drive-by pickup and be handed a librarian-curated assortment of books. While there were several selections I simply returned with out reading, these are the four I decided to tackle. (Truth be told, I’ve been buying books a LOT more regularly in quarantine so I was not hurting for things to read when I got my grab bag. Had I been practicing any sort of book buying restraint I probably would have read ALL my librarians picks!) Let’s see how that librarian did, shall we?!

The four books I chose to read were —
The Lido by Libby Page – a feel-good contemporary fiction set in London
Solo by Kwame Alexander – a young adult contemporary written in verse
Wolf by Wolf by Ryan Graudin – an alternate history young adult fantasy
The Death of Mrs. Westaway – a mystery thriller with a creepy setting

The Death of Mrs. Westaway by Ruth Ware

Synopsis: On a day that begins like any other, Hal receives a mysterious letter bequeathing her a substantial inheritance. She realizes very quickly that the letter was sent to the wrong person—but also that the cold-reading skills she’s honed as a tarot card reader might help her claim the money. Soon, Hal finds herself at the funeral of the deceased…where it dawns on her that there is something very, very wrong about this strange situation and the inheritance at the center of it.

Star rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐

Mini review: 

I love books (especially mystery-thrillers) where the setting almost becomes a character itself and Ware definitely creates that here. To meet her new “family” and work out the details of the inheritance Hal finds herself lodging at Trepassen, an aging English manor that holds many secrets. Much of the plot unfolds within it’s gothic, creepy walls.

Read if you like the movie: Knives Out, or any movie with a closed circle mystery

Wolf by Wolf by Ryan Graudin

Synopsis: The year is 1956, and the Axis powers of the Third Reich and Imperial Japan rule. To commemorate their Great Victory, Hitler and Emperor Hirohito host the Axis Tour: an annual motorcycle race across their conjoined continents. The victor is awarded an audience with the highly reclusive Adolf Hitler at the Victor’s Ball in Tokyo. Yael, a former death camp prisoner, has witnessed too much suffering, and the five wolves tattooed on her arm are a constant reminder of the loved ones she lost. The resistance has given Yael one goal: Win the race and kill Hitler. A survivor of painful human experimentation, Yael has the power to skinshift and must complete her mission by impersonating last year’s only female racer, Adele Wolfe. This deception becomes more difficult when Felix, Adele twin’s brother, and Luka, her former love interest, enter the race and watch Yael’s every move. But as Yael grows closer to the other competitors, can she bring herself to be as ruthless as she needs to be to avoid discovery and complete her mission?

Star rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

Mini review:

If you think The Hunger Games meets The Man in the High Castle sounds like something that’d be up your street, this book is for you. It certainly was for ME. I’m excited to see what happens in book 2 of this duology.

Read if you liked the movie: The Hunger Games, or any fantasy/sci-fi film featuring a dark game

Solo by Kwame Alexander

Synopsis: Blade never asked for a life of the rich and famous. In fact, he’d give anything not to be the son of Rutherford Morrison, a washed-up rock star and drug addict with delusions of a comeback. Or to no longer be part of a family known most for lost potential, failure, and tragedy. The one true light is his girlfriend, Chapel, but her parents have forbidden their relationship, assuming—like many—that Blade will become just like his father. In reality, the only thing Blade has in common with Rutherford is the music that lives inside them. But not even the songs that flow through Blade’s soul are enough when he’s faced with two unimaginable realities: the threat of losing Chapel forever, and the revelation of a long-held family secret, one that leaves him questioning everything he thought was true. All that remains is a letter and a ticket to Ghana—both of which could bring Blade the freedom and love he’s been searching for, or leave him feeling even more adrift.

Star rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐

Mini review:

This was a really fun and quick read! Because it is written in verse the pages fly by. Our main character Blade is the son of super famous rockstar Rutherford Morrison. Blade is 17 going on 18 and grappling with first love, family dynamics, confusion about what to do with his life — all under the watchful eye of the paparazzi. Then, he receives some news that has him embarking on a journey that will forever change his life.

Read if you liked the movie: Lion, or any movie with an important familial quest

The Lido by Libby Page

Synopsis: Kate is a twenty-six-year-old riddled with anxiety and panic attacks who works for a local paper in Brixton, London, covering forgettably small stories. When she’s assigned to write about the closing of the local lido (an outdoor pool and recreation center), she meets Rosemary, an eighty-six-year-old widow who has swum at the lido daily since it opened its doors when she was a child. It was here Rosemary fell in love with her husband, George; here that she’s found communion during her marriage and since George’s death. But when a local developer attempts to buy the lido for a posh new apartment complex, Rosemary’s fond memories and sense of community are under threat. As Kate dives deeper into the lido’s history—with the help of a charming photographer—she pieces together a portrait of the pool, and a portrait of a singular woman, Rosemary. What begins as a simple local interest story for Kate soon blossoms into a beautiful friendship that provides sustenance to both women as they galvanize the community to fight the lido’s closure.

Star rating: ⭐⭐⭐

Mini review:

A really cute, feel-good book. The moral of the story is basically like “finding community and being around people to socialize and exercise is awesome for mental health” and now is just a weird time to be faced with that. My rating probably has more to do with being bummed about pools being closed this summer and less to do with the quality of the read.

Read if you liked the movie: A Man Called Ove, or any feel-good found family film

***

Overall, I’d say my librarian knocked it out of the park with these selections! While The Lido and The Death of Mrs. Westaway were books on my radar, I don’t think I would have picked them up myself without a little nudging. Wolf by Wolf I’d never even heard of and it earned a 5-star rating! It’s seriously such a well done dark games YA and I will shove it into the hands of anyone who enjoys that genre. And Solo was another I was happy to learn about and won’t soon forget. Nothing new here but it bears repeating — I LOVE LIBRARIES!

My next bookish post hitting the blog soon will be my SUMMER TBR. See you then! 

P.S. More library love. 

If You Like That Book, You Might Like This Book || BOOK RECOMMENDATIONS pt. 1

Hi guys! Today, I’d like to offer you a few book recommendations in the form of “if you liked this book, then you might like this other book.” I love when folks on Booktube, Bookstagram, and Goodreads include comparisons to other books in their reviews! It’s one of my favorite ways to find new reads! So, I thought it might be fun and potentially helpful to readers to start a new bookish series here on the blog.

Basically, I’m going to be recommending books that are similar to very popular books that are more well-known. Let’s get into it, shall we?!

If you liked Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel,
you might like Blindness by José Saramago

If you thought Station Eleven was a stunning and powerful portrayal of humanity’s will to survive as a sickness sweeps the land, I think you should check out Blindness. This book stuck with me long after I read the final page. It is haunting and shattering, but honest and compassionate.

Synopsis:

A city is hit by an epidemic of “white blindness” which spares no one. Authorities confine the blind to an empty mental hospital, but there the criminal element holds everyone captive, stealing food rations and raping women. There is one eyewitness to this nightmare who guides seven strangers—among them a boy with no mother, a girl with dark glasses, a dog of tears—through the barren streets, and the procession becomes as uncanny as the surroundings are harrowing. A magnificent parable of loss and disorientation, Blindness has swept the reading public with its powerful portrayal of our worst appetites and weaknesses—and humanity’s ultimately exhilarating spirit.

If you liked The Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls,
you might like Priestdaddy by Patricia Lockwood

If you enjoyed reading Jeannette Walls recount her heartbreaking yet oftentimes wacky childhood,  you should check out Patricia Lockwood who also explores how family and tradition shape her identity. Her book is wildly original and her family members are written so vividly they practically leap off the page.

Synopsis:

Father Greg Lockwood is unlike any Catholic priest you have ever met—a man who lounges in boxer shorts, loves action movies, and whose constant jamming on the guitar reverberates “like a whole band dying in a plane crash in 1972.” His daughter is an irreverent poet who long ago left the Church’s country. When an unexpected crisis leads her and her husband to move back into her parents’ rectory, their two worlds collide.

If you liked The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins,
you might like The Woman in the Window by A.J. Finn

If The Girl on the Train made you realize you’re a fan of psychological thrillers with a dash of noir, The Woman in the Window is for you.  It is dazzlingly suspenseful and full of twists that will keep you reading long past bedtime. The movie adaptation starring Amy Adams, Julianne Moore and Gary Oldman is out soon!

Synopsis: 

Anna Fox lives alone—a recluse in her New York City home, unable to venture outside. She spends her day drinking wine (maybe too much), watching old movies, recalling happier times . . . and spying on her neighbors. Then the Russells move into the house across the way: a father, a mother, their teenage son. The perfect family. But when Anna, gazing out her window one night, sees something she shouldn’t, her world begins to crumble—and its shocking secrets are laid bare.

If you liked My Sister, The Serial Killer by Oyinkan Braithwaite,
you might like Queenie by Candice Carty-Williams

Both of these books are witty quick reads that are darkly hilarious but serve up some pretty serious subject matter. While Braithwaite’s book falls more in the thriller category and Queenie is more of a hard-hitting contemporary — they are both disarming, political, and unexpectedly FUNNY.

Synopsis:

Queenie Jenkins is a 25-year-old Jamaican British woman living in London, straddling two cultures and slotting neatly into neither. She works at a national newspaper, where she’s constantly forced to compare herself to her white middle-class peers. After a messy break-up from her white long-term boyfriend, Queenie seeks comfort in all the wrong places…including several hazardous men who do a good job of occupying brain space and a bad job of affirming self-worth.

That was soooooo fun and I can’t wait to bring you round 2! Have you read any of these books? What would you compare them to?

P.S. How to make time for books. 

The Book Drop: Subscription Service Review

I discovered The Book Drop totally by accident. I was researching a ton of bookstore websites to put together a website redesign proposal for a client. Looking over the Bethany Beach Books website, a tab marked The Book Drop caught my eye. I clicked on it. “Bringing the independent bookstore to you,” it said. Thoroughly intrigued, I dove in deeper to discover it was a book subscription service. Getting new books in the mail AND supporting an independent bookstore?! SIGN ME UP!

I’m wildly indecisive, so the idea of a small bookstore owner actually selecting my book for me really appealed to me. I decided on the Books for Tea and Coffee subscription which rotates every other month between historical/contemporary/literary fiction selections and thriller/suspense selections. You can read more about all the subscription options HERE.

Every Package Includes:

  • 1 hand-wrapped trade paperback book
  • A note about why the book was selected
  • Indie Next List which highlights new books that independent bookstores & booksellers LOVE

and Most Packages Include:  

  • A letter from the author
  • and an autograph (!) – either in the book or on a bookplate

You can select to pay month-to-month, or subscribe in 3 month, 6 month or one year installments. The 6 month subscription is just $99!

To give you an idea of what kind of books are selected, here’s a quick rundown of the last few months —

The Braid by Laetitia Colombani
Books for Tea

In this unforgettable international bestseller, three women from very different circumstances around the world find their lives intertwined by a single object and discover what connects us—across cultures, across backgrounds, and across borders.

A Noel Killing by M.L. Longworth
Books for Coffee

Christmastime in the South of France is as beautiful as ever, but when a shady local businessman drops dead in the middle of the festivities, Verlaque and Bonnet must solve the case while keeping the holiday spirit alive.

Silent Hearts by Gwen Florio
Books for Tea

A stirring novel set in Afghanistan​ about two women—an American aid worker and her local interpreter—who form an unexpected friendship despite their utterly different life experiences and the ever-increasing violence that surrounds them in Kabul. ​

The Winters by Lisa Gabriele
Books for Coffee

After a whirlwind romance, a young woman returns to the opulent, secluded Long Island mansion of her new fiancé Max Winter—a wealthy politician and recent widower—and a life of luxury she’s never known. But all is not as it appears at the Asherley estate.

Wunderland by Jennifer Cody Epstein
Books for Tea

An unflinching exploration of Nazi Germany and its legacy, Wunderland is a at once a powerful portrait of an unspeakable crime history and a page-turning contemplation of womanhood, wartime, and just how far we might go in order to belong.

Are you sold on this amazing book subscription? SIGN UP HERE!

P.S. To keep up to date with what I’m reading, be sure you’re following me on Goodreads.