Category Archives: Books

Everything I read in August (my TBR challenge)

In August, I set myself a challenge to only read the books languishing on my TBR bookshelf. And to read as many as possible.

What’s a TBR bookshelf you ask? Well, I have a bit of a book buying habit. I pick up books all the time with no real plan of when I’ll get to them. Those books go to live on a small two-shelf white bookcase that lives in my office. Meanwhile, I get books from the library and buy other books that I read right away. Leaving some books unread, sometimes for years.

I needed to make a dent in the shelves on this little bookshelf before I ran out of space…and so I could continue buying more books, let’s be honest.

Here’s what I was able to clear off my TBR bookshelf this August:

The Switch by Beth O’Leary
Rom-Com
Ordered to take a two-month sabbatical after blowing a big presentation at work, Leena escapes to her grandmother Eileen’s house for some overdue rest. Newly single and about to turn eighty, Eileen would like a second chance at love. But her tiny Yorkshire village doesn’t offer many eligible gentlemen… So Leena proposes a solution: a two-month swap. Eileen can live in London and look for love, and Leena will look after everything in rural Yorkshire.

My Review:
4 stars
A genuine and absolute delight! This book follows Eileen Cotton and her granddaughter Leena as they switch places for two months – Eileen moves into Leena’s posh warehouse flat in London and Leena takes up residence at Eileen’s cottage in the Yorkshire Dales. The story is told in dual POVs and because of that we have two whole casts of characters to fall in love with – each of them unique and fully realized. If you like found family, Gilmore Girls vibes, or wacky British village shenanigans – pick this one up!

Girl in Snow by Danya Kukafka
Mystery
When a beloved high schooler named Lucinda Hayes is found murdered, no one in her sleepy Colorado suburb is untouched—not the boy who loved her too much; not the girl who wanted her perfect life; not the officer assigned to investigate her murder. In the aftermath of the tragedy, these three indelible characters—Cameron, Jade, and Russ—must each confront their darkest secrets in an effort to find solace, the truth, or both.

My Review:
2 stars
Danya Kukafka writes beautifully. Unfortunately, for me, this particular story was just super slow and not that memorable.

The Round House Louise Erdrich
Literary Fiction
One of the most revered novelists of our time – a brilliant chronicler of Native-American life – Louise Erdrich returns to the territory of her bestselling, Pulitzer Prize finalist The Plague of Doves with The Round House, transporting readers to the Ojibwe reservation in North Dakota. It is an exquisitely told story of a boy on the cusp of manhood who seeks justice and understanding in the wake of a terrible crime that upends and forever transforms his family.

My Review:
5 stars
It’s 1988 on an Ojibwe reservation in North Dakota and 13-year-old Joe’s world is turned upside down when his mother is sexually assaulted. Sadly, she doesn’t know exactly where she was when the attack occurred, making it difficult to determine whose jurisdiction the case falls under – state, federal, or tribal. This sets up the mystery at the heart of the novel. Joe and his friends, as well as his father, are trying to figure out the perpetrator – and once they do, they grapple with how justice will be served and by whom.

While the book is set in the 80s, Erdrich notes in the afterword that, at the time of writing, a third of Native women will be raped in her lifetime; 86% of sexual assaults upon Native women are perpetrated by non-Native men; few are prosecuted. The story is a commentary on the need to restore sovereign justice and ensure safety for Native women, and it is beautifully done.

The plot is exciting and well-developed. The characters are well-drawn. But my favorite part was the strong sense of place. I highly recommend this to any literary fiction lovers, especially if you like books about family dynamics or are interested in reading about Native issues from an own voices perspective.

Interpreter of Maladies by Jhumpa Lahiri
Short Stories
Navigating between the Indian traditions they’ve inherited and the baffling new world, the characters in Jhumpa Lahiri’s elegant, touching stories seek love beyond the barriers of culture and generations. In “A Temporary Matter,” published in The New Yorker, a young Indian-American couple faces the heartbreak of a stillborn birth while their Boston neighborhood copes with a nightly blackout. In the title story, an interpreter guides an American family through the India of their ancestors and hears an astonishing confession. Lahiri writes with deft cultural insight reminiscent of Anita Desai and a nuanced depth that recalls Mavis Gallant.

My Review:
4 stars
This collection of short stories is beautifully written. Lahiri is a master of her craft. Her book ‘The Namesake’ is one of my favorites so I was excited to give her short form prose a go – and it did not disappoint! Most of her stories focus on the Indian immigrant experience, and even more specifically – the experience of immigrating shortly after an arranged marriage to work at a university in the Greater Boston area. Even with this niche subject matter, each of the stories holds universal appeal. Lahiri shows us a lighthearted and hopeful side of the human spirit, even as her characters face challenges, which makes for a very readable little book. Pick this one up!

Atonement by Ian McEwan
Historical Fiction
On a summer day in 1935, thirteen-year-old Briony Tallis witnesses a moment’s flirtation between her older sister, Cecilia, and Robbie Turner, the son of a servant. But Briony’s incomplete grasp of adult motives and her precocious imagination bring about a crime that will change all their lives, a crime whose repercussions Atonement follows through the chaos and carnage of World War II and into the close of the twentieth century.

My Review:
4 stars
I found the middle third to be a bit slow-going, but well worth pushing through to get to the latter part of the book. Really enjoyed this one!

Someday, Someday, Maybe by Lauren Graham
Rom-Com
Franny Banks is a struggling actress in New York City, with just six months left of the three-year deadline she gave herself to succeed. But so far, all she has to show for her efforts is a single line in an ad for ugly Christmas sweaters and a degrading waitressing job. She lives in Brooklyn with two roommates – Jane, her best friend from college, and Dan, a sci-fi writer, who is very definitely not boyfriend material – and is struggling with her feelings for a suspiciously charming guy in her acting class, all while trying to find a hair-product cocktail that actually works.

My Review:
4 stars
I liked this a lot more than I thought I would. It’s a sweet rom-com full of the smart, fast-paced dialogue style Lauren Graham is known for in her shows (Gilmore Girls, Parenthood) and lots of fun NYC settings. I also have a weird love of books that take place in 1995. It’s just a great year

Throughout the book, we get to see pages from our main character’s Filofax. I love seeing other people’s planners (even fictional people) so I thought this was a fun element. My nitpick is that the handwriting the pages are written in is really hard to read! Cool that the pages are realistic (I’m guessing it’s Lauren Graham’s actual writing?) but I was sad I couldn’t enjoy them more.

The Flamethrowers by Rachel Kushner
Historical Fiction
The year is 1975 and Reno—so-called because of the place of her birth—has come to New York intent on turning her fascination with motorcycles and speed into art. Her arrival coincides with an explosion of activity in the art world—artists have colonized a deserted and industrial SoHo, are staging actions in the East Village, and are blurring the line between life and art. Reno meets a group of dreamers and raconteurs who submit her to a sentimental education of sorts. Ardent, vulnerable, and bold, she begins an affair with an artist named Sandro Valera, the semi-estranged scion of an Italian tire and motorcycle empire. When they visit Sandro’s family home in Italy, Reno falls in with members of the radical movement that overtook Italy in the seventies. Betrayal sends her reeling into a clandestine undertow.

My Review:
2 stars
This may have been a me thing… This book just did NOT hold my attention! I am a self-proclaimed know-it-all so it pains me to say this, but I just didn’t “get it,” and the plot didn’t do enough to make up for the fact that I wasn’t vibing with the subject matter. On a sentence level, the writing is very nice. However, I’m happy to be done reading it.

Since She Went Away by David Bell
Thriller
Three months earlier, Jenna Barton was supposed to meet her lifelong best friend Celia. But when Jenna arrived late, she found that Celia had disappeared—and hasn’t been seen again. Jenna has blamed herself for her friend’s disappearance every single day since then.

My Review:
3.5 stars
I knew this book was written by a Western Kentucky University professor but had no idea going in that it was actually SET in Kentucky. That was a welcome and fun surprise. Not a mind-blowing thriller but an enjoyable read with a couple unexpected moments/twists. Definitely want to pick up some of Bell’s newer titles now that I’ve read this one!

Commonwealth by Ann Patchett
Literary Fiction
The acclaimed, bestselling author—winner of the PEN/Faulkner Award and the Orange Prize—tells the enthralling story of how an unexpected romantic encounter irrevocably changes two families’ lives. One Sunday afternoon in Southern California, Bert Cousins shows up at Franny Keating’s christening party uninvited. Before evening falls, he has kissed Franny’s mother, Beverly—thus setting in motion the dissolution of their marriages and the joining of two families.

My Review:
5 stars
I love this book so much. We follow the Cousins and Keating children from childhood to adulthood, starting with a kiss between the mother of one set of siblings and the father of another that sets into motion all the ways these two families will blend and disperse over the coming decades.

Patchett has written a pitch perfect family saga that explores divorce in full – beginning to end, an entire cast of blended family characters represented and fully realized. Each character in this tender narrative searches for connection while grappling with the damages of loss. They all share a bond that’s simultaneously painful and powerful. This is a truly brilliant, touching story.

The Round House and Commonwealth were real stand outs this month and I’m so happy that this challenge brought them to me!

I can’t wait to do this challenge again in the future. (I think I’ve decided that I’m going to make it a biannual occurrence.) But for now, it’s on to my FALL TBR!

What was the best book you read in August? xoxo

P.S. If you’re planning your “spooky season” reading, check out – 3 Spooking Books to Read this Halloween.


Books I Can’t Wait to Read

Hello friends! Today’s post is a bit of a catch up. I wasn’t able to post a WINTER TBR back in December but I still wanted to share some books I’m excited about before we get to my springtime reading list. After all, we just had an ice storm in Alabama (!) so I’m still curling up with my winter reads.

Here are some upcoming books on my list…

FICTION PICKS

Closed Circle Mystery

The Hunting Party by Lucy Foley

This was a Christmas present from my sister.

Steamy Romance

The Proposal by Jasmine Guillory

I’m currently reading the first in this series and already want to jump into the next.

Classics Reread

Little Women by Louisa May Alcott

Time to revisit this all-time favorite.

Young Adult Fantasy

The Wrath and the Dawn by Renee Ahdieh

Intrigued by the 1001 Nights retelling aspect of this one.

NONFICTION PICKS

Relationship Development

The 5 Love Languages by Gary Chapman

I’ve taken the online quizzes but figure I should read the source material.

Memoir

The Sun Does Shine by Anthony Ray Hinton

This seems like a good follow-up read to Just Mercy.

Your turn! 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 before spring comes in the comments below! 

P.S. You can follow me on Goodreads HERE. I also tweet the title/author of every book the moment I finish it HERE.

Do I Have That OTHER Book CHALLENGE

Time for another DO I HAVE THAT BOOK? challenge. Awhile back I posted a little cross-section of my shelves based on the first iteration of this book tag. You can see that post HERE. But a new set of queries was making the rounds on Booktube and I wanted to play along. I combed my shelves and tried to find books in my collection that best met the prompts. Let’s see what I came up with…

Do you have a book with a fox on the cover or as part of the plot?

Nope. Ok, not starting off great…

Do you have a book published the year you were born or within 3 years radius?

Yes! Matilda by Roald Dahl was published around the time of my birth. This was the only book from this period I had. Maybe I should look into getting some others?

 

Do you have a book with music as weapon or magic?

Hmmm…yes? Everyone knows the Von Trapp family used music to escape the Nazis, right? So I’ll go with The Story of the Trapp Family Singers by Maria Augusta Trapp.

 

Do you have a book with a shape shifter?

The Southern Book Club’s Guide to Slaying Vampires by Grady Hendrix. Don’t come for me, I’m sticking by this vampires as shape shifters thing. How else do you explain bats?

 

Do you have a book signed by the author?

I have yet to read it, but I do own a signed first edition of A New Model by Ashley Graham

 

 

Do you have a book with a mostly red cover?

I actually have quite a few red books! Let’s go with this amazing Pride & Prejudice retelling — Eligible by Curtis Sittenfeld

 

 

Do you have a book that’s between 287 – 306 pages?

This advance reader’s edition of The Divines by Ellie Eaton is exactly 306 pages long. It came out last month and you should totally pick it up if you like books about boarding schools. 

 

Do you have a book where the main character where’s glasses?

I do. Travelling to Infinity by Jane Hawking is a book written about Stephen Hawking by his first wife. Stephen Hawking definitely wore glasses. (How many people do you think say Harry Potter for this one?)

 

Do you have a book with a title with the same number of letters as your first name?

E-L-I-Z-A-B-E-T-H — 9 letters. T-H-E-S-W-I-T-C-H. The Switch by Beth O’Leary has a title with 9 letters. Bonus: Written by a Beth. 

 

Do you have a book where cybercrime/technology is an important plot point?

I had all but given up on this one, but then I remembered that in Looking for Alaska by John Green the characters hack into their school’s database to send falsified progress reports out to some of their enemies parents. 

 

Do you have a book written in another language or translated?

Sure — Goodbye, Things by Fumio Sasaki is translated from Japanese. Shout out to all the translators out there! 

 

 

Do you have a book by an Asian author?

Yes, Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng was a Christmas gift and my first read of 2021. 

 

 

Do you have a book with a moon on the cover?

A picture of a moon AND the word moon! I highly recommend Killers of the Flower Moon by David Grann if you’re into historical true crime. 

 

 

Do you have an illustrated children’s book?

Let’s go with Ballet by Annabel Thomas. I have many others but they’re packed away in a closet and I was too lazy to get them out. 

 

 

Do you have a collection of myths or fairy tales?

Does the Oresteia by Aeschylus count? I’m gonna say yes. I haven’t kept many books I had to read for school but my annotations in this one are just too good to let go of, ya know?

 

Do you have a fantasy or sci fi that has an alliance between two different races?

Let’s go with my favorite sci-fi read of 2020, The Sparrow by Mary Doria Russell. I won’t say much more because *spoilers*. 

 

Do you have a book with a narrow front cover? (paperback with a front cover that is slightly trimmed shorter/narrower than the rest of the book)

Yep, There There by Tommy Orange

 

Do you have a series with mismatched covers?

The only series I own in it’s entirety are the Little House books and they match.

Do you have a book that includes the first chapter of the sequel?

This edition of The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho includes a preview of Warrior of the Light which is a “companion book” to The Alchemist. That’s the best I can do, I think. 

 

Do you have a book with a broken spine?

This is a mass market paperback of a book from 1994 that I bought used, so yeah, my copy of Brazil by John Updike has a very broken spine. 

 

***

18 out of 20? I’ll take it! How do you think you would stack up? Go check your shelves! Have you read any of the books above? Let me know in the comments below!

If you enjoy my blog content, please consider supporting what I do (and keeping me caffeinated). Thank you! xoxo ☕

Recommending Your Next Read [Based on Overly Specific Genres] Pt. 1

Welcome back to Finding Delight! I’m here today to give you some options for your next read. I put together a collection of some of the most popular overly specific book genres. Then, I scoured my shelves and the internet to find the perfect books that fit these categories. (If you don’t see a good fit here – do leave a common below with an overly specific book genre you love and I’ll be sure to reply with some choices!)

So, let’s get right into it…

Book set in a creepy house…

My pick: The Death of Mrs. Westaway by Ruth Ware

Others to check out: 

Crooked House by Agatha Christie

The Good House by Tananarive Due

The 7 ½ Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle by Stuart Turton

Magical realism in the American south…

My pick: Sing Unburied Sing by Jesmyn Ward

Others to check out: 

The Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead

Dead Until Dark by Charlaine Harris

Southern Mystical Moments by Patricia H. Graham 

A book that follows a family through different periods of life…

My pick: The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver 

Others to check out…

Pachinko by Min Jin Lee

The Dutch House by Ann Patchett

The Vanishing Half by Brit Bennett

Science Fiction featuring characters you can fall in love with…

My pick: The Sparrow by Mary Doria Russell

Others to check out…

Ready Player One by Ernest Cline

A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle

Kindred by Octavia Butler

Historical Fiction about a female artist…

My pick: The Painter From Shanghai by Jennifer Cody Epstein

Others to check out…

Rodin’s Lover by Heather Webb

Clara and Mr. Tiffany by Susan Vreeland

Isadora by Amelia Gray

A book to help you feel happy…

My pick: The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin

Others to check out…

The Happiness Equation by Neil Pasricha

The Happiness Advantage by Shawn Achor

You Are a Badass by Jen Sincero

Teens battling it out in a dark game (similar to The Hunger Games)…

My pick: Wolf by Wolf by Ryan Graudin

Others to check out: 

The Maze Runner by James Dashner

The Final Six by Alexandra Monir

Girls of Paper and Fire by Natasha Ngan

Thriller that tackles social issues…

My pick: When No One is Watching by Alyssa Cole

Others to check out:

The Wife Upstairs by Rachel Hawkins

Stillhouse Lake by Rachel Caine

Bluebird, Bluebird by Attica Locke

A Science Fiction with a spreading sickness…

My pick: Blindness by Jose Saramago

Others to check out:

Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel

The Book of M by Peng Shepherd

Severance by Ling Ma

Book set in the circus…

My pick: Water for Elephants by Sarah Gruen

Others to check out: 

Death of a Circus by Chadra Pasad

The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern

Pantomime by Laura Lam

So there you have it! I hope you found an absolutely perfect book for your next read! If any of these overly specific genres are your fave, do leave me a comment below and let me know if you think these suggestions might work for you.

For more bookish content, make sure you’re following me on Instagram HERE.

Reading Year In Review

My Top 10 Books of 2020

When Breath Becomes Air by Paul Kalanithi

Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi

Eveningland by Michael Knight

Wolf by Wolf and Blood for Blood by Ryan Graudin

Castle of Water by Dane Huckelbridge

The Death of Vivek Oji by Akwaeke Emezi

The Sparrow by Mary Doria Russell

The Glass Hotel by Emily St. John Mandel

Brazil by John Updike

Real Life by Brandon Taylor

2020 Reading Stats

I read 68 books in 2020 for a total of 24,298 pages.

The shortest book I read was I’m Afraid of Men by Vivek Shraya (96 pages) and the longest book was 11/22/63 by Stephen King (849 pages).

My average book length in 2020 was 357 pages.

The most popular book I read was The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho and the book I read with the highest average rating on Goodreads was In the Dream House by Carmen Maria Machado.

The first book I read in 2020 was The Wife Between Us by Greer Hendricks & Sarah Pekkanen.

My last read of 2020 was Absolutely Truly by Heather Vogel Frederick.

I read from many genres but tended to favor literary/contemporary fiction the most. And fiction books in general made up 80% of my reading. (A bit high for me!)

67% of the authors I read from identify as women, 30% men, and 3% non-binary.

If You Like That Book, You Might Like This Book || BOOK RECOMMENDATIONS pt. 4

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! Here’s part 3!)

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 The Death of Mrs. Westaway by Ruth Ware,
you might like The Winters by Lisa Gabriele.

If you loved Ruth Ware’s ability to concoct a setting so compelling it started to feel like it’s own character, you should check out The Winters which transports readers to the Asherley estate. The Winters is a creepy and spooky modern retelling of Daphne du Maurier’s Rebecca set amongst the wealthy elite in the Hamptons. Much like The Death of Mrs. Westaway, Lisa Gabriele writes an enjoyable psychological thriller that plays out inside a grand house and includes all the twists and turns that go along with strange family dynamics, inheritances, and – of course – murder.

Synopsis: 

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. The house is steeped in the memory of Max’s beautiful first wife Rebekah, who haunts the young woman’s imagination and feeds her uncertainties, while his very alive teenage daughter Dani makes her life a living hell. She soon realizes there is no clear place for her in this twisted little family: Max and Dani circle each other like cats, a dynamic that both repels and fascinates her, and he harbors political ambitions with which he will allow no woman—alive or dead—to interfere.

If you liked The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins, you might like Wolf by Wolf by Ryan Graudin

If you tore your way through Suzanne Collins’s dystopian young adult novel about a group of teens representing their districts by fighting to the death on live TV, you should pick up Ryan Graudin’s historical reimagining in which the Axis powers of the Third Reich and Imperial Japan commemorate their Great Victory by hosting a motorcycle race across their conjoined continents. Wolf by Wolf includes everything you loved about The Hunger Games and throws in a dash of The Man in the High Castle for good measure — asking, “What if the Nazis won the war?”

Synopsis:

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 Axis Tour 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.

If you liked All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr,
you might like Castle of Water by Dane Huckelbridge

Ok, if you’ve read both of these books you may think this is a bit of a stretch, but hear me out. Anthony Doerr and Dane Huckelbridge are both incredible writers. The prose in both these books is so beautiful and breath-taking, without ever feeling heavy handed. While the plots are quite different, they are similar in that they constantly come up against odds — whether at the hands of war or a plane crash — and yet humanity flourishes. Not to mention there’s a lot of French language interwoven throughout Castle of Water, and that, combined with the writing style and haunting passages about a short-wave radio, made for a reading experience that gave me some serious All the Light We Cannot See vibes. If you liked one, I’m confident that you’d like the other!

Synopsis: 

For Sophie Ducel, her honeymoon in French Polynesia was intended as a celebration of life. For Barry Bleecker, the same trip was meant to mark a new beginning. Turning away from his dreary existence in Manhattan finance, Barry had set his sights on fine art, seeking creative inspiration on the other side of the world. But when their small plane is downed in the middle of the South Pacific, the sole survivors of the wreck are left with one common goal: to survive. Stranded hundreds of miles from civilization, on an island the size of a large city block, the two castaways must reconcile their differences and learn to draw on one another’s strengths if they are to have any hope of making it home.

If you liked The Geeks Shall Inherit the Earth by Alexandra Robbins, you might like Another Day in the Death of America by Gary Younge

Both of these books are expertly researched, sociological looks at the lives of real teenagers in America. Robbins’s book covers popularity and psychology, while Younge explores gun violence. Quite different subject matter but the execution is similar in it’s careful reporting, meticulous interviews, and thought-provoking conclusions. If you are an educator of or advocate for teens, both of these books are must-reads.

Synopsis: 

On an average day in America, seven children and teens will be shot dead. In Another Day in the Death of America, award-winning journalist Gary Younge tells the stories of the lives lost during one such day. It could have been any day, but he chose November 23, 2013. Black, white, and Latino, aged nine to nineteen, they fell at sleepovers, on street corners, in stairwells, and on their own doorsteps. From the rural Midwest to the barrios of Texas, the narrative crisscrosses the country over a period of twenty-four hours to reveal the full human stories behind the gun-violence statistics and the brief mentions in local papers of lives lost.

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. 3 spooky book recommendations, if that’s your jam!

3 Spooky Books to Read this Halloween

With Halloween falling on a Saturday this year, it’s a great excuse to curl up with a truly terrifying tale! Grab a PSL, your favorite throw blanket, and a handful of fun size candies and make a whole dang day of it. To set the mood even further, I recommend popping on an Autumn Ambience video.

If you feel like binge reading a scary book this Halloween, here are three I would recommend…

The Girls by Emma Cline

The year is 1969, a cultural revolution is taking place, and sex, drugs and rock n roll are at the forefront. Enter a charismatic man (based on the likes of Charles Manson) who lures in young followers desperate to be a part of something larger than themselves and leads them into a life of deception, abuse and murder.

Evie, now in her 50’s, is looking back at her time in this cult as a teenager and the horrific crimes they committed that forever left an imprint on American history.

This is a perfect pick if you’re not especially fond of thrillers or horrors but still want a spooky read that will totally consume you on Halloween. You’ll fly through this one! And it’s that much scarier knowing the story, although fiction, is inspired by true events.

The Wife Between Us by Greer Hendricks & Sarah Pekkanen

Now, if you ARE up for a thriller, this is an excellent one.

Our main character is a woman whose wealthy and hunky husband, Richard, has left her for a younger woman. After their divorce she went from living a life of luxury to sharing an apartment with her aunt and working a retail gig.

She learns of her ex-husband’s plans to remarry and the book takes off from here. However, the back cover copy warns readers to “assume nothing” and this is especially apt. There are so many twists and turns to this one and the less you know going in the better!

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

Author Grady Hendrix says in the intro that he wanted write a book that pit Dracula against his mom. Who can resist a premise like that?

If you prefer your scary books to be more on the side of horror and gore…with a pinch of humor thrown in for good measure… I highly recommend picking this one up this Halloween.

A group of southern women, fed up with the stuffy/WASPy book club they’re a part of, branch off and form their own group dedicated to reading true crime novels. Next thing you know a new neighbor is clamoring to join their club and he just so happens to be a vampire. This is a “blood-soaked tale of neighborly kindness gone wrong.”

Which of these would YOU choose? Will you be reading anything spooky this Halloween? Let me know in the comments below.

Enjoy the rest of your week, ghouls and goblins!!! 👻

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.