Books I Read This Week 2019 – 46

Here are my goodreads reviews. If you’re on goodreads, add me as a friend so I can see your books too! I’ve also started an instagram account where I join my love of reading with my love of art.


Tuesday Mooney Talks to Ghosts (3 stars): As many other reviews also said, this story starts strong and then just fizzles. The premise is quite intriguing and I liked all of the characters a lot, too, especially Dex who was a pleasure to read. All in all, the story didn’t finish as strong as it started and I think it could have been a third shorter while still staying strong. I still enjoyed my time with it.


Everything My Mother Taught Me (5 stars): Alice Hoffman was the whole reason I requested the Inheritance series from netgalley. I’ve been a fan of Hoffman and her wonderful writing. This story did not disappoint. 

Adeline’s dad dies when she’s twelve and her mom accepts a job looking after two lighthouses. Her mom is selfish, unkind and is pretty much looking out for number one. This is the story of all the havoc she causes when she enters the lives of the three families living at the lighthouses and the impact it has on Adeline and the story of Adeline’s redemption. Mothers and daughters are always complicated and it’s just so in this powerful story.

This is one of the five books in Amazon’s Inheritance series. “A collection of five stories about secrets, unspoken desires, and dangerous revelations between loved ones.”

Can You Feel This? by Julie Orringer
Everything My Mother Taught Me by Alice Hoffman
The Lion’s Den by Anthony Marra 
Zenith Man by Jennifer Haigh
The Weddings by Alexander Chee

Thank you to netgalley and amazon for an early copy in exchange for an honest review.


The Weddings (3.5 stars): This one wasn’t my favorite of the series, but I did enjoy it quite a bit especially all the little details around weddings and the pressure they put on the attendees and how the dynamics of what it means to attend a wedding as a gay couple has changed. It was interesting to read.

The main character goes back and forth in time giving glimpses to his history with the groom and glimpses into the struggles around finding your identity, your belonging and being unclear about where you stand with a person and then the awkwardness of being at their wedding (such a special occasion) after not having seen them for years and years. There’s so much packed into a short story. 

This is one of the five books in Amazon’s Inheritance series. Thank you to netgalley and amazon for an early copy in exchange for an honest review.


The Lion’s Den (3.5 stars): “Honesty comes in an infinite variety, none crueler than a teenager’s tedium.”

This story of a father-son relationship. A boy who’s father took an action that put his whole family’s life in jeopardy and forever changed the rest of his teenage son’s life. A father who is both famous and infamous. Who’s both revered and reviled. A family who didn’t make the choice but was thrust into the consequences. 

“I’d forgotten conversations with Jimmy Massaro are spectator sports. He has an uncanny ability to speak to himself even while looking you in the eye.”

This is a story about this boy coming back to be with his dad as he dies. The story of what it means to forgive, to turn one’s life into a story, to have your whole identity wrapped up in something that was never even your choice. The consequences of ego. Does time heal wounds? So many questions in such a short story. 

“The good news is that adolescence is a disorder whose physical effects are invariably treated by time. Emotionally and psychologically, it is, for some, incurable.”

This is one of the five books in Amazon’s Inheritance series. Thank you to netgalley and amazon for an early copy in exchange for an honest review.


Zenith Man (4 stars): “Harold Pardee was as close to a stationary object as a person could possibly be.”

I can’t exactly put my finger on it, but I liked this story a lot and it stayed with me after I finished it. This is the story of Harold’s wife whom he finds dead one morning and due to her recluse nature, no one has ever met her (except one person) and knew about her existence. There is a lot of suspicion around her death but how can Harold prove he didn’t kill someone whom no one even knew existed? It’s a weird but still intriguing premise.

This is one of the five books in Amazon’s Inheritance series. Thank you to netgalley and amazon for an early copy in exchange for an honest review.


Can You Feel This? (5 stars): As a mother, this was one of the stories I enjoyed the most. I could feel all the hesitation, excitement, joy, anxiety, worry, frustration the main character had and the helplessness around trying to nurse your baby and not being able to. There were so many moments in this story that I loved, the best friend who comes in and takes charge, the cleaning lady who ends up being the only one who can actually help, the lactation consultant who is harsh and unhelpful. On and on, so many real characters that stay with you long after you’re done. A powerful short story. This is one of the five books in Amazon’s Inheritance series. Thank you to netgalley and amazon for an early copy in exchange for an honest review.


Big Dreams, Daily Joys (4 stars): I’m a huge goal-setter and have at times followed Elise on different online platforms. I was excited to read her book on goal setting/getting things done and it did not disappoint. I liked how clear she was with some of the concepts:

“There are three reasons why you don’t get your to-do list items accomplished: lack of time, lack of communication, or lack of interest.” 

Yep and it’s helpful to know which is in which state so I can be clear so that I know what I need to do to move them to a different state.

Even though she quotes the idea from someone else, I loved the idea of looking at my life as an inbox and seeing what’s noise and what’s spam and what I actually signed up for. Lately I’ve been obsessed with the signal to noise ratio in several areas of my work, no reason I can’t think the same way about my life as a whole.

“The fact that you made something you didn’t love today doesn’t matter when you have to make something again tomorrow. This is the power of daily creative projects. You can’t dwell because you have to keep going.”

Yes! This is exactly why I love working on daily projects. It takes my ruminating self out of the equation. I can’t spend too much time overthinking it. I do it today, I move on because I have to do it again tomorrow. This is how I treat my daily drawing for insta: some days I love it and other days it’s a disaster, either way I move on. 

I also loved the five-year plan. I’ve never made one and five years still seems too much to me at this stage of my life, but three doesn’t seem undoable and I think it would still be hugely valuable so I am planning on taking some time with it.

All in all, if you’re a planner and doer and like having projects, I recommend this pretty and inspiring book.


Payoff (4 stars): “As people feel connected, challenged, and get more recognition for their efforts, the total amount of motivation, joy, and output for everyone grows much larger.”

I don’t think it’s possible for Dan Ariely to write a book that’s anything but fascinating. His areas of study are so interesting, so relevant and his work is always so thought-provoking. This short book is no exception. This book focuses on motivation. How we’re motivated, why we’re motivated that way and what’s the best way to motivate your employees. As always, the answers are not intuitive. The strongest motivators are trust, acknowledgement, goodwill, long-term focus, and creating meaningful things, legacy, etc. This is a short book to read and yet impactful, my favorite kind of nonfiction.


Half-Truths and Semi-Miracles (4 stars): This tiny short story is really just an appetizer of Anne Tyler but I am such a fan that I’ll take appetizers. I know she has a new book coming out in 2020 as well thankfully! This is the story of Susanna who has a gift for healing people, or does she? My favorite thing about Tyler’s stories is her ordinary characters that you fall in love with and root for and journey alongside. I can’t wait for her new novel. If you’re like me and will enjoy any sampling of Tyler, you’ll love this.


Worry-Free Living (3 stars): I have mixed feelings about this book. While I really enjoyed the topics of each of the essays and really loved the lessons and thought-provoking perspective, the writing itself felt really choppy and off to me. I am not sure if this is a translation and was just poorly translated or if the author’s style is choppy like this. But either way it made it harder for me to connect with the text.

Here’s an example:

“With that said, if you want to avoid divorce, my advice for you is to offer your partner praise.” 

If this said something like, “regular and genuine praise fuels a marriage and helps foster love,” etc. I’d totally be feeling positively encouraged to do so. And yet this phrasing makes me anxious and worried that I better do what he says or I might not be able to avoid divorce. For a book about worry-free living, it’s making me worry!

I understand it’s not intended this way (or I hope not!) but because there are many examples like this, it’s hard for me to connect with the content as much as I’d like to. 

With gratitude to netgalley and IRH press for an early copy in exchange for an honest review.


Everyone’s A Critic (4 stars): This was a funny, ironic little story bashing both critics and mass-reviewers (in my opinion.) In fact, I feel like Weiner had fun with a bunch of different concepts in this short story. It’s about the changing face of literary criticism, about critics themselves, about the changing ownership and perspective of publishing and how to cater to new audiences. It’s about revenge, too. But most of all it read to me like Weiner was just having fun writing it. I had a lot of fun reading it.


Universal Methods of Design (4 stars): If you’re interested in design and design methodology this is a fantastic resource. With 125 research methods, it’s absolutely a comprehensive reference with short explanations and clear examples of each method to ensure you can see the application of each method. I really enjoyed my time with this book and as someone who works closely with the User Experience and User Experience Research teams, I feel like I understand some of the methodology so much more clearly now. with gratitude to netgalley and quarto publishing for an early copy in exchange for an honest review.


All This Could be Yours (3.5 stars): Attenberg’s novel was painful to read. I find her to be a good writer and her characters always seem real, albeit so different from me that it’s a bit hard for me to connect with them. I still find myself enjoying her writing, her characters and her stories because they feel honest and real. I might not connect with the characters’ choices or actions but I connect with their pain and suffering and frustrations etc because I can almost acutely feel it come off the page. This novel was no different. At its center the toxic Victor and the pain that toxicity caused to everything and everyone around it. How we carry our scars around with us for a long time and how this type of damage can pass from generation to generation. It’s painful and observant and sad and anger-inducing. Which is why it feels so real.


Love Poems for Married People (4 stars): I loved, loved this little book of poems. They are funny, so-well-observed, and so sweetly genuine. I connected with some much more than others, of course, but as a whole I felt it was deeply delightful. Many of these are laugh-out-loud funny, several are really sweet and the very last one is an homage to his wife. I guarantee you will enjoy at least one poem in this set.


Maybe You Should Talk to Someone (5 stars): This was up there as one of my favorite non-fiction reads of this year (Invisible Women is going to hold the top spot there). It was honest, interesting, funny at parts, sad at others and just a fascinating book to read mostly because it wasn’t too shy to talk about the parts that most people choose not to share, the ugly, the hidden, the parts of our life that make us look less than great that we wish we could sweep under some rug. There are a handful of patients and Lori’s own story of her seeing a therapist. There are details but no names, it’s not sensationalized but more tender, open and imperfect. I appreciated her therapist insights, her peek into the thinking of a therapist when you’re a patient, and her experience with getting her own therapy. The story is compellingly told and I found myself wanting to keep listening, not out of morbid curiosity (as this could have easily become) but out of genuine care.


And there we go, a lot of reading this week, due to many short reads. Here’s to another great week next week.


Books I Read this Week 2019 is a year-long project for 2019. You can read more about my projects for 2019 here. I am also tracking my books in real time on Good Reads here. If you’re on Good Reads add me so I can follow you, too! I’ve also started an instagram account where I join my love of reading with my love of art.

Books I Read This Week 2019 – 45

Here are my goodreads reviews. If you’re on goodreads, add me as a friend so I can see your books too! I’ve also started an instagram account where I join my love of reading with my love of art.


Ninth House (3 stars): I have mixed feelings about this book. I have read and enjoyed other Bardugo books before so I was looking forward to her first adult novel. I’ve also been on the Yale campus several times so I thought it would be fun to read a book about the houses. And it was. The descriptions were fun and interesting. The plot was somewhat interesting too and some of the characters were as well. But overall, the book felt too long to me. Too much going on, the story felt like it went on and on and on and at some point, I lost interest. Even though I did finish it, I think it could have been a much tighter and more interesting story at two thirds of its length. Not sorry I read it, but didn’t love this one.


Welcoming the Unwelcome (5 stars): “Only by learning to fully embrace all aspects of ourselves–even the most seemingly negative elements of our minds and hearts–will we learn to fully embrace others. Only by discovering the basic goodness in both our lotus and our mud, will we come to see the basic goodness of all living things.”

I love Pema Chödrön. There’s something about the way she writes that speaks exactly to me. Her way of communicating with compassion, kindness and vulnerability speak to me and make me feel both less alone and more hopeful. This book is full of reminders that failure is an opportunity for growth and that we don’t have to let life’s events get to us. We can observe, “as if you’re the sky, allowing all the clouds to pass through you, not rejecting anything that arises in that space,” as Trungpa Rinpoche says.

I need to read books by Pema at least monthly so I can remember some of the down to earth and profound thoughts in her books. They are the exact perspective check I need in my life.


Invisible Women (5 stars): This excellent, excellent book made me so mad that I had to take breaks between reading it. It was recommended to me by a work friend and it was a compelling read from the very first page. I can go on and on about all the statistics this book quotes and the studies it cites. I can go on and on about the ways in which this book quotes how the world is not a safe or just place for women. How women are overlooked again and again.

The information in the book is very very wide ranging from crash test dummies, to voice recognition software, airline seats, medical research, bathrooms, safety, accounting of work hours, and on and on. It’s not possible to read this book and not admit that the way women and their existence (their contributions) is not accounted for in the data we collect and thus in the world we live in. Even saying erased would assume it existed at some point but it doesn’t even exist. No one is collecting it. No one is acknowledging it. There is no accounting for it so thus it will never be possible to make change based on the data since the data doesn’t even exist.

I am feeling angry just writing this review. I cannot overstate the importance of reading this book.


A Random Act of Kindness (4 stars): I received this book way back in March and for some reason thought it wasn’t going to be good so I kept putting it off and not reading it.

I couldn’t have been more wrong.

I finally sat down to clear all my queue before the year is over and within 20 pages, I didn’t want to stop reading this lovely story. I loved the wide array of characters, each of whom were interesting on their own. I loved the beautiful clothing descriptions. I loved the dynamics between the characters, none of them were simple and while it was a sweet, romantic book, it also felt like I got close to each of the characters a little bit.

Sometimes I read a sweet novel and am left with an empty after taste, this felt more like a satisfying meal. It made me smile, and even laugh at parts, and I loved the happy ending that I knew was coming.

If you like to curl up with cozy, sweet, romance stories, you will enjoy this one. I did.

with gratitude to netgalley and avon books for an early copy that i clearly should have read much sooner.


Thirst (4 stars): I read this whole book in one sitting. Heather’s journey to be the fastest hiker of the Pacific Crest Trail was inspiring to read. The best part of this book was the descriptions of all the little moments on the trail. The people she met, the ways in which she pushed through and kept going despite the insanity of what she was doing.

But what I really loved, and craved more of, was her back story. How she got from being a non-athletic teen to this amazing journey. The book hints at the little bits here and there but there isn’t enough of it, in my opinion. The book goes back and forth between feeling like you’re experiencing it alongside her to feeling on the outside and for me, the former moments are the best parts.

Loved reading this.


Midnight at the Blackbird Cafe (4 stars): What a lovely, lovely book. This is a sweet book about a girl whose grandmother passes away so she goes back to her mom’s hometown to run and then eventually close up the cafe her grandmother used to run. There’s a bit of magic in there as the pies they bake at the diner cause people to get messages from the dead people in their lives. But it’s a really small part of the story and adds whimsy to the story. Even though the end was predictable, I enjoyed each of the characters and spending a few hours in the small town. It’s a lovely, cozy story for the rainy fall days.


And there we go, a solid week of reading. Here’s to another great week next week.


Books I Read this Week 2019 is a year-long project for 2019. You can read more about my projects for 2019 here. I am also tracking my books in real time on Good Reads here. If you’re on Good Reads add me so I can follow you, too! I’ve also started an instagram account where I join my love of reading with my love of art.

Books I Read This Week 2019 – 44

Here are my goodreads reviews. If you’re on goodreads, add me as a friend so I can see your books too! I’ve also started an instagram account where I join my love of reading with my love of art.


The Simple Wild (4 stars): This is the time of year when I start picking my word of the year for the following year, and this time the word “wild” seems to be the one that’s coming back again and again, so as I looked for books with the word “wild” in their title, I came across this one that looked like it was fun and sweet.

It was a really fast read and it definitely was fun and sweet. It’s light, with some undertones of more serious conversations and some lovely stories about Alaska. It definitely was a delightful read and I can’t wait to read the second in the series.


If You Tame Me (3.5 stars): “Frank remembered all the weird and constantly changing rules from both of his marriages. How sometimes it was okay to touch, sometimes not. Sometimes it was okay to tease, sometimes not. Sometimes it was okay to pressure on past “I’m too tired,” sometimes not. Apparently, the lack of clarity between men and women continued through all eternity.”

What a sweet, lovely story. This is about the 55-year old Audrey who decides to buy an iguana on her birthday. She’s tired of “nice” and wants to buy something that’s not cute. So iguana it is. Her story from there unfolds as she makes new friends at the mall where she works and reconnects with an old college friend and gets to know her next door neighbor, Frank, who has a multitude of parakeets.

This story is about aging, life, love, loneliness, friendship, coming to one’s own, politics and feminism. It’s about Audrey’s experience of life and her bravery at taking chances again and again with friendships, with pets, with love. 

But she didn’t want to hide. Audrey hugged the surprise of that. And she hugged the exuberance of wanting to fling the blanket off, open her arms and her legs to Frank, and shout,”I’m here! You’re here! Let’s do that again!”

with gratitude to edelweiss and Black Rose Writing for an early copy in exchange for an honest review.


Healthy Habits Suck (3 stars): “So, if you’re not 90 percent sure you can accomplish your goal in the time frame you set, then change the goal. Usually I recommend setting just one 90 percent goal at a time, or two at the most. Ifyou try to do too many changes at once, even if each one is a 90 percent goal, you’re probably not meeting the 90 percent rule overall. That’s why I asked you to pick just one healthy habit to work on with this book.”

I’ve read too many books on health and food and exercise and at this point I am not sure I can get more value out of a book. There are some concepts here that were great to remember, like the 90% one above. As well as connecting actions/choices to your values. And talking about the passengers/bus analogy resonated with me. Just because the passengers can ask you to go somewhere else doesn’t mean you have to change your route. 

If you’re like me and have read a lot on this topic, I am not sure this book will give you anything new, but if you’ve only read about diets, I recommend this because it will help you think about how to become meaningfully motivated and move towards a healthier life.

with thanks to netgalley and New Harbinger for an early copy in exchange for an honest review.


Healthy As F*ck (3 stars): Ok I am going to be in the minority on this one. First of all, I am getting a bit tired of “the must use curse word in title” fad. I have nothing against cursing, I curse often, but really? I don’t understand why it’s necessary in this case. It just feels like a ploy to get attention.

Ok now that I have that done. I have nothing against this book particularly, the author was nice, funny, enthusiastic, down to earth, and relatable. Her advice is sound and makes a ton of sense. Much of it wasn’t new to me. It’s things I’ve read in many, many other books: tie it to your values, make it a habit by anchoring it to some trigger and reward, think proactively, plan for it, give yourself grace.

But here’s the deal, even as she tells you to make something a habit and not a “diet” I feel like it oversimplifies how hard this really is. She tells you not to put food in good vs bad categories but then really tells you not to eat a bunch of stuff. Developing a new habit is hard. Let alone 7 new ones she recommends. I know she knows it’s hard too and this book was very motivating. And there are several ideas I liked: one around not being hungry vs being full and the difference between pleasure and happiness. 

But in the end, besides liking her voice and tone, I didn’t really learn anything all that new from this book. If this area is new to you, I think you will love this book. It’s funny, heartfelt and no-nonsense all at once.

with gratitude to netgalley and Sourcebooks for an early copy in return for an honest review.


Don’t You Forget About Me (3 stars): I read this as I needed a break from another book I was reading that was profound but really depressing. I was quite stressed at work so I started this thinking it would be funny. Which it was. But it was also touching and profound and sweet. I felt the ending was stronger than most of the book. I wish while it was trying to be funny, it also had taken a bit more time developing each character. In the end, it did exactly what I was hoping it would do: got and kept my attention, made me laugh, and managed to also be touching.


If You Were There (3 stars): This is the story of a teenager who meets a girl and falls in love in 1994 when he’s 17. I don’t want to give too much away about the plot but it’s about what happens and how his life unfolds in response to the events from that year.

The cover says that this is a true story and it’s clear that the story is written as an homage to his past and his love for the girl. This wasn’t the best writing or dialogue I ever read but it’s clearly a work of love and it made me think about the choices I’ve made in my life, the people who mean the world to me and it made me cheer for the main character. 

I enjoyed the time I spent with this book and wish the author the best of luck. 

with gratitude to netgalley and the publisher for an advanced copy in exchange for an honest opinion.


The Swallows (3 stars): This was a fast read. I am not sure how I feel about it. While I didn’t think it made light of rape culture and the objectification of women, I still felt like there was a lot of serious subject matter here that I am not sure was handled in the way I would have liked. I wasn’t a huge fan of the revenge plot. I don’t know what I would have wanted. As I said, I am still pondering how I felt about it. Your mileage might vary.


The World We Knew (4 stars): I usually choose not to read books about World War II but I am a big fan of Alice Hoffman and her ability to weave magical realism into her stories so I decided to give this one a try. I am so glad I did. This is a heart wrenching story of a mother begging a rabbi to make a golem who can safely escort her daughter to safety. The plot, the style, the writing and the character development are fantastic and the magical realism, in my opinion, only adds to the magic and story of this book and doesn’t take anything away from the seriousness of the subject matter.


Drive your Plow over the Bones of the Dead (4 stars): This book was one of the more unusual books I’ve read this year, which is quite rare. It’s the first book I’ve read by Olga Tokarczuk so I have nothing to compare it to but this story starts pretty fast paced because of the setup. Someone is found murdered and then Yanina, the main character, is trying to figure out what happened. She is alone and an unusual character herself and has a handful of interesting friends. 

Even though the book starts like a mystery, it is not really about that. It’s about animals and nature and people’s attitudes/ways of treating them. Yanina is very passionate about nature and animals and there are some stunning descriptions in the book. There is also a lot of astrology in the book as well as references to William Blake. 

It’s hard to describe the book but I listened to it on audio and found the audio to be excellent. The atmosphere of this book is unlike anything I’ve read in a long while.

Highly recommended if you’re looking for something different.


Lifescale (4 stars): Life Scaling is a book about revisiting how you’re living your life so you can free up your time and energy to live a life that’s more aligned with your values and be happier and more fulfilled. There are a lot of references to other fantastic books/ideas and several different exercises you can do to help get started. There weren’t too many super-new-to-me ideas in this book but I liked the way it was organized, concise and actionable.


And there we go, a solid week of reading. Here’s to another great week next week.


Books I Read this Week 2019 is a year-long project for 2019. You can read more about my projects for 2019 here. I am also tracking my books in real time on Good Reads here. If you’re on Good Reads add me so I can follow you, too! I’ve also started an instagram account where I join my love of reading with my love of art.

Books I Read This Week 2019 – 43

Here are my goodreads reviews. If you’re on goodreads, add me as a friend so I can see your books too! I’ve also started an instagram account where I join my love of reading with my love of art.


Little Weirds (no rating): “In the last light of a long day, I sit on a chair on my porch and watch the sky drain colors down and out and I realize I want to hear my voice and only mine. Not the voice of my voice within a cacophony of old pains. Just mine, now.”

I am loath to ever give a book a low number of stars, especially a memoir. Books are so much work and come from a place deep in one’s soul. And who am I to judge that? And at the same time, there are books that connect with me and books that don’t. This doesn’t mean there’s anything wrong with the book, or me. It just means that at this juncture of our lives, in this moment, this book and I are not connecting. And instead of attaching a bad rating to that, I decided to give it no rating.

“I was pleased that she made sure. Because in making sure, Kathleen gave me the opportunity to say out loud to another person that I would like my old dog to have flowers stuck to his face, and when I said it out loud—that yes, I would like that—I knew it was true. Then I admired myself. What’s more, I felt tenderness about my personality and my choices for delight. I said who I was, on my land.”

I didn’t know anything about Jenny Slate before I read this book. I don’t watch the TV show she’s famous for and I had no idea what to expect from this book. It’s a most unusual style. I’d say if you don’t like magical realism, you will have a tough time with this book but I love magical realism and yet I still had a tough time. It’s maybe more on the eclectic/absurd as well as magical realism. 

“I know what I want to hear when I hear myself in this life, and I am feeling very certain that there is absolutely no good reason to ever be disrespectful, no matter how upset you are. I do not need to hear bullying voices ever again and there is no reason to ever do that sort of emotional violence to anyone.”

There were definitely beautiful and resonant moments in it. Thoughts around loneliness, belonging, and kindness. And I will remember these and leave the others.

With gratitude to netgalley and Little, Brown and Company for an advanced copy in exchange for an honest review.


The Library of Lost and Found (3.5 stars): I took this book out of the library at least five or six times before I finally sat down and read it. I have no idea why. I think I thought this was going to be much quirkier than it actually was. While the main character was a bit on the unusual side, this story is really a family story. It’s about keeping secrets, it’s about being a wife, it’s about feeling a lack of belonging and it’s about how we find ourselves constantly seeking some lost thing when we have that feeling of not belonging. Or at least, that’s what it was for me. I enjoyed it much more than I thought I was going to.


The Art of Watercolor Lettering (3.5 stars): If one could get good at something by reading books on it, my brush lettering would be incredible by now. I have read so many books on this topic that I could probably get a degree on it if it didn’t mean I had to actually do some. I wasn’t sure what new I was expecting from this book but here’s how it surprised me:

– it’s definitely a beginner book: she breaks down the letters into families so you know how to practice each set. she walks you step by step. She gives many many many practice pages at the end of the book.

– it has both variety and fun: she might have preferences in her tools. but this might be one of the first watercolor books i read that actually mentioned watercolor pencils (which is my favorite medium.) which I loved. She has fun wreath ideas, fun ways to combine paint and use brush pens, etc, too.

– it encourages practice: this was my reminder to self that without actually sitting down and practicing, it’s unlikely I will ever get good at it. To encourage this, she has many different types of practice pages that you can simply trace. 

Overall, if you love the idea of watercolor lettering and you’re a solid beginner, I recommend this one.

Thank you to netgalley and Quarto Publishing Group for an early copy in exchange for an honest review.


Rewilding (4 stars): “Go and sit by a babbling brook and focus on the sound of the water. Listen to the sound of the wind. Gaze out over the ocean and listen to the rhythm of the water. Sit by a crackling fire and smell the aroma of smoke of dry pine branches popping as they release the stored light of the sun. Place your palms on warm concrete and feel the stable earth element beneath it supporting you. Ponder a dandelion growing nobly through a crack of concrete. Society may be telling us that we need more, always more, but stop and listen to what the earth and sky are trying to tell us. Take a deep breath and empty your mind as you exhale. Look around and receive the miracle of this moment. You are enough.”

I pick a word of the year each year in an effort to look at life through the lens of that word. My word for 2020 will be “wild” so when I saw this book, I knew it would be a great foray into embracing my word. 

And I was not disappointed.

This book is connecting back with nature in a slow, thoughtful, and mindful way. It has meditations, some history of when we used to be connected to the earth so much more, some recommendations on how to be more ready for being in the wild (like building a fire, etc.) and some really small, easy things you can do to reconnect purposefully. 

People say that what we’re all seeking a meaning for life. I don’t think that’s what we’re really seeking. I think that what we’re seeking is an experience of being alive, so that our life experiences on the purely physical plane will have resonance with our own innermost being and reality, so that we actually feel the rapture of being alive. Joseph Campbell

More than any one section, what spoke to me is the sentiment of the book and the way it made me feel. As I was reading, I could almost smell, hear and feel the outdoors. I was itching to sink my feet into the earth and feel the breeze on my face. I made several notes of the guidebooks I want to get, survival skills I want to learn, and most importantly to find a way to connect with nature every single day. 

I can already feel the invitation of the wild and the calmness it always creates in me. I look forward to reading this book again and again throughout 2020 as I embrace my word and nature.

with gratitude to netgalley and Sounds True for an early copy in exchange for an honest review.


Royal Holiday (3.5 stars): Jasmine Guillory books are never not fun. While I thought the last one in the series was not as awesome as the previous ones, I enjoyed this one a lot more. I read the whole book in one sitting, enjoyed both the royal setting and Vivian and Malcolm as characters. It was fun to read a romance story about older characters for a change. I liked the character development, the side plots with the nephew and daughter and just found myself enjoying the story. And how can you go wrong with a holiday theme?


The Chain (3 stars): The reviews of this book scared me. Did I really want to read a book on parents chain kidnapping other parents’ kids? Yikes. I waited for several months before I finally decided yesterday that I was in the mood for something fast paced and crazy. And so I grabbed this one. It was fast paced and it was crazy. I feel the beginning was stronger than the end. It kind of all became not interesting to me by the end but I did like that it fully wrapped up. I think while the execution was pretty good, too, this is one of those books where the plot idea is one you won’t forget.


The Future of Another Timeline (3.5 stars): What an unusual novel. I really enjoyed this story and the way the plot went back and forth. It would have been 100% my cup of tea except for some of the pacing and character development which I felt was too slow and too shallow. The book was too long with too much going on. I know the author did a lot of research and I really enjoyed the real-life connections but even if she had simplified it a bunch it would have made for a very interesting novel without some of the noise. Even with all that, I really enjoyed my time with it and I am very glad I read it.


And there we go, a solid week of reading. Here’s to another great week next week.


Books I Read this Week 2019 is a year-long project for 2019. You can read more about my projects for 2019 here. I am also tracking my books in real time on Good Reads here. If you’re on Good Reads add me so I can follow you, too! I’ve also started an instagram account where I join my love of reading with my love of art.

Books I Read This Week 2019 – 42

Here are my goodreads reviews. If you’re on goodreads, add me as a friend so I can see your books too! I’ve also started an instagram account where I join my love of reading with my love of art.


Nothing to See Here (4 stars): “How else would we protect ourselves?” she asked.
“I don’t know,” I answered. How did people protect themselves? How did anyone keep this world from ruining them? I wanted to know. I wanted to know so bad.

The blurb of this book is not typical and I am not sure what drew me to it but I am so glad I read it. Even though this book sounds like it’s about two kids who light on fire, the fire itself is such a small part of the overall story. It’s really about parenting, family, friendship, neglect, and belonging.

“She was holding it in her hands, cupped together. It looked like what love must look like, just barely there, so easy to extinguish.”

I am not usually a fan of dark humor but in this case, I think it was beautifully done and added a tiny bit of lightness into this story which at its core is actually a very sad story. If you’re looking for a funny, clever story about kids who spontaneously burst into flames, this is not your story. 

If you’re looking for a touching story about belonging and family with bits of dark humor sprinkled in about politics and wealth, this is your story.

I loved reading it.

With gratitude to netgalley and HarperCollins Publishers for an early copy in exchange for an honest review.


Well Met (3 stars): This was a really fast, sweet read. I could tell what was going to happen from about page 1 so I found parts of the characters behaviors irritating. But if you’re in the mood for a predictably sweet romance without too much heat, this one is perfectly fine.


Little Faith (4 stars): A beautifully told story of a family whose daughter falls in with a church that feels more like a zealot cult. The details in this story are so visual and beautiful. I loved each of the characters, telling this very emotional story in a quiet way. My favorite definitely was Lyle’s best friend and watching the relationship between Lyle and Isaac. Since the story is told from Lyle’s perspective, IMHO we don’t get to see Shiloh’s perspective as much as I wish we did. But the feeling of helplessness and trying so hard to balance the love you have for your daughter while really disagreeing with her choices was so vivid, so visceral that it’s hard not to feel it alongside Lyle. 

I loved all the descriptive writing, the rich character development, and the quiet but strong emotional tug of this story. Really well-done.


Red at the Bone (4 stars): Woodson is the master of the short and poignant novel. She is fantastic at bringing together a cast of characters and telling enough details in just the right way so the characters are now 3-dimensional and you are attached to them. She’s the master of beautiful writing. This particular story was wonderful and I also felt like it spoke to so many issues in such a short space. Feminism, motherhood, racism, love and so so much sadness in one small book. 

I loved finding about each of the backstories of each of the characters and the impact of the one decision one teenager makes on all of their lives. Another wonderful novel by Woodson.


Broken Man on a Halifax Pier (3.5 stars): “I realized there was no such thing as a life without consequences. Every little thing—or big thing—you do in life sends out ripples in the pond that keep getting wider and wider.”

Reading this novel was an interesting journey. The two main characters meet on a Pier on a random night and end up having a meal together. The dialogue is unusual in that it’s almost immediately witty and they are quoting literature/poetry at each other which was amusing and also annoying at the same time. The interesting part is that this doesn’t really continue throughout the novel all that much.

The characters, Ramona and Charles, meet and immediately hit it off and then decide to do an impromptu drive to Charles’ hometown which he hasn’t been to in a long, long time. This starts off a chain of events that add complications to both of the characters’ lives. The issues get serious very quickly and the two characters get enmeshed in each others’ lives. 

While the story was engaging and I kept wanting to read it, I did feel like the emotional intensity required to so heavily and fully invest into another person whom you just met (especially when in the context of some of these very serious issues) was not really clear in the story. It always felt a bit distant. We didn’t get to see the depth in any of the characters and understand their motivation for continuing to get/stay engaged in each others complex lives.

Having said that, I really did enjoy the story and enjoyed some of the secondary characters like Jack and BethAnn and the story continued to be engaging and worthwhile. The writing was engaging and it was a great story about second chances, small towns, people looking out for each other. 

With gratitude to netgalley and Dundurn for an early copy in exchange for an honest review.


The Water Dancer (3 stars): I had a mixed relationship with this book. I loved the writing, the magical realism and the story was very powerful. I wasn’t able to stay fully engaged throughout the story and found certain bits really interesting and other bits didn’t seem as much so I found myself flowing in and out of the story. Overall, I am really glad I read it and the writing alone was worth every minute I spent on it.


Living Beautifully (5 stars): “We don’t sit in meditation to become good meditators. We sit in meditation so that we’ll be more awake in our lives. Everything that occurs is not only usable and workable but is actually the path itself. We can use everything that happens to us as the means for waking up.”

This beautiful journal is full of meaningful quotes from one of my favorite writers. Her words of wisdom are always so simple and yet so profound. A constant reminder that we are whole just as we are and the goal is not to change who we are.

“Don’t worry about achieving. Don’t worry about perfection. Just be there each moment as best you can.”

The simplest advice/reminder is always the hardest to follow in my opinion and Chodron’s words are just like that: deceptively easy looking.

“Meditation practice isn’t about trying to throw ourselves away and become something better. It’s about befriending who we are already.”

The idea of befriending who we are already is both so profound and so simple and so, so hard.

“Whether we’re conscious of it or not, the ground is always shifting. Nothing lasts, including us. It’s up to you how to use your life. Maybe the most important teaching is to lighten up and relax.”

This journal is full of quotes like this one. If, like me, you need regular reminders of these simple and yet so, so profound words, you will love this journal.

With gratitude to edelweiss and penguin publishing group for an advanced copy in exchange for an honest review.


And there we go, a solid week of reading. Here’s to another great week next week.


Books I Read this Week 2019 is a year-long project for 2019. You can read more about my projects for 2019 here. I am also tracking my books in real time on Good Reads here. If you’re on Good Reads add me so I can follow you, too! I’ve also started an instagram account where I join my love of reading with my love of art.

Books I Read This Week 2019 – 41

Here are my goodreads reviews. If you’re on goodreads, add me as a friend so I can see your books too! I’ve also started an instagram account where I join my love of reading with my love of art.


Emergency Skin (4 stars): “Sometimes that’s all it takes to save a world, you see. A new vision. A new way of thinking, appearing at just the right time.”

This book is a super fast read and reasonably simple to follow. It’s one of the Forward series books based off of an idea Blake Crouch had where he then recruited writers to write their own versions. N. K. Jemisin’s story packs several ideas around sexism, socialism, racism and more into a simple, upbeat-feeling story. It’s so short that I’d recommend you just read the story instead of reading reviews about it.


Summer Frost (4 stars): “Because you saw Max for the first time in the form of a corporately mandated idea of what a perfect woman should be—beautiful and expendable.”

This was my second read from the Forward series. I have enjoyed every Blake Crouch book I’ve read and this was no exception. This short, simple story is full of complex ideas around good and evil, future of technology, identity, artificial intelligence and more. The pacing is super fast in the beginning and slows down a bit in the middle and then picks up again at the end. There are some twists. It’s fast, it’s interesting, it’s enjoyable and it blows your mind a bit. Signature Blake Crouch.


The Whisper Man (3.5 stars): This book gets very strong positive reviews from lots of people, so it had been on my list for some time. I don’t usually enjoy creepy novels but I decided to tackle this and in the end, for me, it was just so-so. I did like how character-driven the story was. It’s rare for mystery stories to be character driven and I enjoyed that a lot. I also enjoyed how flawed, complex and textured each of the male characters was (albeit the female ones were not quite as three-dimensional.) I did like the story but maybe because I listened to it on audio, the creepiness factor wasn’t there enough for me to make this book stand out in any particular way. I definitely appear to be the anomaly, however, so I’d ignore my review 🙂


Fleishman is in Trouble (4 stars): I have so many thoughts about this novel that I don’t even know where to begin. The novel starts with the story of a newly separated Fleishman and at first you think it’s going to be all about how he is trying to put himself out there again and get laid. There are a lot of sexual details that, for me, was the original reason I put this book down the first time I tried to read it. I felt that I didn’t really need to read a book about a man in his mid-life crisis. I’m not a big fan of that type of funny either. But, my friend Lauren really liked and recommended it, so I picked it up again and kept reading. 

And it got so much better. And sadder. 

I will say that the book goes on a bit longer than I think is necessary, I was a lot more engaged and interested when the story turned to their past and how the marriage unraveled. And maybe not surprisingly, it got so much stronger when we finally get to hear the wife’s perspective. It was such a profound shift that it’s almost like Lauren Groff’s Fates and Furies where once you hear the story from the other character’s perspective, your whole experience changes. That’s how it felt to me. And there were enough things that hit so close to home that I couldn’t help but mourn. 

Even though at its core, it’s about marriage, this book is really about being a woman, a mother, a wife and tackles concepts around ambition, success, aging, and the complexity and impossibility of balancing/managing all of these while being a woman.

There’s so much here. I am glad I gave this book another chance. But, I think I also will be sad for a while thanks to the truths it tells.


Winners Take All (4 stars): There’s so much I can say about this book but honestly I am still forming my own thoughts. There’s so many layers of this book that touches my own history and my own present. I don’t think the book is perfect, I am not even sure it’s a fully formed hypothesis but I do think that it’s highlighting something important. I am glad I read it and I will be thinking about it for a long time. For me, that’s all that I ask of a non-fiction book. I already have and will continue to recommend this to many people I know.


There You Are (5 stars): “There’s no way for me to separate myself from my brother and no way to separate Francis from, I don’t know being Francis. Do you understand?”
“I think so,” Mina Said.
“I know it sounds crazy, but before I can even know what I, Octavian, want, I have to be sure that Francis is going to be alright first.:
“I understand,” she said.
“How?”
Mina took a deep breath. “Because that’s how I feel about you sometimes.”

I loved every bit of this book. There’s so much that’s special about it. It’s about Octavian and Mina who meet when they are 5 and become friends but then they go to separate schools and lose touch and then come together again as teenagers, both working in a record store. 

The novel follows their lives, going back and forth in time and jumping around to also show Octavian’s father’s perspective and the record store owner’s (Bones) who might have been one of my very favorite characters. In fact, the handful of chapters that are his backstory might be my favorite where I was so delighted, I laughed out loud.

The characters in this story are so well developed, so three dimensional, so layered and textured and real that it’s not possible to not get invested in all of them. The music store as a setting is absolutely perfect and such a great place for all these young people to come together and form relationships of a lifetime. 

There is a lot about racism in this book but no new revelations or lesson, more about the role it plays in the characters’ lives in all sorts of ways that feel real and remind the reader about how far we have not come without being preachy at all. There’s a profound-to-me section where Octavian’s dad is still trying to be respectful and let his neighbor’s feelings matter more than his about a racially charged event and it just made me realize how much I still have to learn and how far we all still have to go. The story made me think and wince and highlighted how there’s still so much to do. It’s so beautifully woven into the story, feels so authentic to the characters. 

“…but as he wrapped her in his arms, he felt a gathering of pieces of himself that had scattered since the time when he hadn’t known pain so intimately. He pressed them together into his own box of memories and closed the lid.”

This book is not just about race, it’s about family, love, friendship, being young, belonging, and so much more. Race is a layer across all of it since it’s a big part of the character’s experiences as they move through life. The loyalty and responsibility Octavian feels to his brother. The love he and Mina have for each other and how love of that magnitude is often complicated.

“She wasn’t sure she had the energy to manage the life she had created.”

I will repeat that I loved every bit of this book. The characters, the setting, the writing, it was all beautifully done. Highly recommended.

With gratitude to netgalley and Amberjack Publishing for an early copy in exchange for an honest review.


Nothing To See Here (4 stars): “How else would we protect ourselves?” she asked.
“I don’t know,” I answered. How did people protect themselves? How did anyone keep this world from ruining them? I wanted to know. I wanted to know so bad.

The blurb of this book is not typical and I am not sure what drew me to it but I am so glad I read it. Even though this book sounds like it’s about two kids who light on fire, the fire itself is such a small part of the overall story. It’s really about parenting, family, friendship, neglect, and belonging.

“She was holding it in her hands, cupped together. It looked like what love must look like, just barely there, so easy to extinguish.”

I am not usually a fan of dark humor but in this case, I think it was beautifully done and added a tiny bit of lightness into this story which at its core is actually a very sad story. If you’re looking for a funny, clever story about kids who spontaneously burst into flames, this is not your story. 

If you’re looking for a touching story about belonging and family with bits of dark humor sprinkled in about politics and wealth, this is your story.

I loved reading it.

With gratitude to netgalley and HarperCollins Publishers for an early copy in exchange for an honest review.


The Memory Police (3.5 stars): One of the reasons I really enjoy reading Japanese fiction is that I find the stories are very different from what I usually read which I love. This was no exception. A really unusual story that emphasizes the importance of memories and how we forget things and move on easily. It has an Orwellian tone to it and it’s absurd in places but it’s laced with a quietness and love that kept drawing me to the story and if you, like me, really enjoy unusual stories, add this one to your list.


And there we go, a solid week of reading. Here’s to another great week next week.


Books I Read this Week 2019 is a year-long project for 2019. You can read more about my projects for 2019 here. I am also tracking my books in real time on Good Reads here. If you’re on Good Reads add me so I can follow you, too! I’ve also started an instagram account where I join my love of reading with my love of art.

Books I Read This Week 2019 – 40

Here are my goodreads reviews. If you’re on goodreads, add me as a friend so I can see your books too! I’ve also started an instagram account where I join my love of reading with my love of art.


Inspired Artist: Draw Every Little Thing (3.5 stars): This sweet book has creative prompts and drawing exercises for things around the home, outside, everyday life, and around town. it also has some lovely crafting projects. If you’re brand new to drawing and want to look for inspiration, this is a sweet book that you can flip through and read whichever section speaks most to you. It has a few steps for how to draw things but I think it’s too hard for a true beginner to make the leaps in between each step.

If you’re more advanced, you can also use this book for inspiration but it might seem a bit too basic for you. I fall somewhere in between and while I really enjoyed my time with this book, I don’t think there was a major take away for me. There were 1-2 wonderful ideas in the book that I would like to try which is enough to make me happy that I read this book. Not to mention a few hours of lovely inspiration.

thank you to netgalley and Quarto Publishing Group for an advanced copy in exchange for an honest review.


Grace Year (4 stars): “I wonder what would happen if we all said what we really felt…just for one night. They couldn’t banish us all. If we stood together, they’d have to listen. But with rumors swirling about a usurper among us, no one is willing to take that risk. Not even me.

I read this book in one day, in pretty much one sitting. I have read so many YA dystopia novels about 5-6 years ago when they were all the rage that I am not even a fan of dystopia anymore so I am not sure what compelled me to request this book to begin with. But I am glad I did. Usually I don’t agree with the comparisons they make in the book blurbs but I think calling this a mix of “Lord of the Flies” and “Handmaid’s Tale” is pretty spot on. Especially the first one. This might be the closest to an all-girls version of “Lord of the Flies” I’ve ever read. 

“The things we do to girls. Whether we put them on pedestals only to tear them down, or use them for parts and holes, we’re all complicit in this. But everything touches everything else, and I have to believe that some good will come out of all this destruction.”

In the end though, this book is a feminist book. It is about the power of women. It is about how the world, and the men in this book, try to break the women. Try to pit them against each other at all costs. It’s about how both love and betrayal can come from unexpected sources.

“There’s a place inside us where they can’t reach us, they can’t see. What burns in you burns in all of us.” 

It’s about survival. About not losing hope. Not letting yourself be broken. It’s a powerful book that made me feel angry, dejected, hopeful and proud all at once. I am glad I read it and I am glad it’s out there.

Thank you to netgalley and St. Martin’s Press for an early copy in exchange for an honest review.


The Box, the Mole, the Fox, and the Horse (5 stars): “We often wait for kindness, but being kind to yourself can start now, ” said the mole.

This very short story is a pure delight. The story is about the magic of friendship and beautiful, vulnerable conversations we have when we have close, supportive friendships.

“Sometimes I worry you’ll all realise I’m ordinary,” said the boy. “love doesn’t need you to be extraordinary.” said the mole. 

The drawings are incredible and add so much layer and texture to these beautiful words that the friends share.

“The greatest illusion,” said the mole, “is that life should be perfect.”

And it’s all such a good reminder of the beauty of life, the joy of belonging and the gratitude of friendships.

“Is your glass half empty or half full?” asked the mole. “I think I’m grateful to have a glass,” said the boy. 

With gratitude to edelweiss and HarperOne for an advanced copy in exchange for an honest review.


A Mindful Year (3.5 stars): This book is structured in a way that encourages daily reading of 1-2 paragraphs on a concept/idea/thought/encouragement. Each day starts with a quote and then an example/story relating to the quote/idea and then a small encouragement of something the reader can try out or think about in this same area. Here’s one example:

“Today why not feast on life? Once we’re gone this world will go on without us in almost exactly the same way, just as it did before we arrived. Feel what it’s like today to fully inhabit this life. This is your time.”

There are bits and pieces from research, from famous writers, from inspirational quotes, etc. 

“Research has shown that we’re prone to “hindsight bias,” meaning we factor our current knowledge into decisions made in the past.”

There are many invitations to reflect, to look back, to set goals, to be in the present.

“What have I learned about myself? In what ways have I changed? What will I miss about this chapter in my life? What will I be glad to leave behind? What will I take with me?” 

If you’ve read extensively, like I have, none of these are thoughts you never heard before. And they are all reminders I appreciate regularly. so, for me, this is a perfect bedside companion to start every morning with and end each day with. 1-2 minutes to help make myself more mindful is a precious gift. 

thank you to NetGalley and the publisher Blackstone Publishing for an advanced copy in exchange for an honest review.


How To (4.5 stars): How can you go wrong with a Randall Munroe book? You can’t. We listened to this book read by Will Wheaton during a car trip as a family. Yes, I know this book is meant to be read since it’s full of Munroe’s excellent drawings but we were stuck in the car and I didn’t want to wait one more moment to read the book. So we listened and it was excellent! Now we go back and reread so we can enjoy all the excellent drawings, too. 

I deeply appreciate someone like Munroe who can make science both fun and interesting to kids and adults alike. So grateful.


Nature Tonic (4 stars): “The thing with humans is that we systematically underestimate how good nature makes us feel, while at the same time, we overestimate how good we feel when indoors. Scientists call these flaws in our predictions “forecasting errors.” The problem is that we base our actions on these flawed forecasting skills. We choose comfort, only for it to make us feel bored in the end.”

I picked this book because it has the three things I love: art, mindfulness and nature. One of my goals for 2020 is to be out in nature even more and I thought this book would be the perfect encouragement. I was not disappointed. 

This book has 365 bits spread over 12 sections and each bit consists of a fact, an encouragement, an invitation to draw or reflect or go out into the world. The sections range from “in the forest” to “the life aquatic” and “traveling and tramping.” It’s all about being outdoors in nature in all the ways you can.

I really liked all the information and all the encouragement in this book. I plan to keep it close to remind myself why I am choosing to get off the couch and spend my time outdoors. 

thank you to netgalley and Quarto Publishing Group for an advanced copy in exchange for an honest review.


Twice in a Blue Moon (4 stars): When I started this novel I knew that there was a high chance I was going to have to clear out my day because many of the Christina Lauren novels have been books I can’t put down once I start. 

And this was no exception. 

I pretty much read it from beginning to end in one spot in one day. Their ability to bring characters to life and have the reader empathize and root for them and cheer them on in unparalleled. Their books always seem to have the sweet romance that has strong chemistry between the characters. This book’s first section has the characters at a considerably younger age than other books I’ve read by them (18 & 21) which I think sets the tone a bit for the novel. Even after almost 20 years, the characters still don’t develop the more typical slightly snarky tone some of their novels have.

Which, for some, might have been a loss, but for me felt just right.

I loved the extra texture in the novel around trust, family, support, vulnerability. I also loved Luther and Roberta’s story and how that layered here with small glimpses into some of the racism of the time. It did not at all address the issues around racism or feminist thinking or even really the drug/sex issues in the movie industry from the past. There are a bunch of mentions but no real depth in any of them.

At its core these novels are always about the romance, the redemption, the forgiveness and self-journey and this one was no different. I knew what to expect and it didn’t disappoint. If you’re a fan, I think you will enjoy this one.

??Thanks to NetGalley and Simon and Schuster for an advance copy in exchange for an honest review.


A Pure Heart (3 stars): Sometimes a novel comes at the wrong time and maybe the right thing to do then is to stop reading and wait for when it’s the right time which is probably what I should have done with A Pure Heart. This thoughtful novel of two sisters who grew up in Egypt and took very different paths and were both filled with grief and guilt in their own way was a very interesting read that just didn’t keep my attention for long enough for me to really fall into the story. And this was not a story you want to be in the periphery of, it’s deep and sad and textured. It’s talking about how people are and life is complicated. And how things aren’t as black and white as they seem. I could tell it could have been a profound story but it just wasn’t for me at this time.


And there we go, a great week of reading. Here’s to another great week next week.


Books I Read this Week 2019 is a year-long project for 2019. You can read more about my projects for 2019 here. I am also tracking my books in real time on Good Reads here. If you’re on Good Reads add me so I can follow you, too! I’ve also started an instagram account where I join my love of reading with my love of art.

Books I Read This Week 2019 – 39

Thanks to a lot of flights I read a lot this week. Here are my goodreads reviews. If you’re on goodreads, add me as a friend so I can see your books too! I’ve also started an instagram account where I join my love of reading with my love of art.


The Testaments (4 stars): I read The Handmaid’s Tale a handful of years ago. Long enough that I don’t remember the details of the plot, recent enough that I remember the impact it had on me. As a fan of Atwood, I couldn’t wait to see what she decided to do with a story as influential as this one. It’s hard to follow a book that has had so much of an impact on so many people. I was worried it would be didactic. I was worried it would be flimsy. I was worried it wouldn’t live up to the hype. I also was worried that since I never watched the TV series, there might be some plot line that I couldn’t follow.

As it worked out, I didn’t need to worry, for a multitude of reasons. This book, in my opinion, doesn’t even try to be influential. If you are reading it to see if it will be a similar experience as reading the first one, you will be sorely disappointed. It’s not didactic, mostly because it’s not really trying to make a point. It’s not flimsy, most especially because of Aunt Lydia’s perspective. As for the hype, well it’s unclear if it did live to the hype or not.

Atwood is a good writer so the book is written well. There are three perspectives. Aunt Lydia, a girl in Gilead, and one in Canada. There are some twists but not super shocking, in my opinion. And the two girls mostly serve as a way to move the plot forward and as a way to deliver much of the setting but not more than that. Their perspectives aren’t all that interesting. 

It will not be a book I’ll remember forever. It’s the kind of book a fan of the first novel would enjoy if you wished you knew more about how Gilead came to be. I am still glad I read it. I especially enjoyed Aunt Lydia’s perspective.


Talking to Strangers (4 stars): “We think we can easily see into the hearts of others based on the flimsiest of clues. We jump at the chance to judge strangers. We would never do that to ourselves, of course. We are nuanced and complex and enigmatic. But the stranger is easy. If I can convince you of one thing in this book, let it be this: Strangers are not easy.”

I have so many thoughts about this book. I’ve been a Gladwell fan since his first book and have read every single book he’s written. I like his anecdotal style of writing. I like that he likes to peak your curiosity and engages the reader quite easily and that he can take a complicated subject and make it simple enough for an ordinary person like me to digest. 

Alas, in this case, this is exactly what annoyed me. 

First of all, this book should come with many trigger warnings. It tackles difficult and complicated subjects like racism, police shootings, rape, child molestation, and Hitler. Any one of these topics, in my opinion, is too nuanced and textured, and complicated for a Gladwell-like book, and when all are in there, it’s enough for me to cringe and want to put the book down.

And so, maybe it makes no sense that I would rate this book as four stars. But alas, Gladwell’s book also does a lot of what he’s setting out to do: show you a big hole in our society and a glaring mistake in the way we read and communicate with other people. The way we assume things about them. How assuming only the best causes so much harm in some cases, and always assuming the worst is also no way to live. People are complicated and there always more than one thing going on. And that we often don’t know all the factors that culminate in a particular situation.

As always his story telling is great, his topic is fascinating, and he expands my thinking and makes me more curious about life. Any book that impacts my thinking this much, is a worthwhile book. I just wish his examples had been different. He makes wide generalizations so that his stories can fit under the “Talking to Strangers” category and there are many examples in the book where I don’t agree with him. But the overall point he’s making, I do agree with that. As with all of his books, it made me look at the world slightly differently. It made me ask more questions and notice more of my assumptions. And that is always a good thing.


The Art of Loneliness (4.5 stars): I loved this book. This is the story of three siblings who lose their parents at a tragic car accident at a young age and then live with the grief of that loss. They weave in and out of each others’ lives throughout the story but so much of their life is shaped by that loss. There’s a lot of grief but also a lot of hope. About how life moves on and you end up okay for the most part. There is a lot of introspection and this reads like a quiet story but it impacts the reader greatly. I really really enjoyed this character-driven story.


The Miracles of the Namiya General Store (4.5 stars): “Compare the people who write to me as lost, astray. In most cases, they have a map but just won’t look at it, or don’t know how to find their own location.”

What a delightful story. I have no idea how to review this story. Basically, three bandits find a run down convenience store as a hideaway. When a letter comes through the mail slot asking for advice, they realize this store’s owner used to give advice in the past when it was still running. So they decide to test it out. The story then twists and turns in each chapter coming all back together almost like a Mobius strip. You cant help but smile in the end.

There’s time travel, history, and some fun plot twists in this story. I found the translation to be a bit odd at times but since I didn’t read it in its original language I can’t tell if that was stylistic choice or just poor translation. It’s a reasonably simplistic story and not a giant amount of character development but some. 

The idea is so novel that I was delighted just on that alone. If unusual novels are your thing I think you will enjoy this one. I did.

Huge thanks to netgalley and Yen Press for an advanced copy in return for an honest review.


Dominicana (4 stars): I loved this book. This story is about fifteen year-old Ana who moves from the Dominic Republic to New York when she marries Juan. Her life in New York is very constrained and she’s in an abusive relationship. There’s a brief period where Juan returns back and she gets to live a life where she’s taking English lessons, selling things, and dancing and gets a glimpse of the life she could be having. Her yearning and pain both come across so acutely that the reader can almost feel it first hand. And then Juan comes back and she’s right back to where she was, having to choose between personal happiness and family obligations. It is a well-written, thoughtful both funny and sad. A real joy to read.


The Dearly Beloved (4.5 stars): I loved this book. It’s the story of two couples where the husbands are co-stewards to the historic Third Presbyterian Church during a turbulent time. The couples themselves are complex characters and in complex relationships and then their friendship with each other is also layered and textured and complex. And then they go through trials and tribulations as they expand their families that adds yet more layers of complexity. It’s such a wonderful representation of real life in its joys, sorrows, celebrations, angst, frustrations and deep deep losses. Four rich characters make this novel a delight to read, especially if, like me, you cherish character-driven novels. Love love love.


Family of Origin (3.5 stars): I started and finished this novel during an international flight from London to SFO. It was the perfect flight novel because it’s both complicated and simple. It’s both surprising and engaging. It’s about two half-siblings who travel to an island where their dad has drowned. The story goes back and forth between the present and the past, laying the narration of how the kids grew up and how their relationship broke with each other and with the parent. There are very funny moments and also some triggery content in this book. The author does a good job staying in character for both of the characters and bringing the story to a close without being preachy or unrealistic. It’s about destruction of relationships and rebuilding of them. It’s about seeking redemption and attention. It’s about human things. I will say the major plot surprise was not welcome for me and I couldn’t get past it even though I understand why the author chose it, so be warned.


10 Minutes 38 Seconds in this Strange World (4 stars): “Sometimes where you feel most safe is where you least belong”

Even though I am Turkish, this is the first Elif Shafak book I’ve read. I had read the blurb and knew it took place during the last 10 minutes as a whore lay dying. The premise seemed interesting but I had no idea what to expect. 

“Years later, she would come to think of this moment as the first time she realized that things were not always what they seemed. Just as the sour could hide beneath the sweet, or vide versa, within every sane mind, there was a trace of insanity, and within the depths of madness glimmered a sense of lucidity.”

As it worked out, this was an excellent story of the journey the main character, Leila, takes growing up in Van with a devout dad married to two women and her journey from there to Istanbul where she ends up having a terrible life (as she was trying to run away from another terrible one.)

“Everyone seemed a little lost, vulnerable and unsure of themselves, whether they were educated or not, modern or not, Eastern or not. grown up or a child. That’s what he reckoned, this boy. He, for one, always felt more comfortable next to people who weren’t perfect in any way.”

She makes some amazing friends along the way and the book also shares the background of each of these characters and the power of friendships to create tighter bonds than family. 

“‘It’s a serious thing to believe in someone,’ she said. …. ‘You can’t just say it like that, It’s a big commitment to believe.'”

There is a lot of history in this book that takes place mostly in the background and sometimes in the foreground. A lot of moments of grief and horror with some moments of joy. Throughout the book Leila continues to be an amazingly rich character to follow where you root for her even as you know she’s going to die. 

“We must do what we can to mend our lives, and we owe that to ourselves – but we need to be careful not to break others while achieving that.”

I loved every bit of this harrowing story and am really glad I read it. I look forward to reading more of her work.

With thanks to netgalley and Bloomsbury Publishing for an advanced copy in exchange for an honest review.


The Art of Loneliness (4.5 stars): I loved this book. This is the story of three siblings who lose their parents at a tragic car accident at a young age and then live with the grief of that loss. They weave in and out of each others’ lives throughout the story but so much of their life is shaped by that loss. There’s a lot of grief but also a lot of hope. About how life moves on and you end up okay for the most part. There is a lot of introspection and this reads like a quiet story but it impacts the reader greatly. I really really enjoyed this character-driven story.


Read this if you want to be Great at Drawing People (4 stars): I have always had a lot of trouble drawing people. People are complex to draw on so many levels: proportions, perspective, expressions, depth, texture, movement. I can go on and on. It’s very easy for someone to look at a drawing of a person and tell when it’s off. Intuitively we have a sense for how it should look even if we don’t know how to draw. 

So I was really looking forward to what I could learn from this book and it did not disappoint. It has multiple sections including:
– Starting Out
– Accuracy
– Composition
– Tone
– Lighting 
– Individuality 
– Approach

Each section has about 6-8 examples of how to approach that topic. I especially liked the Starting Out section because it has tangible exercises for me to try in short bursts of time. The whole book is broken down in very easy ways that feel very doable. There is a wide array of examples so you don’t have one right answer on how to draw people. You can pick one that resonates with you the most and give it a try.

Like all art books, there’s no magic the book can provide that suddenly makes you great at drawing people. Only practice can do that. But this book gives you several approaches so that you can find a way to start tackling it and enjoy practicing.

thank you to netgalley and Laurence King Publishing for my advanced copy in exchange for an honest review.


And there we go, a great week of reading. Here’s to another great week next week.


Books I Read this Week 2019 is a year-long project for 2019. You can read more about my projects for 2019 here. I am also tracking my books in real time on Good Reads here. If you’re on Good Reads add me so I can follow you, too! I’ve also started an instagram account where I join my love of reading with my love of art.

Books I Read This Week 2019 – 38

Very few books this week. It was a long, long week. Here are my goodreads reviews. If you’re on goodreads, add me as a friend so I can see your books too! I’ve also started an instagram account where I join my love of reading with my love of art.


The Practicing Mind (4 stars): “Habits are learned. Choose them wisely.” 

I’ve highlighted so much of this book. I picked this book up because someone at work recommended it to me and even though it’s a tiny book, it took me a while to read it because I knew pretty much right away that this is one of those books that I need to read slowly to keep reminding myself of what I know to be true but can’t seem to remember when it matters.

“….life itself is nothing more than one long practice session, an endless effort to refine the motions, both physical and mental, that compose our days.”

isn’t that a wonderful perspective? If life were a practice session and there was no end goal, we could focus on the present moment so much more.

“… the practicing mind is quiet. It lives in the present and has laser-like, pinpoint focus and accuracy. It obeys our precise directions, and all our energy moves through it. Because of this, we are calm and completely free of anxiety. We are where we should be at that moment, doing what we should be doing and completely aware of what we are experiencing. There is no wasted motion, physically or mentally.”

I have experienced this before and it’s magical. Being in the present moment, and focusing on what matters most right now is an incredible feeling. 

“You cannot control what you are not aware of. Awareness must come first.”

This is the biggest truth for me. There’s a whole section in the book about observing yourself. Seeing what you do/think and correcting it. If you don’t pay attention, if you’re not aware, nothing else matters because you’ve missed step 1.

“When you focus your mind on the present moment, on the process of what you are doing right now, you are always where you want to be and where you should be. All your energy goes into what you are doing. However, when you focus your mind on where you want to end up, you are never where you are, and you exhaust your energy with unrelated thoughts instead of putting it into what you are doing. In order to focus on the present, we must give up, at least temporarily, our attachment to our desired goal. If we don’t give up our attachment to the goal, we cannot be in the present because we are thinking about something that hasn’t occurred yet: the goal.”

I love this. I wish I could do this more and better. Let’s say I am still practicing getting better at this.

“The problem with patience and discipline is that developing each of them requires both of them.”

Ain’t that the truth. 

“Regardless of the stage of growth and evolution you are in, in every moment you are perfect at being who you are.”

And this is the best part for me. Because it’s also the truth. We are each constantly evolving and growing and changing. And we are also each perfect at being who we are. I love the idea of adopting the practicing mind and being better at observing and correcting myself so I can continue to focus on the practice and not the goal. 

It’s going to require daily practice and discipline.


The Turn of the Key (3 stars): This was a perfectly satisfactory thriller. I have read several books by Ware and haven’t always loved them so I wasn’t jumping to read this one but I was in the mood for a thriller and this was next up in my queue. I ended up really enjoying it. The “haunted” parts of the book were actually more interesting and chilling than the mystery itself and by the time the reveal happened I had guessed a bunch of the book. (Though I hadn’t guessed the killer, even though it was pretty obvious in retrospect.) There also were bits of the story that didn’t wrap up that I wished had. But overall it was a satisfying and quick read.


A Bend in the Stars (4 stars): I usually try not to read novels set around WWII but this particular story takes place during WWI-era Russia and the ratings were so high that I decided I had to give it a try. I am so glad I did. It was a great story mixing history with science and feminism and romance and highlights the complexities around being a woman (especially in science) and being Jewish and highlights all the complexity and hatred during this time. It was a beautiful, at times harrowing, at times uplifting story to read. I also really loved that it centered around a real solar eclipse in 1914. I really enjoyed reading this one and recommend it to fans of historical fiction.


And there we go, an ok week of reading. Here’s to a great week next week.


Books I Read this Week 2019 is a year-long project for 2019. You can read more about my projects for 2019 here. I am also tracking my books in real time on Good Reads here. If you’re on Good Reads add me so I can follow you, too! I’ve also started an instagram account where I join my love of reading with my love of art.

Books I Read This Week 2019 – 37

Here are my goodreads reviews. If you’re on goodreads, add me as a friend so I can see your books too! I’ve also started an instagram account where I join my love of reading with my love of art.


We Are All Good People Here (3 stars): So much happens in this book. It is the story of two women who meet in college in the early 1960s. It follows their lives all the way to when they have kids of their own, and the kids’ lives, too. There are a lot of issues the book addresses including racism, anti-semitism, anti-war (Vietnam) and feminism. The women weave in an out of each others’ lives for a while but then end up back together like when they were young, though not close in the same way. I enjoyed the wide range of historical times covered in this book and liked the characters but didn’t connect with it as much as I usually do with stories that go over such a long period of time like this one did. Liked it but didn’t love it.


Say Say Say (3 stars): Say Say Say is the story of a caregiver named Ella. While the book has many musings about relationships and grief and loss. Overall, I didn’t feel like the novel was long or deep enough for me to connect with it the way I usually like to. But I really loved the parts that revolved around her caregiving. The small bits of deeply intimate life you glimpse into as a caregiver, the ways in which you care and also struggle with how/when to care all felt really realistic and touching to me.


Because You’re Mine (3.5 stars): I don’t usually like twists in my mystery novels. They often feel like the author assumed the reader was stupid and came up with a completely implausible twist. Or it was so easy to tell that I could guess the twist. Or the characters are so dislikable that I don’t even care about the twist. This book, however, did none of those for me. The characters were each flawed but also likable in their own ways. The twists (and there were several) were not easy to guess, for me, and yet reasonably believable. I didn’t care for any of these characters all that much but I really enjoyed the story. If mystery and twists are your thing, you will like this one.


No Happy Endings (3 stars): This author was new to me. I haven’t read her previous books, i don’t follow her on instagram, nor have i listened to her podcast. I wasn’t sure how to rate this book. I felt like while there were several touching parts to it, and some gold as well, but overall I didn’t come away with that much. She has endured unspeakable grief between losing a baby and her husband weeks away from each other. The book did a great job of showing both the deep grief and the incredible joy life can bring. Life is complicated, you should make sure to make the most of your days, we don’t get happy endings but complicated, beautiful and textured lives. I admire the courage of the author and her honesty and I am truly happy for her. Maybe I just read this book at the wrong time and didn’t connect with it as much as I could have. If you’re a fan of her work, I am sure you will love this book.


All the Water in the World (2.5 stars): I should have DNF’ed this book. I could tell at around 10% in that I wasn’t connecting with the book and neither of the characters were resonating with me. And yet I kept reading to see if something would make me change my mind. Alas, it wasn’t so. Sometimes it’s the wrong time for a book and I can’t tell if this was one of those. Either way, this book didn’t really work for me unfortunately. If you’ve read it and liked it, I’d love to hear what made you love it that maybe I just missed.


And there we go, an ok week of reading. Here’s to a great week next week.


Books I Read this Week 2019 is a year-long project for 2019. You can read more about my projects for 2019 here. I am also tracking my books in real time on Good Reads here. If you’re on Good Reads add me so I can follow you, too! I’ve also started an instagram account where I join my love of reading with my love of art.

Books I Read This Week 2019 – 36

Here are my goodreads reviews. If you’re on goodreads, add me as a friend so I can see your books too! I’ve also started an instagram account where I join my love of reading with my love of art.


The Right Swipe (3.5 stars): I have read more romance books this year than I have read in the last five years combined. Romance is not usually my go-to genre and I still wouldn’t call it my go-to genre but this new trend of cutesy-romance is working for me when I am in the mood for a lighter story. This particular story gets a higher than average rating for me because of the incredible diversity in its characters. The main character is an African American woman, her love interest is Samoan, her assistant is Southeast Asian, there’s also a Thai character. There is a character with agoraphobia. I can go on and on. I enjoyed both the main and secondary characters. I will say this is like the 6th romance book I’ve read this year that has an ex football (or baseball) player in it. Not sure why but I’d love a bit more diversity in the male character’s jobs too. If light romance is your genre, you’ll find this one to be your cup of tea.


If You Want to Make God Laugh (4 stars): I loved this book. It takes place in post-apartheid South Africa and covers a lot of the current events of the time either in the background or directly. Including events like Mandela’s presidency, the AIDS epidemic, the racial divide, homophobia, and religion. There are a lot of tough topics covered in the book including several different occurrences of rape.

This is the story of three women whose stories start separately (an ex-nun, an ex-stripper, and a pregnant teenager) and become interconnected. This is a story about motherhood, about the scars we carry with us, about identity and the stories we tell ourselves, about what it means to be family, about how circumstances can unite people in the most profound ways.

I loved all the minutes I spent with this book. It started strong but only got better and better.


The Ten Thousand Doors of January (4.5 stars): ‘”The trouble with you people,” I observed, “is that you believe in permanence. An orderly world will remain so; a closed door will remain closed.” I shook my head, reaching for the door. “It’s very … limiting.”‘

If you like to get lost in stories that take you to other worlds and have adventures and wonderful characters, this book will be worth every delicious minute you spend with it. Just the fact that it has a kid and doors, made me think about The Wayward Children series but about halfway through the book, I realized I loved it for the same reason I love Laini Taylor’s books. Even though the imagery in her books is unparalleled, this book was the closest I have ever come to that type of feeling. This is one of the highest pieces of compliments I can give a book. It’s rare for me to come upon a book that’s unusual and this one managed to surprise me, keep me engaged, make me mad, sad and happy all at once.

“I spent years after the blue Door doing what most willful, temerarious girls must do: becoming less so.”

This book started slow for me. It was interesting from the very beginning but not super-engaging, for me. Just as I was getting sucked into January’s story, the book started alternating chapters between the two books and that didn’t work for me. I was invested in January now and did not want to be distracted by the other story. Even though it all came together, of course, and by midpoint I was fully engaged and fully invested, it took me a while to get there.

“Once we have agreed that true love exists, we may consider its nature. It is not, as many misguided poets would have you believe, an event in and of itself; it is not something that happens, but something that simply is and always has been. One does not fall in love; one discovers it.”

At its core this book is about love, identity, belonging, and family. It’s such a fantastical and beautiful story and it’s a joy to get lost in its pages. Each of the characters is memorable in its own way and you get enough of each of the backstories to see their perspective of the story, to understand their motivations, even if you don’t agree with them.

“Because the place you are born isn’t necessarily the place you belong.”

The love that binds this whole story together was wholly believable to me. I could feel the joy, the sorrow, the longing coming off the pages. That coupled with the visual and magical nature of the story makes this a pure pleasure to read.

“It depends which weighs more: a life, or a soul.”

There’s so much in this gem of a book and I highly recommend it.

Thank you to netgalley and redhook books for an advanced copy in exchange for an honest review.


The Floating Feldmans (3 stars): This family story set on a cruise is setup to be an impending disaster where each family member has a secret they’ve been holding back on, bubbling up. Put all these family members on a boat together for a week and of course things start boiling and spilling over. The story has funny and poignant and tension. The ship exacerbates the typical family get together that’s usually filled with tension and years of stories and resentments. It all comes together, as it always does in these stories and the reader is left feeling whole and a bit better off.


Things You Save in a Fire (4 stars): Katherine Center’s novels always leave me more hopeful about the world. Not in the unrealistic “things are just perfect” way but in the “people are messed up and we are all struggling but also trying to be better” way.  This story is no exception. The main character has some deep-rooted experiences that are causing her to show up a particular way in the world and make certain choices but in her core she’s a good person who’s trying to be a better person so she continually does things that are hard for her but are the right thing to do. At her core, the value of doing the right thing and caring about others’ is so ingrained in her that it shows up again and again in this story.  It made me fall in love with the main character and it made me believe that she would make these choices because I was bought into this being a core value for her. So I was rooting for her the whole way and I loved the way the whole story came together. As with all her novels, the story is funny, serious, heartwarming all at once. It leaves you feeling full and optimistic. I enjoyed my time with this story and if you have read Center’s other books you will not be disappointed.


Turbulance (3.5 stars): This was a short and interesting book to read, mostly because of its format. It’s a very short book of connected stories. There’s no time or space for the reader to get attached to each character. But each story is very short but about intense/meaningful/relatable experiences in the characters’ lives. Often painful. So the stories pull the reader in quickly and keep you feeling an emotional attachment to the situation more than the characters. Many of the stories have two main characters and then one travels on a plane to another story with another person and then there’s another plane connecting one of those characters to the next story etc. Each chapter header is a airport code to another airport code to help guide the reader through the flow of connections. At its core, it’s about how people are connected and slivers of our lives overlap and touch each other. Many of the stories have something sad at their core: abuse, infidelity, death, illness, etc. Most are not explored deeply since each story is short. Just enough for the reader to sympathize but not likely enough to empathize.


You’ve Been Volunteered (3 stars): If you liked Gelman’s first novel, I am reasonably confident you will enjoy this one, too. It has the same humor around what it means to be a class-mom and much of the similar conversations around marriage, mid-life, school-parent dynamics etc. These novels are a notch about meh for me. They are funny but not hilarious and they have heart but not enough for me to feel really good afterwards. Which is totally fine. I listened to this during a long car ride and it was perfect for that.


And there we go, an ok week of reading. Here’s to a great week next week.


Books I Read this Week 2019 is a year-long project for 2019. You can read more about my projects for 2019 here. I am also tracking my books in real time on Good Reads here. If you’re on Good Reads add me so I can follow you, too! I’ve also started an instagram account where I join my love of reading with my love of art.

Books I Read This Week 2019 – 35

Here are my goodreads reviews. If you’re on goodreads, add me as a friend so I can see your books too! I’ve also started an instagram account where I join my love of reading with my love of art.


Never Have I Ever (3.5 stars): 3.5 stars mostly because I was surprised more often than i usually am

I enjoyed this book more than I thought I was going to. I appreciated a mystery without the unreliable character trope or even the dislikable character one. The main character had secrets to hide and she was flawed but she also was real and reasonably realistic in my opinion. Roux was a bit more complicated in that I had to buy into some of her past and present and motivations. Some seemed plausible but others were a bit harder for me to believe. There were several times I was surprised in the story mostly because it went in a direction I just hadn’t really thought of for this type of story. The fact that it wasn’t like all the other mysteries I’ve read in the last two years helped in this case. Overall, it was an enjoyable read, especially if domestic mysteries are your thing.


Pretty Guilty Women (3 stars): There have already been quite a few comparisons between Pretty Guilty Women and Big Little Lies and there are indeed many parallels. This story takes place over a wedding weekend in a resort spa. One of four old friends is getting married and none are really that close anymore. There’s also an older woman whose husband is related to the wedding party. These four women (excluding the bride) are involved in a crime, and the book goes from one character to another telling bits of their back story and then telling bits of what happened over the weekend to culminate in the crime. Each chapter opens or closes with short police interrogation. Each woman has her secret or personal drama so each of those also unravels throughout the story. So the structure and the plot are quite similar and some of the subplots are, too.

But I still enjoyed reading it. It was a fast-paced read that kept me up late at night waiting to find out what happened and who died and how each character’s back story unfolds. If you enjoyed Big Little Lies, and are looking for something similar, you will enjoy this.

Thank you to netgalley and Sourcebooks Landmark for an early copy in exchange for an honest review


The Great Unexpected (3 stars): I think I was an outlier for this book. All the reviews are glowing and yet I really struggled with it. This was a bit like Ove for me where a disgruntled, old man finds friendship and then changes over time. It’s about the value of friendship and how life changing that can be. There are some really heavy themes in this one around abuse, suicidal ideation, etc. But it just never really landed with me, I didn’t feel connected to the main character and didn’t find myself rooting for him. I did love the secondary characters but in the end, it was reasonably predictable so that mixed with my lack of connection meant this wasn’t a standout for me.


Lanny (3.5 stars): 3.5 stars on uniqueness alone. I started this book months ago and then had to put it on hold because I was having such a hard time following it. I finally came back to it, and it was still hard but I decided to stick with it and I am glad I did. It is an incredibly unusual book. I can’t even say I loved it but I loved its uniqueness and it will stay with me for quite a while. I love books that do that. This book is about so much but most of all it’s about society, connection, mankind. Loss, too. I don’t want to give too much away. It’s a short book. It was an interesting audio experience and I have no idea how it is in print. If you’re adventurous I’d recommend trying it and seeing if it resonates with you.


And there we go, an ok week of reading. Here’s to a great week next week.


Books I Read this Week 2019 is a year-long project for 2019. You can read more about my projects for 2019 here. I am also tracking my books in real time on Good Reads here. If you’re on Good Reads add me so I can follow you, too! I’ve also started an instagram account where I join my love of reading with my love of art.