Books I Read This Week 2020 – 22

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


The Secrets of Love Story Bridge (3 stars): this was a quick, sweet read. If you’ve read Phaedra Patrick before and liked it, you will enjoy this one, too. It’s a sweet story of loss, learning to trust, family, and secrets.


Beach Read (4 stars): If you’re looking for a fun, sweet, funny read while stuck at home, this is one to put on your list. I am sure it was meant to be read on the beach but alas, this year, we’re going to have to read at home. It’s light and sweet and delightful.


The Silence (3 stars): this was an interesting read. For fans of Jane Harper, this has the same suffocating atmosphere in Australia that she often captures well. There’s a mystery, family drama, some historical components and the atmosphere is definitely a part of the story. A few twists but well-timed. I did like this story even though it was a bit too suffocating in the time of a pandemic.


The Eighth Detective (4 stars): “Yes,” said Grant. “And that’s what differentiates a murder mystery from any other story with a surprise at the end. The possibilities are presented to the reader up front. The ending just comes back and points to one of them.”

I have so many mixed feelings about this book.

The structure of this book is interesting. It’s basically about an editor who visits a mathematician at a remote island because she wants to publish his collection of short stories. The stories are each about a murder mystery and the chapters of this book alternate between the short story from the manuscript and the two characters discussing each story.

Here’s what didn’t work for me: there is very very little discussed about each of the two characters. I understand there are reasons for that but I tend to read books for their characters so this was exceptionally hard for me. The short stories themselves weren’t all that well-written in my opinion and since they have to be pretty short (so we can have so many of them) they are not all that engaging. For me, there were parts that really felt like a chore to read.

But then if you’re patient enough to make it to the end, there are twists upon twists and some clever reveals. You end the novel with quite the smile on how clever it was being. But you only get the reward if you’re patient enough.

With gratitude to netgalley and Henry Holt & Company for an advanced copy in exchange for an honest review.


The Family Next Door (3 stars): It took me a while to get into this book. For the longest time I couldn’t keep track of the characters who all seemed the same and i had no idea where it was going. I kept wondering if i should put it down. But then I kept reading, and it got interesting. This is about a neighborhood where most of the families are having troubles of their own, secrets they are keeping. Some of them intertwine and others don’t. It’s a reminder that things are never what they seem.


A Bad Day for Sunshine (4 stars): I have never heard of this author. I have never read any of her books. Not sure what made me pick this one up, maybe the cover? I am so so glad I did. It was funny, quirky, sweet, and a joy to read. Some mystery, some romance, some just laugh out loud funny.


You Deserve Each Other (4 stars): I wasn’t sure if I wanted to read another romance this week. I’ve read several in the last few weeks and I usually can only handle 1-2 after I need to switch but most of the other novels feel heavy and too much right now while my brain is tired. So i picked it up and started laughing pretty quickly. Yes it’s another cute romance. And it was fun.


And there we go, grateful to be reading.


Books I Read this Week 2020 is a year-long project for 2019. You can read more about my projects for 2020 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 2020 – 23

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


Love Poems for Anxious People (4 stars): If you haven’t read the poems in these sweet, delightful series, I highly recommend them. As an anxious person, I was definitely looking forward to this one and, like the others, it did not disappoint.


The Bookshop on the Shore (3 stars): This was a sweet book about what it means to be family, the secrets we all keep, community/belonging and taking chances. Jenny Colgan is a great storyteller and I enjoyed the time I spent with it.


The Kingdom of Back (3 stars): What an unusual story for Marie Lu. I’ve read several of her other books but none had the blend of history and magical realism this one has. I really liked listening to story but I felt like I couldn’t feel any empathy for Nannerl, I had a lot of sympathy but no empathy so it made it harder for me to connect with the story. Still enjoyed it.


And there we go, grateful to be reading.


Books I Read this Week 2020 is a year-long project for 2019. You can read more about my projects for 2020 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 2020 – 21

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


Yes to Life (4 stars): I love Viktor Frankl’s writing. I love the way he thinks, I love the way he can break things down to their essential parts and help me remember what’s at the crux of my life. He’s one of the handful of names that’s on my list to read relatively regularly so I can continue to have perspective.


The Imperfects (4 stars): I really enjoyed my time with this family story. It has all the elements of a family saga, historical fiction as well as a little mystery. I liked the characters and the story moves slowly but managed to hold my interest the whole way. It has a lot of characters which are sometimes hard to keep track of. It also has a handful of twists along the way. But at its heart this is a story about family.


Writers & Lovers (3.5 stars): This story was interesting in parts, well written and thought provoking but then it also was navel gazing at parts. The writing was so strong that you could feel the anxiety of the main character through the book itself. The grief of losing her mother. The uncertainty of life. A writer writing about a writer is always interesting to read and this well-written book was no exception.


Pew (4 stars): “Since I had woken up on that pew, the meals had been endless and I wishes I could have reaced back and given one of them to those days of hunger in the past, or that I could have moved this plate to a place – there must have been such a place where someone else was hungry.”

This was such an interesting and unusual book. The main character is a person who wakes up in the pew of a church one morning and one of the church members takes the person into their home. We don’t know the gender or the race of the person as each of the characters in the book tries to figure it out desperately. They name the person Pew for where the person was found because Pew won’t talk to anyone and won’t tell them anything.

The writer does an excellent job of showing how the discomfort of being in the presence of someone who doesn’t talk can overtake other people with their need to fill the void. I also liked the Shirley Jackson-esque Festival towards the end. The unsettling, eerie tone accompanies the whole novel and crescendos in the release that is the festival.

No revelations, no twists, no surprises, this is merely a thought-provoking well-written novel.

Thank you to netgalley and Farrar, Straus and Giroux for an early copy in exchange for an honest review.


Big Summer (3 stars): I have mixed feelings about this story. Jennifer Weiner usually writes about friendship and her stories are often deeper than they look like they would be and there’s often some element of someone with a weight issue. All of those elements exist in this story, too. There’s also some unexpected mystery which I found to be weird and odd and out of character. I didn’t dislike it but it detracted from the story, in my opinion and took away from the depth usually present in her stories. Still enjoyed my time with it.


American Dirt (3 stars): I kept putting off reading this book because there was so much controversy over it and I didn’t want to promote or encourage false representation. I finally read it for my book club and maybe because I’d already heard so much about it, it didn’t leave much of an impression on me.


And there we go, grateful to be reading.


Books I Read this Week 2020 is a year-long project for 2019. You can read more about my projects for 2020 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 2020 – 20

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


The Sight of You (4 stars): “I know Tamsin’s world is one of optimism. Of straight, sunlit paths; of long, sweeping bends. She refuses to believe in cliff edges and dead ends, darkened corners.”

Oh man, this book wrecked me.

This is a lovely story about what we do for those we love, how hard it is to live under the pressure of choices that are hard on both sides. The ways in which we make our lives so much harder than they have to be and the things we do in order to protect people.

In the end, this is a sweet story about love. It almost felt like Four Weddings and a Funeral in the way the story is written, sweet friends, close families, lots of baggage but also lots of love. Lots of real life moments.

It’s sweet and will touch your soul leave you a little broken and a little hopeful at the same time.

thank you edelweiss and G.P. Putnam’s Sons for an advanced copy in exchange for an honest review.


Girl Gone Viral (3.5 stars): Another lovely story from Alisha Rai. I have come to really enjoy this writer. If light romance is your genre, you will love her books as they are full of diverse characters with interesting backgrounds and depth of character. These books are fun to read.


Dear Emmie Blue (4 stars): “Here, I am looked after. And maybe that is why it feels more like home than anywhere else has ever felt. Maybe home isn’t a place. It’s a feeling. Of being looked after and understood. Of being loved.”

This book looks like it’s a lighthearted romance on the surface of it all. A serendipitous moment that connects three people for life. And it is a romance. And it has lighthearted moments.

But it has serious moments, too. It hints at the seriousness of life and how our lives are full of good and terrible moments. How things that happen to us can change the course of our lives. How secrets and misunderstandings can live forever feeding the stories we make up about how things are.

‘Eliot laughs, rubs the stubble on his chin with his hand. “Um, no. Definitely not,” he says, his smile lopsided. “It’s all just—life, isn’t it? Disordered and chaotic and out-of-nowhere, and we have to plan and navigate our way around it the best we can.”’

I will say that I guessed the ending of this story long before it came. I was still happy to read it all the way through. I still fell in love with the characters and I loved every minute I spent with this story.

with gratitude to netgalley and Atria Books for an advanced copy in exchange for an honest review.


Grin and Beard It (3.5 stars): Another lovely one from the Winston Brothers. I really enjoy these books. The character development, the funny quips, clever lines, it’s a great way to spend an afternoon. Can’t wait to read more of the series.


All Adults Here (4 stars): I know this story got mixed reviews and I know many people said that the author put the kitchen sink and all of today’s issues into one book. But I didn’t feel that way at all. I loved every minute I spent with this story and I didn’t want it to end for a moment. I loved the realness of the story. The way it’s hard to communicate. How hard it is to be a mother and to try so hard to do right by your kids. To mess up anyway. I didn’t relate to any of the characters and yet I related to all of it so much.


How to Save a Life (4 stars): This is the story of Dom who reconnects with his ex-fiancee after ten years. And on the night of their first date, after they reconnect, she passes away in a terrible accident. The next morning, Dom wakes up to find he is re-living the day and tries to do things differently but alas is met with another tragic ending. Dom tries again and again, desperately hoping to save the love of his life.

I requested this story because Lauren Oliver’s “Before I Fall” is one of my favorite books. And this is practically the same premise. This story didn’t connect with me as powerfully as Oliver’s mostly because her book is about high school and it was so resonant for me personally.

This story had a lot of touching moments and surprises. Even though I guessed the ending well before the end, I still felt attached to the characters. In fact, I wanted to know more. In a story like this, the plot makes it hard to do a lot of character development since the events of a day you relive are reasonably restricted. I still really enjoyed my time with this one and recommend it if the premise is as intriguing to you as it was to me.

with gratitude to netgalley and Lake Union Publishing for an advanced copy in exchange for an honest review.


And there we go, grateful to be reading.


Books I Read this Week 2020 is a year-long project for 2019. You can read more about my projects for 2020 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 2020 – 19

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


Sorry for your Trouble (4 stars): “We were transients. We were sheltered and stubborn in our view of life. But had we been able to stand outside of our circumstances we’d have known who we were and had become. Such changes are not easy to evaluate when they’re occurring.”

This was my first Richard Ford collection. There are a collection of nine stories in this book, two of which are novella-sized. The stories take place in Maine, New Orleans, and Ireland. Richard Ford’s characters are real, his writing is beautiful and his words are crafted in such a way that makes you stop in your tracks and makes you want to slow down and savor every word.

The characters in this novel aren’t an enviable lot. There’s so much apathy on the surface of these stories. So many different situations that would easily be full of melodrama in other novels but here they are quiet, almost uncaring in the midst of so much tension.

I am not usually a fan of short stories, I have a hard time getting attached to the characters in so many words. And yet, so many of these characters have stayed with me. But, of course, none of them can compete with the exquisite language in this book.

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


The Happy Ever After Playlist (3 stars): This was a sweet, cute novel. The beginning felt a lot stronger, to me, than the middle/end. Especially the dialogue as they were flirting with each other. Light, sweet and easy to enjoy.


The Southern Book Club’s Guide to Slaying Vampires (3.5 stars): I am not even sure why I read this book. Vampires and horror are not the genre that speaks to me and nor do I like campy or ironic or black humor. But I read so many good reviews that I felt compelled to give this a try. And it was quite well done. Especially the beginning was very strong. I felt like the middle and end started to fall apart a tiny bit but it did finish strong and, much to my surprise, I liked it quite a bit.


The Other People (4 stars): I read this book in one sitting. If mystery is your genre and you’re not just into the twisty, unreliable narrator thing (which i definitely am not) you will like this high quality, well written mystery. I read one more book in a very similar theme this year but this one was well done and the creepiness factor was just right.


If I Had Your Face (4 stars): I went into this story knowing nothing about it and read the whole book in one sitting. Even though I don’t disagree with the reviews that desired more depth and felt like each of the characters could have had a novel of their own, I still loved the story. I felt fascinated and sad and horrified in different parts and found myself wanting to know more and more, which to me, is a good sign for a book. While it felt short, it didn’t feel shallow or flimsy, to me.


The Margot Affair (4 stars): “You think I’m a bad person, don’t you? Why are you always worried about being good or bad? Who taught you that? It’s a way of deferring responsibility for your actions.”

This book is the story of Margot, who is the high school daughter of a somewhat famous actor, Anouk. Her dad is a local politician but he’s also married to someone else and Anouk is his long-time lover. The story starts as a story about this family and Margot navigating her life in this more unusual set up.

“At Juliette’s, it felt as though my lungs were filled with more air, and the heaviness in my limbs would evaporate until I grew light enough to hover right above the ground, able to breathe at last.”

Craving a different relationship both with her mom and her dad, for different reasons. Fascinated by the world. Going through fleeting moments of overconfidence and neediness as many teenagers tend to do. Leading up to her betrayal and the aftermath, I really enjoyed this part of the story.

“Sadness is a fleeting emotion, Anouk said, just as happiness is.”

The second part of the story is mostly about Margot and an older couple she befriends and dives into female relationships a little bit but most of the characters in the story are only visible to the reader through Margot’s eyes and her feelings and thoughts. I enjoyed the limited view this posed even where it was clear we were getting a filtered view of things.

“My role isn’t to explain everything to you. I can’t explain your father to you, and you can’t understand what it was like. A marriage is a closed world. Anyone who thinks they can explain it to an outsider is a fool.”

There’s so little that really happens in this story. It’s mostly a character study, which is my favorite kind of novel especially when the writing is as visual and expressive as it is here. Even though it’s not an uplifting story, I don’t think it was depressing either. It felt like a slice of life, with some ups and some downs. As most of life is.

“What happened to daughters like us? Would we flee our families, wanting to be far away, wishing to carve out a life that was ours alone, far removed from where we came from? Or were we always destined to return? I wanted to absorb her into myself so I was never alone. I wasn’t afraid.”

I really enjoyed my time with this book. I savored the writing and the characters. It definitely felt French, to me, but the themes, of course are so eternal: marriage, motherhood, belonging, secrecy and friendship. The stuff of life.

with gratitude to netgalley and Random House for an advanced copy in exchange for an honest review.


And there we go, grateful to be reading.


Books I Read this Week 2020 is a year-long project for 2019. You can read more about my projects for 2020 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 2020 – 18

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


Days of Distraction (3 stars): I liked this story of an Asian American woman and her relationship with her family, her white boyfriend and with her job. The way she wrestles with her identity throughout the book seemed real and honest. The way the job was depicted felt a bit more caricaturish to me, but also had lot of traces of honesty. I’ve never lived in Ithaca so I can’t speak to her depiction of the town but overall I connected with her and her grappling for identity and belonging.


Valentine (5 stars): This is the best novel I’ve read this year so far. Like last year’s Plainsong, this novel was slow, quiet, and profound. The blurb says it is an: “exploration of the intersections of violence and race, class and region in a story that plumbs the depths of darkness and fear, yet offers a window into beauty and hope.” But what it doesn’t say is that the characters in this book are strong, strong women with giant hearts. This book is about how resilient we are, how strength and vulnerability can live hand in hand. It’s about the power of community and connection and looking out for each other. I loved every minute I spent with it.


The Book of Longings (5 stars): Sue Monk Kidd is an exceptional writer. Her ability to tell stories, to create characters and dialogue are simply unparalleled. I am not religious and know very little to nothing about the life of Jesus. When I first read about this book, I wasn’t sure I wanted to read it. I am not all that interested in religion and historical fiction is not my top genre. But I’ve loved her writing in the past so I wanted to at least try. From the moment I started the book, Ana took a hold of me and wouldn’t let go. I didn’t want to put the book down for even a moment. In between meetings, as I was cooking, even in the bathroom, I snuck this book into all my free moments. I swallowed it whole and it spread all over my soul. It is absolutely beautiful.


Hidden Valley Road (4 stars): This was a fascinating tale of a family with 12 kids (10 boys, 2 girls) six of which ends up being schizophrenic. There’s so much in this book about being a family, a wife, a sibling, a brother, and even a little sister. There’s so much about the way research and medicine works. So much about mental illness. So much about what it means to grow up in a family this big, this broken, and it’s just so hard to believe that this is a true story.


Latitudes of Longing (4 stars): “The entire island rises up to the occasion. The birds, insects, trees, waves, and the setting sun all play their part in a larger symphony, orchestrated by the fingers in communion.”

This book has four sections that seem not connected at first glimpse but are connected by a thread that goes across the characters so each one has a character from the previous connecting them even as they go back and forth in time.

“Death …” Chanda Devi reflects on the word as cicadas, frogs, and flies intervene. “Ghosts do not live where they died. They return to the place where they felt the most alive. They have struggled, lived, and enjoyed their time there so much, they cannot let go.”

My favorite by a large margin was the first story. Chanda was one of my favorite characters and the bits of magical language mixed in with the magical realism made me fall in love with the location, the characters, the love, the writing. All of it. She was the most vivid character in the whole story, for me.

“Yes,” she agreed with him. “Perhaps that’s how time is for some of us. It doesn’t fly. It sits still.”

The second story about a boy and a mom who are long lost to each other was heartbreaking. That evocative writing is uplifting when applied to love and devastating when applied to torture and imprisonment. It was hard to read the story. In fact, both the mom and the son’s stories were really hard to read.

“The best stories are the ones that are still to come, Ghazala. Close enough to hear, smell, and admire. Yet out of reach.”

By the end of the book, I was less connected than I was in the beginning. Even though I loved the imagery in every story and the writing never lost its power, none of the other characters took my breath away the way Chanda did.

“And then you went on to say the most beautiful thing I have heard. ‘It’s love,’ you told me. ‘Faces change and are misleading. Sometimes you may not recognize who the person really is. But love is love. So long as you feel it, give it, and receive it, it is enough. It connects you to everyone and everything.’ ”

All in all, the lyrical language and imagery in this book will stay with me for a very long time.

with gratitude to netgalley and Random House for an advanced copy in exchange for an honest review.


Master Class (3.5 stars): I read this whole story in one sitting. The dystopian future where they separate the kids by their IQ and ability to succeed in school, the ways mothers sacrifice for their kids, the way the man you married who was already a bit evil turns out to just get more and more evil seemed a bit cliche. I still liked it and the pace kept me engaged the whole time.


And there we go, grateful to be reading.


Books I Read this Week 2020 is a year-long project for 2019. You can read more about my projects for 2020 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 2020 – 17

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


The Anxiety Skills Workbook (5 stars): “Hopefully at this point you are starting to realize that worry isn’t a reliable predictor of the future.”

If you, like me, tend to worry often and sometimes ceaselessly this workbook will be an invaluable tool for you. I’ve always been a worrier and before this book, I was familiar with Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) so many of the CBT strategies in this book were not new to me.

There are two things that make this book magical, for me. One, it lays out the concepts in a really simple, easy to understand way. There are several examples that we visit again and again through each chapter, making it easy to find some ways to relate to the content and personalize it.

Two, the exercises themselves are invaluable. Being able to have a simple template to use to practice each concept and have ways to apply the concepts to my own individual life means that I am not just reading this book but I am using it and internalizing the concepts through practice.

“Worry is an unhelpful thinking response to a potential problem.”

If you suffer from anxiety and would like a practical set of tools to help you do the hard work, this book is going to go a long way in helping you. This is not a miracle cure, and it might not even be the methodology that works best for you, but for me, a lot of what’s in this book is incredibly helpful in being able to contextualize my thoughts and separate my thoughts and feelings from the facts.

With gratitude to netgalley and New Harbinger Publications for an advanced copy in exchange for an honest review.


Truth or Beard (4 stars): I read this book in one swallow. I’d seen this series everywhere and so many people said they loved it. It was finally my turn at the library and I couldn’t wait to get my hands on it. It did not disappoint at all. I loved every minute I spent with these characters and I can’t wait to read more of this series.


You Are Not Alone (3.5 stars): This was a great mystery without all the twisty novels with all the unreliable narrators we seem to get lately. Instead it had the evil characters, high tension scenes, and slow unraveling the good mysteries have. I enjoyed my time with it!


The House in the Cerulean Sea (5 stars): I loved every single minute I spent with this amazing, unique story that has more heart than anything I’ve read in a long, long time. It was cute, sweet, kind, loving, and reminded me a bit of Seanan McGuire’s Wayward Children series but it wasn’t as bizarre and it had a lot more heart. I had read that this was the best novel to read during the pandemic and that’s 1000% right. A beautiful ray of light in these dark days.


Getting Schooled (3 stars): Quick, sweet story that felt really short but was a lovely distraction for a brief period of time.


I’d Give Anything (4 stars): “You really think they don’t?” asks Avery. “Not only that, but I’m beginning to believe that the bad might not take anything away from the love. I mean, it’s possible, isn’t it? They might care about us just exactly as much as we always thought.”

I’ve long been a fan of Marisa de los Santos. I love her storytelling and her characters. They always stay with me long after I finish the story and this one was no exception. This is the story of Ginny Beale who is very close to her brother and has a tight group of friends during high school. She ends up having a falling out with all of them. Except for one, with whom she ends up making up and staying lifelong friends.

At the very beginning of the story, she finds out her husband is part of a scandal and it unwinds her whole life. Making everything fall apart and when chance encounters cause her to realize all the misunderstandings she’s lived her life with, she starts putting the pieces back together.

“Lately, I’ve been thinking about it this way,” says Gray. “They love us. And they’ve done something bad that hurt us. You’d think those facts would cancel each other out, but the crazy thing is that they don’t.”

This is a story about the insidious nature of secrets. How they have a way of breaking people, families, friendships, and lives. A way of weaving thorns through your soul and ripping you from the inside out. It’s about forgiving. It’s about mending. It’s also about honesty and owning up to the truths of our lives.

It’s a beautiful story and I loved the time I spent with it.

with gratitude to edelweiss and William Morrow for an early copy in exchange for an honest review.


And there we go, grateful to be reading.


Books I Read this Week 2020 is a year-long project for 2019. You can read more about my projects for 2020 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 2020 – 16

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


Brunch and Other Obligations (4 stars): “Brick by brick, their ideas about who they should be cover up who they really are.”

I loved both the cover and blurb of this book and as the shelter-in-place due to pandemic continues here in California, I find myself reaching for books that promise to comfort me. This looked to be just the recipe for that.

And it didn’t disappoint.

This is the story of three women each of whom is best friends with Molly but the three are not friends with each other. Molly passes away and leaves each of them a thing and a little note. She also asks them to meet once a month for breakfast.

The story is the year during which these non-friends meet monthly, go through their own journey of recovering from the grief of losing their best friend, and also try to uncover the reason Molly chose to give that particular gift.

“In some friendships, honesty is the same as love.”

The story flows easily and the characters are real and flawed and frustrating and lovable. There are parts where the writing got in the way for me and jarred me out of the story. There were bits where I wish the author had gone deeper.

But overall, I enjoyed my time with this cozy, sweet story.

with gratitude to netgalley and She Writes Press for an advanced copy in exchange for an honest review.


An Artful Path to Mindfulness (5 stars): I am a huge, giant fan of Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR). A few years ago, I was really really struggling at work which ended up impacting my life and made me extremely unhappy. I was lucky that my company offers a free MBSR course, so I took the eight-week course and it completely changed my life. My sadness went away, I slept better and felt hopeful again.

As a person who loves art (and MBSR) and introspection, this book feels like it’s written for me. Much like the MBSR curriculum, this is a nine-week course with specific activities each week. Each week contains some movement/meditation, some art, some journaling.

You can of course read the book cover to cover for the takeaways and new ways to approach mindfulness, but my personal recommendation would be to do the book slowly, intentionally as it’s written to be used. The biggest part of the MBSR course, for me, was making the time 3x a week, for so many weeks in a row, to be present and silent and aware again and again. This is always a practice so the repetition and continual showing up is a crucial part of the experience.

with gratitude to netgalley and New Harbinger for an advanced copy in exchange for an honest review.


Mastering the Art of Perspective (5 stars): I have been learning to draw for years and years and years. I am especially interested in urban sketching or other ways to draw scenes and places. The two hardest parts of drawing scenes, for me, are the people and getting the perspective right.

Perspective is exceptionally challenging, for me, so I was excited to see this very step by step and very logical way to see and use perspective. This book breaks the different types of perspective (single, two point, three point) into very clear step-by-step explanations. If you follow instructions meticulously (as the author recommends) it helps give a very clear way to understand perspective.

And then, as with all things, repetition is how we master it.

If you’re struggling with perspective like I have been, this is an excellent place to start.

with gratitude to netgalley and Quarto Publishing Group for an advanced copy in return for an honest review.


If I Never Met You (3 stars): This was a lovely story and I really enjoyed my time with it. The only reason I didn’t give it a higher rating is because I’ve read many stories with this plot (in fact the same exact plot) before and they were just as enjoyable so this didn’t stand out in any way for me. It was a fun, sweet story and if you like something light and sweet (which i definitely did) you will enjoy this.


Crochet (4 stars): If this beautiful and colorful book doesn’t get you motivated to crochet, I don’t know what will. This is a well-rounded book that covers all the basics (types of yarn, washing instructions, color choices), all the stitches (very basic to pretty complicated) and then has lots and lots of ideas.

I will admit that while I remember how to knit, I can’t seem to remember how to crochet and the diagrams in this book weren’t enough to get me there. I had to look up a few basic stitches in video format so I could really follow. Once I got the gist of it, it got easier.

The projects in this book are really beautiful with a very wide variety and skill level. There are clothes, pillows, blankets, bags, jewelry items, toys and more. I loved so many of the ideas that I wish my experience with crochet was strong enough to do them all now. I can’t wait to work my way through this book.

with gratitude to netgalley and DK publishing for an advanced copy in return for an honest review.


Providence (3 stars): I’ve read two if Barry’s books (Jennifer Government and Lexicon) both of which I liked. Providence was totally different from both of them and much more like a Space Opera. The use of language and the pacing were very similar to Barry’s other books and are often the best parts of reading one of his novels, for me. There were some interesting twists in this story and I enjoyed the time I spent with it, however I don’t think it will end up staying with me for very long.


And there we go, grateful to be reading.


Books I Read this Week 2020 is a year-long project for 2019. You can read more about my projects for 2020 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 2020 – 15

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


Fierce, Free and Full of Fire (4 stars): “When this environment gets one part of you but that environment gets another, when you tuck away one piece in front of this crew but pull it out proudly for that one, when the hidden you is screaming in protest because she is not allowed to speak, whatever felt solid about your core self-dismantles. This is an unhappy, unhealthy way to live.”

Even though I’m not Jen Hatmaker’s usual demographic, I’ve read and really enjoyed several of her books. Regardless of my background or beliefs, she usually has sound advice/perspective and as with all self-help books (which this definitely leans towards being) I can choose what works for me and leave the rest.

And there’s plenty of great advice in this book.

It’s structured around basic tenets like “I am wired this way”, “I deserve goodness” or “I need more connection.” Each chapter covers an area and each area offers a combination of Jen’s thoughts, a researcher or some science and then Jen’s personal stories. Many of them have things you can do to help yourself, shift your thinking, or next steps you can take.

There was a lot here and I highlighted much of the book. All told in Jen’s typical honest, straightforward and funny style. While there might not be a lot of new ideas here if you’ve been following Jen for a while, the book is organized in a way that makes the content really easy to consume. As many of these were not new to me, I found myself wishing for more. I wished her personal stories went deeper. I wished there were a handful of other stories, too. In some cases, where my issue was similar to hers, her words were very resonant and help me get a pep talk. In others, where my style/issues might be different, I found myself wishing for more.

The last part where she lists her single sentence for each chapter was very powerful and brought so much of the guidebook part back in focus for me. After seeing that, I almost found myself wishing there were little pause moments at the end of each chapter for Jen to do more of that with an encouragement for the reader to do the same along the way instead of at the very end when there’s just so much to process.

As with her other books, I enjoyed my time with this one, took a lot of notes, and have much to think about. Here’s to more of us being fierce, free and full of fire.

With gratitude to netgalley and Nelson Books for an advanced copy in exchange for an honest review.


Mum & Dad (4 stars): This was my first Joanna Trollope novel and I really enjoyed this layered story about family, legacy, adolescence, marriage, and the layers and layers of lives we each live.

This story is about Gus and Monica who are living in Spain, running a vineyard. Their three children, Jack, Katie, and Sebastian and their families. There are a lot of characters in the story between the parents, their kids, he kids’ partners, and the kid’s children, there are 13 right there. Then there is the help staff in the house in Spain which has at least 2 more main characters. Amazingly, I had no trouble keeping track of any of them.

Some characters are better developed than others and there are a handful that I definitely wished I could learn more about (Daisy and Nic come to mind.) But each of the characters are quite distinct and the story is mostly about the parents and their three kids in trying to decide what will happen now that the father has had a stroke.

I liked the way the story shows how each character has a complicated life and many different things they are juggling at the same time, some great, some really hard. In life, most of the time, this is the case and then something big happens (like the stroke) and it just mixes in with all the other big and small things that are already happening to you so you have to sort through it all. I felt that part was really realistic and well done.

By the end of the story, I was invested in each of the characters and really enjoyed this family story and stayed up way too late to finish it.

with gratitude to netgalley and Mantle for an advanced copy in exchange for an honest review.


Drawing and Painting Expressive Little Faces (5 stars): What an absolute gem of a book!

This book does exactly what it promises. It breaks down the steps of creating a small, expressive face into small, consumable parts. It gives you many different permutations of face shapes, eyes, noses, mouths, and hair. It covers shades of skin and also mentions a few tips when using a real person as a reference.

Each of the sections is very simplified to show you how much can be done with simple steps. As with everything else, the key here is practice practice practice. These look easy but are often not until it’s become second nature which takes a lot of practice. It also takes practice to notice subtle differences across features and to notice shade variations.

There are also a lot of details in the author’s drawings that are not outlined like many ways to draw hats, jewelry, glasses, beards, etc etc. but this is a fantastic starter book to use to draw your first 1000 faces. After which you can worry about how to add more and more detail.

With gratitude to netgalley and Quarto Publishing Group for an advanced copy in return for an honest review.


The Sun Down Motel (4 stars): I really enjoyed my time with this mystery novel with a paranormal element. Lately, it’s rare to find a story that doesn’t have a mind-bending twist or some story element that makes you revisit the whole book. This one, however, is not like that. It’s just a straightforward, awesome mystery. Solid on both character development and plot and with pacing that felt just right for me.


Redhead by the Side of the Road (4 stars): Anne Tyler is one of my favorite authors. Her ability to write books about ordinary people, ordinary places, and ordinary lives is unparalleled. I always find myself thinking about her characters long after I finish one of her stories. My biggest beef with this novel is that it was a novella. It felt like a long, beautiful character study. And I loved it and wished there was more.


Undercover Bromance (4 stars): I love and adore this series. The books are fun, the characters are three dimensional, the dialogue is realistic. There are many laugh out loud funny moments in it and some deep, real messages too. It’s a unique talent to be able to do all of this in one book, and the author hits the ball out of the park every time.


Navigate Your Stars (5 stars): A beautiful, moving commencement speech and beautiful art that goes along with it. A great story about working hard, learning the value of being yourself, and understanding the complex choices we each navigate with where we are, what we have, and who came before us.


And there we go, grateful to be reading.


Books I Read this Week 2020 is a year-long project for 2019. You can read more about my projects for 2020 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 2020 – 14

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


Eight Perfect Murders (3 stars): So there were parts of this story I loved. The premise was excellent and it started strong and funny and interesting. And there were a handful of fun twists. But then I felt it devolved. So I feel torn that it had both excellent parts and parts I rolled my eyes. This book mentions so many books that, it was a worthwhile read just on the book recommendations alone.


Last Couple Standing (2.5 stars): This story, while a fun read, turned out to be more stereotypical than I would have liked. The lessons learned and the ways in which the characters made mistakes and learned from them and the conclusions they came to were all reasonably predictable for me. I enjoyed my time with it but it just wasn’t anything new.


The Glass Hotel (4.5 stars): Emily St. John Mandel has such a way with words and imagery that it’s not possible to not be in awe of her writing. Her characters are always memorable and her imagery is always so evocative. I loved this story about the Ponzi scheme and how it unravels all the different people it touches. The whole story was beautifully told, going back and forth in time but several scenes stood out especially strong for me. The 24 hours before the whole thing comes apart and all the ways in which the people who work in the company prepare for it was an exceptional scene.

Showing Vincent’s life before, during, and after was a great way to anchor this story to one character and made me, as a reader, experience it more profoundly.

It’s wonderful to see that while subject was wildly different than Station Eleven, Emily St. John Mandel’s new book was just as engaging, well-written, evocative, with richly developed characters and had some of the same etherial feelings. I cannot wait to read more of her.


Daisy Cooper’s Rules for Living (3 stars): This story took a long long time for me to get into. I loved the blurb around it being like Bridget Jones meets The Good Place and alas I felt like it was like neither. So I feel the blurb was a disservice in this case. There were funny moments and touching moments in this book and some very sad ones too. By the time I finished it, I thought the end also was poignant but it took too too long to get there imho.


The Sweeney Sisters (4 stars): “That’s the luxury that men have. They can be awful and beloved. Women don’t get that kind of leeway.”

I really enjoyed this story of three sisters who lose their father who also happens to be a very famous author. The story begins as each sister hears the news and they come together to figure out next steps and expands out when they find out about the fourth sister.

I liked the way the story brought together so many dynamics: each sister’s individual story of how their own life and path is unfolding, their way of dealing with the loss of their dad and their way of dealing with the news/interactions with the new sister. The way they can be seen both as individuals and also as a unit of 3+1 is well done in the story.

“Liza, who felt like she’d been hiding in her own life for a decade, was not having trouble staying quiet.”

While the story didn’t have any shocking twists and turns, I loved that some of the ways in which the story unfolded were more unexpected and thus opened the mind of the reader to the fact that there’s possibly more that’s going on here than meets the eye (as there often is in the real world.) I loved that there weren’t stereotypically good or evil characters. Each character was layered and textured and complex.

“Over the course of Serena’s lifetime, it seemed like families were allowed to be more complicated, less cookie-cutter versions of one mom, one dad, loving siblings version of previous generations.”

This story of family, sisterhood, life and mistakes is sweetly told and as a reader, I got more and more attached to the characters as the story unfolded and I found myself rooting for each of them.

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


And there we go, a little bit of reading.


Books I Read this Week 2020 is a year-long project for 2019. You can read more about my projects for 2020 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 2020 – 12

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


The Two Lives of Lydia Bird (3 stars): There’s something about Josie Silver’s characters and writing that doesn’t fully resonate with me. I felt the same way with her previous book. But also, just like the previous one, I loved the poignancy of the ending, what she says about relationships, and the lessons her characters learn/grow into by the end. I love the endings of her books. And this one was no exception. If you liked the previous one, I am confident you will like this one, too.


The Silent Treatment (5 stars): “Because that is what love is, isn’t it? Giving without receiving. Of course, there is always the hope of receiving. Tiny, precious, fragile. You can be batted away a thousand times and still it will be there, too.”

Oh my. I read this book in one sitting and it broke my heart to a million pieces. By the end, I was sobbing. I don’t want to give too much away of the plot. This is basically a story about marriage and parenting. The way I felt about this story was the way I felt as I was reading Normal People. It’s a book I loved unequivocally and a book that I can’t see is not for everyone. There are also deeply sad and triggering subjects in the book.

‘“I like that.” Your voice is barely above a whisper. “The little things that no one sees that could make the biggest change of all.”’

This book is about how relationships are hard and communication is hard, and about the little (or big) secrets to keep from each other. Sometimes to spare the other person’s feelings. But so many times to ensure that the way they feel about us (and the way they see us) doesn’t change. So many times it’s out of fear. Out of love. Out of loneliness. Out of feeling alone and as if we are the only one. It’s about how relationships can go awry and how secrets breed other secrets and how shame loves secrecy.

“If you put shame in a Petri dish, it needs three things to grow exponentially: secrecy, silence and judgment. If you put the same amount of shame in a Petri dish and douse it with empathy, it can’t survive,” says Dr. Brene Brown And this book is exactly about that. The secrecy, silence and worry around judgement. And the impact of that on a marriage.

“it’s that try as we might, there would always be some part of Eleanor that resided in the wilds outside our reach.”

It’s also about parenthood. About how hard it is. About how little control we have over who our kids turn out to be, about what happens to them, about our ability to parent them. This book is deeply about the impact a kid can have on his/her parents and on their marriage.

“He is coming to realize that there is a lot about Maggie that he never fully understood, a row of blanks in the crossword of their life together that are still empty.”

The writing in this story is really beautiful. Touching, poignant, heartbreaking, flowing and it grabs you and doesn’t let you go until the end. Much like “Normal People” it’s about how broken we all are, and how when you put two broken people together and have them love each other fiercely, they can still manage to break each other in the process. We are all flawed and we don’t always know how to do the right things.

“Frank, of all people, knows how it feels to be isolated by a secret.”

I loved every bit of this story and may I never get to experience many of the sorrows in the book and may i learn to ask for help, for forgiveness and may i have the courage to douse my shame with empathy when I invariably make mistakes.

Thank you to netgalley and HarperCollins Publishers for an advanced copy in exchange for an honest review.


Untamed (5 stars): Glennon has a way with words. She can articulate all of the things I’m feeling in just the right way and make me feel less alone and more understood in three pages than anyone ever has. She shares her life’s journey and choices and learnings and lessons with such humor and grace and authenticity that I am ever so grateful for writers like her. Anyone who can make me feel less alone in the world is a gift.


In Five Years (3.5 stars): I enjoyed this book a lot more than I thought I was going to. I was worried it would be sappy once I started it and saw where it was going, but it wasn’t melodramatic and had a lot of sweet real moments. It wasn’t perfect and some moments felt sappy. I thought it was going to be more like Sliding Doors than it was but still glad I read it.


And there we go, a little bit of reading.


Books I Read this Week 2020 is a year-long project for 2019. You can read more about my projects for 2020 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 2020 – 10

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


My Path to Happy (3 stars): I enjoyed my time with this little book that brings to life the author’s journey with her depression. The drawings were cute and slightly juvenile. If you read this as the story of one person and her journey through this really dark time in her life, I think there’s a lot of authenticity and hope in her own journey even though not a lot of depth. However, I would not recommend giving this to anyone currently suffering from depression. The author makes a lot of choices for herself where she experiments with different ideas and ignores doctor recommendations. That might be completely ok for her but not necessarily great as advice to others since it’s important to see a professional and make your own choices around your mental health.

thank you to netgalley and Andrews McMeel Publishing fr an advanced copy in exchange for an honest review


The Art of Spiral Drawing (4 stars): When I saw the cover of this book, I couldn’t stop staring at the unique and 3-dimensional looking drawings. This book breaks this style into very simple components and shows you how to make some of those much more complicated art pieces on the cover.

I’d never heard of Spiral Drawing but it’s super-cool looking and relatively simple to do. It reminds me of zentangles and once I’ve practiced enough I have no doubt it will be just as calming. If these intrigue you as much as they did me, I am sure you will love this book.

with gratitude to netgalley and Quarto Publishing Group for an early copy in exchange for an honest review.


21 Rituals to Connect with Nature (4 stars): I pick a word of the year each year and my word for 2020 is “wild.” My goal is to connect more with nature and to spend more time outdoors. So when I saw this book, I knew I was going to have to read it.

I knew nothing about the author and didn’t read much of the blurb either, so I had no prejudices going in. This book has 3 sections of 7 rituals each. Each ritual has the science behind it, an anecdotal story, and then the “what to do” as well as some thoughts to journal. All of them are relatively basic and simple but powerful exercises. If you go into this book thinking it will be new, complicated or unusual ideas, you will get disappointed.

Most of the ideas are things that involve your senses or intentionally being aware of the nature around you. Trees, birds, water, sun, etc. They might seem simple, but for me, they were the exact reminder I needed that there are really small things I can do each day that have profound effects in my life. I loved almost all the ideas in here.

Most of the ideas in the book are very tangible but there are a small handful of ideas that may or may not resonate with you depending on how you feel about psychic energy. Those didn’t fully resonate with me but it didn’t deter from the power of the overall book, for me.

I cannot wait to do these rituals again and again.

with gratitude to netgalley and Watkins Publishing for an early copy in exchange for an honest review.


Meditative Stone Art (4 stars): This book is about creating small pieces of art on top of stones. I have done that in the past and loved it but what really drew me to this book was the mandalas. I’ve been trying to learn how to draw mandalas and I loved the ones that were on the cover of this book. So I was hoping it would help me to learn more about how to draw them.

As the title indicates, this book has step by step of 40+ designs. It also has a template for every single one of them at the back of the book. for me, it was the perfect starting book. Besides the mandalas, it also has wonderful examples of beetles, butterflies, fish and other animals and plants.

If stone painting or mandalas are interesting at all to you, you will enjoy this book!

with gratitude to netgalley and Quarto Publishing Group for an early copy in exchange for an honest review.


Expressive Sketchbooks (4 stars): If you’re a beginner Sketchbooker or are interested in beginning, I think you will really enjoy this delightful book. It has a great collection of the author’s sketchbooks and some really simple ideas to help get you started. And it also has elegant, beautiful, and more sophisticated ideas too. There’s a great mix of ideas with pencil, watercolor, and collage.

This book also talks about the emotional experience of creating, of doubting yourself, of getting stuck and learning to make peace with your art and looking at it as practice and learning. I really enjoyed the author’s kind voice and soft guidance throughout. She was both relatable and knowledgeable.

A great encouragement and idea-filled book for sketchers.

with gratitude to netgalley and Quarto Publishing Group for an early copy in exchange for an honest review.


Postscript (3 stars): For reasons I couldn’t understand, I kept resisting reading this book. I barely remember reading the original and wasn’t sure if this would feel like an unnecessary extension of a lovely story that should have been well-enough left alone.

Thankfully, it didn’t feel that way. The story had its own proper plot and also had the benefit of seeing a story over time and reflecting on its lessons slightly differently after so much time had passed. Considering how long it had been since the first book, I though this was a nice juxtaposition between real life and the book.

I really liked it, of course. Ahern can write and knows how to weave a story well with memorable characters. If you liked the first, you will likely like this one, too.


Leave Only Footprints (5 stars): “It occurred to me that part of the reason I’d seen so much debate about the year’s first sunrise, and not its last sunset, was that our beginnings always seem more important than our endings. In life, we can often control how things start. Endings are elusive and amorphous and uncertain.”

I loved this book. My word of the year this year is “wild” which is about being in the wilderness more. In 2002, I did a cross-country trip with my husband where we went to 30+ national parks and promised each other to rent an RV when we retired so we could do more of that. So when I saw this book I knew I wanted to read it immediately. I wanted to revisit the parks I’d seen in person and find out about all the ones I hadn’t.

“I don’t know what, if anything, comes after this life. But I can tell you this: If there is a Heaven, I bet it looks a lot like Yosemite.”

And the book did not disappoint. It is the journey of the author over the course of a year as he visits every National Park in the United States. The book has parts that are informative, parts that are funny, and parts that are poignant. For me, it struck the perfect balance between the three, managing to make it a really enjoyable read.

“In a cave, you are simultaneously outdoors and indoors, protected from the elements and yet exposed to all sorts of new dangers.”

I will admit that more than once, I wished the book came with photos. I wanted to be able to imagine what the parks looked like as he told stories about being in them. Some are very briefly mentioned, while the others are longer. But I wanted to see photos of all of them. I spent time going between my book and internet searches so I could see the photos of the mentioned places.

“When I saw the pile, I couldn’t decide if it was depressing or beautiful. It’s probably a bit of both. It’s a monument to our desire to do the right thing, but it’s also proof that, sometimes, doing the right thing doesn’t matter. Sometimes it can be too little, too late.”

I know the author has live video segments, I haven’t seen any of them, but I will definitely go looking for them so I can enjoy all of this once more.

Thank you to netgalley and Crown Publishing for an advanced copy in exchange for an honest review.


And there we go, another week of reading in 2020.


Books I Read this Week 2020 is a year-long project for 2019. You can read more about my projects for 2020 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.