Books I Read This Week 2019 – 49

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.

Where to Begin (5 stars): This super, super fast read but it’s full of heart and, for me, it was one of those books that makes me stop in my tracks and think about why I am here and how I want to live my life. I loved Cleo Wade’s Heart Talk and I loved Where to Begin. I am so glad writers like her exist and put their thoughts and feelings out into the world. We are all so much better off thanks to their willingness to do that.

Call Down the Hawk (4 stars): Ever since I read the Shiver series many, many years ago, I’ve been a huge fan of the multi-talented Maggie Stiefvater. She is not just the weaver of the best types of stories but her characters jump out of the page and grab me. They are colorful, rich with personality, and full of life. Ronan was my favorite of all the characters of the Raven Cycle so a series dedicated to Ronan was bound to be awesome. But by the time book four came along, I thought I might be done with the series and the characters.

I was wrong.

The Lynch family are just as awesome as I remembered and this story was crazy and chaotic and awe-inspiring in just the way only Maggie’s books can be. I loved my time with it. I am so grateful that Stiefvater is so prolific and continues to don our world with such colorful characters and weaves the most engaging stories.

Verity (3 stars): I put this book on my to-read list way back in January when everyone was raving about it. I bought it both on audio and on book form and then it sat on my ipad for months and months as other library books came and went, taking priority over this book that I owned. In mid-November I finally decided it was time to read all the books I bought this year so I am finally starting to go through the list, this was at the very top due to all the “OMG” reviews.


I think because I knew there was going to be a giant twist, I kept waiting for it to happen. I was cautious believing anything in the book. The comparisons to Gone Girl made me suspicious of every character the whole time. And when the twist came, it fell so flat for me. I was like “that’s it?!” I also will say I didn’t actually think the writing was great, the book starts with a gratuitously violent scene and it wasn’t at all relevant. The characters aren’t well developed enough so much of what we know about Jeremy is either from the discovered manuscript or from Lowen gushing over him. For me, the characters did not stand on their own.

It was a good story and I am not sad I read it but maybe the hype really ruined it for me. Maybe if I had read it knowing nothing I, too, would have found it to be awesome. A good reminder to not read reviews before reading a novel.

Where the Forest Meets the Stars (4 stars): Like, Verity, this was another book I bought way back in January because of all the hype around it and didn’t read it all year. But, unlike Verity, I loved this book. I thought the characters were well developed, the story was touching and real and beautiful even if you had to suspend disbelief a little bit about how no one came looking for this little girl (which I felt was explained by the end.)

I loved the characters the most. I got attached to each of them for different reasons and the way they were each broken in their own way by something in their past and they were struggling to live their lives and figure out a path forward felt so real. I loved how they came together and helped each other and added meaning to each other’s lives which is exactly what the power of human connection has the potential to be.

If you’ve been putting it off like me, maybe it’s time to pick it up. I loved this touching, sweet story.

We Are the Luckiest (4 stars): “And here is the thing we must know about our things if we are ever going to survive them: We believe we can bury them, when the truth is, they’re burying us. They will always bury us, eventually.”

I don’t drink.

I never really have. I don’t like the taste of alcohol and I don’t like the idea of losing control and not remembering what I said or did. I also don’t like the way it makes me feel in my body. It’s never been a struggle to not drink for me since I dislike it enough. So alcohol isn’t my thing.

But I have my own list of things. And while my list is not full of things that cause me to black out and not remember chunks of my life, its full of things that are mine and that need to be acknowledged and conquered because they are burying me.

“Not because I was committed to forever, but because I finally realized the future was built on a bunch of nows, and that was it.”

While I was reading this beautifully written, raw, and honest novel, a part of me was thinking, “Well my ‘flaws’, my ‘addictions’ are nowhere near that bad. they don’t harm anyone. they don’t make it so I can’t live my day to day life. They are harmless compared to all this.”

Which is the way we fool ourselves, isn’t it? Life isn’t a comparison game. It’s not about whose stories are the most awful, or who really deserves the biggest shame. It’s not even about the stories we hold on to so that we can stay in the places we are, the places that don’t serve us but are so hard to walk away from. I am not as bad as that, so I can keep doing what I do to numb my feelings, my life, my nows.

“It’s supposed to be difficult. It’s supposed to take everything you have. It’s supposed to take longer than you want and to change you, completely. This often won’t feel good when it’s happening, but nothing worth having ever does.”

When you are high functioning in your day-to-day life, it’s easy to write off these ‘things’ that get in the way, because they are not ‘really’ getting in the way after all. They aren’t causing harm to others and why does it matter if it’s not hurting anyone else?

“But you can decide—by no longer allowing the circumstances of your life to victimize you—that none of it owns you anymore. You can say, Now, I know better. Now, I know different. I am not helpless anymore. And then you can go about doing the hard work of healing. This is the singular, hard truth I come up against every day: I am the only one responsible for my experience.”

And the fact is, life is not about other people. Even if it might seem so. Other people can’t break me, and other people can’t make me. I have to show up, I have to put in the work, and I have to build the life I want for myself.

Even though this book was about McKowen’s journey with alcohol and going sober, it’s about so much more than that. It’s a reminder that if we want life to be a certain way, we don’t get to run away from things. That the only way out is through. That our lives are our own and we get to decide how they go. That it’s hard work to build the life you want. It’s excruciating work. But then you get to have the biggest gift of all: the life you choose.

“To have a direct experience of life. To know its depths completely. To be enraptured in the mystery. To be the hero of my own great adventure.”

This is the kind of book that reminds you that the work of life is always hard and always, always worth it.

With huge gratitude to the author, New World Library and edelweiss for an advanced copy in exchange for an honest review.

Whiskey and Ribbons (4 stars): I enjoyed this sweet story. The characters are well developed, and I found myself rooting for each of them at different parts of the story. It’s heartbreaking, honest, and a perfect read for a cozy winter day. Even though the reader knows what’s going to happen, the three characters telling their stories all weave in and out together and each have their own beautiful storyline. If you like quiet, poignant, and character-driven stories, you will love this one.

Belonging (3 stars): This was a complicated book for me to read. I am not sure how I missed it but I had no idea what the book was about until I started it. And once I started, I wanted to keep going. The format of this book is really interesting and in my opinion makes it a lot more engaging. I generally avoid reading works around WWII so I am not sure what compelled me to keep reading this, but I am glad I did. I liked the honesty Krug displays as she grapples with her family’s history and as she tries to figure out their role during the war. Alas, I am not sure I could move into the space of empathy mostly due to my own background but it’s still important to have books like this and I am glad I spent time with it.

Watercolor the Easy Way (4 stars): I love watercolors and I love making small sketches with watercolors so this book is my happy place. If you’ve never ever touched watercolors before or if you’ve dabbled a little but haven’t really done much, this is the book for you.

The author starts with a few very simple watercolor tips and tricks, some color theory and then it’s all about the specific tutorials. She has a drawing you can copy for each motif and then walks you through how she’s coloring it both highlighting the specific colors she uses, and showing which steps she does first and how she layers.

There are a wide range of motifs: a lot of beautiful flowers, some fun animals, and ordinary things like bikes and food, etc. This is a great book for you to sit with and try a handful of examples at a time. It’s simple, rewarding, quick and enjoyable.

huge thanks to netgalley and Better Day Books for an early copy in exchange for an honest review.

Creative Journaling (4 stars): This fun book has many different examples of dot journaling, junk journaling, mixed media journaling and travel journaling. You also can mix up each of the techniques she mentions and the best part is that most of them are simple and relatively easy to recreate. Sometimes books like these have the potential to be eye candy where they are super stunning but impossible to recreate (which is also fine if that’s all you’re looking for.) whereas in this book, I felt there were layouts that were really pretty and also really doable. For me, that’s my happy place. If you’re into any of these types of journaling, I’d recommend you give this book a try.

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

What if there’s Nothing Wrong with You? (3 stars): “Now I ask you: what if there IS nothing wrong with you? Think about this question for a moment. For now, I’m not saying there ISN’T, simply asking what if there isn’t? How could that realization change your relationship with yourself? How could it change your relationship with others? Would you have more confidence and courage to do something you are secretly passionate about?”

I loved the idea of this book. The concept behind practicing the idea that there’s nothing wrong with me sounds really powerful to me. I understand that this might not be a thing for everyone but it most decidedly is for me which is why i bought this book after reading about it in a different book. And it’s not a bad book. It’s just that it’s small and doesn’t really have enough depth for me. Maybe that’s really because like most things, I have to put in the work and be willing to do what it takes. It reminded me of Byron Katie’s The Work a bit but I felt that was so much more powerful for me and it’s closer to what I guess I was seeking.

It was still good to read because I enjoy reminders that I have to keep these questions front and center.

And here’s the most amazing, all too true, Ram Dass quote from the book:
“When you go out into the woods and you look at trees, you see all these different trees. And some of them are bent, and some of them are straight … And you look at the tree and you allow it. … You sort of understand that it didn’t get enough light, and so it turned that way. And you don’t get all emotional about it. You just allow it. You appreciate the tree. The minute you get near humans, you lose all that. And you are constantly saying ‘You’re too this, or I’m too this.’ That judging mind comes in. And so I practice turning people into trees. Which means appreciating them just the way they are.” – Ram Dass

And there we go, a bunch of reading this week, ending my week is 360 reads for the year. 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.

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