Winter 2018 Reads

Nine Perfect Strangers by Liane Moriarty
It was a light easy, read that was entertaining.
Rating: 3/5

One Day in December by Josie Silver
It was a cute romance novel without being nauseating.
Rating: 3/5

No Exit by Taylor Adam
It was a pretty good suspense novel considering there were only a few characters in it.
Rating: 2.5/5

Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman
I really enjoyed this novel; it was unique from anything else I’ve read. I really enjoyed the main character, Eleanor, however aloof. After reading it, I spent some time thinking about loneliness.
Rating: 5/5

An American Marriage by Tayari Jones
I had this one downloaded on my Kindle for a few months but kept prioritizing other books before it. I’m glad I read it but it annoyed me. I don’t understand why the main character was obsessed about getting his wife back after being incarcerated even though he slept with other women.
Rating: 2/5

The Heart’s Invisible Furies by John Boyne
I recently read Boyne’s latest novel, A Ladder to the Sky, so when I saw this one in the book swap cabinet on the boat we stayed on in the Amazon, I picked it up. I’m very happy I did because I enjoyed this novel a lot. It was a bit long but entertaining none the less. I also like Boyne’s style of writing.
Rating: 4/5

Golden State by Ben H. Winters
I’ve been more open to sci-fi recently. I really liked the beginning of the novel but it kind of lost me for the last third of the book. There was a lot of build up and not a really exciting end.
Rating: 3/5

Summer-Fall 2018 Reading

I’ve read a ton of new books since my last book blog post. Below is a quick recap. As you’ll see in many of the pictures, Boots is never too far away while I’m reading.

Ghosted by Rosie Walsh

This was one of my Book of the Month picks. I really enjoyed it so I sent it to my mom to read right after and she liked it as well. It’s a love story but not too mushy and annoying. A man and woman meet and have an instant connection and then he, as the title alludes, ghosted her.

My rating: 3.5/5

Sing, Unburied Sing by Jesmyn Ward

I picked this one up at a local bookstore. I saw it featured at bookstores before and I know it won some awards but the synopsis never jumped out to me. I’m glad I read it but it wasn’t one of my favs. The mother made me so angry because of how selfish she is and I don’t understand why she had a second kid when she’s not even nice to the first one.

My rating: 2.5/5

Where’d You Go, Bernadette by Maria Semple

My cousin Jade loaned me this one. I saw this book displayed in many bookstores in the past but the description didn’t jump out to me. I thought it would be too much of a fluffy, frivolous read. I’m glad I finally read it though because it was a hoot. It was a really quick read and I liked the quirkiness of each character. I had some LOL moments and had fun reading this light novel.

My rating: 3.5/5

The Summer Wives by Beatriz Williams

This was one of my Book of the Month selections too. It sat on my coffee table for a while but once I got a few chapters in I couldn’t put it down. I don’t normally like love stories but this was a good one.  It had me rooting for the protagonist which is always a good sign of investment in a story and strong characters. I recommend this book.

My rating: 3.5/5

The Power by Naomi Alderman

This was one of Kev’s book club books and he recommended it to me after reading it. I thought it was going to be a kick-ass women empowerment type of sci-fi novel but it was kind of weird. Women get a “power’ where they can zap other people. It was interesting seeing the ways in which the power transformed from a defense mechanism to a weapon and the story line was unique, but it was still missing something for me.

My rating: 2/5

Cross Her Heart by Sarah Pinbourough

This was one of my Book of the Month picks. I wasn’t looking for anything too heavy. This book was just okay. I liked the beginning but then it lost me. The story line wasn’t believable enough and it got too far fetched.

My rating: 1/5

My Absolute Darling by Gabriel Tallent

I LOVED this book. I picked it up on a whim from an airport book store. I like Tallent’s style of writing and for a dude he did a great job narrating as a young girl. He described the setting wonderfully and I felt like I was in nature exploring with the protagonist.

My rating: 5/5

All the Missing Girls by Megan Miranda

My cousin Jade sent me this one too (she’s the best). I saw it on NYT best seller list for a while but thriller/mystery/suspense isn’t usually my first genre choice so I never picked it up. I’m glad I read it though, it was pretty good. It was a quick read and entertaining.

My rating: 3.5/5

The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath

This was yet another one loaned to me by my cousin Jade. She said she had a hard time getting through it but I actually liked it. It definitely isn’t one of my favorite novels, but I think Plath does a good job of getting the reader in the mind of the main character, Esther, as she starts losing her mind. One part of me thinks that Esther is actually bonkers but the other part of me thinks that the feeling of being lost, not knowing her purpose, and having a ton of intense conflicting emotions is something normal that many college-aged people go through. Since the book is set in 1953, people during that time may not have recognized what she was going through as depression and just put her in a psych ward.

Plath actually committed suicide at age 30, so it’s interesting drawing parallels from Esther to her own life. It was a good book but overall it was a little anticlimactic and dull at times. I do give her props though for writing about a subject matter that was probably considered a little taboo at the time.

My rating: 2.5/5 

A Ladder to the Sky by John Boyne

This was one of my November Book of the Month choices and I loved it. I sped through it. It was fresh and interesting. I really liked the main character, Maurice. He is a scoundrel and I want to describe him as an unaware villain yet he is so calculating in every step of his career, he has to know what he did is wrong. In fact, as I’m writing about Maurice, I realize that he fooled me too because despite the many horrible things he did throughout his life, i’m trying to justify his behavior, and that’s how he got away with what he did in the first place. He is a charming but unreliable narrator which makes the story all the more entertaining.

My rating: 5/5

Spring Reading 2018

The Soul of an Octopus: A Surprising Exploration into the Wonder of Consciousness by Sy Montgomery

I’m really intrigued by Octopuses, so I browsed through Barnes and Noble one day and picked up The Soul of an Octopus. I did not like Montgomery’s style of writing and could have done without some of the personal stories, but I did learn a few things about Octopuses which was the point. Here are some of the cool things I learned:

– Octopuses are sentient invertebrates
– Female Octopuses are really good mothers. They lay thousands of eggs which they hang in caves and keep protected under their arms. They spend the next several months of their lives taking care of the eggs, that are each the size of a grain of rice, and pretty much die of starvation over time just as the eggs hatch
– Octopuses spent a life of solitude, with the exception of briefly mating
– Octopuses are extremely intelligent creatures and keepers in aquariums often have to come up with special, more difficult games to keep them from being too bored
– Octopuses each have their own personalities
– Octopuses have the ability to regenerate their arms, and unlike other species that have the same ability, like chameleons, an octopuses regenerated arms are as perfect as the original
-Each octopus’s arms “has a brain of its own”
– An octopus eats through a beak which is at the center of its underside and taste its food by moving it up its arms by the tentacles to the beak

Rating: 2/5
(I liked the Octopus facts but there was way too much author fluff)

Our Kind of Cruelty by Araminta Hall

This was my April Book of the Month club selection that I read during our Galapagos trip. It was a quick, easy read. I liked the first half but then I started getting a little bored after I realized there wasn’t some crazy twist and the guy was just obsessive and crazy. Overall it was pretty good though.

Rating: 2.5/5

The Themis Files trilogy by Sylvain Neuvel (Book 1: Sleeping Giants, Book 2: Waking Gods, Book 3: Only Human)

I started reading Sleeping Giants on our Galapagos trip in April after borrowing it from Kevin once I finished all of my other books. I didn’t realize it was a trilogy and since i’m not a quitter, I continued through. It kind of reminded me of transformers but it was definitely a young adult trilogy.

I actually gave my friend the book to give to a high school student that she is mentoring since it is more of a young adult book and it’s an easy read.

Rating: 2/5

Eat and Run by Scott Jurek

Kevin bought this book for me from Mile High Run Club. It was an okay book, not super exciting. If anything I was in awe of Jurek’s commitment and single-tracked intensity and it made me want to push myself harder during my next workout. The guy definitely has some issues though that he didn’t really address head-on in the book.

Rating: 2/5

The Book of Essie by Meghan MacLean Weir

The Book of Essie was my June Book of the Month club selection. I loved it. I liked the plot and MacLean Weir’s style of writing. I devoured this book pretty quickly. It was definitely one of my fav novels that I’ve read in the past few months.

Rating: 4.5/5

The Mars Room by Rachel Kushner

I ended up skipping my May Book of the Month club selection, but then I kept hearing about The Mars Room so I ended up downloading it to my Kindle. Overall I liked the book but there were a lot of loose ends and I didn’t like the ending.

Rating: 3.5/5

When Katie Met Cassidy by Camille Perri

I heard good things about When Katie Met Cassidy via Book of the Month club though it wasn’t one of my original selections. I ended up downloading it on my Kindle after I read The Mars Room and literally read it in two days. It was a quick, easy read but also fresh and entertaining which is why I sped through it so quickly. It kind of reminded me of Blue is the Warmest Color.

Rating: 4/5

When: The Scientific Secrets of Perfect Timing by Daniel H. Pink

I’m more of a fiction reader but every once in a while I like mixing it up with non-fiction. Pink’s novel was pretty good but I didn’t have any enlightening ah-ha moments. I am considering reading one of his suggested books, A Geography of Time: Temporal Misadventures of a Social Psychologist by Robert V. Levine. Below are the main things I took from it:

– I am a “third bird,” meaning i’m not a morning lark nor a night owl but I do skew a little more towards being a morning person
– Studies show that students perform best on tests early in the morning (but not too early) and need breaks throughout the day in order to maintain strong performance/retention
– Daily naps are actually very good for us but for no more than about 20 minutes. It is okay to drink tea or coffee before a power nap because the caffeine doesn’t actually kick in for about 25 minutes
– It’s better to deliver bad news before good news

Rating: 3/5

Winter Reading

Man oh man, I love reading. I also love it when I have good books to read and I’ve fortunately read several good ones over the past few months. Below is the list of my recent reads starting with my favorite novel.

The Great Alone by Kristin Hannah

I absolutely loved Hannah’s The Nightingale so I selected her latest novel, The Great Alone as my Book of the Month club choice in February. It did not disappoint. Hannah has been the only novelist who has been able to make me cry over two separate books. I was literally sobbing on my couch while reading it. Hannah did a wonderful job describing the Alaskan landscape and I’m a sucker for young romance. Overall I really liked the plot.

Educated by Tara Westover

I read about Educated as a recommended Memoir in my February issue of Vogue so I figured I’d give it a shot since I’m trying to read more non-fiction, and I’m glad I did. I was very fascinated with Westover’s upbringing in a Mormon family.  There were actually quite a few parallels from The Great Alone in Westovers life story in the sense that both Leni in The Great Alone and Tara grew up an isolated, dysfunctional family and were both forced to be tough women in order to make it out okay.

The Science of Introverts by Peter Hollins

I was browsing through the free Kindle books for Amazon Prime members and this was an option so I figured I’d give it a go since I’m trying to read more non-fiction novels. It was a quick read and enlightening….I think I may actually be a “social introvert” which surprised me since I’ve always thought of myself as an extrovert. I took several notes while reading the book, so below are some of my highlights:

“Ambiverts achieve greater sales productivity than extroverts or introverts do. Because they naturally engage in a flexible pattern of talking and listening, ambiverts are likely to express sufficient assertiveness and enthusiasm to persuade and close a sale but are more inclined to listen to customers’ interests and less vulnerable to appearing too excited or overconfident.”

A leader requires the ability to adapt. Leaders do not have the luxury of retreating into their introverted or extroverted comfort zones. Instead, they must be “ambiverts” and have a flexible attitude depending upon the situation.

4 types of introverts:
Social Introvert – The Social Introvert is social, but in an introverted way. They enjoy people, but in limited quantities and ways.
– The Thinking Introvert is the type of person who is truly inward-focused. They are introspective, analytical, and thoughtful internally without having to interact with others.
Anxious introvert
– The Restrained Introvert doesn’t necessarily avoid social situations; they just tend to live at a slower pace.

Ambiverts occupy the vast space in the middle of the spectrum, and it’s something we all are, in actuality.

In conclusion, Grant said, “Ambiverts achieve greater sales productivity than extroverts or introverts do. Because they naturally engage in a flexible pattern of talking and listening, ambiverts are likely to express sufficient assertiveness and enthusiasm to persuade and close a sale but are more inclined to listen to customers’ interests and less vulnerable to appearing too excited or overconfident.”

Which personality type makes the better leader? Turns out, it depends on who they are leading and what they are trying to accomplish.

Artemis by Andy Weir

I read Artemis not long after reading Ready Player One since I was in the sci-fi mood. I liked the book, it was smart but goofy and a quick, easy read. I have already cast rapper M.I.A. as the story’s protagonist, Jazz.

Red Clocks by Leni Zumas

Reading this book was also timely with all of the women’s rights activism going on to protect women’s reproductive rights. It was one of my Book of the Month Club selections. The first few chapters I was like WTF is this but by a quarter of the way in I was hooked and I liked how all of the various characters lives were intertwined.

The Last Equation of Isaac Severy by Nova Jacobs 

This was a Book of the Month club selection in March and one of the guest celebrity book picks. It was a quick and entertaining read, I liked it.

Drop the Ball by Tiffany Dufu

I am kind of familiar with Tiffany Dufu through Levo so when this book was included in the gift tote I received at an event hosted by AppNexus I told myself I was going to read it. It did sit on my bookshelf for several weeks while I finished some other books, but I did eventually read it. Overall I enjoyed it.

The key takeaways for me is that communication is key in a relationship and don’t micromanage; everyone has their own style of getting things done and when you need to delegate tasks you can’t overthink it. Parenting is hard and it’s okay not to be perfect, you can’t always hold all of the pieces together yourself.

Nobody is Ever Missing by Catherine Lacy

I enjoyed all of the books listed above with the exception of this one. I picked this one up at The Strand because it was one of the employee picks. It kind of reminded me of The Idiot by Elif Batuman because neither novel has a point or feeling of closure or an ending. It was definitely a weird book and I wanted to shake the main character who was just lost in life and didn’t really make much sense.

Fall/Winter ’17 Reads

I read quite a few books the end of 2017 many which I recommend to others looking for a good new book to read. Below is the list from my most to least favorite:

Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng

I loved this book. I liked the plot and the author’s style of writing and how all of the characters were connected leading to a domino effect of events. Ng did a really great job with character development, especially with so many characters involved. It was one of the best books I read in 2017.

My Rating: 5/5

The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Jenkins Reid

Once I got a few chapters in I couldn’t put this one down. I sped through it and was entertained throughout. It didn’t have as “sophisticated” style of writing as Little Fires Everywhere, but I enjoyed the story.

My Rating: 4.5/5

Ready Player One by Ernest Cline

I read Ready Player One per my husband’s recommendation. Science Fiction isn’t normally my top genre pick but I actually really enjoyed this novel. It was interesting and not so far out there that I couldn’t imagine. It brought me back to my college days when I had to read books like Neuromancer for one of my Communications courses. I got through this one pretty quickly too and I really liked the protagonist in the story, Wade (/Parzival ;). I’m glad I read the book before the movie comes out in March.

My Rating: 4.5/5

Manhattan Beach by Jennifer Egan

This was on my reading list for a while and I’m glad I finally read it. I liked the main character, Anna, a strong-willed young woman who was determined to become a woman diver in the Navy Yard during WWII. Although I didn’t quite get Anna’s attraction to the gangster Dexter luckily that was only a sub-plot to the story. Overall it was a good feminist novel.

My Rating: 4/5

Sourdough: A Novel by Robin Sloan

Interesting and unlike anything else I’ve read is my best way to describe Sourdough: A Novel. It was weird but in a good way.  A smart, kick-ass woman engineer ends up with a delicious tasting sourdough bread starter with a mind of its own. It’s a fun, light kooky novel.

My Rating: 4/5

Sleeping Beauties by Stephen and Owen King

I thought it was cool that Stephen King worked with his son on a novel and it was one of my Book of the Month club books so I read it. While it’s not my favorite book it was entertaining and what I would expect from a King novel.

My Rating: 3/5

The Woman in Cabin 10 by Ruth Ware

I thought I liked In a Dark, Dark Wood which was Ruth Ware’s last novel and it was on the NYT Bestseller list among many other book club recommendation lists so I thought this was going to be good but it was only so-so. (Also, I’m shaking my head at myself because if I would have looked back at my own old book review blog post I would have seen that I did not actually like her other novel that much.) It was a light, easy read but I was annoyed with the main character the majority of the time.

My Rating: 2.5/5

The Wife Between Us by Greer Hendricks & Sarah Pekkanen

Another thriller/mystery/suspense novel that winds you up and leaves you a little disappointed at the end. Is there a secret sauce to all thrillers where the women protagonists are weak and annoying for 3/4 of the novel and then miraculously are brave and solve the mystery at the very end?

My Rating: 2/5

Lies She Told by Cate Holahan

This thriller/suspense novel was forgettable too.  Maybe this just isn’t my genre?

My Rating: 1.5/5

Books Read (April-May 2017)

I have been reading up a storm lately so I want to share some of the books I’ve read over the past few months. I read most of these on my honeymoon when I got into a reading groove and my reading voraciousness has stayed with me since we’ve returned.

These are in order of my top favs:

I’m Thinking of Ending Things by Iain Reid

I loved this novel because it wasn’t like anything else I’ve read. It was suspenseful and had an unexpected ending which left me contemplating the ending afterwards. I also loved the speed of the novel–it was slow going mirroring the long drive to Jake’s parents’s home and then it speeds up and crashes to the end. I wanted to make sure I understood the ending correctly so I did a little research. Here’s a good interview the NPR had with Reid; I like how he leaves many things up to the reader’s interpretation.

The Circle by Dave Eggers

Another eerie novel in a less blatant way than I’m Thinking of Ending Things but more frightening considering how close we actually are from what happens in the novel with today’s advanced technology. I saw the movie with Emma Watson and Tom Hanks after I read the book and the book is 1000000 times better. I definitely recommend reading this.

Swimming Lessons by Claire Fuller

This novel is frustrating because I wanted the main character, Ingrid, who seemed like a smart young woman to leave her shitty, cheating husband. It was pretty heartbreaking. I liked Fuller’s style of writing and how the story was told oscillating from the present day with Ingrid’s family attempting to deal with her disappearance and the past through letter that Ingrid wrote to her husband and hid for him to find after she was gone. It was sweet revenge she played on him.

All Grown Up by  Jami Attenberg

This was a quick read and I was really into it. I was able to read it in two weeks during my commute to and fro work. It touched on so much–being single, hating work, drinking too much, living in a tiny apartment and struggling, family, growing up–and perhaps I can relate to it more since I live and work in the city.

Perfect Little World by Kevin Wilson

Perfect Little World is Kevin Wilson’s debut novel. It wasn’t my favorite novel but it was interesting and overall I enjoyed it. Here’s a good review on NPR.

Queen of the Night by Alexander Chee

Queen of the Night wasn’t exactly what I was expecting when I first bought it but it was interesting enough nonetheless. It takes place in Paris 1982 which was the challenge because it was a different time and style of writing. It brought me back to my literature courses in college as an English major. Chee did a great job describing the scenes as well as the elaborate dresses of those times.

Broken trilogy by L.A. Weatherly

I read two of the books in the Broken trilogy, Broken Sky and Darkness Follows while on my honeymoon. I picked them up at an airport in Borneo for some light reading. They entertained me but not enough to need to buy the third book once I got back to the States. The young adult series takes place in a dystopian 1940s America and is about girl who is a pilot, a “Peacefighter” for America, that uncovers fixed fights and another country’s leader intent to start a war and take control of other territories.

You Don’t Look Your Age by Sheila Nevins

One of my colleagues went to a NY Times Talk and Sheila Nevins, President of HBO Documentary Films,  was one of the panelists. I was interested in learning more about her so when I found out she has a book I figured it would be the best way to start. The book featured a bunch of short stories/essays and a scatter of poetry. Some of the essays were interesting but it wasn’t quite what I had been expecting.

The Chemist by Stephanie Meyer

This was another fun, easy read that me and Kevin picked up at an airport in Asia. He read it first and then I read it because I had nothing else to read. It was what I expected of a Stephanie Meyer novel. It was interesting enough to get me to finish it but the plot was pretty predictable. I would pass on this one unless you love her other books and have nothing else to read.

Book Review

I have been reading a lot lately and have been enjoying spending more time with  books rather than having my eyes glued to a screen…well, I guess I still do a fair amount of TV watching, but either way, below are some of the most recent books I’ve read. I’ve listed them in order from least to most liked.

The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman – It was fantasy novel which I wasn’t expecting and it isn’t my normal genre pick but it was still entertaining and nice to read something different.

The Grownup by Gillian Flynn – It is her short story that won an Edgar Award in 2015…I def didn’t realize it was just a short story when I downloaded in on my phone so after I read it in like two minutes I was like, wait, that’s it? Also, am I the only one that was like wtf was that?

Barbara the Slut and Other People by Lauren Holmes – Consisted of a bunch of short stories. Honestly, I can’t remember most of them but they all had a similar theme.

In a Dark, Dark Wood by Ruth Ware – Was a book recommended to me since I’ve liked Gillian Flynn novels but it wasn’t that great.

A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman – I really enjoyed this novel. It wasn’t as predictable as I had been expecting and I enjoyed the unlikely friendships that formed. It was also a good “don’t judge a book by its cover” novel.

The Possessions by Sarah Flannery Murphy–I just finished this one today and I only started it last week. It reminded me of Stephanie Meyer’s The Host.

The Wangs vs. the World by Jade Chang – highly entertaining. I loved it and really liked all the characters in the Wang family.

Sweetbitter by Stephanie Danler – obsessed with this book and couldn’t put it down. I was sad that I finished it. I also really liked Danler’s style of writing. I will be looking out for more of her work.


The Nest and Sons and Daughter of Ease and Plenty

It just happened that I picked two books to read that had to do with families either born into wealth or that were expecting a large inheritance. Despite being in different time periods with one of the novels, The Nest by Cynthia D’Aprix Sweeney, taking place current day and the other novel, Sons and Daughters of Ease and Plenty by Ramona Ausubel, taking place in the 1970s, there were many similar themes including love, ones career, motherhood, and mortality.

One of the parallels between the two novels is that money can take over ones mind and change relationships. Another is the inevitability of getting old and how one feels invisible with age. There was an eeriness to protagonist Fern in Sons and Daughter of Ease and Plenty and her family’s belief to take one out of one’s misery when he/she gets too old to prevent tarnishing one’s image by letting others see the deterioration. Lastly, both novels explored motherhood through women with different parenting styles (some much more involved and maternal than others) and how becoming a mother ultimately alters ones career.

I loved The Nest and I like that the Plumb family’s chase of money and final acceptance that it wasn’t coming forced them to alter the course of their lives and they ultimately became happier for it. Spoiler alert, I was still hoping that Leo would come through at the end either to see the family finally take a stand against him and officially outcast him like he had done to them or to see him repair his relationships and repay his family for what he had taken, but I was still happy with the novel regardless. I suppose in a way I did like the bittersweet ending. I enjoyed Sons and Daughters of Ease and Plenty as well but I didn’t like the characters or style of writing as much as Cynthia’s. I am glad that I coincidentally read both similarly themed books back to back though to compare and to see how expansive with many different directions novels can go while holding similar themes.

“Nothing was more terrifying than what familiar could do to each other.” – Sons and Daughters of Ease and Plenty