What I’ve Been Reading Lately

book recommendations and books to read

 

I currently have 13 books that I’ve read and haven’t talked about yet on the blog. I hesitate to say I’m “13 books behind for review” because it creates unnecessary pressure on me but alas. I haven’t been doing a good job about blogging plus I’m still trying to decide if I just want to do batches of talking about what I’m reading or take the time to do longer book talks. I feel like people don’t really read reviews/book talks anymore and I want to talk about books in a way that lets me get out all my ~book feels~ and a way that is helpful for you guys in finding book recs or someone to commiserate over a book with.

Anywhoooo, here’s some of what I’ve been reading lately! Let me know in the comments what you’ve been reading also!

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What I’ve Been Reading Lately

book recommendations and books to read

 

As I’ve mentioned before I’ve been reading rather slowly and not as often this summer but I feel like I can feel my typical reading habits coming back a bit which is nice. What have you guys been reading?? Tell me in the comments!

 

First up for me was:

 

 

Unscripted Joss Byrd book cover

Unscripted Joss Byrd by Lygia Day Penaflor

I received this for review consideration from the publisher but these opinions are all mine…pinkie swear!

 

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Book Talk: One True Loves by Taylor Jenkins Reid

Book Talk: One True Loves by Taylor Jenkins ReidOne True Loves by Taylor Jenkins Reid
Published by Simon & Schuster, Washington Square Press on June 2016
Genres: Adult Contemporary
Also by this author: After I Do, Maybe in Another Life
Format: eARC
Source: For Review
Amazon
Goodreads

I received this book for review consideration from the publisher. This in no way swayed my opinion of the book. Pinky swear!

 

 

 

Want an “at a glance” look at what I thought? Check out my Review On A Post-It or my “Final Thought”

 

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Emma marries her high school sweetheart and they spend their 20’s loving each other and traveling the world and building a life together. When he goes missing after a helicopter accident and is presumed dead, Emma’s world crumbles. She moves back home to the town and life she didn’t want, grieves and then finally attempts to put her life back together. Years later she opens herself back up to love with someone from her past and falls in love and gets engaged. And then she gets the call….the one saying her first love and husband has been found after all these years and she’s torn between her husband and her fiance.

 

 

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[Keep Reading]

What I’ve Been Reading Lately – Mini Book Talks

I had a bunch of books I read I read before vacation and then after and I’m just behind so here’s some mini book talks to let you know what I thought about some of my recent reads.

 

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The Way I Used To Be by Amber Smith

I received this for review consideration but this in no way affected my opinions.

 

About In A Sentence (ish): The Way I Used To Be chronicles the high school years of a girl named Eden who was raped by her brother’s best friend and how that night, and the pain of how deep she buries it within her, changed her whole world.

Thoughts: Oof this one hurt my heart. It was so hard to watch how the rape and keeping the secret of it slowly changes her so that she’s so far from the person she was. I enjoyed that it didn’t just show the immediate effect and aftermath but how it changed her over time in those 4 years and the lasting effects on her life. As I’m writing this I’ve following and sick to death over the whole Stanford rape case and even more furious that this guy will get six months when this girl will live with this for a lifetime. This book really showed a powerful glimpse into what rape survivors may go through though obviously everyone’s experience and reaction is different. Eden’s secret pain and the way she tries to cope with what happened to her will break your heart but her strength will leave a lasting mark on readers. Read this if you enjoyed Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson and Firsts by Laurie Elizabeth Flynn.

 

Rating:

RATING-reallyliked

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I Read A Classic For The First Time In What Feels Like Forever

Back in the day, prior to starting this book blog in 2010, I used to read and genuinely enjoy more classics. Once I began blogging, I started discovering new interests, mainly YA, and so my tastes were all over the place and I was too busy discovering new stuff instead of the classics on my shelves. Suddenly my TBR was out of control and I was reading from all sorts of genres and discovering new stuff I never knew I liked. Plus enter review books pretty early on. And, if we are being honest, forgoing chunky books or more difficult reads in favor of things I could read more quickly because I “needed” to get blog posts up. I knew I was doing it and that was okay with me. I was prioritizing where my reading tastes where in that moment.

But recently I’ve been wanting to get back into the classics that I still haven’t read. So I decided to pick up a Jane Austen book I haven’t read — Sense & Sensibility.

sense and sensibility

 

I think a statement Will made sums up part of the experience pretty well.

“You are still reading that? I feel like you’ve been reading that for forever.”

Me too, bro, me too. It wasn’t that I was disliking it or that it was a painful read. It was just way slooooowwwer than what I’ve been used to reading over the years. I can fly through a fast paced YA read or a fluffy romance in no time. Sure, I still read books that are a bit slower to digest like a ~literary fiction~ book or a dense fantasy book but this just felt abnormally slow to me.

It took more time. It took more concentration. It took more effort. As a friend put it, “it takes a different reading muscle.” A DIFFERENT READING MUSCLE. Yes. That was exactly it.

After finishing, I came to the conclusion that I think I needed to work out some different reading muscles — for myself, not saying EVERYONE needs to work reading muscles they don’t want to. I needed to slow down my reading a bit. Needed to allow my brain to read something that I couldn’t process as fast as what I mostly read. It allowed for a different reading experience for me. I thoroughly enjoyed it and was engaged but it was in a different way not being able to fly through the pages as quickly. There were times I had that same “OMG MUST FIND OUT WHAT HAPPENED” but I couldn’t speed read like I’m in the habit of doing with books with more modern and straightforward language for me.

It reminded me of why I like reading and interacting with a variety of things and also why I don’t want to shy away from things that may be more challenging in different ways. Even if sometimes I don’t feel like I’m not quite smart enough to glean all the things I’m supposed to.

 

So what did I think of Sense & Sensibility?

I really enjoyed it! I always enjoy Jane Austen’s commentary on social issues, gender and class and Sense & Sensibility was no exception.

Considering one of my most complicated and best relationships in my life has always been my sister, who is a couple years younger than me, I really appreciated these sisters. I definitely related to Elinor in trying to keep all the shit together knowing that my sister was always the one who took things harder and I felt I needed to take care of her. Watching Elinor push back her own feelings and hurt reminded me so much of the role I took when my mom was sick and then after she passed. I always tried to be strong for my sister and rarely showed my emotions around her, which totally led to misunderstandings and such like in these sisters’ case, but inside was turmoil city. I loved how, like my sister and I, when some of these inner feelings were shared with each other there was an even greater bond. I often wonder had I been more open with her about that I was doing badly too if things would have been easier for me — but alas, I chose to try and ~be strong~ hoping that if she didn’t see me panic that she wouldn’t. It’s no surprise how much I related to Elinor and how much I saw my sister in Marianne.

After reading a lot of classics I’m always thankful for, even while acknowledging how imperfect our society is, that I didn’t live back then. The way marriages were like this business transactions and so may more factors that weren’t LOVE factored into them. How you could lose your family if you wanted to marry down. How you could love someone but a better match could be made based on money. How you could lose your home when your husband dies because inheritance that benefited men more. OOF.

I also really enjoyed that exploration of what goes into happiness in life. Do you marry someone you don’t love because you think money will make you happy? Do you marry for love but risk being miserable and poor? I think my whole life I’ve always thought about this in terms of your career. Do I do what might make me happy but struggle because I won’t have money to do things I want to? Or do I take the job that makes the money but makes me miserable and end up working long hours and having so much money but no time to do what I want? I had this vivid example of this dilemma in my parents — my dad and stepmom who lived more simple lives without a lot of money and my mom and stepdad who made a ton more money but watching my mom seem so stressed out and bring her work home with her but we could do vacations and fun stuff. I always found my dad to be more happy despite money struggles though I can’t say that I think my mom was always UNHAPPY. Tradeoffs to your choices I suppose.

Anyways, to make a long story short. I enjoyed yet another Austen immensely and I’m glad I chose to pick it up despite it taking me so long to read. I loved the way I connected to the book in ways I didn’t expect and, like always, I loved the romance plots, the melodrama and that Jane Austen wit. But mostly I loved this story of sisters trying to find love and happiness even if their path to finding it isn’t the same.

What I’ve Been Reading Lately

 

Happy Monday, friends! Let’s talk about a few things I’ve read recently! I have to say….these 3 books couldn’t be any more different which pretty much sums up my reading life — very eclectic.

 

The Deal Elle Kennedy

The Deal by Elle Kennedy

About In A Sentence (ish): Hannah, a girl with a crush on a popular football player at her college, makes a deal with Garrett, a hockey player with a reputation, in which he’ll help her get Justin’s attention and she’ll help him pass his Ethics exam so he’ll be able to stay on the team.

Thoughts: I’m super picky about the New Adult romance books I read so I always go into them pretty nervous. This one was soooo addictive and I really enjoyed it! Totally hooked! I love the hate to love trope. It’s one of my faves of all time. Plus the fact it started with the kind of “deal” that it did? I LOVE THAT KIND OF STUFF. When people who don’t mean to fall for each other do…SWOON. I didn’t always love Garrett but his character grew on me and, while he’s not my type, I found their relationship to be something I was so invested in — especially how they grew into a friendship during their study sessions and then into something more. Some of those parts were my FAVE. I loved their banter and their chemistry! I cannot wait to read the rest of the series because I’m so curious about the other guys they feature. Overall, I can’t really explain why I enjoyed this one so much — it was super fun and sexy. It wasn’t anything new or original in terms of tropes or storylines and it was pretty predictable….but none of that mattered because something about the characters and their stories hooked me. So happy to be able to have another New Adult romance I will happily recommend because I only have a few in my arsenal that I truly loved.

 

Rating:

RATING-loved-it

[Keep Reading]

What I’ve Been Reading Lately

 

As I said in this post, I got a lot of reading done during my unintentional blog break due to hurting my right wrist. So much so that I have quite the backlog of things to talk about but don’t feel like trying to squeeze in a bunch of individual posts about! So let’s get to some of these:

 

My Brilliant Friend series

My Brilliant Friend by Elena Ferrante

About In A Sentence (ish): It’s about the ever changing friendship between Lila and Elena as they grow up in Naples, Italy in the 195o’s. (That’s totally simplifying it but there’s so much!!)

Thoughts: One of the ugliest covers I’ve ever seen. Truly. When I went to go read this I hadn’t heard much about it — it was a pick for a book club a new friend invited me to join! I went to get it from the library and there were like 140 something holds for it and I’m like WUT — I have NEVER heard of this book and it came out years ago. Come to find out it has become super popular recently! Anyways, this one was sooo slow to start and it was hard to follow at times — because it jumps around from stories from the girls’ childhoods and there are A LOT of people referenced and sometimes not a lot is actually happening. But then slowly I realized I was SOOO immersed in their story and couldn’t put it down…it just happened without me realizing how much I was falling in love with the story and these girls. The writing is incredible and her ability to construct these characters just impressed me so much. Their friendship is complicated (the competitiveness, the way they would come and go with each other at periods of time, the loyalty) and kind of toxic but I found myself fascinated by it and fascinated by where it will go.  I was fascinated (and saddened often) by all the dynamics working in their poverty-filled neighborhood in 1950’s Naples — which was a GREAT setting by the way! I definitely plan on getting to the next one because this one ends when they are 16 and I know A LOT is going to happen throughout the years…especially based on HOW the novel started. It’s honestly just such a smart book about A LOT of things, not solely a friendship, and I wish I could properly talk about it. It’s just such a masterpiece of a book that it’s so hard to explain what exactly makes it so great because it’s a lot of things!

 

Rating:

RATING-loved-it

[Keep Reading]

What I’ve Been Reading Lately – Mini Book Talks

Times have been busy so it’s time to just let you know what I’ve been reading with a little bit about what I thought!

 

 

Pointe by Brandy Colbert

Pointe by Brandy Colbert

About In A Sentence (ish): Theo is a talented ballerina who has been through a lot — the disappearance of her best friend and an eating disorder that landed her in a group facility. When her best friend returns, 4 years after he went missing, secrets that Theo kept make her realize maybe she held a piece to her friend’s disappearance all along.

Thoughts: This one was my book club pick for August as I had really wanted to read it. I really liked it but I definitely didn’t OMG LOVE IT like so many of my friends did. There’s a lot going on to make it a page turner — a friend who was kidnapped returned, eating disorders, competitive ballet and a big secret that Theo has been keeping. I read it in one sitting and really felt for Theo and all the secrets surrounding Donovan’s disappearance. Theo has been through a lot, as we learn, and I really liked watching her become more free from these things and help herself and others even though it takes her a lot of mistakes to get there. Well written and definitely emotionally grittier than I thought it would be when I started!

Rating:

RATING-reallyliked

All The Light We Cannot See

All The Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr

About In A Sentence-ish: A blind young French girl and a young German orphan boy paths collide as they try to survive World War II — she having to flee to a relative’s home as the Germans invade and he trying to survive being thrust into the Hitler Youth as they sharpen his skills at fixing and making and dissecting radios and everything to do with them.

Thoughts: THIS BOOK WAS AS AMAZING AS EVERYONE SAID. Though I have to say I struggled with the first 50 pages. Kept falling asleep but it was probably my fault for starting a new book at night. I loved both of the main characters so much and their stories were just so well written and hit me right in the feels. Marie-Laurie is so strong and I loved her perseverance and her curiosity. Werner’s struggle with what he knew was wrong/right vs. trying to survive (while coming of age) is heart-breaking. I always seem to be drawn to WWII books even though they hurt my heart and this one is one of the best I’ve encountered! I loved the way it was told alternating between the beginning of the war and then the end when they are both in danger. The way their stories converge is just masterful. I was reading SO ridiculously fast to see what would happen next for our main characters and how their paths would meet. Just so pleased that this lived up to the hype for me!!

Rating

RATING-loved-it

 

Not After Everything Michelle Levy

Not After Everything by Michelle Levy

About In A Sentence-ish: From old friends to opposite ends of the social hierarchy, Tyler and Jordyn are thrown back together when Tyler needs a job to pay for his basic needs after his mom commits suicide and he’s left to fend for himself with his abusive father.. So much has happened since they were friends all these years ago to change their life and who they are but they find a sense of comfort in each other.

Thoughts: Woah this book was intense! Poor Tyler — what a rough situation he is in. His mom kills herself and now he’s left with his abusive dad who has only gotten worse since his mom passed. My hurt physically hurt as his story unfolded. So much to bear. I really liked the relationship between him and Jordyn as it developed though I think I would have loved this book more had it just been a friendship (though I do love a good “from hate to love” relationship). I loved how they got to know each other again after so many years and so many changes in their lives and as people. I loved how raw and honest Tyler’s perspective was even if at times he came off as so rude and brash. You could feel the immense hurt and brokenness in him. Definitely an emotionally tough book to read but really good. Also I loved the moments with he and his therapist so much. Ehhh to some of the uber high school drama that seems soo Mean Girls like.

* I received this book for review consideration. It in no way affected my opinion on the book*

Rating:

RATING-LIKED

 

Fates and FuriesFates & Furies by Lauren Groff

About In A Sentence-ish: The story of a husband and wife — first half from his POV, second half from hers.

Thoughts: Oh man I almost put this down. The first half KILLED ME. Like I gave zero shits about Lotto and wanted him to just go away. And then I got to the second part and was floored and OH MAN. Seriously, the addage two sides to every story is all you need to know and Groff is masterful as she tells the other side in the Furies section. Oh how the story, literally being told in much of the same timeline but through Mathilde’s POV, changes once you see the story told from both sides. How you view success of relationships, careers, moments in your life, interpretation of events — all in the eye of the beholder and incomplete without knowing other sides to things. Very thought-provoking and well written. Glad the second half made up for the boring first half in the best way possible. Definitely will be reading more books from Lauren Groff. Very talented!

Rating:

RATING-LIKED

Have you read any of these? What did you think?

Book Talk: God-Shaped Hole by Tiffanie DeBartolo

Book Talk: God-Shaped Hole by Tiffanie DeBartoloGod-Shaped Hole by Tiffanie DeBartolo
Published by Sourcebooks Landmark on 2002
Genres: Adult Contemporary
Format: Paperback
Source: Library
Amazon/Twitter
Goodreads

 

 

 

Want an “at a glance” look at what I thought? Check out my Review On A Post-It or my “Final Thought”

 

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Beatrice is a 29 year old living in Los Angeles where she makes high end jewelry and dates casually. She comes across a personal ad saying, ““If your intentions are pure I am seeking a friend for the end of the world”  and on a whim answers it — something she’s never done. This leads her to Jacob Grace — a 30-something free-spirited writer who is so full of life and passion. There’s a spark between the two that ignites a passionate romance between two people who have big ambitions and dreams that propel them forward away from the dads that have abandoned them.

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Wow. It’s been a while since a book had me up reading until 2AM and then rendered me unable to fall asleep until 4am because I was just feeling a lot of feelings that wouldn’t shut off. Thanks Estelle and Ginger for this solid rec and I’m only sorry I didn’t listen sooner when you told me years ago!

I don’t want to say a lot about this book although from the official summary on the book you can get a sense of it. It was a love story that kind of took my breath away from its whirlwind nature to start and its ability to be this quiet, fly-on-the-wall view of two people who are just falling deeply and madly in love and how energizing and all consuming that is — the attraction and sex, the intimacy in revealing who you are through your history and your secrets and your every day habits. There is beauty in that unraveling of layers that comes when you start to really KNOW someone. It’s exhilarating even in the quiet and mundane of daily life as habits and routines in the relationship set in. It just felt so real and like romantic in the normalcy of it? Reminded me how there’s just something so magical and romantic in your own love story.

It’s a book you are pretty certain you know how it’s going to end from the first page pretty much (especially if you read the summary on the book) but it takes your breath away anyways and knocks you flat on your ass like you never saw it coming. Like get-out-of-your-bed-in-the-wee-hours-of-the-morning-to-go-cry-in-the-bathroom-so-your-husband-doesn’t-hear-your-wracking-sobs never saw it coming at the end. I had this mounting dread and tension as I read wondering whether or not what is dropped in front of your face in the beginning had any bearing on the story or how it could be interpreted.

It’s the kind of book that reminds you of the most exuberant and thrilling feelings you can feel in this life mingled with the most bone-crushing and soul-shattering ones we know we are destined to feel at some point in this life. The weight of all that honestly made me curl up in a ball and cry in bed. I didn’t know how I felt —  maybe contemplative, depressed, thankful, understood, small, distraught, in love with life? Other things I couldn’t put into words?

 From a non-feels standpoint, I also really LOVED the writing and the voice. It felt refreshing and it was funny, too! I wish it hadn’t been the libraries copy because there were sooo many passages I just wanted to dog-ear.

a6RATING-loved-it

factors+ writing, feels, characters, romances
nothing

Re-readability: Yes!
Would I buy a copy for my collection? Yes I want to dog-ear the crap out of it!

a8It’s a magnificent love story but it’s so much more. It’s about longing to be understood, loneliness, finding your path in life that fulfills you and the way we all go about filling up that void, or that “God-shaped hole”, inside us all that yearns for so many things. So many poignant things in this book. So many emotions felt. I will be thinking about this for a long time.

review-on-post-it

god-shaped-hole

a8j* Have you read this one? What did you think? Similar or different from me? I would LOVE to hear regardless!
*If you haven’t read it, does it feel like something you’d be into?

 

 


The Perpetual Page-Turner

2 Adult Fiction Books I’ve Read Recently

Before I started this blog in 2010 I used to primarily read adult fiction (pop on over here if you are interested in my reading history). I clearly went full force into YA but I still do read adult fiction here and there (some I loved recently: here, here, here, and here). I’m definitely craving adult fiction even more these days (I’d love some recs in the comments) so here’s two I’ve read lately.

 

Sugar Daddy by Lisa Kleypas

Sugar Daddy by Lisa Kleypas

Amazon // Goodreads
Published: 2007
Big thanks to Racquel for recommending and gifting me this book!

What It Is About In A Few Sentences: 14 year old Liberty moves to a trailer park in Welcome, Texas with her single mother where she meets her first love and the guy who is always in the back of her mind as she grows up. Liberty comes of age in that trailer park and is faced with some things that make her grow up faster than her peers. Soon she finds herself in Houston, as a twenty-something, struggling to make the life she wants happen and she meets a older, powerful man named Churchill who changes everything for her — even her understanding of things that happened in the past.

When I first added this to my TBR I thought it was a straight up romance novel (which remember! I like now!). When I let Racquel know I was starting to read this one she mentioned that it’s part romance, part women’s fiction. After reading it I can say it’s a totally apt description. I REALLY liked this one and could not put it down! We meet Liberty as a teenager and the book spans to her early twenties (good one for YA lovers wanting to try out some adult). I LOVED LIBERTY. She is one tough chick and I loved watching her coming of age story. Life has definitely NOT been easy for her (grows up poor, tragedies, etc.) and she grows up way too soon because of some THINGS. My heart just broke for her but I also felt super proud of her for how she handled it. Her story made me super emotional for MANY reasons — everything she endures, how her past finds her years later, the things she learns, etc. OKAY and let’s talk about the romance? (SIDENOTE: Southern men are so swoony).  HARDY CATES. Her first love. Their romantic tension was INTENSE and I felt the heartbreak she feels when he leaves (somehow I missed that part in the summary). Kleypas writes their relationship so well. SWOON. But the romance with another character later on? SWOON AGAIN. I loved how Liberty has to reconcile this first love that she doesn’t want to let go with the prospective of new love. AND THE ENDING. PERFECT PERFECT PERFECT. This book was heartwarming even though it made me cry a couple times. And the characters? Lisa Kleypas creates the most wonderful main and secondary characters. I JUST WANT TO HUG THEM ALL.

RATING

 

RATING-loved-it

 

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Shotgun Lovesongs by Nickolas Butler

Amazon// Goodreads
Published: March 2014
I received a copy of this book for review from the publisher. This is no way influenced the opinions shared.

What It Is About In A Few Sentences: It follows the friendship and lives of a group of guys from a small town through flashbacks and in the now as they are in their 30’s and life has taken them in very different directions as they’ve all made a life for themselves. They are reunited for a wedding and have to face the ways they have changed AND their friendships have changed  despite their attempts to hold on to what they had. Secrets, betrayals, struggles and the passing of time that has changed them all put a strain on what they had.

I liked this one but not as much as I’d hoped! It also may have been that it took me forever to read it because it was on my kindle and my kindle died and I kept forgetting to charge it. The main thing for me that I LOVED about this one is how it explored male friendships. I loved the friendship of these guys from this small town even despite how the dynamics shift through the years as they grow older and their lives get even more complicated. It’s really rare for me to read a book that gives me these tender male relationships and I really grew to love Hank, Ronny, Kip and Leland and their bond even when things get complicated amongst them. I loved learning about their early friendship contrasted with the men they have all become as two have left and two have stayed. Marriages, tragedy, betrayals, financial troubles, shenanigans…they endured it all. It’s definitely a quieter book and I really liked the character development and the prose. Every character captured my heart some way or another as they were all so complex. It was interesting how we see what  success and happiness is challenged in these very different men. They all seem to think they want what another has or might pity another but they learn the grass ISN’T always greener and things aren’t always as they seem (YEP CLICHES FOR THE WIN HERE). Also, such a great book that reminds you GET to pick who your family is and what HOME really means to a person. Plus, the setting and feel of small town life? SPOT ON. It reminded me so much of where I used to live. It’s funny because I KNOW groups of guys from that small town I used to live in that remind me SO much of these guys. My problem? As distinct as the characters were through the eyes of the others, sometimes I struggled with the actual voices of who was narrating and would get confused with the multi-narration and the shift to the past/present.

RATING

RATING-LIKED

 

 

 

Have you read either of these? I’d love to know what YOU thought!! If you haven’t read them, do you think they are something you are interested in?

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