Reading Recap: May 2018

It’s that time again! A reading recap. I failed at sharing these the past couple months, so consider this the first in what will be a new effort to actually do this every month. I didn’t read quite as much as I’d hoped, but all four books were four star reads, so I’ll take it. Have you read any of these? What did you read this month?

Love and Other Words by Christina LaurenIf you’re a fan of contemporary romance — or if you aren’t sure this genre is for you but want to give it a try — READ THIS. I’m fairly new to the romance genre, but it’s quickly becoming one of my favorites (two others I’ve loved: The Wedding Date and It Ends With Us). What makes these books so appealing are the lovable characters, steamy sex scenes, surprise twists, and ALL THE FEELS, and Love and Other Words has it all. Plus, reading plays a crucial role in Macy and Elliott’s lives, and who doesn’t love that? I laughed, I cried, and I smiled from the first page to the last — I wish I could read it again for the first time. This was my first Christina Lauren book, but it definitely won’t be my last. [Thank you to Gallery Books for providing a free copy in exchange for my honest review.] 4 stars; for fans of Colleen Hoover, Taylor Jenkins Reid, The Light We Lost.

Pachinko by Min Jin Lee: It took me a while to feel like I was ready to tackle this hefty book, both because of its size, but also its high praise — I always fear a book with so much buzz will fall flat for me, or one as highly lauded will go completely over my head. But once I got started, just like everyone said, it went surprisingly quickly and kept me engage… until about the last 100 pages. One thing that makes me feel invested in a book is good well depicted characters, and Min Jin Lee has a knack for that. I did feel like the story fizzled out at the end, leaving some characters’ story lines unfinished and making me rush through it just to finish. There are lots of themes here: hope, parental roles and influence, class issues, identity, to name a few. I also liked that it taught me so much about Korean history, something I was embarrassingly ignorant of. While this book didn’t impact me like it did some people, it’s a story that will stick with me for a long time, one I’m very glad I finally worked up the motivation to read. 4 stars; for fans of Little Fires Everywhere, The Tea Girl of Hummingbird Lane, The Nightingale.

I’ll Be Gone in the Dark by Michelle McNamara: I bought Michelle McNamara’s book as soon as it came out… and then let it sit on my shelf, neglected. When news broke that the killer had been caught, I no longer had an excuse not to read it. McNamara’s writing sucked me in immediately, as did the details of each gruesome attack. I’m a HUGE fan of murder-y things (not sure what that says about me) and had just finished rewatching alllllll 19 seasons of Law & Order: SVU, so I’ll Be Gone in the Dark was right up my alley. It’s hard to imagine a person being sick enough to commit these acts, let alone with the survivors and families of the victims went through. Pro tip: Try not to read this right before bed; the fact that he’s been caught only makes it a TINY bit less terrifying to read. I only wish McNamara was alive to see what her years of work accomplished. 4 stars; for fans of true crime, especially In Cold Blood and Helter Skelter.

You Think It, I’ll Say It by Curtis Sittenfeld: This is the first short story collection I’ve read in its entirety and I LOVED IT. I didn’t want it to end! Curtis Sittenfeld’s cleverness, wry wit, and ability to make every story resonate had me eager to keep reading. Plus, she tackles topics very relevant to our current culture — social media, class issues, gender roles, political differences, etc. I was particularly struck by how much she made me care about the characters in just 10 to 20 pages; she did a phenomenal job of developing a story and making me feel invested in a short amount of time. I’ve been a fan of hers for a while — particularly American Wife and Prep — but now I might just be a super fan. [Thank you to Randomhouse for gifting me this copy in exchange for my honest review.] 4 stars; for fans of anything Curtis Sittenfeld, The Female Persuasion, and I Was Told There’d Be Cake.

For more of my reading life, check out my bookstagram account.

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The Lying Game by Ruth Ware

I’ll admit upfront that I’m a little disappointed to only be giving this book three stars. BUT, that doesn’t mean I didn’t enjoy it, just that it didn’t live up to my expectations. (Read the synopsis.)

I read In a Dark Dark Wood by Ruth Ware last summer, and liked it, and I’ve heard The Woman in Cabin 10 is even better, but it’s been sitting on my shelf making me feel guilty for months. I plan on reading that next month, so it’ll be interesting to compare all three. Stay tuned!

But, back to The Lying Game. I started this on a Tuesday night and stayed up way too late, blowing through 125 pages, and finished it the next night, when I stayed up late again. Needless to say, it had me hooked from the beginning.

And it stayed that way through the entire first half, making me feel like I was at the Mill with Isa, Fatima, Thea, and Kate, reliving their boarding school days and the drama from that was resurfacing in their present lives.

But somewhere around page 250, it started getting a little tired, and I had to push myself to keep going. And while the ending was satisfying, it wasn’t jaw dropping or heart pounding or any of the adjectives I’d give a four-star thriller. In fact, I’m not sure I’d even label it a thriller. It fits better in the mystery category, or even general fiction, due to its lack of suspense. The setting and mood of the book are ripe for a terrifying roller coaster of a read, but that isn’t what you get. Instead it’s a well-written and intense story of friendship and the secrets we keep.

And maybe that’s where this book gets a little off track. Comparing this to her other books, as well as the thriller genre in general, makes it feel a little lacking.

Atmospheric and slow burning, The Lying Game is a fast-paced and quick read with well-developed and relatable characters. Fans of mysteries, stories of friendship, and family dramas will find this book enjoyable, just don’t go into it think it’s a thrilling ride.

The Lying Game comes out on July 25, so be sure to stop by your local bookstore and pre-order a copy, or pick one up when it comes out. Big thanks to Gallery Books for sending me an advanced copy!

As always, you can check out more of the books I’m reading, loving, and hoarding over at @kathareads.

June Reads

If you couldn’t tell from my previous post, I’m attempting to make reading more of a priority. I used to DEVOUR books, starting one as soon as it entered my house. But over the years, probably thanks to #adulting, reading has taken a backseat. Don’t get me wrong, my love of books is still going strong, as evidenced by the hundreds — yes, hundreds — of books I’ve continued to accumulate with the intention of reading them.

In order to create the space to read more, I’ve drastically cut down the amount of television I watch. I canceled almost ALL of my DVR recordings, and instead of watching a show while doing my daily treatments, I read.

I’m also trying to read more of the (many, many, many) articles I save to Pocket. Are you sensing a theme here? #overlyambitious #contenthoarder

So, here’s what I’ve read in the month of June! Follow along with more of the books I’m reading, buying, and hoarding at @kathareads on Instagram.

Books

Hunger by Roxane Gay. HarperCollins was kind enough to send me an advanced copy of this gem and I’m so glad they did. This book will stick with me for a long time. (I reviewed this book in a standalone post a couple weeks ago.)

Salt to the Sea by Ruta Sepetys. This was the May/June pick for The Bookly Club and surprised myself — I LOVED it. You can read my full review over there.

The Assistants by Camille Perri. I picked this up on a whim, needing a reprieve from the heavier subjects (see above). This was PERFECT. I read it in two days. Yes, TWO days. The full review is on Goodreads.

Midnight at the Bright Ideas Bookstore by Matthew J. Sullivan. June was full of good books, and this one was no exception. This will definitely end up being one of my favorite reads of the year. My full review is on Goodreads.

Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi. This critically acclaimed book sat on my shelf for FAR too long. After finding some extra time at the end of the month, I finally picked it up and I’m so glad I did. Again, full review on Goodreads.

Articles

9 Things Readers Do Better Than Anyone Else

Why Venmo is My Favorite Sympathy Card

YES PLEASE: S’mores Slab Pie

The Best Ways to Support Independent Publishers

I Don’t Know How to Explain to You That You Should Care About Other People

How to Be a Contemporary Writer

Read It Forward’s Favorites of June 2017

Women’s Friendships, in Sickness and in Health

Tell me: What did you read and love in June? Come chat with me in the comments!