stack of books

Reading Recap: June 2018

With the end of a month comes another reading recap, and June had some pretty good reads — 8 books in total, 2 of them on audio. Instead of coming up with a stack of books I wanted to read, I just picked what my mood told me to. And apparently I was in the mood for engaging and compelling reads. 1 nonfiction, 3 thrillers, 3 contemporary fiction, 1 YA.

A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman — This was my second Backman book (my first was Beartown and you KNOW how I felt about that one). It was also my first real foray into listening to fiction — most of the time I find I’m too easily distracted to follow a story, so I’ve been sticking to nonfiction. But something about the narrator and Ove as a character held my attention, and I ended up loving this story. It’s no Beartown, but Ove is an endearing character with a lot of flaws and a lot of heart. I both laughed and cried many times while learning about Ove’s both tragic and average life.

Providence by Caroline Kepnes — I read Caroline Kepnes’ You a couple of years ago and found it fascinating and terrifying, so I was excited to get my hands on her latest. Providence definitely wasn’t what I expected but I still really enjoyed it. It’s the perfect mix of suspense, romance, and science fiction, as well as being a quick + engaging read. While the ending wrapped up a little too quickly and didn’t have quite the big reveal I was hoping for, I enjoyed each of the main characters and was eager to find out what happened. This might not be my favorite of hers, but I’ll still be looking forward to the next book Kepnes writes. [Thank you to Randomhouse for gifting me this copy in exchange for an honest review.]

The Book of Essie by Meghan MacLean Weir — This book hooked me from the very beginning, and I gobbled it up in just a few sittings. As someone who is fascinated by families like the Duggars, this was a compelling read. Essie and Roarke were by far my favorite, and I rooted for them until the very end. I was captivated by both the inner workings of Essie’s family and Libby’s childhood — which had threads that wove them together in interesting ways. However, I was disappointed by the ending, which felt rushed and oversimplified. After spending 80% of the story building up to the final moment, I felt a little cheated. Regardless, I’d still highly recommend The Book of Essie to anyone who is intrigued by religious extremists and who likes a fast-paced, engaging plot. [Thank you to Alfred A. Knopf for gifting me this copy in exchange for an honest review.]

Scythe by Neal Schusterman — I fully intended not to like this book. YA fantasy is a little out of my wheelhouse, however, it hooked me more than I expected. The whole concept of the book — a future that has eradicated death and therefore tasks certain humans with the job of killing people in the name of population control — was fascinating to me. The first third of the book flew by as Schusterman built this world and introduced us to the main characters. And as much as I was entertained, it was too easy to put down. For some reason that I still can’t put my finger on I wasn’t eager to gobble it up. Full review on The Bookly Club.

Shrill by Lindy West — I listened to this on audio, which is narrated by Lindy herself (the author as narrator almost always guarantees a good listen). It was exactly what I hoped for: funny, brash, heavy, and relatable. West has a voice and a story that I’m glad is out in the world, and I highly recommend this for people who enjoy Cheryl Strayed, Roxane Gay, and Samantha Irby.

Then She Was Gone by Lisa Jewell — Any thriller that keeps me guessing and has me hooked immediately gets four stars from me, purely for entertainment value. I read this in one sitting because I could. not. put. it. down. I DID end up guessing a few of the main twists, but I still found the story compelling and engaging. I also really enjoyed the characters and the family dynamic. A fun, fast-paced thriller that’s perfect for summer.

Fool Me Once by Harlan Coben — I’ve read a handful of Harlan Coben’s books before and have always found them entertaining and quick reads. Which honestly? Sometimes that’s exactly what I need. This one dragged a little for me, but it kept me guessing and eager to find out how it would end. If you want something mindless to distract you from reality, this is definitely worth a read.

November 9 by Colleen Hoover — I want to preface this by saying that I know Colleen Hoover’s books can be problematic. Some aspects of the story don’t always sit well with me, but I’m comfortable with moving forward as long as I’m aware of that. For me, her books are the perfect palate cleanser, and they almost always get me out of a reading slump. Which is exactly why I picked this one up. I’d been paralyzed with indecision, faced with picking my next read from a giant stack of popular, buzzed about books. Instead, I went with a book that I knew would hook me and that I would read quickly — sometimes being able to finish a book is exactly what I need to build my reading momentum. I instantly wanted to know what happened with Ben and Fallon, so I stayed up way past my usual bedtime to finish it. #noregrets If you’re able to suspend belief, or overlook minor flaws, and you’re a fan of contemporary romance novels, give this one a try.

Come tell me what you’ve been reading! And, as always, you can follow along with my reading life at @kathareads.

(All reviews can also be seen on my Goodreads account.)

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January 2018 Reading Recap

Ever since starting my Instagram account dedicated solely to books (aka bookstagram), I’ve been getting a LOT more reading done. And since I could talk about books all day every day, I figured posting a monthly reading recap would be a good way to give this ol’ blog a little much-needed revival. So let’s get to it!

Beartown by Fredrik Backman –I’m not sure where to even begin with how to talk about my love for this book. Everyone said it was amazing, yet it still took me by surprise. The depth of feeling it evoked, the love I developed for every single one of the characters — I simultaneously didn’t want it to end but couldn’t wait to see what happened. In the beginning I was a little frustrated with how slow the story was to develop, but I quickly recognized — and came to appreciate — how necessary and intentional that was. The time Backman spent developing each character, as well as Beartown itself, made you know them intimately and care for them deeply. This was quite a first book for 2018. I’m not sure how anything else I read this year can live up to it — it has earned a firm place in my top 10 books of all time. All I can say is READ IT.

Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman — I read this immediately after Beartown so it had a lot to live up to. To my surprise, it exceeded my expectations; I LOVED this book. Eleanor is a troubled girl with a more than quirky personality that made me laugh and cry. It didn’t take long to fall in love with Eleanor and it was impossible not to root for her. Watching her discover herself, and develop a truly special relationship with Raymond, made this one of the most charming, heartfelt, and delightful books I’ve read in a while. We could all stand to be a little more like Eleanor.

Invisible: How Young Women with Serious Health Issues Navigate Work, Relationships, and the Pressure to Feel Just Fine  by Michele Lent Hirsch — As a young woman living with a chronic illness, I jumped at the chance to read this. Living with cystic fibrosis has had an enormous impact on every aspect of my life, both in the tangible sense and in the way I view my life and plan for the future. It can be incredibly isolating to live a life that feels so different from your peers, and I’m always searching for any kind of media in which I might be able to get a glimpse of myself. (Thank you to Beacon Press for providing my copy in exchange for an honest review! Full review on Goodreads.)

By the Book by Julia Sonneborn –A loose translation of Jane Austen’s PersuasionBy the Book is a light, fun, entertaining read from author Julia Sonneborn. If you like a charming romance and are a book nerd, this might just be the perfect palate cleanser for you. (Thank you to Gallery Books for providing my copy in exchange for an honest review! Full review on Goodreads.)

The Four Tendencies by Gretchen Rubin (audiobook) — This was my first audiobook and it was perfect. As someone who has trouble staying focused, listening to fiction has proven difficult. But the subject matter combined with Rubin’s calming voice kept me engaged and interested. Plus, I found this book to be incredibly helpful — I’m for sure an Obliger who falls prey to rebel tendencies when I reach burnout. I feel like now I’m better equipped to establish systems to help keep me accountable and from reaching burnt out so quickly. I highly recommend The Four Tendencies for anyone, especially those interested in learning more about personalities.

Red Clocks by Leni Zumas — I had a copy of this book for a couple months before I finally picked it up, I only wish I’d read it sooner. Red Clocks tells of a harrowing future, one that feels eerily close and all too possible. With short, powerful chapters, Zumas tells the story of five women and the impact of the Personhood Amendment, a law that governs women’s bodies to an extreme (a very real extreme). I flew through this book, both eager and terrified to find out what happened to the biographer, the wife, the mender, and the daughter. As a woman who has pondered the ways in which our government could dictate what I do with my body, I read this book with a lump in my throat, unable to stop turning the pages.  (Thank you to Little Brown for providing my copy in exchange for an honest review! Full review on Goodreads.)

A Fatal Grace by Louise Penny — The second book in the Inspector Gamache series was equally enjoyable as the first. I like how we’re starting to get to know the key players better, especially Armand. Losing myself in Three Pines will always be a treat, but I’m eager to keep reading since most fans say the books tend to get better with each one. (If you’re an LP fan, let me know if you agree!) Even though I’m only two books in I’m glad I started the series and am excited that there are still many more ahead of me.

The Healing of America: A Global Quest for Better, Cheaper, and Fairer Health Care by T.R. Reid — As someone with a chronic illness, health care is a necessity. My life depends on medications that cost hundreds of thousands of dollars each and every year, not to mention doctors appointments, hospital stays, lab tests, bloodwork, etc. The issue of access to affordable health care has been on my mind for years, particularly during the past 12 months as the current administration tried to repeal the Affordable Car Act. (Full review on The Bookly Club.)

All in all it was a great month of reading. In the meantime, you can follow what I’m currently reading on Goodreads or at @kathareads. Come let me know what books you’re reading and loving!