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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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!

Picture of neutral colored lipsticks

April Favorites + a Playlist

It’s time for more things I’ve been loving, watching, eating, and reading! Let’s get right into it. And, as always, tell me what YOUR April favorites were.

Loving

The Lively Show. My podcast obsession is real – I currently subscribe to TWENTY-FIVE. (Please tell me somewhere out there listens to more than that… anyone?) The past few weeks I’ve been consumed Jess Lively’s podcast, listening in the car, at work, while cooking dinner, on walks, etc. No matter the episode, Jess + her interesting guests always leave me feeling motivated + with a renewed life perspective.

Lipstick. I. love. lipstick. And while I’ve been all about bold lips in the past, I’m feeling particularly partial to nudes at the moment, the ones that look like your lips but better, ya know? The newest additions to my ever-growing collection are: Nars Audacious in Anita, Bite Beauty Amuse Bouche in Fig (might be my new fave), and Velvet Teddy + Peach Blossom by MAC.

Clothing. I’ve been paring down my closet the last few weeks in the hopes of figuring out my true style + making it easier to get dressed in the morning. This has also meant adding some pieces with one rule: I must love them. And the LOFT Linen Cotton Sweater (in white) is so good I bought a second… in the same color.

Watching

Vivianna Does Makeup. I have a confession: I love YouTube beauty gurus. And my most recent discovery, thanks to The Lively Show, is Anna. Her style – from makeup, to hair, to clothing – is everything I aspire to be. Anna, can we be friends?

TV. I had fallen a little out of love with “Nashville,” but after catching up on the last few episodes I’m hooked again. Connie Britton is everything. Mike and I have been trying to finish “House of Cards” and we’re getting close! Claire + Frank’s relationship is fascinating. And spotting Baltimore locales is my favorite part. I have a love/hate relationship with “Girls” because it always makes me incredibly uncomfortable but I also can’t stop watching. Somehow the characters seem a little more tolerable this season – maybe I’m just finally getting used to them?

Movies. “Sleeping with Other People” is much cuter than the title suggests. A super fun + sweet romantic comedy. And Jason Sudeikis + Alison Brie are adorable. Two movies I’ll be seeing as soon as they come out: “Girl on the Train” + “The Light Between Oceans.”

Reading

Books. I finally finished Boy Snow Bird by Helen Oyeyemi. And I really liked it. As soon as I turned the last page I started reading all the reviews I could get my hands on. Partly because I couldn’t figure out why I liked it so much, and also because there was so much to think about. I found this particularly helpful in articulating what I liked about book. Anyone else read it yet? I also read B.J. Novak’s One More Thing: Stories and Other Stories. It was a quick + funny read that I really enjoyed. (This was April’s pick for The Bookly Club and our reviews up now – check them out!)

This. All of it. I want to read this every morning before I get out of bed.

Letting Patients Tell Their Stories. “Doctors are trained first to diagnose, treat and fix – and second, to comfort, palliate and soothe. The result is a slow loss of vision, an inability to see who and what people are outside the patient we see in the hospital.”

Eating

Vegan sloppy joes + blueberry breakfast quinoa. I’m trying to make one to two new dishes per week, so far so good. These two were both delicious and simple, and have been added to my regular recipe rotation.

The Pines. I visited my sister in Brooklyn a couple weeks ago and she treated me to dinner – their bread was reason enough to go, and the other food super yummy, too.

Tell me: What did YOU love this month?

Where else you can find me…

RIF: Books to Give Mom
The Bookly Club: April review of One More Thing
Cystic Fibrosis Foundation video: Thank You, Volunteers

April Playlist