As a continuation of my post, A Resolution Worth Keeping, I decided to keep a separate log of all the books I have read lately as well as what I thought about them, etc. I won’t go as far to call them “reviews” as I don’t think I have that kind of talent, but I will certainly give a little info about each one and give my opinion (I’m pretty good at that. LOL)
Minimalism by Joshua Millburn and Ryan Nicodemus is a quick and easy read about the basics of Minimalism. I recently have shifted my perspective on things to try to adopt a more minimalistic approach, and this book (along with their Netflix special of the same name) got me started on the right path. I have done a series of blog posts on this topic, and if you are interested in reading those, start here. My motivation? The stress of clutter and feeling like we just have too much stuff, plain and simple. To get more info about The Minimalists and the different layers of the concept, check out their website, The Minimalists.
Give Me Your Hand by Megan Abbott: This is another Book Club selection and I, once again, devoured it. Basically, I spent the first chunk of the book wondering “WTF did Diane do?!?!?!” It also incorporated some, ahem, “girlie issues” surrounding PMDD. I wish they would have discussed that topic a little more, because it is interesting, but the whole mysteriousness surrounding the characters and….. OMG where did the body go?!?! The main setting is a research laboratory, which provided some new knowledge for me on that working environment. All around, it captured and kept my attention very similarly to Sometimes I Lie.
The Year of Less by Cait Flanders: In continuing with my journey toward a more minimal approach to life, I picked up this recommendation from another blog post (I think). Cait is very relatable as she talks about her own life and struggles with “excess,” not just with stuff, but also with food and alcohol. In this book, she documents her year-long shopping ban and brings us into her adventure with revelations about finances and the mental journey that went along with it. So much of what we do in life is impulsive. In her book, Cait made me appreciate the word mindful even more, and was a nice follow-up real-world piece to Minimalism. Cait is also a blogger, where you can find out more about her and her journeys.
Crazy Rich Asians by Kevin Kwan: This was one of our monthly book club selections since the movie release was imminent. It was a little hard to get into at first because there were SO many names and I was trying to keep them all straight (don’t let that deter you – the names will all come together throughout), but the story quickly picked up and it turned into a “Can’t put down” book. I’m excited to go see the movie now because the luxe extravagance and wealth described by the author makes my mind want to see it with my own eyes! I’m actually envisioning something similar to the fashion show that was the Sex and the City movies where the clothes were almost their own character! I didn’t realize until I finished it that it is a series, so I’m hoping to pick up the next one soon and continue the story. It’s a great look into part of the Asian culture, and it made for interesting book club conversation!
April 2019 update: I watched the movie, and it didn’t disappoint! It was fun to see the visual aspects of this book come to life, and it really was a great movie. Just wait until you see Araminta & Colin’s wedding! Wow!
Behind Closed Doors by B.A. Paris: Holy. Guacamole. I devoured this book. It was creepy and well-written and I just could NOT stop reading it. It took me three days to finish, and that’s only because I had to put it down to go to work and be a mom. From the very first page, there is an air of eeriness that you can’t put your finger on… until you realize what is going on, and then buckle in for a ride down psychopath lane! I also loved this protagonist; a strong female lead with a tight family bond. This one is seriously on my “WOW” list!
The Body Book by Cameron Diaz: Nutrition and health simplified. Oversimplified? Maybe, but honestly there is just SOOOOOO much info about diets and what to eat and what not to eat and what activity to do and blah blah blah blah blah… I just find that from a dieting/nutrition/health perspective, there is information overload. This book really took me back to the basics and although not a silver bullet for a healthy lifestyle, it certainly helped reframe my thinking about the point of taking care of one’s body. I really thought that taking health advice from Cameron Diaz wouldn’t go over well, but I was quickly hooked! She put out a great book!
A Spark of Light by Jodi Picoult: Jodi is easily my favorite author, and definitely my most-read author. Anytime I see she has a new release, I’m all over it! This book certainly lived up to her reputation, too. She always chooses such cutting edge topics and looks at them from so many angles that it really makes me think and often times understand a point of view that might differ from mine. Trigger warning: This book is about the topic of abortion, and it gets a bit graphic at times. She tells the story in such an interesting way that it only adds to the plotline.
Educated by Tara Westover: I was not expecting to like this book as much as I did, but I found myself unable to put it down at times! It follows a girl whose family can be described as off-the-grid “preppers” in a way, and they also happen to be Mormon. They homeschool the author (but she makes it clear that the word “homeschooling” should be used loosely when describing her education) and her siblings, and she decides she wants more from life than what her parents have decided their path to be. Her journey is AMAZING to say the least, and I really feel as though I learned a lot just from reading about it!
Mademoisselle Chanel by C.W. Cortner: This one was LONG. Could easily have been separated into two novels in my opinion. I knew nothing about Coco Chanel, except that her perfume is expensive, prior to this book and I learned so many interesting things about her and her life! I will be honest; I didn’t finish it, but it was a great history of a fascinating woman who was truly a pioneer for women.
Inheriting Edith by Zoe Fishman: This was a quick and easy read. Perfect for the beach. I would have liked a little bit more of a deeper dive into the characters, but overall it was an enjoyable and cute book. I do have one pet-peeve as a reader that I have discovered: When authors have young babies that have dialogue, I rarely find it to be accurate and it never comes off as authentic. It’s my issue; not theirs. It just drives me nuts when a little baby has words and sentences that are not developmentally accurate, as I felt was the case in some parts of this book.
Anonymous Girl by Greer Hendricks & Sarah Pekkanen: Holy crap this was a twisted story. I didn’t know who to believe or what the heck was going on. It is truly a psych thriller. Basically, some girl with a little bit of a past (don’t they all have a past?! Haha) signs up for some random research testing and falls down a rabbit hole of deceit and crazy freaking people. It was long, but I inhaled this book. Just when I thought the story was winding down, it took a turn and kept going. Whew! This was a good one. Well-written, too!
The Friend Zone by Abby Jimenez: Relatable! And PERFECT for those by-the-pool or -beach days when you want to kick back and read a fun story. It’s a romance, and a HOT one at that, with modern themes such as infertility. It’s a classic story of the frustrating back and forth of a romance that you just need to happen with every fiber in your body, and you swear you can will the characters yourself into happiness ever after. You’ll laugh; you’ll cry. You’ll empathize. Read it! And then check out Abby Jimenez on Facebook and Twitter and Instagram… she is seriously one of the most hilarious people out there. In fact, the Vageode(TM) Cake is her creation. *wink wink*
Truly, Madly, Guilty by Liane Moriarty: My obsession with all things Liane Moriarty continues. I inhaled two of her books back-to-back and cannot get enough. There’s an element of suspense buried in each one that my brain just latches onto. In TMG… I could feel it coming. Something awful. Something “triggering.” At first, I had a theory, then it quickly dissipated and morphed into a completely different route that was like a punch in the gut. On a side note: I love that her stories are set “Down Under”… it makes them feel just a tad more exotic, and therefore making me instantly cooler just due to the fact that I am reading them. (That’s how that works, right? Reading something interesting makes you interesting by association? Yes? No? I’m sticking with it.) Like all of her books, I was puzzled by the cover. Whoever does her cover art is the Picasso of book covers. Once you’re finished, it alllll makes sense.
Nine Perfect Strangers by Liane Moriarty: Can’t get enough. For real. This one takes place again in the exotic Australian outback at what seems to be a luxury spa, but then it just gets FREAKY! The personalities and characters are so well-developed and intertwined so wonderfully that I felt like I could picture them. For some reason, though, the main character looks like Charo in my head. I’m sure that is 100% NOT what Ms. Moriarty was going for, but that is what the cloud between my ears came up with, and once it was stuck that was that.
Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens: First of all, the picture this author paints with her words is like none other. I could picture the marsh and the beauty and ugliness that came together within the life of the main character, Kya. This book had a LOT of hype surrounding it, and it was my Book Club selection for the month so I felt obligated on many levels. It started a tad slow for me, but then picked up. I honestly had no clue how it was going to end, and had to make effort to shield myself from spoilers because I swear this book is everywhere. I gave it a scandalous 4/5 stars on Goodreads, but I tend to reserve my elusive 5th star for a SERIOUS level of suspense. This is a great book, and perfect for summer.
Where’d You Go, Bernadette by Maria Semple: This was an interesting and different book to read, mainly due to its format. It is written mainly in the form of correspondences, and the story unfolds in series’ of emails, letters, and even faxes. The story revolves around a mom and her quirkiness, but then snowballs into mental illness. I related in some ways to Bernadette and wish that I could summon the same “DGAF”-ness that she seemed to have down pat. It was a quick and run read that I enjoyed more than I thought I would! It caught me right at the beginning and I finished it in a few days. It appears that they are making a movie out of it soon, and I will definitely want to see if it stacks up to the novel! Bonus: Part of the plot surrounds Antarctica, which is a setting you don’t see often in books; I found it to be quite enjoyable and fascinating!
Daisy Jones & The Six by Taylor Jenkins Reid: Book Club for the win, once again! This was not a book I ever would have picked for myself to read… nothing about it screamed “Holly” from the cover or blurb or reviews or anything. Honestly, to me the cover looked like something that would have been in our 1980’s bathroom “reading basket” by the toilet (if ya know what I mean). But, alas, part of being in a book club is branching out, so I dove right in. I quickly found myself engrossed. This is a fiction novel, but I actually stopped to Google search it because I would have sworn it was a true story. I could feel the heat between the two leads, both rage and lust, and I could picture the era as if I was actually there jamming along in the crowd as a groupie in the 60’s/70’s. The writing style is what makes this book even more intriguing, as it is told from the perspective of an interview. The catch is – you don’t know who the interviewer is. You can assume, but you just don’t know.
The Last Anniversary by Liane Moriarty: Well, like I said, I’m reading anything and everything by Liane Moriarty. This book had almost a magical feel to it, and of course takes place in Sydney. The underlying element of suspense is a mystery surrounded a baby left behind – where did her parents go? How could they leave their baby? So many questions surround this baby and the aged mystery that is now being capitalized off of by the family that took her in on their little island community. While I felt I would have loved more mystery and more development of the characters, I really enjoyed this; it had a sit-com feel to it in a way… I can actually see the main character, Sophie, with her own show. It left me hanging a little bit, but I can’t imagine any other ending for it. My recommendation for this one is an ‘around the fire pit’ read this fall. There’s an element of autumn coziness to it. Wrap yourself in a fuzzy blanket, curl up and indulge in another great story by Ms. Moriarty.
The Last Mrs. Parrish by Liv Constantine: Geez this book took me by surprise. I thought I could see where it was going, then BAM! Complete 180. It started a little slow for me, but once it picked up the pace, I could not put it down. It’s a long book, but it flew by. You get a couple different perspectives of this story from a couple characters. This book has everything: luxury, beauty, suspense, sex, happiness, sadness, envy. Amber is a wife’s worst nightmare… or is she? Daphne is the victim… or is she? Jackson is the perfect husband… or is he? If you enjoyed Behind Closed Doors by B.A. Paris, you’ll like this one too.
The Accidental Billionaires by Ben Mezrich: Ok this one is hard to describe because it’s 10 years old and it is based on true events but not verified by Mark Zuckerberg, and technology evolves so quickly you would think it would be almost irrelevant to read this story at this point. This is a book about how Facebook got its start in a dorm room at Harvard and the events leading up to it becoming a viral phenomenon. They made a movie based on the book called “The Social Network,” and it follows the book pretty closely. I think when you read it, you will be surprised by who did what and how ol’ FB came to be; I know I was. This is a story recounted through interviews with those close to the events, with the exception of Mark himself. Even though the book is 10 years old and based on events that took place about six years prior to that, it is still interesting to watch the whole thing unfold and the evolution of social networks in general. You’ll see some familiar names from the late 90’s/early 00’s, such as Napster and MySpace. It’s a quick read and moves fast, and I’ve actually read it twice. Check it out!
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