Buzzwordathon Kickoff: Attempting 7 Books in 7 Days!

I’m so excited for this week!! Today marks the kickoff of Buzzwordathon, a readathon hosted by booktubers Booksandlala and Chelseadolling reads. The goal of the readathon is to read as many books with the selected buzzword (or in this case, buzzwords) in the title as possible within 7 days.

This round’s buzzwords are Who, What, Where, When, Why, and How. I’ve picked one book with each word in the title, plus one extra. I do have physical copies of each book, but I think I’ll end up supplementing with the audiobook formats if I start falling behind throughout the week!

See my picks below and let me know if you’ll be participating in this readathon – if so, what books are YOU planning to read?

The Woman Who Smashed Codes by Jason Fagone – a historical nonfiction about a woman who cracked enemy codes and played a meaningful part in WWII.

What We Saw by Aaron Hartzler – a thriller/mystery (I believe) about what happened at a crazy party.

Where‘d You Go, Bernadette? by Maria Semple – a contemporary about a mother who suddenly goes missing.

Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng – a character-driven contemporary highlighting family dynamics and small-town politics.

When to Rob a Bank by Steven D. Levitt and Stephen J. Dubner – an economic nonfiction with insights and essays from the Freakonomics blog.

Why We Broke Up by Daniel Handler – an illustrated contemporary/romance about exactly what it says – why a couple broke up.

How Not to Be Wrong by Jordan Ellenberg – a nonfiction described as “the Freakonomics of math,” unveiling the secrets of math and the value in using them to your advantage.

Check back in on the 25th to see if I succeeded! Happy reading this week 🙂

He Will Kill You: Spoiler-Free Book Review

The Book

Title: He Will Kill You
Author: Charlie Gallagher
Genre: Thriller
Pages: 289
Release date: TODAY! March 15, 2019
Content Warnings: Domestic abuse, rape

The Synopsis (Spoiler-Free)

Grace Hughes is a victim of domestic abuse and a prisoner within her own home. Although she has spoken with the police before, she’s too scared to seek the help she needs in order to escape and become safe from the danger she’s in.

Maddie Ives is the detective with a passion for saving abused women and is doing everything she can to bring Grace to safety. Maddie’s also on the police team for an unrelated crime within the same city: a car bomber on the loose and sure to strike again.

Told through multiple perspectives, this thriller follows the victims, and police, and multiple other civilians that all work together to tie this story together.

My Review

I LOVED the first half of this book. Many different storylines and characters were continually introduced, and I was immediately captivated by Grace and wanted nothing more than for her to break free from her abuser. Unfortunately, about halfway through the book, things happened that changed the main storylines (the big twist I suppose, hard to give any details without spoiling!) and I kind of lost interest. The book became more heavily focused on the police-chase aspect of the story and less on the civilians, which were the characters I personally felt more connected to.

The storytelling and pacing of this book were great to the end, and I think there are a lot of people who will really enjoy this entire book. I would certainly recommend it to the people who are into police-focused mysteries. I do think it noteworthy to mention that the book is pretty heavy with police and European jargon, which went over my head a lot of times – but there is a glossary in the back that defines all of the acronyms and specific terminology, which is very helpful! Wish I would have known about it going in!

My overall rating of this book is 3/5, and I do think I would pick up another novel by Charlie Gallagher if the synopsis were of interest to me!

Disclaimer: This book was provided to me in ebook format by NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. Thank you to NetGalley and Joffe Books!

WWW Wednesday – March 2019

Welcome to my first WWW Wednesday! This meme/tag (not sure exactly what the difference is) is hosted by Taking on a World of Words. To participate, you just answer the three questions below and leave a link to your post in the comments of other people’s for them to look at. If you don’t have a blog, you can just leave a comment with your responses. Onto the questions!

  1. What are you currently reading?
  2. What did you recently finish reading?
  3. What do you think you’ll read next?

I’ve recently discovered the wonderful world of NetGalley and reading eARCs on my iPad. Because of this, and because I’m saving most of my monthly TBR books for next week’s Buzzwordathon, all of my current reads are actually eARCs.

I am currently reading a delightful little book called Things My Son Needs to Know about the World by Fredrik Backman. This book is a collection of short essays written by Backman intended for his infant son to read in the future. I have already read A Man Called Ove by Backman, and this is a really great way to get to know him better as a person and a father. The essays I’ve read so far are very sweet and actually pretty funny.

On Sunday I finished a book called Not All Migrate by Krystyna Byers. I wish I had good things to say about this book.. but it was just NOT for me. It’s a story about a man who recently lost his wife and two daughters in a car accident caused by his wife. The autopsy report comes back saying that his wife was on some unknown drug, so the man decides to go hunting for the drug itself and the person who sold/gave it to his wife. This sounded like an interesting premise to me, but in reality the book was confusing, graphic, and all-around strange. I could go on about the things I didn’t like about it, but I think that’s unnecessary – I’ll be posting a more in-depth wrap up at the end of the month with all of my thoughts. I’m sure there are readers out there who would actually enjoy this book, but it left me feeling extremely confused and uncomfortable.

The next book I’ll be picking up is a thriller called He Will Kill You by Charlie Gallagher. I don’t know much about the plot, as I like to go into my thrillers blind, but I’m hoping it’s more straightforward than my last read and that I really enjoy it! I plan to post a full review of it on Friday, as March 15th is the book’s publishing date.

Thank you to NetGalley and the publishers of these books for providing me with the electronic Advanced Reader’s Copies in exchange for honest reviews!

Let me know if you think any of these books look interesting to you, or if you participated in this meme and have a link to share!

The Girl He Used to Know: Spoiler-Free Book Review

The Book

Title: The Girl He Used to Know
Author: Tracey Garvis Graves
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Pages: 291
Release Date: April 2, 2019

The Synopsis (Spoiler-Free)

The Girl He Used to Know is the love story of Annika and Jonathan, told through two different timelines. The first is the year the couple first met, in college at a chess club meeting. The second is ten years later, when the two unexpectedly meet agian in a grocery store and their love rekindles. As the book alternates in timeline and perspective, the entire story is revealed including what happened within those ten years and all of the struggles Annika and Jonathan have had to face, both as a couple and individually.

My Review

This was EASILY a 5-star read for me. I fell in love right alongside the characters and was completely engrossed in the story until the very end. As charming as the story is, it’s also raw and deeply vulnerable at times, and I could not get enough.

The topic of mental health is addressed beautifully in my opinion, as Annika struggles with an autism-spectrum disorder that makes it difficult for her to pick up on social cues and read other people’s emotions. I love that it is not depicted as Annika’s entire identity, nor as a disability. In fact, Jonathan – and I as a reader – fall in love with Annika not despite her disorder, but because of the way she copes with it. The way she navigates social situations and treats other human beings is special.

Before reading this book, I truly didn’t think I was a fan of romance books. Something about this one, however, is different, and the word romance doesn’t seem appropriate for the level of respect, love, and trust these two characters have for each other. I see myself rereading this book several times in the future, and am looking forward to exploring more novels written by Tracey Garvis Graves.

Disclaimer: This Advanced Reader’s Copy was sent to me by St. Martin’s Press and the SheSpeaks program in return for an honest review. Thank you for allowing me to #ReadTheGirl!

Int’l Women’s Day: Disney Princess Edition

Happy International Women’s Day! I am SO EXCITED to write this post because it is about to include all of my absolute most favorite things: Disney princesses depicted as the badass bitches they are, female engineers, and books.

I wanted to combine one of my favorite online posts of all time, If Disney Princesses Were Engineers, created by A Hedy Journey (which you should absolutely go see in its entirety HERE), and a super fun book tag I’ve seen floating around called the New Disney Princess Book Tag, created by Mandy from Book Princess Reviews and Zuky from Book Bum.

In order to keep this post to a reasonable length and also to avoid completely plagiarizing the If Disney Pricesses Were Engineers post (seriously, click on the link and go see the whole thing), I am choosing to highlight my SIX favorite Disney princess, show which type of engineering they best embody, and share the book I feel best fits the book tag prompt assigned to them. Here we go!

All princess images and captions were taken from A Hedy Journey’s post, I am not taking credit for any of them, just want to share the brilliance!

Ariel

Ariel (from The Little Mermaid) the Biomedical Engineer – after her experiences losing her tail and gaining painful new legs, Ariel developed a sympathy for prosthetics users and went on to be a Biomedical Engineer, working with robotics for amputees.

Ariel, of course, lives under the sea. Her associated book prompt is a book that has a water/ocean setting:

This is really stretching my memory here, but Olive’s Ocean by Kevin Henkes was one of my favorite childhood books about a girl who spends the summer at her grandmother’s house near the ocean and is dealing with grief of a lost classmate. I LOVED this book, and this is reminding me to pick it up again and reread it.

Belle

Belle (from Beauty and the Beast) the Computer Systems Engineer – Belle became curious about wireless communications technologies after trying to understand how the Beast’s magic mirror worked.  With Computer Systems Engineering, she discovered that there was something more than that provincial life and something even more interesting to her than reading books: coding!

Belle is the beauty with the books, prompting for a book with the best bookworm or book lover:

Annika from Tracey Garvis Graves’ The Girl He Used to Know is an extremely introverted woman whose love for books is frequently mentioned throughout this novel. Annika suffers from an autism-spectrum disorder that makes most social situations too much for her to handle, so books are her haven. I love this character and this book!

Jasmine

Jasmine (from Aladdin) the Aerospace Engineer – after getting a taste for experiencing A Whole New World on the magic carpet, Jasmine became determined to travel to space, studying Aerospace Engineering in preparation for becoming Agrabah’s first astronaut.

Jasmine’s promt is a book with an unlikely love story, in terms of romance OR a book you didn’t expect to love so much:

Brace yourself for this one… Flowers in the Attic is V.C. Andrews’ novel about four children who are forced to live in the attic of their grandparents’ house after their father suddenly dies and their mother is no longer financially able to support their previous living arrangements. Potential spoiler here if you are ever interested in reading this 1979 novel: the oldest brother and sister fall for each other because there is no one else to fall for as they grow up in isolation. Highly controversial, but about as unlikely as it gets!

Elsa

Elsa (from Frozen) the Civil Engineer – in order to ensure that her ice sculptures, bridges and buildings were structurally sound, and that upon thawing, that they didn’t flood Arendelle, Elsa undertook studies in statics and hydrology, becoming a Civil Engineer.

Elsa’s newfound love for colder climates prompts a book in a winter/cold setting:

Dark Matter is a brain-bending science fiction novel with a pivotal scene happening in the middle of a blizzard. Sorry, that’s the closest I’ve got for this one, I admit it’s a bit of a stretch 😊

Merida

Merida (from Brave) the Electrical Engineer – whilst trying to determine exactly what wisps are made from, Merida stumbled upon Electrical Engineering and is currently doing a PhD on electronic weapons calibration.  However, she actually spends most of her time mucking around with the Van de Graff machine in her lab.

Merida determines her OWN fate, prompting for a book where there is no love story or love interest:

The Roar is a middle-grade dystopian novel about a set of twins who are separated by the government and try to fight their way back to each other in order to overthrow the forces that did this to them. No love story necessary here, just two independent siblings fighting for their family.

Mulan

Mulan the Materials Engineer – Mulan’s interest in swords developed beyond swordswomanship and into steel production, leading her to study Materials Engineering in order to seek work in a foundry.  Luckily, all those years spent with Mushu the dragon meant that Mulan had developed a tolerance of being around high temperatures so she loved her new work environment.

Mulan is the princess who saved her country. Her book prompt is for the fiercest heroine:

I don’t read much fantasy (at all, really) so I don’t have any fierce, battling heroines that come to mind. But Grace from Behind Closed Doors does, as she’s fighting a different kind of battle: an oppressive husband. I don’t want to give much else away about the storyline, but I believe that this woman needed a special kind of strength just to attempt to fight her way free from this villain.

What do you think about this post? I’m not sure what exactly my goal was for putting this all together, but I hope these princesses, these engineering careers, or these books inspire you in some way or another on this International Women’s Day!

If I missed your favorite princess, please, again, take a look at the If Disney Princesses Were Engineers blog post (I linked it 3 times for ya!), and if you are interested in participating in the New Disney Princess Book Tag, I tag you to answer all 13 of the prompts on the original tag! Thanks for reading!

Behind the Blogger Tag

Being a new blogger, I’ve been looking for ways to introduce myself, make my blog a little more personal, and break up the bookish content throughout the month. I did a little digging and found the Behind the Blogger tag, which I found through Kaleena at Reader Voracious and Charlotte Annelise, and which was originally created by Ellyn at Allonsythornraxx. I wasn’t tagged to do this post, but hopefully it’s okay that I’m choosing to answer its questions anyway!

1. Why did you start blogging and why have you kept blogging?

A couple reasons. It’s always been in the back of my mind as something I’d love pursuing but never really had anything to blog ABOUT. Then, this year I set a reading goal for myself of 52 books. I needed a way to track that reading, a place to keep my thoughts on all of the books I read, and something to reference when people in my real life ask me for book recommendations in the future. I figured now was as good of a time as ever to start a blog!

2. What is your favorite type of blog post to write?

So far I’ve only written two monthly wrap-ups and one monthly TBR… so that doesn’t leave me much to pick from, haha. But so far I really enjoy my monthly wrap-ups! It’s fun to compare all of the books I read in a given month, and it’s an easy way to give a lot of book recommendations in one place. I foresee myself writing monthly wrap-ups long into the future!

3. What are your top 3 favorite blog posts?

I know that this answer is supposed to be my top three faves that I’ve posted… but again, I only have three posts total and it would be a little sad to rank those! So instead, below are three favorite posts I have recently found from OTHER bloggers! 🙂

  1. Seasonal Posts: post ideas for book bloggers all year around, month-by-month, written by Naty from Naty’s Bookshelf. I plan to use a lot of these post ideas within the year to come!!
  2. How to Get ARC and Review Copies of Books – All You Need to Know, written by Harini from Books and Readers. This is an older post (from 2017), but I recently found it in a search and think it is an incredible, all-inclusive list that will absolutely come in handy for me as a new blogger!
  3. Simple DIY Bookmarks, written by Alphe from Alphe’s Corner. These are just so cute!!

4. What are some of your favorite things to do to relax?

Other than reading (because duh), I love crafting! There is something about the monotonous work of macrame or knitting that I find SUPER relaxing. Plus I can watch TV or listen to podcasts or audiobooks while I do it! I also love watching competition reality TV shows – my favorites are the Bachelor/Bachelorette, the Challenge, Survivor, and the Amazing Race.

5. What are 3 of your favorite things?

In no particular order… Halo Top ice cream, CiCi’s mac & cheese pizza, and my family.

6. What are your proudest blogging moments?

Starting it!

7. What are your hobbies outside of blogging?

Crafting, playing sports (softball and volleyball mainly), playing with babies.

8. Describe your personality in 3 words.

Introverted, organized, stubborn.

9. What are your top 3 pet peeves?

Hypocriticism, people who care too much about other people’s lives, people who care too much about what OTHER people think about THEIR lives.

10. What’s something your followers don’t know about you?

I’ve said a couple times in this post that I’m a crafter on top of a reader… but followers probably don’t know that I have an Etsy shop for my macrame creations! If interested, shop here!

I’m not going to tag anyone in this post, but I would love to know any of your answers below in the comments, or see your own post on this tag! Thanks for stopping by!

March 2019 TBR

I’m typically not one to have a very strict TBR going into a new month – I can get easily sidetracked when it’s time to pick up the next book on the list, which causes unneccessary disappointment at the end of the month when I should be happy I read anything at all. THIS month, however, is different. I will be participating in my first ever readathon (Buzzwordathon hosted by booktubers Booksandlala and Chelseadolling, yay!) which has prompted me to do a little more pre-planning than usual. Plus I have a few other books outside of the readathon I want to get to, so my TBR for March is a whopping 10 books (a lot for me)! See the list below and wish me luck! 🙂

Readathon Books

If you’re not familiar with Buzzwordathon, the theme is to read books that have a particular word somewhere in their titles. This round, the word is actually 6 different words: Who, What, Where, When, Why, and How. I’m choosing to attempt to read at least one book for each of the words.

The Woman Who Smashed Codes by Jason Fagone – a historical nonfiction that tells the story of a woman and her husband who worked together cracking codes in WWII.

What We Saw by Aaron Hartzler – I believe this is a mystery/thriller, and I intentionally don’t know much about the plot. This has been recommended by Kayla (Lala) from Booksandlala!

Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng – I also don’t know much about this book’s plot, despite the fact that it’s been a pretty popular book floating around my social medias. Genre is contemporary.

Where‘d You Go, Bernadette by Maria Semple – this is a bonus “where” book that I’m adding because of the upcoming movie. Whether I fit it in during the readathon week or not, I will be reading this soon! A contemporary/mystery about a mother who goes missing.

When to Rob a Bank by Steven D. Levitt – Levitt is the author of Freakonomics and Super Freakonomics, two very popular books that cover a variety of miscellaneous economic, statistical, and psychology topics, and I believe this book will be very similar.

Why We Broke Up by Daniel Handler – a contemporary that again comes very highly recommended by miss Booksandlala herself!

How Not to Be Wrong: The Power of Mathematical Thinking by Jordan Ellenberg – as an engineer, I am ALL ABOUT mathematical thinking. And hey, I enjoy being right, too. I love the concept of this book and hope it lives up to the hype I’ve created in my own mind!

Non-Readathon Books

The Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls – I’m about halfway through this memoir that covers Jeannette’s tough childhood constantly on the run with her family battling hunger and homelessness. Should be a very quick one to finish up!

The Girl He Used to Know by Tracey Garvis Graves – my very first ARC!!!!! I was sent this book by the SheSpeaks program and St. Martins Press in return for an honest review, and I am so excited to give this book a try and offer my thoughts before it’s released on April 2nd. It’s a contemporary romance novel.

The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Jenkins Reid – I have waited LONG ENOUGH to start this extremely popular and well-reviewed book and cannot wait to dive it. I truly don’t know much about the plot, which makes me even more excited to find out.

With that, I’d better get to reading 🙂 I hope you all have a great March planned – let me know what’s on your TBR if you have one, and if not, what book(s) you’re currently reading!

February 2019 Reading Wrap-Up

Two months down and I am way ahead of my #2019ReadingChallenge goal with 14/52 books completed. See below for my thoughts on the eight I read this month! Books are listed in order of rating, from highest to lowest. As always, if you’re new to my wrap-ups and are worried about spoilers, read my short disclaimer post here.

This month’s quick stats:
8 books (1 audiobook)
2,290 pages
8 authors (7 female)
4 nonfiction | 4 fiction
Year-to-date quick stats:
14 books (1 audiobook)
4,426 pages
12 authors (8 female)
6 nonfiction | 8 fiction

Book Title: Dark Matter
Author: Blake Crouch
Genre: Thriller/Science Fiction
# Pages: 342
My Rating: 5/5 stars

Brief Summary: The main character, Jason Dessen, is a seemingly average dad and husband out for an ice cream run when he is suddenly kidnapped and knocked unconscious in an abandoned warehouse. He awakes to find out that his life is no longer as he knew it to be- no wife and no son. Jason then has to find out who did this to him and how to get his life back to normal.

My Thoughts: The hype is REAL when it comes to this book! It was highly recommended to me and did not disappoint. I’ll be thinking about this story for many days/weeks/years to come, and I highly recommend this book if you like mind-bending psychological thrillers with lots of twists and turns.

Book Title: The Female of the Species
Author: Mindy McGinnis
Genre: Contemporary
# Pages: 352
My Rating: 4/5 stars

Brief Summary: We follow three main characters in this book, all individuals who go to the same high school. They all start as acquaintances, but their storylines interweave as they each deal with their own internal demons.

My Thoughts: This book is actually around a 4.5 star rating for me – I really got into the storyline and felt connected to the characters. Heavy book and definite trigger warning for anyone sensitive to stories dealing with rape and rape culture, but an impactful story that again left me thinking about it long after I put it down.

Book Title: Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear
Author: Elizabeth Gilbert
Genre: Self-Help
# Pages: 0 (audiobook)
My Rating: 4/5 stars

Brief Summary: Elizabeth Gilbert describes her take on creativity in the world: how it comes to people (in the form of big magic), how to listen to and let go of new ideas, and what to do when creativity seems to leave you and you feel blocked.

My Thoughts: I think this is a beautiful and original take on creativity, inspring and important even for those who do not have creative day jobs and need to find outlets outside of work. I listened to this one on audiobook, and the fact that Elizabeth’s voice is as smooth as butter definitely helped the message come across.

Book Title: Bossypants
Author: Tina Fey
Genre: Memoir
# Pages: 272
My Rating: 4/5 stars

Brief Summary: Tina Fey (very famous actress, comedian, and producer) tells her own story of how she came to be so successful, starting from early childhood and going on through the production of her own TV show, 30 Rock. Many jokes included.

My Thoughts: I didn’t know I liked Tina Fey’s sense of humor so much, but I loved it in this book. Very sarcastic and self-depracating, I was entertained thanks to her jokes but inspired by her story-telling. And I love a successful female in a male-dominated industry!

Book Title: Dark Places
Author: Gillian Flynn
Genre: Thriller/Mystery
# Pages: 349
My Rating: 3/5 stars

Brief Summary: This book follows two timelines: the first is the day that Libby’s older brother Ben supposedly killed their mother and two other sisters. The second is 25 years later, Ben still in jail for the murders and Libby trying to figure out if he really did it. The book bounces back and forth between stories and perspectives until the true events of that day are revealed.

My Thoughts: I was really expecting to love this book, but ended up pretty disappointed. The book kind of dragged for me, partially because of the slow storyline (meant to be ominous, I think) and partially because I don’t particularly enjoy stories told from multiple points of view. I was unsatisfied by the ending, but I know lots of people really enjoyed this book – so it may not have been my cup of tea, but I recommend trying it if it sounds like it could be yours!

Book Title: Girl, Wash Your Face
Author: Rachel Hollis
Genre: Self-Help
# Pages: 220
My Rating: 3/5 stars

Brief Summary: Blogger and media company CEO Rachel Hollis writes about 20 lies she has told herself throughout her life, why none of them are true, and how her life would be different if she had listened to any of them.

My Thoughts: I think the format of this book is great and most of the advice is sound. I also enjoyed reading about Rachel Hollis’s life, family, and career since I didn’t know much before this book. There were some things I was a little confused about after reading this book though, the biggest being her intended audience. It seemed to change every chapter – going from saying that you don’t need a man to make you happy (which is great advice for middle- or high-school girls, for example), and then the next chapter would be advocating to raise your kids in the way that works for you (clearly intended for other moms). I just found myself thinking that I was too old for some of the advice and too young for other parts.

Book Title: You are a Badass
Author: Jen Sincero
Genre: Self-Help
# Pages: 272
My Rating: 3/5 stars

Brief Summary: Pretty self-explanatory – Jen Sincero walks you through several lessons on how to get your butt into gear and your life into action, with emphasis on topics like the law of attraction (“the force” as she calls it) and how your output energy impacts opportunities that come your way.

My Thoughts: Motivational, but overall not super original or ground-breaking. If you’ve never been exposed to the law of attraction before, this book would probably be a good introduction without being too overwhelming.

Book Title: The Roar
Author: Emma Clayton
Genre: Dystopia
# Pages: 483
My Rating: 3/5 stars

Brief Summary: This dystopia follows Mika and Ellie, two 12-year-old twins living in a post-apocolyptic world caused by an “animal plague” 30 years ago. Ellie was kidnapped one year prior to the book’s starting point and is trying to get back to her family; Mika is trying to win a competition at his local arcade that he thinks will lead him to finding Ellie.

My Thoughts: I LOVE a good dystopia, and especially one with a game or competition element to it. I was thoroughly entertained by this story but unfortunately was left with more questions than answers and a lot of too-good-to-be-true coincidences that made the ending frustrating. I know that this is meant to be more of a childrens/middle-grade-level book, so I’m sure 13-year-old me would have loved it, but 24-year-old me will not be continuing the series.


All in all, February was a great reading month for me! I’m feeling very motivated for March, which is good because I’ll be taking part in my first ever readathon!

What did you read in February? Let me know what your goals are for March and if there are any books you’ve read recently that I should add to my TBR! Thanks for stoppin by!

January 2019 Reading Wrap-Up

What a great start to the new year and to my #2019ReadingChallenge goal of 52 books! I started off ahead of schedule this month and am excited to keep it going. Below are all of the books that I read in January in order of rating, highest to lowest. I also threw in some stats that I plan on tracking throughout the year.

If you’re worried about spoilers at all, read my disclaimer here. The gist is that I will never intentionally spoil a book or its ending, but when giving a brief summary and my overall thoughts, I’ll be covering the basic plot which you may prefer not to read. In that case, stop after you see my rating!

This month’s quick stats:
6 books
2,136 pages
4 authors (1 female)
2 nonfiction | 4 fiction
Year-to-date quick stats:
6 books
2,136 pages
4 authors (1 female)
2 nonfiction | 4 fiction

Book Title: The Sense of an Ending
Author: Julian Barnes
Genre: Contemporary
# Pages: 163
My Rating: 5/5 stars

Brief Summary: This novel follows a middle-aged man named Tony as he reminisces on stories from his childhood through early adulthood. He recounts his experiences making friends, losing friends, and dealing with the consequences of his actions that are affecting him to this day. I’d go into more detail, but trust me when I say it’s better not knowing ahead of time.

My Thoughts: This book is short but packs a real punch. To me it was very reminiscent of The Perks of Being a Wallflower: introspective, nostalgic, a little slow-rolling, with an ending that took me by surprise and left me thinking about it for days afterwards. This book is for you if you want a quick read that will provoke some self-reflection and a little bit of mind f***-ery.

Book Title: Crazy Rich Asians
Author: Kevin Kwan
Genre: Contemporary
# Pages: 527
My Rating: 4/5 stars

Brief Summary: Rachel and Nick are a young adult couple living in New York when Nick decides to bring Rachel home to Singapore to meet his family. There, Rachel finds out that Nick’s family is “crazy rich” and filled with all kinds of family drama. We get to read about it not only from Rachel and Nick’s perspectives, but through the perspectives of other family members as well.

My Thoughts: I really enjoyed this book for what it is: a light-hearted, comedic novel making fun of family dynamics. I flew through it (despite being over 500 pages long) and actually laughed out loud a couple of times. Did it change my life? No. Could you just watch the movie and be fine? Yes. Did I still have a great time reading this book and do I consider it a good use of my time? Yep!

Book Title: China Rich Girlfriend
Author: Kevin Kwan
Genre: Contemporary
# Pages: 479
My Rating: 4/5 stars

Brief Summary: More family drama between Nick, Rachel, and their families. New family members are revealed and bring in their own host of issues.

My Thoughts: Typically I don’t love book #2 in 3-book series. Book 2 is usually filler material, setting everyone and everything up for the finale. Not with this series, though – because the genre isn’t mystery, thriller, or action, there’s nothing to set up for, so it was equally as enjoyable to me as book 1.

Book Title: Rich People Problems
Author: Kevin Kwan
Genre: Contemporary
# Pages: 541
My Rating: 4/5 stars

Brief Summary: You guessed it: more family drama surround Nick and Rachel! I would give more information, but it’s not worth spoiling if you haven’t read the first two books in the series. This one has a LITTLE element of mystery in it, which keeps you intrigued to the last page. 

My Thoughts: A great wrap-up for the series. I was completely satisfied with the mystery reveal and sort-of twists implemented into the story line. If you liked the first two books, you’ll like the third for sure.

Book Title: Option B: Facing Adversity, Building Resilience, and Finding Joy
Author: Sheryl Sandberg and Adam Grant
Genre: Self-Help
# Pages: 226
My Rating: 3/5 stars

Brief Summary: This book is primarily told by Sheryl Sandberg (COO of Facebook, author of Lean In, all-around inspiring lady) as she recounts her experience losing her husband, Dave. She speaks about her struggles with grief and the concrete steps her friend Adam Grant (psychologist and author) shared with her to recover from the trauma and thrive throughout her life afterwards.

My Thoughts: Truthfully, it was not what I expected – and most of that is because I did not do much research on the book prior to picking it up. I have read Lean In by Sheryl Sandberg, which is all about becoming successful as a female in the professional world, and I really loved it. I thought this book would be similar, but instead found it focused much more on personal tragedies, loss, and grief, than on adversities you might encounter in the workplace. Had I known that, I might have begun this book with a different mindset and given it a higher rating… or I might never have read it. I do think it gives some useful strategies to get through times of loss, and for that reason will likely reread it in the future or recommend it to others going through tough personal situations.

Book Title: One Nation Under Taught
Author: Dr. Vince M. Bertram
Genre: Nonfiction/Education
# Pages: 200
My Rating: 2/5 stars

Brief Summary:America is in a little bit of an education crisis is comparison to other well-developed countries in the world, and the author of this book provides evidence of that as well as his solution: Project Lead The Way (the program Bertram founded that teaches engineering to high-school students).

My Thoughts: I love the premise of this book – as an engineer myself, I totally see the need for more STEM graduates and think that a book to educate on that topic is a great idea. However, this book turned into a 200-page advertisement for PLTW. It’s not that I don’t support the program, because I do, but this book just seemed to scream at me “here’s all the terrible stuff America is doing to its students and here’s how I’m going to single-handedly fix it.” Not quite as inspiring as I hoped it would be.

Spoiler Disclaimer!

The last thing I want to do is spoil books for anyone hoping to read them in the future, so I will never intentionally spoil a book or its ending. However, some people like to go into books pretty blind regarding the plot, characters, and themes – and I totally get that. If that’s you, in each of my monthly wrap ups you’ll want to stick to the top section of each book I mention, which covers only the book title, author, genre, and my rating. The sections below that are a brief synopsis of the book followed by my thoughts. Again – neither of these sections will have anything I consider spoilers, but I could accidentally ruin you were hoping to find out on your own!