What a bland month of reading! I DNF’d (did not finish) 2 books which I’ve never done before… I figure, life’s too short to read books I’m not into. It feels fabulous.
Since I’ve read 29 books this year so far, I thought about starting a new page of the blog with a running list of my favorite books, sorted by category. Would that be something that would be helpful for you? Let me know in the comments.
My Monthly Favorites…
(true crime 5/5)
In 2014, Theranos founder and CEO Elizabeth Holmes was widely seen as the female Steve Jobs: a brilliant Stanford dropout whose startup "unicorn" promised to revolutionize the medical industry with a machine that would make blood tests significantly faster and easier. Backed by investors such as Larry Ellison and Tim Draper, Theranos sold shares in a fundraising round that valued the company at $9 billion, putting Holmes's worth at an estimated $4.7 billion. There was just one problem: The technology didn't work.
For years, Holmes had been misleading investors, FDA officials, and her own employees. When Carreyrou, working at The Wall Street Journal, got a tip from a former Theranos employee and started asking questions, both Carreyrou and the Journal were threatened with lawsuits. Undaunted, the newspaper ran the first of dozens of Theranos articles in late 2015. By early 2017, the company's value was zero and Holmes faced potential legal action from the government and her investors. Here is the riveting story of the biggest corporate fraud since Enron, a disturbing cautionary tale set amid the bold promises and gold-rush frenzy of Silicon Valley.
THIS BOOK IS FASCINATING! I highly recommend, especially since a HBO documentary just came out. If you watched the documentary and were intrigued by the story then this is a must read. There’s also an incredible podcast on the subject, but this book really gives you all. the. details. I listened to it on audiobook and it was an awesome format. Bonus points: google some of her interviews because her voice is INSANE. It makes you wonder whether it’s real or if she’s just putting on a front…
It's winter in the Catskills and the weather outside is frightful.But Mitchell's Inn is so delightful! The cozy lodge nestled deep in the woods is perfect for a relaxing--maybe even romantic--weekend away. The Inn boasts spacious old rooms with huge wood-burning fireplaces, a well-stocked wine cellar, and opportunities for cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, or just curling up with a book and someone you love.
So when the weather takes a turn for the worse, and a blizzard cuts off the electricity--and all contact with the outside world--the guests settle in for the long haul. The power's down but they've got candles, blankets, and wood--a genuine rustic experience! Soon, though, a body turns up--surely an accident. When a second body appears, they start to panic. Then they find a third body. Within the snowed-in paradise, something--or someone--is picking off the guests one by one. They can't leave, and with no cell service, there's no prospect of getting the police in until the weather loosens its icy grip. The weekend getaway has turned deadly. For some couples, it's their first time away. For others, it will be their last. And there's nothing they can do about it but huddle down and hope they can survive the storm.
For anyone that loves Agatha Christie, specifically And Then There Were None, you will love this. This thriller kept me on my toes and I devoured it in 24 hours. Although the ending wasn’t as intense as I hoped for, there is still a few twists! In perfect Agatha Christie fashion, the last chapter is SO important.
At just over 300 pages, this is a quick read for when you’re feeling a fast-paced thriller. Shari Lapena is an instant must read author for me now and I have The Couple Next Door on my TBR (to be read) list for April!
(Drama - fiction 5/5)
For years, rumors of the “Marsh Girl” have haunted Barkley Cove, a quiet town on the North Carolina coast. So in late 1969, when handsome Chase Andrews is found dead, the locals immediately suspect Kya Clark, the so-called Marsh Girl. But Kya is not what they say. Sensitive and intelligent, she has survived for years alone in the marsh that she calls home, finding friends in the gulls and lessons in the sand. Then the time comes when she yearns to be touched and loved. When two young men from town become intrigued by her wild beauty, Kya opens herself to a new life–until the unthinkable happens.
There are a lot of books that get hype and don’t deserve it… This book totally deserves it. It reminded me a lot of Educated, but unlike Educated, this book is fiction and encompasses more than a coming-of-age story. It includes a love story, murder, trial, HUGE TWIST, and about finding yourself in a world without your family. I listened to this on audiobook which was lovely because the woman who reads it has a southern accent down perfectly. Delia Owens has an amazing ability to describe the marsh and transport the reader into another world while reading it.
(Light fiction 5/5)
Bernadette Fox has vanished.
When her daughter Bee claims a family trip to Antarctica as a reward for perfect grades, Bernadette, a fiercely intelligent shut-in, throws herself into preparations for the trip. But worn down by years of trying to live the Seattle life she never wanted, Ms. Fox is on the brink of a meltdown. And after a school fundraiser goes disastrously awry at her hands, she disappears, leaving her family to pick up the pieces--which is exactly what Bee does, weaving together an elaborate web of emails, invoices, and school memos that reveals a secret past Bernadette has been hiding for decades. Where'd You Go Bernadette is an ingenious and unabashedly entertaining novel about a family coming to terms with who they are and the power of a daughter's love for her mother.
THIS BOOK IS HILARIOUS from the very first page! And being an avid “read the book before the movie” person, I knew i had to read this book before the movie hits theaters in August. It would be perfect for a book club or as a gift for your mom, bff, sister. I don’t know anyone who wouldn’t enjoy this book. If you’re going to read one book next month, have it be this! HIGHLY recommend.
Note: Don’t listen to this on audiobook. The book is composed of emails, notes, letters and I think it would get confusing if you couldn’t look at the pages and be able to see what’s going on.
if you liked the light we lost…
Forever is the worst long time (light fiction 4.5/5)
When struggling novelist James Hernandez meets poet Louisa “Lou” Bell, he’s sure he’s just found the love of his life. There’s just one problem: she’s engaged to his oldest friend, Rob. So James toasts their union and swallows his desire.
As the years pass, James’s dreams always seem just out of reach—he can’t finish that novel, can’t mend his relationship with his father, can’t fully commit to a romantic relationship. He just can’t move on. But after betrayal fractures Lou’s once-solid marriage, she turns to James for comfort.
When Lou and James act on their long-standing mutual attraction, the consequences are more heartbreaking—and miraculous—than either of them could have ever anticipated. Then life throws James one more curveball, and he, Rob, and Lou are forced to come to terms with the unexpected ways in which love and loss are intertwined.
I really enjoyed how this book shows all facets of relationships - friendship, romance, parental. It focuses on how to get your life back on track when it feels like everything has fallen apart. That feeling is something we’ve all experienced at one time or another. Camille Pagan is a new-to-me author but I’m excited to read some of her other books!
If you want to read some f*cked up books…
Verity (thriller 4/5)
Lowen Ashleigh is a struggling writer on the brink of financial ruin when she accepts the job offer of a lifetime. Jeremy Crawford, husband of bestselling author Verity Crawford, has hired Lowen to complete the remaining books in a successful series his injured wife is unable to finish.
Lowen arrives at the Crawford home, ready to sort through years of Verity's notes and outlines, hoping to find enough material to get her started. What Lowen doesn't expect to uncover in the chaotic office is an unfinished autobiography Verity never intended for anyone to read. Page after page of bone-chilling admissions, including Verity's recollection of what really happened the day her daughter died.
Lowen decides to keep the manuscript hidden from Jeremy, knowing its contents would devastate the already grieving father. But as Lowen's feelings for Jeremy begin to intensify, she recognizes all the ways she could benefit if he were to read his wife's words. After all, no matter how devoted Jeremy is to his injured wife, a truth this horrifying would make it impossible for him to continue to love her.
WOW. WOOOOOOOOOOOW. This book is so f*cked up. I can’t even explain it without giving something away, but just read it. You will be disturbed.
Note: I would not recommend this book for those that are pregnant, trying to get pregnant, or mother’s of small children.
THe GOod Liar (Thriller 4/5)
When an explosion rips apart a Chicago building, the lives of three women are forever altered.
A year later, Cecily is in mourning. She was supposed to be in the building that day. Instead, she stood on the street and witnessed it going down, with her husband and best friend inside. Kate, now living thousands of miles away, fled the disaster and is hoping that her past won’t catch up with her. And Franny, a young woman in search of her birth mother, watched the horror unfold on the morning news, knowing that the woman she was so desperate to reconnect with was in the building.
Now, despite the marks left by the tragedy, they all seem safe. But as its anniversary dominates the media, the memories of that terrifying morning become dangerous triggers. All these women are guarding important secrets. Just how far will they go to keep them?
This book was pretty good! It got a little tired waiting for the next big twist but I’d still recommend it. It centers around three women after a 9/11-type tragedy happens in Chicago. It’ll definitely keep your attention as I read the whole thing on a long flight. I couldn’t put it down. Make sure you read the Epilogue, as it explains the entire book (which has been happening in a lot of books I’ve read lately…)
I always love reading books that take place in Chicago while I live in Chicago - the author definitely did her research as a lot of places I’m familiar with were mentioned!
If you’re in the mood for a love story…
On the Island (Light Fiction 4/5)
When thirty-year-old English teacher Anna Emerson is offered a job tutoring T.J. Callahan at his family's summer rental in the Maldives, she accepts without hesitation; a working vacation on a tropical island trumps the library any day.
T.J. Callahan has no desire to leave town, not that anyone asked him. He's almost seventeen and if having cancer wasn't bad enough, now he has to spend his first summer in remission with his family - and a stack of overdue assignments -- instead of his friends.
Anna and T.J. are en route to join T.J.'s family in the Maldives when the pilot of their seaplane suffers a fatal heart attack and crash-lands in the Indian Ocean. Adrift in shark-infested waters, their life jackets keep them afloat until they make it to the shore of an uninhabited island. Now Anna and T.J. just want to survive and they must work together to obtain water, food, fire, and shelter.
Their basic needs might be met but as the days turn to weeks, and then months, the castaways encounter plenty of other obstacles, including violent tropical storms, the many dangers lurking in the sea, and the possibility that T.J.'s cancer could return. As T.J. celebrates yet another birthday on the island, Anna begins to wonder if the biggest challenge of all might be living with a boy who is gradually becoming a man.
This book reminded me of a mix between the mvoie Cast Away and the book The Idea of You (review in my February book list). It was total brain candy but I LOVED it! It was so addicting that I bought the accompanying novella (review below).
If you want to try a novella (short story)…
UnCharted (novella 3/5)
When twenty-three-year-old dot-com millionaire Owen Sparks walked away from his charmed life, he had one goal in mind: get as far away as possible from the people who resented his success, or had their hand out for a piece of it. A remote uncharted island halfway around the world seemed like a perfectly logical place to get away from it all.
Calia Reed wasn't part of Owen's plans. The beautiful British girl - on holiday in the Maldives with her brother, James - made Owen wonder if getting away from it all might be a lot more enjoyable with a carefree girl who didn't know anything about the life he left behind.
But Owen had no idea how much his carefully detailed plans would go awry. Nor did he realize that a decision he made would have such a catastrophic effect on two passengers who boarded a plane in Chicago.
And when Owen shows up at Anna and T.J.'s door with an incredible story to tell, everyone involved will learn just how much their lives are intertwined.
Whenever i finish a love story, I always wish for a sequel. When i saw Tracey Garvis Graves wrote a novella to accompany On the Island, i was thrilled. This short story won’t leave you disappointed and it’s a must read to follow-up On the Island.
Evidence of the Affair (novella 3/5)
A desperate young woman in Southern California sits down to write a letter to a man she’s never met—a choice that will forever change both their lives.
My heart goes out to you, David. Even though I do not know you…
The correspondence between Carrie Allsop and David Mayer reveals, piece by piece, the painful details of a devastating affair between their spouses. With each commiserating scratch of the pen, they confess their fears and bare their souls. They share the bewilderment over how things went so wrong and come to wonder where to go from here.
Told entirely through the letters of two comforting strangers and those of two illicit lovers, Evidence of the Affair explores the complex nature of the heart. And ultimately, for one woman, how liberating it can be when it’s broken.
Taylor Jenkins Reid is a must read author for me and this novella didn’t disappoint! Daisy Jones and the Six is on my TBR list for April!
Bonus: This book and the accompanying audiobook are free to Amazon Prime members.
Books that were ‘meh’…
THe Tattooist of auschwitz (historical fiction 3/5)
In April 1942, Lale Sokolov, a Slovakian Jew, is forcibly transported to the concentration camps at Auschwitz-Birkenau. When his captors discover that he speaks several languages, he is put to work as a Tätowierer (the German word for tattooist), tasked with permanently marking his fellow prisoners.
Imprisoned for more than two and a half years, Lale witnesses horrific atrocities and barbarism—but also incredible acts of bravery and compassion. Risking his own life, he uses his privileged position to exchange jewels and money from murdered Jews for food to keep his fellow prisoners alive.
One day in July 1942, Lale, prisoner 32407, comforts a trembling young woman waiting in line to have the number 34902 tattooed onto her arm. Her name is Gita, and in that first encounter, Lale vows to somehow survive the camp and marry her.
I didn’t love this book. Between the slow start, horrific scenes of the holocaust, and unrealistic elements, I became uninterested pretty fast. It’s pretty popular, so if you choose to read this book then I would recommend going into it from a Historical Fiction instead of Non-Fiction standpoint as evidence has come out that not all of the facts were completely accurate. I’ve also heard the audiobook’s reader isn’t too great so try to read the hardback or e-book if you can.
the book of essie (light fiction 3/5)
Esther Ann Hicks--Essie--is the youngest child on Six for Hicks, a reality television phenomenon. She's grown up in the spotlight, both idolized and despised for her family's fire-and-brimstone brand of faith. When Essie's mother, Celia, discovers that Essie is pregnant, she arranges an emergency meeting with the show's producers: Do they sneak Essie out of the country for an abortion? Do they pass the child off as Celia's? Or do they try to arrange a marriage--and a ratings-blockbuster wedding? Meanwhile, Essie is quietly pairing herself up with Roarke Richards, a senior at her school with a secret of his own to protect. As the newly formed couple attempt to sell their fabricated love story to the media--through exclusive interviews with an infamously conservative reporter named Liberty Bell--Essie finds she has questions of her own: What was the real reason for her older sister leaving home? Who can she trust with the truth about her family? And how much is she willing to sacrifice to win her own freedom?
I thought this would be more like the Kardashians and it ended up being about something entirely different. I definitely enjoyed the feminist element! I didn’t have strong feelings about it either way - it was neither bad or amazing so I gave it a 3/5. I thought the ending was a bit rushed and one story-line was pretty unnecessary.
Talking as fast as i can (memoir 3/5)
In Talking as Fast as I Can, Lauren Graham hits pause for a moment and looks back on her life, sharing laugh-out-loud stories about growing up, starting out as an actress, and, years later, sitting in her trailer on the Parenthood set and asking herself, “Did you, um, make it?” She opens up about the challenges of being single in Hollywood (“Strangers were worried about me; that’s how long I was single!”), the time she was asked to audition her butt for a role, and her experience being a judge on Project Runway (“It’s like I had a fashion-induced blackout”).
In “What It Was Like, Part One,” Graham sits down for an epic Gilmore Girls marathon and reflects on being cast as the fast-talking Lorelai Gilmore. The essay “What It Was Like, Part Two” reveals how it felt to pick up the role again nine years later, and what doing so has meant to her.
Some more things you will learn about Lauren: She once tried to go vegan just to bond with Ellen DeGeneres, she’s aware that meeting guys at awards shows has its pitfalls (“If you’re meeting someone for the first time after three hours of hair, makeup, and styling, you’ve already set the bar too high”), and she’s a card-carrying REI shopper (“My bungee cords now earn points!”).
I listened to this on audiobook as Lauren reads it, but I wished I would’ve bought the book. There are photos and excerpts that she references that I wanted to look at. All in all, there’s nothing juicy and it made me nostalgic for the days I ran home from school, had pizza rolls, and binge watched Gilmore Girls.
Books I DNF:
One last thing! What are you reading this month?! Y’all always have the best suggestions so let me know… Thank you!