Recent Reads

It took most of the summer, but I finally feel like I’m back in a good groove when it comes to reading. I needed to get some good, fun books under my belt to truly feel back in the reading swing of things, and I think I’ve finally done it. I’ve been so pumped to start (and finish) new books lately, that I somehow managed to finish 5 over the last month! And just like last time, they all ended up being in different genres, which definitely helped me not get bored reading the same type of book over and over again.

A Simple Favor

I REALLY wanted to read this one before the movie came to theaters, and I finished it JUST in time! Which I guess didn’t really matter since I haven’t seen the movie yet… but now I can! I knew this one was supposed to be a thriller and the trailer made the story seem very suspenseful, so I definitely wanted to know the plot and how the story ended before seeing it played out. So I read A Simple Favor. And it was… interesting. Here’s a quick overview:

“It starts with a simple favor—an ordinary kindness mothers do for one another. When her best friend, Emily, asks Stephanie to pick up her son Nicky after school, she happily says yes. Nicky and her son, Miles, are classmates and best friends, and the five-year-olds love being together—just like she and Emily. A widow and stay-at-home mommy blogger living in woodsy suburban Connecticut, Stephanie was lonely until she met Emily, a sophisticated PR executive whose job in Manhattan demands so much of her time. 

But Emily doesn’t come back. She doesn’t answer calls or return texts. Stephanie knows something is terribly wrong—Emily would never leave Nicky, no matter what the police say. Terrified, she reaches out to her blog readers for help. She also reaches out to Emily’s husband, the handsome, reticent Sean, offering emotional support. It’s the least she can do for her best friend. Then, she and Sean receive shocking news. Emily is dead. The nightmare of her disappearance is over.

Or is it? Because soon, Stephanie will begin to see that nothing—not friendship, love, or even an ordinary favor—is as simple as it seems.”

So I’m not going to lie… I expected this to be a little… more intense than it was. Don’t get me wrong, it was still crazy and had some plot twists I didn’t see coming, but also it was just… not as crazy as I expected it to be. Everyone kept comparing it to Gone Girl, so I went into it thinking WHOA THIS IS GOING TO BE NUTS and I had so many possible theories floating around in my head while I was reading. And honestly, I think one of my theories would have made it a bigger “what?!!?” moment at the end, but oh well. I definitely pictured Blake Lively and Anna Kendrick the whole time I was reading which was kind of fun, and overall the story wasn’t terrible. I do really love when a story jumps around with multiple narrators (some being unreliable even) so that made me want to not put the book down! I’ll probably wait and watch the movie once I can get it from a Redbox, though.

It’s Your Ship

It’s Your Ship would not have been a usual book choice for me (in fact I didn’t choose it at all, it was chosen for me) but I actually enjoyed it more than I thought I would. The CEO of my company got this book for all the directors and VPs and managers to read and discuss, and I definitely don’t fall into any of those categories. But the VP of my department thought that this had a lot of good things inside, and that our department might benefit from reading it and having a little book club discussion. But then some scheduling things got in the way and so the big book club ended up being a very small book discussion at my small team meeting led by my manager. But either way, a book about leadership was still pretty interesting, thought-provoking, and wasn’t the worst book I’ve ever read! A lot of the things in this were pretty common sense, but it was still good reminders on how to be a good leader, how to work under a good leader, and just how to be a good person, with a lot of good military anecdotes thrown in to get his point across.

The Ensemble

Full disclosure – I chose this book 100% because of the cover. LOOK AT IT! It’s so bright and happy and beautiful! And in no way lets you know what The Ensemble will actually be about! Which it turns out is about a quartet of musicians and the story follows the four of them throughout their lives and their musical careers while they play together! Neat! Here’s a better description for you.

“Jana. Brit. Daniel. Henry. They would never have been friends if they hadn’t needed each other. They would never have found each other except for the art which drew them together. They would never have become family without their love for the music, for each other.

Brit is the second violinist, a beautiful and quiet orphan; on the viola is Henry, a prodigy who’s always had it easy; the cellist is Daniel, the oldest and an angry skeptic who sleeps around; and on first violin is Jana, their flinty, resilient leader. Together, they are the Van Ness Quartet. After the group’s youthful, rocky start, they experience devastating failure and wild success, heartbreak and marriage, triumph and loss, betrayal and enduring loyalty. They are always tied to each other – by career, by the intensity of their art, by the secrets they carry, by choosing each other over and over again.

Following these four unforgettable characters, Aja Gabel’s debut novel gives a riveting look into the high-stakes, cutthroat world of musicians, and of lives made in concert. The story of Brit and Henry and Daniel and Jana, The Ensemble is a heart-skipping portrait of ambition, friendship, and the tenderness of youth.”

This was one of those books where you get to the end and you’ve really enjoyed it but you also have to ask yourself, did anything actually happen? You read and follow the lives of these four people, but like… did anything actually happen? So much stuff happened, yes… but do you know what I mean? I actually really enjoy books like that from time to time, and this one came at a perfect time. Besides liking the characters a lot, I thought that this book was really well written and the way that the author phrased things was absolutely beautiful. Plus, it skipped around between four (and a bonus) narrator, so you know I loved that, too.

How to Walk Away

I just finished How to Walk Away two days ago and I REALLY REALLY REALLY liked it!! Definitely my favorite from this bunch. It wasn’t what I was expecting… and that’s probably because I tend to do this thing where I only really half read the plots for books before deciding that I want to read them, and so when the story went the way that the story went I was NOT expecting it (and it happens in the first few chapters, haha) but this story was just so good! Here’s the description (and maybe you should actually read all of it. Do as I say, not as I do.)

“Margaret Jacobsen is just about to step into the bright future she’s worked for so hard and so long: a new dream job, a fiancé she adores, and the promise of a picture-perfect life just around the corner. Then, suddenly, on what should have been one of the happiest days of her life, everything she worked for is taken away in a brief, tumultuous moment.

In the hospital and forced to face the possibility that nothing will ever be the same again, Maggie must confront the unthinkable. First there is her fiancé, Chip, who wallows in self-pity while simultaneously expecting to be forgiven. Then, there’s her sister Kit, who shows up after pulling a three-year vanishing act. Finally, there’s Ian, her physical therapist, the one the nurses said was too tough for her. Ian, who won’t let her give in to her pity, and who sees her like no one has seen her before. Sometimes the last thing you want is the one thing you need. Sometimes we all need someone to catch us when we fall. And sometimes love can find us in the least likely place we would ever expect.”

I think the thing I loved most about this story was the characters. I really felt like I was right there in the hospital with Margaret, fighting with my sister, trying to figure out what’s going on with my fiance, realizing I might have a crush on this physical therapist of mine… I was so enthralled by the plot and that made the book go by way too quickly! Plain and simple, this book made me really happy and if you need a quick, light, and fun read that will make you happy too, then I think you should make this the one.

Girl, Wash Your Face

So…. I really wanted to love this book. I liked it, but I really wanted to LOVE it. And I just didn’t. There were a lot of things that I thought it got right. It was encouraging. It was uplifting. It was inspiring. It was funny at times. But there were also a lot of things that I thought it got not-as-right (not totally wrong, just not totally right.) Like I felt that everything she wrote was just kind of common sense. It was a good reminder of being yourself and loving yourself and going after your goals and dreams, but I guess I just kind of expected to read something new, and I didn’t. I felt that for being offered as a Christian book, it didn’t really mention Christ that much. And maybe that was part of what she was going for – make it more accessible to the masses to covertly spread a watered-down gospel message to people who don’t go to church, but like… did she even do that at all? And I don’t know what it was, but something just felt… off to me while reading it. It seemed genuine, it seemed like she was passionate about the words she was writing but something just seemed… off.

So again, I did actually like this book, but I didn’t actually love it. I would still recommend it, just go in knowing that it’s not going to change your life.

Have you read any of these books yet, or are any of them on your list now? Have you seen A Simple Favor yet, and did you like it? I’ve heard mixed reviews, and now that I know the story I’d love to hear your thoughts! Do you have any business/leadership books you’ve loved and would recommend? Is there a really great fiction book you’ve loved and think everyone else should read, too? I have all the questions today, apparently! 🙂


Recent Reads

Do you ever go through genre moods when you’re reading? I sure do! There was a stretch of a few months where all I wanted to read was historical fiction. There was another spurt where I couldn’t get enough of thrillers (it was when we all got caught up in the Gone Girl madness, nobody seemed to be immune!) I even went through a few months where I was searching out SAD BOOKS because I am a crazy person and wanted to torture myself apparently? (Those are still some of my favorites, tho!) And remember a few years ago when funny celebrity memoirs were coming out left and right? Yeah me too, and I did my best to read all of them in a 3 month period.

But I asked my original question because it seems right now that I don’t have a current genre mood and I don’t know how to feel about it! On the one hand, I really like the variety of the books I’ve been reading over the last few months… but on the other hand it makes it seem SO HARD to pick out the next book I want to read! Should I go for that biography, or grab the latest murder mystery, or finally start that rom-com beach read that’s been in my library queue for years? First world problems, am I right? Here are some of the books I’ve read over the last few months- all in different genres!

When Life Gives You Lululemons

In the genre of “fun beach read” I give you When Life Gives You Lululemons – it is a follow-up story to The Devil Wears Prada (which I read in high school and really really really enjoyed!) and it follows Emily (the Emily Blunt character from the movie) 10 years later. Here’s the summary:

Let’s be clear: Emily Charlton does not do the suburbs. After leaving Miranda Priestly, she’s been working in Hollywood as an image consultant to the stars, but recently, Emily’s lost a few clients. She’s hopeless with social media. The new guard is nipping at her heels. She needs a big opportunity, and she needs it now. When Karolina Hartwell, a gorgeous former supermodel, is arrested for a DUI, her fall from grace is merciless. Her senator-husband leaves her, her Beltway friends disappear, and the tabloids pounce. In Karolina, Emily finds her comeback opportunity. But she quickly learns Greenwich is a world apart and that this comeback needs a team approach. So it is that Emily, the scorned Karolina, and their mutual friend Miriam, a powerful attorney turned stay-at-home suburban mom, band together to not only navigate the social land mines of suburban Greenwich but win back the hearts of the American public.

I really liked reading this one!! It was quick and easy and FUN! The characters (both new and old) were a hoot to hang out with for a few days and the plot was woven together very well. It’s one of those stories that makes you crazy because as the reader you know ALL THE THINGS but the characters don’t know all the things and you’re just yelling at the book COME ON NOW! So it’s a tiny bit infuriating in the moment, but the payoff at the end of the book is SO incredibly worth it!

So Close to Being the Sh*t, Y’all Don’t Even Know

Here’s my choice for the “fun celebrity memoir” genre. Ok so first little warning about this book – there is ALL THE LANGUAGE in pretty much every sentence. She’s not being rude or mean, that’s just the way Retta talks. But a few f-bombs aside, this book was truly hilarious and I loved getting to learn more about Donna from Parks & Rec, how Retta got into show comedy and business, and hearing her talk about our mutual obsession that is Hamilton.

I read a physical copy of this one, but Retta also reads the audiobook and I bet that she adds so much flair to her words! I definitely recommend either!

My Oxford Year

In the genre of “book that I thought was going to be one thing and then oops it made me cry a whole lot but I still really liked it” I chose My Oxford Year. This was on my list of books I wanted to read this summer and I honestly didn’t know much about it except for an American goes to study for a year at Oxford and falls in love!! What a fun story, right?!?! Here’s the full summary:

American Ella Durran has had the same plan for her life since she was thirteen: Study at Oxford. At 24, she’s finally made it to England on a Rhodes Scholarship when she’s offered an unbelievable position in a rising political star’s presidential campaign. With the promise that she’ll work remotely and return to DC at the end of her Oxford year, she’s free to enjoy her Once in a Lifetime Experience. That is, until a smart-mouthed local who is too quick with his tongue and his car ruins her shirt and her first day. When Ella discovers that her English literature course will be taught by none other than that same local, Jamie Davenport, she thinks for the first time that Oxford might not be all she’s envisioned. But a late-night drink reveals a connection she wasn’t anticipating finding and what begins as a casual fling soon develops into something much more when Ella learns Jamie has a life-changing secret. Immediately, Ella is faced with a seemingly impossible decision: turn her back on the man she’s falling in love with to follow her political dreams or be there for him during a trial neither are truly prepared for. As the end of her year in Oxford rapidly approaches, Ella must decide if the dreams she’s always wanted are the same ones she’s now yearning for.

So I would recommend this book, however… I don’t think it was written super well. It was still fun to read, but there were a lot of times where it got a little confusing and I had to re-read entire pages to figure out who was actually talking or what had actually happened or how much time had actually passed. (There was one part where I was reading thinking this part was taking place the next day, when MUCH later I realized it was taking place like a fully month later and I had to go back and read it again so it made more sense.)

Truly Madly Guilty

In the genre of “I thought this was going to be a thriller but was ultimately a huge letdown” I chose Truly Madly Guilty. Ugh this book. I got it as a book on CD to listen to in my car and guys. It was just SO hard to get into. Even toward the end when things started coming together and it was supposed to be the riveting, exciting, dramatic part, I just honestly didn’t care. At all. Here’s the summary because I don’t even want to talk about this plot myself:

Sam and Clementine have a wonderful, albeit busy, life: they have two little girls, Sam has just started a new dream job, and Clementine, a cellist, is busy preparing for the audition of a lifetime. If there’s anything they can count on, it’s each other. Clementine and Erika are each other’s oldest friends. A single look between them can convey an entire conversation. But theirs is a complicated relationship, so when Erika mentions a last-minute invitation to a barbecue with her neighbors, Tiffany and Vid, Clementine and Sam don’t hesitate. Having Tiffany and Vid’s larger-than-life personalities there will be a welcome respite. Two months later, it won’t stop raining, and Clementine and Sam can’t stop asking themselves the question: What if we hadn’t gone? In Truly Madly Guilty, Liane Moriarty shows how guilt can expose the fault lines in the most seemingly strong relationships, how what we don’t say can be more powerful than what we do, and how sometimes it is the most innocent of moments that can do the greatest harm.

I read Big Little Lies a year ago and LOVED it and thought oh, it’s the same author so I bet I’ll like this book, too! False. Didn’t care. Don’t want to waste my time talking about it anymore. Don’t bother reading it. Just trust me.

(I do have a friend who has read most of Liane Moriarty’s books and she said that all her other ones are actually good and I should give them a try. She tried to start this book and couldn’t get into it, so I’m hopeful that I’ll like her other books better!)

Have you read any of these books yet? What do you think about them? Is there a certain genre that you’re drawn to right now? I think I’m going to try to keep my randomness going! I’m currently reading a “self-help-ish” book, a book on management, and a thriller… variety is the spice of (book) life!

Recent Reads – Crazy Rich Asians

This has turned out to be a slower reading month for me… which seems odd because I feel like I’ve been reading a TON! I’ve only *finished* one book this month… BUT I read a lot more! I read a bit more of a huge biography I’m slowly working through, I started a new audiobook, I started a new library book, and I’ve been busy reading the book for my summer bible study! So while June is kinda skimpy, I have a feeling that July’s recent read post will be EPIC.

Earlier in June, I read Crazy Rich Asians and I really liked it a lot!! I wanted to read the book before the movie comes out this summer, and I’m so glad I did. The story was fun, the characters were likable (even all the minor ones!), and the plot moved along at a nice pace. Here’s the summary from Amazon:

When New Yorker Rachel Chu agrees to spend the summer in Singapore with her boyfriend, Nicholas Young, she envisions a humble family home and quality time with the man she hopes to marry. But Nick has failed to give his girlfriend a few key details. One, that his childhood home looks like a palace; two, that he grew up riding in more private planes than cars; and three, that he just happens to be the country’s most eligible bachelor. On Nick’s arm, Rachel may as well have a target on her back the second she steps off the plane, and soon, her relaxed vacation turns into an obstacle course of old money, new money, nosy relatives, and scheming social climbers. 

I didn’t really know anything about the plot (beyond what I saw on the movie trailer) when I picked it up, and I really enjoyed the story line! I’m so curious about if that’s what it’s really like for the ultra rich in Singapore or how much was fictionalized, and now I can’t wait to read the other two books in the trilogy!! The characters were all seriously so fun, and I can’t wait to hang out with them some more for two more books!

Have you read the book yet? Let me know what you thought! If you haven’t read it yet, do you plan on reading it before you see the movie?

2018 Summer Reading List

I have a very serious problem. It’s called “I add approximately 8 book to my to-be-read list for every 1 book I read.” It’s such an issue!! There are just so many great books coming out all the time and I want to read ALL OF THEM!!! It’s such a struggle, too, because I want to read books that have been on my list for a while, but then also the new ones are so NEW and enticing and I want to read them before they get lost in the middle of my ever-growing list! Anybody else have the same problem?!?

I went through my list and picked out some of the books I’m hoping to read this summer! I already have a few of them reserved at the library and can’t wait to dive into them!

New York Times best-selling author Lauren Weisberger returns with a novel starring one of her favorite characters from The Devil Wears Prada – Emily Charlton, first assistant to Miranda Priestly, now a highly successful image consultant who’s just landed the client of a lifetime.” 

When I saw that this book will follow Emily from The Devil Wears Prada, I got SO EXCITED!! (She was secretly kind of the best… right? lol) I really liked Weisberger’s writing style and I can’t wait to read what happens to a familiar character!

“She Reads Truth tells the stories of two women who discovered, through very different lives and circumstances, that only God and His Word remain unchanged as the world around them shifted and slipped away. Infused with biblical application and Scripture, this book is not just about two characters in two stories, but about one Hero and one Story. Every image points to the bigger picture—that God and His Word are true. Not because of anything we do, but because of who He is. Not once, not occasionally, but right now and all the time.”

Gaaah She Reads Truth has been on my list for so long!! I saw it for sale at the Sparrow conference (and 40% off!!) so I bought it! Can’t beat a discount! I’ve heard both of the authors as guests on one of my favorite podcasts (The Happy Hour with Jamie Ivey) and I can’t wait to dig in and read this one.

“In So Close to Being the Sh*t, Y’all Don’t Even Know, Parks and Recreation star Retta takes us on her not-so-meteoric rise from roaches to riches (well, rich enough that she can buy $15,000 designer handbags yet scared enough to know she’s always a heartbeat away from ramen with American cheese).”

RETTA!!!! This one doesn’t release till the end of the month, and you bet I’m already on the waiting list at my local library!! I can’t wait to read her essays – I bet they’ll be just amazing and most likely pretty hilarious.

“From the best-selling authors of The Knockoff, an outrageously funny novel about one woman’s attempt – through clay diets, naked yoga, green juice, and cultish workout classes – to win back her career, save her best friend, and lose 30 pounds. … As Janey eschews delicious carbs, pays thousands of dollars to charlatans, and is harassed by her very own fitness bracelet, she can’t help but wonder: Did she really need to lose weight in the first place? A hilarious send-up of the health and wellness industry, Fitness Junkie is a glorious romp through the absurd landscape of our weight-obsessed culture.”

I’ve heard that this book is actually pretty good, so I’m excited to read it at some point this summer! The authors also wrote The Knockoff, which I REALLY enjoyed, so that alone gives me high hopes for Fitness Junkie!

“In our modern world, where celebrity is a careful construct, Laura Dave’s compelling, enticing novel explores the devastating effect of the secrets we keep in public…and in private. Hello, Sunshine is a fresh, provocative look at a woman teetering between a scrupulously assembled life and the redemptive power of revealing the truth.”

I think this book sounds like a light, easy, and fun book. It seems very current, too, as I find myself drawn toward bloggers and other influencers that are vulnerable and real and share their actual real lives (smudged mascara and all) instead of just presenting the picture perfect, posed life you see on Instagram. (The premise also kind of reminds me of My (Not So) Perfect Life!)

“Set amid the breathtaking beauty of Oxford, this sparkling debut novel tells the unforgettable story about a determined young woman eager to make her mark in the world and the handsome man who introduces her to an incredible love that will irrevocably alter her future – perfect for fans of JoJo Moyes and Nicholas Sparks.”

Well yes this book sounds right up my alley!! Really the fact that it takes place in England sold it for me immediately. I know we didn’t go to Oxford last year, just Cambridge, but I bet I’ll be able to picture this book in my head very easily anyway.

“The Ensemble is a heart-skipping portrait of artistic ambition, friendship, and the tenderness of youth. With heart, clarity, and poignant understanding, Aja Gabel examines the relationships between trust, love, and the magical, messy world of making music.”

From the description on Amazon, it sounds like The Ensemble jumps from character to character narrating and I LOVE books that do that. And I love music (I’m trying to get back into playing the piano) so I think I’ll really enjoy having that be a central part of the book’s plot.

If You Only Knew is the utterly inviting, often humorous, incredibly authentic back-story of one woman’s life, told for the purpose of helping you strip away both the inner and outward hypocrisy that cripples Christian freedom, choosing instead to live with courageous confidence in God’s ability to make you truly one person. His.”

I have been waiting to read Jamie’s book FOR SO LONG!!!! I’ve been a fan of hers for a few years now (I’ve seen her speak a few times and I listen to her podcast nonstop) and I got so excited when she said she was writing a book… and now it’s here! She goes into her past and how often the things we feel like we need to hide from people are often the things that can most show God’s grace and glory. I’m borrowing this from a friend and I don’t think I’ll want to give it back!!

“When New Yorker Rachel Chu agrees to spend the summer in Singapore with her boyfriend, Nicholas Young, she envisions a humble family home and quality time with the man she hopes to marry. But Nick has failed to give his girlfriend a few key details. One, that his childhood home looks like a palace; two, that he grew up riding in more private planes than cars; and three, that he just happens to be the country’s most eligible bachelor.  On Nick’s arm, Rachel may as well have a target on her back the second she steps off the plane, and soon, her relaxed vacation turns into an obstacle course of old money, new money, nosy relatives, and scheming social climbers.”

This book definitely isn’t new, but I haven’t read it yet, so on the summer list it goes! Crazy Rich Asians is being turned into a movie that is coming out sometime this summer and so I want to have the book read before I see the movie! I know that I’ll love this one and I might have to make it the one that I read next.

Whew- so many good books to read! And trust me, I had a hard time getting it down to a list of only nine books- my list is seriously out of control. I’m currently reading Sweetbitter by Stephanie Danler and loving it so far! It’s been made into a TV show (there’s only been a few episodes out so far) but I want to read the book before I watch any of the episodes.

Have you read any of these books and LOVED or HATED them? What’s on your to-be-read list for the summer?!?

Recent Reads

Oh hey there, friends! After a little break and a busy winter, I’ve been itching to get back on my laptop and type out all of my thoughts and feelings and things I love. So what better way to get back in the swing of things than to share some of the books I’ve finished over the last few months!

The Immortalists

This book sounded very interesting – it’s about four young siblings that visit a fortune teller, and she tells each of them individually the specific date they will die. This impacts each one differently, and you follow the siblings as they live their lives and make decisions and get closer to their date. This was not a happy, feel-good book, but boy oh boy did it make me FEEL. It also made me cry quite a bit. I cried on two different flights in 2 days!! So if you’re not in the mood for an intense read, then don’t pick this up. But if you want a book to make you think and feel all the feelings, this is the one!

For the Love

If you’ve ever read or listened to Jen Hatmaker, then you know she is hilarious. This book makes no exception, and made me laugh out loud a few times! I’m a little late to the game reading this book, but I’m glad I finally got around to it. It’s a collection of little essays about various topics- some silly, some serious, all great.

The Assistants

This one was so fun to read!! It was a quick read, too, which can be a good thing. I had kind of fallen out of the reading habit and wanted to find a fun book to get me back in the swing of things. This story follows an executive assistant, Tina, who kind of accidentally finds herself stealing a little money from her super rich boss/company. Just when she’s decided to make things right, she gets blackmailed and things spiral out of control. Will they get away with it? Will they get caught? Will her crush find out? I didn’t want the story to end!

At the Water’s Edge

I really loved this book! It had drama and suspense and romance and World War Two and the Loch Ness monster and deception and more romance I enjoyed all of it!! We go to Scotland with Madeline, her husband Ellis, and their friend Hank as the men search for Nessie in order to prove a point and restore some family honor and some other stuff. Madeline meets some great people, has some adventures, and OH THE WAY IT ENDED YOU’RE GOING TO LOVE IT!

Have you read any of these? Did you love them or maybe hate them? Let me know! I’m reading another great book right now, I already can’t wait to share it when I’m done!