October Books

This post is definitely a week late and I am so sorry about that. Honduras ended up being a little too busy to keep up with my posts. I also really have not been keeping up with my reading lately. Usually I listen to way more audiobooks so I am able to get more in during each month but for some reason I haven’t been listening to any lately. I only have three books to share from October!

The Royal Runaway (3/5 stars): I am a sucker for any book that revolves around royals so this one drew me in. Overall it was a fun story but for some reason it fell a little flat for me. I really don’t know why as I was really into it the whole time but I guess I wasn’t sure how I liked the ending. If you like books about royal romances I definitely still recommend it.

Upstairs at the White House (4/5 starts): This is the account of J.B. West who was the chief usher of the white house for decades. He went through many administrations and worked very closely with many first ladies. I found it so interesting and I learned a lot. Each lady was so different and had their own priorities as a first lady and as a person. This was the first book I finished on my kindle in a while and I did think it was a good one to read as an ebook. It is so fascinating!

The 7 1/2 Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle (4/5 stars): This is such a unique and interesting murder mystery. I gave it 4 stars as opposed to 5 because it took me at least 100 pages to get into and I still am not sure how I feel about the ending but overall I do highly recommend it. I have never read a murder mystery quite like it and I love mysteries. I don’t want to give to much away but this man has eight days to solve a murder and each day he wakes up as someone else.

Let me know what you have been reading recently!

Erin

To-Read List No. 2

Happy Wednesday! Its time for some books. I am enthralled in The Royal Runaway right now. It is has totally sucked me in and I will be sharing all my thoughts next Wednesday when I round up October’s reads. For today I am going to be sharing some books on my to read list right now. In general my to-read list is very very long and continuously growing but there are some that top my list right now. I did a post like this back in July and actually really liked writing it since it made me take a closer look at my Goodreads and my bookshelves. I also think it is fun to hear what books other people have been intrigued by lately.

I will go ahead and start off with the two non-fiction books I am dying to read. The first is The Rise and Fall of the Dinosaurs by Steve Brusatte. Despite being a scientist I was kind of surprised to be so interested in this one. This follows the evolution of the dinosaurs (yep talk about nerdy). I have heard good things about it and since I am really hoping to read a couple of science books per year I think it would be a good read. The other non-fiction book at the top of my list right now is Quiet by Susan Cain. I actually started it over a year ago and for some reason did not really get into it. Lately I have been thinking a lot about how people interact with each other and I think this would be something I should read. I have several friends who are very introverted and I think it always helps relationships to understand where other people are coming from.

On to fiction. The first is My Brilliant Friend by Elena Ferrante. So far I have only heard good things about this one and it has been on my shelf for a few months now so putting it at the top of my list. It is the first of four books of two girls growing up in Italy. Next is The Summer Book by Tove Jansson. It is the current Life’s Library book and since they just announced the next one I am really needing to start this one! I probably know the least about this one, only that it is about a young girl and her grandmother. Lastly is Finale by Stephanie Garber. My friend and I are trying to read together since we have similar taste and this is suppose to be our October book. Yep I am behind on the reading for sure but am going to try to read it on the plane on Friday. It is the third installment in the Caraval series (which I have raved about before).

I would love to hear of any books that you are dying to read!

Erin

Non-Fiction Favorites

Happy Reading Wednesday!

While I usually read more fiction than non-fiction, I do try to read at least one non-fiction book per month. Some of my favorite books have definitely been non-fiction! I am going to share my current five favorites. At some point I will do a non-fiction round up by subject but for now here are the ones that have really stuck with me:

The Sixth Extinction: Yes I am starting off with some incredible science writing. This is by far my favorite non-fiction book and has continued to be ever since I read it. Elizabeth Kolbert addresses the sixth major extinction that humans are causing through the lens of different environmental issues. I first read this as a freshman in college and it was one of the reasons I became a biologist.

The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks: This is a brilliant book about the woman whose cells have been widely used in medicine. It is such an interesting read and an important one considering the impact this woman has had on science.

Educated: I talked about this one in my Favorite Books of 2018 post. But it is one of my favorites because it tells the story of a Tara Westover and her journey from a reclusive family in Idaho to a graduate student at Cambridge. I found it fascinating and highly recommend it (especially as an audiobook!).

Three Women: I have raved about this book for a while. It is just so different as far as non-fiction goes. It kind of reads like fiction which makes it easier to read but it is about the lives of three women their experiences with sexuality. It sounds a little strange but it is truly amazing and made me think! It was also included in my August Books.

Unbroken: This is the story of a man who faced some crazy struggles throughout World War II. During WWII his plane goes down in the pacific ocean and he goes through some serious mental and physical struggles as he floats on a raft for an insane amount of time. For some reason this story has stuck with me for a long time. I read it back in 2011 and still think about it. The perseverance and mental strength exhibited are incredibly inspiring.

Honorable mentions: The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down, Reason for Hope, Astrophysics for People in a Hurry, Under the Banner of Heaven, Man’s Search for Meaning

Let me know what your favorite non-fiction books are!

Erin

 

Finding the Time to Read

While I love to read finding the time to do so can be a real challenge. In college I really only read during breaks because I was reading so much for classes that I never had the time. It was also just a busy time in general with endless homework and socializing (don’t get me wrong I absolutely loved college). Since graduating I have made a big effort to get back into reading and wanted to share some of the ways that I allot time for reading.

I am definitely a believer that if you really want to do something you can make the time for it. There are definitely ways to bring reading into your day despite a very busy schedule. I am in graduate school and it is honestly if anything even more crazy than undergrad. There is still lots of reading involved and I always could be doing something else. Here are some ways I try to make reading a daily habit:

  1. Getting an hour in before bed and/or just after waking up. This has been the easiest way for me to get some reading in every day. Just by waking up an hour earlier or choosing to read instead of watch TV before by has really helped.
  2. Spending the occasional weekend half day. I say occasional because I know that it is not practical for many people to have even half a day every weekend to dedicate to reading. I usually do this when I really just need some time for myself. It also usually happens when I am reading a book that I just can’t put down. Giving this kind of time does allow me to actually finish multiple books.
  3. Audiobooks. If you really don’t have time this is probably the best option. Audiobooks are a great way to kind of multitask. I usually have an audiobook going for transportation and even sometimes at work. I can usually listen to an easy novel and follow the plot while still doing basic things.
  4. Choosing the right book. This is a really hard one to articulate but I am way more likely to finish a book quickly if I am really excited about it. For me this means mixing genres and reading books that I just can’t put down.
  5. Rereading your favorites. I find that rereading Harry Potter is so therapeutic and is often easy because I don’t need to be fully present (although I love it so often end up fully immersed). This is a good strategy if you have not been inspired to read recently and need something familiar (and that you know you will love).

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Have a great Friday!

Erin

Favorites to Read as Audiobooks

Choosing to listen to a book via audio has definitely change my reading experience and my opinion of it drastically. Personally when I listen to a book I feel like it is easy for me to miss a lot so the person reading it really needs to be engaging and read true to the story.

Daisy Jones and the Six: This is hands down my favorite audiobook ever. Each character’s part is read by someone different and for me that really brought the characters to life. It is a whole different experience that is so worth it. I don’t often feel like I would listen to an audiobook again but I would for sure listen to this one many times.

Leaving Time: This Jodi Picoult novel was such a beautiful story. This is one of relatively few audiobooks that I really felt there for the whole time. I didn’t think I missed anything. I am pretty sure this had to do with the narrator. She just told it well and with emotion which really helps when listening to an audiobook.

The Caraval Series: So far I have finished the first two book as audiobooks from Audible and the library. I am about to start the second one on Libro.fm and I can’t wait. I think the reason I like these as audiobooks is that the narrator just has a great voice for this particular story and these characters. I feel like she really embodies how Tella and Scarlet feel. I have talked about this series in past book posts so I won’t go into the plot too much but I do recommend it as an audiobook!

Talking as Fast as I Can: Lauren Graham narrates her own book and of course it is amazing. She is hilarious and definitely does not disappoint in her autobiography. I do think actors reading their own books are so entertaining and really bring out all the feelings and stories.

Big Magic: Again, books narrated by their authors tend to be much better. Often this occurs in non-fiction but if you find fiction narrated by the author it is usually pretty good since they know exactly how things should sound and feel. Big Magic is such an inspiration and Elizabeth Gilbert does a great job articulating her story and how creativity has played a role in her life.

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I wanted to end this post by talking a bit about where I get audiobooks. There are several great options. First I recommend making an Overdrive account with your local library. You just download the app and can borrow up to five or six audiobooks. This is a great way to borrow for free however I often have to wait for books I want to download. It also really does not work for extra popular books (it is always worth checking though). There is also Hoopla which is another library app that lets you borrow books. I can only download one at a time and only one a month.

The second audiobook option is buying them. The easiest and cheapest way to do this is through a subscription service. I started out with Audible a couple years ago. It is run by Amazon and a cheapish (14.95 per month for one credit which gets you one book per month) way to get just about any book. You do get some other things from that membership like two of their Audible originals. The way I am currently purchasing audiobooks is through the app libro.fm. This app allows you to support either independent bookstores in general or a specific one of your choosing. It works very similarly to Audible in that you pay 14.99 per month and get a credit for a book. It also has additional discounts for other books you purchase. I really like supporting independent bookstores so I switched in order to do that better.

Let me know if you have an good audiobooks that you have listened to lately!

Erin

Books to Get in the Halloween Mood

This time of year is the best! I just love everything and probably talk about it way too much. Halloween is such a fun holiday and I love embracing October as that season. Give me all the pumpkins, corn mazes, costumes, witches, etc… A big part of what influences my mood are books. I love theming my books to get me excited and even more into that season. So here I am listing books that give me all the fall/Halloween feels. Most are mysteries but my criteria are just books I either love to read at this time of year or books that I always pictured set during October. I have not read a lot that would probably be on this list so I am just giving a disclaimer that I am only including books I have read or am reading now.

The Seven and a Half Death’s of Evelyn Hardcastle: I am reading this now and am really enjoying it so far. I can just feel the crunchy leaves, forest paths and cool air. It is the perfect choice to get me in the mood right now.

Harry Potter (any but especially the first book): It is true that I could read Harry Potter any time of year but the best time to read it is October through December. I just love all the holiday scenes and it goes perfectly with a cozy blanket and cup of tea.

Murder on the Orient Express: Agatha Christie is a fantastic writing and this classic story lives up to the hype. I first read it for a project in eight grade and it has been a favorite ever since.

Sherlock Holmes: I have loved every Sherlock Holmes mystery that I read. They are relatively short, interesting and great for October evenings. I also enjoy great detective stories in general!

Magpie Murders: A great murder mystery (involving a editor) that has great twists and is perfect for Halloween.

A few books I am looking forward to reading: A Discovery of Witches by Deborah Harkness, The Women in the Window by A.J. Finn and Serpant and Dove by Shelby Mahurin.

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I would really love to hear about any books you love for this time of year!!!

Erin

September Books

This month was not great at all for reading! I was really hoping to do better but I was so busy with work and with putting a lot more work into the blog so I fell very short on the reading side. I only finished three books.

American Royals (5/5 stars): I raved about this book on Instagram because it is amazing. I was totally sucked into the lives of the American royals. The book takes place in an alternate time where George Washington was made king instead of president. The plot follows the romantic lives of the three royal siblings and everything that comes with being right at the center of attention. The little details about history and how it changed slightly were a great touch.

Recursion (3/5 starts): So overall this was a really interesting read. The reason I rated it lower is that I had a very hard time getting into it and although it did pick up quite a bit I still had a hard time finishing it. I am not really sure why I guess it was just kind of slow and hard to follow at times. It is about this women who creates a memory chair that does much more that she intended. The story is about all that occurs once it has been invented. I am not even sure what genre this is to be honest. I will say that I listened to this one as an audiobook and sometimes I have a harder time following a book as audio.

Bringing Down the Duke (4.5/5 stars): This is another great romance. I am not usually drawn to romance novels but this month I just happen to read two! I really loved this one as well. It takes place in 1800’s England and it is the story of a girl and a Duke and getting women the right to vote. I won’t say too much because I highly recommend reading it. It is so good!

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Hopefully October will be better although I already know it is going to be very crazy! Let me know what you have been reading lately!

Erin

Best Recent YA Reads

Happy Wednesday! Today I am excited to share my favorite YA (young adult) reads from the last couple of months. I am a big YA fan so I am hoping to get around to an all time favorites post. For now though, here are the best YA novels that I read in the past six or so months.

The Hate U Give: I am convinced that this book should be required reading in high schools right now. There is so much to learn from this account of a black teenager’s experience watching her friend get shot by the police. It is a perspective that is hard for me, as a privileged white-girl, to fully grasp and this book really helped. It is heart-braking, eye-opening and incredibly well written. If you read anything on this list, this book is definitely the one.

American Royals: On an entirely different note this is a very light hearted novel about the romances of American royalty. It spins the current state of our government in that instead making George Washington a president he was made king and the United States became a monarchy. The historical changes are fascinating and I highly enjoyed both the setting and the story lines. It centers around the royal children coming of age and their experiences with love. I was absolutely sucked into this one from the very beginning. If you want an easy but fun read, this is a great pick!

Scythe: So the Scythe trilogy has quickly become a favorite of mine as well. I found it when Aiden took me to Barnes and Noble for my birthday and I am a huge dystopian fiction fan so this series quickly caught my eye. It is set in a future where the government is largely artificial intelligence. The only thing humans still really control is who dies since the population is still out of control. Scythe’s choose who die and are the ones to kill them. This story follows Citra and Rowen through their journey as scythe’s apprentices. I am currently in the middle of the second book, Thunderhead and am still loving it.

Caraval: The other series that I have been very into in the last few months is the Caraval series. It is so magical and the author does an incredible job bringing the characters to life. I find myself so able to see and feel what the characters experience. I listened to both the first and second books as audiobooks and really enjoyed it. The series centers around two sisters and their relationship with a fantastical performance/game called Caraval. It is a fascinating story that had me hooked from the beginning.

As a kind of bonus I wanted to include some YA that I am excited to read in the next few months. I chose the top three on my list and tried to mix up genres a bit.

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First is Turtles All the Way Down by John Green. I have always been a John Green fan and was just excited for this one when it was released. I am honestly not sure when I have not finished it yet. I got about 50 pages in a few months ago and then had to leave for fieldwork so it just kind of fell to the wayside. I am still psyched about it and hope to finish soon.

Next is The Royal Runaway by Lindsey Emory. After reading American Royals I really was feeling something similar so I took a deep dive into books (specifically romance) that center around royalty. I am also really wanting to read Red, White & Royal Blue by Casey McQuiston. Yep anything with royals and a forbidden romance.

Last on todays list of to read YA is Endgame by James Frey. I am not sure I would have picked this out myself but I found it in my grandmother’s books and was intrigued. I read the back cover and am now dying for some time to read it!

That is all for today! I hope that you are having a great week and that you enjoyed today’s book list.

Erin

Reading Inspiration

I am a big reader (as you might have noticed) and I really love getting recommendations from lots of places so I thought it would be fun to share my top places to find reading inspiration. I find books from all over the place. One example is The Conscious Closet by Elizabeth Cline, a book I found in a magazine list of recommended reads. I also get a ton of great recommendations from friends and family so a big shout out to all my fellow reading buddies! This is a list of places or people that I consistently go to for great books to read. I don’t always love everything they recommend but I would say I like 90% of the things I choose to read from the following people/places.

1. The first on my list is here because for me it is without a doubt the most fun and interactive… browsing bookstores. It is one of my favorite thing to do and I could definitely browse for hours. While I will always go to Barnes and Nobles I do find that local bookstores are the most interesting and it is always good to support them! My favorites from the past couple of months have been Boulder Bookstore (always), Back of Beyond Books (Moab, Utah) and Rizzoli Books (NYC). I just loving spending any spare time (even if it is just a couple of minutes) exploring local bookstores when I travel. They can give great insight into the area and I always find a book to bring home with me! There is also something about being in a bookstore and feeling the actually books.

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2. My next place for great books is Book of the Month. It is a really great way to stay current in your reading. They often have options in lots of genres and they are almost always new releases. I just finished Bringing Down the Duke, which was my September pick, and despite not being a big historical romance type I really loved this book. I also got my copy of Three Women from BOTM (although I learned about it from @nycbookgirl).

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3. Podcasts and blogs are also places to find good books. My favorite right now (for book recs) is Bad on Paper Podcast (BOP) with Grace and Becca. I new from the announcement of their podcast that I would love listening since they started with The Selection which is def a YA fav. I have loved almost all of the books they recommend (lol I really did not like 99 Percent Mine so I can say ALL). My recent fav was hands down American Royals. Other great ones from the past year included Verity by Colleen Hoover and The Idea of You by Robin Lee. I also just love listening to their podcast and def just want to be friends with them both. They are so fun and real and have fantastic guests (sometimes even the authors of the books they read)! Grace also has a blog called The Stripe and she has lots of great book lists!

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4. Book clubs are another great way to find fun books. Reese’s Book Club has reliably good picks. I read The Rules of Magic, One Day in December (a fun holiday read) and The Proposal all because of this book club and I loved them all. Daisy Jones and the Six has been one of my favorite books this year and it was the March book club pick. Another great follow is @carlysbookclub. She has definitely inspired be to read some Brené Brown. I also highly recommend creating a book club with friends who have similar tastes in books. Right now my friend and I have been sharing book recs all summer and we are going to start a YA book club (for now just us two!). Our first book is going to be Finale by Stephanie Garber (the third installment of the Caraval series).

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5. NYC Book Girl is someone I love following on Instagram. She is so sweet and has such great reading recommendations. She also works at Avid Reader Press which is how I found out about Three Women by Lisa Taddeo (another fav of this year). I also really love her blog series, Girls Who Read. She was also a big fan of American Royals (this along with BOP really convinced me).

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6. I have been using Goodreads this year to stick to my reading goal (52 books for 2019). In using it I have found a ton more books I want to read. There are so many ways to find great books on this site. First I can see what friends and others who I follow are reading. Two, the nominees and winners of the Goodreads Choice Awards are a great way to find really good books. Three is through Goodreads Giveaways. First of all entering their giveaways is so easy and for some (especially Kindle) you actually have a decent chance of winning. I actually got an ARC of Finding Mrs. Ford earlier this year from a Goodreads giveaway. I really have found some great titles through the giveways that are on the top of my to read list! The final way that I find books through Goodreads is through their Explore tab. They have updated New Releases lists for every genre!

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7. This one is definitely in the book club category but since I actually get books from them I wanted to give it its own place on this list, and that is Life’s Library. This is a book club started by John Green and Rosianna Halse Rojas and it really gets me out of my comfort zone and introduces me to books that I would not normally find/pick on my own. They are always incredible books and I feel way smarter for reading them and following along in their discussions. I am currently reading the current book, Tracy Kidder’s Mountains Beyond Mountains!

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8. Finally is Amazon’s Best Books of the Month. I will 100% admit that I actually found this while writing this post. I was make a reading list on Amazon to link all the books and I found the tab for Best Books of the Month. I included it because I am very intrigued and really liked their recommendations. I will definitely be checking this one out in the coming months!

That is it for my current go-to’s for good books to read! I hope you enjoyed it and got some ideas for where to go for your next read. I would also love to hear if you have any people or places you go for books. Have a great weekend!

Erin

August Books

Wow another month has already come and gone. Its already almost fall! That is just crazy to me. This year has been flying by. For books in August I definitely did not read nearly as much as I wanted to but the ones I did read were definitely stand outs for this year.

Three Women (5/5 stars): I think this is the first book that I have rated 5/5 for all of 2019. I did look at some other reviews of this book and it is very mixed. It kind of seems like a love or hate it type. I really loved it and it made me think and feel so much. It is a nonfiction book about the sexual lives of three women from different places in the U.S. Their stories are just incredibly raw and real and very emotional. I have been trying to figure out why I loved it so much and can’t really figure it out except that the women seem like just normal people (like a neighbor or friend) and the things they experience and go through are so interesting and heartbreaking. For a nonfiction book it is also very easy to read because the stories almost feel like a novel (in the way it is written) and Lisa Taddeo switches between each character through out telling individual stories while also painting a picture of sexuality for women in the modern world.

Scythe (5/5 stars): Yep, another 5 star rating for this one. This is my perfect book as far as genre and story goes. It is a YA dystopian novel with a fascinating take on a future government and the future direction humanity takes. I don’t want to spoil anything so all I will say is that it is about the journey of two people to becomes ‘scythes’ (whose jobs are to kill people in order to keep population growth in check). There is a whole explanation for how and why things are the way the are in the story and I just loved every minute of it. I bought the second book (Thunderhead) before I even finished the first since I just couldn’t get enough.

Legendary (4.5/5 stars): As I mention, this was a month for great books. Legendary is the second book in the Caraval series.  It follows Donatella Dragna (the first book follows the story of her sister, Scarlett) through her journey to win the Caraval game and find her mother. I actually think I liked this one even more than the first. It is just such a riveting story of girl in a magical world, playing by rules others have created. It is so hard to explain but I highly recommend the series as a whole!

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I am so sorry this post is so short! I am bummed I wasn’t able to read more in August and I really am hoping to get some more reading time in during September. I hope you were able to find some good reads as well! I would love to hear any stand out books you have for 2019 so far!

Erin