Book Recommendations: Review Week Edition

Last week (January 19th-25th) I participated in #reviewweek which is something Phoebe from readandwright.com organized/started. Basically she shared a book every day for that week that fit a different theme/category. So on Instagram I participated in  five out of the seven days. I decided to do a whole round-up of those books on my blog and add my picks for the categories I did not share. Before I get into my reviews I am going to go over the categories.

Sunday: A new release or hyped up book

Monday: A book from 2019 you didn’t review but loved

Tuesday: Anything YA

Wednesday: An honest review of a book that was just “meh” for you

Thursday: An audiobook

Friday: A @bookofthemonth or book that was recommended by a friend

Saturday: A book that you have a personal connection/attachment to

Sunday: So I did start my Instagram reviews on Sunday and shared my pick for a hyped up and new book, American Royals. I talked about this book quite a bit last fall because I loved it so much. I really like Katherine McGee and I think she did a wonderful job with this novel. I chose it for this category because as I looked back through the books I read in 2019 it kept coming back to me and it is a relatively new release. I also felt like in September/October it was very hyped up on Instagram. I am going to include three key reasons why I loved this book. The first is that the characters are interesting and they are royals which is always fun. I just feel like the three royal siblings are all very different and it is so fun to follow their stories. Second is just the whole take on US history. Katherine McGee creates an alternate future where instead of George Washington becoming president he becomes the king and the Washingtons continue to reign. My third reason is definitely the romance. I am very hit or miss when it comes to love stories. I am not sure why but I think there is a fine line between interesting/fun and way to cheesy. The love stories in this are very well done and I think they characters play a large part in that. All in all I highly recommend this book especially if you like books about royals!

Monday: My Monday pick was Verity by Colleen Hoover. I did actually talk about this book in an Instagram story because I was totally shook by the end, but I chose if for this category because I read it before I started rounding up my books each month so I have not really talked about it in depth. I really don’t want to give anything away because it is an amazing thriller with very unexpected twists. In short is about this woman who is hired to finish writing these books that another woman was writing. The original author basically can’t finish writing a series so her husband hires someone else. It is wild. I mean again I don’t want to say much but there are some crazy twists and turns. If you are a thriller person this is an absolute must read.

Tuesday: As you may know I am a big YA fan. This was a hard category since I have read so many great ones. In the end I feel like my final pick was a no brainer only since it is a book that changed my thinking and really opened my eyes. It is The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas. It is one of the only books that I immediately thought should be read by everyone. I do mean everyone (like it should be required reading in all schools). It is about a black girl who struggles with living in her mostly black neighborhood while going to school at a wealthy, mostly white, prep school. She witnesses the shooting of her friend that really changes her whole world and impact both entire communities in very different ways. I think this is such an important read that brings to life some events that have really happened in the United States. Of any book on this list, this is the one I would most recommend.

Wednesday: While I have read quite a few books that I did not like I don’t usually review those books in depth because I don’t really like being negative about books. I know that authors put a lot of time and effort into their writing and often I feel like the reason I don’t like a book is subjective. Because of that I did not include one for this category last week but I do have one that I will share now. For this I ended up deciding on The Royal Runaway by Lindsay Emory. It is about a princess who is left by her fiancé and ends up meeting his brother a little while later in a bar. She finds out from him that there is a big mystery and no one actually knows where her ex-fiancé went. So the two of them go on a mission to figure out what happened. There are a couple of reasons I ended up feeling ‘meh’ about it. The first is that I think I just had such high expectations and was really into books about royals when I read it. I hyped it up for myself and it kind of ended up being a too scattered for my liking. I just felt like there was a lot of unnecessary action that did not add to either the mystery or the romance. So it is definitely my personal opinion but it was not a favorite for me and I expected a lot more (probably unfairly on my part).

Thursday: I read a ton of audiobooks last year so this was also a very hard category. There are so many great ones out there. I ended up choosing Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens. I think I chose it since I read it very recently (at the end of December) and loved it so much. I would say that it was in my top five of all the books I read in 2019. For some reason I really loved it as an audiobook and felt like the narrator did an incredible job. In short it is about this girl named Kaya who is pretty much abandoned by her family at a young age. The overall story is about her relationship with the natural world and with other people who come into her life. There is also a lot of emphasis on how other people see her. She struggles a lot with understanding the world and with relationships. It is such a beautiful book! There are a couple of reasons that I felt it was so powerful. First I thought Delia Owens brings nature and science into the book and a beautiful way and that is something that I really related to. Also Kaya is a very complex and interesting character. I don’t think I have ever read a character quite like her and that was very refreshing. Finally, it made me think a lot about relationships with people in general and how we (as humans) perceive each other. This is also one that I would recommend to everyone! I will say though that as far as story line goes if you like fast past action this might be hard to get through. I will give a bonus entry for this category since I thin Daisy Jones and the Six is one of the best audiobooks I have ever heard!

Friday: This was the last day I participated in on Instagram. The hard part about this one is that I do have quite a few Book of the Month books that I have not read yet. I ended up choosing Bringing Down the Duke by Evie Dunmore which I have talked about before and did review in a monthly post. I chose it for this because it was a beautiful romance that has an interesting backdrop and it was one of my favorites last year. The story centers around Annabelle who is a young women trying to find her way in late 1800’s England. As she becomes involved in the suffrage movement she is charged with targeting influential men. He meets Sebastian and they have a very interesting connection and relationship. I really liked Annabelle as a character because she is an incredible, strong female lead that drives a great story. I also really enjoyed that the history of women’s rights at the time is woven in and is so interesting. The love story side of it was also very well done so that was a big bonus!

Saturday: So I struggled a lot with this category. It made me realize that I should read some more books that relate to my life and my beliefs more. Maybe that is hard to do but I had a hard time finding one that I truly feel I have a personal connection to. I decided to choose Ishmael by Daniel Quinn. My reason is that it is a book that blew me away and that I have never forgotten. It has shaped how I see the world in so many ways. It is such a hard one to explain. Basically the world is explained by a gorilla in the most fascinating way. I could talk about this for hours so let me know if you want a more detailed review. I highly recommend giving it a read! It totally changed my world view and I feel like I need to reread it now.

Thanks for reading and I would really love to hear what your favorites are for those categories!

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

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