Recent Reads V.8

Recent Books

Say Nothing: A True Story of Murder and Memory in Northern Ireland | I’ve long been fascinated with Northern Ireland history and when Luke finished this book late last year, he recommended that I read it as well. It was a phenomonal read and one that will stay with me. The author spent four years doing research, interviewed over 100 individuals and made seven trips to Northern Ireland for this book. If you’ve ever wanted to learn more about The Troubles through specific and real events, I cannot recommend this book enough!
(4.5 stars)

The Sun Does Shine: How I found Life and Freedom on Death Row | Anthony “Ray” Hinton was accused of crimes he didn’t commit. He spent 30 years on death row in Alabama because the racist system was stacked agains him. There was no evidence linking him to the murders he was being accused of, only a few accounts of false testimonies from people that were set to see him imprisoned. Ray spent three decades attempting appeals that ultimately failed until the Supreme Court decided to throw his case out in 2015, making Ray a free man. While Ray’s story is incredibly heartbreaking it’s also lined with hope and inspiration. He made a life for himself on death row, transforming himself and those around him.
(4.5 stars)

China Rich Girlfriend | This book is the follow-up to Crazy Rich Asians (which I read a few years ago). China Rich Girlfriend follows the same characters, only a few years later. The crazy stories and family drama intensify with each passing scandal. It was a fun escape into the extravagant lives of these ultra-rich billionaires in Singapore, Hong Kong and Shanghai.
(3.25 stars)

Americanah | A story of two young adults from Nigeria that leave their country for America and London, respectively. Ifemelu learns what it’s like to be Black for the first time in the United States while Obinze navigates a life in London undocumented.
(4 stars)

White Fragility | An eye opening and important read. This books dives into why white people have such a hard time being confronted and challenged on racism and how we need to work at being anti-racist every day. This book really made me take a hard look at how I show up and what I can do to be anti-racist. 
(4.25 stars)

Know My Name | A powerful memoir by Chanel Miller, the young woman who was sexually assaulted on the Stanford campus by Brock Turner. I listened to the audiobook version narrated by Chanel and I was blown away by her bravery and eloquence. While is story is horrific, it’s also filled with hope. 
(5 stars)

Recent Reads V.7

Here’s what I’ve been reading lately. All of the books in this post are all very different! There are cheesy young adult romances, historical fiction and stories of violent faith. My taste in books is usually all over the map; I just like to mix it up.Recent BooksNantucket Nights | I’ve heard that people loveeee Elin Hildebrand books, so I thought I’d give this one a try. Truthfully, I didn’t love it. It was a cheesy young adult romance novel with a far-fetched storyline. An older woman gets pregnant by her best friends’ 18-year old son and fakes her own death, leaving her friends behind to take the blame. It was a little too far out there of a story for me.
(2.5 stars)

Forever, Interrupted | In all honesty I didn’t love this one from Taylor Jenkins Reid and I usually love her books. Elsie marries Ben after a whirlwind 6-month romance. After a little over a week of marriage, Ben dies in a tragic accident. Elsie now has to face the mother-in-law that didn’t know she existed and her own family that she doesn’t have a relationship with. Forever, Interrupted starts off with tragedy and then weaves in and out through time to tell Elsie’s story and how she picks her life back up.
(3.5 stars)

Truly Madly Guilty | I love a good Liane Moriarty book, but admittedly this one was not my favorite of hers. A lot of reviews said the book was about 100 pages too long and I agree. I felt myself frustrated and annoyed at how long the storyline dragged out.
(3 stars)

The Alice Network | I had borrowed this book from the library a while ago and got to about page 150 before I had to return it and never got back on the list. I recently got on the list for the audiobook and thought that would be a good way to finish it, as the book was quite long, haha. I love historical fiction (it might be my favorite genre) and I loved this different take from two different women that eventually come together to find answers about their past.
(4 stars)

Always and Forever, Lara Jean | The last book in the To all the Boys I’ve Loved Before series and by far my favorite of them all! The movie hasn’t come out yet and the first two books were quite different from the movies so I can’t wait to see what the movie is like!
(5 stars)

Under the Banner of Heaven | I grew up around the LDS church – a lot of my extended family are practicing mormons but my immediate family is not. I’ve always been curious to learn more about the religion as growing up around it I had a lot of negative experiences associated with the religion. This book dives into the history and evolution of the religion and the horrifying truths that come with it. As someone that knows more than the average person about the church, this book was still absolutely eye-opening to say the least.
(4.5 stars)

Recent Reads V.6

Here’s what I’ve been reading (and listening to) lately. A friend from work told me about the Libby app and it’s been a lifesaver recently. With our stay at home orders in Oregon, all the public libraries are closed for the time being, but you can still “borrow” ebooks and audiobooks from the library and it couldn’t be easier! If you have a library card, just enter your number in the Libby app and you can start borrowing from your local library.

I read a few of the books below and then also listened to a few of them on audiobook. I find that I’m able to get through a book faster when I listen to it. Being at home 99.9% of the time now I’ve been listening to audiobooks when I clean the house, when I’m putting a puzzle together, cooking, going on a walk, etc. What a game change this has been. I’m wondering why I’m just now catching on this this though, haha!

Open Book | I read Jessica Simpson’s book in a few days, it was such an easy read. Jessica is very candid about her life and her struggles as she navigates her relationships, career and fame. It was a fun read and I found that I relate to her in so many ways.
(4 stars)

Twice in a Blue Moon | I loved the last Christina Lauren book that I read so I thought I would give this one a try! I read it on a recent vacation and it was a cute and fun YA read.
(3.75 stars)

To all the Boys I’ve Loved Before | I really should have read this before I saw the movie! Although the movie and the book don’t share a lot of the same details I still found it absolutely adorable.
(4 stars)

P.S. I Still Love You | Just like the first book in the series, I should have read this before I watched the first two movies. While there still are some similarities between the book and the movie, they are quite different – it’s still adorable though!
(4 stars)

Tiny Little Thing | This is the first book that Beatriz Williams wrote in her “Schuyler Sisters series”. I had already read books 2 and 3… and loved this one as well. You don’t necessarily have to read them in order, I don’t think you’d be lost if you didn’t as the storylines focus on different characters/sisters. In true Beatriz Williams fashion she weaves in and out of different time periods and even throws a family scandal or two in there!
(4 stars)

Evvie Drake Stars Over | I thought this book was the cutest, a little predictable, but the cutest. Evvie is trying to move on with her life after the death of her husband and rents out a spare room to a retired New York Yankees pitcher who’s also trying to move on with his life after a career-ending injury.
(4 stars)

Recent Reads V.5

I have to admit that for the past few months I’ve fallen into a reading slump. I couldn’t finish anything for months. I attempted three different books and I either couldn’t get into them or couldn’t get inspired by them. I finally switched gears and went for a an author that I love (Taylor Jenkins Reid) and got out of my reading slump two days later 🙂 I have so many good books on my reading list this year that I can’t wait to get my hands on!

Here’s what I’ve been reading lately.

Matchmaking for Beginners | I had heard so many good reviews of this book that I was so excited when I finally got my hands on it. It was a fun read but I didn’t love the storyline.
(3 stars)

Maybe in Another Life | When I was deep into my reading slump of uninspiring books I decided to go back to an author that I love – and I finished this book in just a few days! It was such a fun and easy read. One of my favorite aspects of Taylor Jenkins Reid novels is that not only is she an amazing storyteller but she interjects life lessons and words of wisdom. I always take away so much more than a fun story from her books. Hannah is twenty-nine and has no idea what she wants to do with her life.   She moves back to her hometown in an effort to start over once again. On one particilur night out with her best friend she has to make a choice to go home with her friend or stay out and reconnect with her high-school boyfriend. Both decisions play out in concurrent storylines and those storylines take two drastically different turns. It raises questions about fate and how much of our life is determined by the choices we make.
(4 stars)

All Your Perfects | I picked this one up because I loved the last Colleen Hoover book I read and this one had great reviews on Goodreads. This was quite a heavy read. I loved how the main characters met and how they solved their differences, as I’m sure many married couples can relate to the challenges that Quinn and Graham faced. Similar to the last book I read of Colleen’s, I feel like I can’t go into any more detail otherwise I might spoil it!
(4 stars)

The Husband’s Secret | So many of my co-workers have recommended this book to me lately. I loved What Alice Forgot, so I thought I’d give this one a go! I found the main character in this book to be extremely similar to the main character in her last book I read, which I found kind of odd. Maybe the author has a niche character she loves writing about? Either way, it was well-written and fun to follow along with. I love a book that has multiple storylines that eventually come together and this one had three!
(4.25 stars)

Born a Crime | I recently saw Trevor Noah on tour and it inspired me to read his book which is composed of stories from his childhood, growing up in South Africa. Wow, did I love this book! Trevor is an excellent storyteller and he’s full of humor. His experiences growing up will leave you absolutely shocked. His book was also an eye-opener about the separation of class and race. I can’t recommend this one enough!
(5 stars)

The Boy Who Runs: The Odyssey of Julius Achon | This book holds a special place in my heart. I recently visited Uganda and got to work with the charitable foundation that Julius Achon founded and my experience was one that changed me. The Boy Who Runs tells the incredible life story of Julius and how he overcame the odds and made a life for himself outside of the small village he grew up in in Northern Uganda.
(5 stars)

Recent Reads v.4

Josh and Hazel’s Guide to Not Dating | So many laughs with this one! Josh and Hazel are acquaintances from college and reconnect by chance years later. Josh is laid back and Hazel is kind of a hurricane. They spark up a fast friendship and both become determined to find the perfect match for each other. The books takes you on a series of their horribly bad and hilarious blind dates. I laughed out loud at the many situations that Josh and Hazel found themselves in.
(4.25 stars)

Becoming | No review I could write would come close to describing how amazing this book is. I have been a long-time admirer of Michelle Obama and her book simply blew me away. She details her upbringing, her education, meeting Barack and starting their family. She details their transition into political life and shares her feelings along the way. Michelle is a beautiful person and a great writer. This book left me with chills and a few tears. I cannot recommend it enough!
(5 stars, easily)

The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo | This book is filled with so many unexpected moments and plot twists that you don’t see coming.  It’s wildly entertaining in ways that you’d expect and deeply sad in ways that you don’t. It was a fun read and I’d recommend to anyone that loves a good escape from reality and into the complicated life of a bombshell movie star.
(4.25 stars)

What Alice Forgot | Alice awakes on the gym floor thinking that she’s 29 years old, happily married and pregnant with her first child. What Alice doesn’t remember is that she’s actually 39 years old, has three children and is on the verge of divorce! Alice has hit her head and lost any recollection of the past decade of her life. She doesn’t recognize the person she has become. Throughout the course of the book Alice discovers bits and pieces of her past and tries to move forward despite all the changes. Maybe losing her memory is the best thing to happen to her… This book is extremely thoughtful and unique. I also hear it will be made into a major motion picture!
(4.5 stars)

After I Do | Lauren and Ryan have lost the spark in their marriage and everything falls apart. They agree to take a year off to figure out individually how to move forward. The book focuses on Lauren’s efforts to make sense of her life and what she wants. I absolutely love the author and the book is very well-written, I didn’t love this story.
(3 stars)

One Day in December | I was on the library waitlist for months before I could get my hands on this book. There was so much hype surrounding this book, I couldn’t help but get excited as well. Laurie spots a man while on the bus and has an instant attraction to him. Unfortunately she doesn’t act quick enough and the bus drives away. She spends the next year looking all over London for this mystery man. When she finally comes face to face with him a year later, its under unfortunate circumstances… he’s introduced to her as her best friends new boyfriend. The book takes you through the complicated lives of Laurie, her best friend (Sarah) and bus buy (Jack) over the next ten years. The story is quite cute and there are more surprises thrown in there then I thought there would be!
(4.5 stars)

Recent Reads v.3

Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine | This book gave me so many feels. Eleanor has developed a routine to simply survive every day life. No one has ever told her that life could be anything other than just fine. She has lived in and out of foster care and has never had nurturing relationships. As an adult she has little to no social skills. After a new co-worker befriends Eleanor, they have a chance encounter with a stranger and end up saving his life – creating a bond between the three of them. A bond that rescues themselves from the isolation they have each been living. At times I could relate to their struggles and at times I felt immense love and empathy. My biggest takeaway from this book is that opening up your mind and heart to others can change you for the better.
(4.5 stars)

Shopaholic To The Stars | I’ve mentioned before that I love Sophie Kinsella and have been reading her books since I was in college. It was fun to dive back into Becky’s crazy world and revisit some of my favorite characters. This book is similar to the others in the series.
(3 stars)

Crazy Rich Asians | I wanted to read this one before I saw the movie. Despite the book containing over 500 pages, it was a fairly quick read. Most of the characters in the book lead extravagant lives and it was a fun escape to have a peek into their world. The book was very entertaining and I was very excited to see how it came to life in the movie. Unfortunately there are very few similarities between the two and the movie’s plot is actually drastically different from the book. I’ll take the book over the movie any day!
(4 stars)

Fake Plastic Love | This was a fun read. It’s interesting to read about how social media and technology affect our everyday lives as it’s a relatively new phenomenon, even if this book was faction. Fake Plastic Love explores the dangers that take place when the life you live online doesn’t match the life that you live. How does that affect your relationships and when does the line blur between real and fake. It was an interesting and fun read.
(4 stars)

All We Ever Wanted | I got through this book in a few short days. I just love Emily Giffin as an author. All We Ever Wanted explores the dangers of social media and how one small mistake could have life-long effects. It was interesting to get a perspective of the main storyline from all different characters in the book. I felt it added a more comprehensive dimension to the story. Overall it was a good and easy read with a few life lessons thrown in.
(4 stars)

The Summer Wives | I borrowed this book from the library at the end of the summer and only got about halfway through before I had to return it. I got back on the wait list and finally got my second chance to finish it! I’ve said before how I love Beatriz William’s ability to weave through time and this book was no different. This story explores a few families on the east coast and the complicated dynamics to the lives they live and the secrets they keep when they visit their summer houses.
(3.75 stars)

Recent Reads v.2


Surprise Me | In college I got hooked on Sophie Kinsella books, especially the Shopaholic Series (I read them all!). This book was a fun and quick read. A little cheesy and over-the-top, but in true Sophie Kinsella fashion the characters are quirky, full of wild imagination and endearing.
(4 stars)

It Ends With Us | I could not put this book down, I was hooked from the first few pages! You can see the stage being set throughout the first few chapters and it’s almost as if you’re waiting for the other shoe to drop, but don’t know when it’s going to happen so you never put the book down. It’s very heavy and emotional and I feel as though I can’t go into any further detail here because I’d risk giving too much away. I read so many reviews on Goodreads (after finishing the book) that stated you need to dive into this book without fully understanding what it’s about, and after finishing it – I completely agree with that statement.
(4.5 stars)

An American Marriage | I had been on the wait-list for this book from my local library for a few months. Once I finally got my hands on it, I read it in a few days. Someone in the library stopped to tell me how good this was was when I was checking it out! This book is raw and emotional. Roy and Celestial are newly married when Roy is convicted of a crime he didn’t commit and sent to prison for 12 years. While Roy is incarcerated, Celestial finds comfort in her childhood friend Andre, who also happens to be Roy’s best friend. The book goes in-depth into each character and the choices they make along the way. Although I didn’t always agree with some of the choices they made, I understood why.
(4.5 stars)

One True Loves | Emma marries her high school sweetheart and he disappears in a helicopter crash on their first wedding anniversary. Emma struggles to put her life back together and eventually moves on and becomes engaged to an old family friend. Then over three years later, out of the blue, Emma receives a phone call from her husband – he has been alive the entire time! Emma is now faced with the difficult decision on whether to return to her husband or stay with her fiancé. This book is extremely thoughtful and explores the sometimes difficult and life altering decisions we can be forced to make. This was my first Taylor Jenkins Reid book and it won’t be my last!
(4 stars)

The Light Between Oceans | Tom is lighthouse keeper living off the Western Australia shore with his new wife, Isabel. The only human contact they have is from the supply boat that arrives every four months. Isabel has suffered multiple miscarriages over the years at the lighthouse and doesn’t know how to cope. One day a boat appears on the lighthouse shore with a baby and a deceased man. Isabel and Tom take the baby on as their own. Over time their secret becomes too much for one of them to bear. This book details what happens when good people make bad decisions and how you live with the choices that you make.
(4 stars)

Little Fires Everywhere | Days after finishing this book and I still don’t know how I feel about the ending… Mia and her daughter arrive in Shaker Heights, a progressive and orderly suburb of Cleveland, Ohio. Their nomad lifestyle doesn’t sit well with the residents, especially with their landlord, Mrs. Richardson. When the Richardsons’ family friends attempt to adopt a Chinese-American baby, a custody battle ensues that captures the attention of Shaker Heights residents – ultimately placing Mia and Mrs. Richardson on opposing sides. What makes matters even more interesting is that Mia’s daughter has formed close friendships with Mrs. Richardson’s children. This book details the fires that burn within each character until it all comes to a screeching halt. I loved the story and Celeste Ng’s writing style so much that I finished this book in approximately 48 hours. My only hang up with this book is that I didn’t enjoy the ending. I won’t give away any spoilers, you’ll have to read it for yourself!
(4 stars)

Recent Reads v.1

Both Luke and I have been on quite the reading kick lately. We’ve been trying to limit our screen time (I’m talking both the iPhone and the TV) and fill that time with reading. Our upstairs extra bedroom has become our reading nook and we’ll try to get in some quality book time each evening before we go to sleep. We’ve both been using Goodreads to keep track of the books we’ve read and the books on our to-read list. We started the Reading Challenge on Goodreads this year and it’s been a great way to keep us motivated and on-track with our reading goals. I’m currently sitting at 6/10 books for the year but I’ll probably increase my goal to 15 because there are so many books on my list that I can’t wait to dive into. I’m sharing my six recent reads, all of which I would highly recommend!

What have you been reading lately?

All the Light We Cannot See | I just loved this book, it was heartbreaking and beautiful at the same time. The two main storylines are well-written and full of life and imagination. I loved how the stories of the main characters were intertwined and I couldn’t wait to see how they came together.
(5 stars)

Where’d You Go, Bernadette | This was a fun and quirky read. I loved the flawed mother-daughter relationship and found that aspect of the book very relatable. The story is quite outlandish, yet widely entertaining. Living in Seattle for three years, I found the city references to be spot-on (the book takes place in the Emerald City), which made the book a bit more special to me.
(4 stars)

The Light We Lost | I still don’t have the words to describe how this book affected me. Lucy, the main character, is such a strong and relatable woman and throughout the book she shares her most intimate thoughts on love and defining moments in our lives that can change the course of our future. You’ll feel love, hope, laughter and intense sadness as Lucy narrates her story.
(5 stars)

The Secret Life of Violet Grant | I had a hard time getting into this book for the first half. Stick with it though because it does get better, in fact it becomes great! Beatriz Williams is known for her take on historical fiction and colorful characters. She has the great ability to weave through time and connect characters along the way. This book tells the story of a young woman uncovering secrets that her family has kept hidden, a process that helps her deal with her own troubled events.
(4 stars)

Along The Infinite Sea | Of all the Beatriz Williams books that I have read, this one is hands down my favorite! The main characters, Annabelle and Pepper, couldn’t be more opposite, but their stories have heartbreaking similarities. As with all Beatriz Williams books that I have read, she weaves the stories over multiple decades and this one is no different. Along The Infinite Sea fills you with love, loss and so many questions along the way. The characters all have their struggles they deal with and the consequences of their actions alter their future in ways you would never imagine. If I had to describe this book in one word it would be beautiful.
(5 stars)

A Hundred Summers | Another Beatriz Williams book because I just lover her writing style. I read this book while on vacation and finished it within a few days. After you’ve read a few of Beatriz’s books you’ll notice that characters from her other books make cameo appearances. It makes the characters feel more real to me, knowing that I’ve read about them elsewhere. Lily and Budgie are childhood best friends that have summered with their families in Rhode Island for as long as they can remember. After losing touch over the years, Budgie and her new husband (Lily’s ex-fiance) return to the scene and over the course of one disastrous summer, secrets come to life and lives are forever changed.
(5 stars)