Sit down, grab a drink and get ready to dig into the list of books I’ve read in the first quarter of 2019. My Goodreads Reading Goal is the same as last year – 52 books. So far I feel like I’m off t
I’ve heard a lot of talk about what kinds of books “count” in these reading challenges and I would like to strongly encourage you to ignore any of that talk. For the most part these challenges are for us. Maybe there’s a little friendly competition thrown in. For me, I set a reading goal for myself so I don’t default to spending my free time playing Best Fiends. (I definitely still do that, but now I try to do it while listening to an audiobook!)
The past two months were a serious mixed bag of reading. Some great choices, some real duds. Let’s jump in. (All links are affiliate.)
Class Mom & You’ve Been Volunteered – I received an advance copy of the You’ve Been Volunteered from NetGalley. Wendy was a fan of Class Mom last year, so I jumped right into the follow up book. It is absolutely not necessary to read these in order. I really enjoyed You’ve Been Volunteered, out in August this year. I decided to read Class Mom after and I found it a little bit lacking. While I found Jen Dixon’s character to be snarky and fun in YBV, in Class Mom she was downright unlikeable for me. In addition she makes several comments that are blatantly racist as well as a joke about a lesbian couple that is just not funny. YBV felt like a funny look into life as a PTA parent. Class Mom was trying too hard.
Things You Save in a Fire – I have read several Katherine Center books and I have enjoyed them all. They all follow the same general theme, and her latest book is no different. However, I never find the theme boring or repetitive. This book had a strong feminist angle to it, which was pleasing to me.
Josh & Hazel’s Guide to Not Dating – Christina Lauren (actually a pen name for a writing duo) is another author who (almost) never disappoints. (It’s just easier for me to pretend like we’re talking about a single person as the author here, okay? Okay.) Her writing is delightful and her character development is spot on. I am (almost) always rooting for the couples in her books and I usually fly right through them. This book made me laugh out loud more than once and it felt like the kind of book that was probably fun to write, also.
The Unhoneymooners – If you noticed my hedging in the last paragraph that’s because I did have one disappointing Christina Lauren experience. I received an advance copy of The Unhoneymooners via Netgalley and whooped out loud when my request was approved. Unfortunately, this wasn’t my favorite CL choice. I flew through it like I do with all of her other books, but I did not love the characters like I usually do, and I didn’t find myself rooting for them until the very end. I think perhaps the enemies turned love interest theme doesn’t work well for me, maybe. I’m not sure. This wasn’t terrible, but it wouldn’t be my first Christina Lauren recommendation.
The Hundred Lies of Lizzie Lovett – I’m not sure what compelled me to listen to this book other than it was immediately available at the library and I had a long drive ahead of me. This was not great. The story of a girl who goes missing and the tales that the people who knew her, and thought they knew her, tell in her absence. I just found this story sad and without any sort of redemption.
Rosie Hopkins’ Sweetshop of Dreams & Christmas at Rosie Hopkins Sweetshop – This month should be all about authors I really love because these two Jenny Colgan books really hit the spot. The fact that the second book is set during Christmas really made this the perfect pairing for me.
Educated – This was one of those books that EVERYONE was talking about, which is not always great because I went in with such high expectations. This was so compelling. Your eyes will likely get wider and wider as you read about the Tara Westover’s childhood and her parents in a way that will make you ask yourself over and over again if ALL of these things could have possibly happened to one person. If I could wish for one thing it would be for more information about her life as an adult, more about her life after. That said, believe the hype. Read this book.
Evidence of the Affair – Taylor Jenkins Reid fans listen up! This short story (not something I am a fan of, but I went against type because I am a huge TJR fan) is a wild ride where you are just not sure who you are rooting for – or at least I wasn’t. The novella features letters between a man and a woman whose spouses have been having an affair. Details are revealed at exactly the right pace and features the character development that I have grown to love from Reid. At the time I read this it was a free download from Amazon, so hurry to get yours!
The Third Man, Black Sheep, Identity Thief – These three stories are all part of another free Amazon Prime download. I listened to them all via Audible and found them all entertaining. If you are going to listen to one, start with Identify Thief and don’t read anything about the story before you begin. It’s worth it.
Bird Box – I went way against type for this one as I don’t typically like anything scary. When the Netflix movie was released I decided to read the book to see if I might be able to handle the movie. The book was fascinating, although at times almost laughable. If it weren’t so terrifying I would have been laughing at the absurdity of it all. I have heard that the movie is only loosely based on the book, so even if you’ve seen the movie there is likely something new in the book that makes it worth reading.
I’ll Be There for You – I wanted to love this so much. A book about Friends? Yes. please! I think this book did a good job of pointing out the reasons why Friends was so problematic, but also very much of its time. I wanted more about the actors, more behind the scenes, more…juice. There is quite a lot about what it took to get the show made and how it stayed on the air for ten seasons. I think maybe I’m looking for the TMZ version of this book.
My Favorite Half-Night Stand – Yep, more Christina Lauren and another I would definitely recommend! Seriously, just add all of the Christina Lauren to your TBR. This should be your go-to summer author.
Small Fry – This is the memoir of Lisa Brennan-Jobs. If you saw the Steve Jobs biopic starring Michael Fassbender (not the one with Ashton Kutcher) you got a small taste of what his relationship with his daughter was like. This takes those little moments and blows them up into a lifetime of interactions. Mostly it just made me sad. There wasn’t anything horrifying, just a mostly detached and emotionally unavailable father, but that in and of itself is sad.
China Rich Girlfriend – I got on the Crazy Rich Asians train way after the rest of the world so I’m still catching up with the series. I enjoyed this book and appreciated the quick recap of the major players in the story at the beginning. I think this book continues to suffer from my least favorite part of the first book and that’s that there are entirely too many characters for my personal liking. I thought this book worked well as the second book in a trilogy. Enough new information to keep me interested with plenty left to solve in the final installment.
How to Hack a Heartbreak– This was a good season for ARCs for me. This is another summer release and this will for sure top my list of summer reads. This was a delight to read from start to finish. I loved the perfect depiction of toxic tech-bros, the strength of the female friendships, and the love story that manages to be at the heart of the story while also not being the main focus of the female main character.
The Stationery Shop – Another ARC that I am so glad I was able to get my hands on. I admit to knowing nothing about Iran in the 1950’s and this book does a nice job of giving the reader a history lesson while also telling the most beautiful and heartbreaking love story. Pre-order this book and plan for it to be a book club favorite in 2020.
Okay, I need a nap after all of that linking. Let me know what you’re reading lately!