Wednesday, March 21, 2018

What Are Your Top 3 Favorite Books of All Time?


Although I talk about my top 3 favorite books of all time on my About page, I thought it might be interesting to talk about this whole favorite book thing. There has never been a more difficult question for a reader ... we often try to delay answering it because there are so many different ways to slice your favorite books. Favorite fiction, favorite non-fiction, favorite YA, and so on. For many of us, it's really difficult to narrow the favorites down to just a few. It almost feels like an intimate act to state your favorites to someone. It gives them a look into your soul or something. I always try to remind myself that my favorite books of all time are MY favorites ... I'm not saying other books aren't amazing or even 'better' in that snobby, readerly way that some people talk about books. I always wonder if people are honest when they say their favorite book is a famous classic like Moby Dick or Ulysses ... it seems to me that sometimes a favorites list becomes more of a contest of who has read the 'best' books instead of what books were truly your favorites. Not that you shouldn't love a famous classic ... one of my favorites is certainly a classic. But, I truly love it and it's in my favorites for a very real reason.

Let's talk about my own favorite books ...


Two of these novels have been on my list for YEARS. I read and fell in love with Little Women when I was a little girl and read it with my mom for the first time. It's been on my favorite books list since then. I was introduced to Beach Music in the late 1990s when my dad recommended it to me. I devoured it and have gone back to re-read it a number of times (which is rare for me since I rarely re-read). It just grabbed me and didn't let go. I still think about it on a regular basis - the characters, the storytelling, the themes. It's one of those go-to books that I recommend to almost anyone. And finally, the newer book on my list ... A Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara. Wow. My review over at Goodreads will give you a sense of all my feelings about this one. But, it just! I am still reeling from that novel and I read it in April of 2015. It immediately FLEW to the top of my favorite books list. It's not a book that's for everyone but it is one of those books that I will never forget, that made me feel things that no other book has. It's just amazing.

Now it is your turn ...

What are your top 3 favorite books of all time?

Tuesday, March 20, 2018

Review: Not Quite Crazy by Catherine Bybee

review-read-reading-bookNot Quite Crazy by Catherine Bybee
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This is more of a quiet romance - it has much less sex than a lot of romances that I read these days. It's more wholesome but it does have a few sexy scenes. But, I really enjoyed this one. It was nice to have a romance novel focus on the relationships among people instead of just the chemistry among people. I loved the story itself. Apparently, this is the 6th in a series but I didn't feel like I missed anything by coming in at book 6. I am interested in going back and reading the previous novels.

This is such a nice, sweet story about love - family, romantic and otherwise. Very solid story. Great characters that I really enjoyed. I definitely recommend this one!

NOTE: The publisher provided me with this book for an honest review.

Review: Bad Bachelor by Stefanie London

book-review-reading-bad-bachelor-stefanie-londonBad Bachelor by Stefanie London
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

A heroine who is a librarian with a passion for books, a primary storyline around saving a library ... um, yes, please! I love the character of Darcy - she's such a unique and interesting character. Add in Reed to the mix and you have the perfect set up for a great romance! I thought the story was delightful and I really found the overall vibe of the book to be witty and cute! The writing was clever with lots of humor and heart. All of the characters were fun, quirky and charming! I love the idea of an app that tells women who are and are not worth their time. That was a fun little wrapper to the overall story. There is a lot of depth to the characters and the story. I really enjoyed this one!

NOTE: The publisher provided me with a copy of this book for an honest review.

Review: From the Top by Dani Collins

book-review-reading-fromthetop-dani-collinsFrom the Top by Dani Collins
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I really enjoyed this book. This book delivered in so many ways - it's a great romance yet it explores a number of themes (parenting, pregnancy, sexual harassment, and more) that you don't always see in a romance. The characters have outstanding chemistry and that helped endear me to them. This is a book in a series but I didn't find it to be difficult to 'catch on' to the story. I fell into the world easily and totally. I found the elements of grief to be really compelling and realistic. I thought the relationship development in this one was so well done. It wasn't an 'oh hi, I love you' sort of story. They actually got to know one another slowly and realistically. All in all, I really enjoyed this one and plan to go back and read more of the series.

NOTE: The publisher provided me with a free copy of this book for an honest opinion.

Review: An American Marriage by Tayari Jones

review-an-american-marriage-book-readingAn American Marriage by Tayari Jones
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I really enjoyed Tayari Jones' previous novel Silver Sparrow so I've been eagerly awaiting the release of this book. It was so worth the wait. This is a fantastic novel and I could not put it down. I love how Jones uses a compelling story to explore themes of mass incarceration and what it is like to be black in the American South. I also loved how marriage was explored in this novel. This is one of those novels that would be perfect for discussing with other readers ... there is just so much in this novel that needs to be discussed with others. I've also heard a few people talk about how this would pair well with The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness which I definitely sound right based on what I've heard/read about that one.

This book was so well written. The characters were fantastic - well drawn, multi-faceted, and complex. They make this really beautiful and raw story come alive on the page. The exploration of relationships can be difficult to do well but Tayari Jones really excels. This book kept me riveted. I think it may be one of the best books about marriage that I've read in some time. It really gave me a great deal to think about as a wife, a daughter and a person in the world. It's a really thoughtful and interesting novel that I highly recommend!

Note: The publisher provided me with a free copy of this novel for an honest review.

Review: Dirt by Cassia Leo

Dirt (Evergreen, #1)Dirt by Cassia Leo
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I'm struggling a little with this review. I liked this book - it's a solid book. But, I didn't love it. I think it's partly because it's a very different read than I expected. It wasn't nearly as dark and twisty as I'd expected based on the overview of the story. The writing was good, the pacing was fine. I think what threw me most was that it was essentially the story of two people trying to make their relationship work and yet the story brings in a third person and I'm not entirely sure what his purpose was to the overall story. I suspect this third person will make more sense when I read the 2nd book based on the ending, but it was frustrating to get to know him but have it never really go anywhere. I just finished the novel feeling very underwhelmed. Which isn't much fun ... I think I'll ultimately be satisfied after reading the next book (based on what I've read) but this one, in and of itself, didn't wow me.

Note: The publisher provided me with a free copy of this book for an honest review.

Monday, March 19, 2018

Bookish Quote of the Week


If you read my post over the weekend about Little Women, it should be no surprise that I've chosen a quote this week written by Louisa May Alcott. I am definitely too fond of books ... and they have definitely turned my brain! If I was forced to choose, this just may be my all time favorite quote.

And so, my question for you is ...

what is your all-time favorite quote?

Sunday, March 18, 2018

Bookish News: A Weekly Update


10 Most Famous Bookstores in the World

I loved this article on Literary Hub about the 10 most famous bookstores around the world. The best part is that I've already visited two of them ... the Strand in NYC and Powell's Books in Portland, OR. But, I'm adding many of the others to my bookstore bucket list!

National Book Critics Circle Winners for 2017 Announced 

The National Book Critics Circle winners for the 2017 publishing year were announced in New York on March 15th. There are some amazing books on this list so definitely take a look and be prepared to add many to your TBR list. 

Other awards included:
The John Leonard Prize was presented to Carmen Maria Machado for Her Body and Other Parties 
The Nona Balakian Citation for Excellence in Reviewing to Charles Finch
The Ivan Sandrof Lifetime Achievement Award to John McPhee

Stephen Hawking Passes Away

I'm sure you've heard about his death already but I wanted to be sure to mention it in case you weren't aware. I have yet to read any of his books so I thought I'd take the opportunity to tell you about one of his books. A Brief History of Time appears to be one of his most popular books. This book explains where the universe came from, how it works, where it's going. The best part? He uses non-technical terms to explain all of this so it's perfect for those of us who don't have a science background! He also has a memoir, My Brief History, which I've heard good things about. If you haven't read his work, this may be a perfect opportunity to pick one up and learn more about his work!

That is it for me this week ... Have you heard of other bookish news you'd like share with us? We'd love to hear about them in the Comments! 

For the Love of Books and Reading: Little Women Edition


Another new series for the blog ... this one is going to be FUN! For each of these posts, I'll pick a theme of some sort and show you all sorts of items related to that theme that might be of interest to you. This time I wanted to start with one of my favorites to get us started ... one of my all-time favorite books is Little Women. It was a book that really started my lifelong love of reading. My mom and I read it together - a little bit each night. I think that also makes the book all the more special to me.

And so, here we go with LOTS of fun things related to Little Women and Louisa May Alcott that you might want to check out ...


This enamel pin created by thecleverclove on etsy is just fabulous! I have a small collection of enamel pins but none related to Little Women. This just might be one that I will pick up for my collection! I love this quote from Little Women and this really unique and interesting pin is just screaming 'BUY ME!"


I am such a fan of literary prints ... and this one is right up my alley.  This is one of my favorite Little Women covers and I love what BookCoverArt has done with it. This would look perfect in my living room or dining room. Definitely putting this one on the wish list! And the price is right on this one! You can't beat it!


I can't do a post like this without including a piece of jewelry ... and this one is so pretty! lircu has created such a beautiful piece that is simple and elegant. And you can choose from several different colors for the flower that's added. LOVE this one!


I don't wear many scarves but this Little Women scarf may change that fact for me. l am in love with this one! I've seen literary scarves - mostly Jane Austen related scarves - but they never really appealed to me. But, this one has all my attention! 


I'm a sucker for a book related box ... but I've never seen one quite like this Little Women book box. This is the perfect gift for a friend who loves the novel (or for yourself as a treat)! There is something for any Little Women fan in this box!


I couldn't resist including one more print because this one is so special. Another one going on my Wish List! It's such a beautiful watercolor print. The really special thing about this product is that the buyer is able to customize the haircolor of the girls if they want to ... or you can get them in the traditional hair colors from the novel.  


I love a beautiful bookmark and this one is particularly special! If you're a Jo March fan, you don't want to miss out on this one. 


If you are a tea drinker, you may love this Louisa May Alcott inspired tea. This one is described as "a delighful light blend of green tea with a citrus lemon touch and a gentle aromatic perfume of rose petals." Yes, please! 


A shirt with one of my all-time favorite quotes is pretty much perfection! I think I'll close out today's post with this final product. SO COOL! 

I hope you enjoyed this post and all of the goodies I was able to find related to Little Women. I'd love to hear what themes you'd like to see in the future! Comment with your suggestions or send me an email via the email address on the right side of the blog. These posts are so fun but I want to be sure they include things of interest to all of you! 

Thursday, March 15, 2018

Review: Crazy Rich Asians by Kevin Kwan

book reviewCrazy Rich Asians by Kevin Kwan
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I’m struggling with this review. I read this one during a really busy time in my life and I’m concerned that accounts for my not loving it as much as I expected. I kept hearing so many great things but it didn’t quite meet my expectations. In the end, it all came together for me but it was slightly painful getting there at times. I almost put it down a few times but I kept coming back. I’m glad that I did. It is a fun read – kind of a glitzy soap opera sort of novel. The characters were really interesting and the story was also intriguing. The idea is that an American travels to Singapore with her boyfriend to meet his family and attend a wedding. However, she has no idea that he’s from one of Singapore’s most celebrated and wealthy families. And hijinks ensue … I ultimately struggled with the ‘over the top’-ness of the novel. It was so much coming at me … over and over and over again. And the meanness of some of the characters was just irritating to me. The political pulls and pushes were intriguing but I found them to all be too much sometimes. How much money can these people spend, how much expensive clothes and jewelry can they buy … it’s SO MUCH. It was enjoyable and it picked up for me at the end. I was surprised by the final ¼ of the book which was nice. It’s definitely a satire but at times it just felt like it was TOO MUCH for me. I’m eager to see the movie that’s being made – perhaps it will translate better on the big screen. I am going to give the second book a try to see if perhaps the busyness of life when I started the book maybe impacted my overall feelings. I definitely liked it enough to give the 2nd a shot. The reviews on this one are stellar. Almost all of my bookish friends loved it so I do recommend it … my final feelings on it may be an outlier!

Tuesday, March 13, 2018

Recent New Releases


New Releases for Tuesday, March 13, 2018

The Flight Attendant by Chris Bohjalian
This novel tells the story of an alcoholic flight attendant who wakes up next to a dead body.

Anatomy of a Miracle by Jonathan Miles
I am hearing amazing things about this novel and I'm excited to pick it up!

Women of the Resistance: Poems for a New Feminism
This is a collection of poems by 41 contemporary poets who take a stand for civil and reproductive rights.

Our Father: Reflections on the Lord's Prayer by Pope Francis
Explores the traditional prayer.

My Shot: Balancing It All and Standing Tall by Elena Delle Donne
The memoir of the 2015 WNBA MVP and 2016 Olympic gold medalist.

Don't Bullsh*t Yourself!: Crush the Excuses That Are Holding You Back by Jon Taffer
A new self-help book full of advice around motivation.

Paperback Releases for Tuesday, March 13, 2018

Can It Happen Here?: Authoritarianism in America by Cass R. Sunstein

The Force by Don Winslow

All Grown Up by Jami Attenberg

Never Let You Go by Chevy Stevens

The Shadow Land by Elizabeth Kostova

New Releases Coming on Tuesday, March 20, 2018

I have really enjoyed her novels in the past so I'm eager to pick this one up which focuses on ALS.

I am hearing AMAZING things about this one. It was a Book of the Month selection and many of my bookish friends have been raving about it. It's a debut novel about grief, love and family.

This is a suspense novel that was also a Book of the Month selection that's getting a lot of praise from people I know who read a lot. 

Paperback Releases for Tuesday, March 20, 2018

Our Short History by Lauren Grodstein
This book was one of my favorites of last year. It just slayed me ... in the best way possible. I'm picking this one up for my home library!

End Game by David Baldacci
This is the 5th book in the Will Robie series.

Mr. Rochester by Sarah Shoemaker
A historical fiction novel that tells the story of Mr. Rochester from Jane Eyre.

Are you planning to pick any of these up this week or next?

Review: Secret Daughter by Shilpi Somaya Gowda

book reviewSecret Daughter by Shilpi Somaya Gowda
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I really, really enjoyed this book. The focus of the story is adoption, family, cultural impacts and more. This is a really compelling look at adoption, secrets and family. The exploration of the difficult and complex aspects of family and cultural expectations was so well done. The weaving of a great story and the nuanced exploration of family and culture came together in this novel in such a beautiful way. I liked the way everything came together throughout the story. The exploration of cultural differences and the impact on all of the characters in the story really spoke to me. It was a captivating look at adoption that I really enjoyed. I definitely recommend it …

Monday, March 12, 2018

Review: Blurred Lines: Rethinking Sex, Power, and Consent on Campus by Vanessa Grigoriadis

book review rape sexual assault
Blurred Lines: Rethinking Sex, Power, and Consent on Campus by Vanessa Grigoriadis
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

As someone who worked with sexual assault survivors early in my career, I was really interested in this book and seeing what Vanessa Grigoriadis explores as she takes a look at sex, power, and consent on college campuses. There are a broad set of issues explored in this one. It’s got a pretty good overview of the positions of the various players dealing with this issue of rape on campus – students (the survivors and the accused), school administrators, parents, researchers, attorneys and more. It felt fairly balanced for the majority of the book. There were a few areas that I felt weren’t explored in an open and honest way. But, overall, it was a solid book. It’s been a long time since I was in college and the issues have changed quite a bit due to the cultural shifts over the last 20 years. It was interesting for me to read this as a mother of a 13-year-old girl and boy who will one day go off to college and experience the impacts of some of these issues. All in all, I’m glad I read this one and it did give me quite a bit to think about as a mother and a citizen. The author has a very distinct voice and has said some things in this book and in the media that I didn’t love but I think, overall, this book is a good exploration of sex and consent on campus.

Bookish Quote of the Week


I would agree 100% that my own personal paradise would be a library (or an independent bookstore). It feels like I've walked into HOME every time that I go to a library or bookstore. It's a safe place, a comforting place ... a place where I am surrounded by something that truly makes me happy - books!

What is your version of paradise? 

Would it also involve books and reading? 

Sunday, March 11, 2018

Bookish News: A Weekly Update


The Women's Prize for Fiction 2018 Longlist

The Women's Prize for Fiction's 2019 long list has been announced and it's a fantastic list. I've read only three of them but at least four others are on my list to read already. I'm excited to go take a look at the novels I've never heard of and check them out. 

H(A)PPY by Nicola Barker
The Idiot by Elif Batuman
Three Things About Elsie by Joanna Cannon
Miss Burma by Charmaine Craig
Manhattan Beach by Jennifer Egan
The Mermaid and Mrs Hancock by Imogen Hermes Gowar
Sight by Jessie Greengrass
Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman
When I Hit You: Or, A Portrait of the Writer as a Young Wife by Meena Kandasamy
Elmet by Fiona Mozley
The Ministry of Utmost Happiness by Arundhati Roy
See What I Have Done by Sarah Schmidt
A Boy in Winter by Rachel Seiffert
Home Fire by Kamila Shamsie
The Trick to Time by Kit de Waal
Sing, Unburied, Sing by Jesmyn Ward

Diversity in Romance Publishing

The Ripped Bodice released their second annual Diversity in Romance Publishing report.  This report focuses on racial and cultural diversity in romance publishing and it's really quite eye-opening. I highly recommend taking a look at their report. 

The Story Prize 2018

Elizabeth Strout's short story collection, Anything Is Possible, is the 14th winner of the Story Prize, a $20,000 prize awarded annually to the author of the short story collection named best of the year by a paneled jury. The book must be written in English and first published in the U.S. The other finalists this year were authors Daniel Alarcón for The King Is Always Above the People and Ottessa Moshfegh for Homesick for Another World, each receiving $5,000. You can learn more here

That is it for me this week ... Have you heard of other bookish news you'd like share with us? We'd love to hear about them in the Comments!