Sunday, May 20, 2018

Review: Pachinko by Min Jin Lee

PachinkoPachinko by Min Jin Lee
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I have been meaning to read this one for ages … It’s a book that I’ve consistently heard great things about since it was published. I’ll admit that I was a bit intimidated by it … everyone seemed to love it so much that I was almost worried that I wouldn’t! Plus its almost 500 pages so I was worried it would be a potential slog. Well, my worries were unwarranted. This book is SO good. Engrossing and complex … it grabbed me and didn’t let go until the final words. It’s the story of four generations of a Korean family in Japan. I had no idea of the history of Korean’s in Japan so this was illuminating and gripping! Min Jin Lee is a marvelous writer – her attention to detail while also moving the story forward effectively was so well done here! I didn’t want to put this one down … the narrative is so well done! I couldn’t stop thinking about these characters and their journeys. Impactful, rich, and memorable. I enjoyed learning about the Korean culture and how different it is from my own. There is so much in this novel … I highly recommend it! One of my favorites of the year so far!

Saturday, May 19, 2018

Bookish News: A Weekly Update

Bookish News of the Week - Amy's Book Obsession

Finalists Named for this Year's Shirley Jackson Awards

Nominees have been named in six categories for this year's Shirley Jackson Awards, which recognize "outstanding achievement in the literature of psychological suspense, horror and the dark fantastic." The winners will be announced July 15, 2018.

The nominees for the Shirley Jackson Awards are:


Ill Will by Dan Chaon 
The Bone Mother by David Demchuk
The Changeling by Victor Lavalle
The Hole by Hye-young Pyun 
The Night Ocean by Paul La Farge 


Her Body and Other Parties by Carmen Maria Machado
She Said Destroy by, Nadia Bulkin
The Dark Dark by Samantha Hunt
The Doll’s Alphabet by Camilla Grudova
Things to Do When You’re Goth in the Country by Chavisa Woods

Library Reads Selections Announced for June 2018

"Intensifying psychological suspense. Twelve years after Finn's girlfriend Layla disappeared, a discovery raises new questions." --Catherine Coyne, Mansfield Public Library, Mansfield, Mass.

"A large cast of interwoven characters depicts the experience of Native Americans living in urban settings. Perfect for readers of character-driven fiction with a strong sense of place." --Abby Johnson, New Albany-Floyd County Public Library, New Albany, Ind. 

"The citizens of Beartown are about to lose their beloved hockey team and their rivals could not be happier. The narrator has you wondering who is going to die and why events occur as they do." --Gail Christensen, Kitsap Regional Library, Bremerton, Wash.

"A playful commentary on the mystery genre itself and the first in a promising new series. The author, Horowitz, plays the part of the narrator, and gets caught up in solving a murder with Daniel Hawthorne, an out-of-work detective." --Amy Whitfield, Wake County Public Libraries, Cary, N.C.

"A suspenseful thriller told from multiple perspectives. A Seattle detective must unravel a web of secrets dating back to his high school days." --Gail Roberts, Fairfax County Public Library, Fairfax, Va.

"Set in the Lowcountry of South Carolina, this story does what Southern fiction does best: family, lies, and secrets. For fans of Patti Callahan Henry and Mary Alice Monroe." --Leanne Milliman, Charlevoix Public Library, Charlevoix, Mich.

"A wonderfully sweet and erotic romance featuring an autistic heroine who hires a hot male escort to teach her how to enjoy sex, but learns so much more." --Elizabeth Gabriel, Milwaukee Public Library, Milwaukee, Wis.

"Great storyline that is relevant to issues both facing young people today and the people raising them. The story keeps you guessing." --Sarah Trohoske, Erie County Public Library, Erie, Pa.

"A portrait of a family and a boy's search for the father who left them, told from multiple perspectives with authentic, likeable characters."  --McGee, Lake Travis County Library, Austin, Tex. 

"Kate is holding it all together, unemployed husband, kids, and parents. So, she reinvents herself as someone younger to secure a job with the hedge fund." --Toni Nako, The Public Library of Cincinnati, Cincinnati, Ohio

British Book Award Titles Announced

The British Book Award-winning titles are:  

Book of the Year and Fiction Debut Book: Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman

Crime & Thriller: The Dry by Jane Harper

Nonfiction Lifestyle: 5 Ingredients by Jamie Oliver

Audiobook: La Belle Sauvage by Philip Pullman, narrated by Michael Sheen

Upcoming Adaption of Lidia Yuknavitch's memoir, The Chronology of Water

Kristen Stewart plans to make her feature film directorial debut with an adaptation of Lidia Yuknavitch's 2011 memoir, The Chronology of Water. She will write and direct the project.
In an interview at this year's Cannes Film Festival, Stewart said, "Lidia Yuknavitch is from Portland. I love her novels but her memoirs... it's deeply personal to her. She's in my blood and I knew that before I met her. As soon as I met her it was like we started this race without any sense of competition. I'm making the movie this summer but other than that, my only goal is just to finish the screenplay and hire a really spectacular actor: I'm going to write the best f**king female role. I'm going to write a role that I want so badly but that I'm not going to play." (source: Shelf Awareness)

Review: This Will Be My Undoing: Living at the Intersection of Black, Female, and Feminist in (White) America by Morgan Jerkins

This Will Be My Undoing: Living at the Intersection of Black, Female, and Feminist in (White) AmericaThis Will Be My Undoing: Living at the Intersection of Black, Female, and Feminist in (White) America by Morgan Jerkins
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I’ve been so excited about Morgan Jerkins’ book that I bought it on pub day! I’ve been hearing amazing things about her and her work so this was a great way to engage with her and get a sense of why she’s getting so much praise. If you want to learn more about the challenges of being black and a woman in the world today … this is a great way to get a view into that. Her astute focus on the social, cultural and historical experience of black female oppression really gave me a new perspective. It challenged my assumptions and my patterns of thinking. Her ability to tell a story in a way that will give you nuance and context is incredible. I highly recommend this … I learned so much about my own biases and ways of thinking. I definitely think these essays can help you enhance your own growth as a person.

Friday, May 18, 2018

Review: Personality Types: Using the Enneagram for Self-Discovery by Don Richard Riso

Personality Types: Using the Enneagram for Self-DiscoveryPersonality Types: Using the Enneagram for Self-Discovery by Don Richard Riso
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

If you want to know more about the Enneagram, this is an excellent overview of the framework. It really helped me to delve deeper into each type and better understand the core dynamics and levels of development for each. This is a great addition to my Enneagram library! Well organized and I was able to easily connect the information in it to my own life.

Thursday, May 17, 2018

Review: Hurts to Love You by Alisha Rai

Hurts to Love You (Forbidden Hearts, #3)Hurts to Love You by Alisha Rai
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Yet another fantastic book in this series. Actually, this is the final book in the Forbidden Hearts series and it’s so fantastic! Alisha Rai just slays me! She’s such a brilliant writer … the characters are complex, the stories are luscious and smart, and the overall themes are thoughtful and hopeful. If you haven’t, just go read her … this series, in particular, has just blown me away. I’m sorry to see these families go but I’m so glad that I had these 3 novels to spend with them!

Wednesday, May 16, 2018

April 2018: Monthly Reading Review

Monthly Reading Review: April 2018 (Amy's Book Obsession)

I'm so late posting this ... I'm so sorry! May has been so crazy that I'm just catching up now! Here is my monthly reading review for April 2018! Here is the April Reads page from my reading journal ... I'm pretty pleased with how things worked out in April!

All in, I read 14 books in April. Six romance, four non-fiction and four literary fiction books. In terms of ratings - I had one 5 star, ten 4 stars, and three 3 stars. Eight of the 14 books were from the publisher. I'm still working on 5 books that I started in April that are carrying over into May. At the end of April, I'm at a total of 58 books for the year. Not bad at all! That means I'm tracking at finishing about 174 books in 2018. I'd like to increase that a bit so I'm hoping summer reading will push the total upward a bit!

In terms of my reading plans for May, I do have a few things I'm hoping to get read. I have two book club books that I want to try to finish in May - The Librarian of Auschwitz and The Forgotten Girls. The theme for May/June in that book club is Translated Fiction so each of these are translated works chosen by the group. There is another book but I may not get to that one until June. I also have a few ARCs to finish in May including Love and Ruin, The High Tide Club, A Shout in the Ruins and a couple of romances. And then I have a few sitting on my bedside table that I'm hoping to fit in - Out, Other People's Houses, A Court of Thorns and Roses, and The Bazaar of Bad Dreams. And then, of course, I always end up randomly picking things up based on my mood at the time. Looking forward to sharing with you in early June what I actually get to in May!

What did you read in April 2018? Help us add more books to our TBRs! 

Review: Wrong to Need You by Alisha Rai

Wrong to Need You (Forbidden Hearts, #2)Wrong to Need You by Alisha Rai
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Alisha Rai!! I just love her … and this series is just so fantastic. This is the 2nd in the series and it totally lives up to the first. I loved seeing Jackson and Sadia’s story come to life. The stories of the Oka-Kane and Chandler families are so well told in this series. I just can’t recommend them more! You can’t go wrong with her books. She’s an incredible writer and can craft a story – one full of emotional resonance and honest portrayals of complex people.

Tuesday, May 15, 2018

Review: Love and Ruin by Paula McLain

Love and RuinLove and Ruin by Paula McLain
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I ultimately liked this one but it took a lot to get there for me. Much of the book takes place in war zones and I didn’t find those pieces to be very enchanting. I’m just not that into war drama, perhaps? I liked the relationship parts of the book and the character study of this amazing woman in love with a challenging man. That is where this one really excelled for me. If you’re a Hemingway fan, you will definitely want to pick this one up. I’d give the reading experience as a whole a three but the book itself a four. It took a bit to really get into this one for me … it felt like the pacing didn’t pick up until about 100 pages in for me. I did enjoy what the book said about relationships and women’s roles in the various aspects of life (wife, mother, professional, friend, etc.). Their relationship felt very real to me during the reading of the book – there was obviously much love between them but there were other factors on the outside that ultimately impacted their relationship such as his success, her ambition, his lifestyle, her lifestyle, etc. I’m definitely glad that I read this one but I didn’t love it quite as much as her earlier book about Hadley and Ernest Hemingway.

NOTE: I received a copy of this book as an ARC from the publisher for an honest review.

Monday, May 14, 2018

Review: Oceanside by Michelle Mankin

Oceanside (Rock Stars, Surf and Second Chances, #3)Oceanside by Michelle Mankin
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I am struggling a bit with this review. I liked this one quite a bit but I just didn’t love it. I really liked the hero and heroine. I’m glad the story focused heavily on a health condition – and ultimately, it brought some attention to the reality of life with that particular condition. Yet, the story just didn’t connect with me in the way I’d hope. I liked the characters but their relationship never completely made sense to me. I just didn’t connect with them as a couple as much as I did with each of them as an individual character. The plotting also seemed rushed at times – the story came together but it didn’t feel as seamless as I’d have liked. I also wonder if my reaction was impacted on the fact that this is the third in a series – I wonder if I’d have connected with everything a bit more had I gotten to know the entire group from the earlier books. All to say that I liked this one quite a bit but it’s not a favorite. A solid story that offers something new – particularly as it relates to the health issue it portrays.

NOTE: I received a copy of this book as an ARC from the publisher for an honest review.

Bookish Quote of the Week

Bookish Quote of the Week (Amy's Book Obsession)

I love this quote! And it's so true! It's one of the aspects of reading that I love the most - the ability to read about the experiences of fictional people who ultimately teach me about myself and the people around me!

What about you? Is this something you love about reading? Who is a character who taught you something about yourself?

Sunday, May 13, 2018

Review: Before We Were Yours by Lisa Wingate

Before We Were YoursBefore We Were Yours by Lisa Wingate
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I read this in part because it was a book club book and several of my fellow book clubbers were saying how good it was. Once I read the fact that it’s the novelization of real events around the kidnapping and illegal adoptions of children in Tennessee, I was IN! And, boy, did this one deliver! This is historical fiction of the best kind – heartbreaking, important, educational, and important and all the other words like these! This story takes place between 1920 and 1960 when numerous children were stolen from their homes and families and subjected to adoptions by Georgia Tann and the Memphis branch of the Tennessee Children’s Home Society. The author uses one family with five siblings to demonstrate the experiences of these children and their families. There are two storylines which weave together throughout – one in the present and another in the past. I think they were woven so effectively and interestingly. In the end, I found the entire novel to be so impactful and heartbreaking. The inhumanity experienced by the children in this novel is just devastating. I didn’t find the experiences of the novel to be in any way gratuitous but they are harrowing and heartbreaking for the reader. The abuse and neglect that is described is handled effectively by Lisa Wingate and shouldn’t disturb most readers. I highly recommend this one to any and all!

Review: The Queen of Hearts by Kimmery Martin

The Queen of HeartsThe Queen of Hearts by Kimmery Martin
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

First of All … that cover is WOW! I’ll be honest, between the cover and the description I saw somewhere about it being like Grey’s Anatomy, it was inevitable that I’d pick this one up. Friendship, marriage, hospitals … yes, please! I will say that it took me a bit to connect with this one … it was looking like a 2 or 3 star until about 125-150 pages. And then … boom, it just took off for me. [I’m not sure what made it difficult for me in initially – from reading reviews, it appears that most others loved it from start to finish so … just thought I’d mention that my experience may be an anomaly]. And now I’m settling at a 4 star overall. I’d imagine it was difficult to find that delicate balance between the domestic drama pieces of the story and the medical pieces of the story … but it was done beautifully in this novel. The friendship in this novel felt very real and honest to me. There were imperfections and it felt very true to life for me, just as real-life friendships are. Complex, challenging and heartbreaking at times. This is a debut novel so I cannot wait to see what’s to come for Kimmery Martin! Definitely recommend.

Review: Educated: A Memoir by Tara Westover

Review: Educated: A Memoir (Amy's Book Obsession)Educated: A Memoir by Tara Westover
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I anticipated that this might be a 5 star read for me but it didn’t quite make it there. I suspect some of that had to do with the number of interviews with the author I heard before picking up the book. In many ways, major components of the book were ‘spoiled’ in those interviews and therefore didn’t have the emotional resonance that they may have if I’d come into the book without the interviews. This is one that had a ton of buzz. I heard about it everywhere! That can sometimes impact my enjoyment of a book. Despite the preconceived notions that I may have had going in, this is a really good and interesting memoir. Tara’s story is powerful and disturbing and gut-wrenching. Try not to read a ton about this one before picking it up – just jump into this one with little information.

It’s a powerful story that really brings to life so many different things in an interesting and thought-provoking way – education, fundamentalism, health care, mental health, parenting, neglect and abuse, and ideas of family and home. I highly recommend this one. It’s unlike anything I’ve read before – Tara Westover is an amazing person and reading her story will give you a view of her troubled and fascinating family.

NOTE: I received a copy of this book as an ARC from the publisher for an honest review.

Review: Dirty Exes by Rachel Van Dyken

Review: Dirty Exes (Amy's Book Obsession)Dirty Exes by Rachel Van Dyken
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I really quite liked this one. It was unique and interesting. The heroine is part owner of an investigation company that focuses on catching cheaters. As a result, there is a lot of focus on cheating. If that isn’t your thing, skip this one. The heroine is investigating a man who left her in the past for his career when his current wife hires her to expose him and his cheating. Add in his best friend who the heroine can’t seem to stop thinking about and you get some fascinating situations! As you can imagine, this set up brings a lot of ridiculous scenarios with it. It’s funny – like actually made me laugh several times. I didn’t think Blaire (the heroine) and Jessie (the one she knew in the past)’s relationship made all that much sense – she saw his as the one after a VERY small time together (not even a month). It just didn’t feel realistic to me. But, I got over that. It wasn’t a big issue but it did puzzle me. All in all, I enjoyed this one. Light, funny and witty!

NOTE: I received a copy of this book as an ARC from the publisher for an honest review.

Review: Until There Was Us by Samantha Chase

Review: Until There Was Us (Amy's Book Obsession)Until There Was Us by Samantha Chase
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I just adored Megan and Alex (perhaps part of it is their names – my twins are Meighan and Alex lol)! Although the 7th in a series, I don’t feel like this one was confusing at all. It definitely read as a standalone. If you like stories about second chances and find out who you are … this is the book for you. I love that Megan was able to grow throughout the novel into the person she wanted to be instead of the person she thought she had to be. The power of the right relationship to get you where you really want and need to be as an individual and all of that! Alex was a dream hero … delectable, smart, funny, adorable, and more. There is plenty of humor as well as sexy bits in this one. Very good one. Looking forward to going back to read earlier books in the series!

NOTE: I received a copy of this book as an ARC from the publisher for an honest review.