Sunday, June 3, 2018

A Small Break

I just wanted to post a quick note that I'm going to be on a small break with the blog due to how busy real life is these days ... I will be back as soon as I can!

Thursday, May 24, 2018

Review: Brown Girl Dreaming by Jacqueline Woodson

Brown Girl DreamingBrown Girl Dreaming by Jacqueline Woodson
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Such a beautiful book! It's a middle-grade memoir in verse and it's such a wonderful read! Lovely writing and I loved the freestyle way she told the bits and pieces of her childhood. HIghly recommend for anyone and everyone!


Wednesday, May 23, 2018

Review: I'll Be Gone in the Dark: One Woman's Obsessive Search for the Golden State Killer by Michelle McNamara

I'll Be Gone in the Dark: One Woman's Obsessive Search for the Golden State KillerI'll Be Gone in the Dark: One Woman's Obsessive Search for the Golden State Killer by Michelle McNamara
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This one is haunting! There were times when I had to turn the light on while I read at night … McNamara was able to put me in the homes and in the footsteps of the Golden State Killer to the point that I literally felt terror at the idea of it. I didn’t want to put this book down. It’s not a perfect book – but that appears to be in large part due to it being finished after her death by others. I suspect if she’d lived to complete the book as she’d planned, it would have been all the better for it. In terms of the book serving its purpose of outlining her very personal search for this rapist and killer, it is extremely successful.

This is true crime at its best … McNamara takes the facts of the case and builds a fantastic narrative about her search for him. Meticulous in her research, this book just blew me away. She’s honest in ways that astound me. When I was about 20 pages from the end, I heard that there was an arrest made in the case (https://www.thedailybeast.com/golden-...) and I would imagine that McNamara’s work on the case (and this book) must have contributed to the fact that authorities were able to make an arrest all these years later.

Highly recommend this one but know that it’s a book that will get into your head and keep you up at night. This man terrorized California for YEARS and this book puts you in that place and time in a way that I haven’t experienced many times before.

Tuesday, May 22, 2018

Review: Idaho by Emily Ruskovich

IdahoIdaho by Emily Ruskovich
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Oh, this book! It is not for everyone – if you need a book that is clear and easy to understand, that has no nuance and wraps everything up nicely, this one won't work for you. This is a complex narrative that shines a light on so many amazing things about identity, memory, and forgiveness. It’s a beautifully written novel that just blew me away … the prose is haunting and achingly beautiful. The story itself isn’t told in a linear fashion – it’s almost told in fragments of memory that the reader has to piece together for the narrative. The time frame is from the 1970s until 2025 and yet it’s told in bits and pieces. Pulling it all together is challenging but so worth it. The book answers very little. It asks question after question but gives no definitive answers. But, it’s so beautifully told and the voices are just haunting. It’s a book that I won’t soon forget. It’s stayed with me. The language, the characters, the story … all of it seems to almost be following me around!

Monday, May 21, 2018

Bookish Quote of the Week

Bookish Quote of the Week - Amy's Book Obsession

Review: Beartown by Fredrik Backman

Beartown (Beartown, #1)Beartown by Fredrik Backman
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Although I liked A Man Called Ove, I didn’t love it. In fact, I wasn’t all that interested in reading more of his work based on that reading experience. But, I kept hearing about Beartown and how it was fantastic and nothing like Backman’s other novels. And so I finally picked it up and WOW. If you weren’t a fan of some of his other work, I definitely recommend that you give this one a chance. It truly is very different from his other work, in my opinion. This is much heavier than his ‘light and whimsical’ vibe in his other works. This is an exploration of hockey, small-town life, and community. It goes darker than I’d expected … but darker in the best way. Hockey is the town’s centerpiece … it’s something that means everything to the citizens. And hockey is used in this story to help the author weave a story of friendship, love and doing the right thing against all the odds. I’m not telling you much about it on purpose. I think the unfolding of the story is critical to the overall success of the novel. Just read it. Even if you hate sports, this is actually not a story about sports. It’s about hockey but not at all about hockey. Trust me … this one has it all – great characters, complex relationships, challenging events, sadness, hope, family drama and more. Don’t miss this one!

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:

NOVEL

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 

SINGLE-AUTHOR COLLECTION

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.