2020 Book Reviews

**Full disclosure: I used affiliate links when starting this, because, I mean, why not?

Honestly, that was A LOT of extra work so I stopped pretty quickly. This means that I MIGHT get like $00.0000003 off of anything you purchase from these links. I pinky promise that this substantial payout plays no role in my book opinions… No, really, cross my heart.

So if you click a link and see my name, it’s because I’m trying to sneakily get rich/ just didn’t think it was worth it to remove the links that literally bring you to the exact same Amazon page.

Also, I’m only taking the time to write this ridiculous disclosure because I’m pretty sure you could sue me if I didn’t ***


Also, if you’re new to my book reviews, first of all, thank you! Second of all, I’m a big advocate for going into a book blind to the subject matter. I get that not everyone likes this, and that is why Amazon and Goodreads write out an entire synopsis for you. I, however, will always cater toward my fellow “dive right in” readers, and therefore, I always share my overview of the book, but never a full synopsis.

Happy reading, friends!

The Girl in the Mirror by Rose Carlyle

4/5 Stars

Is there anyone else out there that really loves the mystery component of a good thriller, but hates that it leaves you paranoid to live life after you read it?

I admittedly, love thrillers, but I am a bit too scared to read them regularly.  This book was the perfect thriller for me, because it kept me on the edge of my seat, but it didn’t leave me horrified by any means. I would consider it to be a well-written, and toned-down thriller.

It was definitely engaging enough to keep me going, and I would recommend it to anyone who enjoys a solid plot twist.

Fifty Words for Rain by Asha Lemmie

Find it Here on Amazon

3/5 Stars

I honestly don’t know what it is about me and the Good Morning America Book Club, but we always seem to disagree. I have yet to find a book that they recommended that I love. This book was a solid three from me.

I thought it was pretty boring, honestly, and the times that weren’t boring were really uncomfortable. I get it, this wasn’t a comfortable subject matter, but I would have liked a few more scenes where it was both comfortable and engaging.

I think I just went into this book with a lot of expectations. It was hyped pretty highly at its release, and in my opinion, the writing just didn’t quite live up to it.

The Hot Young Widows Club by Nora McInerny

Find it Here on Amazon

4.5/5 stars

Misery loves company? Well, this book offers plenty of that. I was obviously a little hesitant to read this book, because, I was, quite frankly, a little hesitant to find any association with this club. But the club is relevant, and the club is like-minded people who never wanted to be like-minded, but sometimes you end up here, so you might as well lean on others who are already on the way.

I wouldn’t recommend this to just anyone– for obvious reasons, but if you are unfortunate enough to join this club one day– just the widow club, not even necessarily the hot young widows club, even if I bet you are hot, I hope you give this book a try. It has brought me a lot of healing.

No Happy Endings by Nora McInerny

Find it Here on Amazon

4.5/5 Stars

“It is completely bonkers that after we’ve had our heart put through a meat grinder, we just gather up the chunks and say, “Well, let’s try again!”

But I mean… really. This book was and is my saving grace during what continues to be a conflicting time in my life. To lose everything, but seek happy, that feels insane. To lose everything, then find happy… that seems like the end of the problem, the end of the dark days. But that’s not true either.

This book is about finding a happy ending, but not the one you planned, and the grief that continues to linger in that fact. This book is about why the life after immense loss can be both incredible and oh so very complicated, yes, even when you find a little bit of light again.

If you know loss… or if you know someone who knows loss… read this book.

It’s Okay to Laugh, Crying is Cool Too by Nora McInerny

Find it Here on Amazon

4.5/5 Stars

I found Nora McInery when someone sent me her TedTalk, and I related to her immediately- and not just because she and I both lost our husbands at a relatively young age, or that she and I both lost our dad’s at a time way too strangely close to the loss of our husbands.

Okay… so I had way too much in common with her, and that is probably why I relate to her so much, but I mean, she speaks truth.

This book captures the grief process well, and gives you permission to… well… actually grieve. Very solid book.

Betty by Tiffany McDaniel

Find it Here on Amazon

3/5 stars

Weird book. It was written about the author’s mother, and it tells a fascinating life story, and I always appreciate this type of tale, but ultimately, it was pretty hard for me to identify a point of this one.

I never really found a single character likeable, which, once again, is a little unfortunate to say considering that one of the characters was the author’s mother, but really the book just didn’t leave me feeling any kind of admiration that should likely be shared in this nature.

It just wasn’t exactly one of my favorites.

Transcendent Kingdom by Yaa Gyasi

Find it Here on Amazon

4.5/5 stars

Woah, this book was impactful, and not just because of the many questions that were rushing through my head already around the time I read it.

This book explored some painful, but necessary boundaries of where faith, meets grief and science. It explored all of these topics in a way that asks, why do these things happen– but it does this in an explorative, but healthy way.

I truly believe that many of the questions addressed in this book, even the ones that never really led to an answer, are worth exploring.

Very fascinating read, and very fascinating view into the many questions and tribulations of life.

Troubles in Paradise by Elin Hilderbrand

Find it Here on Amazon

4/5 stars

The third in Elin’s paradise series, and it is just as juicy as the other two. Definitely make sure to read the other two before this one, or you’ll be super confused.

This book is the perfect cherry on top of the series as it finally answers a few of the questions that we were asking, and allows us to see who these dang characters finally end up with after all of these love triangles finally resolve.

Just like the other two, this is another easy beach read.

Lilac Girls by Martha Hall Kelly

Find it Here on Amazon

3.5/5 stars

A lot of people probably already know where I’m going with this one… it is VERY hard to compete in the WWII genre, no matter how interesting or unique your story is.

Recently, we’ve seen an increase in books empowering women by sharing their brave roles and stories from this time, and this is making even this niche market based in this era to be very competitive.

While this book was written well enough, and it offered very strong characters and storylines, it just doesn’t quite stand up with the others books of a similar nature.

Reflections on the Psalms by C.S. Lewis

Find it Here on Amazon

4/5 Stars

I read this right before I read the Psalms again, and the context it provided to the overall reading was very insightful. It definitely altered the way that I approached my readings.

While I am always an advocate of viewing the Bible through your own eyes rather than the interpretation of someone who read it before you, I think this historic research and account offered a lot of additional depth to the entire reading process.

Celery Juice: The Most Powerful Medicine of Our Time Healing Millions Worldwide by Anthony William

Find it Here on Amazon

4/5 Stars

Very interesting book, with very interesting theories.

I don’t think any harm could come out of following his ideas, particularly as it pertains to celery juice, I just did not see enough medical or scientific evidence in this book to confirm that what he is saying about this “miracle juice” is true.

It was a very interesting book, however, like most books in this genre, maybe take it with a grain of salt.

Anxious People by Frederik Backman

Find it Here on Amazon

5/5 Stars


I don’t know if I will ever close a Fredrik Backman book and not immediately think, “That man is a genius.”

Because… I mean. He is.

Backman is an absolute master of capturing every beautiful and messy psychological inch of humanity. His books are gentle and funny, and painful, and real, and absolutely everything that a good book should be. He is a master.

This book was no exception.

Redeeming Love by Francine Rivers

Find it Here on Amazon

4/5 stars

This is a masterful story of God’s grace for us, and the grace we are asked to show to others. It is basically a modern, and by modern I mean 18th century, rendition of the book of Hosea. This book was a masterful tale of loving the way we were called to, loving the way God loves us.

While exhausting to watch a man try and try again for a woman who continues to reject the life he is offering her, it offers true perspective in how we continue to reject God, even as he offers us the true best.

It was a convicting, but very powerful read.

An Appeal to Heaven by Dutch Sheets

Find it Here in Amazon

4/5 Stars

This is another book that I may have offered a different review on if I reviewed it right after I read it, however, after months of unique experiences both personal and worldly, circling back to this book leaves me a little conflicted.

Honestly, Dutch Sheets is the ultimate hype man for the kingdom, and I think that is something to be admired. This book is basically him sharing revolutions of his own life and projecting it as a prediction for our country.

Take it with a grain of salt, but I don’t exactly believe that this book is one to skip. It is definitely an interesting perspective in a conflicting time.

The Death of Vivek Oji by Akwaeke Emezi

3.5/5 stars

This book was… a lot.

That’s really the only way I can explain it. There was a lot going on, and it was all pretty conflicting.

I always appreciate a book that offers a variety of views from a difference culture, and especially one that shows different approaches to faith, even when these approaches don’t exactly project a light in any way.

However, this book was pretty heavy for a variety of reasons, so if you choose to venture into it, just be aware.

28 Summers by Elin Hilderbrand

Find it Here on Amazon

3.5/5 stars

My girl Elin, but as you can see this one wasn’t one of my favorites.

Full disclosure, this book offered all of the things that I look for in an Elin Hilderbrand book. It was a quick and enjoyable read. It pulled me out of my own life and allowed me to just chill on Nantucket for a bit. I devoured every page of it like candy.

It was the feeling it left me with at the end that makes it hard for me to recommend it at more than a 3.5.

The book very much not only justified adultery, but glorified it. It was one of those that actually gets you rooting for the adulterous relationship over the marriage, and that is just a hard concept for me to promote.

I always think this is one of the biggest risks that we don’t always recognize when reading a “brain candy” book like this– total casual acceptance of truly bad things.

If you haven’t chalked me up to being a hyper-sensitive lunatic yet, and you would like more of my thoughts on this topic, I wrote this blog post shortly after reading this book.

The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes by Suzanne Collins

Find it Here on Amazon

4/5 Stars

This is a nostalgic read for any of my fellow Hunger Games fans. With that said, my bias toward this book was always going to be inevitable. I really enjoyed going back and getting some interesting context to a trilogy that I enjoyed so much years ago.

Without this history and nostalgia, I may not have found this to be so addicting. While the scenes were engaging, and the classic Suzanne Collins excitement was easy to identify, it did not have quite the same zeal as the original three.

If you have not read the other three, this might not be the one to start with. If you have read, and you enjoyed, the first three of this series, then I do recommend circling back to reading this one for a little more context.

I’m always a huge fan of a book that can make an antagonist empathetic.

Dear Martin by Nic Stone

Find it Here on Amazon

3.5/5 Stars

I see where the author wanted to go with this… she just didn’t quite get there for me.

This book addresses really hard themes, and these are addressed in really hard conversations. It is very difficult to make this kind of dialogue hit the mark in a book and communicate both effectively and authentically. Unfortunately, I felt as thought she missed the authentic factor a decent amount, as a lot of the conversations became a bit unbelievable, and as a result, many of the characters were a bit tow-dimensional.

The book was enjoyable enough to push through this barrier, and it did offer insightful information and thoughts. This has just become a very competitive market here recently, and when compared to some of the competition, this book just doesn’t stand out on top to me.

The Beauty in the Breaking: a Memoir by Michele Harper

Find it Here on Amazon

4/5 Stars

This book touches on a variety of roles and issues, and it offers incredibly valid insight into all of these areas.

Prejudice in the medical field, crisis environment in the ER, toxic situations in a marriage. This book is the authors memoir of how she navigated all of these issues.

The book was very engaging and conversational. It was one that you were always curious to explore the next chaper of.

My only problem with this book is, at times I was just looking to hear about her experiences, because she truly had a fascinating story with very solid experiences, and a lot of times, she switched over into a very preachy and self-righteous tone, which I didn’t always love.

All in all, it was a very well-written book, about a very interesting subject matter.

Find it Here on Amazon

The Circle Maker: Praying Circles Around Your Biggest Dreams and Greatest Fears

4/5 Stars

Transparency time? I mean, you expect nothing less, right? I read this book while my husband battled end-stage cancer. I walked the walk– literally. I walked countless circles around my block, around my home, every single day. I prayed, plead, declared.

My husband died.

This concept will probably always have a giant question mark for me, so I might not be the best resource to recommend or not recommend this. If you, like me, battle with where humanity stands in the midst of not being in control, but also having fierce authority in the name of Jesus, this might be a solid one-perspective read for you. I feel like due diligence does require me to encourage that this isn’t your only perspective on the topic.

Stranded in Skin and Bones: Faith Within the Madness by Robert Stofel

Find it Here on Amazon

4.5/5 stars

This book. It is a true and life-giving story of amazing grace:

A mother’s amazing grace for her daughter’s boyfriend.

God’s amazing grace as he leaves the 99.

And ultimately, a man’s working progress of finding grace for himself.

I was completely blown away by the pain and vulnerability in this true story as coming of age meets coming of faith.

In this memoir, Robbie invites you into his beautifully complicated life story. From a troubled childhood, to falling in love with the homecoming queen. From drugs and alcohol to accepting Christ. From painting apartments to seminary, and then an MFA. From working with suicidal adolescents to working on his father’s ranch.

It all comes together in a multi-layered and page turning tribute of faithful redemption.

This book is truly a beautiful and complex rendition of the compounding effects of Christlike grace.

Restoring the Tabernacle of David: The Restoration of Prophetic Praise by Theodore Effiong

Restoring the Tabernacle of David: The Restoration of Prophetic Praise by [Theodore Effiong]
Find it Here on Amazon

4.5/5 stars

Fascinating. Are we, the church, worshiping the way God intended? This author argues that the answer can be found by seeking the Tabernacle of David.

This book offered interesting detail, research, and insight, and could be a very relevant read for anyone looking to add more to their faith-life, but don’t quite know what.

The Ultimate thesis that this book explores is the idea that the Tabernacle of David is the only one that God ever promised to restore, and it essentially questions what that restoration will look like, and how we should honor this.

This was a quick (70 pages), though full, read for anyone interested in this topic.

Beach Read by Emily Henry

Find it Here on Amazon

4/5 Stars

The perfect beach read, and it just happens to be named “beach read.” I mean, can we fans of the cheesy chick-flick really resist?

Beach Read was the type of novel you coudl devour like candy. It was a rom-com, but one that offered a solid wit-to-romance ratio. While, yes, it got cheesy, the moments of cringe were few and far between.

It was a feel-good chick book, meaning it was a lot more relationship, and a lot less constant sex. All-in-all, it left you feeling happy and hopeful with life, which is all I can ever really hope for when picking up a book like this.

It could definitely be the perfect vacation book.

The Vanishing Half by Brit Bennet

Find it Here on Amazon

4/5 Stars

This book won a lot of awards shortly after I read it– not claiming cause and effect or anything. Truthfully, in my opinion, after reading a lot of the competitors for these awards, I was a little shocked.

Don’t get me wrong, this book is fascinating. The concept is very interesting, the writing is engaging, and the storyline leaves a lot of room for unique insights and discussion.

At times, this book moved at a slower pace than I prefer. But overall, it was a good read.

I’m Still Here: Black Dignity in a World Made for Whiteness by Austin Channing Brown

Find it Here on Amazon

4/5 Stars

This book offered such an interesting perspective for me. I appreciated her raw truth in telling her story, and he fearless pursuit to reveal her experiences over the years.

I think this book is important to enter with an open mind, and with a heart ready to listen and not dispute.

With that said, I am in no way qualified to add comment to any subject matter or points made in this book. I do, however, wish it was a little longer, and went a little more in depth into these important topics. It was a pretty quick read, which perhaps was purposeful, however I was anxious to know more.

I feel like she did such a great job telling her story and addressing clear issues. I feel like there was not quite as much focus on the start of solutions, or guidance into the next steps.

Perhaps there will be further follow-up. I look forward to more from this author.

Own Your Every day by Jordan Lee Dooley

Find it Here on Amazon

3/5 Stars

This was a book written by an every day woman turned Instagram influence, and this book wore that role in every way. Complete with humble brags, and stories that I could just never quite relate to.

I appreciate the message of this book, and I appreciate her conversationalist writing style, but this book just didn’t quite hit the mark for me.

Also… this book just kind of ended up in my house. So if someone I know gave it to me thinking I’d really love it, then I’m sorry for the review, and I hope you still choose to leave random books at my house for me to find, ha.

The Wedding Date by Jasmine Guillory

Find it Here on Amazon

3/5 Stars

I’m just going to be frank here- this book was a lot of sex. I get that you can expect some sex with a romance book, but I mean, this felt a bit excessive. Not only was it a lot of sex, but it felt like pretty awkward sex. A lot of these scenes, and the dialogue that takes place in them, were cringe worthy. I started to just skim through them.

Unfortunately, this took away from a lot of the good of the book. There were interesting and important themes in the book that could have really carried the story if the author allowed.

I think ultimately, I struggled to connect with either character in this book, probably because I rarely saw either of them outside of a bedroom. I liked the writing style, and I’d consider another novel by this author in the future. This book just wasn’t quite a fit for me.

The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo

Find it Here on Amazon

4.5/5 Stars

She has spent years refusing to share her story- the story of her fame, the story of her career, the story of her seven husbands… until now.

The pop culture writing style of Taylor Jenkins Reid always guarantees engaging originality. With different story lines and narratives, this book certainly did not disappoint.

This is the type of book that you will either love, hate, or bitterly relate to all of the characters.

The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas

Find it Here on Amazon

4.5/5 Stars

This book handled heavy topics in an incredibly bold, but also gentle, manner. The truths and pain poured into this engaging narrative was an incredible journey to be a part of.

The author shows no fear in sharing what she believes, and she tells these things through an incredibly likeable protagonist. Her perspective is one of truth, but also one of such grace.

Even if you are not typically one to read YA, this is definitely a book to add to your reading list.

Happy and You Know It by Laura Hankin

Find it Here on Amazon

4.5/5 stars

Not to allude to the idea of judging a book by its cover, but this book was just yummy. That’s the best way to describe it. It was a quick read littered with delicious scandal, drama, and petty womanhood. I loved it.

I ate it up in two days.

If you are looking for a quick and enjoyable mindless read, (let’s be honest, we could all use one) I highly recommend diving into the drama of this quirky, upper-class mom group.

We Were the Lucky Ones by Georgia Hunter

Find it here on Amazon

3/5 Stars

I really hate to give someone’s true family story such a low rating, but this one was really hard for me to hang with. The story of this Jewish family and all that they had to endure during WWII was certainly one that deserved to be told, but the writing style just never quite grabbed me.

I know I say this every time, but the WWII genre is one of rich literature, so if you want to tell the story, you better be ready to compete. This story just didn’t quite compete, in my opinion.

Such a Fun Age by Kiley Reid

Find it Here on Amazon

4.5/5 Stars

Reid handles the problematic “white savior complex” in a light and understandable way through this quick and engaging read.

This book follows the life of a girl simply trying to figure life out as she navigates from one awkward situation to another.

Reid pulls you into the point of view of multiple characters to show how even the best of intentions can cause a lot of hurt and destruction if not approached appropriately- particularly in topics as difficult as race and class structure.

Leaving Time by Jodi Picoult

Find it HERE on Amazon

4.5/5 stars

And my Jodi Picoult obsession continues. This book had so many unique story lines, and they all fascinated me. Even more fascinating is the way she linked this book, this story, to true facts about elephants.

As much as the central story intrigued me, I kept finding myself wanting her to go even deeper into the studies and facts about elephants.

All in all, this was a solid read, with interesting twists, conflicting ethics, admirable characters, and all of the other fantastic aspects that I am continuing to find in her books.

The Girl with the Louding Voice by Abi Dare

Find it Here on Amazon

4.5/5 Stars

“That day, I tell myself that even if I am not getting anything in this life, I will go to school. I will finish my primary and secondary and university schooling and become teacher because I don’t just want to be having any kind voice… I want a louding voice.”

My book reviews are not a place where I like to offer opinions on life, but one (of the many) valuable lessons that I learned in this book is not to take for granted the opportunity to receive an education.

This book was powerful. It was a coming of age story like no other. It was such an honor to grow with this character, to watch her finally find worth in herself, as she becomes educated, poured into, loved.

This book had so many important lessons- and it was such a interesting view into the many social and economic statuses of Nigeria.

I learned so much in these 384 pages.

American Dirt by Jeanine Cummins

Find it HERE on Amazon

4/5 stars

There was a lot of controversy over this book, and over whether or not this author was qualified to write it. I am in no place to share my thoughts on that- so note that this simply a commentary of how I found the writing.

To be honest, I was less than impressed at times, and incredibly encapsulated at others. This writing style shined in the scenes of action and conflict- including the opening scene- wow.

I finished that opening scene thinking that I definitely had a 5-star book coming my way. Unfortunately, I was let down a lot after that, and I found myself zoning out through most chapters.

I learned a lot with this book about a topic I did not know much about, but in my opinion, it was not quite all that it was cracked up to be. Between you and me- celebrity picks rarely are.

The Paris Hours by Alex George

Find it Here on Amazon

4/5 Stars

Man, do I romanticize the idea of Paris in the 1920’s. The art, culture, literature- I am just smitten with it.

If anyone else is the same way, then this is a quick little book to get lost in.

It all takes place in a single day, while touching on many unique lives. It was sweet, and artsy, and everything you could ever want out of a little novel based in France from pompous culture, to Hemingway’s drunk affairs.

Lily and the Octopus by Steven Rowley

Find it HERE on Amazon

4.5/5 stars

Here’s one for my fellow dog lovers- and like with all of the good dog loving books, keep your tissues close by.

This book deals with some complex issues in an interesting, engaging, and devastating way. It touches on love, and grief, and most importantly the companionship that we have in our four-legged friends.

I am always hesitant to read these books because at times the thought of losing my pups is too much to handle, but I always find that I leave these types of stories eternally thankful to live in a world where dogs can be our best friends.

Miracle Creek by Angie Kim

Miracle Creek: A Novel by [Angie Kim]
Find it HERE on Amazon

4.5/5 Stars

Buckle up, because this is the kind of book that you do not put down until you have your answers.

This book was fascinating because it was so much more than a “Whodunit.” It took you on this complex journey of ethics, illness, and parental pressures.

There are so many secrets to uncover, and so many links to bust open in every single chapter. It’s highly engaging for my mystery lovers, but also relaxed enough appeal to those that can’t quite handle the intensity of most murder mysteries.

The Perfect Couple by Elin Hilderbrand

Find it HERE on Amazon

4.5/5 Stars

The Nantucket wedding of the century is cancelled when the maid of honor washes up dead on the shore.

That is quite the whodunit set up, and I was hooked. This was a clean, wholesome, murder mystery. I didn’t close the book feeling tormented or dirty like many murder mysteries leave me feeling. I didn’t have to get into the minds of sociopaths or explore the deep dark secrets of the human psyche. While I do enjoy a good psychological thriller, this was a nice break from the norm, and proof that you can read a solid murder mystery without leaving part of your soul in the pages.

One of Elin’s best novels, in my opinion.

Writers & Lovers by Lily King

Find it Here on Amazon

3.5/5 stars

An aspiring writer working as an agent, living in an old shed, simply trying to make it. That is the premise of this story.

While King is truly a master at prose, and her writing is beautiful, it is not always engaging. There were times that this book just went on and on in a way that can work with short stories, but causes a novel to drag.

While the writing in this novel was lovely, it takes a lot of grit and patience to make it through. (keep in mind– I came to this novel after two incredibly engaging murder mysteries.)

The Story Teller by Jodi Picoult

Find it HERE on Amazon

5/5 Stars


Oh. My. Word. The dimensions of this book. I don’t even know what to tell you about, what story line to choose to talk about, because there was so much going on here.

You’ve heard me say over and over that the WWII genre is too hard for many authors to compete in, but let me tell you, Picoult delivers.

But beyond the WWII story is the present day story of an (ex) Jewish baker, a war-crimes FBI investigator, and an (ex) Nazi now 90-years-old after hiding out in the States under a new name.

Picoult is a master of exploring the gray area of ethics, and in this book she goes above and beyond to deliver.

The Paris Wife by Paula McLain

3/5 Stars

Find it Here on Amazon

I am typically a lover of all things Paris, 1920’s, and Hemingway, but I really struggled through the writing style of this one.

The research was clearly all there, however, at times this book really dragged on.

In her defense, this is an incredibly hard type of writing to take on. You are telling someone else’s true story. This makes dialogue and details incredibly difficult to execute.

With that said, I have seen this done well, and this book did not quite hit the mark for me.

The Flight Girls by Noelle Salazar

Find it HERE on Amazon

4.5/5 Stars

Another incredible WWII story with a unique twist. This book follows the lives of female pilots during WWII as they work in the states to train new pilots and carry cargo from base to base.

This book presented strong characters and a very unique and empowering perspective to this time period. It shows an often neglected chapter in history.

I personally found this book to be a refreshing change to typical WWII stories.

Everything I Know About Love by Dolly Alderton

Find it Here on Amazon

4.5/5 Stars

Hilarious and vulnerable. This is typically the making of a great book. In my opinion, this book delivered.

I laughed, I cried, I cringed- it evoked all of the emotions. In this memoir, Dolly shares a very full picture of her 20’s- both the beautiful and the ugly. She is not afraid to make herself unlikable in order to get the truth out.

You’ll get to grow with her, learn with her, grieve with her, and laugh with her. She invites you to all of her nights out and one-night-stands. But most of all, she invites you to learn the same lessons she had to learn the hard way.

How to Walk Away by Katherine Center

Find it HERE on Amazon

3.5/5 Stars

Can we start by admiring this cover? Katherine Center always has the best covers.

And just as her covers are always eye candy, her books could definitely be classified as brain candy, and this was no different.

If you are just looking for an easy, inspiring, and slightly cheesy read, this is your next book. While her dialogue can make me cringe at times, as can her “happily-ever-afters,” sometimes you just need to fly through a book that makes the world a little brighter for a few minutes.

The Golden Hour by Beatriz Williams

Find it Here on Amazon

3/5 Stars

Well, I hate to leave you all on a 3-note, but here we are. I expected so much out of this book, after hearing people rave about the author for months.

Maybe I caught her on an off day, but this book did not do it for me.

It was just so slow. The subject matter was so intriguing, and I couldn’t wait to dig right in, until I stuck the shovel in the ground and just kept digging for miles and still not uncovering anything I had to know more about.

Oh well, you win some you lose some.

The Ragged Edge of Night by Olivia Hawker

Find it HERE on Amazon

3/5 Stars

I’ve said it a million times, the WWII era is a hard literary field to break into. This book was okay, but in a field where it stands next to The Nightingale or All the Light We Cannot See, it simply cannot keep up.

I never felt connected to these characters, and I was rarely pulled into the action. In a solid WWII novel, I expect to be engaged throughout the entire story, but I felt like this book drew me in for maybe 5 pages out of every 70. It was an okay read, but there are just way too many other ones to choose from that share the same story with stronger characters.

If You Want to Make God Laugh by Bianca Marais

If You Want to Make God Laugh by [Bianca Marais]
Find it HERE on Amazon

5/5 Stars

Five Star Alert! This book checked all of the boxes. Flowing writing, enjoyable characters, adversity, lessons, and a clear and well researched introduction into a world that I really know nothing about.

This book was everything. It was so moving, and heartwarming, and heartbreaking, all in 432 addicting pages. The only times I could ever put this book down was when my heart couldn’t take any more for the time being. To me, that clearly distinguishes good literature from great literature. I cannot recommend this book enough.

Before She Knew Him by Peter Swanson

Before She Knew Him: A Novel by [Peter Swanson]
Find it HERE on Amazon

4.5/5 Stars

Ah. Just ah.

Remember that I am a wimp with thrillers, particularly psychological thrillers. This book messed me up. In this book, Swanson really reveals both an impressive skill for writing, and a terribly messed up mind, as all great thrillers writer’s possess.

My forewarning is, if you, like me, have an incredibly sensitive soul, this might not be the book for you. The book goes to some dark places, and if you are not an expert of shutting that off when you shut the book, this book might impact you more than you were looking for.

However, if you are fascinated with mental illness and the negative impact parents can have on their child’s entire life and mental health, and you can handle, or even enjoy, the scaries, then I have your next read right here.

My Grandmother Asked Me to Tell You She’s Sorry by Frederik Backman

Find it Here on Amazon

4/5 stars

I always really struggle to explain Backman’s work to people who have never read Backman. His books are so witty. His characters are so endearing. His thoughts are wild and creative. He’s just a masterful writer.

With that said, I don’t think I would recommend this as your first Backman book. While this book is all of those things, it was a little harder to stick with than Beartown or a Man Called Ove.

With that said, if you are like me, and you’ve already devoured everything else this man has written, this book is a sweet way to return to his familiar and beloved tone.

Fun fact- he introduces a minor character in this that go on to become main characters in another book, Britt Marie Was Here.

Calling Me Home by Julie Kibler

Find it HERE on Amazon

3/5 stars

We all love a story of forbidden love. The last hundred pages of this book crushed my heart into a million pieces, but admittedly, it took trudging through a lot to get there.

While this was a beautifully thought-out story, I couldn’t help but feel as though the wrong person was the one writing it.

At times the flow and dialogue both felt a tad amateur and unrealistic.

It was a beautiful story, with heart-wrenching twists and important lessons on love and humanity, but ultimately, the literary aspects missed the mark for me.

Maybe You Should Talk to Someone by Lori Gottlieb

Find it Here on Amazon

5/5 Stars

Five Star Alert! I don’t know when exactly the switch occurred where non-fiction books became equally as engaging and page-turning as fiction books, but I am here for it.

I don’t even know how to explain this book. Gottlieb offers an introspective view into her own life and therapy practice. Through the engaging tales of her patients and her own life she somehow connects all humanity through the ways we all hurt, grieve, breathe, build and break.

Through it all, she breaks the stigmas on therapy, and goes to prove that even the strongest of hearts need a space to weep.

Circe by Madeline Miller

Find it HERE on Amazon

4/5 Stars

Whether you were all in to the lessons on Greek mythology in High School, or you snoozed through the entire class, this book is worth a read.

The research that went into this to create the story of an otherwise forgotten figure in the Greek tales is admirable. The protagonist is a gripping and fiercely independent woman.

Admittedly, this book took me a while to get into. I have gotten so use to the traditional mountain of a novel- beginning, climax, end- that I have come to expect that in every story. This novel didn’t follow that flow, but instead, it read a lot like the traditional Greek Mythology, just slightly more modernized. It was a chronological tale of multiple stories, rather than a single flowing narrative. I think this book would have been much more enjoyable for me if I would have known to approach it in that way.

The Only Plane in the Sky: and Oral History of 9/11 by Garret M. Graff

The Only Plane in the Sky: An Oral History of 9/11 by [Garrett M. Graff]
Find it HERE on Amazon

5/5 Stars

FIVE STAR ALERT! Yeah, that’s right, we started the year out with a banger. We also started it with perhaps one of the hardest books I’ve read in my entire life.

This book is a collection of over 500 accounts of 9/11, the day before, and the days that followed. It went hour by hour providing context from all over that day from the Pentagon to New York to the president’s security team. It provides context to one of the most monumental and tragic days in history in a way that has never been done before.

I highly recommend that if you choose this book, you purchase the audio version as each interviewer personally recounts their part in the experience. My heart broke more with every second of this book, but in an important way.

The Glittering Hour by Iona Grey

Find it HERE on Amazon

3.5/5 Stars

I expected a lot out of this book, and while the writing was lovely, it dragged a little too much for me.

I kept pushing through as many shared that it gets better after page 200, but let’s be honest- 200 pages is A LOT to drag through. When I finally made it, it did pick up speed, but it also became incredibly depressing.

If you have thicker skin and a lot more patience than me, you might find immense adoration for this book. For me it was way more struggle than enjoyment.

Topics of Conversation by Miranda Popkey

Find it Here on Amazon

2.5/5 Stars

As I read this book I kept thinking, “wow, this reads a lot like a New Yorker Article.” I then read the author bio at the end and realized that she is a regular contributor to The New Yorker. I also came to remember why I stopped subscribing to The New Yorker. This style of writing is just not my thing.

It could be that I’m just a little too shallow minded for this kind of writing. It could also be that the author tried too hard to be intellectual, and as a result, she lost a lot of narrative thought and creative license.

The book had no true flow. Every chapter was just another off beat story from the narrator’s life, typically with some political or moral lesson to be learned.

This may be your cup of tea, I’m just more of a coffee kind of girl.

My Sister’s Keeper by Jodi Picoult

Find it HERE on Amazon

4.5/5 Stars

Why why why did it take me so long to pick up a book by this author? This book raised so many questions about family, ethics, and purpose, all while being presented in a narrative that I just devoured.

While this book absolutely stomped on my heart, it was impossible for me to put down. the characterization, conflict, and unexpected turns kept me driving forward and left me hungry for more at the end.

Get ready, because I’m planning to read a lot of her books this year!

Dear Edward by Ann Napolitano

Find it HERE on Amazon

4/5 Stars

The way this book handled the mind, and grief, and guilt, and tragedy… just wow. It follows the story of a single survivor of a plane crash, a twelve year old boy, as he grieves not only his own family, but the hundreds of strangers that went down in that plane with him.

Eventually he finds his own way of dealing with the grief, and rediscovers purpose in the life he was granted.

This book was beautifully tragic, and incredibly intuitive.