Monday, January 31, 2022

January Round-up

Originally posted on

Ah, the end of January... finally. I don't know about you but it feels like January lasted about three months at the very least. I did get some good reading in though!

My January in numbers:

  • I posted three times each week except for one week. (goal almost met!)
  • I read a total of 16 books. 
  • Five of those books were books I already owned! (goal met!)
  • Only three of the 16 books were fiction (very surprising as I feel like I usually read way more fiction. 
Best books I read this month: 
  • Seven Days in June by Tia Williams
  • People You Meet on Vacation by Emily Henry
February Goals:
  • Read at least seven of my own books
  • Read at least three leadership books (already owned or not).
What are your reading goals for February?


Friday, January 28, 2022

Bookish Thoughts: On Book Bans

 I recently read an article about book bans (Book Bans are Back in Style) and if you would have been listening closely at that point in time, you probably could have heard me audibly cringe.  As a book lover and believer that the best way to understand other people, places, and things is through a good book. Books are low-risk ways to understand the challenges that other people facing. The purpose of a book is not necessarily to sway someone to the author's way of thinking but rather to allow the reader to step outside themselves and to examine things through a different lens. While book bans have never gone away (ALA's list of frequently challenged books is fascinating albeit sad reading each year), it is so depressing to me that this is a fight we are still fighting. It is particularly sad to see that not only are we still fighting book bans but that the number of complaints and challenges are actually increasing. 

So many of the books that the article mentions are so fantastic and some of them I even count among my favorite books. I hate that there are so many people that might be missing out on these wonderful books. I am hopeful more people see the goodness of these books and the goodness of our children being able to use critical thinking skills to determine what they do/ do not like and what they should/ should not think. Personally, I have always been thankful that my parents never restricted what I read. I think they were just so happy I was reading that they never policed any of it (looking at you, V.C. Andrews).

In all seriousness, I am hopeful that the tides will turn again and book bans will fade away. I'm not sure how you solve this issue. Is it promoting tolerance? Curiosity? Education? 

How do you feel about book bans?

Wednesday, January 26, 2022

Review: The Road Trip by Beth O'Leary

 Title: The Road Trip

Author: Beth O'Leary

Format: Paperback

Publisher: Berkley

Publish Date: June 1, 2021

Source: Owned

What's the Story?:

From "What if the end of the road is just the beginning?

Four years ago, Dylan and Addie fell in love under the Provence sun. Wealthy Oxford student Dylan was staying at his friend Cherry's enormous French villa; wild child Addie was spending her summer as the on-site caretaker. Two years ago, their relationship officially ended. They haven't spoken since.

Today, Dylan's and Addie's lives collide again. It's the day before Cherry's wedding, and Addie and Dylan crash cars at the start of the journey there. The car Dylan was driving is wrecked, and the wedding is in rural Scotland--he'll never get there on time by public transport.

So, along with Dylan's best friend, Addie's sister, and a random guy on Facebook who needed a ride, they squeeze into a space-challenged Mini and set off across Britain. Cramped into the same space, Dylan and Addie are forced to confront the choices they made that tore them apart--and ask themselves whether that final decision was the right one after all."

My Two Cents:

In "The Road Trip," Addie is going to the wedding of one of her good friends. It should be a fun event and great celebration. Unfortunately, things don't often go to plan. Add one car crash, one over-protective sister, a odd hanger on, a sarcastic/ sometimes scathing guy, and Dylan (Addie's ex) and you have all the makings of a good chaotic romantic comedy with a lot of funny moments and a healthy dose of love. 

Initially, it seems that Addie and Dylan are ill-fitted to be together. She is somewhat of a free spirit, while he still seems too involved with trying to figure out his standing within his family and whether or not he really wants to embrace it or to carve his own path. I loved both of these characters. Addie just seems like a fun person to be around and Dylan initially comes off as somewhat of a jerk who cares about appearance perhaps a bit too much. One thing that I love about both this book and some of Beth O'Leary's other books (The Switch and The Flatshare) is that she does a great job of pulling back the layers of her characters so your first impression is not always what you get.

Dylan is a much more complicated character than you initially get to see. Eventually as the story unravels, you get to see what he is really like and all of the directions that he is being pulled in. I really liked seeing how he transforms throughout the book!

This was a great read! Beth O'Leary is becoming one of my go-tos when I'm looking for a good romance with great characters and a lot of heart!

Monday, January 24, 2022

Review: Booked: A Traveler's Guide to Literary Locations Around the World by Richard Kreitner

 Title: Booked: A Traveler's Guide to Literary Locations Around the World

Author: Richard Kreitner

Format: Hardcover

Publisher: Black Dog Leventhal

Publish Date: April 23, 2019

Source: Owned

What's the Story?:

From "A must-have for every fan of literature, Booked inspires readers to follow in their favorite characters footsteps by visiting the real-life locations portrayed in beloved novels including the Monroeville, Alabama courthouse in To Kill a Mockingbird, Chatsworth House, the inspiration for Pemberley in Pride and Prejudice, and the Kyoto Bridge from Memoirs of a Geisha. The full-color photographs throughout reveal the settings readers have imagined again and again in their favorite books.

Organized by regions all around the world, author Richard Kreitner explains the importance of each literary landmark including the connection to the author and novel, cultural significance, historical information, and little-known facts about the location. He also includes travel advice like addresses and must-see spots."

My Two Cents:

"Booked" is a fantastic book for those who love armchair traveling. Since the beginning of the pandemic, I really have not been able to travel widely the way that I used to in the "before times." This book was a great way to get to "see" some other places and add a few more bullets to the list of places I'd eventually like to go. 

Many of the places in the book I was already familiar with but there were also some that I was not as aware of. Some of my favorite parts of the book were the maps and associated paragraphs that laid out multiple literary sites in a single city. It was an interesting way to look at a familiar place with a new lens on it (London and New Orleans were especially cool to me - I'm so ready to go to both again!). 

The downside of the book is that while billed as an around-the-world book, it is very American and Euro-centric, which felt a bit limiting to me. It did raise an interesting conversation for me though: did the book only look at these places because it is what the author picked or is it a reflection of how far our literary world has to go for authors from all different places to have equal footing? It's interesting to think about.

All in all, this was a good book to whet my appetite for literary travel but left me looking for a bit more robust travel guide that truly fits the around-the-world descriptor. 

Friday, January 21, 2022

On the Radar


I feel like there are SO MANY books coming out soon that I'm looking forward to! I wish I would have gotten this up earlier in the month but here we are. 

Her Hidden Genius by Marie Benedict
Release Date: January 25

Violeta by Isabel Allende
Release Date: January 25

The Magnolia Palace by Fiona Davis
Release Date: January 25 (I was able to get an early copy through Book of the Month Club - yay!)

What book releases are you looking forward to coming out?

Wednesday, January 19, 2022

Review: Out of Office by Charlie Warzel and Anne Helen Petersen

 Title: Out of Office 

Authors: Charlie Warzel and Anne Helen Petersen

Format: Print

Publisher: Knopf Publishing Group

Publish Date: December 7, 2021

Source: Owned

What's the Story?:

From "Out of Office is a book for every office worker - from employees to managers - currently facing the decision about whether, and how, to return to the office. The past two years have shown us that there may be a new path forward, one that doesn't involve hellish daily commutes and the demands of jam-packed work schedules that no longer make sense. But how can we realize that future in a way that benefits workers and companies alike?

Based on groundbreaking reporting and interviews with workers and managers around the world, Out of Office illuminates the key values and questions that should be driving this conversation: trust, fairness, flexibility, inclusive workplaces, equity, and work-life balance. Above all, they argue that companies need to listen to their employees - and that this will promote, rather than impede, productivity and profitability. As a society, we have talked for decades about flexible work arrangements; this book makes clear that we are at an inflection point where this is actually possible for many employees and their companies. Out of Office is about so much more than zoom meetings and hybrid schedules: it aims to reshape our entire relationship to the office."

My Two Cents: 

I recently took on a new role at work, which has made me want to add more business and/or leadership books to my rotation. I feel like I had been waiting for this book to come out for a really long time. I have been a huge fan of Anne Helen Petersen's work for a long time and I have also been watching my work world grapple with the idea of working from home (WFH). It has opened so many opportunities but it has been really difficult to move away from the past and embrace WFH as the "new normal." This book examines this "new normal" from many different ways and is somewhat a call to action for workers and management to come together and embrace new possibilities.

As much as I was excited for this book, it did take a bit for me to get into it. A lot of the beginning of the book was scene-setting and sort of the equivalent of a "don't knock it til you try it" explanations. It almost assumed that the reader would walk into this book buckled against the idea that WFH could actually be beneficial for workers and employers.

Once the book hits its stride, it dives into a lot of different research and examples to back up the main theme of the book. The authors do a great job of showing the issue from a lot of different angles and all of the possibilities that are out there if only we reach out to grab them. Some of the most interesting parts of the book were the civil planning aspects (i.e. how towns and cities can benefit by attracting WFH people and how reshaping work can actually reshape both the physical and mental manifestations of community). 

This book ended up being a solid read that gave me a lot to think about that. It also is one that I want to hang on to in order to reference it later!

Monday, January 17, 2022

Bookish Thoughts: Warm and Cozy


As I'm writing this on Sunday night, it is dark and snowy outside! I'm not much of a winter lover but I do like the warm cozy feeling of being inside huddled under blankets with a hot drink and a delicious book. As much as I hate the winter, I'm trying to embrace having more inside time to read.

Here's what I've read over the past week:

I'm currently making my way through "I Alone Can Fix It" by Carol Leonnig and Philip Rucker.

Happy Martin Luther King Jr. day to my fellow U.S. readers! May his memory be a reminder to push for justice truly for all! I'm thinking about this quote:

"If you can't fly then run, if you can't run then walk, if you can't walk then crawl, but whatever you do you have to keep moving forward."

Monday, January 10, 2022

On the Pleasure of Audiobooks

I'm always looking for more ways to read and one of the things that I discovered in 2021 that I really like is audiobooks! Before last year, I didn't really listen to audiobooks. It wasn't that I had anything against them but I just didn't listen to them. Using the Libby app and my handy dandy library cards, I found my way chewing through a ton more books by listening. I usually listen to them while I'm exercising or while I'm doing chores. As much as I love folding laundry (no sarcasm here - laundry is by far my favorite chore), the pleasure is really amped when I'm listening to a good book. I've also found that I like listening to them while I'm doing some sort of craft, like watercolor painting, which I just took up last year as well.

What I don't like about audiobooks is:

  1. They take longer to listen to than it would be for me to read the book. I try to turn that into a positive and let it force me to slow down a little bit.
  2. Sometimes I don't like the narrators. I usually will give up the book at that time point but I always have that teeny, tiny voice in the back of my head that tells me I should still try to read the book rather than listen to it!

Here are some of the audiobooks that I've loved over the past year:

  • Early Morning Riser by Katherine Heiny
  • The Season by Kristen Richardson
  • Cultish by Amanda Montell
  • From the Corner of the Oval by Beck Dorey-Stein
  • Erotic Stories for Punjabi Widows by Balli Kaur Jaswal
  • Come Fly the World by Julia Cooke
My current listen is From Scratch by Tembi Locke. 

Do you like audiobooks? What are some of your favorite listens?

Friday, January 7, 2022

Review: Seven Days in June by Tia Williams

 Title: Seven Days in June 

Author: Tia Williams

Format: Print

Publisher: Grand Central Publishing

Publish Date: June 1, 2021

Source: Library

What's the Story?:

From "Brooklynite Eva Mercy is a single mom and bestselling erotica writer, who is feeling pressed from all sides. Shane Hall is a reclusive, enigmatic, award-winning literary author who, to everyone's surprise, shows up in New York.

When Shane and Eva meet unexpectedly at a literary event, sparks fly, raising not only their past buried traumas, but the eyebrows of New York's Black literati. What no one knows is that twenty years earlier, teenage Eva and Shane spent one crazy, torrid week madly in love. They may be pretending that everything is fine now, but they can't deny their chemistry-or the fact that they've been secretly writing to each other in their books ever since.

Over the next seven days in the middle of a steamy Brooklyn summer, Eva and Shane reconnect, but Eva's not sure how she can trust the man who broke her heart, and she needs to get him out of New York so that her life can return to normal. But before Shane disappears again, there are a few questions she needs answered. . ."

My Two Cents:

Oh, this book!!! I loved it! I loved the story of Eva as she grappled with trying to deal with a lot in her personal life while trying to maintain her hot book series. She is a devoted mother and a great author who seems to have forgotten how to live for herself. Shane shows up out of nowhere and reminds her of the passion that she used to have and the love that was theirs for seven days at least. This book explores how one woman is able to pack away fear and trepidation and finally start realizing how to live for herself and embrace the love that finds her!

I LOVED the character development in this book! Our main characters, Eva and Shane, are fantastically drawn. The author does a great job of making them feel like people you could know and run into. You're cheering for them the whole way! I love how we get to see both the hardships that they faced so early in life and how it has affected them as adults. Some of it was really hard to read but made the action of the book more understandable and the ending particularly sweet!

Not only are our main characters fantastic, the secondary characters are fantastic as well! They don't just fade into the background but really make the story. I particularly loved Eva's daughter and Ty (oh, Ty!!!). These characters really made this book stand out for me!

One of the highlights of this book for me was how the author was able to capture dialogue. It is vivid and made me able to see the action more clearly. I love how the author writes and how she was able to give each character a distinctive voice!

I really want to go back and read other books by Tia Williams now! What a book to start out the year with!

Wednesday, January 5, 2022

2021 Favorites!


I read 137 books last year, which is still down from the all time highs I was hitting a few years ago but not as bad as 2020!

I read a lot of great books but here are some of my favorites (in no particular order):

  • Trick Mirror by Jia Tolentino
  • The Henna Artist by Alka Joshi
  • The Yellow Bird Sings by Jennifer Rosner
  • Caste by Isabel Wilkerson
  • The Women of Chateau Lafayette by Stephanie Dray
  • One Last Stop by Casey McQuiston
  • Burnout by Emily Nagoski and Amelia Nagoski
  • My Inner Sky by Mari Andrew
  • The Infinite Game by Simon Sinek
  • Atomic Habits by James Clear
  • Crying in H Mart by Michelle Zauner
  • Project Hail Mary by Andy Weir
What books did you love in 2021?

Monday, January 3, 2022

Hello again!


Hello and happy 2022! When I last posted in May 2021, I thought it was temporary (like very temporary) but it obviously ended up being much longer than I thought it would be. The pandemic blues hit me badly and I was dealing with a lot outside of the blog and I was completely overwhelmed in so many aspects of my life. 

I am trying to be more intentional in what I take on rather than just doing things because I've done them for a long time. I did a lot of soul searching when it came to this blog which had given me so much joy but also took a lot of time to the point where it started to feel a bit burdensome. After some thinking, I have realized that I really missed talking books with lovely like-minded people. I missed documenting my reading journey so I'm back! I hope I remember how to do this :D

Reading related goals for this month:

  • Revive this blog (post 3x a week)
  • Read at least five of my own books (you all, I love the library way too much!!!)

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