Tuesday, January 31, 2017

14 Gorgeous Book Covers On My To-Read List

This week's Top Ten Tuesday is a freebie-ish visual theme, and I decided to take it in one of my favorite directions: book covers! As I was debating over what kind of list to make, I started thinking about all the beautiful books I've added to my to-read list lately. (I finally got caught up on looking at some pre-pub emails and my TBR sorta exploded. And yes, I totally judge books by their covers.)

These are all books I've added to my to-read list in the last six months or so; some have been out for a years and some don't come out for a few more months, but they all have covers that are right up my alley -- just looking at all these beauties makes me feel happy! As you can see, I have an affinity for covers with bright colors and illustrations as opposed to realistic graphics or photos.

Do you share my taste in cover art?

Monday, January 30, 2017

Monday Musings

Lily says she's not sure how she feels about this "puppy" thing that's about to join our family!

My week: It was a pretty quiet week here. I've been low on energy so I did a lot of sitting around doing nothing at all productive when I wasn't at work or running errands. (P.S. Can you believe January is almost over? Where the heck did it go?!)

Reading: I finished up "The Mothers" (meh... I wanted to love it like everyone else did, but I found it to range from just-ok to downright irritating), then I read an advance-read copy of "The Young Widower's Handbook" (out February 7). It's about a 29-year-old guy whose wife dies unexpectedly; totally adrift, he takes her ashes on an epic road trip across America. It started out strong, but the second half fell a bit flat for me.

Now I'm reading another ARC (soooo many ARCs -- why did I do this to myself?!), "The Lonely Hearts Hotel" by Heather O'Neill. It's been compared to "The Night Circus" and I've enjoyed the little bit I've read so far. The story definitely has an eerie, magical quality to it. Right now our two protagonists are quirky children in the same early-20th-century orphanage (not a very nice place).

Knitting: I finally started the Newt Scamander Hufflepuff scarf my friend asked for back in November. Hooray!

Watching: I watched the first two episodes of "Victoria" on Masterpiece and I'm in love!

Listening to: "Weak" by AJR.

Monday Musings
12 Good Reads Under 300 Pages
Yarn Along: Newt Scamander Scarf and Library Haul
Upcoming Book Release: All Our Wrong Todays by Elan Mastai
Kauai: October 2016
Turning the Page on January 2017

Looking forward to: Our trip to the Big Island! I can't wait to see lava up close and personal!

Sunday, January 29, 2017

Turning the Page on January 2017

jan collage

*The most exciting part of January was picking out a boxer puppy! She'll be coming home with us next week and we're so excited! Isn't she just darling?

*With getting adjusted to my new job, I hardly went to the beach at all in December, but I think I rectified that pretty well in January.

*I made a fun Valentine's-themed staff picks display at work. And since one of my co-workers just left I get to take over the giant wall display in the kids' section. I'm enjoying getting to be crafty at work!

*It wasn't the healthiest month for my family. On New Year's Day, Jarrod stepped on a chunk of glass at the beach while he was heading out to surf and sliced his foot open. It was deep, it was gory, and anyone else but my husband would've gone to the E.R. to get stitches. My mom broke her foot and is in a walking boot. I spent two weeks hacking and snotting because of the excess vog (volcanic haze) that blew up to Oahu from the Big Island. And my grandma was just discovered to have an aortic aneurysm and has to have immediate surgery. Hopefully this just means we got all the health problems out of the way at the beginning of the year and the rest of 2017 will be smooth sailing.

*At the beginning of the month we binge-watched season 5 of "Homeland" in advance of the new season. Since then we've been catching up on episodes of "Elementary" on the DVR and I started watching "Victoria" on Masterpiece. We also finally got to see "The Secret Life of Pets" (adorable!). And I watched "Bridget Jones's Baby," which was ok... I just can't understand why they decided to deviate completely from the third book ("Mad About the Boy"), which I really liked!

*Songs on repeat: "Waiting For A Girl Like You" by Foreigner (from "Stranger Things" -- it put me on an '80s music kick), "Paris" by the Chainsmokers, "Give Me Love" and "Shape of You" by Ed Sheeran.

jan books collage

Books read: 8

Currently reading: "The Lonely Hearts Hotel" by Heather O'Neill and "Lab Girl" by Hope Jahren

Favorite book: "The Fire by Night" by Teresa Messineo, a dual narrative WWII story. I also really enjoyed "All Our Wrong Todays." And I know the memoir "Hillbilly Elegy" will stick with me for a long, long time. And of course there's "Saga"!

Biggest let-down: "The Mothers." Pretty much everyone else loved it and I was expecting it be a a favorite of mine too, but it just didn't do it for me.

February release I'm most excited about: "Swimming Lessons" by Claire Fuller. I really enjoyed her first book, "Our Endless Numbered Days."

Book I'm most looking forward to reading in February: "The Chemist" by Stephenie Meyer; I've got it checked out from the library, but I have to get through a few advance-read books before I can pick it up.

Books won: "Lillian Boxfish Takes a Walk" by and "The Mother's Promise" by Sally Hepworth, both from Goodreads giveaways. (Yay!)

Books added to my to-read list: 16

Most intriguing TBR addition: "Exit West" by Mohsin Hamid. From Goodreads: "In a country teetering on the brink of civil war, two young people meet—sensual, fiercely independent Nadia and gentle, restrained Saeed. They embark on a furtive love affair and are soon cloistered in a premature intimacy by the unrest roiling their city. When it explodes, turning familiar streets into a patchwork of checkpoints and bomb blasts, they begin to hear whispers about doors—doors that can whisk people far away, if perilously and for a price. As the violence escalates, Nadia and Saeed decide that they no longer have a choice. Leaving their homeland and their old lives behind, they find a door and step through."

Favorite bookstagram: Definitely not the most interesting book-themed picture I took this month, but I really like it. Maybe it's the muted colors, the hint of Hufflepuff scarf, and the dog and the acorn. ;) 


knit baby hat

owl puff

I didn't do a ton of knitting in January; I whipped up a baby hat for our new niece who's due to greet the world any day now (that yarn is from a little shop on Kauai and it makes me think of sunsets and plumeria flowers). I also made a little owl puff as a thank-you for my wonderful Broke and Bookish Secret Santa. Now I'm working on a Newt Scamander Hufflepuff scarf from "Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them" for a friend. It's slow going, though -- I way overdid it with early-winter advance-read books so most of my free time has been devoted to reading.

Favorite post: Kauai: October 2016. I enjoyed looking back through the photos of the gorgeous trip we took there when my mom was out for a visit in October. It's Jarrod's and my favorite Hawaiian island and I feel so rejuvenated every time we go. The vibe there is a lot more mellow than Oahu, and the natural beauty of the island is breathtaking.

Favorite link-up post: So Many Books, So Little Time: 2016 Releases I Didn't Get To (But Will Soon -- Right?!). It's always fun looking back at the year's releases and remembering which ones I really wanted to read! (And -- success! -- I read two books from the list in January!)

The Fire by Night by Teresa Messineo (4.5 stars)
All Our Wrong Todays by Elan Mastai (4 stars)

Friday, January 27, 2017

Kauai: October 2016

A glimpse of the absolutely stunning Na Pali Coast -- probably the most beautiful place I've ever been. (And that's my mom!)

Better late than never, right?! One of my goals for 2016 was to get better about posting travel photos on the blog, and while I was semi-successful (I did post photos from most of our 2015 trips), I never got around to 2016 (specifically, the Wizarding World of Harry Potter and Kauai). We're about to get a puppy so we definitely won't be doing as much travel in 2017, and hopefully that means I can finally get on top of travel posts! In that spirit, here's a look at our trip to Kauai, Jarrod's and my favorite Hawaiian island, when my mom was out for a visit in October.

kauai collage 2

Some notable sites (and places to add to your to-do list if you ever visit the Garden Isle):
-Rainbow Falls
-Waimea Canyon (and Waipo'o Falls)
-Kalalau Lookout (at the very end of the Waimea Canyon road -- that's all the green mountain-y photos, including the one of our hair blowing around like crazy!)
-Kilauea Lighthouse
-Opaeka'a Falls
-Hanalei overlook
-Spouting Horn blowhole
-the "tree tunnel" on the road to Poipu

That island in the distance is Ni'ihau, the second-northernmost inhabited Hawaiian island. It's a private island that's been owned by the same family for generations and it's famous for the tiny seashells that can be found there (called, appropriately, Ni'ihau shells).

Thursday, January 26, 2017

Upcoming Book Release: All Our Wrong Todays by Elan Mastai

"All Our Wrong Todays" by Elan Mastai
Release date: February 7, 2017
384 pages
My rating: 4 out of 5

The Short Of It:
A funny, imaginative mind-bender about time travel, finding purpose, and the world we're meant to be in.

The Long Of It:
Tom Barren lives in a 2016 that's a technological utopia, made possible by the 1965 invention of a clean, infinite energy source. His world has flying cars, food synthesizers, robots and Sunday jaunts to the moon, not to mention extremely low crime and poverty rates and what basically amounts to world peace -- and yet Tom is not happy.

His father is an genius inventor who's perpetually disappointed in his son, and his mother just died in a freak accident. He's depressed, his life lacks purpose and direction, he has no girlfriend and few friends. He's basically a loser.

And that's before a royal screw-up with a time travel machine lands him in our version of 2016. The thing is, in our world (which seems like a hideous wasteland to Tom), he's an extremely successful architect with a loving father, a mother who's still alive -- and a sister! As Tom navigates this alternate world, gets to know his new self and tries desperately to figure out how to set things right and return where he belongs, he begins to wonder if maybe -- despite its scratchy cotton clothing, books made of paper, ugly buildings, polluted air and distinct lack of self-driving hover cars -- he'd rather stay in our world.

That's where the book takes a surprising turn into intense, enthralling, mind-bending territory. If you liked Blake Crouch's sci-fi thriller "Dark Matter" (one of my favorite reads of 2016), you'll enjoy "All Our Wrong Todays."

I really wasn't sure what to expect when I picked up this book -- all I knew was that it involved time travel from a place where 1950s fantasies about the future actually happened -- but I was so pleasantly surprised by this addicting story that I read the entire thing in two days. I loved the imaginative, whimsical look at what our world could be if the we'd had completely clean, neverending energy for the past 50 years, and I enjoyed the conversational writing style (the book is posed as Sam's memoir of the time travel misadventure that changed his life).

Despite the time travel element, the inventions and the theories, I'd classify this book more as regular fiction than science fiction (though, of course, there's some of that too). It's got a lot of action going on, but I'd say above all it's a character study of Sam as he searches for purpose and peace in his life and deals with the unintended effects of his choices. And that makes it a good choice for all readers, even if sci-fi isn't in your reading wheelhouse. "All Our Wrong Todays" was fun, riveting and thought-provoking -- plus impossible to put down -- and I happily give it my recommendation!

*I received a free advance copy from the publisher via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Yarn Along: Newt Scamander Scarf and Library Haul

Yarn Along is a weekly link-up hosted by Ginny at the Small Things blog about two of the best things in life: books and knitting.


I finally started the Newt Scamander Hufflepuff scarf my friend requested, and I love how it's coming along! I was originally planning to knit it straight, but after scrutinizing a photo of Newt from the movie it looks like his scarf is a tube, so I'm knitting it in the round with magic loop. An added benefit to knitting it in the round is I don't have to weave in all the ends from the color changes! (In case you're curious, the yarn is Lion Brand Heartland in Great Smoky Mountains and Bryce Canyon. I'm not a big fan of acrylic for wearable projects, but it was by far the best color match to the scarf in the movie.)

I'm about to start reading an advance copy of "The Young Widower's Handbook" by Tom McAllister but for now I thought I'd share a picture of my library haul. I have to read "Looking for Alaska" for the adult book club I facilitate at the library where I work and I'm a bit ambivalent about that one (YA isn't really my thing) but I'm really looking forward to the other three! I'll also be reading "Puppies for Dummies" since we'll be bringing home the furry new addition to our family in about 10 days. (She's an absolutely adorable boxer puppy; you can see her in my Monday Musings post.)

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

12 Good Reads Under 300 Pages

This week's Top Ten Tuesday list is a freebie! I'm a bit short on time, so I decided to whip up a list of short books! These are all books I'd recommend, and they're all fairly quick reads. What are your favorite books under 300 pages?

short books collage3

1. Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury, 190 pages: The ultimate book for people who like books! If your New Year's resolution was to read more classics, start with this one. (review)

2. When Breath Becomes Air by Paul Kalanithi, 230 pages: A powerful memoir written by a neurosurgeon diagnosed with terminal cancer at age 36. One of my favorites in 2016! (review)

3. Until Tuesday: A Wounded Warrior and the Golden Retriever Who Saved Him by Luis Carlos Montalvan, 252 pages: A fantastic memoir for dog-lovers, people with a military connection, and/or readers in need of a little inspiration. (review)

4. Sharp Objects by Gillian Flynn, 252 pages: All sorts of fucked up. This is what a thriller should be! (review)

5. Euphoria by Lily King, 256 pages: Love triangle between three anthropologists in 1930s New Guinea... of course, disaster ensues! (review)

6. The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry by Gabrielle Zevin, 260 pages: Another must for bookworms! A fun read that'll leave you smiling and one of my all-time faves. (review)

7. The Dud Avocado by Elaine Dundy, 260 pages: Riotous coming-of-age story set in 1950s Paris. You've probably never heard of this one, but it's definitely worth a read! I'm so glad a friend recommended it to me. (review)

8. Half Broke Horses by Jeanette Walls, 272 pages: This is a semi-fictionalized account of the life of the author's grandmother -- who was an absolutely fascinating, badass woman! (review)

9. Hillbilly Elegy: A Memoir of a Family and Culture in Crisis: A gripping memoir of survival and success against the odds intertwined with an inside look at a (struggling) culture most of us only know from stereotypes on TV. (review)

10. The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Anne Shaffer and Annie Barrows, 274 pages: A wonderful, bookish epistolary novel about a forgotten part of WWII: the German occupation of the island of Guernsey.

11. Orphan Train by Christina Baker Kline, 278 pages: A dual narrative set in both the past and the present that tells the disturbing story of America's orphan trains in the early 20th century. (review)

12. The World's Strongest Librarian by Josh Hanagarne, 291 pages: Tourette's + reference librarian + strongman = great memoir! (review)

Monday, January 23, 2017

Monday Musings


puppy collage

My week: It was a pretty good week for me! Because of the holiday I had five days off work in a row, and we went to the beach twice. Aaaaand... we got a puppy!

If you read my Monday Musings post last week, you'll know we were pretty devastated about a boxer mix we'd had our eye on at the humane society who got adopted the moment he was available, before we even had the chance to get there. Boxers are kinda rare here in Hawaii (small dogs are much more popular), so it was rather serendipitous when, a couple days later, a litter of boxer puppies went up for sale! We chose a puppy nicknamed Alohi (Hawaiian for "brilliant") and we'll be picking her up the first week in February! She is pretty much the cutest little thing ever, and I think our beloved Conan would approve. Now comes the fun part of preparing for her arrival and picking out a name!

Reading: I finished the fascinating memoir "Hillbilly Elegy" by J.D. Vance (review), then blew through the upcoming sci-fi-ish release "All Our Wrong Todays," about a technologically utopian version of 2016, a time travel mishap and a protagonist who finds his way into our version of 2016. I didn't know what on earth to expect going in, but I thoroughly enjoyed it (and I recommend it for anyone who liked "Dark Matter"). Now I'm reading the ubiquitous "The Mothers" by Brit Bennett, and I'm sad to say that so far I'm not enjoying it quite as much as everyone else seemed to.

Knitting: One of these days I'm finally going to start that damn Hufflepuff scarf!

Watching: This week we finally got around to watching some movies, "The Legend of Tarzan" and "The Magnificent Seven." I thought they were both ok. "Seven" got pretty violent there toward the end, and I zoned out a bit during "Tarzan." But I do have to say, I miss Eric from "True Blood" and Alexander Skarsgard is looking even sexier these days! Those shirtless scenes sure kept my attention. ;) We also watched "The Secret Life of Pets," which was hilarious and adorable.

Listening to: "Shape of You" by Ed Sheeran.

Monday Musings
12 Underrated/Overrated Books I've Read Recently
Yarn Along: Newt's Hufflepuff Scarf and "All Our Wrong Todays"
I Judge Books By Their Covers: The Comet Seekers
Memoir Review: Hillbilly Elegy by J.D. Vance

Looking forward to: We had been planning to go to the Big Island over President's Day weekend, but we won't be going anywhere for a little while with our new addition. So we're going to squeeze in a quick trip before we pick her up! Right now there's lava flowing into the ocean and we're going to take a boat tour to see it. That didn't happen the entire time we lived here before and we don't want to miss it! It seems to be a whole different experience from viewing flowing lava on land. So in the next couple weeks, you can expect lots of talk about puppies and lava!

*I'm linking up with Kathryn of Book Date for It's Monday! What Are You Reading?

Sunday, January 22, 2017

Memoir Review: Hillbilly Elegy by J.D. Vance

"Hillbilly Elegy" by J.D. Vance
First published in 2016
264 pages
My rating: 4 out of 5

The Short Of It:

A brutally honest memoir about one man's journey from impoverished hillbilly Kentucky to Yale Law School -- and the lessons he learned in between about his Appalachian roots.

The Long Of It:
"Hillbilly Elegy" is a raw look at a culture many of us think of only in stereotypes, as well as a fascinating memoir of survival and success against the odds.

J.D. Vance's childhood was spent in rural Kentucky and a small town in Ohio made up mostly of former Kentuckians whose parents and grandparents headed there to work in the steel mill. J.D.'s mom had a slew of men in her life and a longtime struggle with addiction, so he was raised mostly by his tough-as-nails grandmother (who once set her passed-out husband on fire for coming home drunk one time too many). The outlook for a hillbilly child is pretty damn grim, but the right stars aligned and J.D. avoided the typical hillbilly fate of blue collar work (or living off government assistance with no plan to get a job) and was able to go to college at Ohio State and pursue his graduate degree at Yale Law School. He was the first person from his town to attend an Ivy League university.

Through the lens of a very different life, J.D. is able to look back at his upbringing and his culture with an honest, thoughtful and, ultimately, concerned eye. In many ways hillbillies seems stuck in the past (think blood feuds, family honor above all, extreme chauvinism), and when you add in substandard schools, poverty, spousal abuse, broken families, and drug and alcohol problems, it's no surprise they're feeling hopeless and angry about their circumstances. Vance is refreshingly straightforward about all of this -- as well as the fact that the people of Appalachia don't seem to know how or even want to change, and at the same time they seem to look everywhere but inward for someone to blame.

J.D.'s story is funny, inspiring, shocking, frustrating, sad and, above all, honest. It wasn't a perfect book, but I enjoyed the conversational writing style and the open look at J.D.'s journey, and I appreciated that J.D. offers, if not solutions, then at least a place to start helping hillbillies help themselves. The unvarnished look he gives readers of his crazy childhood and his struggling culture was absolutely fascinating and I learned so much. I wish the book had come out a year earlier when we were still living in Ohio. Middletown, where J.D. grew up, is not far at all from Dayton, where we were stationed, and I dealt with poor white folks on a daily basis at the library. I worked in a town called Fairborn, and we'd sometimes jokingly call it "Fairtucky." Turns out that was a way more accurate description than I realized, and J.D.'s story surely would've given me an extra dose of empathy.

I urge you to read "Hillbilly Elegy" -- at the very least, you'll get a riveting inside look at a culture likely quite different from your own and a courageous protagonist to cheer for.

P.S. Reading a good memoir is like sitting next to a person telling you his or her life story, and every time I read one I feel an insatiable urge to know what the people and places in the story look like (and in this case I just had to know if J.D. speaks with a Southern twang -- the answer is, surprisingly, no!). If you have the same curiosity as me, J.D. has posted a few family photos on his website here. (And trust me, you'll want to see the infamous Mamaw!)

Thursday, January 19, 2017

I Judge Books By Their Covers: The Comet Seekers

Last week I wrote about several 2016 book releases I missed out on, and "The Comet Seekers," a novel set in Antarctica and described as a cross between "The Time Traveler's Wife" and "One Day," was on the list. It was one of my most-anticipated books last year and I really hope to get to it soon. I have a special affinity for books set in cold places like Alaska and Antarctica! I noticed that it's got two pretty different covers, so I thought it was a great opportunity for a cover battle!

U.S. // U.K.

These covers have an awful lot in common -- a wintry setting, a tent, two human figures, a serif font and, of course, a comet. But this contest is hands-down for me -- I always gravitate toward artsy covers over more realistic, photograph-style ones and I love the U.K. cover. The illustration is just gorgeous, and I enjoy the subtle pops of color mixed with silhouettes. It sounds like the story has a bit of a whimsical tinge to it and the U.K. cover certainly conveys that feeling, along with a sort of joyful coziness, fostered in part by the warmly-lit tent and the glittering stars. I have no idea if that's an accurate depiction of the story's tone, but I sure do like it. There's nothing wrong with the U.S. cover, but I find the U.K. version to be marvelous!

Do tell: which cover do you prefer?

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Yarn Along: Newt's Hufflepuff Scarf and "All Our Wrong Todays"

Yarn Along is a weekly link-up hosted by Ginny at the Small Things blog about two of the best things in life: books and knitting.


I'm finally about to cast on for a Newt Scamander Hufflepuff scarf, a request from a friend. I couldn't find any yarn in the right gray marled colorway here in Hawaii and it's really hard to tell something like that online (trust me, I spent hours looking), so my wonderful mom went on a shopping trip to Joann for me and mailed the yarn out. I think the colors she picked out are perfect! (She also gave me the adorable little niffler Funko for Christmas.)

I just started an advance-read copy of "All Our Wrong Todays" by Elan Mastai (out February 7). I'm about halfway in and I'm totally enjoying it! Here's a snippet from the book blurb:
"You know the future that people in the 1950s imagined we'd have? Well, it happened. In Tom Barren's 2016, humanity thrives in a techno-utopian paradise of flying cars, moving sidewalks, and moon bases, where avocados never go bad and punk rock never existed . . . because it wasn't necessary. Except Tom just can't seem to find his place in this dazzling, idealistic world, and that's before his life gets turned upside down. Utterly blindsided by an accident of fate, Tom makes a rash decision that drastically changes not only his own life but the very fabric of the universe itself. In a time-travel mishap, Tom finds himself stranded in our 2016, what we think of as the real world. For Tom, our normal reality seems like a dystopian wasteland."

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

12 Underrated/Overrated Books I've Read Recently

This week's Top Ten Tuesday topic is about underrated books/hidden gems we've read lately. We did a similar topic a few months ago so I'm switching it up a bit. Below are 6 great books that I think deserve to be more widely read, and six books that everyone else seemed to like but I didn't get the hype. I've read all these in the past year and half or so (most in 2016).

I highly recommend the underrated books (the first four were 5-star reads for me!) and if you were a big fan of any of the books on my overrated list, I'd love to know what you saw in them. (Granted, we all have different reading tastes, and I think it is totally ok for some books to just not "be" for us.)

underrated books

1. To the Bright Edge of the World by Eowyn Ivey // From my review: I loved everything about this historical fiction novel, from the setting -- Alaska and Washington -- to the unique format to the engrossing story to the illustrations.

2. The Wolf Road by Beth Lewis // From my review: "The Wolf Road" is a post-apocalyptic tale, an adventure story, a horrifying thriller and, above all, a fascinating character study of 17-year-old Elka, who just found out the man who raised her may very well be a serial killer.

3. The Atomic Weight of Love by Elizabeth J. Church // From my review: Meridian and the issues of marriage, identity, sacrifice, regret, love and friendship are center stage, but they're perfectly supported by the unique WWII story playing in the background. On top of that, Church's prose is beautiful. I couldn't put this book down and I urge you to get wrapped up in Meridian's heartbreaking -- but ultimately hopeful -- saga too!

4. Letters to the Lost by Iona Grey // No review for this one, but I absolutely recommend this dual narrative told in WWII and present day. It was amazing and anyone who enjoys historical fiction should read it!

5. Poor Your Soul by Mira Ptacin // From my review: I appreciated Mira's candid, sincere, real account of this terrible thing that happened to her, her grief and, ultimately, how she overcame it. An added bonus is that her writing is gorgeous -- almost poetic at times -- and full of lovely similes and metaphors. Plus the book is as readable as a novel. I highly recommend this insightful, enthralling memoir.

6. Boo by Neil Smith // From my review: "Boo" is one of the most unique books I've read this year. Somehow Smith managed to write a book about a dead eighth-grader -- not the most cheerful subject matter -- that is sweet, funny and thought-provoking. I fully recommend this quick read.

overrated books

1. The Couple Next Door by Shari Lapena // From my review: Oh, the writing. It was fine grammatically, but it was so very dull and uninspired. Half the time I felt like I was reading a "Dick and Jane" book, with short, straightforward sentences -- no metaphors or interesting word use and little varied sentence structure. There was no "writing as an art form" to be found here. (Needless to say, I had a few other problems with this one besides the writing.)

2. Redemption Road by John Hart // From my review: This gritty North Carolina crime thriller didn't live up to the hype. The plot was over-the-top and the writing was not nearly as good as I expected from reviews. This one was just ok for me.

3. The Little Paris Bookshop by Nina George // From my (rather long and rant-y) review: That book-centric plot certainly sounds intriguing and I fully expected this book to be one of my favorite reads of the year, but I just could not get into the story. I had to force myself over and over to pick it up and read. The last 50 pages were the best of the book -- not only because it was ending, but because our characters finally stopped being moronic idiots!

4. Be Frank With Me by Julia Claiborne Johnson // From my review: "Be Frank With Me" is a perfect example of a promising premise suffering from poor execution. I was all set to love what I thought would be a charming, funny and poignant story only to encounter a plot that went nowhere and zero character development. At least it was well-written!

5. What She Knew by Gilly Macmillan // From my (self-described as a bitch-fest) review: The most glaring problem with the book is that it's billed as a psychological thriller -- and the cover even proclaims that it's as gripping as "The Girl on The Train." But it's really just a straight-up mystery -- and a slow-moving one at that. It didn't have the requisite twists, turns, unreliable narrators and jaw-dropping reveals of a proper psychological thriller. I kept waiting and waiting for the big game-changer and it never came. It was nothing like "The Girl on the Train."

6. The Readers of Broken Wheel Recommend by Katrina Bivald // From my review: While "Broken Wheel" was a cute, fun, fluffy bookish story, there were several things I struggled with. I initially had a hard time keeping all the characters straight, and I never really cared about their stories or the sometimes-annoying small-town dynamic. Bivald was going for quirk, but sometimes Sara's new friends were just plain irritating. I also never really warmed up to Sara. I appreciated her deep love of books, but I was frustrated with her utter lack of self-confidence and her weak nature.
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