Books of the Month: April 2021

I had a slower reading month; I actually started two additional books this month but did not finish so I wasn’t able to get through as many as I have stacked next to my bed. I include blurbs about each at the end of this post, just for reference of why I stopped reading each. Both left me wanting more and I couldn’t ignore the heap of books that I knew would be more intriguing. So in an effort of self care I moved on and honestly don’t regret it. That being said, here are the books I did finish this month:

The Poppy War was a surprise for me; a coworker recommended it and to be honest, it’s not one I would have personally chosen to read, but I’m happy I did. In book one of a trilogy, Rin, a war orphan peasant, has landed herself in one of the most prestigious military academies in her land. While there, she learns the art of war, but also the art of shamanism. When war does break out, Rin must fight for her people and decide whether or not to work with her gods, even if it means total destruction. I really enjoyed this book and its strong female lead. The first chunk of the story was a lot of world building and slower to get through, but once war broke out, the story really took off. I can’t wait to read the next book in the trilogy!

Honey Girl was another surprise, I was expecting a romance and got a coming of age story that was really nice. Grace Porter has been following her plan for 11 years, strenuously working to get her doctorate in astronomy. Once she has her degree, she struggles with getting a job because of who she is, so she decides to run away… to find the girl she married in Vegas on a drunken night weeks before. It’s sweet and really hit a chord, I also remember being done with school and feeling this large emptiness and not knowing how to define myself. I wish I had turned to therapy during that time. Very cute and quick read!

The Lost Apothecary was good but I feel a smidge let down by the book? I initially heard about it from someone who hyped it up A LOT so I went into it with really high hopes; not to say it wasn’t a good story, but I just want to set that stage before I continue. The story was about a woman who uses her late mother’s apothecary to help other women kill men, for lack of a better description? I loved the story of women supporting women and the present day story woven in that had a modern scorned woman on a hunt to uncover the lost apothecary. It was a fun read and I didn’t see some of the twists coming?

The Four Winds was phenomenal. I’ve always loved Kristin Hannah’s stories; she has a wonderful way of weaving a beautiful story with rich characters together to make a great book. The Four Winds is about a Texas family during the Great Depression/Dust Bowl, who decide to migrate to California to save themselves. When they get there, they only find discrimination and unfair jobs. It made me sad to think that America has always been routed in capitalism and the fear of outsiders? I feel like you could change the characters to Asian or Mexican and set it in the present day and the major themes would still be present, which was something I kept thinking about as I progressed through the family’s time in California. A must read!

Beach Read was talented brilliant incredible amazing show stopping, please read this book ASAP. January, a heart broken and uninspired author, moves to her late father’s beach house for the summer while she writes her next novel. She starts a friendly bet with the author next door that eventually spirals into something more. It’s a classic rom com that mocks rom coms and happily ever afters throughout the story, but I really felt these characters had actual depth to them. It made me want to write a book? Also, the books they each wrote over the summer, where can I read them? They sound really good? Finally, if you need any other excuse to read this book, it’s full of Taylor Swift references, particularly the ‘You Belong with Me’ writing messages on notebooks for hot neighbor across the way, so.

The end KILLED MEH.

The Poppy War (The Poppy War #1) by R.F. Kuang

Honey Girl by Morgan Rogers

The Lost Apothecary by Sarah Penner

The Four Winds by Kristin Hannah

Beach Read by Emily Henry

If I had to recommend one book, and this is really hard, I would say The Four Winds but if you can’t handle a heavy book right now, or you’re a Swiftie like me, pick up Beach Read!

What did you read this month?

Sincerely,

Sara Ann

Books I Wanted to Like and Started to Read but Didn’t Finish: April 2021

East of Eden by John Steinbeck. I’ve been wanting to reread books we were forced to “read” in high school (aka sparknote) and I realized I wasn’t actually forced to read East of Eden but it sounded really good. It’s rated highly on good reads and I thought, ‘let’s do it!’ …but I found that Steinbeck’s writing still puts me to sleep after all these years. I couldn’t do it, and instead of forcing myself, I said ‘Goodbye John’ and moved on. Maybe another time.

Good Omens by Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett. I know somewhere, someone just flipped their computer off a table. I KNOW. I’ve had multiple people tell me Good Omens was an awesome book. I have seen the show and loved it (shoutout to Michael Sheen and David Tennant, also Jon Hamm) so I expected to love the book. I got about halfway through and just… couldn’t? I don’t know if it was the lack of chapter division? Or lack of Crawley and Aziraphale characters that are very prominent in the show? I could only read like 3-4 pages and I would call it a night. Seriously you guys, I spent like 10 days (1/3 of the month) trying to chug through this book and I only made it to when Armageddon starts happening. I decided to stop as there were other books I knew I would enjoy more. End of story, you can hate me if you want, but I stand by this.

Books of the Month: January 2021

Happy new year of reading! I promised to read 45 books this year and, I’m already 6 down (hehe)! My love for reading clearly hasn’t ceased and I have fully recovered from my end of 2020 reading burnout. I have 5 books ready for pick up at the library and I cannot wait to get them this week! In the meantime, here are quick reviews of the 6 books I read in January.

It feels like ages since I read Whisper Man; a thriller based in a small town where a serial killer is preying on local children, a dad and his son move into a new home unaware of the local happenings. There are a few twists I didn’t see coming and this book literally kept me on my toes as we made our way through the investigation, and inevitable occurrence of the son becoming prey and hearing the whispers of the whisper man. This book was a solid story and wrapped up nicely.

The House in the Cerulean Sea was big far my most favorite book of the month. It made my heart burst at its seams. Linus is a case worker at the Department in Charge Of Magical Youth that reviews cases of magical youth in orphanages. He is selected for a special mission to evaluate an orphanage with very special magical youths and little does he know, it’s an assignment that will change his life and bring him home (this was truly the part of the story that melted my heart). It really a wonderful story that you need to read ASAP.

The Girl in the Mirror was a meh book in regards to plot, but the end twist left me SHOOK. I’m still trying to find someone to discuss this with because I just can’t get past it. It’s a story of identical twin sisters in a race to get their inheritance. During a boating trip, one twin gets lost at sea and the other assumes her identity. I personally thought the premise for them getting the inheritance was weird and random as hell? I can’t decide if I’m recommending you read this, but it is a quick read and the twist is 100% something you won’t see coming.

Of course, after watching the show, I had to dive into the Bridgerton book series. I started, of course, with the The Duke and I, and can I just say, I think I like the show better? The book on it’s own is good; however, after watching the show, the book left me wanting so much more. The book focuses only on Daphne and Simon’s love story which is pretty wonderful, but I missed the plots of the other characters as well. I guess, all the siblings get a book, so I’ll have to keep reading!

The Last Story of Mina Lee was…okay? The book tells the story of Margot and her mother, Mina Lee, whom Margot finds dead in Mina’s apartment upon returning home around Christmas. Margot then searches for information about her Korean immigrant mother and discovers a woman she never got to know. I say this book is okay, because there was a bit of an investigation/suspense plot that I found odd? It felt forced and unrealistic? I loved the story of Mina, and all the struggles she had to overcome, or never did overcome from being a Korean immigrant in the US. I honestly would have taken a whole book just about Mina’s life, save the murder mystery plot that was less than desirable.

The Viscount Who Loved Me (#2 in Bridgerton series) was cute? Again, I wish more of the ton was featured in the book, but as Anthony is my least favorite Bridgerton, I assumed I would hate the book and I nearly did, but his love story ended up being cute. Even though his character has quite the anger issue, his devotion for the woman he marries is quite sweet. On to Benedict!

The Whisper Man by Alex North

The House in the Cerulean Sea by TJ Klune

The Girl in the Mirror by Rose Carlyle

The Duke and I by Julia Quinn

The Last Story of Mina Lee by Nancy Jooyoun Kim

The Viscount Who Loved Me by Julia Quinn

Sincerely,

Sara Ann

Books of the Month: September 2020

Yinz, how is it almost OCTOBER? I really can’t handle how fast this year is slipping by, is it just me? I’ve managed to read 44 books, which is still insane to me, having initially set my reading goal at 30 books for the entire year. Can I make it to 60? We’ll see! Here are the books I read this month:

Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil was…okay? I had heard from several people that it was a good read, but it did not do that much for me. It was slow to read and the story was…okay? It was about a New York man who becomes wrapped up in the lives of many people in Savannah, GA, one of whom ends up on trial for murder. I was expecting some shocking twist, but nothing ever came. Would pass.

I Was Told It Would Get Easier was another home run from Abbi Waxman. This book made me want to hug my mom. It’s about a relationship between a forty something mom and her teenage daughter, as they go on a college tour trip on the east coast. I really liked that one of the main tones was that college isn’t for everyone, and it’s a rat race to get into a good college, followed by a rat race to make money until you die, which is SO TRUE and no one talks about it.

A Man Called Ove made my heart burst with joy and tears. It’s really a roller coaster of emotions, but Ove reminded me of my grandfather, a man a few words and fewer emotions. It also makes you think about how you don’t know what other people around you are truly going through and not to judge a book by it’s cover (not literally here). Would recommend ASAP.

Parable of the Sower, was OOF. Octavia Butler kills it again. A dystopian novel about 2024-2027, written in 1993, the United States are divided, climate change is mostly to cause, and it’s everyone for themselves. Water is scarce, and costs more per gallon than gasoline. Lauren, the main character, is trying to survive and make her way to safety she hopes to find in the north. It’s a crazy tale, but I could see it becoming a reality if we continue to ignore climate change and its effects on our world. It was a slow read, but worthwhile.

All the Ugly and Wonderful Things was a ugly and wonderful novel. Wavy is a young girl when she befriends Kellen, one of her father’s (adult) drug thugs. They grow close and as she gets older, they become more than friends. It made me uncomfortable since it skittered around pedophilia, but the way the story was written made me root for Wavy and Kellan’s relationship. I think, while the nature of their relationship, was, er, unconventional, they really cared for one another, and Kellan tried hard to not cross any lines until Wavy was of age.

If I had to tell you to read one book from this month, it would be A Man Called Ove. It was a wonderful story about people and connecting and made me laugh and cry. Absolute gem. I’m currently reading Pachinko, and hope to read Anxious People and A Woman is No Man in October. What are you reading?

Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil by John Berendt

I Was Told It Would Get Easier by Abbi Waxman

A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman

Parable of the Sower by Octavia E. Butler

All the Ugly and Wonderful Things by Bryn Greenwood

Sincerely,

Sara Ann

Books of the Month: July 2020

Can you believe it’s August? Summer is basically over, Christmas is basically here, and it’s much closer to the end of 2020 than the start. I’m not mad about this year going quickly, it’s a bit insufferable, if I’m being honest.

I started this month reading Bad Feminist by Roxanne Gay, and I will be up front with you, I just couldn’t get into it. I loved the first section where Gay describes her time in becoming a professor; I really like her writing style and found many things interesting in what she had to say. The next section about Gender, was weird? She only recapped and reviewed books, mostly on gender, but I don’t know what I was supposed to get from that? I skipped around the book a bit more, but just couldn’t keep going with it. I did find her reviews of the movies, The Help and Django Unchained extremely insightful as to why they weren’t great movies for explaining the history of racism. Has anyone else read this book? I’m curious for other reviews.

Next, I read The Last Flight, which was a great book. It’s about 2 women, both on the run, who cross paths at an airport and trade tickets for each other’s flights. It’s a strong female novel, touching on domestic violence and women standing up to take down powerful men. Huzzah!

I then read The Vanishing Half, and you all need to run out and find this book. It’s 5 stars, an excellent story across multiple generations, with well developed characters. It tackles issues of race, gender, class and so much more. It was such a well written book, I immediately sought out Bennett’s other book, The Mothers. The Mothers was a great book touching on all types of relationships, lovers, friends, father/child, mother/child, and so on. The ending was sort of left unwritten which I typically am frustrated by but in this book, I liked it.

Next, I read Such a Fun Age. It was a story about a twenty something black woman being accused of kidnapping the white child she was nannying. The story was interesting, especially the character and backstory of the white mother. I feel like she had white savior tones, but it was the point of the story; overall, I thought it was well written and made you think. Finally, I read Educated and I can’t even begin to describe how quickly you need to go out and find this book to read it yourself. It’s such an incredible coming of age story, detailing the insane life and family of Tara Westover. It makes me want to hug my parents and honestly cry for all the things she went through. I’m also amazed at the person she turned into, after suffering all that?

I would most recommend The Vanishing Half and Educated, without a doubt. Actually, make sure you read both of them ASAP!

The Last Flight: A Novel by Julie Clark

The Vanishing Half: A Novel by Brit Bennett

The Mothers: A Novel by Brit Bennett

Such a Fun Age by Kiley Reid

Educated by Tara Westover

Bad Feminist: Essays by Roxane Gay

I didn’t get to read Poet X this month like I mentioned in last month’s post, there is a very long hold for it on my Libby app. Maybe next month! Has anyone read anything good this month? I would love to hear the recommendation!

Sincerely,

Sara Ann

Sincerely Seven: Week 25

I thought I would kick off something new called, Sincerely Seven, where I recap my week, tell you something new or share an article or recipe that I found useful over the last seven days. I’m hoping it will encourage me to write on here more, plus share some nuggets that I found useful or interesting over the course of my week. Without further ado, here are my seven highlights from week 25 of 2020.

  1.  I took a 3 day weekend and it was so lovely to not have work on Friday. Since COVID started, I haven’t taken any time off, mostly because it feels weird taking time off when I work from home. It was well needed and I enjoyed every minute, plus I finally got my hair done so back to blonde baby! Sadly semi wishing I had taken off tomorrow too..
  2. In listening to this week’s episode of Work in Progress, I learned why you shouldn’t eat any more shrimp. I’m officially done, and trying to do anything I can to save the ocean.
  3.  I found this recipe for marinated goat cheese and strawberry crostini this week and it sounds SO yummy. I need to run to Trader Joe’s to get some goat cheese and french bread ASAP.
  4. I personally purchased the book, White Fragility, but then I read this article and have decided not to read it. Just wanted to share since I shared that book title earlier on my blog; I would be curious if anyone has read it, what did you think?
  5. I finished the show “Love Life” on HBO and would highly recommend; Anna Kendrick’s character is very lovable and experiences a lot of character development throughout the show/her love life. I also started “Dear White People” on Netflix; though I’m only one episode in, I really like it so far. Logan Browning plays a very fierce lead, helping to highlight the racial issues on her predominantly white college campus.
  6.  I’m currently reading Normal People by Sally Rooney and I can’t put it down! I also can’t wait to start the show after I finish. Has anyone already read/watched?
  7.  I made this chocolate chip cookie and it’s too pretty not to share with the world (since I’m off social media). You can make them too with this recipe from one of the best bakeries in Columbus, OH.

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I hope you had a wonderful week and here’s to wishing for another great seven days ahead!

Sincerely,

Sara Ann

Books of the Month: May 2020

Another month stuck in the Q, another 5 books read. I can hardly believe we’ve been social distancing this long and frankly, still alive and possibly thriving on some levels. I mean, I’ve read 14 books since the start, and that’s pretty awesome if you ask me!

Untamed was incredible, I want so many quotes tattooed directly on my face. I also want her to write a whole book on religion, as well as white women + racism (not by herself, of course, but with activists of color who can help shape the conversation); I think it’s important to discuss and be aware of as many white women dance around the conversation as well as the importance of it, especially in today’s climate. I’m also low key obsessed with Glennon and Abby’s relationship, like where is the Lifetime movie of their romance?! I encourage everyone to read it!

One True Loves was another good page turner/romance book. Basically, the main woman’s husband dies, she grieves and then finds love again + gets engaged, only to find out her husband has been lost at sea and is coming home. I was very torn on who I wanted her to end up with, but it had a wonderful ending, tied neatly with a bow; would recommend for a quick read! Valentine was a book set in the 70’s in West Texas, about a young Mexican girl who is raped by a white young man and of course, everyone in the town blames her for being a slut and ruining his life (EYE ROLL). It was slow and hard to get through at times, I don’t regret reading it, but I don’t think I would tell you to add to your list?

The Bride Test was another great story from Helen Hoang, about an autistic main character, who struggles to make a connection. Would recommend as a quick read/feel good! Finally, Big Summer was a murder mystery that was a little cliche at times and I felt bored in some places; I’m sad because I was really looking forward to this one as a Jennifer Weiner fan. I think this was the author’s first time delving into mysteries? It was not terribly thrilling, but highlighted friendship and body image, especially plus size acceptance in our society. I would maybe recommend if you’re a Jennifer Weiner fan, but even then, not exactly worth it.

If I had to recommend one, it would be Untamed. If you’re not into memoirs/self help, would go for One True Loves or Bride Test

Untamed by Glennon Doyle Melton
One True Loves: A Novel by Taylor Jenkins Reid
Valentine: A Novel by Elizabeth Wetmore
The Bride Test by Helen Hoang
Big Summer: A Novel by Jennifer Weiner
Any reading suggestions for me? Let me know in the comments, I need some new ideas! I’m reading Godshot next…
Sincerely,
Sara Ann