It was another big reading month! A little bit slower on the tv and podcast front, though I did fit in some interesting choices. But as always, I’m very excited to share it all with you! I’ve been looking forward to writing it today, specifically, because it’s the first day of school and I need something happy to distract myself from worrying about my kids!
Flat-Out Love by Jessica Park
Rating: 4 stars
I had really high hopes for this series after reading Park’s 180 Seconds last month. And while I definitely liked this one, it didn’t bring the same emotional intensity and character maturity. This is the story of a girl who moves across the country for college and finds herself without a place to live. She ends up moving in with her mom’s old friend’s family, including a boy a few years older than her and a younger girl. While she’s there, she starts an email relationship with their older sibling who is off touring the world. What really bothers me about this book, and any book that does something similar, is how the family is dancing around a secret until the very end. It’s SO frustrating. I figured it out, but I couldn’t stand how many references there were to this big top secret piece of information. But I still loved the second half of this book when things got a little more heated up and interesting.
The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue by Mackenzi Lee (audiobook)
Rating: 4 stars
Since my new interest in audiobooks, I really, really wanted to listen to this one because it was rated on many sites as being fantastic in audio quality. I definitely appreciated the accents and different character voices throughout the book, but I also found it distracting. I’m beginning to think that audiobooks in fiction are just not for me. I have such a hard time paying attention for some reason. I feel like I’m missing too much. I’m very tempted to actually read this book and see if I like it more. Anyway, it’s a book about a rich young man, Monty, who has a year long tour around the continent with his best friend, whom he’s secretly in love with, and his younger sister, whom he can’t stand. The plot is pretty twisted and crazy. You want to love Monty, but you also kind of hate him. But he’ll grow on you, for sure. It was a fun and interesting listen.
Flat-Out Matt by Jessica Park
Rating: 3 stars
Books that are re-written from a different character’s point of view feel like such a shameless way for the author to try and bring in more money. For that fact alone, I didn’t want to like this book. Most of the chapters were literally word for word almost the same as in the previous book. It did give Matt a little more depth, but it also felt very redundant. Maybe I would have liked it better if I hadn’t read it immediately after the first book.
Flat-Out Celeste by Jessica Park
Rating: 4 stars
This book takes place a couple of years later and follows the very quirky and unique Celeste in her final year of high school when she finally learns the importance of friendship and doing what’s best for her in terms of her future. She forms an interesting relationship with a boy, Justin, who is equally awkward, quirky, and still so adorable. I loved Justin’s character and found his relationship with Celeste to be much more entertaining than Matt and Julie’s in the previous books.
Fierce Kingdom by Gin Phillips
Rating: 3 stars
This is a thriller that revolves around a couple crazed gunman that are determined to shoot up everybody left at the zoo during closing hours. The main character is with her four year old son and they need to find ways to hide, keep quiet, and stay alive. While parts of this book felt highly suspenseful, it also seemed like very little happened. So much of the book were written observations of the mom about her son and it felt very personal, like the author just wanted an excuse to maybe say all that about her own child. As a whole the book was well written and easy to get into, but I didn’t feel especially attached to it. I also hated the ending. Hated it.
Kindred Spirits by Rainbow Rowell
Rating: 4 stars
I bought this short novella because it supported a charity drive and I love Rainbow Rowell. It’s a quick tale of a girl who stands in line four days early to see the newest Star Wars movie. She makes intriguing friendships with the two boys in line before her. It’s a cute story with fun characters that I definitely enjoyed reading.
Hillbilly Elegy by J.D. Vance (audiobook)
Rating: 5 stars
Now this is an audiobook I will highly recommend! It’s a bit surprising to me now that I’m realizing how much I love memoirs. They’re so intriguing! In his book, Vance tells so many stories of his childhood and particularly his relationship with his Mamaw. The entire book was fascinating and kept me captivated enough to listen to the whole thing in a single day. It will make you think a lot about your own childhood stories and how deeply they influence who you become in life.
Textrovert by Lindsey Summers
Rating: 4 stars
In this book the main character ends up losing her phone and going back and accidentally grabbing the phone of another boy. They begin a texting relationship while waiting for an opportunity to exchange their phones back. The entire book is very YA – light, cute, and with a happy ending. They definitely go through some struggles, but I enjoyed the book as a whole. It’s a fast read.
The Anatomical Shape of a Heart by Jenn Bennett
Rating: 5 stars
This book is about a girl who loves drawing anatomy. While trying to secretly secure a position at a college drawing cadavers against her mother’s wishes, she meets a boy who has secretly been creating amazing graffiti all over the city. They strike up a friendship which of course turns into more. I thought this book had a lot of heart (excuse the pun), and was really sweet. I genuinely adored every character in the story and didn’t want it to end. I highly recommend this one.
Lucky in Love by Kasie West
Rating: 3.5 stars
I was greatly anticipating this new release by Kasie West and found it to be fairly disappointing compared to her other books. In it, the main character wins the lottery and is immediately surrounded by people all over the place asking her for money and trying to guilt her into spending it in ways she doesn’t necessarily want to. In theory it’s a good concept for a book, but it ended up feeling so stressful. The love interest, Seth, did not have a lot of depth, therefore I wasn’t very attached to their “romance.” I really only truly enjoyed the last 20% of the book.
Just Friends by Tiffany Pitcock
Rating: 3 stars
In this book the shy and super smart main character is paired with the school heartthrob for a quick school assignment where they need to dialog for the class about their summer. They end up riffing out a purely fictional story about how much time they spent together because they’ve been best friends for most of their lives. Everyone believes it, and they seemed to have such good friendly chemistry that they decided to go ahead and just become best friends. What’s unbelievable to me is that all of their other friends just accept the fact they’ve always been friends even though they’ve never once even talked to each other in all the years they’ve known each person. What irritated me to no end about this book is how many times each character would say “my best friend.” Okay, we get it! It was SO annoying. Overall the book was pretty predictable, though the characters went on quite a frustrating journey to reach the conclusion that they might just be more than best friends.
Why Not Me? by Mindy Kaling (audiobook)
Rating: 2 stars
When I started looking for audiobooks through the Libby app, I realized that wait lists for all the books I want to read are like 5-6 months away. So in the meantime I was trying to find something I might be slightly interested in reading now and ended up with this. It was…bleh. Especially after listening to Hillbilly Elegy, this felt so fluffy and unimportant. Some parts of the book were vaguely interesting, but most of it just felt pointless. I was hoping for a deeper memoir and this was not it. I’m not sure I particularly like Mindy Kaling in the first place (other than The Mindy Project, which I love!), but this book didn’t do anything to help my opinion of her.
When Dimple Met Rishi by Sandhya Menon
Rating: 4 stars
I think by this point, I’ve read way too much YA for the month. Normally I love this genre, but nothing was really doing it for me. This was the same. It was a solid story about a nerdy girl who goes to a coding camp and meets the boy her parents want to arrange for her to marry. But they fail to mention that to her and when she finds out she is vehemently against it. I love Rishi’s character and how he sticks around to still provide her with friendship and support, despite how uninviting Dimple is to him. I liked this book plenty, but I didn’t adore it the way I hope to with every YA I read. And one thing that just bugs me a little, though I’m probably being way too nitpicky this month… In the book, Dimple states many times that she wears glasses and she never wears makeup or makes an effort with what she wears. But the picture of the girl on the cover? Clearly wearing makeup, no glasses, and gorgeous!
Final Girls by Riley Sager
Rating: 4.5 stars
In this book, you learn about a very small number of women who are “final girls” – those that got away from a mass murdering psychopath. At the beginning you learn that one of the three final girls commits suicide, in a suspicious manner. Slowly you learn more about the massacres as the remaining final girls band together, even though they don’t particularly like or trust each other. Overall, it was a really good thriller with a lot of unexpected twists. It kept me interested and enthralled to the end.
When Breath Becomes Air by Paul Kalanithi (audiobook)
Rating: 4 stars
This is the story of Paul and his life and how he learned to deal with a terminal cancer diagnosis at the end of his residency to become a neurosurgeon. My interest in the book definitely waxed and waned. I loved the stories of his relationships, childhood, thought processes about what to do with his life. But there were also chapters that got very gory and descriptive about surgeries that I just didn’t want to hear. But it was beautifully written and ultimately had a message that every life matters and is worth living, no matter how short it may be. Knowing your life will end sooner than other’s is no reason not to live it to the fullest. Even though I knew ahead of time that Paul died before he could finish the book himself, it still was devastating to hear the final chapters written by his wife about his final days. As far as audiobooks go, this was another worthwhile listen.
I finished up the first season and watched about half of the second. I really like it, but got a little old watching so many in a row.
I only watched two episodes of this. Despite all the rave reviews it got, I don’t think it’s for me. It’s just sooooo slow. I don’t think I’ll pick it up again.
Love this show! Despite the fact it’s looking like Liza and Charles will never get together, even though Charles has repeatedly said this season how much he likes her. FRUSTRATING.
I watched the third (and final 🙁 ) season of Broadchurch in about a day and a half. It was so good. This show is amazing. The characters and acting are so fantastic. The topics are serious, but honestly, one of the best shows I’ve ever seen. I’m so sad they won’t be making any more.
I’m to the point where I’m just randomly picking shows on netflix now, biding my time before all my favorites come back in fall. I liked Atypical a lot, though. It was sweet and funny and a little bit sad.
I just started season one of The Goldbergs. It’s been on for a few years now. I really like it! There is a lot of yelling which was hard to get used to, but it’s getting so much funnier and more endearing as it goes on. I’m glad I have lots of seasons to catch up on!
TV – Together
Greg and I were running out of things to watch too, so I convinced him to watch this with me. I watched it when it came out a few years ago and loved it. I recommended it to everyone. With the re-watch I’m realizing this show is really slow. Fascinating, in my opinion, but maybe not the best show to watch when all you’re doing is sitting and watching! It made a better sewing show for me. But still – good tv!
We made it through! We almost gave up so many times when this show had bizarre and hard to follow twists and turns. But it came back together at the end and had a very sweet resolution.
So I hated this when it was a movie. And when they made the tv show a year or two ago, I thought it was just as ridiculously stupid. But the newest season? It was suddenly funny to me. Still pretty stupid, but I laughed quite a bit. It was a nice thing to watch in between super serious Fall episodes.
No theater movies this month. 🙁 No movies with Greg either. I watched all these while sewing this month when I ran out of tv options.
This movie was pretty weird. I liked the part about the little girl, but everything else was pretty terrible.
Vaguely funny, a little bit anxiety inducing, I still liked it.
This movie felt like it was 20 minutes long. Very little happened! It had a nice final scene, but otherwise kind of pointless.
I liked this, for the most part. I read the book and wasn’t crazy enthused about it either. One thing that bugged me is that it seemed like the boy – the actor – couldn’t stand the girl. Like he had to try really hard to show interest in her. It didn’t really come off as him just being shy or unsure of how to act around her. But I was probably reading way too much into it. 🙂
Front Porch With the Fitzes – Still a favorite! So funny and happy.
The Popcast – Also a huge favorite. I LOVE listening to the new episode each week!
My Dad Wrote a Porno – Another funny one. I think there’s only one episode left. 🙁 🙁 🙁
Side Hustle School – I trailed off on this one. Instead of encouraging me the way it was supposed to, it was just making me feel like I wasn’t doing nearly enough with my life.
Happier with Gretchen Rubin – I probably listen to this one most often because I’m still catching up with it. It’s always positive and interesting and gives you lots of life hacks to make yourself happier.
Happier in Hollywood – A new one with Liz Craft, co-host of Happier. This time partnering with her writing partner in Hollywood. I’m not super interested in the parts of the show that actually have to do with working in Hollywood. But it’s interesting and worth listening to.
Note to Self – Tapered off on these too. I really haven’t listened to a whole lot this month since I’ve been switching over to more audiobooks. Despite my very long list of podcasts.
The Lazy Genius – I go back and forth on this. I LOVE The Lazy Genius’s instagram stories. And I loved the podcast she did with her sister, The Lazy Sisters Podcast. Which they don’t do anymore. But when she’s just talking by herself and it’s not always that interesting.
The Simple Show – And because of above, I’m now listening to this because she’s become a bit of a co-host. An unadvertised co-host of the show. I think I’ve only heard one episode so far, but it was fun.
For the Love with Jen Hatmaker – I just started this one and it’s not that far in so I’ll catch up soon. She’s doing like six episode series on different topics. The first is about friendship. Which I love hearing about and also makes me insanely jealous and sad that I don’t have friendships on that same level. But…it’s worth listening to, for sure.
Sorta Awesome – I still have lots of mixed feelings on this one. Mostly because the hosts annoy me and I feel like there’s a lot of thinly veiled hostility toward each other in passive aggressive comments that we’re supposed to think are funny. But…sometimes the show is funny. I listened to their Sorry Not Sorry episode the other day and it was hilarious.
And that’s about it for the month!! I’m not sure if my media consumption will get bigger or smaller now that the boys are back in school. Probably more tv and podcasts, less books. But we shall see. Hit me up with your recommendations too! So far I’ve only had two people recommend books to me. I haven’t read either yet, but I have them!