Review: Will

Will by Will Smith
Publisher: Penguin Press
Pub Date: 11/9/2021

GoodReads Synopsis: One of the most dynamic and globally recognized entertainment forces of our time opens up fully about his life, in a brave and inspiring book that traces his learning curve to a place where outer success, inner happiness, and human connection are aligned. Along the way, Will tells the story in full of one of the most amazing rides through the worlds of music and film that anyone has ever had.

Will Smith’s transformation from a fearful child in a tense West Philadelphia home to one of the biggest rap stars of his era and then one of the biggest movie stars in Hollywood history, with a string of box office successes that will likely never be broken, is an epic tale of inner transformation and outer triumph, and Will tells it astonishingly well. But it’s only half the story.

Will Smith thought, with good reason, that he had won at life: not only was his own success unparalleled, his whole family was at the pinnacle of the entertainment world. Only they didn’t see it that way: they felt more like star performers in his circus, a seven-days-a-week job they hadn’t signed up for. It turned out Will Smith’s education wasn’t nearly over.

This memoir is the product of a profound journey of self-knowledge, a reckoning with all that your will can get you and all that it can leave behind. Written with the help of Mark Manson, author of the multi-million-copy bestseller The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck, Will is the story of how one person mastered his own emotions, written in a way that can help everyone else do the same. Few of us will know the pressure of performing on the world’s biggest stages for the highest of stakes, but we can all understand that the fuel that works for one stage of our journey might have to be changed if we want to make it all the way home. The combination of genuine wisdom of universal value and a life story that is preposterously entertaining, even astonishing, puts Will the book, like its author, in a category by itself.

“It’s easy to maneuver the material world once you have conquered your own mind. I believe that. Once you’ve learned the terrain of your own mind, every experience, every emotion, every circumstance, whether positive or negative, simply propels you forward, to greater growth and greater experience. That is true will. To move forward in spite of anything. And to move forward in a way that brings others with you, rather than leave them behind.” —Will Smith

Review: Will Smith’s memoir, Will, explores entertainment life, family, insecurity, and nuggets of wisdom. I enjoyed listening to the audiobook! Will Smith makes the audiobook come alive by adding music and rapping. He jumps around in the book a bit. My favorite parts of the book were the insights of his childhood and his family. It was also interesting to learn more about his rapping and music career, but I wish he went into more details about his movies instead of just stating surface level facts on how much he made for each movie. The last part of the book went more into self help which was interesting and challenged my views. Overall, I definitely recommend listening to the audiobook if you’re a fan of Will Smith!

4 Favorite Nonfiction Books

It’s Nonfiction November! Here are a few of my favorite nonfiction books from my collection:

🌻 The Sun and Her Flowers by Rupi Kaur (poetry, mental health)
GoodReads Synopsis: Divided into five chapters and illustrated by Kaur, the sun and her flowers is a journey of wilting, falling, rooting, rising, and blooming. A celebration of love in all its forms.
this is the recipe of life
said my mother
as she held me in her arms as i wept
think of those flowers you plant
in the garden each year
they will teach you
that people too
must wilt
fall
root
rise
in order to bloom 


👩‍👧 What We Carry by Maya Shanbhag (memoir, family)
GoodReads Synopsis: In caring for her aging mother and her own young daughter, writer Maya Shanbhag Lang–“a new voice of the highest caliber” (Rebecca Makkai)–confronts the legacy of family myths and how the stories shared between parents and children reverberate through generations: a deeply moving memoir about immigrants and their native-born children, the complicated love between mothers and daughters, and the discovery of strength.
How much can you judge another woman’s choices? What if that woman is your mother?
Maya Shanbhag Lang grew up idolizing her brilliant mother, an accomplished physician who immigrated to the United States from India and completed her residency, all while raising her children and keeping a traditional Indian home. She had always been a source of support–until Maya became a mother herself. Then, the parent who had once been so capable and attentive turned unavailable and distant. Struggling to understand this abrupt change while raising her own young child, Maya searches for answers and soon learns that her mother is living with Alzheimer’s
When Maya steps in to care for her, she comes to realize that despite their closeness, she never really knew her mother. Were her cherished stories–about life in India, about what it means to be an immigrant, about motherhood itself–even true? Affecting, raw, and poetic, What We Carry is the story of a daughter and her mother, of lies and truths, of receiving and giving care–and how we cannot grow up until we fully understand the people who raised us.


🚦 Greenlights by Matthew McConaughey (memoir)
GoodReads Synopsis: I’ve been in this life for fifty years, been trying to work out its riddle for forty-two, and been keeping diaries of clues to that riddle for the last thirty-five. Notes about successes and failures, joys and sorrows, things that made me marvel, and things that made me laugh out loud. How to be fair. How to have less stress. How to have fun. How to hurt people less. How to get hurt less. How to be a good man. How to have meaning in life. How to be more me.
Recently, I worked up the courage to sit down with those diaries. I found stories I experienced, lessons I learned and forgot, poems, prayers, prescriptions, beliefs about what matters, some great photographs, and a whole bunch of bumper stickers. I found a reliable theme, an approach to living that gave me more satisfaction, at the time, and still: If you know how, and when, to deal with life’s challenges – how to get relative with the inevitable – you can enjoy a state of success I call “catching greenlights.”
So I took a one-way ticket to the desert and wrote this book: an album, a record, a story of my life so far. This is fifty years of my sights and seens, felts and figured-outs, cools and shamefuls. Graces, truths, and beauties of brutality. Getting away withs, getting caughts, and getting wets while trying to dance between the raindrops.
Hopefully, it’s medicine that tastes good, a couple of aspirin instead of the infirmary, a spaceship to Mars without needing your pilot’s license, going to church without having to be born again, and laughing through the tears.
It’s a love letter. To life.
It’s also a guide to catching more greenlights – and to realizing that the yellows and reds eventually turn green too.
Good luck.

🛋 Maybe You Should Talk To Someone by Lori Gottlieb (memoir, self help)
GoodReads Synopsis: One day, Lori Gottlieb is a therapist who helps patients in her Los Angeles practice. The next, a crisis causes her world to come crashing down. Enter Wendell, the quirky but seasoned therapist in whose office she suddenly lands. With his balding head, cardigan, and khakis, he seems to have come straight from Therapist Central Casting. Yet he will turn out to be anything but.
As Gottlieb explores the inner chambers of her patients’ lives — a self-absorbed Hollywood producer, a young newlywed diagnosed with a terminal illness, a senior citizen threatening to end her life on her birthday if nothing gets better, and a twenty-something who can’t stop hooking up with the wrong guys — she finds that the questions they are struggling with are the very ones she is now bringing to Wendell.
With startling wisdom and humor, Gottlieb invites us into her world as both clinician and patient, examining the truths and fictions we tell ourselves and others as we teeter on the tightrope between love and desire, meaning and mortality, guilt and redemption, terror and courage, hope and change.
Maybe You Should Talk to Someone is revolutionary in its candor, offering a deeply personal yet universal tour of our hearts and minds and providing the rarest of gifts: a boldly revealing portrait of what it means to be human, and a disarmingly funny and illuminating account of our own mysterious lives and our power to transform them.

What’s one of your favorite nonfiction books to recommend?

Review: Part of Your World

Part of Your World by Abby Jimenez
Publisher: Read Forever
Pub Date: 4/19/2022

Disclaimer: I received a free finished copy of this book Sourcebooks Casablanca in exchange for my honest opinion. This has no effect on my opinion, review or rating.

GoodReads Synopsis: After a wild bet, gourmet grilled-cheese sandwich, and cuddle with a baby goat, Alexis Montgomery has had her world turned upside down. The cause: Daniel Grant, a ridiculously hot carpenter who’s ten years younger than her and as casual as they come—the complete opposite of sophisticated city-girl Alexis. And yet their chemistry is undeniable.

While her ultra-wealthy parents want her to carry on the family legacy of world-renowned surgeons, Alexis doesn’t need glory or fame. She’s fine with being a “mere” ER doctor. And every minute she spends with Daniel and the tight-knit town where he lives, she’s discovering just what’s really important. Yet letting their relationship become anything more than a short-term fling would mean turning her back on her family and giving up the opportunity to help thousands of people.

Bringing Daniel into her world is impossible, and yet she can’t just give up the joy she’s found with him either. With so many differences between them, how can Alexis possibly choose between her world and his?

Review: Part of Your World is a contemporary romance novel that explores strained relationships, small town life, forbidden love, and expectations. Wow what an amazing book which deserves all the stars! I loved the way that Abby handled heavy topics like emotional abuse and domestic abuse. All of the characters were so well written and I felt for all of them. I loved how tender hearted Daniel was and really felt for Alexis in the cards she was dealt with. I also really loved the way the author formed the chemistry between Daniel and Alexis. Now I can’t wait for Bri’s story! Highly recommend picking up this novel if you are looking for strong loving characters facing challenges and finding love.

Review: Love, Chai, and Other Four-Letter Words

Love, Chai, and Other Four-Letter Words by Annika Sharma
Publisher: Sourcebooks Casablanca
Pub Date: 9/21/2021

Disclaimer: I received a free finished copy of this book Sourcebooks Casablanca in exchange for my honest opinion. This has no effect on my opinion, review or rating.

GoodReads Synopsis: Kiran needs to fall in line. Instead, she falls in love.

Kiran was the good daughter. When her sister disobeyed her family’s plan and brought them shame, she was there to pick up the pieces. She vowed she wouldn’t make the same mistakes. She’d be twice the daughter her parents needed, to make up for the one they lost.

Nash never had a family. The parents who were supposed to raise him were completely absent. Now as a psychologist, he sees the same pattern happening to the kids he works with. So he turns away from love and family. After all, abandonment is in his genes, isn’t it?

If she follows the rules, Kiran will marry an Indian man. If he follows his fears, Nash will wind up alone. But what if they follow their hearts?

Review: Love, Chai, and Other Four-Letter Words takes place in NYC and has a friends-to-lovers trope. This novel dives into themes of strong friendships, cultural expectations, taking risks, and self discovery. This book is definitely a close door romance and slow burn. I had mixed feelings about this book. I loved the plot of this book. One main aspect I really adored was Kiran’s friends. I liked how all her friends come from different backgrounds and can’t wait to read their stories. A couple of elements that didn’t work for me were the main characters, Kiran and Nash, and the writing style. The chemistry between Kiran and Nash seemed to be more of an unbelievable insta love. Also both characters seemed to be pretty shallow. The one main aspect that bothered me was the writing style and some of the language seemed to be odd. Overall, it was a decent story, however, keep in mind this is more of women’s fiction than romance.

Review: Reckless Girls

Reckless Girls by Rachel Hawkins
Publisher: St. Martin’s Press
Pub Date: 1/4/2022

GoodReads Synopsis: When Lux McAllister and her boyfriend, Nico, are hired to sail two women to a remote island in the South Pacific, it seems like the opportunity of a lifetime. Stuck in a dead-end job in Hawaii, and longing to travel the world after a family tragedy, Lux is eager to climb on board The Susannah and set out on an adventure. She’s also quick to bond with their passengers, college best friends Brittany and Amma. The two women say they want to travel off the beaten path. But like Lux, they may have other reasons to be seeking an escape.

Shimmering on the horizon after days at sea, Meroe Island is every bit the paradise the foursome expects, despite a mysterious history of shipwrecks, cannibalism, and even rumors of murder. But what they don’t expect is to discover another boat already anchored off Meroe’s sandy beaches. The owners of the Azure Sky, Jake and Eliza, are a true golden couple: gorgeous, laidback, and if their sleek catamaran and well-stocked bar are any indication, rich. Now a party of six, the new friends settle in to experience life on an exotic island, and the serenity of being completely off the grid. Lux hasn’t felt like she truly belonged anywhere in years, yet here on Meroe, with these fellow free spirits, she finally has a sense of peace.

But with the arrival of a skeevy stranger sailing alone in pursuit of a darker kind of good time, the balance of the group is disrupted. Soon, cracks begin to emerge: it seems that Brittany and Amma haven’t been completely honest with Lux about their pasts––and perhaps not even with each other. And though Jake and Eliza seem like the perfect pair, the rocky history of their relationship begins to resurface, and their reasons for sailing to Meroe might not be as innocent as they first appeared.

When it becomes clear that the group is even more cut off from civilization than they initially thought, it starts to feel like the island itself is closing in on them. And when one person goes missing, and another turns up dead, Lux begins to wonder if any of them are going to make it off the island alive.

Review: Reckless Girls is the second book I’ve read from Rachel Hawkins. I loved The Wife Upstairs so I was really looking forward to reading this one. This thriller takes place on a deserted island and explores theme of trust, troubled pasts, and survival. I had mixed feelings about this book. I really loved the trapped on a deserted island vibe, but the ending was so predictable. I was able to guess the twists and predict the ending from the beginning. In my opinion, the pacing was too slow and I felt that things were repeated multiple times. I’m not sure if I had high expectations for this novel since I loved The Wife Upstairs. However, the book did have me turning the pages since I liked the atmosphere. If you like locked room mysteries, you’ll enjoy this one.

3 Thrillers Releasing in 2022 To Add To Your TBR 

Below are three thrillers that are releasing next year! All of these sound fantastic and can’t wait to dive into them. Are any of these on your list?

Reckless Girls by Rachel Hawkins
Pub: St. Martin’s Press
Pub Date: 1/4/22

GoodReads Synopsis: When Lux McAllister and her boyfriend, Nico, are hired to sail two women to a remote island in the South Pacific, it seems like the opportunity of a lifetime. Stuck in a dead-end job in Hawaii, and longing to travel the world after a family tragedy, Lux is eager to climb on board The Susannah and set out on an adventure. She’s also quick to bond with their passengers, college best friends Brittany and Amma. The two women say they want to travel off the beaten path. But like Lux, they may have other reasons to be seeking an escape.

Shimmering on the horizon after days at sea, Meroe Island is every bit the paradise the foursome expects, despite a mysterious history of shipwrecks, cannibalism, and even rumors of murder. But what they don’t expect is to discover another boat already anchored off Meroe’s sandy beaches. The owners of the Azure Sky, Jake and Eliza, are a true golden couple: gorgeous, laidback, and if their sleek catamaran and well-stocked bar are any indication, rich. Now a party of six, the new friends settle in to experience life on an exotic island, and the serenity of being completely off the grid. Lux hasn’t felt like she truly belonged anywhere in years, yet here on Meroe, with these fellow free spirits, she finally has a sense of peace.

But with the arrival of a skeevy stranger sailing alone in pursuit of a darker kind of good time, the balance of the group is disrupted. Soon, cracks begin to emerge: it seems that Brittany and Amma haven’t been completely honest with Lux about their pasts––and perhaps not even with each other. And though Jake and Eliza seem like the perfect pair, the rocky history of their relationship begins to resurface, and their reasons for sailing to Meroe might not be as innocent as they first appeared.

When it becomes clear that the group is even more cut off from civilization than they initially thought, it starts to feel like the island itself is closing in on them. And when one person goes missing, and another turns up dead, Lux begins to wonder if any of them are going to make it off the island alive. 

The Book of Cold Cases by Simone St. James
Pub: Berkley
Pub Date: 3/15/22

GoodReads Synopsis: In 1977, Claire Lake, Oregon, was shaken by the Lady Killer Murders: Two men, seemingly randomly, were murdered with the same gun, with strange notes left behind. Beth Greer was the perfect suspect – a rich, eccentric twenty-three-year-old woman, seen fleeing one of the crimes. But she was acquitted, and she retreated to the isolation of her mansion.

Oregon, 2017. Shea Collins is a receptionist, but by night, she runs a true-crime website, the Book of Cold Cases – a passion fueled by the attempted abduction she escaped as a child. When she meets Beth by chance, Shea asks her for an interview. To Shea’s surprise, Beth says yes. They meet regularly at Beth’s mansion, though Shea is never comfortable there. Items move when she’s not looking, and she could swear she’s seen a small girl outside the window.

The allure of learning the truth about the case from the smart, charming Beth is too much to resist, but even as they grow closer, Shea senses something isn’t right. Is she making friends with a manipulative murderer, or are there other dangers lurking in the darkness of the Greer house? 

The Younger Wife by Sally Hepworth
Pub: St. Martin’s Press
Pub Date: 4/5/22

GoodReads Synopsis: Stephen Aston is getting married again. The only problem is, he’s still married to his first wife, even though she is in a care facility for dementia. But he’ll take care of that easily, by divorcing her–even if his adult daughters protest.

Tully and Rachel Aston look upon Heather as nothing but an interloper. Heather is the same age as Rachel and even younger than Tully. Clearly she’s a golddigger and after their father’s money. Heather has secrets that she’s keeping close, and reasons of her own for wanting to marry Stephen.

With their mother unable to speak for herself, Tully and Rachel are determined to get to the truth about their family’s secrets, the new wife closing in, and who their father really is. But will getting to the truth unleash the most dangerous impulses…in all of them?

2021 Reading Check In: October 

This year has seriously been flying by! With only a couple of months and some days left of 2021, I thought I would do a reading check in to see how my reading this year is going.

Overall, I’m reading way less than I did the previous years which is totally okay with me. One main factor has been raising my pup.

In terms of my goals, I originally had 3 goals. 

1. Continue to enjoy what I read and embrace the mood reader in me!

I think I’ve been pretty good about this one so far! Even though my quantity of books has gone down, I like that I’ve been trying to embrace being a mood reader. Also if I’m not enjoying a book, I DNF or get back to it if I feel like I just can’t read it at the moment.

2. Be more selective and mindful of the books I receive/request that I will be reviewing.

I think I’ve been okay about this, but definitely need to get better about being more selective.

3. Buy less books and use the resources I have to attain books, e.x. library, current book subscriptions I’m actively using.

Oh boy! Over the summer, I did buy a few books beyond my book subscriptions, but overall, I’ve been pretty good at reading books I own and books I receive for subscriptions.

How are your reading goals going? Are you adjusting any of them?

Review: How Stella Learned To Talk

How Stella Learned To Talk by Christina Hunger
Publisher: William Morrow Books
Pub Date: 5/4/2021

Disclaimer: I received a free finished physical copy and audiobook copy of this book from William Morrow Books in exchange for my honest opinion. This has no effect on my opinion, review, or rating.

GoodReads Synopsis: An incredible, revolutionary true story and surprisingly simple guide to teaching your dog to talk from speech-language pathologist Christina Hunger, who has taught her dog, Stella, to communicate using simple paw-sized buttons associated with different words.

When speech-language pathologist Christina Hunger first came home with her puppy, Stella, it didn’t take long for her to start drawing connections between her job and her new pet. During the day, she worked with toddlers with significant delays in language development and used Augmentative and Alternative Communication (AAC) devices to help them communicate. At night, she wondered: If dogs can understand words we say to them, shouldn’t they be able to say words to us? Can dogs use AAC to communicate with humans?

Christina decided to put her theory to the test with Stella and started using a paw-sized button programmed with her voice to say the word “outside” when clicked, whenever she took Stella out of the house. A few years later, Stella now has a bank of more than thirty word buttons, and uses them daily either individually or together to create near-complete sentences.

How Stella Learned to Talk is part memoir and part how-to guide. It chronicles the journey Christina and Stella have taken together, from the day they met, to the day Stella “spoke” her first word, and the other breakthroughs they’ve had since. It also reveals the techniques Christina used to teach Stella, broken down into simple stages and actionable steps any dog owner can use to start communicating with their pets.

Filled with conversations that Stella and Christina have had, as well as the attention to developmental detail that only a speech-language pathologist could know, How Stella Learned to Talk will be the indispensable dog book for the new decade.

Review: How Stella Learned To Talk is a true story about speech-language pathologist Christina Hunger teaching her dog, Stella, to communicate using buttons associated with different words. Not only does Christina share her journey with Stella, but she gives us techniques on how we can communicate with our dogs as well. Overall, I really enjoyed this memoir! I’m always trying to find new ways on how to be the best puppy mama to my little one, and I found this book to be extremely helpful! Though I may not go the button route with my puppy, it did make me realize what queues I read from her body language to figure out what she needs from me and how I can help her. I highly recommend this to any dog lovers out there!


Review: Wait for It

Wait for It by Jenn McKinlay
Publisher: Berkley Romance
Pub Date: 8/10/2021

Disclaimer: I received a free advanced digital copy of this book from Berkley Romance in exchange for my honest opinion. This has no effect on my opinion, review, or rating.

GoodReads Synopsis: Stuck in a dreary Boston winter, Annabelle Martin would like nothing more than to run away from her current life. She’s not even thirty years old, twice-divorced, and has just dodged a marriage proposal… from her ex-husband. When she’s offered her dream job as creative director at a cutting-edge graphic design studio in Phoenix, she jumps at the opportunity to start over.

When she arrives in the Valley of the Sun, Annabelle is instantly intrigued by her anonymous landlord. Based on the cranky, handwritten notes Nick Daire leaves her, she assumes he is an old, rich curmudgeon. Annabelle is shocked when she finally meets Nick and discovers that he’s her age and uses a wheelchair. Nick suffered from a stroke a year ago, and while there’s no physical reason for him not to recover, he is struggling to overcome the paralyzing fear that has kept him a prisoner in his own home.

Despite her promise to herself not to get involved, Annabelle finds herself irresistibly drawn to Nick. And soon she wonders if she and Nick might help each other find the courage to embrace life, happiness, and true love.

Review: Wait for It is the first book I’ve read from Jenn McKinlay. This romance novel has the grumpy millionaire/sunshine creative type troupe. I really liked the premise of the story, but I felt like there were too many cliches and unrealistic subplots in the story. One part of the writing style that drew me in was the characters’ complexities and seeing them grow throughout the book. While Annabelle and Nick had great chemistry, I felt that the way the conflict was resolved was too neat and didn’t make a realistic ending. One aspect I really liked was Nick’s character and the aftermath of surviving a stroke. Overall, this was a nice read and it was three stars for me. I’d recommend this one if you love the grumpy/sunshine troupe.

Review: Hook, Line, and Sinker

Hook, Line, and Sinker by Tessa Bailey
Publisher: Avon
Pub Date: 3/1/2022

Disclaimer: I received a free advanced digital copy of this book from Avon in exchange for my honest opinion. This has no effect on my opinion, review, or rating.

GoodReads Synopsis: King crab fisherman Fox Thornton has a reputation as a sexy, carefree flirt. Everyone knows he’s a guaranteed good time–in bed and out–and that’s exactly how he prefers it. Until he meets Hannah Bellinger. She’s immune to his charm and looks, but she seems to enjoy his… personality? And wants to be friends? Bizarre. But he likes her too much to risk a fling, so platonic pals it is.

Now, Hannah’s in town for work, crashing in Fox’s spare bedroom. She knows he’s a notorious ladies’ man, but they’re definitely just friends. In fact, she’s nursing a hopeless crush on a colleague and Fox is just the person to help with her lackluster love life. Armed with a few tips from Westport’s resident Casanova, Hannah sets out to catch her coworker’s eye… yet the more time she spends with Fox, the more she wants him instead. As the line between friendship and flirtation begins to blur, Hannah can’t deny she loves everything about Fox, but she refuses to be another notch on his bedpost.

Living with his best friend should have been easy. Except now she’s walking around in a towel, sleeping right across the hall, and Fox is fantasizing about waking up next to her for the rest of his life and… and… man overboard! He’s fallen for her, hook, line, and sinker. Helping her flirt with another guy is pure torture, but maybe if Fox can tackle his inner demons and show Hannah he’s all in, she’ll choose him instead?

Review: Hook, Line, and Sinker is the second book in the Bellinger Sister series. This book is the sequel to It Happened One Summer and can’t be read as a standalone. This romance novel is a friends to lovers trope. I loved Hannah and Fox as supporting characters in Piper and Brendon’s love story and was so happy to hear that they were going to have their own book. Overall, I really enjoyed this book! This story is definitely a slow burn and is unlike anything the author has previously written. I really loved the way that Hannah and Fox grow as individuals and also discover their feelings for each other in the novel. Definitely recommend picking this one up if you loved It Happened One Summer!