Review: American Dirt

American Dirt by Jeannie Cummins
Publication: Flatiron & MacMillan
Publication Date: 1/21/20

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

GoodReads Synopsis: Lydia Quixano Perez lives in the Mexican city of Acapulco. She runs a bookstore. She has a son, Luca, the love of her life, and a wonderful husband who is a journalist. And while there are cracks beginning to show in Acapulco because of the drug cartels, her life is, by and large, fairly comfortable.

Even though she knows they’ll never sell, Lydia stocks some of her all-time favorite books in her store. And then one day a man enters the shop to browse and comes up to the register with four books he would like to buy–two of them her favorites. Javier is erudite. He is charming. And, unbeknownst to Lydia, he is the jefe of the newest drug cartel that has gruesomely taken over the city. When Lydia’s husband’s tell-all profile of Javier is published, none of their lives will ever be the same.

Review: American Dirt is the first book I’ve read from Jeannie Cummins. The audiobook narrator of this book was amazing. As I was listening to the book, I felt like I was listening to a drama show. As for the actual book, I was intrigued by the author’s captivating writing style. However, there were times where the story felt like it was dragged on a bit instead of progressing. The relationship between Lydia and Javier fell a bit flat and was inconsistent through the story. Besides those issues, this was still a five star read for me based upon the writing style alone. I’d recommend picking this up if you’re looking for a strong and heavy contemporary novel.

Rating: 5/5

Review: The Wives

The Wives by Tarryn Fisher
Publication: Graydon House
Publication Date: 12/30/19

GoodReads Synopsis: Thursday’s husband, Seth, has two other wives. She’s never met them, and she doesn’t know anything about them. She agreed to this unusual arrangement because she’s so crazy about him.
But one day, she finds something. Something that tells a very different—and horrifying—story about the man she married.
What follows is one of the most twisted, shocking thrillers you’ll ever read.
You’ll have to grab a copy to find out why.

Review: The Wives by Tarryn Fisher was my December BOTM pick and first book I’ve read from Tarryn. This was certainly a five star read for me! I loved the unexpected twists. At one point in the book, I felt so confused that I wasn’t even sure I was understanding what was real and what wasn’t. But what I loved the most of all in this book was the emotion behind this domestic suspense book. Tarryn herself describes it best as this “And in this story, I zone in how women emotionally bankrupt themselves for whom they love.” I highly recommend picking up this book if you’re a fan of domestic thrillers / suspense. Now I need to check out all of Tarryn’s other books!

Rating: 5/5

2019 Reading Reflection & 2020 Reading Goals

2019 has been a year of growth for me. I’ve learned so much about my reading preferences, stepped outside my comfort zone in exploring new genres, stepped up my blog and Instagram game, created my own book club, started going to author events, and have met some great bookish friends in the process.

Here were my 2019 goals:

  • GoodReads Reading Goal: Putting the goal at zero so I focus on books I truly want to read and not stress about getting to a specific number (updated as 1/8/19)
  • Join a book club I will enjoy and to meet new friends
  • Buy less books for myself – buy books for book swaps and utilize the library more

As for my GoodReads goal, I followed this and did not add a number I had to get to. Surprisingly, I surpassed the number of books I’ve read the past couple of years. However, I did notice that I put pressure on myself to try to read 12 books a month when I didn’t have to.

This past year I also learned the importance of DNF. I’m starting to get comfortable with the idea that if a book isn’t for me then it’s okay to not finish it. Life is too short to be wasted on a crummy book when there are so many great ones out there.

As for my second goal, I actually decided to create my own book club which I did back in August. So I’d say this one is accomplished as I met some great new friends and I enjoy my book club.

I pretty much failed my last goal as I ended up expanding my personal library. I also spent way more on books this year than I have in the past which is okay.

Going into 2020, I decided that I’m going to have one goal and it’s this:

Enjoy what I read.

I decided to have one simple goal for 2020 because I realized that reading is a hobby and it’s something I enjoy. I don’t want reading to become a task or something I dread. I look as reading as something to help me mentally unwind and destress and I’d like to keep it that way. There were a few times where I overwhelmed myself by committing to review books that I didn’t care for or didn’t have time to read. 2020 is going to be a year where I’ll take time to enjoy my reads. I want to make sure it’s quality over quantity and that I continue to get comfortable with the idea of DNF.

How was your 2019 reading year? What goals are you planning for 2020?

2019: Year In Review

This year I decided to switch up how I’d present reading year in review. I’ve read some amazing books this year and decided to split them up by categories. Enjoy!

A Woman Is No Man by Etaf Rum – This was such a powerful, emotional, and heartbreaking read. I love that this book shed light on a culture that isn’t discussed much in fiction. I was glad to hear when this was one 2019 BOTY finalists.

Recursion by Blake Crouch – I’m typically not into sci-fi, but I really loved this one! This book really makes you think about the power of memories, time, and to what extent are we willing to break our moral compass. This book was also selected as a 2019 BOTY finalist which I most definitely voted for!

The Great Unexpected by Dan Mooney – This deeply emotional and dark humorous contemporary novel brings up important topics that aren’t widely discussed, i.e. loneliness in senior citizens, living in a nursing home, the feeling of losing your freedom/independence once you live in a nursing home/dependent on caretakers, and grief. This was also our November #OCBooksandBrunch pick. We had a great insightful conversation about this.
Miracle Creek by Angie Kim – I throughly enjoyed reading this legal thriller. I also had the chance to not only meet Angie Kim in person, but she also spoke to #OCBooksandBrunch when we selected her book as our October pick. I really liked this book because it explores how far people would go to push the bounds of familial relationships and friendships, and parenthood.

Before She Was Found by Heather Gundenkauf – This is a great mystery thriller which truly makes you think about how much community, friendship, betrayal can take on with children, parents, and their relationships with each other.

The Wives by Tarryn Fisher – I have a soft spot for domestic thrillers / suspense. What set this book apart from the others is the way the author was able to bring out the emotion and Tarryn Fisher says it perfectly: “…how women emotionally bankrupt themselves for whom they love.”
The Unhoneymooners by Christina Lauren – This year I’ve discovered that I’m a huge fan of enemies turned lovers trope. This was my all-time favorite CLo book! It had all the things I wanted and more: lighthearted, hilarious, and full of romantic scenes. I also had a chance to meet Christina and Lauren back in July which was amazing!

Girl Gone Viral by Alisha Rai – This Book doesn’t release till 2020, but I’m counting it towards the year I read it. This romance read has been my all-time from Alisha Rai so far! I’m grateful that I’ve been able to meet Alisha twice this year ☺️
I love that Alisha incorporates a diverse set of characters in her book with complex backgrounds. I also love the way she incorporates supporting characters from previous books she’s written. What I loved about Girl Gone Viral the most was the main characters and the building of their emotional intimacy is captured so well.

Regretting You by Colleen Hoover – Colleen Hoover really knows how to tear your heart out and give it back to you. This has become one of my favorite CoHo novels to date. I love the strained mother-daughter relationship Colleen captures in here. I can’t wait for Colleen to come to LA for her Regretting You book tour in January!
Maybe You Should Talk To Someone by Lori Gottlieb – I had the chance of meeting the author earlier this year. However, when I met her, I haven’t read her book before. This is one my favorite nonfiction books this year because it really opened my eye to what therapy is all about and how it could truly help a person. Reading about the author’s experience through therapy and her going through sessions with her own patients helped bring perspective.

Bad Blood by John Carreyrou – This was my first read of 2019. Bad Blood initially piqued my interest as it was one of the top 5 books Bill Gates loved in 2018. I really liked how this nonfiction book read as a story so it kept my interest throughout. The author did an excellent job throughly researching. This book was one of the reasons I got into nonfiction this year.

A False Report : A True Story of Rape In America by T. Christian Miller & Ken Armstrong – I heard that show Netflix show, Unbelievable, is based off of this book. I wasn’t sure I would be able to watch the show so I opted to read the book instead. This nonfiction book was very fascinating and very eye opening for me. It really made me question about how rape cases are handled and false accusations.
Us Against You by Fredrik Backman – This is by far my ultimate favorite Backman novel. I can’t believe it took me till this year to discover him. I read all his books this year and he is such a talented writer. Us Against You is all-time favorite for several reasons. First, it’s the first time I ever LOVED a sequel of a book. I didn’t even think it was possible that the first and sequel could BOTH be 5 star reads. Second, I really loved how he took the story from Beartown into a more complex level and was able to eloquently bring up heavy issues.

Conversations With Friends by Sally Rooney- I’m pleasantly surprised that this made it to my top 3 considering that I thought Normal People was mediocre. I’m glad I took a chance on this as the novel really stood out on resonating emotions. The complexities of emotional availability and self perception really stood out.

It Ends With Us by Colleen Hoover – Not only was this my first CoHo book I read, but it was so beautifully written. This is not your typical romance novel. The emotions that Colleen captures in here is insane and makes you really think. I love the way she captures strength and kindness in this novel.

Have you read any of these books? What were your favorite reads in 2019?

Review: 29 Seconds

29 Seconds by T.M. Logan

Publication: St. Martin’s Press

Publication Date: 3/8/18

Disclaimer: I received a free finished copy of this book from St. Martin’s Press in exchange for my honest opinion. This has no effect on my opinion, review, or rating.

GoodReads Synposis: When Sarah rescues a young girl in trouble, she expects nothing in return. But her act of bravery puts a powerful and dangerous man in her debt. He lives by his own brutal code, and all debts must be repaid – in the only way he knows how.

He offers Sarah a way to solve a desperate situation with her intolerable boss. A once-in-a-lifetime deal that will make all her problems disappear.

No consequences. No comeback. No chance of being found out.

All it takes is a 29 second phone call.

Review: 29 Seconds is the second book I’ve read from T.M. Logan. Overall, this was a solid three star thriller for me. The storyline was intriguing and action packed from page one. However, the plot seemed to be a bit too far fetched for my taste. I didn’t see one of the twists coming which was a pleasant surprise. I found Sarah to be such a weak and naive main character which irked me a lot, but I enjoyed learning a bit more about the other characters. Personally, I liked Lies better than 29 Seconds. If this is on your TBR, then it may be up your alley.

Rating: 3/5

Review: Regretting You

Regretting You by Colleen Hoover
Publication: Montlake Romance
Publication Date: 12/10/19

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

GoodReads Synopsis: Morgan Grant and her sixteen-year-old daughter, Clara, would like nothing more than to be nothing alike.

Morgan is determined to prevent her daughter from making the same mistakes she did. By getting pregnant and married way too young, Morgan put her own dreams on hold. Clara doesn’t want to follow in her mother’s footsteps. Her predictable mother doesn’t have a spontaneous bone in her body.

With warring personalities and conflicting goals, Morgan and Clara find it increasingly difficult to coexist. The only person who can bring peace to the household is Chris—Morgan’s husband, Clara’s father, and the family anchor. But that peace is shattered when Chris is involved in a tragic and questionable accident. The heartbreaking and long-lasting consequences will reach far beyond just Morgan and Clara.

While struggling to rebuild everything that crashed around them, Morgan finds comfort in the last person she expects to, and Clara turns to the one boy she’s been forbidden to see. With each passing day, new secrets, resentment, and misunderstandings make mother and daughter fall further apart. So far apart, it might be impossible for them to ever fall back together.

Review: I was so excited to get an ARC of Colleen Hoover’s latest novel, Regretting You. Her writing style always grips you from the beginning and you get so engrossed with the story whether you love it or hate. Her books usually go either extreme of the spectrum for me which I love because it keeps me on my toes.

Regretting You is honestly one of my top 3 favorite books from her! The characters were well developed and I loved the alternating mother/daughter POV. This reads sort of like a YA and kind of not. I love that Colleen’s writing grips the reader from the beginning and the reader is so engrossed with the storyline. Overall if you love romance or if you’re already a fan of CoHo, you’ll definitely want to add this one onto your TBR.

Rating: 4/5