Book Lists Book Reviews

Second Quarter Reading

July 6, 2017

Back at the beginning of the year, I set a goal to read 120 books in 2017 which seemed fairly ambitious since that was more books than I’d read since 2012 (last year, I only read 71, and in 2015, it was 82).

So I’m super thrilled that I’ve read 64 books so far this year.

Of course, my to-read list is growing much faster than my reading rate, so . . . I better get to work.

Here’s what I’ve read in the second quarter of this year:

Hit Makers: The Science of Popularity in an Age of Distraction by Derek Thompson
I cannot stop talking about this book – it is the most fascinating non-fiction book about why some things become wildly popular (think the iPhone, Star Wars, Fifty Shades of Gray, The Beatles, etc) and other things flounder in obscurity (think . . everything you’ve never heard and neither has anyone else).

For the Love of Money: A Memoir of Family, Addiction, and a Wall Street Trader’s Journey to Redefine Success by Sam Polk
I read this on the airplane on my way home from New York in March and while I’m not sure I’d recommend it to anyone (there’s a lot of swearing and some fairly gritty content), this was a completely fascinating book about a Wall Street trader who came up from a really sad, poor background, just about ruined his life with drugs and stupidity, and then made good in the banking industry. And then walked away from it all.

The Borrowers by Mary Norton
I read this aloud to Ella and Ani, and there were some parts I liked, but overall, it’s not my favorite childhood classic.

Funny in Farsi: A Memoir of Growing Up Iranian in America by Firoozeh Dumas
I love her so much and I wish she’d write a thousand books. I laughed my head off and couldn’t believe I’d waited so long to read this.

Never Split the Difference: Negotiating As If Your Life Depended On It by Chris Voss
I feel like I should have taken notes so I could refer back to the main points in this book, both for my business and my parenting.

The Coincidence of Coconut Cake by Amy E. Reichert
This fluffy chick-lit was billed as a You’ve Got Mail-type of story and it was cute enough, but not nearly as cute as Meg Ryan and Tom Hanks.

Where the Light Gets In: Losing My Mother Only to Find Her Again by Kimberly Williams-Paisley
Written by the star of Father of the Bride (which I’ve never seen), this memoir about dealing with her mother’s early-onset dementia was really heart breaking.

The Adventures of Nanny Piggins by R. A. Spratt
Sometimes, there is nothing better than a truly hilarious and fun children’s read. This reminded me a tiny bit of A Series of Unfortunate Events, but better.

The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Jenkins Reid
I’ve really liked some of her books (most especially One True Loves), but I didn’t care for this one at ALL.

Movers, Shaker, Mommies and Makers: Success Stories from Momprenuers by Stacey Bannor
I got a copy of this book from Ali, the founder of Sage & Harper who is the first Momprenuer featured in this book, and it was so inspiring and interesting!

Before I Go by Colleen Oakely
This was pretty heartbreaking, about a woman who beats breast cancer and then, a few years later, it returns.

Laughing Without An Accent: Adventures of an Iranian American at Home and Abroad by Firoozeh Dumas
This one was just as good as the first, which was extremely impressive.

99 Days by Katie Cotugno
I read this book about 6 weeks ago, and when I saw it on my Goodreads list, I could hardly even remember it. Super fluffy teen lit.

All Fall Down by Jennifer Weiner
I haven’t read a Jennifer Weiner book in YEARS, but this one was available on audio when I was desperate for something to listen to on my runs, and it was pretty interesting about a woman who works from home as a blogger/content creator and the stress of that plus being a mom sends her into the arms of prescription pain killers.

A Season of Daring Greatly by Ellen Emerson White
Oh, I just love Ellen Emerson White. Her writing style just delights me on every single page. This one, about a girl who becomes the first female pitcher for a major league baseball team was no exception.

Summerlost by Ally Condie (full review here)
This was such a fun, quick middle-grade read about a Shakespeare Festival and a girl trying to adjust to a new life after the death of her dad.

Always and Forever, Lara Jean by Jenny Han
If you watch my Instagram stories, you know I’m completely obsessed with this series. I read this one twice in a row because it was that good.

Windfall by Jennifer E. Smith
I think Jennifer E. Smith has great concepts (in this one, a girl buys a lottery ticket for her best friend who she happens to have a massive secret crush on, and he wins MILLIONS of dollars), but I almost always feel like they fall kind of flat. And to be fair, reading this after Lara Jean meant EVERY young adult novel was going to come up short.

The Magnolia Story by Chip and Joanna Gaines
I don’t actually watch Fixer Upper (I’ve seen maybe four episodes) but this was such a fun, delightful read and made me like them even more than I already do.

#famous by Jilly Ganon
Okay, if Windfall was semi-lame, this was one UBER-lame. This one really seemed far-fetched to me.

To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before by Jenny Han (full review here)
Basically, when every book is lacking in comparison to Jenny Han, the only option is to go back to Jenny Han. I love this series so much.

P.S. I Still Love You by Jenny Han
I told you I love this series. And I actually read this one and To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before TWICE, back to back. Because, what’s summer for, anyway?

My Lady Jane by Cynthia Hand, Brodi Ashton and Jodi Meadows
This one was non-stop laughs (I told my mom I was listening to a hilarious book about Lady Jane Gray and she was all, “Um, her story isn’t very funny.”). This is true, but the retelling and complete deviation from fact was laugh-out-loud hilarious.

P.S. I Like You by Kasie West
Kasie West isn’t Jenny Han, but I really do like her YA books and find them just super delightful.

By Your Side by Kasie West
This one was better than P.S. I Like You and just very cute.

When Dimple Met Rishi by Sandhya Menon
This one really drew me in and there was a lot to like about it. The premise is that Dimple and Rishi are betrothed, but Dimple’s parents never mentioned that to her and so when the two meet at a coding camp before they go to college, it’s a pretty rude surprise for both of them. It’s definitely got some plot issues, though and I wouldn’t put it in my favorites category.

Always and Forever, Lara Jean by Jenny Han
Yes, I read it again. Third time’s a charm. Until I read it a fourth time.

Every Wild Heart by Meg Donohue
I’ve never read anything by Meg Donohue and though it took me a couple of chapters to really settle into this one, I ended up quite enjoying it and I’m planning to read some of her other books.

The Wild Robot by Peter Brown
The girls and I listened to this in the car while we were driving back and forth to swimming lessons last month, and they really liked it. I thought it was medium, and I was surprised by how violent the ending was.

Echo by Pam Muñoz Ryan (full review here)
Oh this was so so good. Definitely listen to it on audio if you can (the audiobook is currently on sale for $3.95 which is a SMOKING deal).

Hello Sunshine by Laura Dave
I quite liked Eight Hundred Grapes, but this one seemed a little far-fetched to me about a woman who faked being a great cook for her YouTube cooking show, but the whole thing was pretty much a fraud. It seemed too message-y (the dangers of social media!) to me, but still a fun read.

 

What have you read and liked (or not liked!) in the last few months?

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18 Comments

  • Reply Kate @ Opinionated Book Lover July 6, 2017 at 6:32 am

    I’m in the middle of Hello, Sunshine right now, and I’m not loving it. I did enjoye The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo though – but not as much as some of her other books. Great job sticking with your goal!

  • Reply Melanie July 6, 2017 at 9:25 am

    I also laughed my way through My Lady Jane. The premise seemed not at all my type of book, but I ended up loving it. I felt like Evelyn Hugo was gimmicky and kind of just going for shock value . Windfall was bland. I actually didn’t love the latest Jenny Han book; I loved the first in the series but thought it went downhill after that. If you haven’t already read The Willoughbys I think you’d love it. The humor might be beyond your girls for a few more years (well, maybe not Ella) but it’s one of those kids/middle grade books thats humor works really well for adults too.

  • Reply Katherine July 6, 2017 at 9:30 am

    I’ve gotten so many good recommendations from you! I have a goal for 60 books this year and I’m at 29 right now. Would be 30 but I couldn’t get past page 100 of Walkable City. It was interesting but I couldn’t imagine what else he could possibly say on the topic? It seemed redundant to me.

    This quarter I read:
    Talking As Fast As I Can by Lauren Graham- This inspired me to spend a bunch of time not reading and watch Gilmore Girls instead. My favorite thing about this book is her aversion (if you want to call it that) to cell phones and other technology being in our faces all the time. Highly recommend.

    Where the Light Gets In by Kimberly Williams Paisley- I read this book quickly but I thought it was a lot of over sharing of really personal information and stories and if I wrote a book like that about my mom I think she would haunt me for basically ever.

    One True Loves by Taylor Jenkins Reid- On one hand I loved this book but on the other hand I thought about it for like 3 days after, because I couldn’t get over all the flaws in the story line…. haha! 5 stars for being thought provoking though.

    Keep Me Posted by Lisa Beazley- This was a good one! Two sisters write snail mail letters back and forth and then they end up published on the internet and very popular. Cute, funny and soooo cringe-worthy!

    One Perfect Lie- Lisa Scottoline- Having the main character be male is somewhat of a different thing for me in my reading so I enjoyed that about it. I also thought the story was a little confusing, because between part I and part II (is I think where it happens) there’s a huge shift in how the author portrays that main character, so I thought that was weird, but it was different and ultimately I thought it was really good.

    Funny in Farsi by Faroozeh Dumas- Like you, I also thought this book was hilarious. A really quick read and I laughed a bunch.

    Creativity, Inc by Ed Catmull- I enjoyed this book but it was kind of a trudge. I learned a lot about Pixar though and that was interesting. I especially thought that after I read the next book….

    Things A Little Bird Told Me by Biz Stone- I read this right after Creativity, Inc and I read it in an evening and then the next morning, so by comparison it was a quickie quick read. I started off loathing Biz and his ego but by the end I appreciated his honesty and really liked the book.

    To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before by Jenny Han- I got this from the library and let it sit on the counter for a few weeks untouched. The cover made it seem juvenile and silly, but then Janssen kept raving about it on Stories so I gave it a shot and I think it’s one of the best books I’ve ever read. I loved it and it made me so nostalgic. The library hold lines were long for books 2 and 3 so halfway through this one I ordered the other two from Amazon and checked my doorstep every two seconds until finally, finally they came and then I read the other two in the series in a day.

    PS I Still Love You
    Always and Forever, Lara Jean

    And now I’m working on the Aisles Have Eyes!

    Thanks for all the recommendations!

  • Reply Torrie July 6, 2017 at 11:21 am

    I’m in the middle of reading some of these as well (or they’re on my TBR list), so I’ll be interested to see what I think of them compared to your reviews! I’m also reading a couple Shauna Niequist books (just finished Present over Perfect, have just started Bread & Wine), and am mostly finished reading Dreamland Burning and Textbook Amy Krouse Rosenthal (all of which I’ve quite enjoyed so far—it’s been a good summer for reading!).

    Thanks for posting all your books! It always gives me some good ideas.

  • Reply Diana July 6, 2017 at 1:13 pm

    I don’t know if it’s just because I get some recommendations from you (thank you for Lara Jean!) or if we just have pretty similar reading tastes but we read many of the same books!
    Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo – I think I liked it more than you (but One True Loves is my favorite of hers!) but didn’t LOVE it like many people seem to.
    Hello Sunshine -enjoyed it but it was mostly forgettable
    When Dimple Met Rishi – cute YA, enjoyable
    Hit Makers – I liked it but it was a little tough to get through, I think I just like novels in the summer! (I say, as I’m reading nonfiction right now about to blog about another nonfiction I really enjoyed…)
    Summerlost – I read this after you blogged about it and enjoyed it!
    I have The Windfall on my stack to read soon and adding Every Wild Heart because, somehow, my TBR is getting short! (ish)

  • Reply brianna July 6, 2017 at 2:58 pm

    I adored Lauren Graham’s book – I just love her. I love Gilmore Girls, but strongly disliked the revival. I thought Evelyn Hugo was the better of Taylor Jenkins Reid’s books, though.

  • Reply Amber W. July 6, 2017 at 3:49 pm

    I’m such a sucker for Cassandra Clare books and the shadowhunter world she’s created. I’ve just her newest addition to The Dark Artifices series. I felt the story was slow with all the different characters and having to hear each person’s viewpoint in any given situation, and it’s hard to get past some of the more social/political agendas she throws in there. I’m sure I will read the next one when it comes out, though, since I hate not knowing how something ends.

  • Reply Paige July 6, 2017 at 4:47 pm

    I actually read three books last quarter which is impressive compare to the rest of the year! I read Boys in the Boat, The Magnolia Story, and The Extra Mile (which is a book about a mom who becomes an ultra marathon runner and in my opinion the book is EXCELLENT even if you have no desire to run an ultra. It was actually my second time reading it!)

  • Reply Alissa July 6, 2017 at 7:07 pm

    I’m glad to know I’m not alone in not liking the seven husband book. (It was a big rave at BookExpo). I love Taylor’s other stuff but this was meh. I liked Hello Sunshine. My favorite read lately is The Address by Fiona Davis which comes out in August. For light beach reading I enjoyed The Shark Club for something different and Fitness Junkie was hilarious.

  • Reply Rachael July 6, 2017 at 9:48 pm

    I just quit reading the Seven husbands of Evelyn Hugo and I am wondering if it was for the same reasons you did not care for it. I quit a little over 125 pages in. Did you read the whole thing or abandon it? I am so disappointed because I loved two of her other books and bought them after reading them from the library because they were so fun.

    Thank you!
    Rachael
    https://www.instagram.com/readingbringsjoy/

    • Reply Janssen Bradshaw July 13, 2017 at 11:21 am

      Having read her other books, this one seemed so much more graphic to me – it just made me too uncomfortable to read.

  • Reply AmySo July 10, 2017 at 7:56 am

    Reading goals are so interesting to me! I have half the kids at home that you do, and no littles left, but I can’t imagine being able to read ten books a month. (Which I say out of admiration!) I’m about 3 or 4. I try to read between 50-60 books a year. And, the truth is, I usually have 50-60 books checked out at any one time, lol! 🙂 Love reading your lists!

  • Reply Angie July 10, 2017 at 10:58 am

    A Season of Daring Greatly! Yay!

    • Reply Janssen Bradshaw July 13, 2017 at 11:22 am

      I think you might be the one I first heard about her from!

  • Reply Tina July 10, 2017 at 1:34 pm

    One of my favorite books of the past quarter was We Were the Lucky ones by Georgia Hunter. It’s fiction, but based on her family’s experience during World War II. It is fantastic!

  • Reply Salem July 12, 2017 at 3:54 pm

    Have you read It’s not Summer Without You and The Summer I turned Pretty by Jenny Han. I can’t get the Lara Jean series from the library but they do have these two. Wondering if they’re worth it?

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