First week back and I accomplished my reading goal for the week! My Dark Vanessa was one of the best books that I’ve read in a very long time. And after many weeks of slowly making my way through Becoming, I finished it yesterday afternoon instead of making my weekly grocery list..
What I Read Last Week
What I’m Reading This Week
I put Dear Martin on hold a few months ago at the library and it popped up earlier last week that it was available to download. As a young adult novel, it shouldn’t take too long to read this week, and then I’ll make my way to what was originally an ARC but has since been published back in February… Buy Yourself the F*cking Lilies. I would like to read it so that I will be 100% caught up on my ARCs from NetGalley.
Looking forward to reading what all of you read this past week and what’s upcoming in your lives – Leave a comment below and link your posts.
It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? is a place to meet up and share what you have been, and are about to be reading over the week. It’s a great post to organize yourself. This meme started on J Kaye’s blog and then was hosted by Sheila from Book Journey. Sheila then passed it on to Kathryn at The Book Date.
When it comes to An American Marriage, it was my first jump back into the world of fiction. Books two through five of 2020 were non-fiction novels surrounding the criminal justice system and the CIA, so I thought I would lighten it up a bit and pick up a novel that was recommended to me by multiple people. This review is out of order of the books I read due to the complicity of this story and the time it took me to put my words on the page.
Roy and Celestial were a newly married couple who were quickly faced with an impending trial. Roy is arrested for a crime that he didn’t commit and is sentenced to 12 years in prison. What follows in this novel is a story of love, loyalty, and an exploration into the idea of marriage.
“Much of life is timing and circumstance, I see that now.”
I would say that An American Marriage is an interesting read that left me thinking a lot about the meaning of marriage. I flew through this book – Tayari Jone’s descriptions of characters and emotions drove me to need to know how Celestial and Roy were going to react in certain situations.
“None of this proposing via billboard or at halftime at the Rose Bowl. Marriage is between two people. There is no studio audience.”
One aspect that really stood out to me was how incarceration can change relationships. A large portion of the novel was letters between Roy and Celestial. (I loved the style of this!) In the beginning of his incarceration, the letters are full of love and longing to be back together, but over time the letters become angry and eventually Celestial stops writing letters all together. When two individuals take vows to love each other — for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health — there is an expectation that this means forever.
An American Marriage was focused on relationships and communication, just as much as it was on race. Jones did an impeccable job at marrying the themes together to allow the reader to embrace the story. I loved the complexity of the relationships, and how it made me think about my own life. Originally, I rated this book a 4/5, however after reflecting on it, I changed my rating to a 5/5
This past week was full of gym time, warm clothes and skiing. Honestly, I spent very little time reading and it was phenomenal. I am glad that I took a mini-break and watched hours of television and movies. I spent time at the gym and surfing the internet — It was a mini-break well spent.
“It’s Monday! What are you reading?” is a weekly meme hosted by Book Date.
In times of stress, I find that cleaning, organizing, reading and cooking is the best way to de-stress. In the last week I’ve begun to organize my bookshelf and purge the books that I am never going to read. I’ve developed my spreadsheet** to encompass many different aspects of my reading life, and it is just one of those things that puts little hearts in my eyes. While I don’t really want to *schedule* the order of the books that I am reading, this year my focus is prioritizing my ARCs and library books, while also focusing on slimming down my unread shelved books.
“It’s Monday! What are you reading?” is a weekly meme hosted by Book Date.
What I Read Last Week
Words cannot describe exactly how much I loved Educated: A Memoir. There will be a full review coming in a few weeks.
If you haven’t read this memoir yet, pick it up from your local library or bookstore ASAP!
What I’m Reading This Week
There Will Be Stars is my priority this week. This is my January book from my personal unread bookshelf. We’re getting towards the end of January — how did that happen??
I’m about 100 pages into this novel, but it is a slow read. This isn’t my first time picking it up and I’m wondering if it’s worth giving this much attention to. In the past, I’ve read the first 30 pages about three times, but I couldn’t make it over the hump.
Have any of you read There Will Be Stars? It looks like it is going to be a light and airy novel, but it is not… I’m open to any insight you all might have!
**I wish I could remember the exact person I found the spreadsheet template from that I adopted mine from (shout-out and HUGE thank you to whoever you are!)
Throughout 2018 I focused on clearing out my To-Be Read (TBR) list on Goodreads, but I never focused on reading the books that were located physically on my shelves at home. Other than reading 30+ books this year, my biggest goal is to focus on reading books that I have owned for at least a year. For my own accountability, I have developed a list of 12 books for this year that I must read before the end of the month that is listed.
There Will Be Stars by Billy Coffey (January) — It’s been started!
The Red Tent by Anita Diamant (February)
To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee (March)
Harvesting the Heart by Jodi Picoult (April)
Middlesex by Jeffrey Eugendies (May)
Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe (June)
Happiness: The Crooked Little Road to Semi-Ever After by Heather Harpham (July)
All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr (August)
Slaughterhouse-Five by Kurt Vonnegut (September)
Bone Machine by Martyn Waites (October)
The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald (November)
The Girl Who Played With Fire by Steig Larsson (December)
I figure that I will read way more than these 12 books from my personal bookshelf this year; but honestly… who knows. Last year I read a measly six books that I physically owned, so this is the year to do better.
I know that in 2019 my TBR list will grow, but at the same time I want my physically owned TBR list to shrink significantly. I hope that by prioritizing this goal, it will actually get accomplished.
Do you prioritize library books over books you already own?
Do you make a reading schedule for yourself to figure out when to read your ARCs vs your library books vs your owned books?
This week’s topic: Most Anticipated Releases for the First Half of 2019
Prior to entering this strange, beautiful book-loving community, the only time I ever knew a book was going to be released was if it was a Jodi Picoult novel. I marked those dates in heavy ink on my calendar and (not-so) patiently waited for a glimpse into the real-life novels that Picoult wrote. Since becoming more active in the book community, I’ve begun to stumble across books before they are released — some through NetGalley and some through Goodreads and news articles. Below you can find four books that I am really looking forward to being released in the first half of 2019!
Two Can Keep A Secret by Karen M. McManus Expected Publication Date: January 8, 2019 (AKA TODAY!)
As a huge Pretty Little Liars fan back in the day, the title and tagline caught my eye. Two can keep a secret if one is dead? Um, absolutely. I’ve been on the list for this book since it was placed on the library website… and somehow I’m in the 9th place! Hopefully they ordered a few copies so I can get my hands of this beauty in the next few weeks.
Goodreads Synopsis: Echo Ridge is small-town America. Ellery’s never been there, but she’s heard all about it. Her aunt went missing there at age seventeen. And only five years ago, a homecoming queen put the town on the map when she was killed. Now Ellery has to move there to live with a grandmother she barely knows.
The town is picture-perfect, but it’s hiding secrets. And before school even begins for Ellery, someone’s declared open season on homecoming, promising to make it as dangerous as it was five years ago. Then, almost as if to prove it, another girl goes missing.
Ellery knows all about secrets. Her mother has them; her grandmother does too. And the longer she’s in Echo Ridge, the clearer it becomes that everyone there is hiding something. The thing is, secrets are dangerous–and most people aren’t good at keeping them. Which is why in Echo Ridge, it’s safest to keep your secrets to yourself.
Parkland: Birth of a Movementby Dave Cullen Expected Publication Date: February 12, 2019
I’ve known the name Dave Cullen for the past few years. In high school, one of my close friends was writing her Extended Essay on school shootings, and I believe that his book titled Columbine was one of her sources. I’m interested to see his thoughts on the Parkland massacre — and how it is the same and different from Columbine in 1999.
Goodreads Synopsis: The New York Times bestselling author of Columbine offers a deeply moving account of the extraordinary teenage survivors of the Parkland shooting who pushed back against the NRA and Congressional leaders and launched the singular grassroots March for Our Lives movement.
Emma Gonzalez called BS. David Hogg called out Adult America. The uprising had begun. Cameron Kasky immediately recruited a colorful band of theatre kids and rising activists and brought them together in his living room to map out a movement. Four days after escaping Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, two dozen extraordinary kids announced the audacious March for Our Lives. A month later, it was the fourth largest protest in American history.
Dave Cullen, who has been reporting on the epidemic of school shootings for two decades, takes us along on the students’ nine-month odyssey to the midterms and beyond. With unrivaled access to their friends and families, meetings and homes, he pulls back the curtain to reveal intimate portraits of the quirky, playful organizers that have taken the nation by storm.
Cullen brings us onto the bus for the Road to Change tour showing us how these kids seized an opportunity. They hit the highway to organize the young activist groups mushrooming across America in their image. Rattled but undeterred, they pressed on in gun country even as adversaries armed with assault weapons tailed them across Texas and Utah trying to scare them off.
The Parkland students are genuinely candid about their experiences. We see them cope with shattered friendships and PTSD, along with the normal day-to-day struggles of school, including AP exams and college acceptances. Yet, with the idealism of youth they are mostly bubbling with fresh ideas. As victims refusing victimhood, they continue to devise clever new tactics to stir their generation to action while building a powerhouse network to match the NRA’s.
This spell-binding book is a testament to change and a perceptive examination of a pivotal moment in American culture. After two decades of adult hand-wringing, the MFOL kids are mapping a way out. They see a long road ahead, a generational struggle to save every kid of every color from the ravages of gun violence in America. Parkland is a story of staggering empowerment and hope, told through the wildly creative and wickedly funny voices of a group of remarkable kids.
Furious Hours: Murder, Fraud and the Last Trial of Harper Lee by Casey Cep Expected Publication Date: May 6, 2019
Harper Lee is one of the authors that I am tackling in 2019. To date, I haven’t read To Kill A Mockingbird, but I have it on my bookshelf along with Go Set a Watchman. I’d like to read the two stories first and then delve into the story about Harper Lee.
Goodreads Synopsis: The stunning story of an Alabama serial killer and the true-crime book that Harper Lee worked on obsessively in the years after To Kill a Mockingbird.
Reverend Willie Maxwell was a rural preacher accused of murdering five of his family members for insurance money in the 1970s. With the help of a savvy lawyer, he escaped justice for years until a relative shot him dead at the funeral of his last victim. Despite hundreds of witnesses, Maxwell’s murderer was acquitted–thanks to the same attorney who had previously defended the Reverend.
Sitting in the audience during the vigilante’s trial was Harper Lee, who had traveled from New York City to her native Alabama with the idea of writing her own In Cold Blood, the true-crime classic she had helped her friend Truman Capote research seventeen years earlier. Lee spent a year in town reporting, and many more working on her own version of the case.
Now Casey Cep brings this story to life, from the shocking murders to the courtroom drama to the racial politics of the Deep South. At the same time, she offers a deeply moving portrait of one of the country’s most beloved writers and her struggle with fame, success, and the mystery of artistic creativity.
Juliet the Maniac by Juliet Escoria Expected Publication Date: May 7, 2019
I stumbled across this novel in the past few weeks. I’ve requested it on NetGalley, as well. There’s something about the idea of hearing about life from the perspective of ‘the bad friend’ that really intrigued me.
Goodreads Synopsis: It’s 1997, and 14-year-old Juliet has it pretty good. But over the course of the next two years, she rapidly begins to unravel, finding herself in a downward trajectory of mental illness and self-destruction. An explosive portrayal of teenage life from the perspective of The Bad Friend, JULIET THE MANIAC is a bold, stylish breakout book from an author already crackling on the indie scene.
Have you heard of any of these books?
Where do you typically hear about upcoming releases?
“It’s Monday! What are you reading?” is a weekly meme hosted by Book Date. I participated in this meme throughout a better part of 2018 and I am hoping to keep up with this weekly post throughout 2019. Last week I didn’t make a post because it was December 31st and I was preparing my End of the Year Review, which you can view here!
If this is your first time visiting Arguably Alexis, welcome! If you’ve been here before, thanks for coming back 🙂
I can’t believe that 2018 is over (t-minus 18 hours!) I started Arguably Alexis back in February, and it has been a learning experience where I’ve picked up pieces about the blogging world and about myself. But even more than that, I reached my twenty-eighteen reading goal.
Back in January, I set out to read 52 books in the year — a goal that I wasn’t sure would be attainable. Looking at my reading goal from 2017 (12 books), which I surpassed by a mile (I finished 40 books!), I figured I could fit in a book a week.
In the first six months, I read 37 books. From January through the end of June, I was working a handful of jobs. But the first of July, I found a new job and that became my main focus — it was also a job that involved a lot of reading all day long. So from July to December, I read 20 books. While that is a rather large decrease in the number of books I read in the later part of the year, I am still impressed with the total number.
I don’t have any 1-star ratings because I only chose books that I thought I would really enjoy (although there were a few duds). I fell into a few reading slumps, especially towards the end of the year and during April when I was traveling, but I pulled myself out of those holes and found books that I loved.
I enjoyed starting Arguably Alexis this year because it allowed me to find a community in the book world that I didn’t know existed. While I still have a long way to go in connect with people around the globe, I am thrilled with the progress that I’ve made so far — and I look forward to the progress that we will make in 2019!
Books: 57 (goal was 52)
⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️: 10 books
⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️: 19 books
⭐️⭐️⭐️: 24 books
⭐️⭐️: 2 books
Number of Pages: 17,586
Number of Re-reads: 1
Where My Books Came From:
The numbers below didn’t surprise me. I love to take out books from the library because they are the newest books out there (I read 17 books from 2018 this year!) One of the goals that I’ve set myself for 2019 is to read at least one book from my personal bookshelf each month. I have a huge collection to get through and it’s probably time that I start. I have been told that I need to read more from my own personal bookshelf. This will allow me to clear out some of my to-be read list and maybe buy more books in the coming year!
From Personal Bookshelf
Borrowed (Library + Overdrive)
Best of 2018
I had zero doubts or questions when thinking about which were my favorite two books of 2018. In fact, anyone who asks me for a book recommendation these days receives the names of both of these books — they also make great holiday presents.
I received The Sun Does Shineas an ARC from NetGalley back before its March release date. Anthony Ray Hinton’s story changed my perspective on life. I am still angry and heartbroken for the innocent individuals who are locked up in prison. Why is the criminal justice system not helping those who plead their innocence? It’s frustrating to know that these individuals are not receiving the care they deserve.
And The Tattooist of Auschwitz was a random find on the public library website. Somehow the algorithm was perfect that day because this book landed in my hands and I couldn’t tear my eyes from the page. To read a fictionalized version of the true story of a young man who served as the tattooist at Auschwitz was remarkable. The anguish that Heather Morris was able to pull from the story of Lale’s time in the concentration camps is just memorable.
Books That Didn’t Meet My Expectations:
I was incredibly disappointed in Eat Pray Love and The Book Thief. I entered 2018 with very high expectations for these two novels because I know so many people who have read them and enjoyed them, but ultimately they just didn’t meet what I was looking for.
Favorite Books By New (to Me) Authors:
I requested some stellar books from NetGalley this year that I ended up truly enjoying. The Extraordinary Life of Sam Hellwas another book that I just couldn’t put down. While Robert Dugoni is not a new author by any means, he was definitely unknown to me!
Celeste Ng was a new author to me back in January 2018, but is now a favorite author in my household. I enjoyed Little Fires Everywhere, but to be completely honest… Everything I Never Told You trumps it. If I were to choose a third favorite book of the year, it would be this.
Favorite Books From Authors I’ve Read Previously:
In 2018 I focused on reading a variety of authors and new to me authors. In fact, out of the 57 books that I read during the year, they had a total of 54 different authors. And out of that 54, I read 46 new to me authors this year. That is something that I am incredibly proud of because I spent many years only reading Jodi Picoult (whom I love!!), but I wasn’t diverse in my reading selection. And now I can say whole-heartedly that I will happily read all different types of authors.
Other than the Goodreads Challenge, I participate in one other challenge during 2018 called the Around the Year in 52 Books Challenge. While I started off incredibly strong, I was unable to finish the entire challenge and only read 37 of the 52 topics.
You know, I am really happy with the way my reading goals turned out in 2018. I am looking forward to seeing what comes up in 2019 — new books, new authors and new challenges! Happy New Years everyone 🙂
This is the last episode of TBR Tackle Thursday for 2018. I’ve spent the last several months looking through my to be read list that I’ve built on Goodreads. This (semi-regular) blog post looked at each book that I had added since I began using Goodreads in the end of 2016 that I hadn’t read yet.
From reading different blogs in the book review community, I feel as if there are two groups of people: those who buy themselves books and those who do not. I’m part of the latter community – I try very, very hard not to buy myself books. I prefer to get them from the library to not fill up my already clogged bookshelves. (Let’s face it, I do buy books but I try hard not too).