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may 2019 book club

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Like years past, Dani and I are doing our annual reading challenge with new categories this year! Despite a super strong start to the year with books – maybe it was the gross weather that was driving me inside – I fell off a bit in March and April. This month, I did make a bit of a comeback.

I still love my Kindle – especially the feature that lets you check out library books – and Amazon’s Kindle First Reads have been really great lately too. (They offer six free books to choose from every month, so you can read them before release.)

Amazon also has another ebook hack I’ve found – I purchased a “Great on Kindle” book, which gives you about 75% of that purchase back for a future Kindle book purchase. I’ve been turning those credits for a bit and I’m pretty well stocked on my summer reads now!

The Overdue Life of Amy Byler: One of the recent Kindle First Reads picks, I started reading this while we were in Minneapolis, killing time while Evan was in panels and I was the “conference girlfriend.” It’s an okay book. The main character is a likable heroine, and her relationship with her daughter was great, but I felt like there were some strange plot choices. It was fine for a free read.

No Hard Feelings: A book by best friends about feelings and communication in the workplace, this was a book I DESPERATELY needed to read. The animations are adorable, and since it was a library book, I did what I often do with books I don’t own – I took pictures of relevant pages and passages I wanted to remember. With this book, though, I nearly photographed the entire thing. Pick this up for sure, but if you need more convincing, I did a full review of this book over on!

The Girl He Used to Know: This book was being recommended everywhere, and with good reason. I was completely hooked from the beginning. Split in two different timelines, it’s the story of a woman who reconnects with her ex years later – an ex who was the only person to ever really understand her. If you’re looking for non-neurotypical heroines, put this on the top of your list.

The Stranger Beside Me: Finally, I gave in to the hype and listened to this audiobook on Hoopla. Ann Rule narrates it, and the production of the version I listened to wasn’t great, but it’s a really comprehensive story of all the missteps and near-misses on Bundy’s spree. As a true crime fan, this is one of the best books out there.

Wondering how I read so much? My libraries use Libby – see if your library has a partnership, and check out the mobile app!

Sadie: HOLY COWWWWW I LOVED THIS. I put a hold on it last summer, and I was so pumped to finally get it. It was SO worth the wait. Another split timeline book, one timeline is told in podcast transcripts by a man who is trying to figure out what happened to Sadie. The other timeline is Sadie’s experience. The multimedia put into it is great (the publisher released the podcast parts of the audiobook as an actual podcast) and I’m still thinking about the end of the book, weeks after reading it. Without giving too many spoilers away, I truly hope that Sadie got vengeance.

The Happiness Project: This book was one of the first “want to read” books I added on Goodreads all the way back in 2012! I like to listen to non-fiction books while working (they’re like the original podcasts), and this was a really nice one to listen to, especially in the mornings. Another Hoopla book that’s worth a read, if your library offers it!

The Wild Heart of Stevie Nicks: Rob Sheffield is the king of music journalism, and his love of Stevie Nicks might even surpass mine. This Audible original, narrated by him, is a nice, fast listen – if for no other reason than Rob’s voice is so soothing and his love for Stevie and the Mac really comes through. (I feel like I also need to disclose that I’m lucky enough to call Rob my friend – just one more thing The Hold Steady has given me!)

It Doesn’t Have to Be Crazy at Work: Written by the founders of Basecamp, I was hoping that this was going to be a book of tips on how to help implement “less craziness” in your current workplace. To a degree, that’s true, but parts of it just sounded like it was hyping Basecamp as the perfect company (which didn’t help my existing workplace envy!) It is a good, fast listen, though, and I’d recommend it.

Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine: Another super-hyped book, this one took me a LONG time to get into. I wasn’t really hooked until probably 70% of the way through the book, but I’m very glad that I kept on going. Usually I can see twists a mile away, but that wasn’t the case in this one. Another really great neuro-divergent character that’s worth a read.

Do you read non-fiction and career books? What have been your favorites lately?

June 1, 2019

may book club 2018

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I’ve been reading more than ever the past few months. My boyfriend got me a Kindle last fall, and turns out that has been the key to unlocking voracious reading. This month was even more excessive than normal – a flight to California allowed for some dedicated reading time, and (finally) having really nice weather and setting up the patio office meant I just wanted to camp out with coffee and a book at all times!

Dani and I also created our own reading challenge this year to increase our reading: 51 categories to prompt us to pick up books we wouldn’t typically read (or books that have languished in TBR-land for too long.) Here’s what I read this month, including what you should pick up and what you should let lay!

My Own Devices*: My queen Dessa wrote a memoir. And what an amazing story it is. I’m going to do a full review post on this eventually, but I’ll just say that if you’ve ever struggled in moving on from a breakup, this is a really fascinating read. It is absolutely the best book I’ll read this year.

The Pisces*: When I first read the summary of this book aloud to Dani, I thought there was no way I’d ever read it, but the book buzz got to me and I picked it up on Netgalley. This book was sexy, but I hated the main character. Which was possibly the point, but there was nothing redeemable or likable – maybe it’s because I felt too close to it, having someone similar to Lucy in my own life. Wouldn’t really recommend this one.

You’re Never Weird on the Internet (Almost): This was a random pick from boyfriend’s Audible account, but I ended up liking it a lot! It was really interesting to hear her backstory – I don’t know very much about Felicia Day, but I loved hearing about her weird upbringing, being in college and loving both math and music, and then how she turned her video game love into a TV show on her own terms. This would be a good one to read or listen to when you’re feeling like you’ll never reach your goals.

Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me?: Yep, finally. I was super behind on this train, despite borrowing it from a friend a few years ago. I listened to the audiobook of this, primarily on the plane to and walking around LA, and there were parts that were just fall-down funny. On the off chance that there’s anyone who hasn’t yet picked this up, Mindy narrates the audiobook with some special guest appearances, and it’s a really good palate cleanser.

Dark Matter: Another one I’m a few years behind on, but HOLY COW WHAT A BOOK. I could barely put it down, and then shouted extensively for my boyfriend to read it and he finally acquiesced. I don’t read a lot of science fiction, which I think this technically is, and it’s a little bit in line with my Maybe in Another Life obsession. If you haven’t read this yet, put it on your list and read it next.

Wondering how I read so much? My libraries use Libby – see if your library has a partnership, and check out the mobile app!

We Were Liars: I liked the slow reveal of this book, but something about it didn’t hit for me. It’s a YA, which I love, and I’ve never read a mystery in that genre. In We Were Liars, you don’t really realize that it’s a mystery until the character starts to have some memory restored from her amnesia. I used this for our unreliable narrator prompt.

The Wife Between Us: I can’t think of another book this year that had as much buzz as this one, so when my library hold came through, I dove in full speed. It was… not a book I would recommend. About 60% through the book when it starts to be clear what’s happening, I was having a lot of thoughts about trust and control and emotional manipulation in relationships – this is something I think about a lot anyway lately, so maybe I’m just more in tune to it. If you’re a person with baggage around that, maybe skip this book until you’re a good many years of therapy removed. I think the epilogue unraveled the rest of the story. I wish the beginning had been a little more clear and obvious what the viewpoints were. I did like how everything wrapped up and connected but absolutely thought that final twist was unnecessary and really hurt my opinion of the book as a whole.

Pivot Point: Another book I read mostly in LA, this was less of a casual pool book. Pivot Point is YA, and a little bit more in the fantasy realm than I typically delve, but it was suggested for fans of Maybe in Another Life, so you know I was on it. I really liked it a lot, though I think it could have had better character development for some of the secondary characters. It’s a double timeline, and really easy to read.

Split Second: The sequel to Pivot Point. I didn’t like it quite as much, but I liked spending more time with those characters.

The Myth of the Nice Girl*: I loved this book, and am going to do a full review post on it. Being nice is something that I struggle with often, especially in a male-driven tech environment. This book helped me work on my communication skills so that I can still be assertive while still making connections with my co-workers. I’ve always been very empathic, and The Myth of the Nice Girl helped me see that in business, this can be an asset rather than a downfall.

The French Girl: Earlier this year I’d been hearing about this everywhere in the book blogopshere, so I was excited when my hold finally came through. I really liked this. It wasn’t the typical over the top thriller or mystery, and I liked that as you read, there were a lot of plausible culprits for the crime. I also liked that there was a happy ending for everyone that deserved it, unlike many other books in this genre.

Like reading on your computer or mobile device? Check out Scribd – thousands of eBooks, audiobooks, magazines and more on your device!

You Are a Badass at Making Money: This had been on my TBR for awhile, so I grabbed it before my Scribd trial ran out. I really like Jen Sincero’s woo woo, and working on my money mindset is something I’ve needed to focus on. The book definitely helped, and I want to read the physical book as well to reinforce the lessons.

Tell Me Three Things: This was a cute book. It was basically what I had wanted Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda to be. In this book, a new kid starts getting emails and IMs from a mystery student – they connect, and it helps her adjust to her new school. I liked this one a lot more than Simon – the main character was charming, you understood why she was struggling, and I wasn’t sick of her voice and stupid decisions by the end.

Belly Up*: Short story collections are hit or miss for me, and this one ended up being a little more challenging than I thought. The description sounded right up my alley – mediums, ghosts, and psychics! – but it fell flat for me. Some of the stories were hard to read because of their structure, but some of them I did really like (the ones that were actually about mediums and ghosts, go figure.) If you’re a fan of short stories and unique voices, pick this one up.

PBS’ Great American Read just started, and there are a few books on that list I’ve been meaning to pick up, so I’ll read along in June, and continue to make a dent in my Netgalley backlog!

What did you read this month? Anything you’re looking forward to coming out this summer?

May 31, 2018

how to save money on reading

Posted in Living by

Yesterday was national reading day! After a few years of not reading very much at all, I’ve been voracious for the past few months. I read almost everything – chick lit, YA, short story collections, memoirs, true crime (of course.) As much as I would love to go out and purchase physical copies of everything, I don’t have that kind of spare cash. I’ve found a bunch of ways to feed my desire at a much lower cost other than the traditional library trips. There are a lot of ways to read a lot for free, or at least for a very low cost!

Library: Okay, I know I said ways other than going to the library, but they’ve really advanced with technology. You can drive over to the library to pick up your “to read” list, but you can often check out digital books online as well. Chicago Public Library partners with Overdrive, which allows you to check out eBooks for your tablet or Kindle. My favorite is that they also have eBooks you can read from your computer as well! I know there’s nothing like snuggling in bed with a physical book, but sometimes when you’re tired of reading all the bad news out there it helps to just pop open a new tab and go to a different place.

A lot of libraries also have partnerships with Hoopla, which I’ve spoken about plenty in the past. Hoopla features eBooks, audiobooks, music and TV and movies in their app. I discovered my favorite book and author on Hoopla, listening just because I liked the cover! This app alone let me hit my Goodreads book goal for 2016 because I would listen on my long drives from Nashville to Michigan to Chicago.

Riveted Lit: If you’re a YA fan, Riveted Lit is awesome. Every week, they put up free full-length books you can read on your computer or mobile device, and the selections change every Monday. They have a variety of genres within the YA space so whether you’re looking for a light read or something dystopian, chances are good they’ll have something for you this week. They also post extended excerpts of their upcoming releases and host giveaways as well.

Simon and Schuster: Along with other publishers, Simon and Schuster offers a free eBook when you sign up for their mailing list, which brings me to…

Glose: This is the service that Simon and Schuster use to fulfill their free eBook offer. It’s compatible with desktop and mobile devices, and offers an app for Apple and Android. In addition to the paid books you can purchase on the platform, they also have a library of free books (mostly classics) accessible in their library.

Noisetrade: Started as a way for musicians to connect with their fans, they recently expanded to offer audiobooks and eBooks in exchange for email addresses. There are a ton of books in a lot of different genres by both new and established authors.

Enter Giveaways: At some point in the last month, I entered a giveaway from Riveted Lit. By entering it, I agreed to recieve newsletters from all of the authors involved in the giveaway. All of them that I’ve recieved emails from have sent at least one free eBook – though none of them have been my speed, if you’re open to reading anything, this could be a way to stockpile fast! Amazon also has a giveaways section – they have products there, but also a ton of books for both e-readers and physical copies.

Goodreads: There are a couple of ways to save on Goodreads – the first is their Deals section, where they post discounted book prices and email you when something on your “to read” list is a match. They also have a Giveaways section – they’ll email you when something you’re interested is listed here, too, but you can also page through and enter to win anything you might be interested in. I’ve actually won two books here!

Scribd: I used to be a super avid user of Scribd, but their model has changed a bit. They used to offer a lot more books and audiobooks per month for their subscription fee, but now you can check out three books and one audiobook per month. They offer a lot of books that aren’t on Hoopla yet, and if your library card doesn’t get you in to Overdrive, it can be a great way to access digital books.

Subscription Boxes: If you can’t sacrifice the feel of a physical book in your hands and struggle with finding the best thing to read next, there are tons of subscription services out there that will deliver books to your doorstep every month. Uppercase Box is geared toward young/new adult books, and Quarterly offers two options based on the type of books you’re interested in. These are just a few – a quick Google search can turn up even more!

Amazon: There are a couple different ways to save on books on Amazon, and it’s not just the significant discounts most of their books carry. Their Kindle Unlimited program lets you borrow books, read magazines, and stream audiobooks from the Kindle app for $10/month. Prime also offers a similar program (even including audiobooks now), if you’re a member ($100 annually.) There are also plenty of free eBooks in the Kindle Store as well!

OpenLibrary: An online lending library, OpenLibrary has a wide range of books that can be read as PDF or ePub files. Focusing mostly on classic titles, they do have some recent, more modern books available as well.

Used Bookstore: I love having copies of my favorite books, so I’ll always try to hunt them down in used bookstores. It’s also a great way to roam around and find new books that could be your next favorite!

Do you like reading? How do you prefer to read?

April 24, 2017