2020 Reading Goals

2020 Reading Goals

Happy New Year! I hope you had a great holiday season, and that you’re looking forward to another new year – and decade!

While I was on holiday break from work, I organized all of my books by color. I really like it, but we’ll see how long it lasts!

My only real reading goal of 2019 was to read 80 books, which I unfortunately was not able to do. I did read 64 books, which I am still proud of. Last year was a busy year for me between work, traveling, and spending time with friends and family.

I decided that this year I wanted to set out a few more goals for myself in terms of the types of books I read, how many, etc.

Read 65 Books

I could have repeated my goal of 80 books from last year and buckled down to try to hit that goal, but I don’t want reading to feel like a chore. Looking ahead, 2020 is going to be a busy year full of weddings and travel, and I want to be able to enjoy it all without stressing about hitting a lofty reading goal. I’ll need to read about 5.5 books per month, which I think is more than doable.

Read All Unread Books On My Shelves

I went through and created a separate shelf on Goodreads of books that I already own but have not read. At last count there are ~25, so it is my goal to read all of those throughout this year. This is also before my most recent (and first!) Book Outlet order arrives within the next week. Once I work my way through all of the library books sitting on my bookcase, I can give a few of those books a try.

Be Intentional With Selections

I want to make 2020 the year that I really pay attention to the authors I am selecting, as well as the topics I’m reading about. I want to purposefully get outside of my comfort zone. This might mean reading more historical fiction but of a time period I’m not familiar with, or it might mean giving science fiction a try! Part of the reason I love reading is because I love the stories and I love experiencing other viewpoints, so I want to really dive deep into that in 2020.

Read Six Nonfiction Books

Reading nonfiction has never really been a problem for me – I love reading people’s memoirs or reading about a specific topic. In 2019 I didn’t read a whole lot of nonfiction, not like I did in 2017 or 2018. In fact, I think only read four nonfiction books last year, so I want to read at least six books this year.

I’m looking forward to a new year! What reading goals do you have in mind so far for 2020?!

Review: On the Come Up // Angie Thomas

Review: On the Come Up // Angie Thomas

I can’t believe I’ve already finished my first book of 2020! I will admit that I started it on New Years Eve 2019, but I’m still counting it towards 2020 since I did complete it on New Years Day!

I loved Angie Thomas’s first book, The Hate U Give. It was such an important book, one that didn’t shy away from tense, real-life issues that continue to happen right here in America to this day. I had high expectations for On the Come Up. It did not disappoint.

Bri is a sixteen year old high school student who wants to be one of the greatest rappers of all time. If she can’t be one of the greatest rappers of all time, she at least wants to make it out of her neighborhood, Garden Heights. When Bri was younger, her dad was killed before he made it big as an underground rap star. He was a legend in Garden Heights, so not only did Bri have to grow up without a father, she doesn’t have him there to support her music career.

Not too far into the book, we find out that Bri’s mom loses her job and struggles to make ends meet. Bri’s older brother Trey is working at a local pizza joint to help out their mom with the bills, but Bri still feels some sense of responsibility for also helping out. In her eyes, it is now even more important for her to make it as a rapper.

One morning, Bri gets singled out by the two security guards at her high school for a second search of her bag, and soon she finds herself swung to the ground for resisting. The reason she was resisting? She had been selling candy on school premises to try to buy herself a new pair of Timberland boots, and that’s against school rules.

The video of the incident gets leaked, and people begin to call her a drug dealer. Angry and resentful, Bri writes and records a song about the incident at a local producer’s studio. The lyrics to this song are downright amazing – another piece that Angie Thomas did a phenomenal job on. Eventually Bri uploads the song to a streaming service, and it goes VIRAL. People love it. People hate it. But people can’t stop listening to it.

Soon the lyrics begin to get misconstrued by people all over the country, and a reporter even creates a petition to have the song taken down for inappropriate lyrics. Bri never intended for the song to be used as a call to action, she just wanted to write about the weight of everyone’s expectations and misconceptions.

Bri signs on with a well-known local producer who promises her a record deal, but the only catch is that he needs Bri to play into a role that she doesn’t think she can, or wants, to live up to.

While all of this is going on, Bri also navigates her way through normal teenage issues – first crushes, teenage love, her relationships with her mom/brother/grandparents, and also the worry about whether or not her mom will be able to find a new job so that they could stay in their house and afford food, power, gas, etc.

One of the first things I noticed about this book was that Bri is much more outspoken than Starr from The Hate U Give. There were times where Bri was less like-able than Starr, but I enjoyed her sass and her true feelings. What she goes through in the book is stressful for anyone, let alone a teenager who is trying to figure out her place in the world.

I flew through this book, and I did not want to put it down anytime I had to go to sleep, or go to work, or do anything else, really. Just like The Hate U Give, this book tackles issues that can be hard to face. Aunt Pooh, Bri’s aunt, is deep into drug dealing and all Bri wants is her to be able to support herself some other way. Bri’s mom is a recovering drug addict who has to face that question/hesitation from people every day while she is trying to find a job.

Overall I highly recommend this book not only for the awareness of some of the issues tackled in the book, but also for the pop culture references as well as the song lyrics used in the book.

Goodreads Rating: 4/5 (AKA I truly enjoyed reading it and I highly recommend you add it to your TBR list!)

Review: From the Corner of the Oval // Beck Dorey-Stein

Review: From the Corner of the Oval // Beck Dorey-Stein

Following graduation from college, Beck Dorey-Stein ends up in Washington, DC, working a number of odd jobs to get by. Finally tired of just getting by and being unsure about what she wants out of life, she responds to a posting for a clerical job on Craigslist. To Beck’s surprise, the Craigslist posting is not for a small-time clerical job, it is a posting for a stenographer in the Oval Office – Obama’s second-term-Oval-Office. Beck is sure she won’t get the job, but to her surprise, an offer for the position follows soon after her interview.

Beck is the ultimate DC outsider, someone who vehemently resisted the uppity vibes DC gave off, but soon, she finds herself as part of the exclusive team that accompanies the president on every trip and outing.

Throughout the book, Beck takes us with her on some memorable events that took place during Obama’s second term, such as the tragedy in Charleston, SC, Sandy Hook, and the Boston Marathon bombing. We experience the tragedies as well as the triumphs, and even what can be seen as the mundane of her learning the ropes of her new job.

Beck makes friends with other White House women, who have also dropped everything to fly around the world on Air Force One. Beck takes us along as she has relationship trouble with her long-term (and long distance) boyfriends, and her fling with a highly regarded White House staffer.

I thoroughly enjoyed the writing of this book, as it felt like Beck was writing in her journal, or having a conversation with us. Plus I’m a sucker for all books relating to DC or politics, so this was right up my alley! Next up I need to read Alyssa Mastromonaco’s book about her time in the Obama’s White House!

Goodreads stars: 4/5 (AKA I truly enjoyed reading it and I highly recommend you add it to your TBR list!)

Review: Ghosted // Rosie Walsh

Review: Ghosted // Rosie Walsh

Sarah, meet Eddie. Both are in their thirties and neither have found love yet. Sarah and Eddie feel an instant connection with each other. They spend hours at a local pub on the first day that they meet. These hours at a local pub quickly turn into six amazing days full of getting to know each other.

When it’s time for Sarah to head back to her parents’ before returning home to Los Angeles, and to reality, Eddie promises he’ll call. So Sarah is flummoxed when he does not, in fact, call. At all. For days, which then turn into weeks. Sarah has been ghosted.

Sarah starts down this slightly embarrassing, albeit probably very relatable to many people, rabbit hole of trying to find Eddie. She calls and texts, she posts on his Facebook wall, and she even remembers where his pickup soccer team plays their weekly games and tries to find him there.

I’m the midst of Sarah and Eddie’s love story and his later ghosting, there are also letters of remembrance to a mysterious girl, as well as flashbacks to a mysterious accident and the supposed death of a family member, but it is not clear whose family member it is. I thought at first the letters were from Sarah to her sister, and her sister was the one who passed away in the accident.

All roads converge when we find out that it was Eddie’s younger sister who was the girl who passed away, and it’s been Eddie who writes the letters. Years ago, Sarah got into a car race with this boy who she really liked, and her younger sister was in the other boy’s car, while Eddie’s sister was in Sarah’s car. Sarah and the boy were about to collide, when at the last second Sarah swerved to avoid hitting her sister, killing Eddie’s younger sister.

This revelation explains why Eddie ghosted Sarah – he found out that she was the girl driving the car, and he felt so guilty for falling in love with her that he couldn’t face it. It also didn’t help that his mother has spent her entire life wishing ill upon Sarah and her family for the death of her daughter. Sarah and Eddie work through their troubles and eventually end up with a baby, and Sarah even gets to reconnect with her sister, who never stopped blaming her for the accident and her best friend dying. The last scene in the book features Eddie’s mother holding her grandchild and flashing a small smile to Sarah.

I really enjoyed reading this book. At times I was so embarrassed for Sarah when she was doing so much to try to find Eddie, but I think that’s what made you understand how much she truly loved Eddie. She would do anything to try to find him, and at times she questions herself. She leans on her network to bring herself back up, much like any woman would. The writing kept me hooked from the beginning to the end, and I liked that there was also the mystery of the letters. Not only was it a love story, but it also kept you guessing, trying to see how all the pieces fit together.

Goodreads stars: 4/5 (AKA I truly enjoyed reading it and I highly recommend you add it to your TBR list!)

Review: My Oxford Year // Julia Whelan

Review: My Oxford Year // Julia Whelan

Ella has always dreamed of studying at Oxford University. It’s been a part of her life’s plan since the time she was 13 years old. As a 24 year old, she not only has finally made it to Oxford as Rhodes Scholar, she is also offered a dream job working on a presidential candidate’s campaign upon her return from her year-long, Once in a Lifetime Experience.

Ella’s first day at Oxford is nothing what she expected, when it is ruined by a loud-mouthed local who nearly runs her over. Of course, as always seems to happen, that same loud-mouthed local is her English literature professor for her time at Oxford.

Jamie Davenport is not at all enamored with Ella’s American ways, and Ella begins to think maybe Oxford isn’t the place for her. She makes some very quirky but very great friends who show her the ways of Oxford. Some chance encounters and drinks later, Ella and Jamie embark on a friend’s-with-benefits arrangement, sneaking around campus and the local town to see each other.

Things take a turn for the worse when Ella discovers a grave secret Jamie has been hiding, and she has to make a choice between her future in American politics, and the man she loves.

I laughed, I cried, I smiled, I felt basically every emotion in the midst of these pages. Ella is someone you find yourself connecting with because she’s so real, and the author did an amazing job of making her emotions and her thoughts come through the pages so you felt the way she was feeling. Ella’s Once in a Lifetime Experience made me want to get out there and have my own Once in a Lifetime Experience – once I find out what that is 😂.

Goodreads stars: 4/5 (AKA I truly enjoyed reading it and I highly recommend you add it to your TBR list!)

Review: Pieces of Her // Karin Slaughter

Review: Pieces of Her // Karin Slaughter

Andy knows everything about her mother, Laura – or so she thinks. Laura is a speech therapist, a business owner, and knows just about everyone in their sleepy seaside town of Belle Isle. From Andy’s perspective, what more is there really to know about her mother, other than that she’s Laura, her mom?

Andy and Laura are out at a local diner to celebrate Andy’s birthday when a local man barges in to the diner and starts shooting. Andy sees a side of her mother she has never seen before. She is downright astonished by the fearlessness, speed, and intensity her mother exhibits when she faces death head-on.

This is one of the first peeks Andy sees into her mother’s past. After some harrowing, near-death experiences, Andy is on the run after her mother begs her to flee, forcing her to promise to not get in touch until there is no more trouble at home. Soon, Andy finds herself behind the wheel of a very old, very mysterious wagon, which was hidden away in a storage locker no less. Who is Laura?

From this point on in the book, the storyline alternates between Andy’s time on the road and a series of scenes in 1986. I knew that Laura must be one of the characters mentioned in the 1986 storyline, but I could not figure it out until the very end. The characters introduced in the 1986 storyline deal with the cult mentality, and a harmful one at that. The cult is led by a shockingly, so incredibly well-done – on Slaughter’s part – sociopath.

The book keeps you on the edge of your seat trying to figure out where the story is going to twist and turn next. I felt like every four or five pages I was shocked at where the story was headed, and could not predict anything. I felt myself rooting for both Andy and Laura during their respective points-of-view. In the beginning and some of the middle of the book, I found myself frustrated at Andy. And maybe that was the point, but she was so complacent and accepting of everything that happened to her, and she rarely made the effort to have something happen for her. It was incredibly refreshing to read about her adventures on the road – her quick-thinking, her split-second decisions, regardless of whether they are messy or not.

This is the second Karin Slaughter book I’ve read, and I love how she mixes the thriller, mysterious vibes with sentimental moments. This book, similar to the other one I’ve read by her (The Good Daughter) is full of blood, guts, and gore. The blood, guts, and gore does not make up the whole story though, only adding to it when necessary.

Goodreads stars: 4/5 (AKA I truly enjoyed reading it and I highly recommend you add it to your TBR list!)

Review: Circe // Madeline Miller

Review: Circe // Madeline Miller

This book left me breathless with admiration. It has a kickass protagonist. While it reads more like a women’s fiction novel than a historical fiction novel, it was a time period that I remembered very little about from school. I didn’t take any mythology classes in college, so high school is really the last time I remember reading about mythology in any capacity.

Plot Summary: Circe is the daughter of Helios, god of the sun. She is born different from those in her family – she is not powerful like her father, nor beautiful like her mother. Circe soon turns to mortals for companionship, believing herself more similar to mortals than the gods she descends from. Circe learns she has the propensity for witchcraft, after she turns an enemy into one of the most storied monsters in mythology. Zeus is threatened by this, and he banishes Circe to an island for all eternity. Her family does not stand up for her, because Circe has never fit in with her parents or her siblings.

Once on her private island, Circe spends days and nights learning and strengthening her abilities. She tames wild beasts and mixes potions to save herself from threatening mortals, who see an easy target in a woman living alone on a deserted island. Almost from the very beginning, Circe finds her path crossing with many of the most notable gods and creatures in mythology: Daedalus and Icarus, Medea, Odysseus, and many others. All of Circe’s actions lead her to the fateful end, where she is pitted against one of the strongest Olympians, who is enraged when Circe does not grant her the one thing she wants most.

My Review: Having not read about mythology since high school, I was hesitant to pick up this book because I thought I would be lost in the web of characters. Right from the very beginning, the author introduced Circe and the other characters in such a way that you recognized the important gods and creatures, and it felt like the secondary characters blended in seamlessly in the world she had written. The book never felt long or drawn out; the story of Circe kept progressing and moving towards a conclusion. This was interesting because as a god, Circe could live forever. Circe’s time on the island spanned centuries, but it read like only mere days had passed from one visitor or event to the next.

I found that I could not put the book down because I needed to know what happened. I’m not sure if I would feel the same way had I been more knowledgeable about mythology and known everyone’s stories. I believe I still would be enraptured by the story of Circe herself. Madeline Miller wrote an amazing character, one you wanted to root for throughout the entire story.

Circe – though she is a capable witch who has proven herself time and again against powerful foes – is filled with flaws and scars. She turned an enemy into a powerful monster – how many times have we as humans probably dreamt of turning our enemies into monsters? Circe is relatable and has been through so much as a woman. She has spent her entire life wanting to be accepted by her family, and then she comes to terms with her circumstances and accepts that she can choose who she surrounds herself with.

Only that: we are here. This is what it means to swim in the tide, to walk the earth and feel it touch your feet. This is what it means to be alive

Goodreads stars: 5/5 (AKA I hope you’re already on your way to your local library/Barnes & Noble/used bookstore/Amazon.com account to rent/reserve/purchase it!)

Recent Library Reads

Recent Library Reads

I would like to first start out by giving a major shoutout to the country’s libraries. While I have a full time job and money to spend, I’m at the point in my life where I’m not the keenest on buying books for keeps. If it’s a brand new book that I truly cannot live without, I’ll typically order it off of Amazon or B&N if I have a gift card, but otherwise I check out books from the library or borrow books from friends. (Shoutout to all the friends I’ve borrowed books from!) Again, I just wanted to say thank goodness for the Fairfax County Public Library system, which is my local library.

Reviews of my last three reads are below. I hope you’re intrigued enough to add these to your TBR list!

Love & Gelato by Jenna Evans Welch // This book was SO adorable! It’s definitely a young adult novel, but I enjoyed every minute of it.

Lina is a high school student who loses her mother to cancer. Lina grants her mother’s dying wish by spending a summer in Tuscany with Howard, a man who Lina is told is her father. Lina is reluctant to go to Italy, all she really wants to do is spend time with her best friend back home.

When she arrives in Italy, Lina is given a journal in which her mother chronicled her own journeys from Tuscany. Soon, Lina is making friends with other Americans, including the charming Ren, exploring Italy to learn her mother’s secrets, and learning for herself the “two reasons people stay in Italy: love and gelato.”

My favorite quote from the book is from one of Lina’s mother’s journal entries: “This is a new chapter. My life. And I’m going to run at it with arms outstretched. Anything else would be a waste.”

Overall this was a charming read that truly inspired me to go back to Italy, mainly for their gelato!

Goodreads stars: 4/5 (AKA I truly enjoyed reading it and I highly recommend you add it to your TBR list!)

My Grandmother Asked Me to Tell You She’s Sorry by Fredrik Backman // I LOVE Fredrik Backman’s books. Granted I’ve only read this book and A Man Called Ove, but he’s up towards the top of my list of favorite authors.

This story follows Elsa, a seven-year-old whose best and only friend is her grandmother, a seventy-seven-year-old woman who is more than a little eccentric. Elsa is bullied badly at school because she is different from her classmates, and her grandmother helps Elsa forget about the bullying by telling her stories about magical lands and princes, princesses, dragons, and more. Elsa’s grandmother passes away from cancer and sends Elsa on her biggest adventure yet.

Elsa must deliver letters her grandmother wrote to those she has wronged over the years. Elsa’s journey to deliver these letters leads her to a lively and intriguing cast of ordinary monsters, drunks running from tragedy, attack dogs who really like cookies, and elderly neighbors who would rather not spill their deepest, darkest secrets to Elsa. She soon discovers that her neighbors do all have their own secrets that Elsa’s grandmother helped them cope with, and also that it’s about who you surround yourself with in life that is the most important.

My favorite quote from the book: “That’s damned well how you stand up to bastards who tell you what you can and can’t do. You bloody do those things all the bloody same.”

This was such a touching book, and I think all of us can relate to Elsa on some level, especially her love for her family and those closest to her.

Goodreads stars: 5/5 (AKA I hope you’re already on your way to your local library/Barnes & Noble/used bookstore/Amazon.com account to rent/reserve/purchase it!)

The Futures by Anna Pitoniak // The Futures follows Julia and Evan, two people who fell in love during their time spent at Yale University and move to New York City together after graduation prior to the financial meltdown of 2008. The novel tells us the evolution of their relationship in flashbacks as well as present day.

Evan grew up in a small town in Canada and made it to Yale on an ice hockey scholarship, while Julia is from a rich family in Boston, so they are two very different people who manage to hit it off and fall in love. When the two and their friends are in their senior year, we begin to see that while Julia is floundering in finding a path for herself after graduation, Evan is lured in by a well-known and successful hedge fund company, further propelling him toward the successful future he dreams of for himself.

Julia lands a job as an assistant at a nonprofit run by friends of her parents, and she struggles with how much time Evan is spending at his own job; not so much the time he is spending at his company, but the fact that he seems to be moving light years faster towards success than she is. As they begin to drift apart, Julia reconnects with someone from her past who she believes will give her an escape from the misery she feels with Evan. Meanwhile, Evan gets caught up in a deal at work that’s secret, risky, and too good to be true, but he turns a blind eye and keeps his head down as he continues to work harder. Soon, Julia and Evan both have to face the choices they’ve made, the good and the bad, that brought them to a pivotal point in their lives and their relationship.

Julia and Evan learn that life is messy and you don’t always know which path you’re headed down until it’s too late. Anna Pitoniak does a good job at expressing the hopes, fears, and uncertainty of what the future holds, especially after graduation and with someone who you’ve grown to love.

My favorite quote from the book: “It’s not easy, figuring out what you want. It’s really hard. And I mean what you want, not what your friends want, not what someone else wants.”

Goodreads stars: 4/5 (AKA I truly enjoyed reading it and I highly recommend you add it to your TBR list!)

Winter Series by Elin Hilderbrand

Winter Series by Elin Hilderbrand

I know that it’s past the holiday season as I post this, but better late than never! Around the holidays, I love reading books set during the winter, similar to how I love light, summer beach reads when I get home from work or spend the weekends at the pool during the spring and summertime. I finished Elin Hilderbrand’s “Winter Series” during November and December, mostly when I was home for the holidays.

All four books are relatively short and the stories keep you captivated, so they are easy to get through. The series follows the Quinn family through four consecutive Christmases. Kelley Quinn, father of the four Quinn siblings the novels also follow, owns the Winter Street Inn on Nantucket. The novels follow the heartbreaks, the deceptions, and the family drama the Quinn’s experience.

The four Quinn children – Patrick, Kevin, Ava, and Bart – are all grown. Patrick is married and a hedge fund manager in Boston who is scared his biggest secret, and biggest regret, will be discovered. Kevin is a bartender on Nantucket who is secretly sleeping with a French housekeeper at the Winter Street Inn. Ava is a school teacher on Nantucket who can’t get the perfect man to commit to her. Bart, the youngest and half-sibling to the other three, recently joined the Marines. To top it all off, Kelley discovers his wife, Mitzi, in bed with the man who plays the inn’s Santa each year. This is where the series picks up in the lives of the Quinn’s, and it only gets better from there!

The Winter Series is a series full of family drama that at times makes you cringe and ten seconds later makes you cry (okay, maybe that was just me…). Overall it is a fun and festive series that I enjoyed reading around the holidays!

Favorite Books of 2018

Favorite Books of 2018

I can’t believe 2018 is almost over! As cliche as it sounds every single time someone says it, the year flew by. It mainly flew by because I had my nose stuck in a book for approximately 75% of the year. #nerdalert

I did a quick recap of my favorite books by category on my Instagram stories, but I wanted to go more in depth here. Read on below for my favorite books from the year, some of which I may have already mentioned in previous posts. These are the books I could not shut up about all year and kept recommending to anyone who would listen.

Favorite Overall Book // The Great Alone by Kristin Hannah

This is the second book by Kristin Hannah that I’ve read, and I may need to read all of her other ones. The Great Alone is about a family in the 1970s who move to rural Alaska to live off the grid. The novel centers around the coming of age of Leni Allbright, the 13 year old daughter of Earl and Cora. Earl is a POW who comes home from Vietnam a changed man, one who is volatile and violent. Leni believes moving to Alaska will be the chance at a new life that her family needs, but Alaska proves to be more challenging than the Allbrights originally thought.

Hannah’s writing is captivating and spellbinding. The characters we followed in The Great Alone told a story of heartbreak and desperation, but also the importance of building a community of strong men and women.

Favorite Fiction Novel // A Place for Us by Fatima Farheen Mirza

This novel tells a story of an Indian-American Muslim family who settles and spends their lives in California. A Place for Us spans decades and details the lives of a family of five: three siblings – Hadia, Huda, and Amar – and their parents – Rafiq and Layla. The three siblings attempt to create lives for themselves while also respecting and honoring their parents’ faith and culture, and Rafiq and Layla look back on the choices they have made in their lives. A Place for Us is a beautiful story about life in America today, and delves into what it means to meld new and old traditions and cultures.

Favorite Mystery Novel: The Good Daughter by Karen Slaughter

Nearly thirty years ago, two girls, Charlotte and Samantha, are forced into the woods near their home at gunpoint. One escapes and the other is left behind. The traumatizing event they endured leaves their mom dead and their dad absolutely devastated. Now, twenty-eight years later, Charlotte is a lawyer and returns to her hometown after tragedy strikes their small town. The Good Daughter plunges you into the current mystery unfolding, and reveals the secrets that have been kept about that tragedy twenty-eight years ago. This novel is thrilling and I could not put it down.

Favorite Nonfiction: Hidden Figures by Margot Lee Shetterly

This book is the amazing true story of four African-American female mathematicians at NASA. They helped achieve some of the greatest moments in America’s space program. The book chronicles the personal lives and professional journeys as “human computers” of each of the four women: Dorothy Vaughan, Mary Jackson, Katherine Johnson, and Christine Darren. Hidden Figures shares the incredible stories of women who lived through the Civil Rights era, the Space Race, the gender equality movement, and so much more. This was such an interesting book to read and learn about some remarkable individuals with whom I was not familiar.

Favorite Guilty Pleasure Read: Crazy Rich Asians by Kevin Kwan

Crazy Rich Asians is about three very wealthy Chinese families and all of the gossip, backstabbing, and drama that comes with their money and status. Nick Young, the son of one of the families, brings his girlfriend, Rachel Chu, home to Singapore when he returns for his childhood best friend’s wedding. Nick does not tell Rachel who his family is and how wealthy they are, serving as a wide awakening for her upon her arrival and making her a target for jealous ex-girlfriends and protective family members. The first in a trilogy, Crazy Rich Asians was outrageous and entertaining, along the lines of The Devil Wears Prada.

Favorite Book Turned Into a Movie: The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas

Starr Carter is a sixteen-year-old who goes to a fancy private school that is very different from the poor neighborhood where she lives with her family. Starr’s friend Khalil was driving her home from a party one night when they get pulled over and subsequently shot by a police officer, though he was unarmed. Starr is the only witness to what happened that night. Local cops and drug lords try to silence Starr and her family, and there are some people protesting in Khalil’s name, with others calling him a drug dealer and a gangster. Angie Thomas’s writing in The Hate U Give made me think about the power of our words and our actions.

Favorite Inspirational Book: You’re Not Lost by Maxie McCoy

I’ve spoken about this book in a prior post, but it had to make this list as well because of how incredible it is. The book is an action plan that sets up steps for you to really work towards figuring out what your next steps are or what you’re missing. Maxie’s writing is relatable and realistic and downright funny, and had me laughing throughout the book.

Favorite Audiobook: The Boys in the Boat by Daniel James Brown

The Boys in the Boat chronicles the story of the American rowing team that competed in Hitler’s 1936 Berlin Olympic Games. The eight-oar University of Washington team set out to win gold, and this book details not just their triumph in Berlin, but the road it took to get them there. These were the sons of blue collar workers who defeated descendants of royalty and elite rivals, thanks to their heart, dedication, and determination when others had written them off. Read by Edward Herrmann, I looked forward to listening to this book each time I got into the car to drive to and from work.

Favorite Historical Fiction Book: The Alice Network by Kate Quinn

This book was also featured in a post earlier this year, but I wanted to include it here as well. Two women are brought together by unconventional circumstances: one woman who was recruited by the Alice Network during World War I, and another American socialite who comes to Europe in the aftermath of World War II to search for her cousin who has gone missing. The novel takes us through their journey through Europe searching for the missing cousin, and it also details the thrilling journey and triumphs of the Alice Network during World War I. This was such an amazing book!

Thanks for reading and I look forward to posting more in 2019! Happy New Year, everyone!