2018 Reading List

 On this page I will list the books I read in 2018. My reading goal this year is 52 books. Wish me luck!

63. I thought I had when I finished One Day in December that I wouldn't be able to finish another book in December, but I was able to finish Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe before midnight. I have read two book by Benjamin Alire Saenz and they were both completely engaging and wonderful. You know I love me some young adult fiction and Saenz is one of my favorite authors. The way he brings the teens to life is relate-able and he is very good with the parents too. I totally wanted to be friends with Ari and Dante's parents! (December)

62. This one was the December selection from Reese Witherspoon's book club. (I know, I know.) I got a gift card to Barnes and Noble from my Secret Santa (thanks Mandy!) so I bought the book for my very own. I LOVED IT! I read it in about two days. It's the story of Laurie, who sees a man at a bus stop one day in December. He looks up and sees her on the bus too and makes a move as if to join her on the bus, but it pulls away before he can climb aboard. Laurie looks for him for a year and finally meets him when her best friend Sarah introduces him as her new boyfriend. Laurie smothers her feelings for Jack for ten years although they are friends. It is well written. I never felt like the author was trying to keep them apart; it was just how life goes. I'm not gonna spoil it for you. Just read it. (December)

61. This book was the December selection of the Buzzfeed Book Club. (I know, I have a book club thing.) I was able to get it from the library, so I read it over the Christmas break. It's a very short novel that almost feels like a memoir, but I think it is fiction. It's about a woman who's friend and mentor kills himself and leaves his dog in her care. The woman is a writer and the book is plum full of literary references to books and poems I have never heard of. There are also parts about the dog and those were my favorite parts. I had a hard time with this book, but it sure got a lot of praise from critics and other people int he book group. (December)

60. The Wife was the selection for #EkpesBookClub this month. It was a mystery/thriller type book. I thought it started out strong, then kind of repeated itself in the middle without advancing the story very much, then really picked up steam at the end and finished with a great twist and a superb ending line. Will there be a sequel? I'd probably read it. (December)

59. I needed a little YA fix, so I picked this newest book from Morgan Matson. I've read a few books from her that I've enjoyed, but sadly, this one wasn't that great for me. All of the pre-wedding shenanigans were a bit far-fetched, mostly because there were so many things that went awry. Kind of unbelievable. (December)

58. The Other Woman was Reese Witherspoon's book club choice for November. I got it from the library. I'm glad I didn't buy it. I really didn't like it. At first I was drawn in. Why was Adam's mom being so weird to Emily? Then Emily became pretty intolerable and Pammie (Adam's mom) and Emily and Adam himself, they were kinda hateful. I kept hoping something would happen and maybe it would be a comedic twist, but let me assure you, that does not happen. Ugh. (December)

57. Nine Perfect Strangers is the third book I have read of Liane Moriarty. I liked the first one, but I didn't like the second one at all, so I wondered how I would feel about this one. I think it is more in the like category. It's about nine people who go to a health resort. The story is told from the perspective of the nine people plus the woman who runs the resort. At first I liked the way the author seemed to be peeling back layers of each character's story, inviting us to learn a bit more about them and why they needed/wanted to go on this retreat. Then it got kinda weird and I wouldn't have believed it if I hadn't heard about guided "trips" on NPR. Then it got really weird and then I liked it again in the aftermath when we found out how everyone was doing. Not great, but not terrible. (December)

56. In January, I do an exercise called "Unraveling". One of the questions on the worksheet was to choose three books that I wanted to read this year. This book, The Year of Yes by Shonda Rhimes, was one of the books. (The others, if you're interested, are Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng and A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini.) This book was on my eLibrary list and finally became available, so I snatched it up.

If you don't know, Shonda Rhimes is the creator of the TV shows Grey's Anatomy and Scandal, to name two. I don't (didn't) know much about her otherwise, but she seems like she's got it going on so I was curious about her book. Turns out she wasn't always a "yes woman". Her first response to most suggestions was NO. Her sister pointed this out to her, so Shonda decided to say yes to all things, and then she wrote a book about how it turned out.

Of course, Shonda Rhimes is already a writer, so she's good at it. The thing about this book is that it's like she's talking to you. I like that. Some stuff is hard to relate to, like being asked to do an interview with Oprah or Jimmy Kimmel. Other stuff is more universal, like her anxiety about her weight or speaking in public (although also slightly different from the rest of us; I mean I've never been asked to give a commencement address at my university for example).

It was a fun, easy read and I'm pretty sure I picked up a few pointers here and there. (November)

55. Refuge by Terry Tempest Williams was a book club selection for #EkpesBookClub. Williams is a native Utahn and this non-fiction book is about Great Salt Lake, the Bear River Migratory Bird Refuge and illness. The time frame of the book is the the early 1980's. There was flooding in Salt Lake City as the ice pack in the mountains melted quickly and there was heavy rain in the spring. Great Salt Lake rose rapidly, flooding out the Bird Refuge and threatening the highway, the airport, and industry. During that time, Williams's mother had a recurrence of her cancer and went through extensive treatment. Williams writes beautifully about the rise in the lake and the rise of her mother's illness. It sounds terrible, and it is, but it is so well written that I felt like I was right there with her, seeing it all happen. I was moved by this book in many ways. (November)

54. This book is the second in a trilogy. Lara Jean and Peter decide to continue their relationship, for real this time, but Peter continues to hang out with his ex-girlfriend Gen which makes Lara Jean sad, mad, and cranky. We meet some new characters like Stormy and John. Kitty might be my favorite character. She's spunky. I think I liked this book even better than the first book. (November)

53. I heard about  this book from a Buzzfeed list. It was also a nominee on Goodreads Choice Awards this year. It reminded me at first of American Panda, except Maya, the main character in this book is an Indian-American Muslim girl, but like Mei in American Panda, Maya has a sense of duty to be the obedient daughter to her parents although she struggles with what she wants to do versus what her parents want her to do. The gut punch in Love, Hate and Other Filters comes from a terrorist attack and how that affects Maya and her parents at school and at work. Topical, timely and sad. (November)

52. This book was on my reading list, and I had it reserved at the library, but I was number 252 out of 403 or something crazy like that, so I ended up buying the trilogy from Amazon.com. On Saturday I decided to start reading it and I finished it Sunday night. So cute. So awesome. A bit different from the Netflix movie, but I was glad I'd seen the movie because I put all the actors in my imagination as I read. I truly love YA fiction. (November)

51. Where the Crawdads Sing was a Reese's book club pick for September. I just got it from the library at the end of October and started reading it the first of November. I love this book. I love Kya. I love Tate. I love the setting of the low country of North Carolina. I love the marsh. I love the ocean. I love the writing. I love Jumpin'. I want to eat at the diner. I want to sit on the beach with Kya and feed the gulls. I want to look at Kya's books. I want to eat fluffy homemade biscuits. Even with all that love, this book has super sad parts and parts that make you angry. The story is told beautifully: in the descriptions of the marsh and of Kya's tender, strong heart and soul. This is probably one of my favorite books I've read this year. (November)

50. I'm going to count this book again, even though I read it in April. I read it again, page-for-page and word-for-word because it was the pick for #EkpesBookClub. (It's book number 21 on this list). I still feel the same way about it that I did the first time I read it, and it was interesting to Twitter chat with the other readers about it, which is why I like the book club. What I found even more than the first time through was that I didn't care for Celestial and I had a deeper appreciation for Big Roy. (October)

49. I heard about American Panda from a Buzzfeed YA books-to-read list. (I'm a sucker for those lists!) This story is about Mei, a young Taiwanese-American woman who is starting school at MIT where her parents want her to study pre-med. Her parents also want to set her up with Eugene, a Taiwanese-American man who is also trying to get into medical school. The problem is that Mei doesn't really want to be a doctor and she doesn't want to marry Eugene, who once peed on her foot when they were both toddlers. The story is about Mei but it's mostly about how she copes with trying to be a dutiful daughter while figuring out who she is and what she wants to do with her life. Mei's relationship with her parents was fascinating and frustrating and interesting and heartbreaking, too. Good stuff. (October)

48. Little Fires Everywhere has been on my reading list for a long time. I think last year it won Best Fiction book on Goodreads, but it had been on my list before that award came along. Finally I decided to put it on hold at the library. There were probably 50 people ahead of me, but it was finally my turn and it was worth the wait! Such a good story. As in real life, there aren't really any heroes in this story. Everyone has secrets that have impacts on everyone else. The story was so rich in detail and layers that I was completely enthralled with it. It was fascinating how the author referred to the wealthy parents as Mr. and Mrs. Richardson, almost never as Bill or Elena, while the artist who lived in the rental house was known almost exclusively as Mia. Her last name was rarely mentioned. It was an effective way to distinguish wealth and power and gave you different feelings for each of the characters. So. Good. (October)

47. This book was the freebie from Amazon Prime that I chose this month. I needed a little YA fix. I mostly liked this book, but what I don't like about some YA books is that the adults are all a-holes. In this book, Esther's parents were kind of jerks, and so was Color's mom, as well as Pastor Rick. Why? Esther, Jesus, Color, Moss and Beth are all sweet and endearing. The scene where they all were laying in Touchdown Jesus's palm made me giggle out loud. (October)

46. The Immortalists has been on my to-read list for a long time, so when I saw it in the library (finally!) I snatched it up. It is the tale of the Gold siblings: Varya, Daniel, Klara and Simon. When they are young, they go see a fortune-telling gypsy who tells each of them privately and individually what their death date is. What follows is the stories of the four siblings, three of whom do meet their ends on the date predicted. Is it self-fulfilling prophecy? Each sibling has separate and grand stories. I got caught up in each one. I liked the writing style and the way the book is broken up. Good one. (October)

45. This book was a freebie from Amazon Prime, I'm pretty sure. I was just starting to write a bit about the story, but there's a lot going on in this book at the start and I don't think I would summarize very well. Suffice it to say that Marnie unexpectedly inherits a house in Brooklyn, NY. I thought the setting of Brooklyn was kind of funny/strange, but it works in this cute, quirky novel. (October)

44. Say Nothing by Brad Parks was the latest selection for #EkpesBookClub. (That's the book club run by Jazz player Ekpe Udoh. Our meetings are on Twitter.) I like this book club because the books he chooses are not books that I would choose for myself so I feel like I'm stretching and growing and getting out of my book comfort zone, which is nice. I really liked this book. It's the story of Scott, a federal judge, and his wife Alison and their twins, Sam and Emma. The kids get kidnapped and it becomes clear that the kidnappers need Scott to rule on a case in a certain way. The author does a good job of making every single person seem suspicious, all the while playing on a parent's worst fears that their children are in danger and you have limited capacity to help them. I liked all the twists and turns in this story and the ending...well, it's epic and unexpected. (October)

43. Still Lives was Reese Witherspoon's book club selection for August. Once Reese names a book, it pretty much means you have to buy it if you want to read it in the same month. However, I'm cheap and I'm good with putting the book on hold at the library and waiting my turn. (Hopefully I will get to read September's selection in October. I'm still 23rd on the wait list for that one.)

Still Lives is set in an art museum in downtown Los Angeles. The museum, The Rocque, is having an exhibition by Kim Lord, an edgy painter whose new collection is based on the artist painting herself as famous murdered women. But Kim Lord doesn't show up for her own opening gala. Where is she? Who knows what? We hear about all the events from Maggie, an employee at the Rocque and the ex-girlfriend of Kim Lord's boyfriend. Maggie takes on trying to figure out what happened to Kim Lord. It's a pretty good book with lots of twists and turns. (September)

42. What Have You Done was the freebie I picked from Amazon Prime this month. I have a terrible habit of getting a book and not reading it right away, so I decided that this month I would, in fact, read the book in the current month. This is not the type of book I usually read. It is a murder mystery thriller about two brothers, both policemen in Philadelphia. One of them is called to a crime scene where a woman has been brutally murdered. At first he is simply horrified by what he sees, but when he looks closer, he sees that the woman is his lover. Certain things about the crime mean something to this officer, Liam, and he cannot remember anything about where he was the previous night. Did he black out and murder this woman that he loves? Once I got past the gory descriptions of the murder, I was into this story. It was intense, fast-paced and entertaining. (September)

41. This book was a freebie from Amazon for Prime members, but I didn't choose it as my free book that month. My sister did, though, and she reviewed it on Goodreads and then I had to read it. It cost me $5 and it was totally worth it. What a great book! It is set mainly in India and is the story of a woman, Jaya, who returns to the town where her mother grew up. She is met by the storyteller, Ravi, her grandmother's closest friend. Ravi tells Jaya the story of her grandmother, Amisha, and in doing so also gives Jaya insight into her own mother. The book is so beautifully written and the story is moving and wonderful. (September) 

40. I needed a quick YA fix after the last book I read, and When Dimple Met Rishi was absolutely wonderful! It's the story of a these two Indian-American college-bound teenagers whose parents know each other and want their kids to get married. Dimple is all about figuring out who she is and is uninterested in an arranged marriage. Rishi wants to please his parents and is willing to meet Dimple and see if it will work out. The whole story and the characters are romantic and wonderful. A very nice weekend read! (September)

39. After Anna was a #ekpesbookclub read. It was a book I probably wouldn't have chosen for myself, and I think that's one of the reasons I like being in this book club because it gets me out of my chick lit and YA book diet. The story is about a couple in their second marriage. The man, Noah, has a little boy. The woman, Maggie, has a teenage daughter that she is estranged from, until one day, out of the blue, the estranged daughter calls Maggie and wants to meet up with her. Family life as Noah and Maggie know it goes right into the toilet from there.

I was all into this story for the first two thirds of the book. The last third of the book kind of felt rushed and like the author was trying to cram in a bunch of action that was at odds with the pace and content of the first part of the book. Most of the other people in the book club totally loved the book. It was just all right for me. (September)

38. I think I've mentioned my love for Alice Hoffman a few times. Her stories feature magical realism, where there is just enough "magic" to be believable. The Probable Future is the story of three generations of Sparrow women: Elinor, Jenny and Stella and the men who love them. I felt that it started out kind of slow and I was a little annoyed with them, but at the end, I loved them all and I was sad when the story was over. Alice Hoffman is just so wonderful. (August)

37. You know how sometimes you start reading a book and it just sucks you in right away and it's hard to put it down? Amy and Roger's Epic Detour was like that for me. The story is that Amy is going to move to Connecticut for her senior year of high school after her dad is killed in a car accident. Her mom, who moved early, arranges for a family friend's son (Roger) to drive with Amy across the country. (Amy and Roger live in California.) The mom has a plan all mapped out with stops in Albuquerque, Tulsa and somewhere in Ohio I think, but Amy and Roger decide to take a different route that takes them through Yosemite and Utah to Colorado Springs and into Kansas and onto Kentucky...it's just a total fun ride-along with these two. There are cute drawings other little visuals that add to the story. Loved it. (August)

36. This book was a Goodread's deal of the day and I like Elizabeth Gilbert, so I went ahead and got it. Big Magic is a non-fiction book about allowing your creativity to come forth without being afraid to let it shine and flow, even though there are no guarantees that you could become rich and famous for your efforts. What I liked the most about the book was that it felt like Liz (I feel like I can call her that now) was just chatting with me, telling stories and encouraging me. I highlighted so many lines from this book, it's kind of ridiculous. There were just so many thoughts and phrases that struck a chord in me. It's a good one. (August)

35. Next Year in Havana was Reese Witherspoon's Book Club pick for July.  I got it a little late because I had to put it on hold at the library. (Reese is popular. When she picks a book, you gotta wait for it unless you buy it, and I'm cheap.) I really liked this book, so it was worth the wait. It is the story of a Cuban family who is exiled to the U.S. after Castro overthrows the Batista government. When relations are sort of restored in 2017, the granddaughter returns to Cuba to scatter her grandmother's ashes. The story is told by the grandmother in the 1950s and by the granddaughter in 2017. There are similarities in the two stories that are clever and engaging. There's romance, there's tragedy, there is history. Good stuff! (August)

34. It's been awhile since I read a YA book, so I was glad when this one popped up as available through the elibrary. I heard about it through a Buzzfeed newsletter. I Am Not Your Perfect Mexican Daughter is the story of Julia, a high school senior and the youngest daughter of her Mexican immigrant parents. When the story begins, Julia's older sister, Olga, has just been killed when she was run over by a truck on a busy Chicago street. What follows is the sadness, depression, and the falling apart of this little family as they deal with the death. Julia's mother constantly compares Julia to Olga, wondering why Julia is so desperate to leave for college when Olga was happy to stay home with her family. Or was she? Julia discovers things about her sister that make her question whether Olga really was the perfect daughter her mother thought she was. (July)

33. I got this book through #EkpesBookClub. A player for the Utah Jazz, Ekpe Udoh, runs a book club on Twitter. This is the second book I have read with the club this year. Just Mercy is a non-fiction book about the injustice of the criminal justice system, especially with regard to people of color and the poor. It is set mainly in the Alabama judicial system, although Stevenson does talk about cases that he has worked on in other states including California, Pennsylvania and Florida. Mainly it is the story of Walter McMillan, an African-American man who is falsely accused of murdering a white woman in Monroeville, Alabama. Walter is immediately sent to death row (without a trial). When he does get tried, he is found guilty even though there are some shady things going on with the prosecutors. It is an interesting and thought-provoking book. I know for certain I would not have read it if the book club hadn't selected it. The writing is excellent, and the content is heartbreaking and intense. (July)

32. I think I heard about The Animators from a Buzzfeed Books email newsletter. I bought it for cheap from Amazon and added it to my collection. I'm determined to read all the books I have purchased this year. (Wish me luck!) This is a quirky story about Sharon and Mel. They meet in art college and decide to work together as animators. Mel is brash and talented; Sharon is mild and talented. Both are scarred from life. This book is a roller coaster. I was totally into it even when I couldn't relate even a little bit to either one of these women. They kind of scared me.  (July)

31. How can I resist a book cover like this? A beach and a cute dog screams "Pick me up Sandy!" So I did, of course. Lost and Found Sisters is a Reader's Choice selection at the county library. It's the story of Quinn, a woman who just turned 30 and found out that she was adopted and that the mother who gave her up has given her an inheritance and a little sister. There's a lot going on, including a new love interest for Quinn and a one-eyed cat. It's pure chick-lit; easy and fun. (July)

30. This was a cheap book that I bought from Amazon because I liked the title. i really wanted to like it more than I did. It was good enough but not fantastic. The story was about Maggie, a 50-something woman who thought she was happily married, but her husband was not happily married. They separate just prior to their wedding anniversary. A trip to Rome and a move to Ann Arbor follow, along with a new romance, a heart attack, and a fresh start. (July)

29. Here's that chick-lit book I was talking about in my 6/28 blog post. Nancy Thayer sets all her books in Nantucket and I just felt like taking a virtual vacation there. This story is about a woman who learns that her husband is having an affair and wants a divorce. The woman, Sophie, takes her two kids to Nantucket to stay at a guest cottage (meaning six bedroom house) that she rented from a friend. The plot thickens when a handsome young widower with a small boy rents the same house from his friend (the cousin of Sophie's friend). Since there are six bedrooms and the place is plenty big enough, they decide to go ahead and share the house for the two months. Love and drama ensue. It's lovely. (June)

28. This book was Reese's June selection. It came out on my birthday, so I went ahead and bought myself the electronic version of it. The story is more of a thriller with a touch of chick-lit. I was thoroughly entertained and a little anxious about what was happening. I think my mom would like it because you know what happens in the end because that's how the book starts. So you know what's going to happen, but getting there is pretty fun. Also fun: when I tweeted about how much I enjoyed the book, the author liked my tweet and tweeted back to me! I wonder if Catherine Steadman will continue with these characters. There are some loose ends there. I'd read it. (June)

27. This collection of short stories from the author of Prep and Eligible was the Reese Witherspoon's book club selection for April. I just couldn't get it from the library until this month. I don't often read short story collections, but that may change. I enjoyed the short stories. I like Curtis Sittenfeld's writing style and I have read several of her books. The stories were timely and entertaining and sometimes surprising. (June)

26. I borrowed this book from Lizzie. It is the story of Ben and his family who move to a giant old house in the mountains. They plan to fix the place up and turn it into an inn. Ben's wife, Caroline, is doing most of the remodeling and decorating work, and she's having a tough time because it's a lot of work and because she isn't really mentally healthy. Ben is a writer and seems to be the primary caregiver to their two kids, eight year old Charlie and two year old Bub. Charlie is a solitary little fellow who spends a lot of time running around the woods that are near the house. There's some creepy stuff that happens and I thought it was going to go one way, but it totally went another way and it was all creepy. I was involved and entertained. (June)

25. This book was one of the First Reads selection from Amazon this year. (Prime members get a free book every month!) It is the story of Penelope. Her father lives on Halsey Street in Penelope's childhood home. Her dad is having a hard time, so she moves back to Brooklyn, but doesn't stay at Halsey Street. Penelope's got a bunch of issues with her estranged mom and with her dad, too. I had a hard time with this book because Penelope's parents were really selfish and that messed Penelope up pretty good. Dysfunction is hard to read about. (June)

24. Sing, Unburied, Sing has been on my reading list for awhile, so I was really excited when it popped up on my elibrary's Overdrive site as available. The story made me feel a little uncomfortable. JoJo is a 13 year old boy who idolizes his grandfather, Pop. He calls his mother by her first name, Leonie and is pretty much the primary care-giver for his baby sister Kayla. When JoJo's dad, Michael, is set to be released from prison, Leonie loads the two kids into the car and along with her junkie best friend goes north to pick up Michael, with a stop on the way at the meth dealer's house. It is the story of an awful road trip that doesn't get better. There are ghosts and tragedies and bad parenting and things that made me put the book down, shake my head and say, "Damn." The writing is good. It pulls you along and lulls you into thinking that all of this might be normal when you know good and well it is not. (May)

23. The Last Days of Cafe Leila was a Reader's Choice selection at the SL County library. It is the story of Noor, an Iranian woman living in the United States. Noor's life is in crisis. Her husband is cheating on her. Her teenage daughter. Lily, is being, well, a teenager. Noor hasn't seen her father in Iran in decades. She recieves a letter from her father asking her to come to Iran, so she and Lily head to Tehran. What follows is a wonderful telling of a family restaurant in Tehran and the people who work there and are part of the family. There is tragedy and love and loss and hope. I felt some anxiety during different parts of the story was I thought that surely nothing good could come of what was happening, but through the bad things, good things happen too. Liked it quite a bit. (May)

22. This book, Homegoing, has been on my reading list for about a year I think. I first heard about it through a Buzzfeed email and I've been waiting for it to become available through the eLibrary. It was worth the wait. The novel spans centuries and generations beginning with two half-sisters on Africa's Gold Coast who live very different lives when they are separated at a young age. One becomes the "wife" of a British officer and lives in a fortress castle. The other is taken prisoner and is jailed in the same castle before being sent to America as a slave. The novel is told in the stories of their descendants. At first I had a hard time keeping track of who came from who, but then I settled in and it all became clear. The ending is superb. (May)

21. I first heard about this book, An American Marriage, on NPR I think it was. Since it was a pick for Oprah's Book Club, I figured I'd be waiting for it for a long time, but there it was on the 7 day loan rack at the library. I did finish it in seven days, but I returned it on the eighth day. That will cost me a quarter. It's a small price to pay for a good book. This is not a joyful story. It is sad and tragic. The story is well written. The characters are defined and realistic. It's worth your time.  (April)

20. Really, the title of this book? Erotic Stores for Punjabi Widows was the March selection of Reese Witherspoon's book club (Reese's Book Club x Hello Sunshine on Facebook and Instagram). I like Reese. I looked at previous books she had chosen and I thought I'd be down with following along. I guess there is some discussion about the book on Instagram, but I didn't participate. I did enjoy this book. It's about a young English-born Indian woman, Nikki, who takes a job at the temple's community center to teach other women to write. Through a bit of a mix-up, the women, mostly older widows, start orally telling erotic stories because many of them don't know how to write. The stories were indeed erotic, but kind of romantic and empowering, too. It's not all sexy sexy. There is a bunch of other stuff going on, too, including a romance for Nikki, friendships and righting past wrongs. You should read it! (April)

19. The Hideaway is one of the Reader's Choice selections at the Salt Lake County Library. I couldn't resist the cover or the synopsis. The story is about Sara, a woman who runs an antique shop in New Orleans. Her grandmother dies and bequeaths her home, The Hideaway, to Sara with the instructions that Sara is to renovate it and bring the house back to its former beauty and that she must live there during the renovation. Sara isn't happy about this arrangement; she has a successful business in New Orleans, after all. But she honors her grandmother's wishes, hires a hot contractor to do the work and suddenly staying in the little Alabama town isn't such a bad thing. The story goes back and forth between Sara's present day and her grandmother's prime. It's a good story and I liked it. (April)

18. This book was on the first screen of the Salt Lake County website or the Overdrive website. I think they mean it to be a book that anyone can read and discuss, like a county-wide book club. I couldn't resist the title, so I downloaded it. It is a memoir. The author, Jennifer, and her husband, David, fall on difficult financial times and end up losing their house in addition to owing a lot of money in taxes to the IRS and to their state. Jennifer and David move out into the boondocks of North Carolina into a mice and snake infested cabin near a waterfall where they begin to raise chickens and eventually goats. SPOILER: There are more than two goats. While I enjoyed the details of their chicken and goat farming, I felt a little put off by Jennifer's lack of what I felt was her part in their family going broke. She left all the financial details to her husband - granted, he is an accountant - but I think a woman should know what is going on with their money. And some of the decisions they made, like keeping their kids in private school, were tough for me to get behind. And I can tell you straight up that if there were copperhead snakes in my kitchen or big black snakes falling from the eaves onto my patio when I was sitting there enjoying a cocktail and looking at the waterfall, I'd be getting my happy ass out of the country and back to town, no matter how much I liked those chickens and goats. (April)

17. Still Me is the third book about Louise Clark who we first met in Me Before You. In this story, Lou goes to New York to work for a super-wealthy family as a personal assistant to the wife. Lou gets caught up in the Manhattan life and things between her and Ambulance Sam are rough. There is a lot that happens to Lou in this engaging story, and if you've read the first two books, you should read this one too. I wouldn't recommend starting with this one, because the three books build on each other and characters from the previous books appear in this one and you want to know who is who. I liked it a lot! (April)

16. Digging In was an Amazon First Read choice last month. Prime members get a free book every month and there are about half a dozen to choose from. This story is about a woman who suffers a terrible tragedy when her husband is killed in a car accident. She and her teenage son struggle to right their ship, so to speak, so Paige ends up digging up her back yard and plants a garden. She meets some people who help her along the way. Thinking about the story, it was kind of all over the place. Harmless and meh. (April)

15. You know I love my YA novels! After LaRose, I definitely needed something lighter and easier. The Unexpected Everything fit the bill. Andie's dad, Congressman Walker, is accused of wrong-doing and steps down from his office during the investigation, disrupting Andie's summer plans. She ends up getting a job as a dog walker, meeting a cute guy and having good times with her three best friends. Of course there is a conflict or two that has to be overcome (or not). I liked everything about this book. It was sweet.  (March)

14. I will read just about anything that Louise Erdrich writes. She tells good stories and had a beautiful writing style. Most of her novels are about Native Americans, and this story is no exception. It begins when a man accidentally shoots and kills his best friend's little boy. To make amends, he and his wife give their own little boy, LaRose, to his friend's family. I nearly couldn't read any further than that, but I'm glad that I did. There is so much going on in this novel, with backstories and satellite characters and the families themselves, that I was quite engaged.  (March)

13. I read A Gentleman in Moscow as part of a book club. (#Ekpesbookclub - I'm sure I will write a full post about the club soon). I don't think I would have picked this novel to read myself, so I'm glad I joined this club and got to read it because I was totally in love with it. The writing in lyrical and elegant. The characters are engaging and mostly endearing. The story centers around Alexander Rostov, a nobleman who is sentenced to life imprisonment at the Metropol Hotel in Moscow, so the majority of the 400 pages is spent following Rostov's life over three decades in the hotel. You might think there couldn't be a story there, but you would be wrong. It is a beautiful book. (March)

12. A funny thing about this book...when I got it, I thought the title was Mrs. Saint and the Detectives. I couldn't for the life of me figure out where the detectives would come into play when I first started reading the book. Yeah. I had to look really closely at the title to see the what I thought was a T was really an F. Totally changes the story, doesn't it?

This was a First Read option from Amazon. I thought it was going to be about a woman named Markie and her son, Jesse, but it's also about the next door neighbor, Mrs. Saint and the people in her life. The story is kind of all over the place and certainly didn't end up how I was expecting. It was just meh for me. (February)

11.  I got The Upside of Unrequited from the elibrary in the early morning hours when I couldn't go back to sleep. I was looking for a quick, fun read while I was waiting for a book club meeting and this story definitely fit the bill. I really liked it! The story is told from the POV of Molly. We learn about Molly's twin sister Cassie, Molly's twenty-six crushes and Cassie's attempt to set Molly up with Hipster Will. It is just fun YA fiction and every page was good. (February)

10. I was in need of a YA fix and Julie Buxbaum was just the author to deliver it. What to Say Next is the story of David and Kit. David is an awkward loner and Kit is the girl David thinks is amazing. When Kit is having a hard time dealing with her father's death, she seeks out the peace of David's lunch table and they become friends. Buxbaum creates wonderful characters with realistic dialogue and I enjoyed reading this story. (February)

9. Faking It has been on my little Nook for a long time and it was next in line so I read it. Quick and easy, chick lit. The setting is Provence and Tuscany, the heroine is a quirky red-head, there's a hot French guy and some sexy sex thrown in for good measure. What's not to like? (February)

8. MT bought this book on his Kindle and shared it with me. He read it in a couple of days while we were on vacation and couldn't stop talking about how great it was. We usually don't read the same books, but he had me curious about this one, so I read it. Beneath a Scarlet Sky is the true story of a young man in Milan, Italy during World War II. The things that Pino does and sees during the war would be enough to make a person depressed and horrified by the world for life. There are some terrifically horrifying scenes in the book, but there is also love and courage. It is a remarkable story. (February)

7. I bought Together Tea a long time ago for my Nook. There are several books on the device that I have purchased and I have decided it's time to read them. Together Tea is the story of a mom, Darya, and her daughter Mina. They fled Iran, along with Mina's father and brothers, during the revolution in the '70s and came to New York. Mina, as an adult, decides to go back to Tehran to visit her family and Darya goes with her. The story is told in three parts: present day as Mina comes to the decision to go back to Iran for a visit, the '70s during the early days of the revolution and Darya and Parviz's decision to bring their family to the U.S. and their early time in Queens, then Darya and Mina's visit to Iran. It was a wonderful story about the mother and the daughter and made me interested in Iran. I don't know much about the country, and I googled some images to see the places that were talked about in the book. I liked this book. (January)

6. This book is one that I bought awhile ago on my Nook. Once I got that little paperwhite warmed up, it worked pretty well. The story is about Lou, a chef in Milwaukee, who owns a restaurant that gets an absolutely terrible review by a local restaurant critic. Lou meets a cool guy who is new in town and shows him all the sights and introduces him to the culinary delights of her hometown. I had never really wanted to go to Milwaukee before, but it sounds pretty fun in summertime. I liked this book quite a lot. (January)

5. Artemis is Andy Weir's second novel. He wrote The Martian which was a great movie and an awesome book, so I was excited to read Artemis. It was lots of fun. It's the story of Jazz, a young woman who lives and works in the first city on the moon, Artemis. The story is packed with adventure, daring, smarts and sassy Jazz. I liked it a lot! (January)

4. I bought Grief Cottage from Barnes and Noble. It was a daily deal for the Nook. I haven't read on my Nook for a long time, but I have a paperwhite device and I knew I could read it outside while on vacation. Unfortunately, the Nook would only turn on when it felt like it, mostly when I was in or near a building which didn't work out while I was on the beach. Still, I managed and I'm glad I did because I enjoyed this story. It's about a boy named Marcus who moves to an island off the coast of South Carolina with his great aunt after his mother is killed in a car accident. The story is about the first summer Marcus stays with his aunt Charlotte. Wonderful story. (January)

3. Vacation book number one and my least favorite of the four. This was an Amazon Prime First Read option. It's the story of a woman whose husband ups and leaves her and their two children. The woman doesn't have a job and finds herself without any money to buy food for her kids. She doesn't ask anyone for help and she has a hard time. The book was merely okay for me. (January)

2. My fascination with YA fiction continues into the new year. I think I found out about this book from one of the Buzzfeed Book emails I get. The story is about Monty, a young English lord, his sister Felicity and his friend Percy. They are off on the Grand Tour of the Continent before Monty takes over the family estate, Felicity goes to boarding school and Percy goes to "law school".  It takes place in the 1800s or earlier, I'd say. The three have a grundle of adventures and it's a pretty cute story. (January)

1. I've read a couple of Jenny Colgan's books and I enjoy her easy style. This book is the second story about Little Beach Street Bakery. I didn't like it was much as the first one. I found Polly to be really whiny. She probably was whiny is the first book too, but it seemed more endearing. (January)

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