Friday, January 22, 2021

The Ryan White Story by Ryan White

I, like Jayme, have not had a 5-star read yet in 2021. So I will also be sharing one of my favorite books. This book is actually the book that kickstarted my love of reading when I was in late junior high/early high school. I can't remember the exact timing of the first time reading it, but I do remember my Mom dropping it in my lap and telling me she got it for me at a garage sale. 

Title: Ryan White: My Own Story by Ryan White and Ann Marie Cunningham
Published: August 4th 1992

It's easy to say Ryan was the poster boy for AIDS in the late 1980s up through and after his death in 1990 and leave it at that. 

This book dives deep into how Ryan was a normal Indiana teen in the mid-1980s, well as normal as you can be with a blood condition that doesn't allow it to clot, but it was manageable. 

Then after a series of different ailments and diagnoses, Ryan became one of the first teenage children to be diagnosed with AIDS due to a bad batch or batches of his blood Factor that helped control his hemophilia. 

Ryan shares about the difficult emotional and legal battle of being able to return to school and finally finding his place in a new town who accepted his family with open arms. 

Its hard for me to pinpoint exactly what made me love this book so much the first time I picked it up, but I just finished re-reading it again for probably close to the 10th time and I still cried. 

It's a book that reminds me that we may not understand the exact struggle someone is going through and even if we do, it's always best to be kinder than necessary. 

After my latest re-read, I found a "coffee table" type book called The Quiet Hero that was put together about Ryan with pictures of him throughout his life with friends and family. I also discovered his Mom, Jeanne White's book Weeding Out The Tears as well. I would definitely recommend checking that one out, it was also very good. 

Friday, January 15, 2021

The Running Dream by Wendelin Van Draanen

 Unfortunately, I haven't had a five star read yet this year so I'm switching it up and doing #FavoritesFriday so I can share one of my favorites with you! (Definitely not my only favorite. You wouldn't choose a favorite child would you?!)

The Running Dream by Wendelin Van Draanan
Pub. Date: January 11, 2011

This book is ten years old and honestly, I think I read it sometime that year. But the mark that it left on me was enough for me to remember it as one of my absolute favorites, even now.

The story revolves around Jessica. She's a runner (Definitely NOT the part I related to lol) but one day she's in a car accident and loses her leg. (Not a spoiler. That's literally the whole point.) Now, she's struggling through the physical pain of losing her leg and trying to get used to a prosthetic, while also dealing with the emotional trauma of wondering if she will ever run again. Friends don't know what to say and some even start ignoring her.

Then we meet Rosa, a sweet girl with cerebral palsy. She's been treated in this same manner for pretty much her whole life so in a related, but not completely similar, way she understands what Jessica is going through. The silent looks. The whispers. Rosa begins tutoring Jessica in math and from there they begin to form a unique friendship. As the possibility of Jessica being able to run again starts to become clearer, Jessica shows a beautiful change of heart.

The reason I related to this book so thoroughly and why it remains one of my favorite books is because in many ways I could relate to Jessica. No, I did not lose my leg. But I did severely injure my knee, which cut my senior year volleyball career short after just the first couple games. I read this less than a year later, while also preparing for surgery to hopefully fix my knee. 

Jessica's inner thoughts spoke to me. Her angsty teenage depression was a lot of what I was also feeling those days. Definitely a case of "right book, right time". I remember wanting to give up because there were so many things I just couldn't do because of my brace and my crutches. But missing out on volleyball was the hardest (just like Jessica and her running). I never got to play out my final season where I finally made varsity starter. I didn't get to play in the game that decided if the team would go to state. I spent the rest of that season on the bench, dedicated to my team, but never set foot on that court again. To this day, I'm still kind of disappointed. 

The Running Dream is a beautiful story of growing up, learning to be strong - both physically and mentally, putting yourself into someone else's shoes, and helping to build up others who may be struggling too. 

Saturday, January 9, 2021

2021 Book-ish Goals

Many readers that we know create reading goals for the year. For some, that may be to reach a certain number of books finished. Others want to tackle their huge TBR shelf. Some try to complete different challenges like Book Challenge by Erin, the POPSugar Reading Challenge, Book of the Month's new challenge, reading a book with a title for each letter of the alphabet....The list goes on.

We also like to set some goals and we'd like to share them with you to try to help keep ourselves accountable!

Jayme's 2021 Book-ish Goals

1. Complete 125 books.

2. Review all ARCs before publication date. (I know my current ARC was just published, but beyond this one this will be my goal.)
2a. Read/Review at least one ARC a month.

3. Read at least 2 of my Book of the Month books per month.

4. Read at least 5 classic novels (This was a goal last year and I only read one.)

5. Be more intentional with representation in my reads & using my tracker.
5a. Have 15% of my reads be written by male authors. (Last year = 12%)
5b. Have 20% of my reads be written by BIPOC authors. (Last year = 13%)
5c. Keep better track of my successful recommendation sources & successful publishers.

I'm also trying a few reading challenges this year - Book Challenge by Erin, POPSugar Reading Challenge 2021, and Book of the Month (which should be covered with #3).

Reviews Published

Meghan's 2021 Book-ish Goals

1. Complete 100 books

2. Complete 12 Audiobooks

3. Keep up-to-date on my tracker

4. Read one BOTM book a month

5. Read 25 of my personal backlist bought before this year.

6. Like Jayme's said have better representation in my reads
6a. Have 10% of my reads be written by male authors(I unfortunately quit tracking in June)
6b. Have 5% of my reads be written by BIPOC authors

Tuesday, January 5, 2021

The Best, The Worst, The Unexpected...Part 2


Hey everyone, its Meghan! The year 2020 is FINALLY behind us and I for one am glad to see it go! But, one good part of 2020 was the fact that, with most of the world shut down, I had way more time for reading. As a quick little wrap-up of my year in books, I thought I would introduce you to some of the best books I read this year, some of the worst books I read this year (in my opinion -- obviously others will love them and I greatly respect the authors for their time and their craft), and some of my reading stats.

Before we get to that, here's a quick wrap-up of my December reads:

One Tuesday Morning ☕☕☕☕
Beyond Tuesday Morning ☕☕☕☕
The Notebook Girls ☕☕☕
Beach Read ☕☕☕☕
Through the Lens ☕☕☕
Johnny Cash ☕☕☕☕

Ready? Let's go.

The Best...
Y'all, this category was SO HARD to choose books for!

Best Fiction: Things you Save in a Fire

Best Romance: Ties that Tether

Best Historical Fiction: I actually dont think I read a single historical fiction book in 2020 🤦‍♀️

Best Thriller: No Exit by Taylor Adams

Best Young Adult: Adorkable by Cookie O'Gorman

Best Sci-Fi/Fantasy: I did not read a single sci-fi or fantasy book this year

Best Memoir: Know my Name by Chanel Miller

Best Classic: Nope. Again didn't read any classics 🤦‍♀️

Best Standalone Novel: I looooved The Book of Essie

Best Series: The Brew Series by Molly McAdams

Best Audiobook: I only listened to one, and that was A Mother's Reckoning

2020 Five Star Reads: 19

Just want to add a small disclaimer here. I'm using "The Worst" because it's what goes along with "The Best". But I know that just because a book doesn't work for me, doesn't mean it's a bad book. I firmly believe there are NO BAD BOOKS because obviously someone liked it to publish it. Authors are amazingly talented. These just weren't for me....

The Worst...

Least Liked Book I finished: Code Name Verity

2020 DNF: I didn't DNF a single book this year 

If 2020 was good for anything, it taught us that things don't always go as planned. Here's some twists I did not expect....
The Unexpected..

Book I thought I would love, but didn't:  The Notebook Girls

Book I thought I would hate, but loved: Big Summer

Most unexpected thriller twist: The Other Woman

Books over my Goodreads goal:  -9

Any other unexpected bookish happenings?
 Not that I can think of. 

Saturday, January 2, 2021

The Best, The Worst, The Unexpected...Part 1


Hey y'all, it's Jayme. The year 2020 is FINALLY over and I'm pretty sure I've aged like 5 years. But, one good part of 2020 was the fact that, with most of the world shut down, I had way more time for reading. As a quick little wrap-up of my year in books, I thought I would introduce you to some of the best books I read this year, some of the worst books I read this year (in my opinion -- obviously others will love them and I greatly respect the authors for their time and their craft), and some of my reading stats.

Before we get to that, here's a quick wrap-up of my December reads:

Craigslist Confessionals ☕☕☕☕.25
Heart Bones ☕☕☕.75
The Last Flight ☕☕☕.75
Still Missing ☕☕☕☕75
Better Luck Next Time ☕☕☕☕.5
Buried in Secrets ☕☕☕☕.25
It ☕☕☕.25
Home Before Dark ☕☕☕.75
Invisible Girl ☕☕
In A Holidaze ☕☕☕☕
Layla ☕☕.75
The Valentine ☕☕☕.75

Now to kick 2020 to the curb! Ready? Let's go!

The Best...
Y'all, this category was SO HARD to choose books for!

Best Fiction:
This is How It Always Is by Laurie Frankel

Best Romance:
The Unhoneymooners by Christina Lauren

Best Historical Fiction:
The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Jenkins Reid

Best Thriller:
The New Husband by D.J. Palmer

Best Young Adult:
Full Disclosure by Camryn Garrett

Best Sci-Fi/Fantasy:
Oona Out of Order by Margarita Montimore

Best Memoir:
Know My Name by Chanel Miller

Best Classic:
Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury

Best Standalone Novel:
The Only Plane in the Sky by Garrett M. Graff

Best Series:
Stephanie Plum series by Janet Evanovich

Best Audiobook:
I'll Be Gone in the Dark by Michelle McNamara

2020 Five Star Reads:
The Wives - Tarryn Fisher
I Can Be A Better You - Tarryn Fisher
Let It All Burn - Denise Grover Swank
The Killer Across the Table - John E. Douglas
Her Scream in the Silence - Denise Grover Swank
A Nearly Normal Family - M.T. Edvardsson
The Only Plane in the Sky - Garrett M. Graff
When the Bough Breaks - Denise Grover Swank
Know My Name - Chanel Miller
The Substitute - Denise Grover Swank
One Foot in the Grave - Denise Grover Swank
Dear Wife - Kimberley Belle
This is How it Always Is - Laurie Frankel
The Book of Unknown Americans - Cristina Henriquez
Night - Elie Weisel
A Good Girl's Guide to Murder - Holly Jackson

Tuesday, December 1, 2020

November Reading Round-Up

Y'know, it's a little funny how shocked we are each and every month when it's time to post one of these. Here's a look at the books we loved, didn't love, read, rated, or DNF'd this month!

Jay's Reads (14):

What I Rated Them:
The Friend Zone ☕☕☕☕.25
Go See the Principal: True Tales from the School Trenches ☕☕☕.5
The Switch ☕☕☕.25
The New Husband ☕☕☕☕.75
Fortune and Glory ☕☕☕☕
Take a Hint, Dani Brown ☕☕☕☕.25
I'll Be Gone in the Dark ☕☕☕☕.75
Sabotage ☕☕.75
Dear Edward ☕☕☕☕.25
Long Bright River ☕☕☕☕.75
The Unraveling of Cassidy Holmes ☕☕☕☕.25
The Boyfriend Project ☕☕☕☕.5
Notes on a Silencing ☕☕☕☕.25
The Unhoneymooners ☕☕☕☕.75

Favorite Read: 
The New Husband!

Least Favorite Read:

None this month! I even went back to a previous DNF and am now reading!

Rolling over to next month: 
The Gambler
Craigslist Confessional
Heart Bones
Where'd You Go, Bernadette?
The Last Flight
Buried in Secrets
Better Luck Next Time
Winter Street

Meg's Reads (6):

What I Rated Them: 
Bring it Home ☕☕☕
The Chase is Over ☕☕☕☕
Blades of Glory ☕☕☕☕
Ties that Tether ☕☕☕☕
We Were Liars ☕☕☕☕
Under the Bleachers ☕☕☕

Favorite Read: Ties that Tether

Least Favorite Read: I dont think there were any that I didnt like this month. 

DNF: Nada. 

Carrying Over to Next Month:
Johnny Cash the Life (I did actually read some of this book in November!)
Beach Read 
Through the Lens
The Notebook Girls

Friday, November 13, 2020

Five Star Friday - A Good Girl's Guide to Murder

This week's Five Star read was read by Jay! 

Synopsis from Goodreads: The case is closed. Five years ago, schoolgirl Andie Bell was murdered by Sal Singh. The police know he did it. Everyone in town knows he did it.

But having grown up in the same small town that was consumed by the murder, Pippa Fitz-Amobi isn't so sure. When she chooses the case as the topic for her final year project, she starts to uncover secrets that someone in town desperately wants to stay hidden. And if the real killer is still out there, how far will they go to keep Pip from the truth?

Genre? Young Adult, Mystery, Thriller

Backlist? Yes. Published May 2, 2019.

New to me Author? Yes.

Why I rated it 5 stars? 
Honestly, I saw a little bit of myself in Pippa. She is in her senior year of high school and she's a bit of a perfectionist and an over-worker/over-thinker. She strives to be her best and she's working on an amazing senior capstone project. Little does she know, this project is about to take over her life in a big way. 

Pippa doesn't believe Sal really murdered Andie. But to the rest of the town, there's no way it WASN'T Sal. Pippa sets off on a journey to try to figure out if she can prove Sal's innocence. Another thing we have in common - I think that would be amazing. Pippa is a bit of a True Crime junkie and I'm a self-proclaimed Murderino. I was invested from the beginning. 

I honestly did not see what was coming at the end. Things twisted and turned more than I expected, but in such a good way. Holly Jackson ties up all the loose ends in a complex, though not outlandish way. I went into this book pretty blindly, but I loved it and now I'm looking forward to the next book in the series.