2019 Book Bingo

A few years ago I created a reading bingo board to keep track of the books that I read that year, and while there really wasn’t a point to doing it, I REALLY enjoyed it! I made a resolution for 2019 to read 25 books throughout the year, and that is just the perfect number of books to go on yet another reading bingo board. I had a lot of fun thinking about what to put in each square and then trying to find what books I might get to read throughout the rest of the year.

Seeing as we’re halfway through February, I’ve already read a few books and marked off a few squares! Here are the books I’ve read so far in 2019:

For a book written by a celebrity I read The Actor’s Life: A Survival Guide. I have no interest in changing careers and moving to New York of Los Angeles to try and make it as an actor (tho 9-year-old Kelly really wishes I would!) but I love Jenna Fisher and it was fascinating to read about how she got started in Hollywood and just how much work, time, effort, and rejection goes into making a living as a performer. She did a great job giving out practical advice and sharing her wins and failures over the years.

For a book that was made into a movie, I read The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society. I had a lot of friends that read this recently and so I thought I’d give it a go. It was… fine. One person in particular told me multiple times how this book was their all time favorite and the best book they read all year which REALLY made me build it up in my head. And ultimately it did not live up to my internal hype. It was a lovely story, yes, but I was just expecting… more? Yeah. I still want to watch the movie and see what is different and who knows, maybe I’ll like the movie better than the book!

For a book club pick I read The Last Mrs. Parrish. This was recently on Reese Witherspoon’s book club list, and I was in the mood for a story that might make my heart beat a little bit faster, and this one certainly got me amped up and feeling VERY anxious. It’s told kind of in two parts with one narrator in the beginning and a second narrator filling in the gaps in the second half of the book, and I love when books do that. It reminded me of Gone Girl a lot, how you read the first half and think you know everything, but then you switch narrators and you’re like OH OK I KNEW NOTHING. This book definitely made me think that every man is definitely a sociopath, and if you have any sort of abuse or trauma in your past romantic relationships, maybe skip this one. I was fine with it but I can see how it could be a little triggering for some people. I straight up told a friend “you should never read this book,” so just keep that in mind.

Just like with my 2019 resolutions, I created a page for my 2019 book bingo! You can click on the link at the top of my page and check in to see what books I’ve read and how far I’ve gotten with filling in my bingo card!

Recent Reads

Oh man do I have a lot of books to catch you all up on! I read a LOT over the past few months and honestly liked most of what I read! I feel like I’m at an age now where I’m 100% ok abandoning a book if I am not enjoying it. I even gave up on a few books and returned them to the library, which is something I would NEVER have done a few years ago! Of course I try to give a book a good chance, but sometimes you just have to let things go. I’m too busy to read bad books, and I love that feeling. So let’s dive in, shall we?

She Reads Truth

I had this one sitting on my shelf for longer than I’d like to admit, and I’m so glad I finally got around to reading it. The two authors (from the very popular She Reads Truth website and app, if you hadn’t made that connection yet!) share different stories from their lives and showed how no matter what the circumstance, God was always there with them and His word was always constant and a source of truth. “Sometimes it takes everything moving to notice the thing that doesn’t move. Sometimes it takes telling two very different stories to notice how the Truth was exactly the same in both of them.” I really enjoyed reading this and yes, it DID make me tear up while reading it on an airplane, but I highly recommend it!

Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine

This book had SO MUCH BUZZ and I felt like everyone had already read it, so obviously I had to read it, too! It’s about a young woman who struggles to fit in socially and isn’t really considered “normal” but she is completely fine with the way she lives her life. But then she meets a new friend at work and he brings her into his life and world and together she starts to repair what she didn’t even realize had been damaged. I did like this book… but also this book was kind of… a downer? It made me feel…. happy sad. So I liked it, but it also took a lot out of me to read it. So I recommend it, but also you have to be feeling pretty happy when you read it or else man it will not be a fun time! It’s going to be made into a movie that comes out next year, so you still have some time to read it before you see it!

The Lies We Told

I was in the mood to read a thriller, and was so excited when I found this one at the library. It follows a few different story lines and leads to the point where they all intersect and oooooooh it gets intense! I seriously couldn’t put this down and stayed up WAY too late reading because I just had to know what happened!!! There are mysteries, family secrets, people acting suspicious all over the place, people getting kidnapped, and more. I did see some of the “plot twists” coming, but there were enough things that honestly surprised me and I love when a book can just throw a twist at you like that!

The Kennedy Debutante

This was the very best kind of historical fiction! I seriously loved this one SO MUCH! I knew pretty much nothing about Kick Kennedy (JFK’s little sister) and now I know so much! This story focuses on her time living with her family in London and how she met the love of her life and eventual husband, Billy. It gave an interesting insight to real events and let me daydream along with Kick as she sauntered through London society before and during the war. It just made me really happy while reading it and sent me down a long Wikipedia path looking up all the people, places, and events that were talked about in the book!

The Wondering Years

One of my all time favorite podcasts is The Popcast with Knox and Jamie, and one of the hosts wrote a book! He is HILARIOUS on the podcast, and I knew before I even started this book that it would be hilarious and amazing, and guess what? I was right. He shares how he’s always had a love for pop culture and how those tv shows, movies, songs, and more helped him on his journey to learning more about God as he was growing up. I listened to this as an audiobook (because I’m so used to listening to Knox talk, anyway) and it was a good, short listen! Definitely read this book if you like celebrity memoirs but are up for reading one that isn’t written by a celebrity and it contains hilarious stories with a good overarching message!

A Lady’s Guide to Selling Out

While I didn’t hate this book, it honestly wasn’t my favorite one of the bunch. I might even say it was my least favorite of this bunch. Not the worst book I’ve ever read, but certainly not the best. This story follows Casey, who works at an ad agency, and basically is becoming a sellout. She is rising in her career but becoming a terrible person in the process, and then OH NO everything falls apart and she is left at rock bottom. She slowly starts to rebuild her life and finds out that being genuine is the way to go. It had a good ending, but honestly you can probably skip this one.

And now we’re all caught up from 2018! Have you read any of these before, or have any of them been siting in your TBR pile forever?

Recent Reads

Celebrity memoirs/essays are seriously the best! I love reading them and think it’s even better when the author reads it themselves. It’s just so much fun to hear it in their own voice and with their own inflection, and you can just imagine them saying the words to you like you were having a conversation. And that’s exactly how I felt when I listened to Ellie Kemper read her book, My Squirrel Days.

I loved hearing stories about her growing up in St. Louis, especially since I grew up in that area, too! I loved hearing stories about her planning her wedding. I loved hearing stories about getting her start in the comedy community. But most of all, I loved hearing stories about her time on The Office and Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt! She talked about having to wear those hot pink pants ALL THE TIME and I was cracking up. This book is definitely more of a “make you laugh” rather than a “tell you all the down and dirty true details” but if you’re looking for a light-hearted easy read, this would be an excellent choice!

The other book I finished recently is a suuuuuuuuuuuper short one, but I really enjoyed it! I had been meaning to read The Lipstick Gospel by Stephanie May Wilson for YEARS but just never got around to it. (You can actually get a free copy of this short book on her website!) I don’t remember how I heard about Stephanie for the first time, but she was a cute and well-spoken Christian who seemed right around my age, so I signed up for her emails at some point in time and really enjoyed everything I saw from her. Then I found out that she was starting a podcast called Girls Night where she talks with friends about faith, relationships, friendship, and life in general and I started listening and I LOVE it! It might even be my favorite podcast at the moment… she just has such good things to say and it seems like I’m texting a quote from just about every single episode to a friend to share the wisdom!

But enough about all that – I’m here to talk about her book! It is written in a very conversational way, which is not everybody’s favorite style, but I really enjoyed it. I’m used to hearing her talk, so this was a very comfortable cadence to read for me. She talks about how God was the furthest thing from her mind for a very long time, the things she was going through in college, and the semester abroad that changed her whole view of God and faith. She could have ended the book right there, but she went on to show how she struggled as a new believer, how she grew in her faith, and how her life was beginning to change. It was just a really sweet story and it made me love Stephanie even more!

Recent Reads

It took most of the summer, but I finally feel like I’m back in a good groove when it comes to reading. I needed to get some good, fun books under my belt to truly feel back in the reading swing of things, and I think I’ve finally done it. I’ve been so pumped to start (and finish) new books lately, that I somehow managed to finish 5 over the last month! And just like last time, they all ended up being in different genres, which definitely helped me not get bored reading the same type of book over and over again.

A Simple Favor

I REALLY wanted to read this one before the movie came to theaters, and I finished it JUST in time! Which I guess didn’t really matter since I haven’t seen the movie yet… but now I can! I knew this one was supposed to be a thriller and the trailer made the story seem very suspenseful, so I definitely wanted to know the plot and how the story ended before seeing it played out. So I read A Simple Favor. And it was… interesting. Here’s a quick overview:

“It starts with a simple favor—an ordinary kindness mothers do for one another. When her best friend, Emily, asks Stephanie to pick up her son Nicky after school, she happily says yes. Nicky and her son, Miles, are classmates and best friends, and the five-year-olds love being together—just like she and Emily. A widow and stay-at-home mommy blogger living in woodsy suburban Connecticut, Stephanie was lonely until she met Emily, a sophisticated PR executive whose job in Manhattan demands so much of her time. 

But Emily doesn’t come back. She doesn’t answer calls or return texts. Stephanie knows something is terribly wrong—Emily would never leave Nicky, no matter what the police say. Terrified, she reaches out to her blog readers for help. She also reaches out to Emily’s husband, the handsome, reticent Sean, offering emotional support. It’s the least she can do for her best friend. Then, she and Sean receive shocking news. Emily is dead. The nightmare of her disappearance is over.

Or is it? Because soon, Stephanie will begin to see that nothing—not friendship, love, or even an ordinary favor—is as simple as it seems.”

So I’m not going to lie… I expected this to be a little… more intense than it was. Don’t get me wrong, it was still crazy and had some plot twists I didn’t see coming, but also it was just… not as crazy as I expected it to be. Everyone kept comparing it to Gone Girl, so I went into it thinking WHOA THIS IS GOING TO BE NUTS and I had so many possible theories floating around in my head while I was reading. And honestly, I think one of my theories would have made it a bigger “what?!!?” moment at the end, but oh well. I definitely pictured Blake Lively and Anna Kendrick the whole time I was reading which was kind of fun, and overall the story wasn’t terrible. I do really love when a story jumps around with multiple narrators (some being unreliable even) so that made me want to not put the book down! I’ll probably wait and watch the movie once I can get it from a Redbox, though.

It’s Your Ship

It’s Your Ship would not have been a usual book choice for me (in fact I didn’t choose it at all, it was chosen for me) but I actually enjoyed it more than I thought I would. The CEO of my company got this book for all the directors and VPs and managers to read and discuss, and I definitely don’t fall into any of those categories. But the VP of my department thought that this had a lot of good things inside, and that our department might benefit from reading it and having a little book club discussion. But then some scheduling things got in the way and so the big book club ended up being a very small book discussion at my small team meeting led by my manager. But either way, a book about leadership was still pretty interesting, thought-provoking, and wasn’t the worst book I’ve ever read! A lot of the things in this were pretty common sense, but it was still good reminders on how to be a good leader, how to work under a good leader, and just how to be a good person, with a lot of good military anecdotes thrown in to get his point across.

The Ensemble

Full disclosure – I chose this book 100% because of the cover. LOOK AT IT! It’s so bright and happy and beautiful! And in no way lets you know what The Ensemble will actually be about! Which it turns out is about a quartet of musicians and the story follows the four of them throughout their lives and their musical careers while they play together! Neat! Here’s a better description for you.

“Jana. Brit. Daniel. Henry. They would never have been friends if they hadn’t needed each other. They would never have found each other except for the art which drew them together. They would never have become family without their love for the music, for each other.

Brit is the second violinist, a beautiful and quiet orphan; on the viola is Henry, a prodigy who’s always had it easy; the cellist is Daniel, the oldest and an angry skeptic who sleeps around; and on first violin is Jana, their flinty, resilient leader. Together, they are the Van Ness Quartet. After the group’s youthful, rocky start, they experience devastating failure and wild success, heartbreak and marriage, triumph and loss, betrayal and enduring loyalty. They are always tied to each other – by career, by the intensity of their art, by the secrets they carry, by choosing each other over and over again.

Following these four unforgettable characters, Aja Gabel’s debut novel gives a riveting look into the high-stakes, cutthroat world of musicians, and of lives made in concert. The story of Brit and Henry and Daniel and Jana, The Ensemble is a heart-skipping portrait of ambition, friendship, and the tenderness of youth.”

This was one of those books where you get to the end and you’ve really enjoyed it but you also have to ask yourself, did anything actually happen? You read and follow the lives of these four people, but like… did anything actually happen? So much stuff happened, yes… but do you know what I mean? I actually really enjoy books like that from time to time, and this one came at a perfect time. Besides liking the characters a lot, I thought that this book was really well written and the way that the author phrased things was absolutely beautiful. Plus, it skipped around between four (and a bonus) narrator, so you know I loved that, too.

How to Walk Away

I just finished How to Walk Away two days ago and I REALLY REALLY REALLY liked it!! Definitely my favorite from this bunch. It wasn’t what I was expecting… and that’s probably because I tend to do this thing where I only really half read the plots for books before deciding that I want to read them, and so when the story went the way that the story went I was NOT expecting it (and it happens in the first few chapters, haha) but this story was just so good! Here’s the description (and maybe you should actually read all of it. Do as I say, not as I do.)

“Margaret Jacobsen is just about to step into the bright future she’s worked for so hard and so long: a new dream job, a fiancé she adores, and the promise of a picture-perfect life just around the corner. Then, suddenly, on what should have been one of the happiest days of her life, everything she worked for is taken away in a brief, tumultuous moment.

In the hospital and forced to face the possibility that nothing will ever be the same again, Maggie must confront the unthinkable. First there is her fiancé, Chip, who wallows in self-pity while simultaneously expecting to be forgiven. Then, there’s her sister Kit, who shows up after pulling a three-year vanishing act. Finally, there’s Ian, her physical therapist, the one the nurses said was too tough for her. Ian, who won’t let her give in to her pity, and who sees her like no one has seen her before. Sometimes the last thing you want is the one thing you need. Sometimes we all need someone to catch us when we fall. And sometimes love can find us in the least likely place we would ever expect.”

I think the thing I loved most about this story was the characters. I really felt like I was right there in the hospital with Margaret, fighting with my sister, trying to figure out what’s going on with my fiance, realizing I might have a crush on this physical therapist of mine… I was so enthralled by the plot and that made the book go by way too quickly! Plain and simple, this book made me really happy and if you need a quick, light, and fun read that will make you happy too, then I think you should make this the one.

Girl, Wash Your Face

So…. I really wanted to love this book. I liked it, but I really wanted to LOVE it. And I just didn’t. There were a lot of things that I thought it got right. It was encouraging. It was uplifting. It was inspiring. It was funny at times. But there were also a lot of things that I thought it got not-as-right (not totally wrong, just not totally right.) Like I felt that everything she wrote was just kind of common sense. It was a good reminder of being yourself and loving yourself and going after your goals and dreams, but I guess I just kind of expected to read something new, and I didn’t. I felt that for being offered as a Christian book, it didn’t really mention Christ that much. And maybe that was part of what she was going for – make it more accessible to the masses to covertly spread a watered-down gospel message to people who don’t go to church, but like… did she even do that at all? And I don’t know what it was, but something just felt… off to me while reading it. It seemed genuine, it seemed like she was passionate about the words she was writing but something just seemed… off.

So again, I did actually like this book, but I didn’t actually love it. I would still recommend it, just go in knowing that it’s not going to change your life.

Have you read any of these books yet, or are any of them on your list now? Have you seen A Simple Favor yet, and did you like it? I’ve heard mixed reviews, and now that I know the story I’d love to hear your thoughts! Do you have any business/leadership books you’ve loved and would recommend? Is there a really great fiction book you’ve loved and think everyone else should read, too? I have all the questions today, apparently! 🙂

Recent Reads

Do you ever go through genre moods when you’re reading? I sure do! There was a stretch of a few months where all I wanted to read was historical fiction. There was another spurt where I couldn’t get enough of thrillers (it was when we all got caught up in the Gone Girl madness, nobody seemed to be immune!) I even went through a few months where I was searching out SAD BOOKS because I am a crazy person and wanted to torture myself apparently? (Those are still some of my favorites, tho!) And remember a few years ago when funny celebrity memoirs were coming out left and right? Yeah me too, and I did my best to read all of them in a 3 month period.

But I asked my original question because it seems right now that I don’t have a current genre mood and I don’t know how to feel about it! On the one hand, I really like the variety of the books I’ve been reading over the last few months… but on the other hand it makes it seem SO HARD to pick out the next book I want to read! Should I go for that biography, or grab the latest murder mystery, or finally start that rom-com beach read that’s been in my library queue for years? First world problems, am I right? Here are some of the books I’ve read over the last few months- all in different genres!

When Life Gives You Lululemons

In the genre of “fun beach read” I give you When Life Gives You Lululemons – it is a follow-up story to The Devil Wears Prada (which I read in high school and really really really enjoyed!) and it follows Emily (the Emily Blunt character from the movie) 10 years later. Here’s the summary:

Let’s be clear: Emily Charlton does not do the suburbs. After leaving Miranda Priestly, she’s been working in Hollywood as an image consultant to the stars, but recently, Emily’s lost a few clients. She’s hopeless with social media. The new guard is nipping at her heels. She needs a big opportunity, and she needs it now. When Karolina Hartwell, a gorgeous former supermodel, is arrested for a DUI, her fall from grace is merciless. Her senator-husband leaves her, her Beltway friends disappear, and the tabloids pounce. In Karolina, Emily finds her comeback opportunity. But she quickly learns Greenwich is a world apart and that this comeback needs a team approach. So it is that Emily, the scorned Karolina, and their mutual friend Miriam, a powerful attorney turned stay-at-home suburban mom, band together to not only navigate the social land mines of suburban Greenwich but win back the hearts of the American public.

I really liked reading this one!! It was quick and easy and FUN! The characters (both new and old) were a hoot to hang out with for a few days and the plot was woven together very well. It’s one of those stories that makes you crazy because as the reader you know ALL THE THINGS but the characters don’t know all the things and you’re just yelling at the book COME ON NOW! So it’s a tiny bit infuriating in the moment, but the payoff at the end of the book is SO incredibly worth it!

So Close to Being the Sh*t, Y’all Don’t Even Know

Here’s my choice for the “fun celebrity memoir” genre. Ok so first little warning about this book – there is ALL THE LANGUAGE in pretty much every sentence. She’s not being rude or mean, that’s just the way Retta talks. But a few f-bombs aside, this book was truly hilarious and I loved getting to learn more about Donna from Parks & Rec, how Retta got into show comedy and business, and hearing her talk about our mutual obsession that is Hamilton.

I read a physical copy of this one, but Retta also reads the audiobook and I bet that she adds so much flair to her words! I definitely recommend either!

My Oxford Year

In the genre of “book that I thought was going to be one thing and then oops it made me cry a whole lot but I still really liked it” I chose My Oxford Year. This was on my list of books I wanted to read this summer and I honestly didn’t know much about it except for an American goes to study for a year at Oxford and falls in love!! What a fun story, right?!?! Here’s the full summary:

American Ella Durran has had the same plan for her life since she was thirteen: Study at Oxford. At 24, she’s finally made it to England on a Rhodes Scholarship when she’s offered an unbelievable position in a rising political star’s presidential campaign. With the promise that she’ll work remotely and return to DC at the end of her Oxford year, she’s free to enjoy her Once in a Lifetime Experience. That is, until a smart-mouthed local who is too quick with his tongue and his car ruins her shirt and her first day. When Ella discovers that her English literature course will be taught by none other than that same local, Jamie Davenport, she thinks for the first time that Oxford might not be all she’s envisioned. But a late-night drink reveals a connection she wasn’t anticipating finding and what begins as a casual fling soon develops into something much more when Ella learns Jamie has a life-changing secret. Immediately, Ella is faced with a seemingly impossible decision: turn her back on the man she’s falling in love with to follow her political dreams or be there for him during a trial neither are truly prepared for. As the end of her year in Oxford rapidly approaches, Ella must decide if the dreams she’s always wanted are the same ones she’s now yearning for.

So I would recommend this book, however… I don’t think it was written super well. It was still fun to read, but there were a lot of times where it got a little confusing and I had to re-read entire pages to figure out who was actually talking or what had actually happened or how much time had actually passed. (There was one part where I was reading thinking this part was taking place the next day, when MUCH later I realized it was taking place like a fully month later and I had to go back and read it again so it made more sense.)

Truly Madly Guilty

In the genre of “I thought this was going to be a thriller but was ultimately a huge letdown” I chose Truly Madly Guilty. Ugh this book. I got it as a book on CD to listen to in my car and guys. It was just SO hard to get into. Even toward the end when things started coming together and it was supposed to be the riveting, exciting, dramatic part, I just honestly didn’t care. At all. Here’s the summary because I don’t even want to talk about this plot myself:

Sam and Clementine have a wonderful, albeit busy, life: they have two little girls, Sam has just started a new dream job, and Clementine, a cellist, is busy preparing for the audition of a lifetime. If there’s anything they can count on, it’s each other. Clementine and Erika are each other’s oldest friends. A single look between them can convey an entire conversation. But theirs is a complicated relationship, so when Erika mentions a last-minute invitation to a barbecue with her neighbors, Tiffany and Vid, Clementine and Sam don’t hesitate. Having Tiffany and Vid’s larger-than-life personalities there will be a welcome respite. Two months later, it won’t stop raining, and Clementine and Sam can’t stop asking themselves the question: What if we hadn’t gone? In Truly Madly Guilty, Liane Moriarty shows how guilt can expose the fault lines in the most seemingly strong relationships, how what we don’t say can be more powerful than what we do, and how sometimes it is the most innocent of moments that can do the greatest harm.

I read Big Little Lies a year ago and LOVED it and thought oh, it’s the same author so I bet I’ll like this book, too! False. Didn’t care. Don’t want to waste my time talking about it anymore. Don’t bother reading it. Just trust me.

(I do have a friend who has read most of Liane Moriarty’s books and she said that all her other ones are actually good and I should give them a try. She tried to start this book and couldn’t get into it, so I’m hopeful that I’ll like her other books better!)

Have you read any of these books yet? What do you think about them? Is there a certain genre that you’re drawn to right now? I think I’m going to try to keep my randomness going! I’m currently reading a “self-help-ish” book, a book on management, and a thriller… variety is the spice of (book) life!