On the Shelf: March & April Books

I’ve been a happy little book worm lately … not reading too much or too little. Reading just the right amount for me at this sweet little moment in time. It feels good. It feels comfortable.

Kinda like this breezy spring dress and heels 😉

Here they are … in the order in which I read them … my March and April books, along with with their summaries and my thoughts on each one.

{Note: The book summaries can be found on Amazon or Goodreads or on the individual book jackets ;). If you’ve never peeked at Goodreads, you should check it out. It’s a great way to keep track on what you’ve read and what you’d like to read as well as read reviews (though be careful with the reviews, lots of spoilers are often included.)}

The Midnight Library” by Matt Haig

Summary: “Somewhere out beyond the edge of the universe there is a library that contains an infinite number of books, each one the story of another reality. One tells the story of your life as it is, along with another book for the other life you could have lived if you had made a different choice at any point in your life. While we all wonder how our lives might have been, what if you had the chance to go to the library and see for yourself? Would any of these other lives truly be better? In The Midnight Library, Matt Haig’s enchanting new novel, Nora Seed finds herself faced with this decision. Faced with the possibility of changing her life for a new one, following a different career, undoing old breakups, realizing her dreams of becoming a glaciologist; she must search within herself as she travels through the Midnight Library to decide what is truly fulfilling in life, and what makes it worth living in the first place.”

My thoughts: I had high hopes for this book. I try not to go into a book with any type of expectation, but I had trouble doing that with this book because I had heard a few really passionate responses to it. I mean … I was reading it on a plane and a flight attendant actually stopped me and gushed, “Don’t you love that book?! It completely changed my life!” So, with that kind of feedback, I felt … well, I expected it to be at least somewhat life changing. Lol. But, it fell flat for me. I enjoyed it enough. I liked it fine. But, I wasn’t that moved. I definitely wasn’t changed. Maybe it’s because I don’t often dwell much on the past. I don’t consider my regrets very often. I’d choose the life I have. Maybe that’s it. Or maybe it just wasn’t as good as it could have been?!

Radium Girls” by Kate Moore

Summary: “The Curies’ newly discovered element of radium makes gleaming headlines across the nation as the fresh face of beauty, and wonder drug of the medical community. From body lotion to tonic water, the popular new element shines bright in the otherwise dark years of the First World War. Meanwhile, hundreds of girls toil amidst the glowing dust of the radium-dial factories. The glittering chemical covers their bodies from head to toe; they light up the night like industrious fireflies. With such a coveted job, these “shining girls” are the luckiest alive—until they begin to fall mysteriously ill. But the factories that once offered golden opportunities are now ignoring all claims of the gruesome side effects, and the women’s cries of corruption. And as the fatal poison of the radium takes hold, the brave shining girls find themselves embroiled in one of the biggest scandals of America’s early 20th century, and in a groundbreaking battle for workers’ rights that will echo for centuries to come. Their courage and tenacity led to life-changing regulations, research into nuclear bombing, and ultimately saved hundreds of thousands of lives.”

My thoughts: This story (in and of itself) is fascinating and heartbreaking. I had never heard anything about the radium industry, dial painters or these trials … and that blew my mind! How little we hear about important issues in our nation’s history! Yet, while I was intrigued, I still had trouble making my way through the book. Moore is extremely detailed. I admire that. But, it got a bit redundant and lost my interest. In the end, I skimmed some of the middle and sludged my way to the finish line. Ultimately I think it’s an important story to know and I’m glad to have read it. I’m also glad I skimmed some 😉 Side Note: There is a Netflix movie by the same title. It felt almost opposite of the book. It moved too fast and covered too little. Had I not read the book, I’m not sure I would have followed what was happening … and I definitely wouldn’t have understood the severity of it. I much preferred the book.

The Psychology of Winning” by Dr. Dennis Waitley

Summary: (Goodreads didn’t provide a summary, so here’s a very quick summary from Amazon) – Dr. Denis Waitley, a national authority on high-level performance and personal development, reveals his formula for developing the ten qualities of a total winner: • Positive self-awareness • Positive self-esteem • Positive self-control • Positive self-motivation • Positive self-expectancy • Positive self-image • Positive self-direction • Positive self-discipline • Positive self-dimension • Positive self-projection

My thoughts: For a couple of years I’d heard a variety of people recommend this book … eventually I had to try it! Their advice was right in that it IS a great personal development, get-your-head-in-the-game kind of book. It’s full of affirmations and ideas about how to visualize yourself and your future. It’s all about how you choose your attitude and how to show up in the world, which I liked. I think it’s worth owning a copy, reading it, underlining it and referencing it. But. There’s a but. It was written in 1979 and it shows. Some of the language, ideas and examples feel (and are) outdated … and a few feel really offensive honestly. Take it for what it is and know that you’ll likely roll your eyes a few times.

The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo” by Taylor Jenkins Reid

Summary: “Aging and reclusive Hollywood movie icon Evelyn Hugo is finally ready to tell the truth about her glamorous and scandalous life. But when she chooses unknown magazine reporter Monique Grant for the job, no one is more astounded than Monique herself. Why her? Why now?Monique is not exactly on top of the world. Her husband has left her, and her professional life is going nowhere. Regardless of why Evelyn has selected her to write her biography, Monique is determined to use this opportunity to jumpstart her career. Summoned to Evelyn’s luxurious apartment, Monique listens in fascination as the actress tells her story. From making her way to Los Angeles in the 1950s to her decision to leave show business in the ‘80s, and, of course, the seven husbands along the way, Evelyn unspools a tale of ruthless ambition, unexpected friendship, and a great forbidden love. Monique begins to feel a very real connection to the legendary star, but as Evelyn’s story near its conclusion, it becomes clear that her life intersects with Monique’s own in tragic and irreversible ways.”

My thoughts: So good. So fun. I loved this book! I was engaged and interested for it’s entirety. I didn’t see certain plot twists coming. I felt like I was reading a true biography on a Hollywood starlet. It was more than I expected it to be and it just might be my favorite of 2022 (at least so far)!

Malibu Rising” by Taylor Jenkins Reid

Summary: “Malibu: August, 1983. It’s the day of Nina Riva’s annual end-of-summer party, and anticipation is at a fever pitch. Everyone wants to be around the famous Rivas: Nina, the talented surfer and supermodel; brothers Jay and Hud, one a championship surfer, the other a renowned photographer; and their adored baby sister, Kit. Together, the siblings are a source of fascination in Malibu and the world over—especially as the offspring of the legendary singer, Mick Riva. The only person not looking forward to the party of the year is Nina herself, who never wanted to be the center of attention, and who has also just been very publicly abandoned by her pro tennis player husband. Oh, and maybe Hud—because it is long past time to confess something to the brother from whom he’s been inseparable since birth. Jay, on the other hand, is counting the minutes until nightfall, when the girl he can’t stop thinking about promised she’ll be there. And Kit has a couple secrets of her own—including a guest she invited without consulting anyone. By midnight the party will be completely out of control. By morning, the Riva mansion will have gone up in flames. But before that first spark in the early hours before dawn, the alcohol will flow, the music will play, and the loves and secrets that shaped this family’s generations will all come bubbling to the surface. Malibu Rising is a story about one unforgettable night in the life of a family: the night they each have to choose what they will keep from the people who made them… and what they will leave behind.”

My thoughts: Once I finished “Seven Husbands” I immediately ordered Malibu Rising. I wanted more of Taylor Jenkins Reid. And, while I liked it fine, it just didn’t quite capture me the way “Seven Husbands” had. It had all the elements that it needed, yet it fell a little flat for me. I wanted more substance. I didn’t get the know the characters enough or feel all that attached to any of them. Maybe it was just because I had just read and loved “Seven Husbands” … but I was a little disappointed in this one.

And, one more bonus book … even though I technically read it in May. I just finished “The People You Meet on Vacation” and wanted to include it as well …

The People you Meet on Vacation” by Emily Henry

Summary: “Two best friends. Ten summer trips. One last chance to fall in love. Poppy and Alex. They have nothing in common. She’s a wild child; he wears khakis. She has insatiable wanderlust; he prefers to stay home with a book. And somehow, ever since a fateful car share home from college many years ago, they are the very best of friends. For most of the year they live far apart—she’s in New York City, and he’s in their small hometown—but every summer, for a decade, they have taken one glorious week of vacation together. Until two years ago, when they ruined everything. They haven’t spoken since. Poppy has everything she should want, but she’s stuck in a rut. When someone asks when she was last truly happy, she knows, without a doubt, it was on that ill-fated, final trip with Alex. And so, she decides to convince her best friend to take one more vacation together—lay everything on the table, make it all right. Miraculously, he agrees. Now she has a week to fix everything. If only she can get around the one big truth that has always stood quietly in the middle of their seemingly perfect relationship. What could possibly go wrong?

My thoughts: At first, I struggled to get into this one. I couldn’t see it. The friendship, the chemistry … any of it. I couldn’t picture the characters together. But, then I could. Maybe I could. The book picked up in the second half with the whole “will they/won’t they” thing they had going on. I liked it. Ish.

What have you read and LOVED lately?!

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