As I look back over the past few weeks, it’s been quite a month!
Finished my first sprint triathlon of the year with a time that earned the top Masters (40+) female spot
Nominated for and presented with the BEE (Be Exceptional Everyday) Award, part of a national recognition program for healthcare professionals
Learned how to do some basic maintenance on my road bike (I think I know just enough to be fairly dangerous, as in I’m a little concerned about the condition my bike is now in after I took some things apart last weekend to clean it - ha!)
Completed my first ever Olympic distance triathlon (1500m swim/40K bike/10K run) and it was a BLAST; unlike my longest swim event last year, I was not quite the last one out of the water
Finally decided to take a few prerequisite psychology classes (for application eligibility to a doctoral program in which I am very interested) this summer; I’ll start in July!
Physical and Ebooks (in the order in which I read them)
Autumn by Ali Smith - I purchased this book during my visit to The Elliott Bay Book Company in Seattle last month, based on a staff recommendation; having said that, I’ve been curious about this title, this “Seasonal Quartet,” since it was published a couple of years ago. I struggle to describe it, other than to say that I loved the characters and felt connected to their story; if I had to pinpoint a message, I would say that this novel hinges on hope. In the midst of the Brexit vote, end-of-life considerations and the ways in which love surprises us, Smith documents it all quietly, simply and peacefully.
The Bride Test by Helen Hoang - After the utter delight I experienced while reading The Kiss Quotient, I was undeniably ecstatic when I discovered that its author would be publishing another novel; I requested an advance copy from the publisher and was thrilled to have been granted a free copy. I might not have been quite as enchanted with The Bride Test, since I had such high expectations, but it was still a 4+ star read and I am already looking forward to her next publication, The Heart Principle. This novel is being offered as a June Book of the Month selection, which is a great way to get your hands on a copy at a very reasonable price!
The Farm by Joanne Ramos (free copy provided by publisher) - The Farm has such an intriguing premise; I wasn’t sure what to expect - maybe a touch of dystopia, some rich people drama - and I went into it with an open mind. There were several elements of this novel that I really enjoyed: learning more about Filipino culture, exploring the lengths to which some may go (and this all seemed way too realistic, by the way!) to make childbearing and childcare much more convenient. I think the execution of the story could have been a little more succinct, and I have some issues with the ending, but I’m really glad I read this one!
The Unhoneymooners by Christina Lauren (free copy provided by publisher) - Authors Christina Hobbs and Lauren Billings, the dynamic duo that is the pen name Christina Lauren, have been captivating me with their entertaining, humorous, thoughtful stories since their work was introduced to me by a reading friend; this is my fifth of their novels and they are now an auto-buy/borrow for me. Their novels are often considered part of the romance genre, but without the ridiculousness I used to assume went along with that branding; they are also intelligent, fun and full of strong female characters. I can hardly wait for their fall release, Twice in a Blue Moon.
The Key to Happily Ever After by Tif Marcelo (free copy provided by publisher) - I’ve always enjoyed novels that include sisters (think The Care and Feeding of Ravenously Hungry Girls, published earlier this year, or Summer Secrets by Jane Green, one of my favorites); I’m not sure why, other than the fact that I don’t have any and I’ve always thought it might be fun. The Key to Happily Ever After not only revolves around three sisters, but also the well-established wedding planning business that they’ve taken over from their mother; having been involved in the wedding of my best friend last year, this was a perfectly fun, yet stress free, way to relive that experience and also enjoy the dynamics that first pull apart and then strengthen this group of wonderful women.
How Not to Die Alone by Richard Roper - This book was offered in an online giveaway package from Putnam Books and I won! It was also offered as a Book of the Month selection for the month of May, and it’s a great choice for a wonderfully quiet escape. The middle section felt a little slow at times, but it certainly picked up for the last 100-120 pages and I completely fell in love with this cast of quirky, heartwarming characters. I would highly recommend this debut novel for fans of The Music Shop and Elinor Oliphant is Completely Fine.
The Moment of Lift by Melinda Gates (purchased from Libro.fm) - Author Melinda Gates narrates this recent release and it is an excellent listen; full of stories from her travels to countries where women’s rights are a rare luxury, she examines the impact of those conditions on the welfare of the entire community. I love how authentic and transparent she is about not only the effects of her philanthropy on her own perspective, but also on her life and the ways in which it has been shaped by the opportunities she’d had, as opposed to those without similar privilege. Highly recommend!
Love You Hard by Abby Maslin (purchased from Audible) - Whoa, y’all, I went into this one blind, on the recommendation of a trusted reading friend, and it was so much more than I could have imagined. Author Abby Maslin narrates her own memoir about the events leading up to and following the traumatic brain injury her husband suffered as a result of a random attack one evening on his way home from a baseball game. As a healthcare professional, I was fascinated and intrigued by the medical side of this story; as a wife and friend, I was nearly heartbroken by the way in which their entire lives were changed. In spite of the tragedy, there is so much hope and inspiration to be discovered; I’ll be thinking about this one for a long time, and so much of the perspective she gained resonated with me on a personal level.
My Favorite Book of May
Ask Again, Yes by Mary Beth Keane (free copy provided by the publisher) - This will be in my top five books of the year, without a doubt. In fact, I may need to read author Mary Beth Keane’s backlist titles because this was absolutely breathtaking. So much of this story resonates with me; someone that I love very much struggles with alcoholism and addiction, and I felt as though she was writing my own thoughts and words. Ask Again, Yes is such a powerful, beautifully-written novel and I can not recommend it enough. It is not what I would call a “beach read” or a “feel good” pick, but it is full of authentic, gritty, messy life and that’s what makes it worthwhile. This novel has been selected as a June Book of the Month selection, so it’s an easy way to pick up a copy at a great price!
Um, every book that I want to read comes out in June so I feel like I need to take a leave of absence from work; here are just a few that I’m looking forward to: