Part of Me Blog

my year in books - book review

LIFESTYLE, MOMLIFElissa-anglin1 Comment

“You will be the same person in five years as you are today except for the people you meet and the books you read.”


Charlie Tremendous Jones

One of my favorite quotes, and a great excuse to read, read, read! It’s been a long while since I’ve shared an update on what I’m reading- and I’ve never really reviewed any of these books, so I thought it would be a good habit to start!

In this post, I’m reviewing all the books I’ve read since last July. You guys, there are some DUDS and SO MANY GOOD ONES! Hopefully you’ll enjoy my regular-girl quick reviews on these.

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In no particular order- let’s go!

Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens

EVERYONE was telling me I needed to read this one- and they were all exactly right! Odds are you’ve been told this as well- and if not, hear me say it! The book is described as a coming-of-age story meets murder mystery, and it is- woven with such beautiful descriptions of the North Carolina swamp it made me actually want to go visit. This one is culturally interesting (the South in the 1950’s-70’s) and had a great ending. I read it in 3 days- it’s that good.

Small Admissions by Amy Poeppel

I bought this one at an airport bookstore because I liked the cover, haha- and I’m so glad I did! As I was reading this one, I couldn’t figure out why I liked it so much- but I just HAD to know what was going to happen next. This book is about a girl going through a bad breakup, who also needs a job and ends up as the admissions director of a private school in New York City. It is understated but entertaining. In the end, I really think the beauty in this one is the depth that Poeppel gives her characters- insight into their thought lives and what makes them act the way they do. I ended up loving this one- one of my favorites of the year.

The Ministry of Ordinary Places by Shannan Martin

Oh, you guys- this one is understated yet so significant. I still don’t believe I really have processed all that God spoke to me while reading the beautiful, imperfect stories Shannan has so thoughtfully documented in this book. This book forces you to really think about the everyday in new ways- our “inconveniences”, our “needs” and being thankful in everything.

Uncommon Type by Tom Hanks

This is a really easy and fun read- and if you love Tom Hanks, you’ll probably enjoy this book of semi-random short stories he wrote. Reading it I kept hearing his distinctive voice in the text, and about 3 or 4 stories in I realized the common theme- there is a typewriter woven into every story. My favorite story was the one about time travel. I gifted this book to my Dad for Christmas and he loved it too.

Everybody Always by Bob Goff

This is a great book with a great concept- and many quoteables. I love Bob Goff and the way he thinks. The stories inside this book are proof of how God truly does love everybody, always, which is also our calling as believers. I didn’t love this book as much as Bob’s previous book, Love Does, but it is a good read.

Girl Wash Your Face by Rachel Hollis

Ugh, I wanted to love this one- and in some ways I did- but it was missing something major to me. Let me explain- I have all the respect for Rachel Hollis- she is full of gusto, honesty, and I loved reading her boots-on-the-ground, learning-as-I-go stories, but I wish this book had Jesus in it. Yes, Rachel is a Christian, and did intentionally choose to make this book not geared toward one religion, but I feel like because of that the message is much more “save yourself” than “Jesus died to save you”. However, lots of great content and encouragement, especially for women business owners.

My Dear Hamilton by Stephanie Dray and Laura Kamoie

So after seeing Hamilton the musical, I really wanted to read this one- which is a historical fiction book about Eliza Hamilton, Alexander Hamilton’s wife, who accomplished a LOT in the 50 years she lived after his death. I enjoyed the first 1/3 of the book, but after that it just felt really slow and political which wasn’t my jam. But hey, I know a lot more about the founding fathers now! So, if you love American history/colonial era, go for it- if not, might want to move on.

Hotels of North America by Rick Moody

I found this book at Dollar Tree (yes, for $1!), and thought it was an interesting concept. The entire book is a series of hotel reviews by one man (apparently on a popular travel review site like TripAdvisor). His reviews reveal unusual glimpses into his life that are intriguing, a little disgusting, and also made me chuckle. I really loved Rick Moody’s descriptive writing style. I can’t say I loved this book so much- but I won’t forget it soon, so take that for what you will.

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Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng

READ THIS. It’s great. So intriguing. Another one I devoured in about 3 days. 1990s in suburban, idealistic America- mystery, mother-daughter relationships, coming-of-age…it’s got it all and so many will find a relatable moment while reading. Little Fires Everywhere is going to be miniseries on Hulu starring Reece Witherspoon and Kerry Washington so this is a great one to read before it releases!

Limelight by Amy Poeppel

I loved Small Admissions so much, I couldn’t wait to read Amy Poeppel’s new book, Limelight. This one is entirely different in subject- but is so enjoyable. It’s the story of a mom who becomes a teen celebrity’s (think Justin Beiber-like) personal assistant on accident. It’s set in New York City so I loved the story of a family moving from Texas to the Big Apple- seeing their transitions mixed with the celebrity antics is entertaining. It’s a good easy read.

Captivate by Vanessa Van Edwards

This book is full of research on what it takes to really captivate people. I wanted to read this one after hearing Vanessa Van Edwards interview on a podcast. She is incredibly well-spoken and I loved her practical applications- like suggestions on where to stand at a party and how to connect with people quickly and effectively. I’m going to have to re-read this one a few times just to take it all in.

Small Victories by Anne Lamott

I picked up this one after reading Uncommon Type, thinking another volume of short stories by one of my favorite authors was a good idea. I LOVED Bird by Bird and so I had high hopes for this one. This book is a collection of more spiritual essays by Anne Lamott focusing on “improbable moments of grace”, and I have a feeling I will appreciate this one more at a later stage in life. I’ll keep it around but it wasn’t my fave.

The Fringe Hours by Jessica Turner

This one was SO GREAT. It was perfect for me, in this stage of life- trying to raise kids, work, be a great wife and friend. I really appreciated Jessica’s practical perspective and also her ability to make me think about what really matters the most to me. I went in prepping for a guilt trip (as if we working moms need another one)- but that’s not at all what this book is. It’s freedom-giving and encouraging- reassurance that we’re not alone.

Small Great Things by Jodi Picoult

This book was recommended to me by several friends and I’m glad I’ve read it- though I did feel it got a bit long. It’s a great book about racism with twisted moral dilemma that drove me to keep reading. In the end, I enjoyed this book though it got a little long.

The Wangs Vs. The World by Jade Chang

I read this one on the tail of finishing the Crazy Rich Asians Series (I don’t know- I guess I was on the Asian current?!), and it was disappointing. The concept is a bit Beverly Hilbillies-in-reverse- a wealthy family falling apart after experiencing fabulous wealth and then total material loss. There were a few funny moments but in the end I didn’t love it.

Beneath the Scarlet Sky by Mark Sullivan

Another historical fiction book, this one is based on the true story of an Italian spy during World War II. It is a truly incredible story- if you love this time period, or have any connections to the Alps, you will love this. I did feel it got a bit long and boring, but there are also quite a few moments that are so incredible, it’s hard to believe it’s actually a true story.

A Million Little Ways by Emily Freeman

If you are a Christian creative, this is a MUST READ. I love Emily’s work (I say this as if I know her personally! ha!) and this may be my favorite thing she’s ever written. It is FULL of gems about God’s purpose for creatives and how to create with that understanding. It’s already time for me to read this again.

Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman

I’d seen lots of great reviews on this one, so I picked it up to read on vacation. It is charming and mysterious- getting to know Eleanor as she simultaneously makes a friend (seemingly her first ever) is sweet and awkward all in one. There is a great twist at the end of this book, but I can’t say I really loved it.

Boundaries by Henry Cloud and John Townsend

This was the second time I gave this book a go. I’d heard it referenced so many times on the Dave Ramsey show but wasn’t prepared for it to be so textbook-like. So, when I decided to try to read it again, I was a couple years older and had some more life under my belt. I feel like every household needs this book- it’s a great reference on healthy relationships and how to keep them healthy. My favorite quote, which my husband quotes to me often, is “You are responsible to other people, not responsible for them.”

The Crazy Rich Asians Series by Kevin Kwan

I kept seeing this series and wasn’t sure what it would all be about- but a chapter or two in, I couldn’t stop reading. This series features an extremely wealthy elite group of Chinese families living in Singapore- their escapades, relationships and inheritances. It was romantic and funny- and of course made me want to visit Singapore. My favorite book of the series was the last one- Rich People Problems, where everything is tied together nicely in the end.

The 5 Second Rule by Mel Robbins

This book is a great kick in the pants and actually encouraged me to start exercising regularly. It is a very simple strategy for getting things done explained by optimistic-yet-real Mel Robbins (a woman!). If you’ve seen her viral Ted talk, this book is the result of that. I also listened to this one on Audible and it is read by Mel and includes several extra offsides and stories you won’t get in the book.

The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas

Another one I devoured in just a few days- this book is a great novel about the volatile relationship between police and African Americans, and is such a relevant and important read. I loved Starr’s character and her interesting relationships with her family and the rest of the world. This is a definite page-turner and thought-provoker. Shawn and I watched the movie after I read this and we both really liked it.

And, if you’re not the page-turning type, I’d recommend checking out Audible. I’ve had a membership for a few years and love it- I listen to books while driving, working out, editing, doing laundry etc!