Posts in Books

Book Explorer Vol. 8 |Summer Reading + Goals Check-in

Summertime has always been the season of reading, for as long as I can remember. As a kid, I swapped out homework for our local library’s summer reading program, skipped bike rides and sneaking out for chapter books and hiding flashlights under my pillow. Getting older, summer reading took over. Then after college, spending my summer days reading on the beach.

2020 summer reading bookCrazy Rich Asians by Kevin Kwan posed on a LBI Region beach

This summer, I don’t know how much time I’ll have to get to the beach, but I’m still leaning into the summer reading kickup. I blew through a ton of reading while I was laid up post-op, got a bunch of new e-books, and I’m ready to jump into the rest of my TBR list! 

Currently Reading

City of Girls by Elizabeth Gilbert

Finished Reading

Summer Reading books One to Watch by Kate Stayman-London and Transcendent Kingdom by Yaa Gyasi placed on a smooth, white wood table.

Transcendent Kingdom by Yaa Gyasi

4 / 5 Stars
Transcendent Kingdom was a genuinely good book. It was like sitting down with a bottle of wine and getting deep. It was real, it was warm, it was honest, and it was just a really good book. It tells the story of main character Gifty, a neuroscience PhD student at Stanford. The book describes the struggling relationship between mother and daughter throughout their lives through Gifty’s eyes at various life stages. On Goodreads, the book is described as “exquisitely written and emotionally searing,” and there’s no better way to describe it.

I will say, I initially thought religion would play a bigger role in the plot, which I was a little meh about going in. Religion itself isn’t really a major impact, but rather the role of a church, community, and religion in one’s life, which I really enjoyed reading about. 

One to Watch by Kate Stayman-London

3 / 5 Stars
I was really excited about the premise of One to Watch. Plus-size fashion blogger Bea Schumacher gets a call to be on Main Squeeze, the book’s version of the Bachelorette franchise. The book shares her journey on the show, complete with the many suitors, internet trolls, producer-created plotlines, and all that fun drama people eat up. I thought the book was an interesting concept, especially with the main character being an influencer.

The story was fine, the plot was fine. I really enjoyed Bea, she seems very in touch and real. I didn’t like the actual format of the book. It switches from the main narrative, the actual story, to sharing articles, comments, social media, etc. At first I liked it, but really I just felt that it distracted from the book as a whole. On top of that the male characters were quite flat and toxic. I mean the point of most of them it to be garbage people, so put them aside, but the main male characters are just one dramatic, ignorant, could-have-been-fixed-by-actually-talking-to-each-other eye roll after another. If you really enjoy the Bachelorette franchise, you would probably like the book more than me. I wouldn’t not recommend the book, but it’s definitely not the top of my list of reccs!

Up Next

Catch and Kill by Ronan Farrow

Reading Goals Check-in

We’re halfway through the year, so it’s a good time to check in on the reading goals I set for myself back in January. In 2020, I read 75% female authors, 8% authors of color, and 16% non-American authors, one male and one female. For 2021, my goal was to read 40% or less by white authors and 30% or more by women of color. I also wanted to read a minimum of 15 books this year.

So far this year, I’ve read 6 books. All of those books so far have been written by women. Not a goal I’ve set, but still happy about it. Of those six books, 50% are by white authors, which is higher than I was aiming for. On the other side, 50% of the books I read were written by women of color, which is higher than my goal. 

Going forward, I’m planning on incorporating more diverse books into my reading. I’ve quite a few white authors on my TBR list, but I might be bumping a few more diverse picks up to the top. Including Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi, White Teeth by Zadie Smith, and Such a Fun Age by Kiley Reid. 

What’s up next on your summer reading list? And how are your 2021 reading goals?

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Keep up with what I’m reading on a daily basis, follow me on Goodreads! Looking for more non-book related content? Follow my main Instagram, MoiraTheExplorer, and join the newsletter to stay in the know with new blogs, insider info, and bonus content!

Book Explorer Vol. 7 | Becoming by Michelle Obama

The sun is shining, the blog is active again, the ‘gram is moving, and y’all I am feeling mo-ti-va-ted. It’s been absolute and utter chaos at our house basically from the day we brought Levi home and I’ve barely had time to think. Things are changing again and we’re all starting to settle into a more regular routine. Which includes me sitting my behind down for some one-on-one time with me, myself and Michelle! I have finally finished Michelle Obama’s autobiography, Becoming, and I loved it, loved it, loved it. But more on that later!

Currently Reading

Design the Home You Love by by Lee Mayer and Emily Motayed

I was super excited to have won a Mental Health Awareness Month giveaway hosted by @VivNunes on Instagram. I won 5 books you can check out on my Instagram, but one that I was super excited to get was Design the Home You Love. Since we moved, I’ve been slowly working on upgrading and designing our home. Let me tell you, it’s no joke, it’s hard! Hopefully this book will help me get my aesthetic more on point, square away my designs, and get this house looking glamorous in no time. Lee and Emily, help me get my home decor sh!t together!

Transcendent Kingdom by Yaa Gyasi

I picked up this book at the, no joke, beginning of Quarantine. I swore I was going to read a ton in QT. Turns out, a lot more Animal Crossing than reading. But you can’t rush a good book, and now it’s time to start! I don’t know much about the story beyond what the inside covers say (check that out on Goodreads). I’m interested to get through Transcendent Kingson and see how it compares to Queenie as well as learning more about the role of religion and finding religion again, especially as a person who isn’t religious at all.

Finished Reading

The book I read this month, Becoming by Michelle Obama, placed on a tan fabric couch and white knit blanket.

Becoming by Michelle Obama

5/5 Stars

Absolutely loved this book. I’ve always been the woman to prioritize my career. I didn’t put my life plan on hold for nothing or nobody. The older I get though, the more I’m hearing and feeling the pressure to start a family. Which is honestly comical, I’m 24, I have massive debt, no clear idea of where I’ll be in 5 years, and I almost burned the house down trying to reheat tostones last week. More than that, I’m not sure if I even want kids of my own! I know no woman is beholden to the 2.5 kids/perfect dog/picket fence/at home mom by 28 rule, but the pressure to have that or strive for it is heavy, and will only get heavier the older I get.

But reading through Becoming, hearing the story of a woman who worked hard, prioritised herself, and maintained her strength and identity throughout being the primary caretaker for two daughters, supporting her partner, and maintaining a successful tenure as First Lady. Truly inspiring and it really did reaffirm my belief that I am on the right path for myself. 

Beyond that though, I enjoyed how the book was broken up, especially the fact that she took the time to explore her early career choices and why she made the switch to more community-focused roles. I laughed, I cried, I got a little jealous in some spots, but on the whole, I was very inspired and I would absolutely recommend this book to anyone. Especially any career-focused woman.

Up Next

Catch and Kill by Ronan Farrow

City of Girls by Elizabeth Gilbert


Keep up with what I’m reading on a daily basis, follow me on Goodreads! Looking for more non-book related content? Follow my main Instagram, MoiraTheExplorer, and join the newsletter to stay in the know with new blogs, insider info, and bonus content!

Book Explorer Vol. 6 | My Reading Mojo is Back!

Happy almost Spring, happy March, happy Tuesday! Ladies and gents, it’s a new month and I’m feeling so ready for it. Especially with my reading, believe it or not. I read two books in February (Cleo McDougal Regrets Nothing and The Vanishing Half) and I’m really proud of that. It’s taken a while for me to get my reading speed back up, so having that drive back feels really good. Ya girl got her reading mojo back!

Coming into Spring also has me itching for more home improvements including building a Free Little Library. I love seeing Carly Riordan’s little library, it’s adorable! I’ve been eyeing this set on Etsy, it looks great and it’s made by the family of Todd Bol, who is the original creator of the free little library. I always loved these, and I’m super excited to put one in this spring. 

CURRENTLY READING

Becoming by Michelle Obama

FINISHED READING

Cleo McDougal Regrets Nothing by Allison Winn Scotch

5/5 Stars

Absolutely loved Cleo McDougal Regrets Nothing. If you didn’t know, I’m very big into politics. I started out my college career as a Political Science major and my first career goal was to be a campaign manager. Love politics. So finding a great book that give a pretty realistic view of politics, from a unique female perspective, gives me women in power, and still takes time to value the perspective of other, diverse characters was fantastic. And, and it was still a really enjoyable nonfiction story.
I’ll be honest, the plot isn’t groundbreaking, this isn’t going to rock your world with a wild perspective, but it’s a really enjoyable book, by a woman, about a woman. If you liked American Royals and are looking for a book to scratch that itch while waiting for the unconfirmed third book, Cleo McDougal Regrets Nothing absolutely does it. 

The Vanishing Half by Brit Bennett

5/5 Stars

The Vanishing Half covers the lives of two light skinned Black twin sisters living fascinatingly parallel lives. The two girls run away from their Louisiana hometown and eventually lead entirely separate, different lives. Brit Bennett provides every character with a grounded, real feeling existence, with varying stakes and challenges for each. No one view felt more or less cared for by the author. I truly enjoyed the story and the views from so many perspectives, all of which were different than my own. Absolutely loved it, would fully recommend The Vanishing Half to anyone to read.

UP NEXT

Catch and Kill by Ronan Farrow

City of Girls by Elizabeth Gilbert

Transcendent Kingdom by Yaa Gyasi

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Keep up with what I’m reading on a daily basis, follow me on Goodreads! Looking for more non-book related content? Follow my main Instagram, MoiraTheExplorer, and keep an eye out for my email newsletter!

Book Explorer Vol. 5 | Reading Addie LaRue

Not a bad reading start to the year! I was hoping to finish two books, but I only got halfway through my second book. Not too bad at all! I’ve started reading before bed more, which is much easier since most of my books are on my Nook. But I do want to try to incorporate it more during the day and on weekends too. I usually have the time, and I’m much better off getting some pages in instead of staring at Facebook for an hour, as though I don’t do enough of that for work!

Currently Reading

Cleo McDougal Regrets Nothing by Allison Winn Scotch (and absolutely loving it!)

The Vanishing Half by Brit Bennett

Finished Reading

The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue by VE Schwab

2.5 / 5 Stars possible spoilers ahead!

The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue was fine. It wasn’t a good book, but it wasn’t the worst I’ve ever read. The book was long, like way too long. I read classic Russian literature for fun, and this was too long. The first two-thirds of Addie LaRue needed to be cut, or at least condensed. It took that long for a plot to vaguely appear. And even that was weak. It was supposed to be a dramatic love story, the titular Addie LaRue growing and learning to sacrifice herself for those who she loves (I think). In reality, it’s Addie LaRue being in two pretty crap relationships, and sacrificing her life to an abusive man for a mediocre man. It’s a love story that shares two deeply twisted and broken view of “love.” The overall concept is really interesting, the pacing in the last third is spot on, and the prose is truly some of the best I’ve read in a while. But the massively delayed arrival of the plot, the 2-D characters, and the anger-inducing crappy relationships ruin The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue for me.
I would be willing to check out another of VE Schwab’s books, but I certainly wouldn’t recommend The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue to anyone.

Up Next

Catch and Kill by Ronan Farrow
Becoming by Michelle Obama

Did you read The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue? What did you think of it? Sound off below!

See My Previous Book Explorer Posts

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Keep up with what I’m reading on a daily basis, follow me on Goodreads! Looking for more non-book related content? Follow my main Instagram, MoiraTheExplorer, and keep an eye out for my email newsletter!

Book Explorer Vol. 4 | 2021 Reading Goals

We made it y’all! 2021 is here, the mood is up, and the hopes are high for this year. In hindsight, 2020 overall wasn’t a terrible year, but I’m ready for a fresh start this year and looking forward to seeing what it brings!
Reading-wise, I didn’t get through too many books in December. I spent most of it with my nose to the grindstone with work, putting the house together, and prepping for Christmas. Luckily all of it paid off, everyone loved their gifts, the house is looking beautiful, and January is looking to be a really growing and busy month (more on that soon!). What I am looking forward to talking about though, my 2021 reading goals and my current TBR list!

CURRENTLY READING

The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue by VE Schwab

FINISHED READING

The Guest List by Lucy Foley
5/5 stars

I finished this book at literally 1 AM, stayed up because the last quarter was just that good and I Could. Not. Stop. I’m usually pretty good at catching the twists, but this one came out of nowhere and hit me like a freight train. SUCH a good read! My only critique is that it takes a few chapters to get used to the pacing and timeline structure of the book. Even with that, would absolutely recommend. It reads like a Netflix series and I cannot wait for this one to be picked up! Gonna go ahead and say it, I think The Guest List is the best book I read in 2020.

2021 READING GOALS

In 2020, for the first time in years I actually hit my reading goal! I set it pretty low, 12 books for the year. I got a little jammed up over the summer, a few books really held me up, but I tore through a bunch in the fall! In total, according to Goodreads, I read 4,343 pages this year! 

For my 2021 reading goals, I want to go higher, but nothing too crazy. Like I said, work is kicking up, and I don’t want to overcommit to a goal that I can’t hit! I’m thinking of setting a goal of 15 books, with a big reach goal of 20 books! If I don’t hit 20, it’s no biggie. I really want to get to at least 15 though! Biggest strategy for getting through all these books? Join as many book clubs as possible! Book clubs really help me finish the books, and I enjoy getting everyone else’s thoughts on the books. Plus, it’s nice to have the social interaction with my favorite subject!

And just like last year, reading diversely is a really important focus. In 2020, I did moderately better, but not nearly good enough. I read 75% female authors, 8% authors of color, and 16% non-American authors, one male and one female.

Going to go ahead and start with, wow that was terrible. It was my goal in 2020 to read primarily diversely, and I absolutely didn’t even get close to that. Sure, I read overwhelmingly female authors, which is good, but not even close to good enough. So, moving from that, I’m taking my 2021 reading diversity goals from Mackenzie at the Bad Bitch Book Club, 40% or less by white authors and 30% or more by women of color. While my total reading goal is pretty low, I’m also following Bad Bitch Book Club Book Prompts to help pick my books this year.

2021 TBR PILE

The ever-growing, never-ending To Be Read pile. There are so, so many that I’m dying to get to/through! I want to read through more of the books that I’ve had on my shelves for a while and decide whether they’re worth keeping. Then again, I do have a brand new full-size bookshelf and plenty of spaces to fill! Without further ado, the top of my TBR pile!

Tall Stack of books containaing Becoming by Michelle Obama, One to Watch by Kate Stayman-London, City of Girls by Elizabeth Gilbert, Transcendent Kingdom by Yaa Gyasi, and an Amazon Nook e-reader

Becoming by Michelle Obama
One to Watch by Kate Stayman-London
City of Girls by Elizabeth Gilbert
Transcendent Kingdom by Yaa Gyasi
An American Marriage by Tayari Jones
The Vanishing Half by Brit Bennett
Big Friendship by Aminatou Sow & Ann Friedman




What are your 2021 Reading Goals and what’s on your TBR list? Let me know!

See My Previous Book Explorer Posts


Keep up with what I’m reading daily on my Bookstagram, MoiraTheBookExplorer and catch my reviews early on Goodreads. Looking for more non-book related content? Follow my main Instagram, MoiraTheExplorer, and keep an eye out for my email newsletter!

PS If you want to see any books I decide to sell, check the Books for Sale highlight on my bookstagram!

Book Explorer Vol. 3 | Majesty and More

Happy November! Halloween is over, Thanksgiving is on its way, and Christmas music is playing! And as it usually is, it’s been SO stinkin’ busy. Some really exciting news coming to the blog soon! If you follow me on Instagram, you’ve probably already seen it, but I’ve got a whole post coming up about it too. 

Despite the crazy amount of work, I still thankfully found time to read a little bit. The most important read of the month, I tore through the American Royals sequel, Majesty! Keep reading for my review of Majesty and more!

Book Majesty by Katherine McGee propped up on a bookshelf with two photos of women in frames in the background

Currently Reading

Queenie by Candice Carty-Williams (I’m about halfway through this one, and it is dragging let me tell you)

Finished Reading

On the Road by Jack Kerouac

Trash. Garbage. Not with the pages it’s printed on. Real talk, this book had so much hype for me. The book that, as far as I had heard, defined the generation of the 60s. The beatnik bible of sorts. All kinds of cool, late stage Beatles vibe. Nope. In all honesty, On The Road is just some privilege-ridden fever dream for wealthy white boys playing poverty to see the “real America,” leaving destruction in their wake for actually impoverished people. The book is fiction, but based on the real travels of Jack Kerouac and his friends, which makes me wonder, how true to reality is it?
The moral of the story, terrible book, I never want to read it again, and I’m angry I wasted my time reading it, 0/10, would not recommend

Majesty by Katharine McGee

I had a rave review for American Royals, and I loved Majesty too. Had a great time reading it, ripped through it in like 3 days. I have a few more critiques of Majesty than American Royals, but not too too many. The biggest issue, all the characters felt pretty jammed in. I really liked Beatrice’s parts, Nina’s were pretty good, but Samantha’s were a little rushed, and Daphne was jammed in the book. The Himari plotline felt almost like it was cut short and quickly resolved for the sake of length, and didn’t feel in line with the character, the very little we did get to see of her. I get it, but also, it doesn’t make for a better book. One issue I had with American Royals that I didn’t previously mention was with the lack of dealing with race, especially given its rise to popularity this spring, right after the George Floyd protests began. The influence of these events is clear to see in Majesty, as it’s mentioned, but it’s definitely an afterthought, feeling like it maybe had been added after the fact. I’m glad it was mentioned, but I feel like it could’ve been handled better. And, smaller critique, Jefferson was in the book for, like, three pages? Max? He was a major character in the first book, and then an afterthought for Majesty.
Seriously though, Majesty is fun, it’s a good read, and it’s a slightly more realistic version of the romantic fairy tale that the first book was. It was a really enjoyable book, and a fun escape from reality for a while. I think it had a few areas it could improve upon, but on the whole, would recommend and read the book again!

Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens

Where the Crawdads Sing was a really random pick for me. My mom brought it home from the library and I had been hearing about it for months, so I figured I would give it a shot. I didn’t go in with a lot of expectations, but it wasn’t the book I thought it was! I quite enjoyed Where the Crawdads Sing and the plot went to some unexpected places. It was a pretty happy ending, and it was, on the whole, a great book. I would definitely recommend it!

Recent Buys

On a whim, the Beau and I stopped by a local coffee shop, The Coffee Bouteaque, and the used book store called LBI Book Swap. They’re closing up for the off-season soon, and we definitely took advantage of their 30% off sale! Beau picked up HG Wells’ The Time Machine (which I’m totally borrowing) and I got an old edition of Dostoyevsky’s The Brothers Karamazov and Elizabeth Gilbert’s City of Girls. I’m a huge Russian lit fan and have been since my senior year of high school. Dostoyevski’s Crime and Punishment is one of if not my favorite book of all time, Brothers Karamazov was the third Dostoyevski book I read, and I enjoyed it almost as much as C&P. So when I found this beautiful 70+ year old edition of it, I had to have it for my old books collection! City of Girls was a really lucky find. It’s still a pretty new book, just over a year old, and I recently read and really enjoyed the chapter-long preview I downloaded on my Kindle Paperwhite. I loved it but wasn’t really ready to buy the book full price. So when I found this used copy on sale, I had to have it! Annoyingly, it is a large print, I got it for a super fair price, so I won’t complain!

Up Next

The Guest List by Lucy Foley

Vanishing Half by Brit Bennett

One to Watch by Kate Stayman-London

Keep up with what I’m reading daily on my Bookstagram, MoiraTheBookExplorer and catch my reviews early on Goodreads. Looking for more non-book related content? Follow my main Instagram, MoiraTheExplorer, and keep an eye out for my email newsletter!

Book Explorer Vol. 2 | American Royals

It’s September, fall is here, and I haven’t been this happy since Christmas!

August was a busy month for me, my freelance work stepped up a little, I’ve been doing a lot of job applications, and doubling down on the apartment search with the beau. I also got back into playing Animal Crossing more, which meant fewer reading sessions before bed. I’m definitely looking to change that this month, I’ve never been good about cutting my screentime before bed. 

On the Road book by Jack Kerouac with lush greenery in the background

Last month, I talked about wanting to make more progress on my Goodreads reading goal of 12 books for the year. No amazing progress this month, I finished just one book. But hey, progress is progress!

With cooler weather on the horizon, I’m looking forward to more outdoor reading. And, for anyone who lives in a shore town, locals summer is starting, which means that beach reading days are on the horizon!

CURRENTLY READING

White Fragility by Robin DiAngelo
On the Road by Jack Kerouac

American Royals by Katherine McGee

American Royals book cover for Book Explorer volume 2 blog post
Photo credit to Casual Fangirl (@casualfangirl1) on Instagram

I’ll admit it right here and now: I was dead wrong about this book.

When my book club picked American Royals, I was pretty meh about the book. I thought it was a non-fiction book about American “royalty” AKA the wealthy elite. Rockefeller’s, Kennedy’s, Vanderbilt’s, or the likes. I’m also one of those people who doesn’t like popular things just because they’re popular. Super annoying, I know. Despite my initial impressions based on literally nothing, I decided to give it a read. And I LOVED it.

American Royals is a fiction novel set in 2020, but asks the question what if George Washington agreed to be the ruling monarch of America instead of the first president. It follows the story of four women with different relationships to the crown and dives into how the crown effects and drives each of their lives. 

This isn’t a deep detailed historical realistic fiction, diving into the geopolitics of an American monarchy. Full disclosure: the book reads like an episode of Gossip Girl. American Royals is a lighter read touching on power and how it corrupts, without losing the reality of the characters’ perspectives. We see the weight of inherited power, the strength of power pulling one in, and the drive to get the power one wants. Problems addressed in the book reflect the reality of what many smaller royals are facing today, problems in the lines of succession in a modern world, problems of a technologically savvy society. But all through the eyes of a twenty-something and older teens. 

It’s a great book to read as a break from reality and was a good follow-up from last month’s ethically messy read. Like a Crazy Rich Asians Lite Version. I would give it a 4 out of 5 stars. The only reason that it doesn’t get a five from me is that the book was wholly predictable and almost surface level. I don’t view that as a negative, but rather a lack of a positive if that makes sense? The book is really good, but could have been better. I already purchased my copy of Majesty, the second book in the series. I’ll definitely fill you in on how the sequel holds up!

UP NEXT

Majesty by Katherine McGee

Maybe You Should Talk to Someone by Lori Gottleib

Vanishing Half by Brit Bennett

Find whatever books your reading from your local libraryindependent bookseller, or black-owned bookstore!

Keep up with what I’m reading on a daily basis, follow my Bookstagram, MoiraTheBookExplorer and on Goodreads. Looking for more non-book related content? Follow my main Instagram, MoiraTheExplorer, and keep an eye out for my email newsletter!

Book Explorer Vol. 1

Welcome to the first Book Explorer! I am so excited to make this my first series, sharing any and all things reading. This volume catch up with my reading goals, current reads, and my review of Time of Contempt

Read More