Book Nook: April 2019

And now I'm all caught up and you can expect regular content to resume on June 1st. 😀

But for now, let's dive into the books I read in April and hold onto your hats, 'cause there are a lot! If you don't find something in here that piques your interest, we probably can't be friends. 😉

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I've added links to where you can find each book on Amazon US if you want to purchase it or read more reviews, as well as links to free trials on Kindle Unlimited and Audible. All of them are affiliate links meaning that, if you purchase through them, I'll make a small commission. Thank you! (For more info, read my disclosure.)

Book Nook | Book reviews | Goodreads reading challenge 2019

I read more books than usual this month, mainly because I threw a few short ones into the mix. (In fact, there was one I randomly picked up at the library and managed to read in its entirety while I was waiting for my daughter.)

There were a few duds in the pack, but also some shining stars.

Books 27, 28, 30-35, and 38 were read for free on a 30-day trial of Kindle Unlimited. If you've never tried it before, click the banner below to sign up for a free month for you too (affiliate link):

Rating System

1 book: Well, I won't be getting that time back

2 books: Not my cup of tea

3 books: Yup, that'll do nicely

4 books: Thoroughly enjoyed

5 books: One of the best things I've ever read

Disclaimer

I think anyone who writes a book is a damn hero. My personal opinions of the content are just that – personal opinions. If something didn't float my boat, I still applaud the author. Their discipline and determination amazes me.

OK, on with the show.

Reviews

For the month of April 2019, I curled up in my book nook with 15 different books. (I know!) Here they are.

Book #25 of 2019: "Atomic Habits"  by James Clear

Started: 23/3/2019     Finished: 7/4/2019

Up until this point, Charles Duhigg's "The Power Of Habits" was regarded as the seminal work in the study of habit-forming (and breaking). I read it many years ago and agree that it's excellent.

For me, "Atomic Habits" builds on Duhigg's work and makes it even better.

It gives a clear and structured plan for adopting and cementing positive new routines into your life, taking a multi-faceted approach to give you the best chance of success.

I've been in the productivity game a long time so I know almost everything about adopting new habits. This book still taught me a thing or two.

Like atoms, our habits make up the building blocks of our daily lives. Consider this the user manual.

Rating: 5 books.   Habit forming: boss level



Book #26 of 2019: "A Million Miles In A Thousand Years"  by Donald Miller

Started: 8/4/2019     Finished: 10/4/2019

If you've ever thought there must be more to life than the 9-5 but weren't sure how to go about finding it, this book will steer you in the right direction.

Tasked with bringing his life story to the big screen, Donald Miller realises that "nobody cries at the end of a movie about a guy who wants a Volvo". Yet that's how most of us spend our lives – seeking things that add no real value, and then wondering why our lives lack meaning.

Intent on not just telling a story but actually living it, he steps into the role of someone who experiences the full breadth and depth of the human experience. He eschews the "lazy" way of living and, instead, decides to turn his life into a movie of memorable moments.

Some scenes leave him despondent; some find him triumphant. But all add up to a life well lived.

Rating: 5 books.   Beautifully written, funny, and full of meaning



Book #27 of 2019: "Life Hacks"  by Keith Bradford

Started: 10/4/2019     Finished: 11/4/2019

The previous two books being particularly thought-provoking, I wanted to give my brain a bit of a break. I thought this would be the perfect palette cleanser – something quick and simple I could dip in and out of.

And, while it did deliver, I was still disappointed.

Some aren't "hacks" so much as general how-to's. And some just downright don't work (at least not anymore), like the discount code for getting cheap pizza at Pizza Hut. (Thanks to my husband for being a very willing guinea pig there.)

Still, you're sure to pick up a tip or two, and there's a lot in here that may make life a little simpler for you. Plus, the entire book can be consumed pretty quickly and in small segments, so you won't have to devote a huge amount of time or attention to it.

Great for traveling, or any situation where you could be very easily distracted. And if you successfully apply a hack or two to your own life, you just might recoup the time spent reading the book.

Rating: 3 books.   Good for some light, distracted reading.



Book #28 of 2019: "The One Hour Content Plan"  by Meera Kothand

Started: 11/4/2019     Finished: 12/4/2019

I'll admit I didn't have high hopes for this one so it came as a pleasant surprise when it was actually useful and instructive. In fact, when my free trial of Kindle Unlimited ended, I went back and bought the eBook.

Content planning is obviously a huge part of my job, and one I find incredibly time-consuming. So I scoffed at the thought of spending just one hour scheduling a year's worth of ideas. And, truth be told, this process is likely going to take significantly longer than 60 minutes. Still, it's smart, structured, practical, and to-the-point.

If you produce content and are stuck on a hamster wheel of what to publish when, give this quick read a go for some great ideas. It'll help you focus on the big picture, not just on the post that's right in front of you.

Rating: 4 books.   Surprisingly helpful for content creators



Book #29 of 2019: "Yes, I'm Hot In This"  by Huda Fahmy

Started: 12/4/2019     Finished: 12/4/2019

This is the one I read while at the library. I had it devoured from cover to cover in about 30 minutes while Dora the Explorer occupied my daughter.

Having seen it in various Instagram pictures, I recognised it as soon as I spotted it on the shelf of new releases. I didn't intend to read it immediately but Dora's clearly got some magical hold over my daughter. So while she was transfixed, I tucked in.

This is a hilarious little illustrated book about the reality of wearing a hijab. The author/illustrator gives us a sneak peek into her everyday life, including the kinds of inappropriate questions she gets asked by perfect strangers, and the pros and cons of being constantly covered.

You'll find Huda's cartoons on Instagram at @YesImHotInThis. If you like what you see, you'll love the book.

Rating: 4 books.   Funny and informative

Pro tip: I’m often asked how I manage to read so much. One of my tricks is to include shorter books like this that can be read in one or two sittings.



Book #30 of 2019: "Influencer Fast Track"  by Gundi Gabrielle

Started: 13/4/2019     Finished: 13/4/2019

Another quick read, but a lot less impressive.

While the author makes several excellent points and is, for the most part, keen to offer practical advice, the downfall is in the detail. I'm not spoiling too much when I say that her formula for taking you from zero followers to a hero influencer is to write a book and have it become a bestseller on Amazon.

Just like that.

She does offer some advice on how to do it, but it's hard to get over the "just write a bestselling book and you'll be good" hurdle. (Did I mention you're supposed to do it in a few days?)

If you can overlook that, it's not a bad book.

But it's really, really hard to overlook.

Rating: 2 books.   If it were this easy, everyone would do it.



Book #31 of 2019: "Marketing Playbook"  by Lisa Jacobs

Started: 12/4/2019     Finished: 13/4/2019

I've read Lisa's blog and bought her "Your Best Year" workbooks so I was already familiar with her when I picked up this playbook. Because of that, I wasn't expecting to find anything strange or startling in its pages. Still, I was surprised by how much I enjoyed it.

Maybe it's because I'm a massive nerd who loves all things digital marketing, but I really dug into this one. If you want to build any kind of brand online (and let's face it, online is really the only way to do it these days), this will give you a strong foundation.

Obviously the entire topic is too vast to cover in a single book but if you're new to it or struggling with it, this is the head start you've been searching for.

Rating: 4 books.   A great modern guide to marketing



Book #32 of 2019: "Until The Day I Die"  by Emily Carpenter

Started: 14/4/2019     Finished: 15/4/2019

This is all kinds of crazy. But mostly in a good way.

When Erin's husband dies suddenly, she's left to pick up the pieces, run the startup they built together with their best friends, and try salvage her strained relationship with her daughter. Heading for a breakdown, her family and friends stage an intervention and pack her off to a wellness retreat on a remote island where, surprise surprise, things aren't what they seem.

Insanity ensues.

You'll have to suspend a great big slice of disbelief for this one and, ideally, you'll have your toes in the sand while this book is in your hand.

If you're looking for something serious, steer clear. But if you're ready to escape reality (and the romance genre), read on.

Rating: 3 books.   Farcical fiction at its finest



Book #33 of 2019: "Stop Wasting Time"  by Garland Coulson

Started: 15/4/2019     Finished: 19/4/2019

This is going to sound incredibly harsh but if you really want to save time, skip this one.

Rating: 2 books.   Potentially helpful for a complete beginner



Book #34 of 2019: "Party Girl"  by Rachel Hollis

Started: 19/4/2019     Finished: 20/4/2019

Another good beach read if you're into that whole "small-town girl takes on the big city" storyline.

When Landon lands an internship at a huge event-planning firm in LA, she has to up sticks from Texas and take her pink pumps to the bright Hollywood lights. The novelty soon wears off when her narcissist boss makes her life hell but, by goody gumdrop, she's going to give it all she's got.

Painfully formulaic with one-dimensional caricatures characters, but a fine piece of fluff all the same.

Rating: 3 books.   Read it if you like Legally Blonde and are prepared to lower your expectations a little



Book #35 of 2019: "Sweet Girl"  by Rachel Hollis

Started: 21/4/2019     Finished: 21/4/2019

The sequel to "Party Girl", this one follows Landon's friend and housemate Max as she, conveniently, also lands her dream job. What're the chances?

Equally formulaic, but this time frustratingly so because it all just feels a bit too convenient.

Rating: 2 books.   Skip this sequel



Book #36 of 2019: "Design Mom"  by Gabrielle Stanley Blair

Started: 13/4/2019     Finished: 22/4/2019

Part-decorating guide, part-parenting handbook, the premise of "Design Mom" is that your home doesn't have to descend into chaos and a pit of brightly-coloured plastic after you have kids. Going room by room, each chapter focuses on a different space and some options and solutions for making it more comfortable and accommodating for families, while maintaining a beautiful aesthetic.

I very much appreciated that this isn't a "Pinterest-style" book. Of the many spaces pictured, I didn't once think how impractical they looked. Gabrielle's philosophy of creating collaborative spaces where everyone can come together, while also maintaining some nooks to allow for alone time, is refreshing. Creativity and individuality is championed, and if you prefer an eclectic feel, you'll fit right in.

From practical advice on picking furniture and materials to whimsical touches for curious toddlers, this book is proof positive that you don't have to abandon your sense of style when the tykes take over.

Rating: 3 books.   A good guide to designing your home (and life) for the practicalities of living with kids



Book #37 of 2019: "Hashtag Authentic"  by Sara Tasker

Started: 24/4/2019     Finished: 26/4/2019

This is the kind of book you read while curled up with a bar of dark chocolate. Stunning in its aesthetic, informative in its prose, and meaningful in its message, it's meant to be savoured.

I've been a fan and follower of Sara's for several years (she's @meandorla on Instagram) so I was excited to get my hands on this. Her moody, grey aesthetic is in complete contrast with mine, but her images are mesmerising. Some of her best are included in these pages, making it coffee table-worthy eye candy.

But it's so much more than just pretty pictures – Sara is a font of Instagram knowledge and a bastion of good sense in a world gone mad chasing social media approval. Her advice on how to capture the perfect picture has not only changed my perspective on photography, but also on life.

Her "moments, not things" motto is something we could all stand to live by.

If visual storytelling is important to you, whether you're a professional photographer or you just want prettier pictures for the 'gram, this book will keep you spellbound.

Rating: 5 books.   Reading it feels like a luxury



Book #38 of 2019: "Smart Girl"  by Rachel Hollis

Started: 21/4/2019     Finished: 27/4/2019

And Miko makes three.

This is the last, and worst, book in the "Girl" trilogy. Infuriating on so many levels, it was only my perfectionist side that made me suffer through to the end.

It romanticises dangerous and reckless behaviour but hey, it's OK because everything works out remarkably well in the end. Just like in real life. (Don't pretend I've spoiled something for you.)

There's escapism and there's taking complete leave of your senses. This is the latter.

Rating: 1 book.   Absurd



Book #39 of 2019: "The 12 Week Year Field Guide"  by Brian P. Moran

Started: 28/4/2019     Finished: 30/4/2019

The cynical side of me would say this was churned out to take advantage of the success of "The 12 Week Year".

It's a quick read and has some interesting exercises included, but it doesn't pack nearly as much of a punch as its predecessor.

Rating: 3 books.   Adequate... for a field guide



A lot of the above books have audio versions, if that's how you prefer to consume content. Here's an affiliate link for a free month's trial and two free audiobooks:

Phew! That was a lot! In my defence, quite a few were quick reads so I was able to blast through them. While some made me want to scratch my eyes out, there are several in here that I can see me re-reading at some point.

I have more books on my 'to be read' list than I can currently handle so, just for fun, and to avoid me wasting time...

What’s the worst book you’ve ever read?

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12 Comments

  1. I don’t remember the names of the bad ones. I just stop reading and move on.

    There are a few from your list that I want to look at though. The Content one looks interesting.

    • You’re a better woman than I! I always think it’s going to get better. And once I’ve started something, I find it very difficult not to see it through. *sigh*

      Hope you find some good options in here though. =)

  2. Killing Mr. Watson, author is Matthiessen

    Florida history in the Everglades. A huge book, but same story over and over by about ten different people. Ugh

  3. 50 Shades – I couldn’t make it through fifty pages of that tripe! Just awful!

  4. My genre is mostly fiction, so I’m afraid anything that might lead me to improve my lifestyle is not on the list! So glad you’re doing this for me 😉
    So, the worst book? That’s easy: Peter Wohlleben’s “The Hidden Life of Trees”. I found the anthropomorphized lives of trees more than I can stomach, but what really makes the book awful is the constant and completely false claim that the findings are backed by sound science. There’s a full bibliography containing websites of dubious content with some scientific papers thrown in for a pretense at legitimacy, fully utilizing the reader’s gullibility and lack of critical thinking skills. Nevertheless, the book intrigues and beguiles with its half-truths and might have been not bad if it were presented as personal views on forest ecology.

    • I’m not familiar with that one, but I do find it very frustrating when opinion, no matter how firmly held or well argued, is touted as fact. It seems that these days you can find a study to prove almost anything, including opposing theories.

  5. I’m not sure how to leave a comment. Twice I’ve gotten the message “The site is experiencing difficulties” or something like that. So this is just a test comment.

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