#BBAW Day 3: Great Books Recommended by Great Bloggers

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Today’s questions is: What have you read and loved because of a fellow blogger? And the truth is, between my blog feed, Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, and Goodreads, my TBR pile has increased exponentially since I started blogging myself in June. Here are just a few of my favorite reads and the bloggers who recommended them:

Of Things Gone Astray by Janina Matthewson (my review here)

This book was recommended to (and given to) me by Monika at The Lovely Bookshelf. Shortly after she helped me setup on my blog, she invited me to a book swap, and told me how much she liked this one. And did I, too. This is one of those books where the beautiful writing outshined the storyline; the authors use of words was simply delicious, that’s the best way I can describe it.

Dietland by Sarai Walker

I saw several people reading and reviewing this right around the time I started blogging. I knew that April at The Steadfast Reader thought very highly of it, and that it was being discussed by the lovely ladies at The Socratic Salon, all of whose opinions I greatly value. At the time I didn’t know how to navigate NetGally or Edelweiss, so I placed it on my TBR and kind of forgot about it. In December I found it at my local library, and decided to check it out, and it really hit the spot. I loved the main character, strongly related to her struggles, and I think about her often when I want to disparage my own appearance.

The Library At Mount Char by Scott Hawkins

This is another one that several fellow bloggers read, but I associate this book with Andi at Estella’s Revenge. I loved it; is a perfect mix of horror and supernatural and interpersonal struggles and it just hit all the right buttons for me. It also contains one of my favorite books quotes:

“‘Oh,’ she considered this. ‘Are you a Buddhist?’

‘No, I’m an asshole. But I keep trying.'”

Outlander by Diana Gabaldon

No one really recommended this book to me. My IRL spirit nerd, Allysia, told me about the television show and that it was based on a book. I found out this series was available on my local library’s audiobook app, and decided to look it up on Goodreads. Once again, it was Andi who sold me with her short review. It only contained two sentences, the first of which was: “I’m sad that I can never read this book for the first time again.” I think that’s one of the best things that you can say about a book. And, not surprisingly, it was great.

I could really go on and on. For the most part, the books I’ve been reading since launching this blog have been good, if not great, and I have yet to be led astray by a fellow blogger. For that, I say


#BBAW: Introduce yourself with Books

So, today is a day for new things: this is the first time I’m going to try to blog from my phone (it’s storming like crazy here, and I’ve turned off all the electronics, including the wireless router) and this is my first Book Blogger Appreciation Week. Thank you Estella Society for hosting this event!!!!

Day One is about introducing myself by sharing five books that represent my life and who I am. Hmmmm… I’m going to have to think about this for a few minutes.


Ok. Here goes!

I love reading, but I also really love words. Some words I like because of their mouth feel, like “muffin” or “foot”, and others for their meaning like ” sesquipedalian” or “Panglossian“. With that, I think The Professor and the Madman: A Tale of Murder, Insanity and the Making of the Oxford English Dictionary by Simon Winchester definitely fits in this list.


As long as I can remember, I’ve been a passionate animal lover, especially the pets that have come into my life. Today I live with three animals: two little senior dogs and one fluffy street cat.  They are my children, and they rule my life. And I’m totally OK with that. I thought If Dogs Could Talk was appropriate, considering one of my pack ironically chewed it up a few years ago.


It took me a long time to figure out what I wanted to be when I grow up, and I was in my late 20s by a time I discovered the field of counseling psychology. I know this is a new level of nerdy, but I’m putting a textbook in my list: Contemporary Behavior Therapy by Michael Spiegler. I could’ve gone with something by Freud or one of the “famous” psychologists, but I’m a behaviorist, so I figured a behavior therapy book was the best fit.


When I was an adolescent I hit my reading stride, and discovered that I really enjoyed horror and science fiction, and I became a huge Dean Koontz fan. I must’ve read dozens of his works during junior and senior high school (I eventually branched out beyond one author). I can’t remember exactly the first Dean Koontz novel ever read, but I vividly remember binge reading The Funhouse in about a day when I was a teen.


And finally, although I was an adult before I was introduced to the Wizarding World, I am an unapologetic Potterhead and proud Gryffindor. I close my list with the first book in that series since that’s where I first met Harry, Ron, and Hermione ( my spirit witch): Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone by JK Rowling.


That’s my five! Thanks for stopping by and reading about me and my books. Please visit me on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram. I love connecting with other readers and bloggers!

Heather Bee’s Book…Tube?

Here’s my first attempt at BookTubing! I’ve seen a few other bloggers posting videos, and thought I’d give it a try. In this, I talk about some of the books I’ve read from the 2016 Tournament of Books shortlist, including The Tsar of Love and Techno by Anthony Marra, The Book of Aron by Jim Shepard, Our Souls at Night by Kent Haruf, and The Sellout by Paul Beatty.


As this is a new endeavor, I welcome any feedback from you, readers (and seasoned BookTubers) so I can make my videos better (and one day be an Internet celebrity). 😉

Sunday Salon: It Was A Great Week Edition

Currently// in my jammies, but about to switch on Uber so I can schlep folks to and from their Super Bowl festivities.

Celebrating// the fact that, after three months of applications, interviews, and rejections, my husband got a job!!!!!!!!! I know it has boosted his self-esteem and self-worth, and taken a little of the financial pressure off of our situation. We are also celebrating my invitation to interview for the Combined-Integrated Clinical and Counseling Psychology PhD program at University of South Alabama. I interviewed there last year, but wasn’t selected. Here’s hoping second time’s the charm!

Watching// Hail, Caesar! I love the Coen Bros, but this movie just felt like butter scraped over too much bread. There was a lot going on and the story felt thin. Having said that, it was very entertaining, and I LOVED the musical number with Channing Tatum (and I’m not on Team Channing or anything).

Not Watching// the Super Bowl. Or anything on television, for that matter. I’ve been too busy reading all the books!

Reading// several Tournament of Books selections. I finished The Sellout by Paul Beatty and Our Souls At Night by Kent Haruf, both of which were very good. I also tried to reading The Invaders by Karolina Waclawiak, but it wasn’t working for me, so I DNF’d it and moved on.

Listening// to lots of books. I am doing the 14-day trial subscription to Scribd right now, and used it to Listen to The Tsar of Love and Techno by Anthony Marra (also TOB and fantastic), and then, on a whim, I started Brief Interview with Hideous Men by David Foster Wallace. I still don’t know what to think about that book, but my dog, Pearl, was unimpressed with the author’s narration (everyone’s a critic?). I have started The Danish Girl, and hope I have time to finish it before my trial runs out.

Attempting// to BookTube. I recorded myself talking about all those aforementioned books I’ve been reading, but now I have to edit it, and it just seems like a lot of work. Maybe I’ll just write it down instead. 😉

Feeling// the Bern. 😉 Not for any particular reason, it just felt right for the SS format.

Well, that’s about it for this week, readers? How was your week? 

A Few Thoughts on Fates and Furies

Fates and Furies by Lauren Groff
Published by Penguin LCC US on 2015
Pages: 390
Format: Hardcover
Source: West Florida Public Library
"From the award-winning, New York Times bestselling author of The Monsters of Templeton and Arcadia, an exhilarating novel about marriage, creativity, art, and perception. Fates and Furies is a literary masterpiece that defies expectation. A dazzling examination of a marriage, it is also a portrait of creative partnership written by one of the best writers of her generation. Every story has two sides. Every relationship has two perspectives. And sometimes, it turns out, the key to a great marriage is not its truths but its secrets. At the core of this rich, expansive, layered novel, Lauren Groff presents the story of one such marriage over the course of twenty-four years. At age twenty-two, Lotto and Mathilde are tall, glamorous, madly in love, and destined for greatness. A decade later, their marriage is still the envy of their friends, but with an electric thrill we understand that things are even more complicated and remarkable than they have seemed. With stunning revelations and multiple threads, and in prose that is vibrantly alive and original, Groff delivers a deeply satisfying novel about love, art, creativity, and power that is unlike anything that has come before it. Profound, surprising, propulsive, and emotionally riveting, it stirs both the mind and the heart"--

When a book is described as one of the best books of the year, there’s not a whole lot I can really say that might persuade others to read it. So, instead of writing a standard review, I would like to share a couple of my favorite moments, which will involve minor spoilers.


I loved the character complexity of both Mathilde and Lotto, but I found myself admiring Lotto in the same way a host of minor characters did. I relate it to his unfailing ability to find beauty in others, from his long list of lovers to his wife to the operatic composer with whom he was determined to collaborate.

My absolute favorite moment in this book was during the artist’s retreat, when Lotto had a pity party of epic proportions. He and Leo had been working vociferously on their opera. Suddenly Leo takes leave to compose the music, thus abandoning Lotto to languish alone (and after he has extended his time away from Mathilde and missed Thanksgiving to boot). It went on for a couple of pages, but this concisely sums it up:

“He would starve here. On the shelf he had one apple kept back from a lunch, a box of skinny-person granola bars that Mathilde had packed, one last ramen cup. He would bleed to death from his cheek. The tailbone fracture would go septic inside him. No electricity and he’d burned up all his firewood in his gluttonous frenzy last night: he would freeze. No coffee either, caffeine withdrawal the real tragedy here.”

Groff exquisitely demonstrated Lotto’s proclivity for dramatic flair during this scene. Poor Lotto, cold, alone, cut off from everyone he loved. Poor, poor Lotto. I laughed out loud reading this.

Near the end, Groff beautifully describes the difficulty Lotto experiences when faced with a dissenter. Despite overwhelming praise and adoration, Lotto allows one person’s negative opinion to dash his confidence. This struck me quite forcefully. In that moment, I recognized myself in Lotto, that streak of perfectionism that sometimes allows a small blemish to mar my achievements (particularly my written work during my master’s degree). Seeing it before me as a narrative allowed me an opportunity to reflect and I intend to use this newfound insight the next time I start to “Lotto out” over a thesis draft. And I doubt I’m the only one out there who can relate to this.

So, to sum up, it’s a book that made me laugh, made me think, and made me stay up half the night to finish it. Read it!

Can She Do it? Tournament of Books 2016


This is my first foray into the rabble and ruckus that is Tournament of Books. I’ve heard it’s loads of fun, so I’m going to do my best to read all of the books on the short list. I’m going into each book with an open mind, and I’m not going to be afraid of setting books aside if I’m just not feeling it. I’m also trying to (finally) finish up my thesis paper this month, too, so I am going to have a busy February. Here’s where I am so far

      • The New World by Chris Adrian and Eli Horowitz – awaiting hold from library
      • The Sellout by Paul Beatty – currently reading
      • Bats of the Republic by Zachary Thomas Dodson
      • The Turner House by Angela Flournoy- saved in my TOB16 library list
      • Fates and Furies by Lauren Groff – read, review pending (because I’m slow…)
      • Our Souls at Night by Kent Haruf- checked out from library
      • Ban en Banlieue by Bhanu Kapil
      • The Story of My Teeth by Valeria Luiselli
      • The Tsar of Love and Techno by Anthony Marra – listened
      • The Sympathizer by Viet Thanh Nguyen- checked out from library
      • The Whites by Richard Price- checked out from library
      • Oreo by Fran Ross
      • The Book of Aron by Jim Shepard– read
      • The Invaders by Karolina Waclawiak- currently reading
      • A Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara- awaiting hold from library

Play-In Round

      • Avenue of Mysteries by John Irving- saved in my TOB16 library list
      • A Spool of Blue Thread by Anne Tyler- checked out from library

I’m trying to do as much of this as I can by utilizing the library. I’m also using this time to demo some different audio and e-book subscription services (basically, do it for free 🙂 ). I plan to at least provide mini-reviews of each book, so make sure to check back as we get closer to the tournament start date!

Alright, readers, who’s with me? Are you ready for TOB 16?!

The Readers of Broken Wheel Recommend

I received this book for free from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

The Readers of Broken Wheel RecommendThe Readers of Broken Wheel Recommend by Katarina Bivald
Published by Sourcebooks on January 19th 2016
Genres: Contemporary Women, Fiction, Humorous
Pages: 400
Format: eARC
Source: Netgalley
The International Bestseller #1 Indie Next Great Reads January 2016 #2 LibraryReads January 2016 Once you let a book into your life, the most unexpected things can happen...Broken Wheel, Iowa, has never seen anyone like Sara, who traveled all the way from Sweden just to meet her book-loving pen pal. When she arrives, however, she finds Amy's funeral guests just leaving. The residents of Broken Wheel are happy to look after their bewildered visitor -- not much else to do in a small town that's almost beyond repair. They just never imagined that she'd start a bookstore. Or that books could bring them together and change everything.There's a book for every person ... and a person for every book.

Imagine you’ve travelled thousands of miles to meet your pen pal… and arrive to find she’s just passed away. That’s what happened to Sara, yet instead of running home straight away, she turned what seemed to be a dreadful experience into rather an adventure.

Central to the story is the opening of Sara’s bookshop in the little Iowa farm town of Broken Wheel, Iowa. Her shop is exactly the kind of dream bookstore I’d love to run. I love the tenacity and perseverance she shows in proving that there is a book out there for everyone (a point on which she and I heartily agree)!

In opening the shop, Sara discovers a newfound sense of belonging that she’d yet to find on her past endeavors, and this seems to produce a ripple effect in the town–the people of Broken Wheel appeared to be developing their own senses: of self, purpose, conscience, etc.

There was a strong presence of Jane Austen throughout the story; her books are mentioned several times, and Sara even finds herself relating to Pride and Prejudice at one point. I would go further to say that the author styled some of her characters after those from Austen’s own work, most notably Tom, who seemed to have a taciturn disposition not unlike Mr. Darcy, and perhaps there was a little bit of Emma Woodhouse in the pesky councilwoman, Jen.

Although the reader never gets to directly meet Amy, her letters to Sara are interspersed throughout the story. Through these letters we discover a charming person who loves books as much as she loves her hometown, and it’s easy to understand what propelled Sara towards her American adventure. The letters also introduce us to characters in the same way Sara was, so that we are on equal footing with her when she starts meeting Amy’s friends and family. This was one of my favorite parts of book book. And it makes me miss pen pals.


The Readers of Broken Wheel Recommend can be best described as a sweet story, one that begs you to plop into a comfy chair with a mug of cocoa (or in a beach chair, if the weather is warmer). It was also full of references to other books, often prompting me to add books to my TBR list.