While waiting for the tow truck..

By KJ / Wednesday, March 8, 2023

what would 1990s KJ do? KJ Feb 3 3 The wheels off of my plans this morning—literally, although not in the plural. The wheel came off the car my kid was driving to school (happily, on a small rural road). He and the friend he picked up had to walk back to the friend’s house and find a ride. Me, I had to call three auto shops to find someone with time to figure out what went wrong, and as […]

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don’t be mean, and give your future self a present

By KJ / Monday, February 27, 2023

maybe we don’t always have to call everyone out all the time   KJ Feb 17 I was listening to a conversation recently where someone who’d been doing more yoga and exercise said she thought of it as “coming home to her body” which, she said, seemed like a really warm and pleasant approach to her. Well, the other person responded, maybe—if you’re lucky enough to have good associations with “home” and “body”. But a lot of people don’t. And… […]

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technically I do in fact have time to do all this, but I would rather read

By KJ / Thursday, February 16, 2023

  KJ Jan 27 First up today: me making a pretty typical me mistake. Next: a book that’s totally vibing with the view out my window right now and that I loved, plus one chock-full-of-weird-reading-experience—so skip down to that if that’s what you’re here for! Conceded that it was a long list. But I want to do—and be—a lot of things. I want to speak other languages fluently, to be able to draw the things I see and imagine, to […]

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By Joseph Hinson / Wednesday, February 8, 2023


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Please just distract me with your glorious pages

By KJ / Friday, February 3, 2023

a serial book abandoner’s plea   KJ Nov 18, 2022 Rough week around the old couch-and-bedtable reading homestead. I started and dumped no fewer than 6 assorted books. There’s only one thing to conclude at that point. I’ll spare you the meme, but… It’s me. Hi. I’m the problem. It’s me. I just wasn’t into them. In my defense, five of the six were advance copies, which I don’t pay for and am therefore far more likely to take a […]

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I was afraid of this book, but I loved it.

By KJ / Friday, January 20, 2023

It was fat and literary and difficult and daunting. But I finished it and now I’m eying all of its friends in the #tbr pile because I want more.   KJ Jan 20 I know. You want to know what book I’m talking about. I’ll get there, but first: I think of myself as a pretty light —but decently educated or something like that—reader. Like, I can handle Jane Austen, but you can keep Nathaniel Hawthorne. Trollope yes, Melville no. […]

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#AmReading: Who is Maud Dixon

By KJ / Wednesday, July 21, 2021

Go ye into the world and grab this booky writery thriller. If you loved The Plot, this is a great place to go next (and vice versa)–everyone in this book is fascinating and disturbing and behaving badly, much to the delight of the reader. To sum up: Maud Dixon is the pseudonym for anonymous author of a Crawdads-like success, blocked for her next book. She hires an assistant, a wanna-be writer herself, who then wakes up in the hospital after […]

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If You Liked: A Touch of Magic

By KJ / Monday, July 19, 2021

If you’re a fan of magical realism, small towns, families struggling to accept one another and happy endings, Karen Hawkins’ Dove Pond series is for you. I was lucky enough to get an advance of this one, so I was able to sink in for another visit to this little town where there’s a touch of magic, sure–but the real magic lies in the ability to foster forgiveness and help newcomers to open up to the prospect of love and […]

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#AmReading: Embassy Wife

By KJ / Saturday, July 17, 2021

Really, really enjoyed this kinda uncategorizable novel. The trailing spouse (and family) is a fascinating fixture of diplomacy, and I was absolutely in for the story of the Auntie Mame-like genius that is the experienced wife taking the newbie under her wing. And when things started to get thriller-esque, I was very happy to be along for the ride. There are so many stories in here, and I mean that in the best way–a critique of diplomacy and the Peace […]

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If You Liked: Hollywood stories

By KJ / Thursday, July 15, 2021

Ok, confession: haven’t read Daisy Jones yet. (#TBR). But I loved, loved, loved Malibu Rising, a complicated, mulit-POV family saga that takes place in one day in ’80s Hollywood but moves around in time to show how everyone got there. So much happens, and yet in a sense the whole thing could easily be summed up in two words, one of which is a spoiler–but that’s the best kind of book. Sprawling narrative, tight core. A go-to beach read.  

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#AmReading: No One is Talking About This

By KJ / Tuesday, July 13, 2021

Yes yes yes. The first half of this is stream of consciousness combined with social media interaction of the loopiest kind, the sort of thing you follow people for, random musings, clever asides, deeper-than-they-seem one-liners. And then, life forces itself in, as it will, and the rest is sort of fictionalized memoir of a terrible tunnel of tragedy that the author and her people couldn’t side-step with the clever half-present tricks of online life. The contrast is a jolt, and […]

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If You Liked: Books About Bookish Things

By KJ / Sunday, July 11, 2021

Oh writers and editors. You know us so well. It’s true: put book, read or bookstore in the title and if nothing else, I’ll pick it up to read the cover copy. Sound fun? Have good blurbs (even though I know how the sausage is made I still like a good blurb). I’m in. I was in for this story of a blocked romance writer using the sparks that still fly between her and her ex to spur her to […]

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#AmReading: Where the Grass Is Green and the Girls Are Pretty

By KJ / Thursday, July 1, 2021

Lauren Weisberger’s take on the college admissions scandal? Yes please. Three POVs–the kid whose too-helpful parents pulled the scam, the wildly successful morning show anchor mother and the mother’s very judgemental not-so-successful sister are part of what makes this fun–we see the antics from all sides. There’s a touch of white savior that’s mildly problematic, so be warned (it’s not super germane to the plot but it’s there) but the book is overall extremely fun and the ending satisfying. Another […]

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If You Liked: Smart at Books But Not at Life

By KJ / Wednesday, June 30, 2021

“Smart at books and work, not at life?” Any protagonist who meets that description is a protagonist for me–even if they books and work aren’t at the level of the MC from Transcendent Kingdom, I love a book about someone who thinks they have it all together–because they can feel and clothe and support themselves–but has to learn that that isn’t really living. The Butterfly Effect is also a sibling story (brother/sister–that’s kind of unusual) and a midwestern story, a […]

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#AmReading: Interior Chinatown

By KJ / Sunday, February 14, 2021

Full disclosure: I’m very, very leery of books that an English teacher might force me to read in some imaginary English class that I haven’t been in in decades. As a general rule, you say “literary” and I say “leaving now.” I’m afraid, and I’ve been burned, by protagonists who won’t learn, entire books peopled with characters I wouldn’t even get a sip of beer with and writers who seem to have entered a competition to see who can create […]

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If You Liked: Books That Satisfy

By KJ / Thursday, February 11, 2021

A love story in the past, a main character who’s never really had a love story in the present and a curse–the “second born sisters” in this family never, ever find happiness. The Star-Crossed Sisters of Tuscany made me happy, it made my mom happy, it crossed all its i’s and dotted its t’s and nailed the landing. Basically, this book satisfies–everything it promises in the description it delivers. A January @BOTM pick, which means you can grab it next […]

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If You Liked: What Happens Next?!

By KJ / Monday, February 8, 2021

Could. Not. Stop. Reading. All the Birds in the Sky gets wild–witchcraft and tech, parents who want their children to be something they’re not, environmental disaster looming and an overarching question–is Earth our planet–as in humans–or is it our planet in a larger sense. But don’t worry, there’s a mad, fast, oh-gosh-what-happens next story in here too, and two fascinating protagonists who tell an alternating story that’s unpredictable and gripping. If anything I’ve said here sounds fun, trust me–you’ll like […]

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If You Liked: The Journey to Get There

By KJ / Friday, February 5, 2021

Sometimes you want a fun romp with a happy ending, and when you do, none of these authors will fail you–and they also won’t fail to keep you guessing and appreciating the smart characters and the powerful things that drive them both together and apart. Romance or no, I want more from a book than just “how will they get together” and these three books deliver with smart, fun stories about characters doing much more than just finding their way […]

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If You Loved: Gossip-y Vibes

By KJ / Tuesday, February 2, 2021

Two super-fun, juicy, all-the-people-behaving-badly multi-narrator treats that will absolutely keep you turning pages. They’re not a total read-alike match, but they’ve both got a chatty, filling-you-in-on-all-the-gossip vibe that I loved and I think you will too.  

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If You Liked: Fascinating Books Unlike Any Other

By KJ / Saturday, January 30, 2021

Outlawed is the Reese’s Book Club January pick–a driving, fast-paced story with a fascinating woman at its heart that’s–as Reese Witherspoon said–not really like any book I’ve read before. But there are echoes of The Giver of Stars, with some women protecting and empowering each other and others giving in to societal pressure to conform and betray, and some of the intensity and desperation of Scribe in its alternate history and in the way the circumstances and the rules of […]

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Check out In Her Boots!

You see a sexist jerk, the voice of the Modern Pioneer girl whispered in my head. I see a teaching opportunity.

There's nothing my inner super-hero likes more than being understimated.


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