Hidden Elephant Cafe, HCMC, Vietnam

*Whistles and looks the other way*

Well, this quarter definitely hasn’t been a big reading one! I have been watching a ton of K Dramas and Korean Youtube, so that’s my excuse. Plus lockdown lifted here in April, so I’ve been out and about and enjoying the freedom!

Anyway, here are the few books I did manage to read this quarter. Think I can make up the now 13 book deficit by the end of Quarter 3?

2020 Quarter 2 Book Challenge

Open Book by Jessica Simpson

10. Open Book


Were you ever a fan of Jessica Simpson? One of the main American celebs of the early 2000s, she, her blonde locks, her picture perfect marriage, and her incredible voice are iconic. Of course, not all is what it seems, and she’s telling all in this memoir.


Of all the celebrities I idolized in my youth, Jessica Simpson was at the very top. It’s crazy because I’ve been such a hardcore Taylor Swift fan for so long, but my love for J. Simp actually predates her! When I was a preteen Jessica was the celeb you wanted to be. She was more relatable, to me at least, than Britney or Christina or even Mandy, who was moving into acting at the time. I wanted her hair (the volume not the color), and she was constant body goals because she seemed to manage her 5′ 2″ frame perfectly. Plus when you watched her on TV, she seemed… normal! LV always on her arm rich, but still normal!

Well, anyway, Jess has obviously taken a back seat to her mega stardom as she’s altogether stopped singing and is, you know, busy with her billion dollar clothing company. Now that she’s older and is able to reflect on her crazy life, she’s letting us all in on what was really going on (hint: not remotely glamorous or fairytale). The craziest part is how all her anecdotes can easily be found online as the paparazzi has been in her life since her debut.

It’s actually become one of my favorite books ever, believe it or not. Her messages and lessons and the way she talks about her faith are refreshing and down to earth, and it reminded me of why she was my favorite all those years ago. If you buy the Audible version, you can hear her read it and listen to some of her new (!) music.

The Last Bathing Beauty

11. The Last Bathing Beauty


Ahh one of my Kryptonite books, a love lost tale that takes place in the present day and in the past! Betty Stern has her whole life ahead of her in the summer of 1951 but one summer romance will change all of it.


I mean… It’s not really a shock what changed her life, is it? Nothing about this book is particularly new or unique, except maybe the commentary on being Jewish in the fifties and how it impacts Betty’s choices and life. I wasn’t that into the present day stuff, and I wish they’d fleshed out the past scenes and relationships a lot more. Also given us steamier romance scenes. What’s a rating below G?

Nefertiti by Michelle Moran

12. Nefertiti


I mean, we all know the name Nefertiti and have some imagine of Ancient Egyptian royalty in our minds. But do we really know her story? From the point of view of her sister, Mutny, here’s a look at Nefertiti’s rise to power.


Elissa picked this book for our book club, and I’m so glad she did! It’s exactly what I look for in a good story. I felt like I was transported to Egypt and privy to a very intriguing life we realistically know next to nothing about. In fact, as soon as I finished, I started planning a 30th birthday trip to Egypt (in two years lol)!

Highly recommend. We’re reading the sequel, The Heretic Queen next!

Esther by Angela Hunt

13. Esther


Esther takes a look at the famous biblical story from the points of view of its titular character as well as Harbonah, the main eunuch to King Xerxes.


Admittedly, I don’t know much about the story of Esther. While I learned random and specific bible stories growing up (Noah, David, etc), I really couldn’t tell you a time I thought about her story. So, obviously, I had to review it before I dove into the book. This video does a really good overview but if you’d rather dive in totally blind, you can do that too.

Over all, I really liked the story. It’s about a period in time I really don’t know much about, and I always like feeling like I’m transported somewhere new with a book. I do think the storytelling wasn’t as strong here, especially as I read it right after Nefertiti. It’s told from Esther and Harbonah’s points of view in the first person, so they both should be our main characters and we should have full access to their thoughts and feelings. However, Esther starts to become more of a distant figure than a real person as the book goes on, and I lost my connection with her, which is a shame.

tips for reading on the road

Here are my tips for reading while traveling! First and foremost, before looking at my recommendations, I’d always check in with your local library to see what they offer. Many libraries these days have digital offers! I do have a library card to mine but I couldn’t figure out the digital part… Working on it next time I’m home.

My main way of “reading” is with Audible. I know listening to books can be kind of a cheat, but oh well. I tend to listen to books at 1.5 to 2x speed and then slow them down if I want to enjoy a book more. I wrote about how much I love Audible here plus tips on how to maximize your membership!

Next I go between my actual Kindle Paperwhite and using the Kindle app on my phone. Love, love, love having a Kindle. Much easier on the eyes and I feel like I can “unplug.” I have a ton of books leftover from past Amazon free book days and around Christmas I got 6 months of Kindle Unlimited for super cheap. Normally it’s $9.99/month, but you can always try your first month free. They have a surprisingly robust library, and I just found out they have all of the Harry Potter books available!

And, of course, once in a while I do manage to bring an actual, physical copy of a book with me or I borrow one from someone. Or, even more likely, I impulse buy from a local bookstore!

What are you guys reading? I’m almost my finished Out of Silence and am following it up with The Adult Orphan Club by fellow blogger, Flora Baker, and then Elissa and I are reading The Heretic Queen for book club!

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  1. It’s a shame you didn’t know about the story of Esther because her story has the best holiday to go with it. You get to dress up and be really loud and get drunk (if you’re an adult). Kinda like mardi gras, but we don’t have to have forty days of sobriety afterwards.

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