Getting Personal #226: Sixteenth TBR Recap

Image Credit: Good Housekeeping

Welcome back!


Here’s what I’ve read since my last TBR recap:

  1. Elliott, T.E., Loved by the Beast: A Historical Retelling of Beauty and the Beast

Removing from Laura Beth’s TBR

  1. DiAngelo, Robin, White Fragility: Why It’s So Hard For White People To Talk About Racism
  2. Wilkinson, Lauren, American Spy
  3. Zailckas, Koren, Smashed: Story of a Drunken Girlhood *Re-Read*

Keep & Re-Classify – Laura Beth’s Updated TBR

  1. Oviatt, Didi, Sketch
  2. Thomas, Angie, The Hate U Give
  3. Weilert, Benjamin M., Buried Colony (ARC)
  4. Westover, Tara, Educated
  5. Whitehead, Colson, The Underground Railroad *Re-Read*
  6. Whitehead, Colson, The Nickel Boys

Adding to the TBR

  1. Harr, Jonathan, A Civil Action *Re-Read*
  2. King, Stephen, On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft *Re-Read*

So, my current TBR is 8 books.

Do you have a TBR?

What are you looking forward to reading next?


Until the next headline, Laura Beth 🙂

Book Review #91: “Just Mercy”

I was fortunate enough to find my copy through a friend’s store on eBay. I’d heard about the book for a good while, and knew I wanted to see the movie. But, I’m the type of person that likes to read the book before seeing the movie.

Bryan Stevenson is an incredible man. This book is not only a memoir, but a history lesson.

Stevenson graduated from Harvard Law School, moved to Atlanta, and then heard about a man on death row named Walter McMillan. He moved to Alabama to run the Southern Center for Human Rights operation in Montgomery. He is the founder of the Equal Justice Initiative (EJI). As of August 2016, EJI has saved 125 men from death.

It took me a lot longer than usual to finish this book. I wanted to take my time with it. Ever since the murder of George Floyd in May, I’ve wanted to learn as much as I can about people of color. This book is no exception – Stevenson writes about the appalling history of slavery, Jim Crow, lynchings, disproportionate arrests and heavy sentences, and the struggle of getting relief and overturned convictions for significant sentences, along with wrongfully imprisoned people.

Stevenson’s stories of these people on death row in multiple states, mostly men, but also a few women, were heartbreaking. Some were sentenced to death for crimes that were committed when they were children. Others were prosecuted to the maximum, when the laws that should have shielded them were blatantly ignored. There are more than a few people with physical and intellectual disabilities on death row in the United States.

This is a book that I think everyone should read. Even though it was published in 2014, it is definitely still relevant today.

I’m looking forward to seeing the movie adaptation soon.

4 1/2 out of 5 stars.


Until the next headline, Laura Beth 🙂

Tag #97: “The Bookish Heavenly Virtues Tag”

Image Credit: Ebook Friendly

I spotted this tag on Destiny’s blog, Howling Libraries!

Here’s the link to Destiny’s post: The Bookish Heavenly Virtues Tag

Here we go!


CHASTITY: Which author/book/series do you wish you had never read?

The Divergent trilogy by Veronica Roth. I liked Divergent and loved Insurgent, but Allegiant ruined everything for me.


TEMPERANCE: Which book/series did you find so good, that you didn’t want to read it all at once, and you read it in doses just to make the pleasure last longer?

The Hunger Games trilogy by Suzanne Collins.


CHARITY: Which book/series/author do you tirelessly push to others, telling them about it or even given away spare copies bought for that reason?

The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald. I re-read it every year.


DILIGENCE: Which series/author do you follow no matter what happens and how long you have to wait?

Barbara Ehrenreich. I’ve learned so much from her books!


PATIENCE: Is there an author/book/series you’ve read that improved with time the most, starting out unpromising, but ultimately proving rewarding?

I honestly can’t think of one!


KINDNESS: Which fictitious character would you consider your role model in the hassle of everyday life?

I can’t think of one!


HUMILITY: Which book/series/author do you find most underrated?

Fallible Justice by Laura Laakso. I received an ARC from the publisher in the U.K. in 2018. I’m not usually a paranormal fan, but this book was refreshing. I could barely put it down!


Tag – You’re It!

Sara – The Bibliophagist

Kristian – Life Lessons Around The Dinner Table

Jenna – Bookmark Your Thoughts


Until the next headline, Laura Beth 🙂

Book Review #90: “Soulflow” (Audiobook)

Kristen Martin is amazing!

This book went on my Amazon wishlist within hours of her announcing its release date on her podcast, That Smart Hustle.

Then, in March 2020, Kristen made an amazing decision. In part due to the stresses of the coronavirus pandemic, she recorded every chapter of Soulflow, and released one per day from March 20 through April 5. At first, I wasn’t sure if listening to the book would work for me. It’s been YEARS since I’d listened to a book. Think back to books on tape and books on CD from the library. Yeah, that long ago.

But, I dove in. And I was pleasantly surprised how much I enjoyed it. I got a late start in listening to it, so all the chapters had been released by the time I started the Introduction in early May. I found myself listening to multiple chapters per day while working from home. I love Kristen’s voice!

Between May and August, I’ve listened to the entire book twice. I plan to listen to it a third time before the end of 2020.

I know, personal development books get a lot of flack. Trust me, I’ve read a lot of them over the years. But, I feel like Kristen’s book is different. It is personal development, but it also has a lot of her memories and experiences. To me, it’s relatable. This may be in part because she and I are virtually the same age, but I keep coming back to it.

I love Kristen’s energy through this book. I was planning to read some of her fiction work first, but I’m glad I listened to this one first. I’m even more excited now to read her fiction. If her second personal development book is this inspiring and influential to me, I can only imagine what worlds she’s created with her fiction.

5 out of 5 stars.


Until the next headline, Laura Beth 🙂

Tag #96: “Do I Have That Other Book Challenge”

This is my bookshelf in my office!

I saw this on Lori’s blog, All Things Momma Blog, and decided to make my own post! It’s not a traditional tag, but a fun challenge!


Here’s what Lori writes: “The original of this challenge was fun and stressful and now there is another one. Hooray. Part two was created by Keeping Tabs and Current Chapter on youtube. It is a scavenger hunt type challenge with 20 prompts. You’re supposed to time yourself and see how fast you can find all of the books, but I’ll just be picking at the prompts over a couple of days when I have time to do so.”

I had a lot of fun with this. I was able to look at my entire bookshelf in a new light.


1. Do you have a book with a fox on the cover or part of the plot?

No.


2. Do you have a book that was published the year you were born, or within a 3 year radius?

Meet Kirsten was published in 1986. I was born in 1988.


3. Do you have a book with music as a weapon or magic?

No.


4. Do you have a series with mismatched covers?

No.


5. Do you have a book with a shapeshifter?

Fallible Justice, Laura Laakso (ARC).


6. Do you have a book signed by the author?

Columbine, Dave Cullen. Cullen came to my school, Longwood University, in the spring of 2010 to speak and promote his book. I was lucky enough to interview him for Longwood’s student newspaper, The Rotunda.


7. Do you have a book with a mostly red cover?

Finale, Thomas Mallon.


8. Do you have a book between 287 – 306 pages?

True Stories of Law & Order: Special Victims Unit, Kevin Dwyer and Jure Fiorillo – 249 pages.


9. Do you have a book with a main character who wears glasses?

More Than Enough: Claiming Space For Who You Are (No Matter What They Say), Elaine Welteroth


10. Do you have a book with a title that has the same number of letters as your first name?

No. Since I go by Laura Beth, apparently nine-letter titles are difficult.


11. Do you have a book with cybercrime/technology as a plot point?

The Alpha Drive, Kristen Martin.


12. Do you have book written in another language or translated to English?

No.


13. Do you have a book written by an Asian author?

Everything I Never Told You, Celeste Ng.


14. Do you have a book with a moon on the cover?

No.


15. Do you have an illustrated children’s book?

Thank You, Mr. Falker, Patricia Polacco.


16. Do you have a collection of fairy tales or myths?

No.


17. Do you have a sci-fi/fantasy with an alliance between races?

No.


18. Do you have a book with a narrow front cover? (paperback with a front cover that is slightly trimmed shorter/narrower than the rest of the book)

No.


19. Do you have a book that includes the first chapter of the sequel?

The Hunger Games, Suzanne Collins.


20. Do you have a book with a broken spine?

The Diary of a Young Girl, Anne Frank. I’ve had my copy since middle school, I think.


I’m not tagging anyone for this challenge, but feel free to participate!


Until the next headline, Laura Beth 🙂

Tag #95: The Mid-Year Freak Out, 2020

This is a consensus cloud of Books Everyone Should Read. Image Credit: Imgur

I’ve seen this tag on several of my book blogging friends’ sites, so I figured I would jump in and give my two cents.


Best book you’ve read so far in 2020?

The Less People Know About Us: A Mystery of Betrayal, Family Secrets, and Stolen Identity. It’s going to be hard to knock this one off the top.

Best sequel of 2020 so far?

I haven’t read any sequels in 2020.


New release you haven’t read yet, but want to?

The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes.


Most anticipated release of the second half of 2020?

Superman’s Not Coming: Our National Water Crisis and What We the People Can Do About It, Erin Brockovich (August 25, 2020)


Biggest disappointment?

Nothing so far, book-wise.


Biggest surprise?

Big Magic: How to Life a Creative Life, and Let Go of Your Fear. This was one of my Christmas gifts from Al. I hadn’t read any of Gilbert’s other books, although I was intrigued by Eat, Pray, Love. I read this book at the right time.


Favorite new (to me) author?

Neil Gaiman.


Newest fictional crush?

I’m not a fictional crush person anymore.


Newest favorite character?

Lettie Hempstock – The Ocean at the End of the Lane.


Book that made you cry?

Thank You, Mr. Falker.


Book that made you happy?

Big Magic.


Favorite book to movie adaptation you’ve seen this year?

I don’t think I’ve watched one yet. I do know that I want to watch Just Mercy after I finish reading Stevenson’s book. Wow.


Favorite review you’ve written this year?

The Less People Know About Us: A Mystery of Betrayal, Family Secrets, and Stolen Identity.


Most beautiful book you bought or received so far this year?


What books do you need to read by the end of the year?

  • Buried Colony (ARC)
  • Educated
  • Sketch
  • Smashed *Re-Read*
  • The Hate U Give
  • The Nickel Boys

Tag – You’re It!

I’m not tagging anyone specifically. If you feel led, do this tag. I had so much fun!


Until the next headline, Laura Beth 🙂

Getting Personal #216: Fifteenth TBR Recap

Image Credit: Pinterest

Welcome back!


Here’s what I’ve read since my last TBR update:

  1. Betz-Hamilton, Axton, The Less People Know About Us: A Mystery of Betrayal, Family Secrets, and Stolen Identity
  2. Gaiman, Neil, The Ocean at the End of the Lane
  3. Gilbert, Elizabeth, Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear
  4. Jennings, Ken, Brainiac: Adventures in the Curious, Competitive, Compulsive World of Trivia Buffs — DNF
  5. Martin, Kristen, Soulflow (Audiobook via That Smart Hustle podcast)
  6. Rowling, J.K., Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire *Re-Read* — DNF
  7. Stevenson, Bryan, Just Mercy

Removing from Laura Beth’s TBR

Nothing! I read almost every book on my last TBR.


Keep & Re-Classify – Laura Beth’s Updated TBR

  1. Elliott, T.E., Loved by the Beast: A Historical Retelling of Beauty and the Beast
  2. Westover, Tara, Educated

Adding to the TBR

  1. DiAngelo, Robin, White Fragility: Why It’s So Hard For White People To Talk About Racism
  2. Oviatt, Didi, Sketch
  3. Thomas, Angie, The Hate U Give
  4. Weilert, Benjamin M., Buried Colony (ARC)
  5. Whitehead, Colson, The Underground Railroad *Re-Read*
  6. Whitehead, Colson, The Nickel Boys
  7. Wilkinson, Lauren, American Spy
  8. Zailckas, Koren, Smashed: Story of a Drunken Girlhood *Re-Read*

So, my current TBR is 10 books.

Do you have a TBR?

What are you looking forward to reading next?


Until the next headline, Laura Beth 🙂

Tag #94: “Books as First Dates Tag”

I’ve seen this blind date with a book idea in libraries and bookstores! Image Credit: Hawaii State Public Library

I was tagged by the lovely Jenna at Bookmark Your Thoughts! Thank you!

Here’s the link to Jenna’s post, where I was tagged: Books as First Dates Tag

Jenna discussed her ideal first date. For me, it’s definitely biased, but my first date with Al was absolutely magical. The original plan for September 4, 2010, was to go to dinner at the Virginia Beach Oceanfront, and then wait for Chicago to perform as part of the American Music Festival. We had a lovely dinner, and then strolled along the boardwalk. We kissed for the first time that night, and I legitimately saw sparks and fireworks. We talked for hours. I think he took me home at 1:30 a.m. Turns out, he knew he wanted to marry me after that first date, so I think it worked!


The Creator & the Rules

The creators of this tag is Alice @ Love for Words! The rules are …

↠ Link back to the original tag.
↠ Thank and link back to the person who tagged you.
↠ Tag 5+ bloggers.
↠ Have fun!


One. First and Last: A book/series you’ve read and enjoyed, but can’t bring yourself to read again.

Ghettoside by Jill Leovy. It’s a really good book, but I don’t think I’ll ever read it again. Some of the visual images I got will haunt me forever.


Two. With a friend of my friend: A book/series someone recommended to you that turned out to be different from what you had expected

The Divergent trilogy by Veronica Roth. Many of you know my feelings about Allegiant, so we’ll leave it at that. I don’t have the books in my collection anymore. I was so disappointed. I haven’t picked up any of Roth’s other books since.


Three. Double date: A book whose sequel you immediately had to read

The Hunger Games! I didn’t have the sequel after finishing it, so I immediately went out and bought both Catching Fire and Mockingjay.


Four. Let’s go to the movies: A book/series that should be adapted to the screen.

The Woman in Cabin 10 by Ruth Ware.


Five. Dreamy stargazing: A book that made you go ahhhh and ohhhh

The Notebook by Nicholas Sparks.


Six. Fun at the fair: A book full of colours

Mosquitoland by David Arnold.


Seven. Amusement park adventure: A book that was a roller coaster

Smashed by Koren Zalickas.


Eight. Picnic with cherries: A book whose food descriptions made you feel all *heart eyes*

I agree with Jenna, the descriptions in Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban always make my mouth water.


Nine. Trip to the museum: A book that taught you valuable stuff

Evicted: Poverty and Profit in the American City by Matthew Desmond.


Tag – You’re It!

Kristian – Life Lessons Around The Dinner Table

Destiny – Howling Libraries


Until the next headline, Laura Beth 🙂

Commentary #107: “Everything Wrong with Rachel Hollis”

This photo is not wrong or a bad thing. This was the photo that made Rachel Hollis go viral in 2015. I remember feeling inspired! Any woman who feels confident enough to rock a bikini is awesome. Image Credit: msrachelhollis.com

A wonderful friend shared this YouTube video earlier this week on her Facebook page: Everything Wrong with Rachel Hollis (Deep-Dive)


I’ll admit, I was originally intrigued by Rachel Hollis. See the bikini photo above. Several authors I follow on social media, and a few bloggers, have lauded her personality and her business, among other things. One author in particular has mentioned Hollis and her self-help books – Girl, Wash Your Face, and Girl, Stop Apologizing – on her podcast multiple times.

I almost bought both books.

But, I’m so glad I didn’t.

Granted, this is only one video that’s an hour and 33 minutes long. However, within minutes of the opening commentary, I felt so relieved that I haven’t bought into Hollis, her books, or her influence.


Even putting the words “everything wrong with rachel hollis” into Google brings up a slew of articles and videos about how harmful Rachel Hollis’s message is!


I almost feel bad for Rachel. The daughter of a Pentecostal preacher, she has said in multiple interviews and videos to her fans about how awful her family life was and how her childhood was so terrible.

She moved to Los Angeles at age 17. She worked as a production assistant at Miramax for a while, and then she started her own party-planning business. When she was 19, she met Dave Hollis, who was a Disney executive. He was eight years older – 27.

The age difference doesn’t matter, but the way they have treated each other does. Listening to the excerpts of videos during this hour and 33 minutes made me cringe. First of all, Dave looks like and sounds like a creep and an asshole. I feel terrible for their four children. I stopped the video multiple times, and reflected on how much of their relationship sounded like the abusive relationship I was in from 2006-2010.

Aside from all the narcissism and veiled abuse, Rachel’s messages to her fans are full of, absolutely dripping, food issues, hypocrisy, and toxic positivity.


To add to it all, Rachel has been a guest speaker at multiple conferences and retreats for multi-level marketing (MLM) companies! There’s excerpts of her speeches at events for LuLaRoe (LLR), BeachBody, Arbonne, and doTERRA. These companies have already ensnared vulnerable women, and Rachel appears to be a role model! She’s a woman, a wife, a mother, a Christian. All valuable, desired, normal things.

So much of her message is hypocrisy and surface-level bullshit. She gives the barest bones of “advice,” but a lot of it is toxic.

The RISE conferences that she and Dave have hosted cost up to $1,795! And that doesn’t include airfare, hotel, and other things.

Hard pass.

In addition, she doesn’t realize when she’s causing harm. Actually, she likely doesn’t care when she’s doing it. And that’s the worst thing.

After getting just one negative / critical book review on one of her fiction books, she hasn’t read or looked at any other reviews of her books. Not one.

And, get this, her fiction books – Party Girl (2014), Sweet Girl (2015), and Smart Girl (2016) – have been lauded and praised. They’re much better than the self-help ones, from what I’ve heard.

She immediately blocks people who even breathe a word or shadow of negativity or criticism. She ignores it all. And that’s so sad.

I immediately picked up on the passive-aggressive stance. It has to be exhausting to be that way ALL THE FUCKING TIME.


So, I wasn’t surprised when I saw the news yesterday that she and Dave are headed toward divorce. I should be thrilled for her. But, all I could think about was her having to deal with such a toxic relationship for the last 18+ years. I was relieved for their kids, but only briefly. I think all four will need major therapy.

I feel sorry for Rachel Hollis. But, at the same time. I’m really glad I didn’t buy into her influence. I’m just sad for the countless wives, moms, military spouses, and those who have joined MLMs who have been swept up under her spell.

I hope, for her sake, that Rachel Hollis will be able to raise her children to be better than her and her soon-to-be ex-husband.


Until the next headline, Laura Beth 🙂

Book Review #89: “The Less People Know About Us: A Mystery of Betrayal, Family Secrets, and Stolen Identity”

When I did a recent Tag post, I picked this book as “An intimidating book on your TBR.”

I wrote: “The Less People Know About Us: A Mystery of Betrayal, Family Secrets, and Stolen Identity by Axton Betz-Hamilton. I know the backstory behind this book, Betz-Hamilton’s memoir, from the Criminal podcast. (Make sure you listen to Episode 51 first, then Episode 125). I want it to be as amazing as I think it is, based on the podcast episodes that were so masterfully produced.”


As soon as I heard about Betz-Hamilton’s book on Episode 125 of the Criminal podcast, I added it to my wish list. I was so thrilled when I opened it as part of my Christmas gift from Al at the end of 2019.

It took me nearly six months to get to it, but I knew I was avoiding it. I had so many high hopes for this book, and I did not want to be disappointed.

Thankfully, this was not disappointing.


It’s hard to talk about this book without giving away certain things. But, I will say that I hope Betz-Hamilton writes more books. She did an incredible job with this. It’s such a personal story, and she truly turned it into action. She has done incredible work with helping identity theft victims for many years, while simultaneously trying to solve the mystery of identity theft in her own family.

If you’ve wanted to learn about identity theft, and its interesting history, this is a great book to read. Betz-Hamilton started her investigation with hardly any resources, and little law enforcement involvement. Times have certainly changed, and she helped educate many people along the way. Without her work, I don’t think identity theft would be as widely known or investigated now.

I related to this book in a few ways. Axton and I were both only children. I struggled with my relationship with my mom, especially as I became a teenager. But, I realize how good I had it. Axton lived in a version of hell under her mother’s roof until she went to college. I recognized so many signs of abuse, sadly.


The chapters were the perfect length. I flew through multiple chapters every night, and struggled with putting the book down.

It was so interesting to read about her life. This book spanned from before she was born up through the early 2010s. I really enjoyed the personal anecdotes, mixed in with academia and identity theft history. I’ve found myself searching for presentations she’s given. I’m hoping she’ll offer a course on identity theft. I want to learn more from her.

This is currently my favorite book of 2020. I’m already planning to re-read it next year.

5 out of 5 stars.


Until the next headline, Laura Beth 🙂