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 🙂

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 🙂

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 🙂

Book Review #88: “Thank You, Mr. Falker”

My mom asked me to buy five copies of this book from Amazon toward the end of 2019.

I said, “Sure. Absolutely, I’m happy to help.”

I read many of Patricia Polacco’s books as a kid, but I hadn’t heard of this one. I first learned about her through LeVar Burton and Reading Rainbow.


My mom let me read one of the copies I purchased soon after they arrived. At the end of the 37 pages, I was crying. The story is so special and heartwarming.

It shows that teachers truly make a difference. Mr. Falker made a huge difference in the little girl’s life, especially when there weren’t nearly as many male teachers back in the 1940s.

It’s hard to talk about this book because I don’t want to spoil anything. What I will say is this book is based on true events and real people.


This is one of the best children’s books I’ve read. I plan to buy a copy for several teacher friends for their classroom libraries. If you haven’t read Polacco before, I highly recommend it. Her writing is beautiful, and she also illustrates them.

5 out of 5 stars.


Until the next headline, Laura Beth 🙂

Book Review #87: “Big Magic: How to Live a Creative Life, and Let Go of Your Fear”

This was one of FIVE books that Al bought me for Christmas!

This book, along with Kristen Martin’s Soulflow (Review coming soon!), felt like divine guidance when I needed it most. I was in such a slump with blogging and writing until the beginning of May. Then, it felt like a switch was flipped in my head. I felt inspired again. And both these books were big contributors.


I’m planning to read more from Gilbert down the line. But, this book is just what I needed at this particular moment. It’s part memoir, part self-help, part inspiration.

Although not pleased with how choppy everything felt at the beginning, I liked how she structured the book. It was like listening to a wise friend or relative tell stories over the course of a summer afternoon. And there was something for me to remember or ponder over with every chapter. She placed good reminders in my hear and heart.


It’s hard to describe Big Magic! But I felt comforted the entire time. It was a breezy read, perfect as the weather here has gone up and down and sideways. Until yesterday, it felt like September!

As someone who has Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD), and struggle most days with imposter syndrome, this book allayed my fears. It’s shown me to stare my fear(s) straight in the face, and proclaim, “You don’t own me. You don’t control me. I do. So step aside and let me finish the work I was called to create. Thanks!”

4 1/2 out of 5 stars.


Until the next headline, Laura Beth 🙂

Tag #93: “The Stuck At Home Book Tag”

Image Credit: Ebook Friendly

I saw this amazing tag on Howling Libraries from Destiny!

I wasn’t tagged for this, but this is the link to Destiny’s post: The Stuck At Home Book Tag

Ellyn at Allonsythornraxx created this tag!


tag_therules
  • Thank the person who nominated you
  • Answer all the questions down below
  • Pingback to the creator: Ellyn @ Allonsythornraxx
  • Nominate 5+ bloggers you’d like to know more about, to do this tag

1) What are you currently reading?

I’m currently reading Brainiac: Adventures in the Curious, Competitive, Compulsive World of Trivia Buffs by Ken Jennings, Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert, and Daily Guideposts 2020.

2) What’s your favourite ‘can’t-leave-the-house’ activity?

Writing, either on my laptop or in a journal. I’m working on the second draft of my first novel. I also have four other novels in progress.

3) A book you’ve been meaning to read for forever

You Will Know Me by Megan Abbott.

4) An intimidating book on your TBR

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.

5) Top 3 priority books on your TBR.

The Less People Know About Us: A Mystery of Betrayal, Family Secrets, and Stolen Identity, Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire (Re-Read), and Educated.

6) Recommend a short book

Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck (103 pages).

7) Recommend a long book

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows (759 pages).

8) Something you’d love to do while stuck at home

Start pastel painting again.

9) What do you plan on reading next?

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


I’m not going to tag anyone, but if you want to do this, please do! I love reading people’s answers.


Until the next headline, Laura Beth 🙂