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Show Us Your Books, June edition: The one where I take a break from a break

Hey there! It’s Show Us Your Books day which means I’m taking a break from my break to talk books with all of you. 

It’s been 5 weeks since our last Show Us Your Books so I have a higher amount of books on the list than usual. That also means I’m going to (try to) abbreviate my reviews. We all know I’m long winded and paring down the words is a challenge, especially when I’m talking books, but I’m going to try. 

Also, don’t forget to visit Steph and some of the other bloggers who’ve linked up. As for me, I’ll be visiting all of you when I return from Phoenix (yes, this post is coming to you live from Phoenix!) since my computer access is limited and I’m also taking time to spend with the husband and some friends. If you’re following me on Instagram, you’ve probably seen some pictures already. 

But today is not about that, it’s about books so here’s what I read: 

Holding Smoke by Elle Cosimano–A NetGalley book! Given the hit or miss nature of ARCs, I was pleasantly surprised by this one. It was probably one of my favorites of the month, in fact. It’s a YA thriller that could easily be a non-YA thriller, if that makes sense. It had supernatural/sci-fi elements that worked rather than being distracting. Actually, it was sort of a YA Shawshank Redemption. That’s probably the best way I can describe it. Warning: there are some pretty graphic scenes of child abuse and if you’re planning on reading this book in public, prepare to choke back tears. I had to. 

The Bed Moved: Stories by Rebecca Schiff–A perfectly adequate book of short stories, mostly about sex and relationships and honestly, it got repetitive after awhile. If you like short stories, you might enjoy this book since her observations are pretty dead-on and she’s funny but if you’re not a short story fan, go ahead and pass on this one. 

The Girl from Home by Adam Mitzner–This was a standard thriller that started off strong and then tapered off, becoming pretty meh at the end. It had a predictable twist, basic characters, decent writing. I wanted to like this book so much more than I did. It’d make a good beach or plane book, though. 

A Mother’s Reckoning: Living in the Aftermath of Tragedy by Sue Klebold–How do I even talk about this briefly? I had so many emotions, thoughts, and opinions as I read it (if you listen to The Armchair Librarians you caught a bit of this conflict). It was the most emotionally taxing book I’ve ever read. Not so much from the perspective of reading about a real school shooting (Columbine, which was essentially the watershed moment for planned school shootings) but because Sue Klebold is a fucking asshole. I seriously cannot figure out her motivation for writing this book. It felt like a defense of herself as a parent and there was a lot of “look at me! Look how great of a mother I was!” and blaming Dylan’s mental illness (which she calls “brain health”. That’s its own topic) and Eric Harris for what Dylan did and how she’s been victimized by Columbine. She tries to minimize his role in the massacre, which is infuriating, and constantly refers to Columbine as Dylan’s suicide. While technically true, it gave me all the rage because it ignores his actions. That said, she does raise some important points about depression and suicidal tendencies in teenagers and implores parents to be vigilant and pay attention to their kids. Side note: I watched her Diane Sawyer interview after I read the book since I didn’t want to go in biased. It did not help. The interview only confirmed that I think she’s an asshole. 

American Youth by Phil Lemarche–Interesting choice to read on the heels of Sue Klebold’s book. This was another book (like 13 Ways of Looking at a Fat Girl) that I liked in concept more than practice. The writing was decent but the story was all over the place and rushed. Too much crammed into a short space with a reprehensible main character, which is fine, but the author tried to make him sympathetic and interesting and failed. 

The Never-Open Desert Diner by James Anderson–Tied for Holding Smoke as my favorite read of the month. I can’t pinpoint exactly what it was about this book I liked so much. I just did. It was a mystery that was less thriller and more standard mystery. The characters were all weird and quirky, which you typically don’t get in this kind of book, and having a cello as a major plot point was unique and definitely drew me in. The writing was suspenseful without being overdramatic, and all the storylines tied together really well.

The Two-Family House by Lynda Cohen Loigman–Not a terrible book, not an amazing book. I liked it and read it fairly quickly because it’s a fast read. You sort of figure out what’s going on right away so the whole big family secret isn’t really a secret which, for me, hurt the plot a bit but knowing it up front made reading what happens to the families as a result different. Like, you’re not trying to figure it out but rather watching them unravel as a result. I loathed the ending, though. It was too simple and felt like a cop out. I wanted more drama, and there should have been given all that happened throughout the book, and there was just…nothing. It seemed fake, like the author wanted a happy ending for these miserable people to vindicate them for their suffering. 

The Nest by Cynthia D’Aprix-Sweeney–This book did what Fates and Furies did. It left me itchy with anticipation, I stalked it at the library and then…meh. I did enjoy the voyeuristic look at this highly dysfunctional family and it gave you pause to think about the things you take for granted and what family really means but there was just too damn much going on. So many subplots and side characters. SO. MANY. It became bothersome to read after awhile. And there was just one subplot that meant absolutely nothing and had zero contribution to the overall storyline (which, at the very least, the rest of the supporting characters did do). I liked the ending; I think she did a good job with that, it had a little surprise, and it remained true to the characters. Oh, and Cynthia? The Mets haven’t played in Shea Stadium since 2008.

The Wednesday Wars by Gary D. Schmidt–This was a middle grade fiction taking place in 1967-68 Long Island (I think near where I’m from but he never actually gives the town. He made one up), and the main character is a 7th grader dealing with not only his burgeoning adolescence but all the societal things like Vietnam and MLK’s assassination and atomic bomb drills. It’s all set against his relationship with his teacher, who, whether he wants to acknowledge it or not, has a tremendous impact on his life. There’s lots of Shakespeare references, which was kind of different and interesting. 

TL;DR–add Holding Smoke and The Never Open Desert Diner to your TBR. The Wednesday Wars if you’re feeling it. The rest were just fine but definitely not priority reading. As for Sue Klebold’s, save yourself the time and energy and frustration and just watch her interview. 

Now it’s your turn! Link up and show us what you read! Nonbloggers, leave a comment with your favorite read from the last month: 

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Break time

Yesterday was my 5 year blogiversary. You know how I celebrated? By not writing a post, not commenting on a blog, by not doing a single damn thing. 

I know. But I’m really okay with it. 

You know what else I’m okay with? Deciding I need to take some time off. My depression is ruining, and ruling, my life right now and the more I try to fight it, the worse it gets. So, for now, I need to just own it and deal with it how I know best. And that is to stop, avoid, and regroup. 

Blogging, and reading blogs, is too overwhelming for me right now (we won’t even discuss how hard managing daily life is and how it’s taken me a week to make 2 appointments because I just can’t or the fact that sleeping is something I can’t do or the chronic stomach issues from all the anxiety). I’m struggling with reading about another amazing weekend or workout or whatever and since I have nothing positive or constructive or even halfway witty to say, it’s best that I just don’t say anything or read anything that’s not a book. 

I’m also tired of my tired blog. I still love writing, and have a compulsion to write, but my blog is stale. It needs a new look and a fresh direction and the best way to figure all that out is simply to step away so I can look at it objectively.

So that’s what I’m doing. For the next month, posting around these parts will be sporadic. I’ll be checking in with Show Us Your Books (of course) and my monthly playlist with Erin and maybe another list or two but that’s it. I’ll still be around weekly on The Armchair Librarians and Instagram (and Twitter sometimes) but the blog needs a break. I need a break. 

I’m not typically one for dramatic announcements like this but I’ve been pretty vocal about my depression struggles and I didn’t want anyone to worry. 

So that’s it. Thanks for sticking with me and I’ll see you soon.

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Friday Six Pack #5

Another depression filled week in the books. Let’s see what happened: 

    • Finished American Youth and The Girl from Home. Both were less than stellar but not awful. Currently reading The Never-Open Desert Diner. Picked up nothing new from the library and am ghosting NetGalley. #sorrynotsorry
    • Preparing my list for Erin and Dani’s reading challenge. It mostly consitutes NetGalley books since I have several of those and a long flight to and from Phoenix. Long flight=eBook reading because eBooks save space and weigh less. Not sure if those kinds of books count but #idowhatiwant 
    • Continued to spend ridiculous money on refreshing my makeup (bought some blush, liquid eyeliner, and new nail polish) but at least I had coupons and sales and also bought some drugstore brands. I think NOW I’m done. Also spent money almost daily on iced coffee. I could save myself time and energy and gas if I just made a big ass pitcher at home so maybe #weekendgoals
    • Listening to Skillet’s newest: 

  • No internet reads again this week. I just don’t have the energy and if I haven’t commented on your blogs or responded to your comments on mine please know that I want to but when I sit down to do it, I get overwhelmed and just say fuck it. 
  • Funnies:IMG_2218 FullSizeRender (42) FullSizeRender (41)Season 2 of Bloodline releases today! If you need me for the next few days, you know where to find me. 


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Musicians gone too soon: A Jana and Erin playlist

It’s that time again, the last Thursday of the month, the time that Jana and Erin bring you a playlist that usually has a theme with a twist.  With the realization that we’ve been losing a lot of musical icons in recent times, we were inspired to bring you this post: favorite songs by (now) dead people.
*This is a long one.  We make no apologies.  We culled.  We swear we did.

The plane crashes:

Buddy Holly […] Continue Reading…

Judging Covers with The Family, ninth edition

No fanfare. Let’s jump right in. 

Book #1: American Youth by Paul Lamarche

The husband says:  Lonely kids with nothing to do but hang out outside.

The child says: A kid who lives in a not very popular city and he’s sitting somewhere with no friends and very lonely. Also he’s got a gun it looks like.

Goodreads says: American Youth is a controlled, essential, and powerful tale of a teenager in southern New England who is confronted by […] Continue Reading…