Jana Says

Living life from cover to cover

Show Us Your Books, April 2017

The timing of SUYB this year has been impeccable. In February, it fell on Valentine’s Day. This month, it falls during National Library Week. No joke, I would be lost without my library. At the very least I’d be broke and living in a book fort (which, admittedly, does not sound bad). And it’s not just me. Libraries are an invaluable community resource providing everything from books and movies and music to wifi and computer access to educational, family, and fitness programs (mine offers yoga twice per week!) to a shelter from the cold or heat to pretty much anything else you can imagine. Communities are stronger and more informed because of libraries so please, support yours in any way you can. 

Moving on to the books I read last month in no particular order except the order in which they were read. As always, reviews are copied, with some embellished, from Litsy. Don’t forget that when you’re done here, visit my co-host Steph and some of the other bloggers who linked up with us today. 

I read a disproportionate amount of fucked up books this last month. I’m currently on a three book detox that started with Dave Holmes’s book. It’s been glorious. But I plan to resume all the fucked up when I’m finished with them. 

Never Let You Go by Chevy Stevens. What I like most about Chevy Stevens is that you can always count on her for a fast paced, engaging read. There’s simimlar themes throughout her books but they’re reliable and don’t disappoint. That’s how I felt about this book, too. I sort of figured out the twist but it was okay; I didn’t want to quit the book as a result. I liked the strength of the characters, the mother-daughter relationship, and there’s a dog! If you’re sensitive to domestic violence, maybe this isn’t for you, though. Thanks to NetGalley for the ARC.

Midnight at the Bright Ideas Bookstore by Matthew J. Sullivan. I thought this would be a cute little cozy mystery but it turned out to be a dark, twisted mystery filled with fascinating characters, a tightly woven, well written and constructed plot, and a hell of an ending even after I figured out the whodunit part (I’m pretty good at that, unfortunately). It was exceeded my expectations, I read it in 2 days, and I’m glad I requested and received it from NetGalley. This a great vacation/plane/rainy day read. 

The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood. I struggled with processing my thoughts on this one. I’d never read it before but I almost wish I had in school because this is definitely a “let’s talk through it as we read it books” as there’s just so much. The dystopian society is not far from what could be reality; it’s why it’s horrifying. As a feminist, obviously I spent the book outraged. The historical epilogue was cool AF, the writing is amazing, and I get its significance in literature. 

Bottomland by Michelle Hoover. This is a depressing story of family, loss, pain, and hardship told through 6 different POV. It’s beautifully written but it begins super slow and stays slow but the plot gets stronger as it moves along. The characters become more interesting, tragic, and engaging and I found myself caring about them and what happens to them more than in the beginning. It’s a good book, not a must read or a read in one sitting book, but it didn’t feel like a waste.

Brother by Ania Ahlborn. A local bookseller gave this book to me for free because she thought it sounded like something I’d like. After reading it, I really need to change how I describe the books I like as this is the most disgusting, gruesome, twisted, horrifying book I have ever read. It wasn’t bad; it kept me interested but OMG IS IT DISTURBING. I almost threw up at one point. If you like horror, this is a good one for you. If not, HARD PASS. 

The Roanoke Girls by Amy Engel. Disclaimer: I read this immediately after Brother. DO NOT DO THAT. This messed up, disturbing book about a really unpleasant topic was unputdownable. Seriously. It was engrossing despite being gross (I don’t want to give anything away but if you read it, the main “issue” is pretty obvious in the first 20 pages or so and I want you to decide if you can handle it without input from me) and a good, strong story. I don’t even know how to properly describe what I read and I apologize but I liked the shit out of it. Thanks again, NetGalley.

Party of One: A Memoir in 21 Songs by Dave Holmes. Usually a celebrity memoir feels like there’s an air of fake modesty and made up awkwardness to give that relatable feel. Not with this one. Nothing felt fake. Just an honest, open recap of his struggle with himself and how he overcame that (he’s gay so a lot of his struggle relates to accepting himself and choosing to be out publicly), all set against the backdrop of music. The lack of humblebrag was nice, too, even when he discussed his time at MTV. The best part is the musical interludes. If GenX lit ever becomes a genre, this is going to be one of the books that makes it so. 

TL; DR. All except Brother and Bottomland are highly recommended. Bottomland should be a someday book. NEVER read Brother unless you love horror and have a strong stomach. Please trust me on that last part.

Now it’s your turn! Show Us Your Books! And mark May 9 for the next one.

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67 Comments

  1. Olya @ The Siberian American

    I felt the same way about Roanoke Girls. It felt a little odd to like such a disturbing book! I think I have Midnight at the Bright Ideas Bookstore on my NetGalley list. Excited to read it now!

    Reply
    1. Jana (Post author)

      Bright Ideas Bookstore way exceeded my expectations, especially for a book I requested on a whim.

      Reply
  2. Kimmi

    Midnight at the Bright Ideas bookstore is going on the list. I am thinking about adding the handmaids tale before I watch the show. I feel like I was supposed to read it at some point and college but never got around to it.

    Reply
    1. Jana (Post author)

      I’m really curious about the show adaptation, too. I’ll have to get Hulu!

      Reply
  3. texerinsydney

    I’m wondering why I already have “Brother” on my to-read list. Did I see you reading it and look at the synopsis already? Don’t know. I can’t say that “horror” is a usual genre to me, but I’ve read a few.
    Added Bright Ideas Bookstore and Party of One. A couple of others are already on my tbr.
    texerinsydney recently posted…I show you my books, you show me yours… vol.27My Profile

    Reply
    1. Jana (Post author)

      You have similar taste to me and I can’t recommend it even to you

      Reply
  4. Pingback: March Bookshelf: The Mystery Month

  5. Crystal

    “A local bookseller gave this book to me for free because she thought it sounded like something I’d like.” = You are literally Belle from Beauty and the Beast.

    It’s funny, every time I read something light I’m always like “Why don’t I do this more often?” but then it’s always right back to the super serious or totally fucked up. Humans: we’re a little weird.

    Reply
    1. Jana (Post author)

      I WISH I was Belle! I mean, not her whole life but that library!

      Reply
  6. Nadine

    The Roanoke Girls is available through Blogging for Books right now and I’m trying to decide if I want to get it. I know Steph liked it too. You think I would like it?

    Reply
    1. Jana (Post author)

      I don’t know that you would. You could always try and DNF if it’s too much.

      Reply
  7. Confuzzled Bev

    I read The Handmaid’s Tale a few months ago and I also wished we had read it in school! I hardly read anything in school though – mainly Shakespeare.

    Reply
    1. Jana (Post author)

      I read a good mix but not this one.

      Reply
  8. Sarah

    now I’m really intrigued about Brother and the Roanoke Girls. Not sure if I want to read them or not.. but I’m definitely intrigued lol

    Sarah
    Midwest Darling

    Reply
    1. Jana (Post author)

      I recommend The Roanoke Girls. Not Brother.

      Reply
  9. kristen

    love your first paragraph about libraries. my world became a better place when i was able to join the one here πŸ™‚ it was a long few years without a real library!
    i also wish i had read the handmaid’s tale in school. i feel like it might have changed/helped shape my views or opinions earlier on, you know?
    that’s hilarious the bookseller gave you that messed up book. i’ll absolutely be skipping that one.
    i have the roanoke girls on my kindle… hopefully i’ll get to it soon.

    Reply
    1. Jana (Post author)

      I think reading it in school would have helped me process everything but then again, I think a lot would have been shaped by the teacher’s opinions so maybe this was better? I don’t know.

      Reply
  10. Rebecca Jo

    Oh gosh… Brother has me freaked out not even reading one page of it. I am always afraid of recommending books to someone because I dont want to misinterpret what they would like or how I think their mind works. that’s trick.
    & YESSSS to libraries. Libraries &animal rescue centers – my two favorite things to support in this world!

    Reply
    1. Jana (Post author)

      You would not like it at all.

      Reply
  11. Kerri

    I’ve heard many a good thing about A Handmaid’s Tale, but I’m torn about picking it up. Historical Fiction isn’t really for me, but at the same time, it does have some elements that I might enjoy.

    Reply
    1. Jana (Post author)

      It’s actually not historical fiction. It’s dystopian fiction and there’s this epilogue at the end that reflects back on it like it’s history. (I am pretty openly anti-historical fiction)

      Reply
  12. Jenn @ Optimization, Actually

    The Handmaid’s Tale was completely fascinating despite being frustrating. And there’s no closure! I wanted so badly to know what happened to the main character, and society in general.

    Reply
  13. Alexandra

    ha oh no! That’s too funny about your bookseller. Glad that you enjoyed your reads in March. I want to read The Handmaid’s Tale (I never had to read it for school either!) and Roanoke Girls. XO – Alexandra

    Simply Alexandra: My Favorite Things

    Reply
    1. Jana (Post author)

      I recommend both. Just not in the same month. It’s a lot to take.

      Reply
  14. Brittany Pines

    I’m so torn about The Handmaid’s Tale. I feel like it might hit too close to home atm πŸ™

    Reply
    1. Jana (Post author)

      It does. But still worth reading.

      Reply
  15. Lauren

    I’ve wanted to read Dave Holmes’ book because I was at peak MTV age with him – I remember his intelligence and the WTF of Jesse Camp well. I’m intrigued by why Brother was so bad but I don’t particularly like horror. Did you and Steph both plan to read it? Looking into several of these to get out of my slump – your recs never disappoint!

    Reply
    1. Jana (Post author)

      I remember him from MTV, too, and he DEFINITELY talks about Jesse. This one is a good slump-breaker, too.

      We did not plan to read it. I think she got it after I mentioned it on IG or Judging Covers.

      Reply
  16. Ashley @ The Wandering Weekenders

    SUYB really couldn’t have fallen on a more perfect week! I finally got a library card to my local library after almost 7 years of living in the area, and I seriously can’t wait to get all the books! I have a few of your books on my list already, like Roanoke Girls and Never Let You Go, so hopefully this gets my butt kicked into gear to read them faster! I tried to read The Handmaid’s Tale forever ago, but for some reason I don’t think that I was in the right mindset to read it. I really want to read it now though because they’re making it into a miniseries for Hulu, plus everybody always raves about how good it is! I think that I know what I’m going to read after I finish up Erin’s challenge!

    Reply
  17. Kathleen

    I read the Handmaid’s Tale in high school, but as an independent project. But I think I need to re-read it because it was one I had to read and don’t think I really cared all that much about it as 17 year old. I have it on my Kindle now and I def think I’d appreciate it more as an adult. I loved the Chevy Stevens book I read last month, and Never Let You Go is on my list for this month.

    Glad you seemed to enjoy all the books you read! Not gonna lie I like a good fucked up book every now and then. lol

    Reply
    1. Jana (Post author)

      I read an abundance of fucked up books.

      Reply
  18. Stephanie

    So glad you picked up the Handmaid’s Tale, I really loved that one. I’m glad we read it in high school, but to be fair, I went to an all girls school and my teacher was insanely progressive. I don’t know if it was a regular read in most schools but I’m thankful she picked it! It hits way too close to home, now.

    Reply
    1. Jana (Post author)

      I can’t imagine my high school English teachers letting us read it but I didn’t in college, either. Hooray for progressive teachers!

      Reply
  19. SMD @ Life According to Steph

    Oh fabulous I have the bookstore book from Netgalley too. Now I’m pumped to read it.

    Brother. I just…I can’t.

    I felt the same about The Roanoke Girls. Totally fucked but I couldn’t put it down.

    WTF! Forgot it was library week.

    Reply
    1. Jana (Post author)

      Brother made want to throw up on several occasions. I can’t believe I finished it.

      Reply
  20. Karly

    I’ve been curious about The Handmaiden’s Tale ever since I saw the Hulu show preview. Definitely will be checking out some others here, too!

    Reply
    1. Jana (Post author)

      I’m definitely intrigued by the Hulu adaptation.

      Reply
  21. Jess

    I just got my library card yesterday for our new (to us) library. I am pumped! Library is my safe place. This one seems kinda medium-sized but nice and they have Overdrive, so I’m happy. And their Overdrive wait list is wayyyyy shorter (people here don’t want to read ebooks? works in my favor).

    I’ve never read any Chevy Stevens. Adding it to my list to give it a try. I just read an f’d up book and am sometimes in the mood for them. As soon as I step away from it, I wonder what the hell I’m reading, but then jump right back in. Too funny the woman totally thinks you’re into messed up horror fiction. Which maybe you are sometimes and that’s alright. I’ll probably pass since I like horror every now and then but am squeamish most of the time. I loved The Roanoke Girls, but couldn’t count it as one of my favorite books because ew. The story was messed up but engrossing. Adding Party of One to my list – never knew he wrote a book.

    Reply
    1. Jana (Post author)

      I’m definitely not into horror. I don’t think she realized what this book was in its entirety.

      Chevy Stevens is great!

      Reply
  22. Ange // Cowgirl Runs

    I just received a copy of The Roanoke Girls and I’m interested to get into it in the next few weeks.

    Reply
    1. Jana (Post author)

      You won’t be disappointed!

      Reply
  23. Ashley Ziegler

    Never Let You Go sounds an awful lot like the book series I’m reading right now. I just finished book 2 of 3 and while I read the book in 2 days, I just wasn’t impressed that it follow the same story line as the first book, just different details.

    My first time linking up today, so excited!

    Reply
    1. Jana (Post author)

      Thanks for joining us!

      I had that with two books last month. The second one felt way too formulaic after the first one. I’m glad she ended the series at 2.

      Reply
  24. Heather

    Never Let You Go is on my list and I have The Roanoke Girls from Netgalley but I’m just not sure about it. Haven’t started it yet.
    I read the Handmaid’s Tale in 2004 in first year of university, and it was a good experience to read it in school. I definitely feel like I got more out of it than I would have had I read it on my own at that age…BUT at that time it didn’t feel quite as paralleled to some of the present-day experiences in our society, so there’s that (or maybe I was just too young and naive to draw the parallels at that time). I want to read more Margaret Atwood someday (#canadianauthor) but I’m just not there yet. I’d like to see the series though!

    Reply
    1. Jana (Post author)

      Reading it in college is probably better than high school and I’m glad you go to do it. That book has a ton packed into it. And it definitely didn’t mirror society as much in 2004 as it does now which is so sad.

      Reply
  25. Nancy

    I would be totally broke without my library as well. The kids and I are such voracious readers, I couldn’t afford our habit otherwise! I like Chevy Stevens and Never Let You Go is already on my to read list as is Roanoke Girls.

    Reply
    1. Jana (Post author)

      I hope you get to them soon and enjoy them!

      Reply
  26. Audrey

    I just told Steph that Brother has me so intrigued, but as I typically shy away from thrillers/horror I’m almost 100% sure I couldn’t handle it… I don’t want to, but I probably need to pass on that one.

    I definitely want to tackle The Handmaid’s Tale and The Roanoke Girls, though.
    Audrey recently posted…What I Read… vol. 4My Profile

    Reply
    1. Jana (Post author)

      It’s really fucking disgusting and disturbing so if you do give it a try…well, good luck.

      Reply
  27. Carly Blogs Here

    I would be totally lost without my library too! I haven’t read anything by Chevy Stevens, but I’m definitely going to keep that in mind when I want something that’s a really engaging, fast-paced read! I can’t figure out if The Roanoake Girls is something I’ll like, but I’m so intrigued to read it!
    Carly Blogs Here recently posted…Carly Reads Here | April 2017My Profile

    Reply
    1. Jana (Post author)

      The good news is that if you like her, she has a whole bunch of books!

      Reply
  28. Jackie

    I will stay far away from Brother! I think I read too many disturbing books too and have had to detox myself lately. Midnight at the Bright Ideas Bookstore looks right up my alley though πŸ™‚

    Reply
  29. Micah @ Unabashedly Me

    Your thoughts on the books are always so descriptive and thorough. And I feel like we have similar taste, so your lists often extend my to-read list.

    I recently purchased “The Handmaid’s Tale” after people were comparing our current political happenings to it. I’m not sure how I’ve missed it before now. Looking forward to digging in, although I’m sure I’ll be outraged for most of it.

    I’m also intrigued by The Roanoke Girls.

    Reply
  30. ShootingStarsMag

    I’m glad you enjoyed Party Of One too – I thought it was a good memoir. I have Midnight at the Bright Ideas Bookstore that I need to read – hopefully soon

    -Lauren
    ShootingStarsMag recently posted…Show Us Your Books: Earn Free Books + More!My Profile

    Reply
  31. alyssa

    +1 for libraries! The vast majority of books I’ve read over the past several years and as a teen too have come from the library. Love, love, love.

    I just read something last night (well, I’ve heard it a few times in the past few months but I guess it was a new report) about waitlists for The Handmaid’s Tale absolutely SURGING across the U.S. I thought I had read it in high school but I’m pretty sure now that I haven’t, and even if I did it doesn’t matter because I can’t remember narrative details to save my life, so I’m one of those waitlistees.

    Reply
  32. Jennifer

    Just added Midnight at the Bright Ideas Bookstore by Matthew J. Sullivan to my TBR! I am listening to The Roanoke Girls right now and it’s all that you said and more!

    Reply
  33. Nicole

    Loud and clear on Brothers! Not going to ever read it πŸ™‚ Thanks for hosting the link up. I always enjoy getting lots and lots of reading recommendations!

    Reply
  34. Dani

    I just got The Handmaid’s Tale for free on Amazon Prime reading because I wanted to see it before the series starts. I’ve only read one other Chevy Stevens novel (Still Missing) but I really enjoyed it. Never Let You Go and Roanoke Girls are on my TBR. Your review of Roanoke Girls makes me wary, but I’m still intrigued.

    Reply
  35. Anne

    I’m a sucker for any book with “bookstore” or “library” in the title, and for a good page-turner, so I might have to check that one out! And The Handmaid’s Tale sticks with you, doesn’t it? Yeesh.

    Reply
  36. Kristin

    I want to try a Chevy Stevens book. What’s your favorite?

    I tried the Claire Danes audio version of The Handmaid’s Tale and I couldn’t get into it. It came out the year I was born so I tried it for a particular book challenge (maybe one of Erin’s?) and that failed miserably.

    Reply
  37. Alison @ Puppies & Pretties

    Roanoke Girls certainly sounds interesting. I also really want to read Handmaids Tale.

    Reply
  38. Hannah

    I definitely do not have a strong stomach, I can’t handle any kind of horror! So I’m looking forward to your “detox” book reviews πŸ˜‰

    Reply
  39. Megan

    I’m SO intrigued by Brother now! I love horror movies but haven’t read too many horror novels before. I’ve been wanting to read The Roanoke Girls too! It came up on my hold list at the library & I didn’t pick it up in time.. I’m so mad, haha.

    Reply
  40. Christina Mapes

    I liked Never Let You Go and The Roanoke Girls, and had a hard time describing my feelings on that one too. I think I just wrote “ew” on Goodreads. Haha! I’m adding Midnight at the Bright Ideas Bookstore to my list and I had to return Dave Holmes book because I ran out of time, but it looks like I’m gonna have to get it again.

    Reply
  41. Pam

    I listened to A Handmaid’s Tale. I liked it. I am really into dystopian novels at the moment. πŸ™‚

    Reply
  42. Heather Lockhart

    Late to catching up on SUYB, but I had to add that I just finished Never Let You Go and “I sort of figured out the twist but it was okay; I didn’t want to quit the book as a result.” was my EXACT reaction, as well

    Reply
  43. Catherine Chicotka

    I always feel that way about wanting to discuss books more, I make my poor boyfriend listen to me talk about things even when he hasn’t read it haha. I’ve been wanting to read A Handmaids Tale. I’m intrigued to see why Brother was so disturbing, but also am not a huge fan of gore. I’m interested in reading Never Let You Go and Midnight at the Bright Ideas Bookstore!

    Reply

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