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Living life from cover to cover

Show Us Your Books, February 2017: The one with no clever title

So, it’s been like 27 weeks since the last SUYB. Well, maybe only 5 but it feels way longer. I’m pretty sure we all know why. WINTER. Winter slows down time. It’s also slowed down my reading mojo to an almost stopped pace. I normally read around 9 books when we go this long but this time, it’s only 7. Six that I finished and 1 was a DNF.  We’ll get that one out of the way first (Hint: most of you aren’t going to be happy with me).

And remember, as always, visit Steph and some of the other bloggers joining us. Nonbloggers, let me know in the comments what you’re reading. 

Lilac Girls by Martha Hall Kelly. If you’ve been around here for awhile, you know I generally don’t like historical fiction. However, when it’s a book that everyone raves about, I’ll break tradition and read it. Sometimes it pays off (see: The Book Thief, The Storyteller). Other times it does not. This is one of those latter times. Now. This is not a bad book in and of itself. The writing is strong and it’s an engaging plot. However, for me, it hurt too much to read. For as much as I can handle violence and murder, Holocaust fiction, particularly when it graphically describes what happens inside concentration camps, is something I cannot do. It’s too personal, it goes above and beyond thriller-type murder and violence, and I could not push through it. Because it’s not fiction. Those atrocities actually happened and I could not, for one second longer, read it for the sake of entertainment. I have a feeling it’ll be a long time, if ever, I pick up another book like this. I know myself well enough to know I can’t do it and that I shouldn’t even try.

Moving onto the books I did finish. Reviews, as always, are copied directly from my Litsy reviews.

Kissing in America by Margo Robb. This was a surprisingly touching story about family and grief and love and friendship and finding yourself. Eva didn’t feel like a teenage caricature; she was given real thoughts and feelings and written with respect. It’s a fairly strong story but had Eva not been as likable and relatable, the plot would have felt weaker. She made the book what it was. And the poetry woven in was relevant and meaningful without feeling forced or gimmicky.

Shrill: Notes from a Loud Woman by Lindy West. I read this book immediately following the weekend of the Women’s March and it was exactly what I needed at the time. Her unapologetic feminism, intelligence, confidence, humor, courage, honesty…all of it. I’m grateful for her opinions and her willingness to speak them on behalf of herself and all women. I didn’t even mind all the stuff about her personal life. I liked getting to know her along with her opinions. 

Idaho by Emily Ruskovich. SLOW. This book is SLOW. It’s also a beautifully written, poetic, sad piece of art that, at times, bored me to tears. It was almost too artsy and I wanted a concrete story for the whole book. She did weave an intricate, well developed plot filled with sometimes interesting (and often unnecessary) characters but it occasionally droned on (and on and on) for what seemed like beauty rather than story. Which is fine if you’re into that. I am not. And the time jumping made me insane. It was all over the place. ALL OVER. 

The Quickening by Michelle Hoover. Meh. Didn’t love or hate this book. It just was. It started off strong, almost reminding me of Little House fanfic if Laura and Nellie wound up as adult neighbors but then it tapered off into boring and overdramatic. Also really sad. Too sad. Had the book been any longer I  might have quit but the brevity kept me going. It also helped that it really picked up again in the last 30 pages. A well written, mediocre read. 

Blood Men by Paul Cleave. Ah, a refreshing return to my comfort zone. A graphic, fucked up little thriller set in New Zealand. Definitely kept me guessing up until the end, which was nice (usually I figure stuff out. I’m superfun to play Clue with). I love his writing so I figured I’d like this one and it’s nice to be right. If you like thrillers and have a strong stomach for violence, I recommend reading this book.. Oh! And it’ll piss you off, too. 

Get Your Shit Together by Sarah Knight. I loved her first book, The Life Changing Magic of Not Giving a Fuck, so I clearly had to read this one, too. As someone who struggles more with getting her shit together than not giving a fuck, I quite enjoyed this practical little handbook. I won’t take everything in it as gospel but she has some good insight about goal setting and the keys to getting and keeping your shit together. Plus she’s funny and smart and self-deprecating and doesn’t come across as a know-it-all. This is basically a perfect adulting primer or a book filled with reminders in case you forgot how to adult. Do not read this book if you do not like profanity. 

TL;DR: Read Blood Men and Shrill. I’ll leave the rest to your discretion. 

Also, today is Valentine’s Day. A day I do not celebrate (you can ask me why if you’re curious but it’s not really worth discussing) but because I love books more than most things, I will say that I don’t think SUYB could have fallen on a more perfect day. I love how many of you guys I’ve gotten to know because of our mutual love of books and if that’s not a testament to the power of them, I don’t know what is. Thank you so much for joining me and Steph every month and for always sharing your books and love of reading with us. 

Okay. Now it’s your turn! Link up and show us your books!

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  1. texerinsydney

    I picked up a Paul Cleave book (The Cleaner) at a secondhand bookstore. Haven’t read it yet. Sounds like I need to.
    Lilac Girls – I think that’s a perfectly valid reason for you to not enjoy the book. Not that you needed my permission.
    I saw Kissing in America at the library today and wondered if I should’ve picked it up. Then thought “nah, I have so many books that I want to read already, and this isn’t even on my goodreads tbr.” Damn. Should’ve grabbed it.
    We don’t do Valentine’s either.
    texerinsydney recently posted…I show you my books, you show me yours… vol.25My Profile

  2. Tanya @ A Mindful Migration

    I also have a very difficult time with WW2 stories. I can only read one or two a year because like you, it’s real, even if the story is fiction. I actually read a story about WW2 this month unplanned and it was really good but also really hard. Shrill is already on my TBR and I need to add Get Your Shit Together to my TBR too. A few of Paul Cleave’s books are on my TBR too. He sounds right up my alley and need to bump him up the list! I do Valentine’s Day with Max in that I force him to wear his Valentine’s Day scarf. He doesn’t like it. 😀
    Tanya @ A Mindful Migration recently posted…January Bookshelf: All The Emotions MonthMy Profile

  3. Nadine

    Lilac Girls has been on my list for awhile. I really need to be in the mood for that genre to get through it. The Nightingale was fabulous and the last I read in the genre. I need to get my shit together so I’m adding it to my list!

  4. kristen

    i definitely understand why you gave up on lilac girls. i read a lot of books set in that time, but they all vary and i haven’t read a lot that actually told you about the concentration camps like that one did. it was hard to get through for sure. i am so glad you liked kissing in america, it’s in my library pile. aw i totally agree – not a fan of valentines day, but a perfect day for SUYB. best link up ever 🙂

  5. Laura

    Kissing in America and Shrill sound really good. I don’t like books that are too artsy either. If it’s too flowery or poetic, I can’t stick with it.

  6. Lauren

    I LOVE Shrill so so hard. Lindy West is coming to Houston next month and I think Bre (my linkup cohost) and I are going to go. She has a This American Life episode if you’re interested, where she expands on the story told in the book about the editor who was a fat shame.

    I’ve wanted easy, escapist books lately so I’m adding Kissing in America. I totally get your point on Lilac Girls. Something about it felt off to me, and perhaps you hit on it – a fictionalized world where something awful beyond imagination happened isn’t a great place to spend one’s free time.

  7. SMD @ Life According to Steph

    We’ve already discussed Lilac Girls.

    I think Shrill is on my list. I’ll check out the Paul Cleave.

  8. Carly

    I keep going back and forth on wanting to read Idaho, which doesn’t even make sense, but I’ll probably skip it for now because slow is exactly what I’m not in the mood for right now!
    Carly recently posted…Carly Reads Here | February 2017My Profile

  9. lauren

    shrill sounds awesome! I still haven’t read the first life changing f*ck book, I really want to!

  10. Ashley @ The Wandering Weekenders

    I agree with you that it really was perfect that SUYB fell on Valentine’s Day this year because what’s better than a love for books on Love Day! I totally understand why you couldn’t finish Lilac Girls. It’s such a beautiful book, but all of the details about the Holocaust really are so hard to read. I remember feeling sick actually reading some of those part. Blood Men sounds really interesting! I’m a huge fan of mysteries and thrillers, so this sounds right up my alley! Plus it’s set in New Zealand, so how could I not love it!

  11. Karly

    Good to know about Lilac Girls, I’ve had it on my list but haven’t been able to bring myself to read it quite yet. I agree with you that there can be a fine line between historical fiction and reality! Anyways, Shrill sounds like a great read so thanks for the rec on that!

  12. Brittany Pines

    Shrill & GYST are almost certainly going on the TBR, thanks! And agree- I heart this community.

  13. Linda Sheridan

    Happy holiday of love. Had s glorious morning making videos with Lola and FaceTime with the other two grandchickens and my valentines who live here❣️ Forever grateful I have so many valentines ❣️
    I cannot read a lot of real atrocities either.
    Healing lights and love and happiness to all.
    Love, Steph’s Momma

  14. Heather

    I actually haven’t heard of most of these books besides Lilac Girls, which I am not in a big rush to read anytime soon. I’m going to check out the other titles though because some of them sound really, really good!

  15. Nicole

    I have not read any of these books. I have seen Idaho getting a lot of press lately so I was surprised to hear that was a fail. I’ve been avoiding Lilac Girls. I tend to stay away from overly hyped books. It seems they always let me down.

  16. Rebecca Jo

    So Sarah Knight titles are in your face, huh? 🙂
    Yeah… sometimes I give in & read books that people rave about as well that I dont typically read (ex: The martian) & find out I should have never done it. Some things arent meant for everyone.

  17. Teh Megan

    Lilac Girls is right up my alley and it’s on my list after I finish Erin’s challenge. I already have the audiobook, so I’m set. I’ve just been waiting to get thought my other “less motivated” books.

    I want to read Shrill. I put it on my library wishlist when I noticed they have it, but it’s currently checked out, of course. One day my holds will come.

  18. Anne

    I’m totally into unapologetic feminism right now – going to check out Shrill!

  19. Mattie

    I have been wanting to read Shrill for so long! I think it really is the perfect climate right now to read it. I’m going to have to move it up on my list!

  20. Crystal

    Ooh, I need to add Shrill to my list! I’m currently reading the Get Your Shit Together book. I figure that 35 is a good age to finally look into doing that.

  21. Nancy

    I can very much understand your reasoning behind not being able to finish Lilac Girls. I enjoy reading historical fiction and liked this book not at all for “entertainment” purposes, but for educational purposes. I learned things about the Holocaust that I did not know before. I think these type of books are “may we not forget” type books. Yes, they can be painful to read, but it gives the reader (or at least me!) a deeper appreciation for the life I am living.

    Blood Men intrigues me but I’m not sure I can stomach the violence.

  22. Kelly @ Noodle to the Rescue

    I know exactly how you feel about WWII books – I am taking a break from them currently because it was just too much for me. I don’t remember which one put me over the edge though – Oh wait, I do, It was The Nightengale.
    I skimmed through Life Changing Magic but I think Not Giving a Shit would be a better fit for me too. I feel like I have a pretty good handle on what I care about & devote my time too vs what I don’t give a fuck about, but could definitely use some help in the getting-my-shit-together department.
    Kelly @ Noodle to the Rescue recently posted…Reading Roundup – January 2017My Profile

  23. Olya @ The Siberian American

    I’ve been curious about Kissing in America, so I’m glad to hear you liked it! I really understand what you mean about WWII historical fiction. Like someone else said, I like WWII historical fiction because it always teaches me something new about that horrible time period.
    Olya @ The Siberian American recently posted…Eleven Books I Read in JanuaryMy Profile

  24. Dani

    I feel similarly about Holocaust-related reads which is why this one isn’t on my TBR list. Glad to know I’m not alone in that regard. I had no idea there was a follow-up to The Life Changing Magic, and I agree that getting my shit together is where I struggle, so I definitely need to read this one! Hoping I actually get my shit together and put together my post for this link-up this week. As always, thanks for hosting!
    Dani recently posted…A Questionnaire and Sh!t Blue SaidMy Profile

  25. Christina

    I 100% agree with you on historical fiction, and especially Holocaust stuff. Why is there so much of it? It was not a romantic time!! I love Lindy so much and it pisses me off that trolls forced her off Twitter. I’m adding Knights book to my list right now! Idaho is on my nightstand, but now I’m second guessing it.

  26. Ericka @ A Quiet Girl's Musings...

    I’ve considered Lilac Girls a couple of times, but for reasons similar to what you expressed, I’ve always given it a pass.

    PS I loathe Valentine’s Day, have since I was a teenager, and my husband and I don’t celebrate it. You are in excellent company, if I do say so myself. 😉

  27. ShootingStarsMag

    I do think it’s fun that the link up fell on Valentine’s Day. Books are my true love. I haven’t read The Lilac Girls, but I do like Holocaust fiction so I MIGHT give it a shot someday. I can see how it would be too emotional sometimes though.

    ShootingStarsMag recently posted…Show Us Your Books: A Whole Lot of LGBT+ FictionMy Profile

  28. Alison @ Puppies & Pretties

    Ugh, winter. I hear you there. Surprisingly, I’ve been reading more. I always like it when I can’t actually figure out what is going on, especially in a thriller book. It makes it more intriguing!
    Alison @ Puppies & Pretties recently posted…Reading Lately: February 2017 Part 1My Profile

  29. Kerri

    Historical fiction is always hit and miss for me too. Chances are I’m not going to like it and I will DNF it, but when you find a gem like The Book Thief, it makes you at least want to try a historical fiction once in a while.

  30. Myra

    I’m so glad you warned me about Lilac Girls. I can’t read books like that. I’ve done it before and then carried the pain and grief of what I read with me for a very long time.

    I am, however, adding Blood Men to my list because a graphic, fucked up thriller is just what I need right now! Glad I could join the linkup this time around since I’ve actually been READING. Lol. xo

  31. Audrey

    Lilac Girls is on my TBR list, and I do plan to accomplish it, but I agree with you 100%. I have a very, very hard time reading about the Holocaust and slavery. Those kinds of books really shake me up and I have to space them out with other ones.
    Audrey recently posted…What I Read… vol. 2My Profile

  32. Kimmi

    I have the “Life Changing Magic of Not Giving a Fuck” on my list. I will have to put “Get Your Shit Together” on there as well!

  33. Jill K.

    I’m struggling right now too. It’s so dark outside, and reading makes me sleepy.

  34. Brie @ A Slice of Brie

    Added Blood Man to my list! I love me a good, fucked up thriller haha. Bonus points for not being able to figure it out!
    Brie @ A Slice of Brie recently posted…Books We’re Loving For Valentine’s DayMy Profile

  35. Charlene

    I love historical fiction and loved both The Book Thief and The Storyteller! I definitely know what you mean though about it being too real sometimes. Maybe I’ll stay away from Lilac Girls. I do however want to try Get Your Shit Together.

  36. Alyssa

    Lilac Girls and Shrill are at the top of my list. I also really want to read The Life Changing Magic of Not Giving a Fuck; I didn’t realize she had a follow-up. Sometimes even getting one or two kernels of wisdom out of a book like that is good enough.


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