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Living life from cover to cover

Show Us Your Books, July 2017 edition

Guys. I am doing this post from my phone because I somehow got locked out of my blog on my laptop and until I can get somewhere with a different IP address and unlock myself, I have no access. And since that will not happen before I have a chance to post, I’m pretty much fucked. 

That said, I apologize if anything is screwy or unclear and I won’t be able to link the books to Goodreads until I get this shit fixed. 

Now. Books. There were 10 this month which is high even for me. Not really sure what happened. I don’t even think I had a DNF even if two came close. 

As always, my reviews are mostly copied from Litsy. Books from NetGalley are designated otherwise I borrowed from the library. 

Bastard Out of Carolina by Dorothy Allison. This is not an easy book to read. At all. It wasn’t as violent or graphic as I had expected based on some descriptions, which was nice, but those scenes were incredibly difficult to get through especially once you remember how old Bone actually is (I kept thinking she was WAY older). There’s some nonsense and parts I skimmed a bit but overall, it’s a powerful story about choices, abuse, poverty, desperation, family, love, survival, and humanity. Also, if anyone can find the movie version of this, please let me know. I can’t find it anywhere that’s not purchasing it. NOT EVEN THE LIBRARY.

In the Shadow of Alabama by Judy Reene Singer. I wanted to like this book. I did. It tells an important story about family, race, war, and how we’re all haunted by something or someone. But OMG was it boring. The writing didn’t do it for me and I really don’t like horses so those parts were an absolute waste. This would have been a DNF but since it’s based on a real story I kept going mostly to fill in some gaps in the way the narrative was told. Others may like this book but it wasn’t for me.

Since We Fell by Dennis Lehane. I like his storytelling and way with words but this felt like 2 different stories smashed into one. The second half was intense and action packed and thrillery while the first felt more like something I can’t quite describe but definitely not a thriller. While I liked the book and characters, it didn’t turn out at all like it was set up at the beginning, which is fine, but it felt unnatural. Like I was conned. Which is oddly relevant to the plot.

The You I’ve Never Known by Ellen Hopkins. I love Ellen Hopkins and her ability to write a story and characters you can’t put down, even when the size of the book starts to hurt your hands. Her rawness, her emotions, and her willingness to share her life, even in a fictitious way, makes me admire her bravery even if the poetry thing is old. I did like how she wove prose into this book, and her opinions on Planned Parenthood and Scientology were also a bit unusual for her but very welcomed. And thanks to whomever first mentioned her books. I found her through this linkup and I’m now a huge fan.

The Long Haul: A Trucker’s Tale of Life on the Road by Finn Murphy. This book reminded me of Hillbilly Elegy in the sense of it being a sociological study but with the lens of a memoir. It combines trucking history, personal stories, and industry information, touches on some modern issues like sprawl and racism and our accumulation of cheap stuff, and overall, is just a good book. Even if you don’t have truckers in your family, it makes for a fascinating read. Fun fact: my husband read this right after I did and finished it in 4 days. He NEVER reads books that quickly.

Small Hours by Jennifer Kitses. I received this as an ARC from NetGalley. This is a perfectly fine book that passes the time just fine. The writing is good, the plot is strong, the characters are horrible in a likable way even when you want to punch them in the face. I liked the concept of parallel stories about secrets and lies taking place over a single day and told from alternating POV but the ending stunk. Cliffhangers have their place. This was not one of them. 

The Dinner by Herman Koch. I did not like this book at all. I didn’t find it amusing or smartly satirical or a commentary on anything other than a shitty plot with horrible characters. It reveled in the mundane and useless and skimmed over and rushed through the few parts that were actually enjoyable and kept it from being a big fat DNF. The ending sucked, too, which was disappointing because I was hoping for some sort of big payoff for the rest of the crap I read.

Penance by Kanae Minato. While this book wasn’t quite as good as Confessions, it was still an excellent, dark book about murder and choices and actions and consequences and responsibility and the effects of trauma and words on children and adults. I loved the way each chapter built on the one before and how she wove each girl’s story into the others’. The narrative felt natural and progressive and I read it in one sitting because I couldn’t put it down.

Everything Everything by Nicola Yoon. It feels like I’m the last person to read this. It reminded me of a lighter, quirkier The Fault in Our Stars. Similar premise but definitely its own book. I definitely had feels even when I figured out what exactly was going on so that’s telling and her storytelling was unique and made the book fun to read. However, it felt like a typical YA book and there could have been some more developed parts that were glossed over instead. Still, I recommend. 

Better Than Before by Gretchen Rubin. Her ideas and theories about habits are fascinating to me and I loved reading through the book with an idea (I took the quiz) of my Tendency (Rebel with Questioner leanings. This should not be a surprise to anyone who knows me). It put so much into perspective and thinking about how I approach habit changes is different now. That said, this is not a book to be read once and absorb everything. To fully get what you need, this is one that requires several rereads or a binge of her blog because there is so much information. Also, and if I’m being completely honest, I feel like if I knew her in person, I wouldn’t like her. She is not any fun. Like, at all and I definitely read the book with that in mind. But to her credit, she owns it. OH! And did anyone else get RAGE-INDUCING ANNOYED with how often she mentioned her sister is a TV writer? WE GET IT, GRETCHEN. 

TL; DR. Penance, Since We Fell, The You I’ve Never Known are all must reads for me. I’d say the Gretchen Rubin book but I’m like the last person to read it so no need. Avoid The Dinner because the place has rats and will give you food poisoning. 

Currently reading: A Brief History of Seven Killings. On the list for the next month: Ramona Blue, August Snow, Saint Maybe, and some NetGalley books before NetGalley disowns me.

Now it’s your turn! Let me know what you’ve read and make sure you visit Steph and some other bloggers. And brace your Goodreads TBR.

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  1. Olya @ The Siberian American

    The You I’ve Never Known sounds super good. Definitely adding that one to my list!

  2. Pingback: June Bookshelf: The I Like Books Month

  3. Tanya @ A Mindful Migration

    Nope, you’re not the last person to read Everything Everything or Better than Before. They are both still on my TBR. πŸ˜€ Some day. The Dinner is also on my TBR but I’m thinking about removing it. I’m tired of shitty characters doing shitty things without a satisfying conclusion. Like, I’m starting to get pissed off that I’m giving them hours of my life without the payoff I deserve. LOL!

    And sorry that you locked yourself out of your blog. Been there, done that. So annoying!
    Tanya @ A Mindful Migration recently posted…June Bookshelf: The I Like Books MonthMy Profile

  4. Anne

    Better Than Before was one of those books that I could not stop talking about after I finished it – I find that personality stuff fascinating too. And now I might be the one remaining person who is behind the times on Everything Everything, but I’m looking forward to it next time I’m in the mood for some YA – I really enjoyed her other book.

  5. Nadine

    In the Shadow of Alabama sounded like it was going to be good. Sucks it was boring! I loved Everything, Everything but felt like they completely glossed over the mothers issues!!! That was huge! I haven’t read Gretchens book yet, loved Happiness though so I need to get around to it. I have to agree, I probably wouldn’t be besties with her IRL.

  6. kathy @ more coffee, less talky

    my niece just bought Everything Everything and is really enjoying it. I like Denis Lehane but Since We Fell just didn’t do it for me πŸ™

  7. lauren

    sorry you didn’t like the dinner! I didn’t realize the movie was already out, I’ll have to watch it and see how it compares.

  8. Brittany Pines

    Haha I haven’t read Ruben yet, although my curiosity has been sparked for a while. Bastard Out of Carolina is such a hard book, and there is SO much to talk about. I actually have vague memories of the movie, it must have been on TV or something because I only remember specific scenes, but reading the book with the image of the characters actually made it even creepier and sad πŸ™

  9. Rebecca Jo

    I hate when my computer gets messed up like that. I dont know squat on how to straighten any of that out.
    So I’m impressed you even got a post up!!!
    I usually am the last one reading the popular books so dont feel bad about Everything Everything πŸ˜‰

  10. Gina

    I read Better than Before this month too and I said almost the exact same thing about the author in my reviews! LOL! I also read Confessions this month per your recommendation last month and LOVED it! Good to know how to set my expectations if I read the author’s other book.

  11. Lauren

    I added The You I’ve Never Known and The Long Haul. I’ve always wondered what trucker life is like. Everything Everything made me so mad… why was the mother not a bigger deal? Gretchen Rubin rubbed me the wrong way and I couldn’t make it through The Happiness Project but this category thing seems interesting, so I should go take the quiz.

  12. SMD

    Bastard Out of Carolina was really hard.

  13. Ashley

    Holy Cow you read a lot of books this past month, and it sounds like you really enjoyed a lot of them as well. And don’t worry, you’re not the only one that hasn’t read Everything Everything, I still need to read it, hopefully one day soon! I hope that you get unlocked out of your computer soon!

  14. HEather

    Totally agree with liking Gretchen Rubin…I actually think that I have some issues with “Upholders” in general, partly because I envy them and would love to be one but I can’t get my act together. LOL. I found the book and all of her personality stuff to be endlessly fascinating and I definitely need to re-read (or re-skim) parts. She has a new book coming out in September just about the tendencies which I am looking forward to. LOL about her sister – that is totally annoying in some ways.

    Everything Everything was cute but I know what you mean – very YA. If you haven’t read her other book, I think I actually liked it more (The Sun is Also a Star). Adding Since we Well to my list!

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

    I agree, there is a certain feel that is similar with most YA books. I hadn’t made the Everything, Everything – Fault in Our Stars connection yet, but, you’re right, it’s there. (I think I was the last person to read The Fault…)

    How you described The Dinner is similar to how several others have described it, too. It was on my TBR once upon a time, but after so many consistent yucky reviews, I decided to heed everyone’s advice and avoid it entirely.
    Ericka @ A Quiet Girl’s Musings… recently posted…Recently Read – Vol. 20 (June ’17)My Profile

  16. Kristin Darhower

    I really dislike a lot about Gretchen Rubin but I see where she’s coming from. She does own it but she is insufferable. If you listen to her podcast, you’ll pick up on that quickly. Her sister has a podcast about Hollywood and it’s SO MUCH more interesting than the original Happier podcast and that’s because Gretchen isn’t on it, I’m sure.
    That being said, her books have helped me understand why I am the way I am so I usually recommend them to people.

    I’ve not read Everything, Everything because YA can be trying…especially now I’d just be picturing the movie, I think.

  17. Carly

    I keep seeing Since We Fell pop up, so I liked reading your review and will probably pass on it for now. I just got a Herman Koch book, and am kind of hesitant to start it because I’m not sure how well I’m going to mesh with his writing style. I hope you’re able to log back in to your blog soon!
    Carly recently posted…Carly Reads Here | July 2017My Profile

  18. Ashley Ziegler

    I’m definitely going to have to check out Everything Everything. I’ve seen it at book stores and tons of reviews. So maybe it’s time? πŸ™‚
    Ashley Ziegler recently posted…Show Us Your Books – July ’17My Profile

  19. Nancy @ NY Foodie Family

    Your description of Bastard Out of Carolina reminds me of All the Ugly and Wonderful Things. I love Ellen Hopkins and have been a long-time reader. The You I’ve Never Known has been on my to read list. I love Gretchen Rubin. I can see how some can find her personality annoying though. I’ve read all her books and find them so insightful.

  20. Mackenzie @organicbutterflyblog

    I’ve read The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin but not this latest one. I’ll have to give it a read!
    Mackenzie @organicbutterflyblog recently posted…As The Page Turns: June EditionMy Profile

  21. Karly

    I’ve been hearing so much about Everything Everythinf, so you’re definitely not the last to read it (I haven’t even read Fault in Our Stars!). I haven’t heard of most of these, so thanks for all the recs!

    1. jenn

      oh, karly. READ the fault in our stars. i LOVE gus. and hazel’s pretty cool, too. there’s some wonky story in it, but overall, it’s pretty awesome.

  22. Audrey

    ‘The Long Haul’ sounds interesting. My dad is a trucker (although not cross-country, he’s home every night). Stories about how people live (like Hillbilly Elegy) really peak my interest. I’m excited to read both those books!
    Audrey recently posted…What I Read… vol. 7My Profile

  23. ShootingStarsMag

    I saw Everything Everything the movie but never read the book. Honestly, it doesn’t really interest me enough but the movie was cute.

    I really liked Penance too. I need to read Confessions.

    I loved Better than Before. I need to re-read pretty much all of her books, but I’m excited she has another coming out this fall.
    ShootingStarsMag recently posted…Out Today: Pounding Skin by L.A. WittMy Profile

  24. Jill K.

    That’s irritating. I hope you get your access back soon.

    The Long Haul sound really interesting. I did not like The Dinner at all either.

  25. Gwen

    I’m impressed that you did the post from your phone – what a pain! I have Penance high on my list and it might get bumped even higher. I’ll stay far away from The Dinner.

  26. Jess

    I’ve never read an Ellen Hopkins book so I want to make it happen sometime. Best one to start with? Haha your review of The Dinner is fabulous even though I’ve never read it. I may still read it because when there’s a movie, I can’t help myself. I agree with your review of Everything, Everything – it was good but light like typical YA. I am going to look up who Gretchen Rubin is now.
    Jess recently posted…What I’ve Been ReadingMy Profile

  27. Laura

    I’ve listened to Gretchen Rubin’s podcast and even though so many people rave about it, I do not care for her!! Bummer about the book. The Long Haul sounds really interesting.

  28. jenn

    this: “The ending sucked, too, which was disappointing because I was hoping for some sort of big payoff for the rest of the crap I read.” i HATE that when i’ve given a book the benefit of the doubt, when i bother to plug through that crap (which isn’t nearly as often anymore), and then the end is shit… GAH. the little beach street bakery. PERFECT example. so many pages. SO, SO much crappy writing. and then the end has got to be one of the most idiotic conclusions EVER. i was pissed when i finished that one. and the only reason i DID plug through it is because i’d read the bookshop on the corner and LIKED the last six chapters of it, even though the first thirty were hogwash. so i kind of expected to appreciate the ending on this one. silly me.

  29. texerinsydney

    After reading what you said about Penance, I looked up Confessions first. Already on my tbr, and I suspect that’s because of your previous recommendation. Need to get on that.
    texerinsydney recently posted…I’ll show you my books…you show me yours…vol.30My Profile

  30. Confuzzled Bev

    I haven’t read Everything, Everything so you’re definitely not the last!

  31. kristen

    i haven’t read any gretchen rubin books or Everything Everything, so you’re definitely not the last on those ones lol. i know nothing about gretchen rubin except what i’ve heard from other people, so thanks for the heads up about her not being fun, i feel like that will adjust my expectations a bit. i will have to check Ellen Hopkins out!

  32. Hannah

    The Long Haul sounds fascinating.

    I think agree about Gretchen Rubin…I’ve only read some of her blog, but sometime’s it’s interesting and sometimes she’s just super annoying. I think of myself as a pretty boring person, but even I would have to agree with you that she sounds like no fun.

  33. Alison @ Puppies & Pretties

    I’ve been meaning to pick up Everything Everything and it is good to hear that it is a good book. I might need to wait though to space out my YA reads though.

  34. Megan

    Bastard Out Of Carolina sounds really interesting– just added to my to my list! The Long Haul sounds really interesting too. I enjoy sociological-type books (sometimes… I have to be in the right mood for them) so I definitely need to check it out!

  35. Pingback: Things I Just Don't Understand

  36. Kay

    Havent read Everything Everything yet either but it has been on my list for a bit. I put YA at the bottom of the list most times. i like them but just not alll the time. This sounds like a good travel or beach read.

  37. Alyssa

    I’ve never read Ellen Hopkins but The You I’ve Never Known sounds like it might be a good place to start.

    I had Everything Everything come up on my hold list from the library but I already had 2 going at the time and I knew I wouldn’t be able to finish both in the window I needed to read EE in, so I had to let it go. Re-added myself to the hold list though, and I can’t wait to read this one.

    I swear, Better Than Before changed me. I was actually evangelizing about it today with my coworkers. She gets a bit annoying at times, but I can’t deny that reading that book helped me a lot. Agree, though, Gretchen would definitely not be friends IRL.

  38. Donna Freedman

    “The Wanderers,” by Meg Howard. Set in the near future, it’s about three astronauts who commit to a 17-month simulation of a trip to Mars. IF they can hack being in the tiny ship-not-a-ship, buffeted by various disaster simulations and not go crazy, they MIGHT get to go on the real Mars flight a few years thence.

    My favorite character was the American astronaut, a 52-year-old woman. I wish that the guy who made the movie “Gravity” would take on this one.
    Donna Freedman recently posted…The quinoa whisperer.My Profile


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