Jana Says

Living life from cover to cover

Show Us Your Books: The month with amazing books

You voted, right? If not, stop reading this, go vote, and then come back. Unless you live outside of the US in which case, keep on reading. 

I don’t know what happened this month. It’s like the gods and stars of book goodness aligned and sent me a whole bunch of great books all at once. Even the one I didn’t finish was great (you’ll understand when you see my explanation as to why it was a DNF). There’s a TL;DR at the end since I believe there’s 9 or 10 books this month and, as always, the reviews are similar to what you see on Litsy if you follow me there. And, also as always, make sure to visit my co-host, Steph, as well as some of the other bloggers who join us. 


Alright, friends. Prepare your Goodreads. 

The Couple Next Door by Shari Lapena. I waffle back and forth between this being awesome or just okay. Because it’s both. At times, it’s a gripping, intense, fast paced thriller and at others it’s a sloppy let’s throw stuff at the wall to see what sticks mess. It became quite predictable so the twist wasn’t really a twist at all and that was disappointing, and the missing baby seemed more like a plot object than point and that got under my skin. But the writing was fine and it’s a wonderful plane/vacation read. It also kept reminding me of the Madeline McCann case, like the author fictionalized or speculated on those events.

Eileen by Ottessa Moshfegh. The writing in this book is simply astounding. Probably some of the best writing I’ve read in awhile. However, the story was mediocre and Eileen, the main character, was horrible. I know she’s supposed to be, and the the narrator, Eileen’s elderly self, tells you that up front but she was so insufferable and pathetic it made the book hard to get through at times. The end pay off was decent and if you like character studies, this would be a good choice for you. 

Burn Baby Burn by Meg Medina. SO. GOOD. It’s a contemporary historical fiction story set in 1977 New York. Queens, to be precise which, incidentally is where I live following my birth so I was ACTUALLY ALIVE when this story takes place. My parents never talk about the events the story is set against and so it made that part even more interesting to read. Then there’s the compelling, wonderfully written family drama, coming of age, fiction story wrapped in a YA novel you forget is YA. And the pieces of feminism thrown give it that extra kick of awesome. 

Adulting: How to Become a Grown-Up in 468 Easy(ish) Steps by Kelly Brown Williams. As a 39 year old self-described mostly competent adult, I can safely say that had this book existed when I was in my early 20s, it would not have taken me 39 years to become a competent adult. This books is smart, funny, comprehensive, and practical. There isn’t a topic that goes untouched. If there’s a person in your life who’s struggling, at any age, with adulting, give them this book. And then make them read it.

The Sea of Tranquility by Katja Millay. I know I’m late boarding the bus on this book. I know everyone read it last year. But. OMG. This book ripped my heart apart. I don’t even know how to discuss what a painfully beautiful and heart wrenching story this is. Phenomenally written, too. A lesser writer would have made this a trite, stereotypical YA romance with tortured souls and all that shit. Nope. This was way beyond that. This was intense in the way of All the Bright Places and it will haunt me like that one still does, too. 

Holding Up the Universe. Speaking of Jennifer Niven, this is the book that follows All the Bright Places (it’s not a sequel. Just her next book). It was not a bad book. The characters were interesting and I love her writing but the story wasn’t as strong as I’d hoped. And I would have loved to see less talk of Libby’s weight. It was basically it’s own character and it got annoying. Like she was trying REALLY HARD to prove that fat people are beautiful, too. STOP. We get it. I can’t help but compare this book to Dumplin’, which is similar but executed much better.

Behind Closed Doors by B.A. Paris. FUCKED UP. That’s what this book is. FUCKED. UP. It got predictable at times but then it turned on its head and wasn’t necessarily what you thought would happen. It should come with 8 million trigger warnings because it’s disturbing and depicts emotional, physical, and psychological abuse in an unfortunately realistic manner. But when you think twisted thriller, think of this book. It’s hard to read at times but definitely worth it. Oh, and if you’ve read it and figured out what the fuck he does in Thailand, can you let me know? 

Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates. I don’t have words to do this book justice. And it’s not really my place to do it justice because it’s not about me. This book wasn’t written for people who look like me, although all people need to read it. It’s painful and magnificent and make you think on every page about systemic racism and how it influences and seeps into everything. His writing is superb and framing it as a letter to his son makes it that much more impactful. Read it, read it, READ IT.

Adnan’s Story: The Search for Truth and Justice After Serial by Rabia Chaudry. This was my DNF. I know! It surprised me, too. And please don’t let the fact that it was a DNF for me make you think it’s reflective of the quality of the book. It’s not. If you’ve followed Adnan’s case, you know that Rabia is a passionate advocate for him and the book makes a compelling case against his unjust conviction (and the courts agree, too, so there’s that). But since I was obsessed with Serial and continue to follow what’s happening, the book didn’t really present anything new and it became boring and I had to let it go. 

Bonus book: The Recovering Spender by Lauren Greutman. Ordinarily I don’t review books I read for work purposes for SUYB but this one was worth a mention. If you have a problem with debt or overspending, I highly recommend this one. She talks, very candidly, about her problem and how she and her husband worked their way to a debt free life and her 12 step plan (which is based on the AA plan), is freaking brilliant. She does get a little pushy at times with her website and courses but you can skip those parts without losing context. P.S. She sent me a copy of the book.

TL;DR: You’ll be fine adding any or all of these to your TBR. Not a single one I don’t recommend. But if you limit yourself, definitely add The Sea of Tranquility, Burn Baby Burn and Between the World and Me.

Okay. Now it’s your turn! Show us what you’ve got! Bloggers, link up; nonbloggers, leave a comment with what you’ve been reading. And for those of you who like to plan, next month’s is on December 13 (my daughter’s birthday, incidentally) and there will be a bonus best of linkup later in the month. We’re working out the details. 


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  1. texerinsydney

    Just reading your title, I got all excited for the “amazing books”. And, of course, what I didn’t already have on my radar is now on it. I’m feeling overwhelmed with ALL the books I want to read RIGHT NOW. And……library problems…..I’m starting to get worried about the current library holds that I have and not adding more because after we close our shop, I’ll be using a different library. Oh, what’s a girl to do who is addicted to library books?!?
    texerinsydney recently posted…I show you my books, you show me yours… vol.22My Profile

  2. Tanya @ A Mindful Migration

    You bet I voted – with immense pleasure! Several of these books are already on my TBR. I apparently put Behind Closed Doors on hold and never picked it up so I got fined, which has made me bitter against the book. But now seeing your review, maybe I ought to put on my big girl pants and get over it. 🙂 And I have not read The Sea of Tranquility yet. It’s been on my TBR for ages and I need to prioritize it. Adding Burn Baby Burn to my TBR too.
    Tanya @ A Mindful Migration recently posted…October Bookshelf: The Moody MonthMy Profile

    1. Jana (Post author)

      Definitely prioritize Burn Baby Burn and Sea of Tranquility. Couple Next Door is good but it can wait.

      HOORAY for voting!

  3. Jill K.

    Great list! I was born in 1977 too, so Burn Baby Burn will have to go on my TBR.

  4. Michael

    Burn Baby Burn sounds like a good one. I like stories that take place locally for me. I read Adulting a long time ago and absolutely hated it. Perhaps because those things were mostly known to me? I don’t know. I agree though, if people were reading that as they finished high school or started college, it would be better for everyone.

  5. Kristen

    Burn baby burn sounds amazing. Adding it to my list. I am so so god you liked the sea of tranquility, such a good book. I wanted to read holding up the universe but netgalley declined me so I’m waiting for the library. I know people went kind of nuts when the synopsis was released on goodreads because of the whole weight issue. The first one sounds super interesting, the Maddie McCann case is one I try and stay on top of, so I’m intrigued that you compared it to that.

    1. Kristen

      I am so god? I am so glad, that’s what it is meant to say lol. On my phone, sorry!

  6. Nadine

    I still haven’t read Sea of Tranquility. It is on my list and I keep meaning to get to it….I will eventually right?! I added The Couple Next Door it sounds super interesting. I love nothing more than a month full of good reads.

  7. Kristin

    I read The Sea of Tranquility 18 months ago and it still pops into my head about once a week. Just to let you know what you’re in for. It’s probably the #1 book I’d recommend.

  8. Jenn @ Optimization, Actually

    Oh, ha! I was curious about Adnan’s Story, but decided not to read it for basically the same reason you mentioned – after 2 podcasts, what new information is there? My coworker actually messaged me the other day with an “update” and it was so freaking sad, because it was basically, “the court continues to fuck around while this man wastes away in prison.”

    1. Jana (Post author)

      Reading the actual evidence and letters was cool but not worth the rest of the book. And what is happening with him is the definition of our fucked up justice system.

  9. carly blogs here

    Happy election day! I still haven’t read The Sea of Tranquility and I’m not sure why because I’m sure it will be one where I end up asking myself why I waited so long. Went to add burn baby burn and it was already on my tbr list– meaning I probably need to bump it up to read soon!
    carly blogs here recently posted…Carly Reads Here | NovemberMy Profile

  10. Nancy @ NY Foodie Family

    The Couple Next Door is already on my to read list. But I added Burn Baby Burn. Love a good historical fiction book. I’m so glad you read The Sea of Tranquility! It took me forever to finally read it and couldn’t believe it took me so long!

  11. Jen

    I didn’t even finished Behind Closed Doors, I couldn’t take it! Why? WHY?!

  12. Lora

    I’ll have to look up some of these! They sound like books I would really enjoy!

  13. Ashley @ The Wandering Weekenders

    I’m so late when it comes to The Couple Next Door, The Sea of Tranquility, and Behind Closed Doors. I’ve had them all on my list for so long, but still haven’t been able to read them just yet. Hopefully soon! I’m also adding Burn Baby Burn to my list! It sounds really interesting! I’m glad that you had such a great month of reading~

    1. Jana (Post author)

      I wouldn’t worry about. There’s no time clock on reading a book.

  14. Mackenzie

    Burn Baby Burn and Adulting sound good. Adding them to my TBR list 🙂
    Mackenzie recently posted…As The Page Turns: October EditionMy Profile

  15. Rebecca Jo

    YIPEEE for finally getting to Sea of Tranqulity. Its been a few years since I read it – I may have to pick it up again.

  16. Brie @ A Slice of Brie

    I’ve been on the waitlist at the library for weeks now for Behind Closed Doors, and I really want to read it! My sister (who isn’t a big reader) loved it and we usually like the same types of thriller books. I didn’t know there was a book out about Adnan’s case, but ya, I agree, it wouldn’t be super interesting unless there was new info out there. His whole case makes me sad and frustrated.
    Brie @ A Slice of Brie recently posted…The Books I’ve Been Reading {#14}My Profile

  17. Kelly @ Noodle to the Rescue

    Haha, I could definitely stand to read Adulting.
    Kelly @ Noodle to the Rescue recently posted…Reading Roundup – October 2016My Profile

  18. Brittany Pines

    Burn Baby Burn & Adulting both sound really good!

  19. Kimmi

    So glad you liked Sea of Tranquillity! Such a good book! Behind closed doors is going on my list now!

  20. Heather

    I too loved The Sea of Tranquility last year and All the Bright Places really did remind me of it. I love intense YA like that. I will probably re-read that book someday, which is saying a lot! You had a lot of great reads this month – Burn Baby Burn sounds really interesting and I am definitely planning to read The Couple Next Door even if the library doesn’t give it to me for another year or so…haha. I’d heard of Adulting but didn’t really know if it was good or not. Glad you enjoyed it! I am keeping all of you Americans (and the entire planet really) in my thoughts today.
    Heather recently posted…The month I binged on Louise Penny (and other books for Show us your books!)My Profile

  21. alyssa

    Burn Baby Burn sounds like it must have been SO interesting to read, just from the personal context you have for it alone. Fun!

    Every time I see Sea of Tranquility on a list I think about how I have had it sitting on my Kindle, but every review I read is like yours and I just don’t feel equipped to read something like that right now! Maybe one day. I do want to know what it’s about.

    Same thoughts on Adnan/Serial. Followed the whole season, Undisclosed, and still check in on updates so I don’t think the book would give me much to get excited over.

    Between the World and Me sounds fascinating.

  22. Heather Lockhart

    I loved the Sea of Tranquility SO MUCH, so I’m glad you did too! Added Burn Baby Burn to my TBR list.

    I really appreciate you saying that’s why you didn’t finish the Adnan story. I thought about picking it up, but like you, I follow everything so I’m glad I didn’t since the info wouldn’t be new

  23. Nicole

    Thank you for co-hosting this book linkup. I love your October book list. It looks like you had a great reading month and I’m so envious! It always feel like you’ve hit the jackpot when the entire month is filled with good reads 🙂 I am now adding Burn Baby Burn to my TBR and I’m going to give The Couple Next Door a chance. I’ve read mixed reviews on that one.

  24. Anne

    Can I say, I feel like a lot of people need to read about Adulting right now… and part of my adulting is going to be getting over the fact that I don’t like to give up reading time to nonfiction books (novels all the way!) and am going to read Between the World and Me. I know I need to – and I’m committing to reading it soon!

  25. Olya @ The Siberian American

    The Sea of Tranquility ripped me apart too. I’m adding Burn Baby Burn to my list. It sounds so good!

  26. SMD @ Life According to Steph

    Between the World and Me has been on my list for a while, not ready to jump on that yet.

  27. Kristen

    Months filled with great books are the best months!

    Almost all of these are either on my list already, or I’ve read them. I’m definitely adding Burn Baby Burn, though. I don’t think I’ve even heard of that one before, so I’m excited for that recommendation!

    I liked Behind Closed Doors, but I didn’t love it. I agree that some parts were disturbingly realistic (and worthy of trigger warnings!), but some things just felt too over-the-top and unbelievable for me. As for the Thailand thing, I’m thinking something along the lines of Hostel. Obviously they never go into detail about what’s actually happening, but that’s what I pictured. (Though maybe it was slightly less violent and more focused on the fear response to torture?)

    I love YA books like The Sea of Tranquility because they don’t really feel like YA. I loved the writing in this book as well, and, like you, felt haunted by both The Sea of Tranquility and All the Bright Places long after the last page.
    Kristen recently posted…From the Bookshelf: Recently Read – November 2016 EditionMy Profile

  28. Rose @ Ramblin' Rose

    Glad to hear you liked Sea of Tranquility. I stayed up way to late finishing that book last year. Eileen is my list even though every review I’ve read said the story wasn’t good but the writing was.

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