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Living life from cover to cover

Show Us Your Books, June edition

Make sure you read to the end of today’s post because there’s something extra special for y’all. But before we get to that, let’s discuss the books I read last month because today is Show Us Your Books day with me and Steph!

book button linkup

I read 8 books last month but I’m only reviewing 7 because one was a not yet published manuscript of a book written by my friend Nick and they’ll be more about his book in a separate author interview later in the month. Meanwhile, you should check out his blog, Confessions of a Terrible Husband. Seriously. Do it.

Now, here’s what I read:

Saving Francesca by Melina Marchetta. Probably the most difficult book, emotionally, for me to read. It dealt with miscarriage and maternal depression and the effects it has on the kids, families, parent/child relationships, and life in general. The main plot of Francesca trying to navigate a new high school, new friendships, and all the teenage stuff amidst her mother falling into a deep depression felt all too real to me and it hurt me to read. I felt all the feels. I could relate more than I wanted to. A fantastic read. 

The Storied Life of AJ Fikry by Gabrielle Zevin. Read this one in an afternoon. It’s a short, quick, cute read about the life of a quirky widowed bookseller and the events that happen after his wife’s death that make him “live” again. My favorite part of the book was his little notes/reviews of books and short stories, written as letters to his adopted daughter. The ending doesn’t turn out the way you’d expect, which is nice, and I enjoyed how this weird ass bookseller turns a whole bunch of nonreaders into avid readers. 

True Story: Murder, Memoir, Mea Culpa by Michael Finkel. Be still my beating criminal justice nerd heart. No joke, I learned about this story because it was turned into a movie with James Franco and Jonah Hill and it seemed like something I had to read. I do love nonfiction, specifically of the memoir kind, and when you combine a fascinating story that seems so implausible it has to be true with great writing, you get a book that is hard to put down. That’s what this one was for me. 

What Alice Forgot and Big Little Lies by Liane Moriarty. I finally got to read both of these! Kudos to my library for the syncronization (I also have The Husband’s Secret on my nightstand for this month). I’m reviewing them together because I have similar comments for both. Liane Moriarty reminds me of Rainbow Rowell in that she knows how to develop characters that feel completely real and puts them in stories that also feel completely real (mostly). She is a wonderful storyteller although, at times, she is a bit longwinded and seems to be stretching the plot simply to fill space. I enjoyed Big Little Lies more than What Alice Forgot for a number of reasons, including the more rapid pace of the book, the more realistic and heartwrenching storylines, and also, as the mother of an elementary school child, I could relate to the playground politics. 

The Leisure Seeker by Michael Zadoorian. I think Steph is the one who discussed this book last month and I requested it from the library tout de suite. I finished it in roughly 2 days as it was a fast paced, fun read if not sad and emotional and punch you in the gut heartbreaking, especially at the end. It’s not often that 2 sick, elderly people are the central characters in a book; they’re typically ancillary or the “problem” that other characters are dealing with. So I loved the fact that the book focused on them, giving their perspective and insight. I enjoy books with non-typical narrators and if you do, too, get on this one. Actually, even if you don’t, get on this one, too. 

Wonder by R.J. Palacio. This book. Holy shit, you guys. I cannot wait until my daughter is old enough to read it because she will and if you have kids, you need to make them read it, too. You can pass it on to them after you finish it because everyone, and I mean EVERYONE, needs to read this book. Told from the perspective of several people involved in the life of a genetically disfigured boy, including the boy (Auggie) but who’s normal in every other sense of the word, it is probably the best “don’t judge a book by its cover” lesson I’ve ever encountered. Nothing I can write about this book will do it justice so I’m just going to stop. 

It’s not often that I enjoy every book I read in a month but that’s what this past month was for me. I can’t even pick which ones I’d recommend more than others because I think you should read all of them. 

On deck for June/July: Dept. of Speculation by Jenny Offill; The Universe Versus Alex Woods by Gavin Extence (in progress), Forever, Interrupted by Taylor Jenkins Reid; Some Luck by Jane Smiley; The Long Home by William Gay; Missoula: Rape and the Justice System in a College Town by Jon Krakauer; and The Husband’s Secret by Liane Moriarity.

Now it’s your turn! Link up and tell us what you read!

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P.S. Here’s the surprise and I’m screaming in my head because it’s freaking cool and I can’t believe I’m actually excited to see the movie version of a book but this looks AMAZING (except for the fact that in the book, Mark is single and in the movie he’s married but whatever). GUYS. IT’S THE TRAILER FOR THE MARTIAN!!!!

48 Comments

  1. lisacng @ expandng.com

    Dang, I thought I’d be the first to link up but it’s not open for a while ;). Anyways, glad you liked Wonder and hope your daughter likes it when she’s old enough to read it. Your review of Big Little Lies has me re-thinking reading it. And O M G, The Martian. I’m soo excited!!!! And of course they had to make him married….I can’t wait to visit their website and watch all the videos.
    lisacng @ expandng.com recently posted…Tweetviews – book reviews in 140 charactersMy Profile

    Reply
    1. Jana (Post author)

      SO disappointed they made him married but for dramatic effect, I get why. Still. I CAN’T WAIT!!!

      I highly recommend Big Little Lies but it is a bit too long.

      Reply
  2. Erin of TexErin-in-SydneyLand

    Hooray for liking all the books. Wonder is so fantastic. Liam reads way above his grade level. I keep wanting to read it with him, but he’s 7, so I keep trying to figure out what’s age-appropriate… Big Little Lies is at my house waiting to be read. But, it’s packed away in a box. Who knows when I’ll find it. Wait. Who am I kidding? I labeled all my book boxes.
    Erin of TexErin-in-SydneyLand recently posted…I show you my books, you show me yoursMy Profile

    Reply
    1. Jana (Post author)

      Erica is 8 and I think she’d struggle, not so much with the words, but with some of the concepts (and she reads above grade level, too). I’ll probably hold off until 5th or 6th grade for her to read it.

      HAHAHA! Labeling book boxes! oh, wait! I did that, too…

      Reply
      1. Erin of TexErin-in-SydneyLand

        and, I’m glad you liked Saving Francesca…but good golly, I bet it was an emotional read for you. The Piper’s Son is fantastic too.

        and, I’m looking forward to your book challenge. Consider me a member of your pack
        Erin of TexErin-in-SydneyLand recently posted…I show you my books, you show me yoursMy Profile

        Reply
        1. Jana (Post author)

          I think you’ll like it! I like having a pack, especially an international one. It makes me feel all sophisticated 🙂

          It really tore me up, emotionally. But I needed to get through it. I’m glad I did.

          Reply
  3. Kerry

    I love when a month has all good reads. Wonder and Saving Francesca is already on my list but I am adding The Leisure Seeker as well now, sounds good. After the reviews on the The Martian I wasn’t swayed but the preview of the movie makes it seem like I need to get on board.
    Kerry recently posted…May Books I’ve ReadMy Profile

    Reply
    1. Jana (Post author)

      Definitely read The Martian!!! Especially if you plan to see the movie.

      Hope you like the other ones, too!

      Reply
  4. Kristen

    Saving Francesca is next on my list, I had no idea what it was about so thanks for the heads up.
    Wonder was seriously amazing. Like, mind blown amazing.
    OMG IT’S THE MARTIAN OMG I’M SO EXCITED IT LOOKS SO GOOD!! coming soon?! coming when?! i must know!!!! why the fuck is he married with a kid? ahh i don’t even care it looks amazing. thank you for sharing!
    Kristen recently posted…Books LatelyMy Profile

    Reply
    1. Jana (Post author)

      I think it comes out in November! I can’t wait!!!

      Some of the details in Saving Francesca caught me off guard. I thought it was going to be something completely different. Hope you like it, too!

      Reply
  5. kathy @ real talk

    i didn’t do a damn thing book-wise this month because i was so wrapped up with friday night lights. i LOVED LOVED LOVED the book Wonder; i even recommended it to my 11yr old niece (she’s a total bookworm)
    kathy @ real talk recently posted…living in toronto, canadaMy Profile

    Reply
    1. Jana (Post author)

      If you’re not going to read, FNL is a perfectly acceptable excuse. Love that show.

      Wonder is one of my favorite books of the year. I think an 11 year old would absolutely appreciate it, too.

      Reply
  6. Kellli

    I loved What Alice Forgot and Big Little Lies, I think my favorite part about What Alice Forgot is it didn’t end the way I expected it too.

    As for Big Little Lies I hope our kindergarten experience is slight more tame but such a fun read.
    Kellli recently posted…It’s All About The Books – Vol. 4My Profile

    Reply
    1. Jana (Post author)

      The epilogue ended the book they way I thought it would end. But I like that it took time to get there.

      It’s definitely an overdramatization but not entirely inaccurate. Sadly.

      Reply
  7. SMD @ Life According to Steph

    Matt Damon is the PERFECT choice for The Martian. I will probably actually see it also.

    I agree on Moriarty stretching to fill space. Unnecessary. Editor, you’re fired!

    I’m curious how the Krakauer book is.

    Wonder is on my list!

    I was not The Leisure Seeker reader. It’s so hard to remember who has read what. LOL
    SMD @ Life According to Steph recently posted…Show Us Your Books: What I read in MayMy Profile

    Reply
    1. Jana (Post author)

      I rarely agree with casting choices but Matt Damon as Mark Watney is PERFECT.

      Yes, her editor needs to be fired.

      I can’t remember who read it, either, but I thought it was you. Oops.

      Reply
  8. Rose

    Missoula is on my list. For the most part, I’m a fan of Krakauer books. Also Saving Francesca and her Froi series are on my must read list. I’ve heard nothing but good things about her novels.
    Rose recently posted…May Book ReviewMy Profile

    Reply
    1. Jana (Post author)

      This is the only one of her books I’ve read but I liked her as a writer so I’ll read more.

      I’m excited to read Missoula. Definitely my kind of nonfiction.

      Reply
  9. Helene

    ohh thanks for sharing the trailer!! I never got hooked on the martian- but I think it was my own fault. it should be good!!

    Reply
    1. Jana (Post author)

      The movie looks fantastic and Matt Damon is perfect casting. The beginning was HARD to get through but once you do, it’s completely worth it.

      Reply
  10. Julia @ Grace Makes New

    I loved The Husband’s Secret and I definitely want to read more of her books! Big Little Lies is on the list for sure!
    Julia @ Grace Makes New recently posted…Four ThingsMy Profile

    Reply
  11. Christina

    I loved The Leisure Seeker and Wonder so much! And I completely agree with you about Liane Moriatry. Her books are unnecessarily long. I can’t wait to see Big Little Lies in movie form. The Martian is next up for me. I’ll probably finish my current book today and start it tonight. My husband just read it and loved it. I also really want to read Missoula, but it’s a long wait at the library.
    Christina recently posted…What I Read In MayMy Profile

    Reply
    1. Jana (Post author)

      There must be something wrong with where I live because it took almost no time for me to get Missoula into my little hands.

      You need to read The Martian! Seriously, drop everything and consume it.

      Reply
  12. Kristin

    I LOVEDLOVEDLOVED Big Little Lies. The subject matter in What Alice Forgot kinda hit a nerve and I wasn’t as overly impressed with it. The Husband’s Secret falls between the two for me.
    I’m going to read Three Wishes next…
    And I agree about the Rainbow Rowell comparison: read one, gotta read them all.
    Kristin recently posted…May BooksMy Profile

    Reply
    1. Jana (Post author)

      They are both definitely binge read authors. Thankfully they have a pretty good back catalogs to make that happen!

      Reply
  13. Julie @ Artwork by JM

    I am so excited for The Martian! That was probably my favorite book that I read this year. So good! I still haven’t read any Liane Moriarty books but everyone is telling me I really need to. lol!
    Julie @ Artwork by JM recently posted…What I’ve read latelyMy Profile

    Reply
    1. Jana (Post author)

      One of my favorites of the year, too, which says a lot because I do not typically enjoy science fiction. And yes! Read some Liane Moriarty!

      Reply
  14. April

    I loved The Husband’s Secret! My coworker recommended Big Little Lies so now that’s two people that have liked it. 🙂 Guess it will be on my July list now. HA!

    Reply
  15. April

    I just read The Husband’s Secret last month and loved it. I hope you do!

    You’re the second person to recommend Big Little Lies so I guess it will be on my July read list. 🙂
    April recently posted…Show Us Your Books: What I Read in MayMy Profile

    Reply
    1. Jana (Post author)

      I’m looking forward to reading it! And I hope you enjoy Big Little Lies.

      Reply
  16. alyssa

    I haven’t read Liane Moriarty yet, or Wonder, but I have them both on my list and the fact that they keep popping up makes me really think I need to move them higher. And maybe I should take a look at the Martian too… so many books, so little time! Thanks for sharing.

    Reply
    1. Jana (Post author)

      Get on The Martian! Seriously. And I’d recommend Wonder before the Liane Moriarty books.

      Reply
  17. Teh Megan

    I’m going to have to jump on Wonder and The Storied Life. Apparently, Wonder was already on my to-read list… So many books, so little minutes. I think What Alice Forgot is also on my list, but I always get distracted at “Moriarty” because I think of Sherlock.
    Teh Megan recently posted…What I read in May!My Profile

    Reply
    1. Jana (Post author)

      Definitely get on those books ASAP.

      HAHA re: Moriarty. I don’t watch Sherlock but that’s still funny.

      Reply
  18. Nadine

    I added Wonder and The Storied Life of AJ to my list this morning after reading Kristen’s post. You just solidified those for me!!! I also have What Alice Forgot, Big Little Lies, and The Husband’s Secret on my list for awhile now and need to get to those. Glad you enjoyed them too. I loved Attachments because of the characters so I am glad you mentioned that! The Leisure Seeker sounds fun too, so I need to check that out! Love this link up!! I always find so many new books. Speaking of books…did you get my interview post HTML?
    Nadine recently posted…Book NerdMy Profile

    Reply
    1. Jana (Post author)

      I did! I think you’re scheduled for 2 weeks from now. But I’ll email you the night before it goes live 🙂

      I 100% approve of all your additions this month!

      Reply
  19. Kimmi

    Ok so how did I miss What Alice Forgot? Apparently I am behind! The Martian is now officially on my listM so many of you all loved it!

    Reply
    1. Jana (Post author)

      YES! Move The Martian to the top of your list.

      Reply
  20. Amber

    I have enjoyed all the Liane Moriarty books that I’ve read. I can’t wait for her next one!
    Amber recently posted…Hey, It’s Okay Tuesday!My Profile

    Reply
    1. Jana (Post author)

      I love that she has so many to choose from!

      Reply
  21. Lauren

    I really enjoyed Wonder, too. You are the millionth person to recommend A.J. Fikry so I added that as well as True Story.
    Lauren recently posted…may booksMy Profile

    Reply
    1. Jana (Post author)

      I hope you love True Story! It was fantastic!

      Reply
  22. Mariah-Food, Booze, & Baggage

    He’s married in the movie 🙁 I liked him as a single guy, I felt that part of his humor in the situation is the fact he is unattached. It just changes the feel of it all. I thought Big Little Lies was like a combination of What Alice Forgot and The Husband’s Secret. The Husband’s Secret was the first of her books that I read.
    Mariah-Food, Booze, & Baggage recently posted…Show Us Your Books: MayMy Profile

    Reply
    1. Jana (Post author)

      I completely agree with you re: Watney being single. But for dramatic effect, I get why they’re making him married.

      I haven’t read The Husband’s Secret yet so now I’m curious. It might get moved up to the top of the pile.

      Reply
  23. kim

    Ohh that true story book sounds exactly like something I’d love.

    I am also ECSTATIC for The Martian!! The book is so funny and so scienc-y, it will be cool to see it brought to life.
    kim recently posted…Summer Reads!My Profile

    Reply
  24. Jaina

    The trailer for True Story got me hooked into it – not seen it yet, so might give the book a read before I do! Sounds like something I’d enjoy.

    The trailer for The Martian is awesome. I was wondering whether it gives too much away – which it kinda does, but that’s because I know what to look out for! The casting on that has pretty much blown me away. Chiwetel Ejiofor as Venkat is interesting – mostly because he’s not Indian, but whatever! He’s a great actor. And Ridley Scott! Man, I really want to love another Ridley Scott film.
    Jaina recently posted…Out in Bahrain: The Bahrain National MuseumMy Profile

    Reply
  25. Kay R.

    The storied life is coming up on my list and I might use it for a summer challenge! Glad its an easy read!

    Reply
  26. Pingback: Stream of consciousness while reading The Martian {SPOILERS!} by expandng

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