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Living life from cover to cover

Tag Archive: linkups

Show Us Your Books, August 2017

This was a bizarre month for reading. In the beginning, I read a whole bunch of books very quickly. Then I started A Brief History of Seven Killings and it all went to shit because that book is killing ME. It’s so, so good but so, so dense and each chapter is like 4 pages and written in a different character’s voice and there’s about 97 characters (literally. There’s a cast of characters at the beginning to help you keep track) and it hurts my brain to read. I tried to quit 3 times but it keeps sucking me back in because I HAVE TO KNOW WHAT HAPPENS. But also I can’t take it. I’m really torn about what to do. Usually I can DNF a book without thinking but I can’t let this one go. WHAT’S A BOOKWORM TO DO?

I guess while I continue to wrestle with that, we can review all the books I did read this month. As always, my reviews are copied and sometimes embellished from my Litsy reviews

Ramona Blue by Julie Murphy. Whenever an author or band or actor produces something spectacular, it’s hard to imagine what the follow up will be like and it’s hard not to compare it to the previous work (did that make sense?). So it was hard to read this one, the one after Dumplin’, which is AMAZING, with no expectations but it lived up to all of them. Her take on sexuality, class, family, and obligations hit me in all the places and gave me the gamut of feels. You hate some characters, you love others, and you root for Ramona the whole time. Julie Murphy is an incredible storyteller and I love how she makes teenagers real, complex people rather than caricatures. I wish so hard her books existed when I was a teenager. They would have made such a difference to me. 

We Should All Be Feminists by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie. Every idea, every anecdote, every thought is bigger than the 47 pages allow for and it is such an amazing conversation started around the ideas of feminism, culture, and gender roles that it should be required reading for everyone. It takes about 30 minutes to read but you will be thinking about it for hours afterwards. 

The GrownUp by Gillian Flynn. The fuck did I read? This book (does it even qualify as a book?) is simultaneously fucked up and not horrifying at all. I liked the progression of the story from normalish weird to REALLY BIZARRE and it MESSES with your head but I loathed and detested the ending. I would have read this as a full length novel, so there’s that. And it’s short so it’s hard to say not to read it but just know that the ending is a cop out. A big steaming cop out.

Saint Maybe by Anne Tyler. So. This book is probably one of the saddest, most depressing books I have ever read (it gave The Story of Edgar Sawtelle a run for its money and if you’ve read that one, you know it’s a HIGH HIGH bar) but it was also beautiful in its own way. The story of a man’s promising future marred by loss, penance, and familial obligation, it’s told over multiple decades that’s confusing to follow at first but you get used to it. The religious overtones were a bit much but necessary to the overall plot and in the end, they become background noise to the rest of the story. 

August Snow by Stephen Mack Jones. The thriller portion of this book is average, standard, and mostly predictable. What makes this book above average is the writing. It’s gorgeous and poetic and his descriptions of setting make you feel like you’re there. Like, I legit smelled Mexican food the entire time I read this book. I loved how he made Detroit a character as much as the people (like The Wire did with Baltimore) and he address class and racism and gentrification in a way that makes a point without being preachy.

The Half-Life of Remorse by Grant Jarrett. This was an ARC from NetGalley I finally got around to. This book about choices and trying to make things right when you’ve really fucked them up and how actions have bigger consequences than we imagine and loss and the tragic effect of one incident on multiple people is perfectly sad in all the right ways. The alternating POVs didn’t even get on my nerves! and when they all converged into one story, my heart broke. His storytelling is excellent and the simple yet huge plot made for a great read. 

Made for Love by Alissa Nutting. I adore Alissa Nutting as a writer (and independent of her marriage to Dean Bakopoulos because they are two separate and distinct people). She is smart and funny and engaging about topics that are unpleasant and taboo. She has such a way with words that you can’t stop reading. And this book is funny, sad, dark, and social commentary all at once. It was also WEIRD AS FUCK. Like “am I really reading this shit” weird. But good. However, if sex in books bothers you, don’t read it. If it doesn’t then this one is a keeper and a definite add to ye old TBR.

In progress: Ill Will by Dan Chaon 

TL; DR: Ramona Blue, Made for Love, and We Should All Be Feminists are must-adds. August Snow and The Half-Life of Remorse are also good choices but if you prefer lighter reading over the summer, save them for the fall and winter. The others I don’t not recommend but I don’t think they’re high priority reading either. 

Now it’s your turn! Link up or let me know in the comments what you’ve read lately. Don’t forget to visit my co-host, Steph, and some of the other bloggers joining us. Next one is September 12 and in October we’ll be celebrating THREE YEARS of Show Us Your Books!

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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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Add it to my random list

I haven’t linked up with Lauren and Bre in awhile and I don’t even know if they still have the linkup but I had it on my calendar so here we are.

Ordinarily I like to have a theme for my recommendations but this month is just a collection of random things I like that I think you should, too. 


Not hotdog. It’s an app and honestly, it’s pretty fucking stupid but if you’re a fan of Silicon Valley on HBO, then this is the best app you will ever use. If you’re not a fan, this should sort of give you an idea as to what it does:

Blue Lizard sunscreen. Our pediatrician recommended this to us when the child was a baby and we have used almost nothing else since. It has a UV sensitive bottle that changes colors so you know when you should apply (to be fair, if you’re at the beach, it will be blue the whole time unless you’re in the shade or later in the day. Then it’s a light blue instead of raging angry blue) and it’s super thick so a little goes a long way. It’s not the cheapest you’ll buy but it’s worth every penny.

Tervis cups. I have an entire cabinet of these and if it were up to me, all of our glasses would be replaced with them. They’re basically indestructible (which is awesome when you’re clumsy), you can get them in just about any theme or pattern you can think of, some are insulated, and I will love them forever.

Spotify Daily Mix. Use Spotify? Then you need to check out your daily mixes. They’re playlists that the app picks for you, there’s like 6 to choose from and it’s different every single day. Mine are typically a combination of some favorites, some forgotten songs, and ones I’ve never heard. And sometimes, they just get me.

The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas. I know. I raved about it during Show Us Your Books. And on IG. And in a Friday six pack post. But in case you missed all of those, I am STRONGLY recommending you read it. Even if you’re not a big reader. Please. Read this book. 

What are you recommending this month?

Show Us Your Books, March 2017

Not only is today Show Us Your Books day, it also happens to be the birthday eve for Steph, my amazing friend and SUYB co-host. For those who don’t know, Steph and I have known each other since 1995 when we were freshmen at the University of Delaware, and with the exception of about an 8 year or so period where we lost touch, have been friends ever since. Many, MANY of my college memories involve her and now, as an adult, I could not be more fortunate to have such a fierce, smart, funny, and outspoken friend. Steph, I hope you have the happiest of birthdays and holy shit, how are we 40?

Now, onto the books!

As always, my reviews are copied and/or embellished from my Litsy reviews. You can follow me there if you want but as a warning: it’s boring. Even more boring than my IG account. 

All the Ugly and Wonderful Things by Bryn Greenwood. I cannot succinctly review this book. It’s too much, too big, too emotional. The writing is absolutely stellar and the characters’ pain was palpable. Even the annoying characters. The story was incredible and she used multiple POV and time jumping to further plot instead of as a gimmick. The abuse is hard to read and the pedophilia but also love but also still pedophilia is uncomfortable but both are necessary and not gratuitous. This is a strong, gritty book that’ll rip you but make it worth it. 

Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher. If Looking for Alaska and The Messenger had a book baby, this would be it. A sad, haunting, engaging, sometimes rage inducing fast paced YA book that is a) impossible to put down; b) thought-provoking AF; c) one of those books you reference when people say YA books are just for teenagers; and d) insanely creative. You will feel all the emotions when you read it. Also, it was made into a Netflix series and it starts on 3/31.

A Head Full of Ghosts by Paul Tremblay. I generally do not like horror or paranormal books in any form so reading this was completely outside my comfort zone. It wasn’t a terrible book; it just wasn’t for me. I thoroughly enjoyed the blog posts peppered throughout the book and the ending smacks you in the face–HARD–but the rest was just meh. It passed the time just fine but nothing spectacular. Plus, it became glaringly obvious what was going on and after that, it all seemed dragged out. Except the end. THAT was a surprise. 

Imagine Me Gone by Adam Haslett. DNF. I picked it up and put it down and picked it up and put it down and repeat about 6 more times. I wanted to like this book but I couldn’t force it. The writing style wasn’t for me, I didn’t like the characters and I genuinely gave no fucks about what happened to them and there are too many others to choose from so I cut it off. 

The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Jenkins Reid. You all know what a TJR fanatic I am so I was thrilled, stoked, dance out of my seat happy to get this from NetGalley. Hands down, this is her best book. It’s a love story, exactly what you’d expect from her, complete with stellar writing and storytelling. But not at all what you should expect. The story is more complex, the women stronger, and she tackles LGBTQ issues, particularly for those of an older generation. Most of all, I loved the statements she made about forgiveness, family, choices, and protecting who and what we love. 

Nearly Gone by Elle Cosimano. Holding Smoke was one of my 2016 favorites so when I learned she has more books, I had to read them (sequel reviewed next). This one was a tightly written, smart, engaging thriller that completely threw me at the end. I loved and hated all the characters and I enjoy when a book does that. There were small mysteries within the larger mystery that could have been messy and annoying but weren’t. It’s a YA book, and some parts definitely felt like it, but overall, a great read. 

Nearly Found by Elle Cosimano. If you read The Hunger Games trilogy, you probably adored the first book and when you read the second, scratching your head thinking “I’ve read this before”. That’s how this one felt. Like a rehashing of Nearly Gone. Don’t get me wrong, it’s still good but this one had the same characters and same plot and same types clues and the ending wasn’t as shocking because you saw the twist coming. It was nice to have answers from the smaller mysteries in the previous book but I found myself caring less and wanting new. 

The Best of Adam Sharp by Graeme Simsion. So, I loved The Rosie Project and DNF’d The Rosie Effect. This one fell in between. It’s chick lit, written by a man with a male protagonist, which is different. But I couldn’t help feel that had it been a female main character doing some of the stuff the male one did, there’d be huge backlash and that bothers me. The musical references and using people’s connections to music made it more interesting but I don’t recommend running out and getting this one. It counts for the Aussie author challenge and I got it from NetGalley. 

Difficult Women by Roxane Gay. A collection of short stories. I don’t want to review this book because it’s everything you don’t expect and nothing you do and I want you to judge it for yourself. Her writing is simply spectacular and usually, when I read a collection of short stories, I can pick a few that stand out or a few I skimmed over. Not the case here. Read every single one and cannot choose a favorite. However, I will caution: if reading about sex makes you uncomfortable, pass on this one. 

TL;DR: Add The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo, Difficult Women, and All the Ugly and Wonderful Things. Add the others, too. Just not Imagine Me Gone

Now it’s your turn! Link up and show me your books! Nonbloggers, let me know in the comments what you’ve been reading!

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Add it to my list: Book stuff

Like I told you guys last month, I’m not a big recommender. I enjoy getting recommendations but really struggle with giving them. So this linkup, hosted by Lauren and Bre, really pushes me to think hard about what I think is worthy to recommend knowing that what I like isn’t always for everyone.

But you know what is for everyone? BOOKS. 

Books are for everyone. Because books are awesome. And in what’s probably my worst kept secret, I love books. Which means that, today, I’m going to recommend some bookish things in no particular order and in absolutely no categorical groupings (which, incidentally, is how my at-home library is organized. I won’t bother with a picture because I don’t want my organized friends to freak out):

  • Book Riot. Follow them on all the social media, read their blogs, listen to their podcasts. They’re my go-to source for all bookish news and it’s my dream job to work for them. 
  • Flipster. Free library app for magazines. You can’t get all the magazines but you can get a lot and there’s a ton of variety.
  • Litsy. A hybrid of Instagram and Goodreads, and it’s exclusively devoted to bookish things so if you find yourself scrolling through IG just for book pictures or reviews, get on Litsy stat. I use it to keep track of my book reviews for Show Us Your Books and not much else but it’s a great community of book nerds if that’s your jam.
  • NetGalley. THE source for ARCs. They’re free, they’re eBooks, and the only thing you need to do is review the book somewhere. You won’t always get all the books you request but you will get most of them (HELP!: I’m currently stalking Amy Stewart’s, Julie Murphy’s, and Celeste Ng’s new books so if you see them there, please let me know).
  • BookOut. If you like tracking your reading stats, this is perfect for you. You set a timer and it’ll track how long you read and you can fill in the amount of pages and which books you’ve read and all that stuff. It’s a paid app but there’s a trial version. Confession: I loved this one but deleted it because I kept forgetting to start my reading sessions and it’s hard to go back and fill in what you’ve done. 
  • Instagram accounts. Reading Quirks, Book of the Month, Books on the Subway, Harvard Book Store, and Liberty Hardy (from Book Riot. She also posts lots of cat picturs). I also recommend following the accounts of some of your favorite authors and publishing houses. I do, it’s fun to look at, and I learn about a ton of books that way. 
  • Finding your local indie bookstore. And using it. Look, I love Amazon as much as the next person and I definitely use it to it’s (almost) full capacity

I’m not going to recommend any specific books or authors because it’s personal and confusing and I struggle big time with picking my favorites or ones that I think you must read but if you’re interested, here’s a few summary posts I’ve written:

Okay, so those last two aren’t necessarily recommendations but maybe you’ll like them anyway.

I’m 100% confident this is not at all a comprehensive list of bookish things I recommend so maybe I’ll dig a few more things out and do a part 2 in the coming months. But it’s what I’ve got for now. 

So, tell me. What are some of your favorite bookish things that I absolutely must see/use/read? 

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Linking up for Add It To My List