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Tag Archive: Show Us Your Books

Show Us Your Books, September 2017 edition

Although it’s been 5 weeks since our last SUYB and when we have an extra week in there I get an extra book or two read, such was not the case this month. The culprit? The TV show Rectify. I found it on Netflix and it proceeded to consume me for about 2 solid weeks. It’s not that many seasons or episodes but it left me emotionally spent. I’m not a crier but I cried MULTIPLE times, sometimes multiple times an episode, watching it. It’s a mystery, character study, and scathing indictment of our criminal justice system all at once and it centers around a man freed from death row after spending nearly 20 years on it for a crime he did not commit. You have to see it. I implore you. 

Anyway, you’re here for the books so that’s what I’ll give you. Don’t forget to visit Steph and the other bloggers who’ve joined us to talk books this month and if you’ve been on the fence about joining because you don’t feel like you read enough, I say fuck that and join us anyway. The average American reads less than 10 PER YEAR so at even one book a month, you’re above average. And we want to know what you’ve been reading! Share with us! Next one is on October 9 and we’ll be celebrating 3 years. It’s a big deal.

Reviews copied and/or embellished from Litsy.

The Readymade Thief by Augustus Rose. This book just didn’t do it for me like I’d hoped. It started off interesting enough but the level of detail about art and conspiracy theories I had to retain in order to follow half the plot was simply too much. It became distracting and it felt like this was an art version of The Following but less good. Lee’s story and subplot were engaging enough but overall, I struggled with this one. However, I can absolutely see why people would love it. But I did not. 

Tell the Wolves I’m Home by Carol Rifka Brunt. My god, what a book this was. It was beautiful and haunting and not at all what I was expecting. Sometimes when a modern book takes place in the 70s or 80s, it feels gimmicky but in this case it was perfect. Given the storyline around AIDS, it would not have been as powerful if it had taken place now. This book also had a central theme around art but unlike The Readymade Thief, this one connected with me. 

The Good Daughter by Karin Slaughter. This is a good book. Not amazing but a solid read. The separate yet connected plots kept me intrigued and I had no interest in putting the book down. She’s a strong writer who knows how to tell a complicated story without being obnoxious about it. The characters are complex, she doesn’t tie up all the loose ends, and she smacks you hard with the unexpected that’s balanced with the easy to guess and it’s just the right about of fucked up. WAY less fucked up than Pretty Girls. So that was nice. 

The Cleaner by Paul Cleave. This was my 3rd book of his and he does not disappoint. He has quickly become my go-to for a violent psychological thriller because: he’s a great writer who messes with your head, knows how to develop a fucked up plot and characters, and he’s darkly funny. The only thing that bothered me about this book was that Joe, the main character, reminded me so much of Joe from YOU with the ego and narcissism and sociopathy and murder that it was hard not to think of them as the same character. But like I did with YOU, I read the sequel and I will read the sequel to this one as well. 

A Killer Harvest by Paul Cleave. If I read two books by the same author in one month, you know I like them. He is such a phenomenal storyteller and writes about fucked up things in such a different way and it makes it difficult to not stay up until 3AM reading. This one is WEIRD and so so unique for a thriller because it’s thrillery with twist after twist and such a blurring of good and bad and morals that you don’t actually know who is responsible for anything. I mean, you do, but not in the way you normally think about it. 

The Dinner Party and Other Stories by Joshua Ferris. Short story collection so if you don’t like short stories, this should be a hard pass for you. I have loved all of his books I’ve read. They’re weird and interesting and I appreciate the elements of realism. And I felt that way about some of the stories in this collection but after awhile they all felt like a rehashing of the same story with the same characters and it became repetitive and uninteresting. However. Any book that pays homage to Coach Taylor is okay by me.

TL; DR: The Paul Cleave and Karin Slaughter books are must reads for my fellow thriller lovers. Tell The Wolves I’m Home is outstanding. Maybe don’t read The Dinner Party and The Readymade Thief.

Currently reading: Miss Kopp’s Midnight Confessions. I’d hoped to have it done by today but life happens. 

Now it’s your turn. Link up below and Show Us Your Books!

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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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Show Us Your Books, June 2017

No clever introduction, just straight to the book talk because it’s summer and there’s no school and my time is at a premium before I have to drive the child from one place to the next. Don’t forget to visit my co-host, Steph, and some of the other participants. Next one is July 11th.

Confessions by Kanae Minato. OMG. Insane and intense and weird and FUCKED UP and twisted and constantly full of surprises and the end was jaw dropping and one that I definitely did not see coming. Nothing was predictable at all. It’s a little hard to stomach given the nature of the plot but worth it. The author’s bio is pretty interesting, too, and I’m really curious to see the movie adaptation. 

A Colony in a Nation by Christopher L. Hayes. This is a big, important book which has even more meaning having read The Hate U Give in the same month (that wasn’t intentional, though). It’s short but packs so much thought provoking, rage inducing, well researched and personal experience/commentary that you could write a book just reviewing it. It’s both an exploration and an indictment of the disparities in our criminal justice system that regardless of political leaning you need to read it. Some of it will make you uncomfortable but you need to feel that way in order to comprehend the depths of the points he makes. 

Burntown by Jennifer McMahon. A supernatural thriller that both bored and captivated me. It fluctuated between gripping, interesting, and twisty and weird and annoying. It teetered on having too much plot and too many characters but at the same time needing them all to tell the complete story. The writing was strong and creative even if the plot was too big. It passed the time just fine but if it’s on your TBR, don’t rush to bump it up. 

Exit West by Mohsin Hamid. This is a beautifully written book about love and obligation and war and refugees and migration and what happens to people and relationships when they’re forced into horrifying, extraordinary circumstances and while it takes place in modern times it could have been set in any decade. The realness and emotion come through on every page. It’s a short book but was a slow read for me. Not my favorite but I’m glad I read it. 

The Unbanking of America: How the New Middle Class Survives by Lisa Servon. This book tries to do for banking what Nickel and Dimed did for the working poor and Evicted did for housing except this one fell a little flat. It’s informative, well researched, mostly unbiased, and exploratory but focused slightly more on policy than consumers. I wish she’d spent time living as an unbanked person using the services as well as working at a few places and interviewing people. This would have provided a more well rounded picture and might have been more impactful. 

The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas. This book is a fucking masterpiece. There is no other way to describe it. She eloquently gives a voice to those who don’t generally have a leading role voice in literature, the story is powerful in ways I can’t adequately describe, and in the same way The Outsiders changed YA 50 years ago, this book will change things. It will make you angry, it will make you think, it will make you sad, and it’s impact is best represented by its last page (I apologize for how tiny it is but the photo editor won’t let me make it bigger which is a phenomenal pain in the ass):

The Joy of Leaving Your Shit All Over the Place by Jennifer McCartney. I love the concept behind this book, another parody of The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up, that it’s okay to have things and stuff everywhere and not have an immaculate house and her thoughts on Tidying Up echo mine but her humor and sarcasm are grating. I am no stranger to cursing and I’m not prude but her constant sex references became annoying and took away from her point of giving people permission to lighten up and not take minimalist culture so seriously. 

Homesick for Another World by Ottessa Moshfegh. I read her novel Eileen last year and enjoyed it more for her gorgeous writing than the story about an absolutely horrible person. This book of short stories is similar. Her writing is absolutely superb but every character is miserable and awful and insufferable and tragic. And she has an unexplained contempt for fat people that’s featured in almost every story. I get wanted to explore the less than perfect, and I appreciate it, but it’s morose and depressing.

The Widow of Wall Street by Randy Susan Meyers. DNF. If you know the story of Bernie Madoff, you know this book. Like straight up his and his wife’s story. And her fictionalization of some things was boring as fuck and I didn’t care about any of it or any of the characters and her writing isn’t for me. Her book Accidents of Marriage was decent. This one was not. 

TL;DR: The Hate U Give. Read it. Read it. READ IT.  A Colony in a Nation and Confessions are also worth a read. The others are optional depending on your taste.

On tap this month for me: Bastard Out of Carolina, In the Shadow of Alabama, The Long Haul: A Trucker’s Tale of Life on the Road, and a few others including some NetGalley books. That’s the plan, anyway. Who knows what’ll actually happen?

Now it’s your turn! Let us know what you’ve been reading! 

 

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Show Us Your Books, May 2017 edition

No long preamble for this month’s post. I didn’t read as much as I’d hoped which is disappointing but I still finished 6 books with 2 in progress. I have a feeling June is going to be a big month. Also nice was the less disturbing books I read this past month. April was rough for that. Felt good to take a break.

As always the reviews are copied and/or embellished from my Litsy reviews. 

Here’s what I read. 

Searching for John Hughes by Jason Diamond. At times this book was AMAZING. At other times, it was incredibly repetitive. His horrible childhood never seemed far away and I appreciated his honesty about that, as well as his failures and insecurities and mental health issues. And as a member of GenX, it cast an interesting perspective on all the John Hughes movies. This was not a bad book, not at all, but it felt like something was missing. I can’t figure out what but there’s a hole. 

The Twelve Lives of Samuel Hawley by Hannah Tinti. Got this from NetGalley as an ARC and finally had a chance to read it. I LOVED IT. Dark and twisted and violent and a thriller complimented with a father/daughter/coming of age story told between alternating POV and bouncing back and forth in time until it all catches up to itself. Each on of Hawley’s bullet holes is its own story and the uniqueness of that narrative made me unable to put the book down. It’s so well done and well written and I cannot recommend it enough. Definitely in the running for one of my favorite books of the year. 

I Fired God: My Life Inside–And Escape From–the Secret World of the Independent Fundamentalist Baptist Cult by Jocelyn Zichterman. Don’t know how to properly review this. The abuse she suffered was horrible and brutal (note: her father probably would have been that abusive even if they hadn’t belonged to this church so I can’t for certain say they go hand in hand) and she makes a strong case that the IFB is a cult with increasing mainstream political power, and I’m glad she managed to escape and is doing something to help other and educate about IFB. But this writing is poor and repetitive and the structure of the book is more like a high school term paper than a memoir and that irked me. 

Sorry to Disrupt the Peace by Patty Yumi Cottrell. Helen is an asshole. A huge asshole. And you have to know that if you’re going to read this book. She’s weird, bizarre, and clearly depressed in her own right, and she is insufferable, but her voice is unique and the writing is incredible. You live the whole book in her head, dealing with her brother’s suicide the best way she can and it makes for a hell of a read. Slow sometimes, which is not helpful when reading about an asshole. 

The Girl Before by J.P. Delaney. Also an ARC from NetGalley that I finally got around to reading. It’s a well-written, interesting psychological thriller that’s a fascinating look at the world of extreme minimalism and structured environments. It’s a good beach or vacation read. However. For me, it felt like Christian and whatshername from 50 Shades of Gray (of which I have a well documented hatred) were plopped into a Girl on the Train type murder mystery and it most definitely skewed my like of the book. 

All Grown Up by Jami Attenberg. A fun, quirky read about a 40 year old woman coming to terms with her life and the changes she knows she needs to make. Sort of like Samuel Hawley, it read like each chapter was a short story but rather than each story standing on its own, they formed one comprehensive plot. It hits on many of the feels (not all) and I loved the bits of feminism woven into the story. 

TL; DR. Samuel Hawley is a must read. The rest are must reads depending on your taste but they are not for everyone.

Currently reading A Colony in a Nation and Confessions (I’ve been trying to read one at a time but A Colony in a Nation is heavy nonfiction and I can’t do that before bed. Or after 7PM) 

Now that you’ve seen my books, it’s time to show me yours. Don’t forget to visit my co-host, Steph, and some other bloggers linking up!

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