It’s the second Tuesday of the month, and you know what that means; it’s time for another edition of Show Us Your Books! I’ll warn you: it hasn’t been a great reading month. I had two 2-star reads and two books that I had to pull the plug on. On the plus side, my current read is looking promising, so I hope I kick off next month’s edition on a better note!
This linkup happens the second Tuesday of every month. The next is Tuesday, September 11, 2018.
1. Please visit and comment with both of your hosts, Jana & Steph
2. Please display the button or link back to me and the linkup hosts on your blog post
3. Please visit a few other blogs who've linked up and get some book talk going!
Last Month’s Edition & What My Ratings Mean
4-Star Reads ⭐⭐⭐⭐
The Little Prince - I read this childhood classic as part of the Literary Feast Reading Challenge, since I’d never read it before. The story was very sad but entertaining, and I loved the illustrations.
3-Star Reads ⭐⭐⭐
The Book of Essie (3.5) - This book was exactly what it was hoping for and ended up being a quick read. As it follows Essie, a teenage girl who grew up on a reality TV program (à la The Duggars), it touches on some tough and controversial topics, including religion/megachurches and sexual abuse. It was definitely a timely read, begging the question, “Can we really believe what we see on TV?” (My review + recipe coming later this week.)
The Invention of Wings - I didn't connect to the characters in this Sue Monk Kidd novel as much as I did in The Secret Life of Bees. It was still definitely good and worth a read, especially because it seems to have been very well-researched (which I always appreciate). I think it’d also make for a good book club discussion.
*Charlotte Walsh Likes to Win - This novel follows Charlotte Walsh, a Silicon Valley millionaire who decides to run in the Pennsylvania Senate race in 2018. As a feminist rooting for more women getting in the race (and winning) in the midterms, I really really wanted to like this book. And I did actually like this book for a lot of reasons, but in the end it fell short. The portrayal of women in politics and the expectations placed on women over men felt realistic. The struggles women face to do or have it all and go above and beyond, particularly in business or the public eye, was relatable. While I appreciated the "realness" of it all, I went into this book looking for something inspiring/uplifting, given our current political climate. I wish the book had ended differently to capture more of that inspirational, "you can do it!" feel. The fact that it didn’t prevented me from giving it a higher rating.
**Goodbye, Paris - In my opinion, this novel’s billing (as “Eleanor Oliphant meets Jojo Moyes”) wasn’t accurate, and probably ultimately, led to some of my disappointment. I didn’t love the novel’s main character Grace, but I was pleased to see her grow towards the end. What honestly saved this one for me was a secondary character, Mr. Williams, who I couldn’t have found more charming. Loved him. (review + recipe)
*The Cast - I liked this one but didn’t love it. I thought Amy Blumenfeld did an excellent job creating realistic relationships and situations, but on the whole, when they were piled one on top of another, the story felt overly dramatic. (review + recipe)
*The Fruit of the Drunken Tree - This novel follows two Columbian girls, one the daughter of a wealthy family who lives in a gated community and one their live-in maid who has a tumultuous home life. It was based on the author’s life, which I found interesting when I read the her note at the end. I liked the writing and enjoyed the story, but I wish it had been a bit more balanced between the two girls. (My review + recipe coming later this week.)
2-Star Reads ⭐⭐
Gilead - This was the last book I had to complete for the Book Challenge by Erin (which I won, with a record 10 books in 10 days). It was my “PBS Great American Read” and I couldn’t have been more disappointing. I found the story tedious, rambling and uninteresting. I probably should’ve given it a 1, but it won a Pulitzer Prize and that left me feeling pretty conflicted about such a low rating.
Florida - I didn’t really like Lauren Groff’s novel Fates and Furies, so I’m not sure why I thought I would like her short stories set in Florida (a state I’m also not particularly fond of - that humidity!), but I’d heard really amazing things and decided to give it a try. Every story was dark with characters surviving through the worst parts of their lives. The stories weren’t plot-driven, but even more so, directionless, much like the characters within them. I gave it two stars because the writing was really good.
Did Not Finish
The Blind Assassin - I couldn’t get back into this after I took a break 60 pages in, and I honestly just don’t have much else to say about it. I put it down and I’m not upset about it.
A Tyranny of Petticoats - My second attempt at short stories this month (which I may need to admit are not for me) and I read four stories before calling it quits. I was extra disappointed in this collection because I was so anticipating picking it up. Feminist historical fiction about young women kicking ass throughout history seemed so awesome, but unfortunately, it wasn’t. The stories skewed heavily on the fantasy end of the spectrum, and without the benefit of time for world-building, I found them unsatisfying and at times confusing. I would’ve found more straightforward stories to be more inspiring.
The Immortalists - At halfway in, I’m loving this novel. I’ve been anticipating reading it since last year, so it’s satisfying that so far it’s living up to my expectations. However, I’ve heard some mixed reviews, including people who’ve said the first half is much stronger than the second, but I’m hoping it keeps going strong!
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*I received a free digital copy of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
**I received a free digital copy of this book from publisher Touchstone in exchange for an honest review.
my friend just gave me The Book of Essie to read so hopefully i'll get to it soon. glad you liked it enough to give it 3.5 🙂 so, i mostly hate short stories. i read a collection every now and again, like i think i read that one and a winter related one, and i have another coming up soon. like one or two a year, max. i always end up LOVING like 3 stories, hating 2 or so and 'meh' about the others. but anyway lol. glad you're liking The Immortalists - i've heard mixed things but it's on my list.
Time will tell on The Immortalists, but I'm hoping for the best! Hope you like The Book of Essie 🙂
Thanks for sharing! Sorry about the DNF reads, but it happens sometimes. I still need to read The Little Prince!
I know, I'm okay with it. I'd rather DNF something than waste time on a whole book I don't like!
I didn't read Charlotte Walsh but would say what you described vs. the inspirational you can do it is the more realistic situation of where we are right now. Unfortunately. I want more too, in real life and in fiction!
I liked The Book of Essie!
Steph - I don't think it's a bad thing necessarily that Charlotte Walsh felt real... I just wanted something more uplifting, especially because real life is so frustrating lately. That's why I rated it somewhere in the middle. It was interesting and definitely worth a read - just not what I needed right now.
Jana @ Jana Says says
I think I need to read The Book of Essie. Sounds interesting.
I didn't enjoy Fates and Furies, either, and I didn't know Florida was short stories but I'm working through it. One good thing about it is that if I don't like a story, I don't have to finish it and it doesn't ruin the book.
Tanya @ A Mindful Migration says
I LOVED The Immortalists. I would say the first half is the strongest, only because I felt Daniel's story was the weakest (i.e. most predictable). It still ended strongly for me though and I hope you enjoy it!
I really did love it! I agree about the first half, but I actually didn't think Daniel's ending was predictable - I was shocked by what happened to him. I think it raised so many interesting question and will definitely make for an awesome book club discussion. 🙂
Kay R. says
Bummer about the Margaret Atwood. I usually love her!
Alexandra Consolver says
I need to read the little prince still! 🙂 I love The Secret Life of Bees, it's one of my all-time favorites. 🙂 XO - Alexandra
Simply Alexandra: My Favorite Things
Jackie B @ Death by Tsundoku says
Oh wow! This is a great collection of books. I haven't read many of them, however... I LOVE The Little Prince (who doesn't?) and I also love A Tyranny of Petticoats. I'm sorry it didn't quite work for you.
Anthologies are almost always 3-star reads for me. I find that I appreciate them most if I read one story a night over the course of a month or so. This means I don't get trapped for too long in a single story which might not be for me. There are always great stories nestled between some adequate-at-best stories. Perhaps anthologies are not for you, but a collection of short stories by a single author might connect more?
I've liked a couple of anthologies (also 3 stars), but I've almost never enjoyed straight short stories by the same author (see my Florida thoughts...). I'm not sure the format is for me. I love getting lost in a story and by the time I'm getting into short stories, they're over!
Kasey Holloway says
The book of Essie is on my list currently! I also have never read the little Prince, but maybe I will save that one day for when I have kids!
Hope you enjoy Essie!
Sheree @ Keeping Up With The Penguins says
Awww, I've heard so much about The Little Prince, I've been meaning to read it for ages - I'm so glad it lives up to the hype!! Can't wait to hear what you think about The Immortalists when you're done with it too 😉
I loved The Immortalists, just as expected! So glad it lived up to my expectations 🙂
Full review: http://www.hungry-bookworm.com/2018/08/21/the-immortalists-apple-noodle-kugel/
I've wanted to read The Invention of Wings for a few years now, but it's one I never get around to requesting from the library for some reason. I just added Fruit of the Drunken Tree to my list-- the cover looks familiar-ish, but I never really knew what it was about.
Have you read and enjoyed other of Kidd's novels?
Gilead is sitting on my shelf and has been for a super long time - I started it and was not motivated to continue. I will probably end up putting it in a little free library someday haha.
That may be a wise idea, Heather! It was definitely not for me... though clearly some people enjoy it! It did win a Pulitzer, after all.