It’s the second Tuesday of the month, and you know what that means - another edition of Show Us Your Books! Before I share what I’ve been reading over the past month, I want to tell you about an upcoming linkup I’ll be hosting in April with Fandom Foodies. Fandom Foodies is a group of “geeky food lovers” that cook using inspiration from movies, pop culture and (of course) books. I’ve chosen to explore the theme of food in magical realism fiction, and I couldn’t be more excited! Stop by on March 31 for the official linkup post. I’m sure it will feature lots of delicious recipes and book recommendations - you won’t want to miss it.
Now, onto the books!
This linkup happens the second Tuesday of every month. The next is Tuesday, April 10, 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
3-Star Reads ⭐⭐⭐
Annihilation (3.5) - A group of four women ventures into the unknown of Area X in this sci-fi book from Jeffrey VanderMeer. This book creeped me out and left me with a lot of questions. Despite the bad reviews I read beforehand, I’m glad I picked it up. I enjoyed the writing and the bizarre story, and I raced through it. Full review + recipe here.
The Book of Unknown Americans (3.5) - We Cristina Henriquez’s novel for my book club recently, and it was an excellent pick for discussion. I liked it for the realistic and varied stories it tells about immigrants living in the United States, how they got here and where they came from. Not every Spanish-speaking immigrant is from Mexico, and they’re not all in the US for a nefarious purpose. Beyond that, it tells a deeper story about community. Full review + recipe here.
This Will Be My Undoing (3.5) - I first heard about this book from Book Riot’s podcast All the Books and immediately put it on hold at the library. It didn’t take me long to get it, and when I did, I devoured it. Morgan Jenkins shares her experiences growing up and becoming a black woman in American society. It is deeply personal and intense. It’s a very important read for anyone who considers themselves to be a feminist, because as she rightly points out, any feminist movement that ignores the particular struggles black women face is not working towards true equality.
The Taster - Imagine if you had to work for someone you loathed and your job was to make sure they stayed alive. Such was the case for Magda in V.S. Alexander's newly-released historical novel which was based on a true story. Magda was one of fifteen women who was a “taster” for Hitler, making sure he wasn’t poisoned during WWII. My full review, including a link to the true story, and (of course) a recipe here.
*White Houses - Another piece of historical fiction, White Houses explores the open secret of Eleanor Roosevelt’s “first friend,” Lorena Hickok. This relationship was something I’d never heard of before this novel, so I was interested to learn more. It didn’t exactly feel like historical fiction to me - the language and style were very modern, which may have been to its benefit as it was quite easy to read even though the story wasn’t as compelling as I would’ve hoped.
My full-length review and recipe will actually be featured on Novels and Nonfiction on Thursday, so stop over there and check it out. If you’re an email subscriber, I’ll be featuring it in the newsletter on Wednesday 3/21. (If you’re not a subscriber, follow me to receive a weekly digest email with all of your Hungry Bookworm favorites - reviews, recipes, bookish features and more!)
The Mothers - I don’t normally love books for their writing, but honestly, what stands out the most to me about Brit Bennett’s novel is exactly that. The characters weren’t exactly likeable, but I still found the story to be pretty realistic and interesting. I finished pretty recently so I’m still formulating some thoughts; my full review will be out later this week.
*Good Neighbors - I picked up this novel because the blurb had Liane Moriarty vibes - domestic bliss spoiled, the realities of perfect lives uncovered. It follows a group of neighbors, all with children roughly the same age, and it’s very clear that they see themselves as a family. However, when one family decides to adopt, holes start to form in their tight-knit group and though they try to recover, it seems like there may be no going back. I think the book's themes are admirable, particularly around extended families and adoption, but the execution was just okay. The characters didn't feel fully fleshed out; I also struggled with our narrator Nicole's motivations and true personality. I didn't like it as much as I hoped, but it was a quick read and there are a lot of discussion points that would make it a good pick for a book club.
2-Star Reads ⭐⭐
*My Name is Venus Black - I was drawn to this book because of the premise; it’s the story of a teenage girl imprisoned for a terrible crime and trying to find her way after her release. It was very clear that it was a debut novel, perhaps a bit too ambitious. The writing felt clunky - particularly how it switched back and forth between first person (Venus) and third person (everyone else). Some of the dialogue also felt stilted and unnatural, particularly in emotional scenes. The nature of the story kept me reading - I wanted to know how everything turned out - but it didn’t live up to expectations.
Books I Didn't Finish
This Could Hurt - As I mentioned last month, I wasn’t really feeling this one and I ended up setting it aside because there was just a lot I wanted (and needed) to read instead. It has gotten excellent reviews, so perhaps it was just a case of wrong book, wrong time. I’m not going to rule out revisiting it in the future.
Books I'm Reading Right Now ????
The Devil Wears Prada - This is my March pick for the Literary Feast Reading Challenge, where you are supposed to read a book that was made into a movie that you’ve already seen. Picking this out was a lot harder than I expected, and after choosing between a few options, I landed here. I love the movie (mainly because of the winning combination of Meryl Streep, Stanley Tucci and Anne Hathaway), and I’ve heard it’s a lot different from the book it’s based on, so only time will tell. It’ll be a bit of book-becomes-movie in reverse.
Reading Challenge Update
For those of you keeping track, I have just one book left to complete for the Book Challenge by Erin 8.0. I’m still 2 for 2 in The Literary Feast Reading Challenge - though I’m sure to be done with my March pick soon! I’ll do a longer wrap-up post at the end of April when Erin’s challenge ends.
What did you read last month?
*I received a free digital copy of this book through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
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I am excited to add some of these to my list! I love love Buñuelos! How do you decide what to cook for each book??
Hi Monica - thanks for stopping by! I usually am able to make a dish straight from the book - you'd be surprised how often food is mentioned in a pivotal scene. Occasionally, food is never mentioned in the book except once, and it's often for a symbolic reason. Sometimes I have to work a little harder at it, but in that case, I'll just use the book as inspiration. I like to try to pick something representative of the characters, setting or time period.
Jana @ Jana Says says
The Mothers was excellent and I agree with you about the writing.
I keep meaning to read The Book of Unknown Americans in part because it takes place in Delaware but I keep forgetting to read it. I think I'm going to request it now.
No time like the present! Hope you like The Book of Unknown Americans 🙂
Brittany Pines says
The Mothers was one of my absolute favorites last year, so much love!
Morgan @ Style and Savings says
The Mothers was my favorite from last year too! We read it for book club & I wrote a post with book discussion questions.
Cool, I'll have to check the post out! Do you mind linking to it here?
i was not a fan of the devil wears prada book but i did love the movie - i read it after seeing the movie, which i don't normally do, and i think the differences annoyed me. the mothers is on my list! i did not read Annihilation but my husband did lol and we saw the movie the other week, i thought it was interesting.
I really liked The Mothers too and The Devil Wears Prada (as well as the movie!)
I read The Mothers last month too, but I didn't love it as much as everyone else. Maybe I need to digest it more. I liked The Devil Wears Prada just fine, but I enjoyed the movie more. I'm currently reading White Houses, so I'm looking forward to your full review later this week!
I think I'll probably like The Devil Wears Prada movie more too, especially because I've seen it so many times it's engrained in my head. The book isn't bad so far though...
The writing in The Mothers is superb.
I added This Will Be My Undoing to my list.
Oh yeah - I bet you'd love This Will Be My Undoing!
I read Unknown Americans a long time ago, and I was very harsh with it... because I lived in the region that it took place, and I was angry at some of the generalizations. But you are right, it is a great book! The ending broke me hard! The DAd!!!
The Devil Wears Prada is one of those rare books that was better as a movie, than as a book. The book was OK, but it needed the movie to add the layers of fashion. Plus, if I remember correctly the Stanley Tucci character is not as big on the book as he is on the movie, and Mr. Tucci was FLAWLESS in the movie!
The ending of Unknown Americans was pretty hard! We chatted about it a lot at my book club.
Stanley Tucci is amazing. The character isn't as big in the book - and actually I think they combined two book characters to make his movie character. Fashion definitely lends itself to visuals. In general, I think I'm more forgiving with book-movies when I saw the movie first. (I love Practical Magic the movie, for example, and the book was just not as good when I eventually got around to reading it.)
I've been curious about The Mothers, but I haven't read it yet.
Tanya @ A Mindful Migration says
I loved The Mothers for Brit Bennett's beautiful writing. It just stuck with me. And I agree the characters weren't likeable but they were believable. I felt truth in every decision they made, especially their bad ones.
The Taster sounds fascinating! I would hate to have a job like that though. How nerve-wracking!
I know! Although you get all the free and well-prepared food your heart desires, the constant threat of death would make it unbearable!
I enjoyed the Mothers when I read it last year. The Book of Unknown Americans is on my list. I have one more book left on Erin's challenge too. Lately it seems like there is not alot of rhyme or reason to what I'm reading. Dont' know if that is good or bad?! Pam 🙂
I'm finally just finishing all my challenge "requirements" and it's giving me some peace of mind! I haven't completed the challenge as quickly as some - even though I've read 25 books so far this year - and that's mostly because I haven't always been picking challenge books. It's nice to not always have to think about what to read next, but sometimes I'd rather read something aside from what's "next on the list."
What have you read lately that you've really enjoyed?
Morgan @ Style and Savings says
I loved the Devil Wears Prada, but I'm struggling to finish the sequel Revenge Wears Prada. There's so much sappy stuff about Andi's relationship that really takes away from the magazine & Miranda storyline.
I'm not sure I'd be into reading the sequel... I'm sorry to hear you're not enjoying it as much as the first!