of interest

Show Us Your Books – July 2018

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! Before I get into the list, I’m going to warn you it’s a long one! I went on a reading binge of sorts and have basically read a book every day over the last 12 days. I never thought I’d say this but I need a little break… there is such a thing as reading overload. My mind has been to SO many places and back. And, I think, it’s the perfect time to catch up on the last couple of episodes of The Handmaid’s Tale in time for the finale.  

Linkup Guidelines:
This linkup happens the second Tuesday of every month. The next is Tuesday, August 14, 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
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Last Month’s Edition & What My Ratings Mean

 

4-Star Reads ⭐⭐⭐⭐

How to Walk Away – I loved this book so much more than I expected to, which is always a wonderful surprise. Katherine Center’s novel is about a young woman at the top of the world when a devastating accident changes everything. It’s real, motivating and inspiring. If you liked Me Before You, you should read this one, and if you didn’t, you should read this anyway, because it’s better.  

How to Walk Away by Katherine Center

 

Castle of Water – I had heard a good reviews of Dane Hucklebridge’s novel but didn’t know much about it when I added it to my recent Book Challenge by Erin list. It was due to the library on July 7, so I read it first, and it was a wonderful read to kickoff the challenge. Survival stories always lend themselves a bit to “devouring” but this one was also full of heart, which made it a truly enjoyable read.

Fierce Kingdom – I don’t think I’ve ever read a more horrifying, realistic story in my life. A contemporary novel about what happens when a mass shooting takes place in a zoo, it takes place over just over 4 hours – every bit of it harrowing. I was deeply invested in the well-being of Jean and her young son. I appreciated the level of detail that went into the storytelling, even though it created some haunting imagery; I could tell it was fully formed, making it that much more likely to stick with you.

 

3-Star Reads ⭐⭐⭐

*The Afterlife of Walter Augustus (3.5) – In Hannah Lynn’s version of the afterlife, the Interim, a sort of purgatory where we meet Walter Augustus, you’re unable to move on to the next “level” until you’ve been forgotten by everyone still living. Poor Walter Augustus just wants to move on, but he’s stuck. It’s an interesting concept, and one that drew me to this novel. I loved some characters and hated others. I loved the writing and again the level of detail really made the Interim vivid.

I’ll be sharing more thoughts on July 17 as part of the book’s blog tour. I was also able to interview the author and will be sharing our conversation as well! Make sure to come back and check it out 🙂  

Before We Were Yours (3.5) – Both the premise and execution of this novel reminded me a lot of Orphan Train. In this novel, we move back and forth between Depression-era Tennessee and modern day South Carolina, tracing a story that is unbelievable and yet based on truth. I didn’t exactly see the ending coming, so I can’t say it was predictable, but I wish it didn’t feel so similar to Orphan Train. I think looking back from greater distance the two will muddle together for me.

 

We Were the Mulvaneys (3.5) – I don’t think I’ve read any Joyce Carol Oates before this novel, but I did go see her speak once when I lived in NYC. I think that’s what drew me to pick this book up at a used book sale so many years ago. I finally got around to reading it, thanks again to the Book Challenge by Erin, and I’m glad I did. It’s a bit of a slow-moving family saga but still full of the realities of family life. At times, I found the characters frustrating and questioned their decisions, but ultimately, I thought they were relatable and very human.

Mother, Mother (3.5) – This is not a novel I relate to (my mom will be happy to hear it!) but I still really loved the experience of it. Koren Zailckas’s novel is about a family being torn apart by the woman who loves them most, their mother. I wouldn’t exactly call it a psychological thriller, but almost — there are psychological elements to the story, which I thought were fascinating.

 

Homegoing (3.5) – I skipped over this when it was a book club selection a year or so ago, but when it was picked again for a different book club, I decided to give it a try. It starts with a family tree (a tool I referred to often) and the rest of the story stems from there. Maame has two daughters by two different men. They are raised separately and differently resulting in two very different family tree branches, following the families as they grow across Africa and the United States.

**Crux – This memoir tells the powerful story of a daughter trying to find and save her father, a Mexican immigrant. It had a lot of great overall content and I liked some parts better than others, but overall, I thought it lacked a cohesive writing style and narrative. Still, I appreciated Jean Guerrero’s unique perspective, and I think it was a timely read given the current political climate.

 

The Oracle Year – I wasn’t as wowed by this one as I’d hoped to be, and I was let down after what seemed to be a promising start. The concept was thought-provoking and the writing fast-paced, but I got lost in the more thriller-ish aspects of the novel, which felt like I was watching a predictable movie but less like it fit in with the setup he’d gave us. full review + recipe

Then We Came to the End – I chose this novel for my Book Challenge by Erin because it centered around people working in an advertising agency (my day job). I thought it nailed the nuances of daily life in an ad agency — the meetings, the complaining, the genuine care you feel for your colleagues (despite the meetings and complaining). I genuinely laughed out loud at a few parts, but overall, it was a little too dark and cynical for me.

 

Night Film – This is definitely a creepier book than I normally read, about a reporter investigating the mysterious suicide of a reclusive filmmaker Cordova. Cordova’s films are dark and twisted. They are revered by a cult following and can only be viewed at secret underground showings or purchased on the black market. I was fully into this book until about the last 10%. The faux first ending was hokey and made me feel disappointed, but then the actual ending was almost more frustrating. That being said, I thought the writing was super well-done for this genre. I found myself re-reading certain lines because I loved the way she put things. Ultimately, it didn’t blow me away but it was a gripping reading experience, and for people who typically like horror/thriller novels, I’m sure this will be a fulfilling read.  

Night Film by Marisha Pessl

2-Star Reads ⭐⭐

Brave New World (2.5) – I’m pretty late to the game in reading this one, but we never studied it high school. The concepts it focused on were interesting, but I thought the execution was bizarre (and at times incomplete). I feel like it went into detail on stuff I didn’t care that much about, and I was left wanting to know/learn more about other things that didn’t get explored. Definitely not my favorite dystopia, but I can see why it would be good for discussion.

 

Currently Reading

Blind Assassin – I read about 50 pages of this before putting it down to dive into my recent reading challenge. I have almost zero thoughts on it so far, except that I’m not as “grabbed” by it as I’d hoped. Anyone read this who can shed some light? It’s a doozy and I have to finish by the end of the month.

The Blind Assassin by Margaret Atwood

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*I received a free digital copy of this book from the author in exchange for an honest review.

**I received a free digital copy of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

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  • Reply Heather July 10, 2018 at 9:09 am

    I also loved How to Walk Away but my favourite of hers will probably always be Happiness for Beginners. I have Castle of Water on my shelf to read someday!!

    • Reply Megan July 10, 2018 at 3:28 pm

      Ooo well I’ll have to get Happiness for Beginners! This was the first book I’ve read of hers.

  • Reply SMD July 10, 2018 at 9:54 am

    Homegoing was a transformative read for me.

    I loved We Were the Mulvaneys a lot. It’s been years.

    • Reply Megan July 10, 2018 at 3:28 pm

      Homegoing was really good. I can’t wait to discuss it at our book club.

  • Reply Tanya July 10, 2018 at 10:32 am

    That’s a lot of reading this month! How to Walk Away, Fierce Kingdom and Castle of Water are all on my TBR list. For some reason I can’t find Castle of Water at any local libraries! Thanks for the reviews.

    • Reply Megan July 10, 2018 at 10:40 am

      Tanya – I couldn’t find it either! I stood with my librarian for about 20 minutes while she looked at every local library they share with and no one had it. I finally talked them into buying a copy for our library, and I was the first to get it 🙂

  • Reply kristen July 10, 2018 at 11:11 am

    i am so glad you liked How to Walk Away! lol @ you should read it anyway. I agree.
    I saw Before We Were Yours around everywhere a few months ago, but it did seem way too similar to Orphan Train, so I skipped it. good to know.

    • Reply Megan July 10, 2018 at 3:26 pm

      Skipping Before We Were Yours was probably a good move. Definitely good, and if you like that kind of story or that time period, certainly pick it up, but I couldn’t stop comparing the two.

      How to Walk Away, seriously <3

  • Reply Kay July 10, 2018 at 11:12 am

    OHH I havent actually heard of that Margaret Atwood and I love her. Will check it out

    • Reply Megan July 10, 2018 at 3:27 pm

      It’s pretty long, but I’ve heard good things! We are reading it for our August book club – we always skip July because of the holiday and then read a longer book between June and August’s meetings.

  • Reply Kasey Holloway July 10, 2018 at 12:00 pm

    I’ve heard Castle of Water is amazing and I can’t wait to read it! 🙂

    • Reply Megan July 10, 2018 at 3:26 pm

      Do it! It’s so great 🙂

  • Reply Kathryn Trask July 10, 2018 at 4:17 pm

    You sure have been reading a lot – a book almost a day, now that’s reading and I can see why you’d want to take a step back. Most of these books are new to me although I do have How To Walk Away on reserve at the library and am really looking forward to reading it.

    • Reply Megan July 10, 2018 at 4:44 pm

      Oooo that’s exciting! I hope you like How to Walk Away!

  • Reply Carly July 10, 2018 at 7:54 pm

    I almost picked How to Walk Away as my BOTM pick but decided to skip instead because I just wasn’t sure I’d like it, but you mentioning Me Before You makes me more intrigued. I’ve never heard of Then We Came to the End, but it sounds interesting.

  • Reply Jana @ Jana Says July 10, 2018 at 8:21 pm

    I just added How to Walk Away to my holds list. Should get to me in about 4 months.

    I loved Homegoing a lot but it did bother me that, just as I was getting into a story, it changed.

  • Reply Laura July 10, 2018 at 8:43 pm

    I’m on the waiting list for Castle of Water at the library and I can’t wait to read it! I’m so glad you enjoyed it!

  • Reply ShootingStarsMag July 11, 2018 at 8:06 am

    Oh, I really love Brave New World. Definitely not for everyone though! I liked Night Film but I do wish it had ended differently, so I agree with you there. Sounds like you read some – mostly – good books in June!

    -Lauren

    • Reply Megan July 11, 2018 at 9:27 am

      No complaints about the books I read this month! When you read as many as I did, there are bound to be some less-than-great ones in the mix.

  • Reply Brittany July 11, 2018 at 8:40 am

    Brave New World is one of the few “classics” I remember enjoying in high school. Not sure how my feelings would be different 10+ years later. Definitely had some bizarre moments!

    • Reply Megan July 11, 2018 at 9:30 am

      I was just telling a friend that think I might’ve enjoyed it more if I had read it in high school and got into the nitty-gritty of symbolism, etc. But as a standalone, I was wading through that bizarre world and just trying to stay above water!

  • Reply Shea July 11, 2018 at 11:24 am

    Ooh I liked The Blind Assassin but Alias Grace is my favorite Margaret Atwood. I’m excited to see your 3 4 star picks, because I have all three on my TBR so it’s good to know that they are worth the read. I need to request those from my library ASAP!

    • Reply Megan July 11, 2018 at 11:25 am

      I’m glad to hear you liked Blind Assassin! It makes me hopeful I’ll enjoy it too 🙂 I hope you get those 3 books quickly – I’m sure you’ll read them quickly too!

  • Reply Michelle K July 12, 2018 at 4:56 pm

    I enjoyed reading Homegoing. I felt a deep connection to the characters at the beginning of the novel, but did not feel so strongly attached to some of the characters as the novel got closer to present day. I wish the author had explored them in more depth. I recently received a copy of We Were the Mulvaneys through my Page 1 book subscription and I am looking forward to giving it a read.

    • Reply Megan July 13, 2018 at 5:50 pm

      I agree. I definitely would’ve liked more details on some characters and less on others, but overall I liked that it followed a whole family over a long period of time. I’m looking forward to discussing it with my book club!

  • Reply Ana July 12, 2018 at 7:43 pm

    How to walk Away sounds good, I’m going to look for it

  • Reply Allison @ My Novel Life July 13, 2018 at 8:18 am

    When I started Blind Assassin, I didn’t read the synopsis so I had no idea what it was going to be about. I kept thinking it was going to go in a dystopian direction like Handmaid’s Tale or Oryx and Crake, but it definitely did not. Actually, I spent most of the book wondering what the story was about. I stuck with it though and my girl Margaret Atwood did not disappoint. The ending comes together like you would not believe and blows your mind. There is so much theme and deeper meaning embedded throughout the entire story. I really enjoyed it and actually would like to read it again. It is a doozy though, so you probably will have to devote some serious time to it to finish it before the end of the month.
    I also loved Castle of Water. I always imagined myself a member of the Swiss Family Robinson and this was kind of reminiscent of that. The ending was a little too neat for me though, especially for having French touches to it. Everyone knows the French are way more tragic than that!

    • Reply Megan July 13, 2018 at 5:51 pm

      I’m so glad to hear that about Blind Assassin! Once I’m done with my reading break (which is mostly just me reading “easy” books at a more leisurely pace) I plan to pick it up again.

      I do think the ending of Castle of Water was a bit too neat, but I didn’t mind it. I don’t think the author is French so maybe that’s why – he didn’t get the memo! 😛

  • Reply Pam July 13, 2018 at 4:22 pm

    Megan you read a whole lot of books! I am also doing Erin’s Challenge but I’m getting a slow start. I have not yet read How to Walk Away but looking forward to it. I enjoyed reading Homegoing. I can definitely see myself re-reading that one again. I did a mix of audio/book. Pam 🙂

    • Reply Megan July 13, 2018 at 5:52 pm

      Well, luckily Erin’s Challenge has 3.5 more months to go! I just raced through it… definitely take your time and enjoy it 🙂

      Ooo, I hope you like How to Walk Away! I’m doing my longer form post on it this weekend, if you’d like to check that out.

  • Reply Audrey July 14, 2018 at 8:48 pm

    I’m always impressed by people that go through book after book. I don’t have that focus. (I should be reading right now- I WANT to pick up my books!- but I’m answer blog comments and watching a NASCAR race. Lol.) Sounds like you had some good ones this past month! I’ve heard Homegoing is a great book.

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