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book review, of interest

Show Us Your Books – July 2019 Reading Recap

Hello again! For those of you who are avid followers of my blog, you’ve probably noticed I’ve been missing these past few months… and you would be right. My posts have been few and far between, and there are a couple reasons for that: 

  1. I went through a period of AMAZING books and then abruptly hit a whole lot of lackluster reads. I started slogging through these 3-star books, missing the glory days of back-to-back-to-back 4- and 5-star reads. And it’s hard to blog about books you’re not interested in, especially when they don’t have any food mentions (which are sort of integral to most of my posts…) 
  2. I found out I’m pregnant. Basically right after SUYB April (the last one I posted), my husband and I got the news and it was a lot to take in. We’re both super excited — and, at this point, have had some time to process and tell people — but in the beginning, I could not concentrate on books. There were a bajillion thoughts running through my head constantly. I was always tired (I kept falling asleep with a book in my lap… or on my face), and I was often nauseated, which made it hard to read (or cook). When I did dive into a book, it was usually a pregnancy-related one, and since I had to keep it all a secret, I could hardly post about those reads. But now that the cat’s out of the bag, here’s what our little announcement looked like:
Baby Announcement with Dog Feet

And, and now that I’m safely in the second trimester, I’m starting to feel much better and am getting back into reading (and cooking). So yay! Without further ado, let’s get into a long-awaited Show Us Your Books!   

Linkup Guidelines:
This linkup happens the second Tuesday of every month. The next is August 13, 2019.
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!

Most Recent Last Edition (April) & What My Ratings Mean

Here’s a look at what I read over the past few months and what I’m reading right now:

4-Star Reads ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

Kid Gloves by Lucy Knisley — One of the few books I read in the first month of pregnancy, this graphic novel about getting pregnant and being pregnant is at once charming and terrifying and relatable. I adored her food-centric Relish and had seen great things about this one as well. It did not disappoint and was a breeze to get through.  

Expecting Better: Why the Conventional Pregnancy Wisdom is Wrong – and What You Really Need to Know by Emily Oster — Another pregnancy book (and the last one I’ll talk about today), I found Oster’s research quite calming. I liked her economic approach to the subject, and being a first-time mom, it made me feel a whole lot better about not knowing anything or about worrying that I need to do everything perfectly. 

*Recursion by Blake Crouch — I wholeheartedly enjoyed his previous standalone Dark Matter (and absolutely must pick-up his Wayward Pines trilogy) and was so so excited to dive into this one. Like DM, Recursion is complicated but understandable. It had me on the edge of my seat. This novel will be my first post “back in the saddle” — with a really great recipe to go with it — so stop by this weekend for a look! 

**The Islanders by Meg Mitchell Moore — I was looking forward to this novel because it seemed like easy summer reading; nothing too taxing for my getting-back-into-reading self. It ended up being more than that, which was a welcome surprise. It also was sprinkled with really wonderful food mentions. Because I reviewed it over on Literary Quicksand as part of a blog tour, I did not do a post over here. Check out my full review on LQ and a delicious whoopie pie recipe that is a perfect fit for the story, courtesy of Never Enough Novels. 

Girl in Translation by Jean Kwok — Kwok’s novel is somewhat loosely based on her own experience growing up as a new immigrant in the US, after moving here from China with her family as a young child. We read this for my office’s diversity book club as part of Asian Pacific American Heritage Month, and it led to an excellent discussion. 

The Island of Sea Women by Lisa See — After thoroughly enjoying See’s The Tea Girl of Hummingbird Lane, I was excited to read this for another book club. Though I didn’t finish it in time for the meeting (and neither did most of the girls), I decided to stick with it and finished it about a week later. It’s a really unique story focused on female divers on the Korean island of Jeju. 

3-Star Reads ⭐⭐⭐

**Valencia and Valentine by Suzy Krause (3.5 stars) — This book has been compared most often to Eleanor Oliphant, which is what made me pick it up. Valencia is quite similar to Eleanor, but I think the dual perspectives — going back and forth between Valencia and Mrs. Valentine — change the overall tone of the book. I thought it was cleverly crafted and was more than happy to participate in a blog tour celebrating it’s release in June. [review + recipe

Mother of Invention by Caeli Wolfson Widger — I was in the middle of reading this when I last posted for SUYB and finished it shortly thereafter. It’s a science fiction novel about the “invention” of an extremely shortened pregnancy — from 9 months to 9 weeks. It raised some interesting questions, but ultimately, it fell short of my high expectations. I thought The Farm tackled some of the same issues, just in a better, less over-the-top way.   

Lost and Wanted by Nell Freudenberger — This is another novel where I was super looking forward to it, but wasn’t impressed in the end. A story about female friendship and science, I thought it struggled with pacing and some of the concepts lost me. 

What She Ate: Six Remarkable Women and the Food That Tells Their Stories by Laura Shapiro — I finally finished What She Ate (and don’t worry, the last post is still to come)! From my post series, you may already know quite a bit about the book so I won’t go into much detail here. If you aren’t familiar, I invite you to check it out. If you like food and women’s history, I highly suggest picking it up. I may have wanted a bit more out of it, but it was still worthwhile to me.  

Daisy Jones and the Six by Taylor Jenkins Reid — Everyone has been enamored with Daisy, and even I was beside myself waiting for its release earlier this year. Once I started reading it, I wasn’t as into it as I expected. Perhaps it was the format? Perhaps it was the characters? I’m not quite sure, but TJR did a super convincing job of creating a band from scratch and making us all think it was real. I’m a huge fan of the Daisy Jones Spotify playlist but I still love Evelyn Hugo more. 

**The Woman in the White Kimono by Ana Johns — This story takes place across two continents decades apart, Japan following WWII and the United States, present day, and it was inspired by real events. I reviewed it as part of a blog tour back in May. [review + recipe]

*Waisted by Randy Susan Meyers — This novel is about several women who go on a reality show in an attempt to lose weight and better themselves. I found it hard to get into — the build-up took a little too long, and then the ending felt rushed. It also featured dual-POVs that didn’t really add to it and actually made it somewhat confusing. Though the story it told was important, I’ve read other similar novels that I found to be much more powerful.

Did Not Finish / Put On Hold 

Lost Children Archive by Valeria Luiselli — I was about 30 pages in when I found out I was pregnant and it didn’t feel like the right time to continue on with it. I wasn’t in the right headspace, and it had to go back to the library. I’m back on the waitlist and will be coming back to it another time. 

Feed by Mira Grant — I read half of this novel (300 pages!) before finally giving up. I saw it on someone else’s SUYB and was super intrigued. Plus, it seemed like a series I could get into and just plow on through. It was pretty easy reading, but there was so much attention placed on little details and not a ton of action (for a zombie story, that’s surprising!), that I just couldn’t do it anymore.  

The DNA of You and Me by Andrea Rothman — I read about a third of this one before giving up too. I just wasn’t connecting to the story, which is about breakthrough science, and I think, a love story (though I hadn’t really gotten to that part yet…). It also moved too slowly for me, and the science was more complicated than I cared to spend time on.  

Currently Reading 📖

*If You Want to Make God Laugh by Bianca Marais — I’m only 10% into this one, about three women in post-Apartheid South Africa (in the 90s). I got a copy from NetGalley and am trying to catch up on my releases; it comes out next Tuesday. 

If You Want to Make God Laugh by Bianca Marais

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This post contains affiliate links. This does not increase the price you pay, but I may receive a small commission for any products you choose to buy. Purchases made through affiliate links help to cover my blogging costs. Full disclosure here.

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

**I received a free copy of this book from TLC Book Tours in exchange for an honest review and participating in a blog tour.

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16 Comments

  • Reply Brittany Always July 9, 2019 at 9:52 am

    Congratulations!! It can be super difficult to talk about anything when you are trying to keep a secret, all I can think about is the fact that I can’t talk about XYZ :-p

    The unusual formatting for DJ&6 seems to have thrown some people off- I loved it, but probably agree that Hugo tops it. Looking forward to getting The Island of Sea Women from my library eventually!

    • Reply Megan July 9, 2019 at 10:16 am

      Thank you! I know! It’s so problematic; I was bursting to share the news!

      Have you read anything else by TJR? I keep wanting to dive into her backlist, but I just feel like I started with the top (Evelyn) and it won’t get better from there…

  • Reply withcurlsandcocktailsblog July 9, 2019 at 11:54 am

    Congrats!! You still got quite a bit of reading done! I have seen a lot of different reviews of Daisy Jones. I worry I won’t like the format too but I think I will still give it a shot

    • Reply Megan July 9, 2019 at 6:50 pm

      Definitely worth trying! I liked it, just didn’t love it.

  • Reply Lauren Becker July 9, 2019 at 12:30 pm

    Aw, congratulations! Love your announcement. I want to read Daisy Jones – I really like differently formatted books though, and I know that can throw others off. I need to read Kid Gloves. I love Lucy Knisley so much – pretty sure I’ve read all of her other books at this point.

    -Lauren
    http://www.shootingstarsmag.net

    • Reply Megan July 9, 2019 at 6:52 pm

      I need to read more of Lucy! I’ve only read the two, but I’ve loved them both!

  • Reply A Mindful Migration (@MindfulMigrate) July 9, 2019 at 3:31 pm

    First up, congratulations!!! I’m so happy for you and what an exciting time!! I’m with you on Daisy. I rated it a love book because well, I love TJR and really wanted a book to love that month, so I decided to love Daisy. In reality, it’s more of a strong like. I love how she created a rock band that felt so real but I didn’t love the story itself. I didn’t feel the same way I felt about those characters the same way I felt about Evelyn. I loved Recursion (and agree with your sentiment towards Wayward Pines and Dark Matter too) and am curious about what recipe you made to go with it. One does not immediately pop out to me. I’ll have to come back and find out this weekend. 😀

    • Reply Megan July 9, 2019 at 6:49 pm

      Food tends to stand out to me more than others, I find, but it was probably one of the only foods mentioned (and more than once!). See you this weekend 🙂

  • Reply kristen July 9, 2019 at 4:16 pm

    i liked daisy a lot, but i loved evelyn hugo. i doubt anything will ever come close to evelyn for me!

    • Reply Megan July 9, 2019 at 6:48 pm

      It’s going to be hard to match the wonderfulness of that book!

  • Reply Jana @ Jana Says July 9, 2019 at 7:02 pm

    Yay for December babies!!! My daughter is one so obviously I’m very curious to know when your due date is.

    The format of Daisy is weird but I think that’s part of why I loved it so much. It was different.

    • Reply Megan July 10, 2019 at 11:25 am

      Oh exciting! I’m due December 13.

  • Reply Julie July 9, 2019 at 10:53 pm

    I agree about the daisy book. I was all hyped up to read it bc it seemed like everyone had but I wasnt a fan.

  • Reply kedarhower July 11, 2019 at 8:15 am

    Congratulations!!!
    I didn’t read as much in the beginning of pregnancy..I think it was a concentration thing. But I also read no pregnancy books because it was just so much information to take in.

    I think 3-star books are the worst. You have no strong feelings so there’s not much to say (my whole month was filled with 3-star ones).

  • Reply Rachel July 11, 2019 at 2:58 pm

    I’ve heard great things about Oster’s books, so I’m thinking about reading them. Kid Gloves also sounds really interesting! I may go back and read it just to compare experiences 🙂 I forgot to mention before that I did read one pregnancy-ish book – Belly Laughs by Jenny McCarthy. It was hilarious and relatable!

  • Reply SMD July 12, 2019 at 7:27 am

    I loved Sea Women – so good and also devastating – Recursion, and Daisy. The Wayward Pines books are super quick reads. I loved them.

    Congratulations!!!

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