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Show Us Your Books – September 2017

Happy Tuesday, everyone! I can’t believe it’s already time for another edition of Show Us Your Books. Summer is nearly over and fall is on the way. I can’t say I’m not excited; fall is the best time for curling up with a comfy throw or a chunky cardigan, a cup of tea and a good book. Bring it on, I say! But perhaps I’m getting a bit ahead of myself. Let’s take a quick look at what I read over the past month.

Linkup Guidelines:
This linkup happens the second Tuesday of every month. The next is Tuesday, October 10, 2017.
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

 

Engrossing Reads

When Dimple Met Rishi – I don’t usually read YA books, but when I do it’s because I heard a great recommendation somewhere; in this case, it was discussed during one of my favorite podcasts, Book Riot’s All the Books. It’s the story of Dimple, a college-minded Indian girl who wants nothing more than to create a life-changing app and meet her idol at a summer program, and Rishi, a romantic Indian boy who thinks it’s his destiny to marry her. It was a funny and enjoyable read that I sped through.

The Summer of Impossible Things – This novel by British author Rowan Coleman is an unexpected love story about a mother and the lengths her daughter will go to bring her back and the true importance of family. It will also mark my first collaboration with my British counterpart, Julie at hungrybookworm.uk, which I’m super excited about! Look out for our cross-posts later this month. 🙂

How to Find Love in a Bookshop – If you’re looking for a cozy book to welcome in autumn, this is it. A book about books (love!), it’s a bit like AJ Fikry meets You’ve Got Mail but is satisfyingly original at the same time. I borrowed it from the library, and I can’t wait to add it to my collection!

The Heart’s Invisible Furies – Of all the engrossing reads this month, this one is miles above the rest. This was a Book of the Month selection from the lovely Liberty Hardy, who I almost never disagree with, and though I was surprised by its heft when I pulled it out of my August package, I’m glad I didn’t hesitate to get started. It captivated me from the first few pages, and even at nearly 600 pages, I couldn’t put it down and finished it in one weekend. This book just became my second 5-star read of the year, and if you only take one recommendation away from this list, make it this one! Seriously.

 

Passed the Time Just Fine

The Other Einstein – I sometimes struggle with fictionalized novels about real people and events because I just want to know what really happened. Yes, in many cases a biography or memoir will solve that problem, but not much is widely known about Albert Einstein’s first wife, Mileva. Benedict did her best at piecing things together and I definitely enjoyed it, but it mostly just left me with questions.

Goodbye, Vitamin – This BOTM was funny, endearing and relatable. I basically read it in a day, and it led to some delicious 5-minute chocolate cake. Need I say more?

A Wrinkle in Time – I never read this novel as a kid, but with a main character named Meg, I’ve always been intrigued. I’ll admit the upcoming movie was what finally pushed me to pick it up. As a children’s book, it was a very quick read, but wow, was it a lot weirder than I expected. I’m still trying to get my thoughts together before my post later this week.

Practical Magic – Though I’ve watched this movie dozens of times – it’s a go-to around Halloween – I hadn’t read the book until now. I actually saw that Alice Hoffman is publishing a prequel called The Rules of Magic in October and got really excited but thought I’d better read the original novel first. It has added to my already-brewing fall mindset, and I’ll probably have to watch the movie to hold me over another month…

 

Not Worth It

The Art of Racing in the Rain – My post the other day captured most of how I felt about this novel. For me, it only went downhill from the first chapter, and while I don’t think of any books as a “waste of time,” I really wish I could get back the time I spent on this one. (On the plus side, puppies!)

 

Did Not Finish

None this month!

 

Currently Reading

East of Eden – I’m not really into this book yet, but so far, it’s better than the other Steinbeck novels I’ve encountered. I’m just barely 20% in and have read about 8 books since starting it…but people love this book, and so I’m sticking with it.

Kitchens of the Great Midwest – I’m a little over halfway through this, and so far it’s not what I expected at all. I’m not sure yet if that’s a good or bad thing. But it is full of lots of food, so I’m sure it’ll be quite a task picking exactly what to food to pair with it – challenge accepted!

Until next time!

This post contains affiliate links. Full disclosure here.

 

of interest

Top Ten Tuesday (Back to School Edition) – Books to Spark a Love of Reading in Anyone

Hi everyone! It’s Tuesday, which means it’s time again for my monthly Top 10 Tuesday list. This is an original weekly blog meme that was created at The Broke and the Bookish. I participate about once a month, but each week there is a new, fun bookish topic for bloggers to create literary lists about. If you’d like to know more about it, check it out here.

Due to a short hiatus, I haven’t participated since June (here’s a refresher), but TTT is back again – just in time for back to school! Can you believe it’s that time of year already? All of the school supplies in the stores makes me wish I were going back to school, or that I had kids to get excited about it with… we’ll get there eventually. Excuse me while I go put a bouquet of newly sharpened pencils on my desk.The month’s theme is a “freebie,” so anything back-to-school is fair game. I’ve actually been thinking about what to do for a while now, and after going back and forth on a few options, I finally settled on: 10 Books to Spark a Love of Reading in Anyone. I know not everyone loves to read, but I truly believe it’s just because they haven’t found the right book (or type of book) yet. While many kids love reading as they grow up, it often becomes a chore in school, and sadly, that love dies.

This list includes some of my favorites, in a variety of genres, that hopefully – when recommended to the right person – can help them fall in love with reading all over again 🙂 Let’s get to it!

(These are in no particular order this week, just numbered so I can keep track.)

1. For the video game lover or people who like to get nostalgic about the 80s: Ready Player One

For a while I was recommending this book to everyone because I loved it so much. (And, yes, everyone who I told to read it loved it too.) It was immersive and imaginative and so good I didn’t want to put it down – everything a reading experience should be.

2. For fans of The Big Bang Theory and/or romantic comedies: The Rosie Project

I don’t remember how I stumbled upon this one, but it’s another one I’ve recommended widely since reading it. It’s a nerdy love story about an out-of-touch scientist trying to find “the one.” It also features a strong female character. It’s quirky and funny – I remember laughing out loud on the NYC subway as I read it. As a bonus, it’s a super quick read, so it won’t bog you down.

3. For someone looking for a beach read: We Were Liars

This young adult novel has intrigue, gossip and a surprising twist I didn’t see coming. Because it’s YA, it’s written in a really relatable way that’s easy to get into and stick with, and it’s not too long. It’s also won tons of awards and has almost 4 stars on Goodreads. Do yourself a favor and avoid spoilers!

4. For history buffs: 11/22/63 or The Nightingale

These are two very different books, but I really enjoyed them both.

Stephen King’s 11/22/63 tells the story of a man who goes back in time to prevent the Kennedy assassination, so it takes place mostly in the last 50s and early 60s (over and over again) and can get a bit into the nitty-gritty of the events leading up to that fateful November day. I was riveted and learned some interesting things too.

I read and posted on The Nightingale last year, but briefly it’s about a pair of sisters in France during WWII. It’s well-written and the story is worth reading, but given the subject matter, it can be tough to barrel through. This book has become a recent favorite for a reason, and I would absolutely recommend it to anyone interested in WWII-era history. (Full thoughts and recipe here.)

5. For someone who wants to get into the classics: The Jane Austen Book Club

Classics are often tough nuts to crack – the language and references can be obscure and sometimes the pacing is slower than our modern attention spans are used to. That’s why I love this book. The readers in this book love (and I mean love) Jane Austen. You get to know a bit about each of her novels as the book club reads through them, but only enough to get you interested because you’re so engrossed in what the characters are doing. It always leaves me wanting to pick up a Jane Austen novel. (I recommend Pride and Prejudice, but this lovely book recommends Sense and Sensibility – you decide.)

6. For Leslie Knope-wannabes: Yes Please

Amy Poehler’s memoir is not only funny and endearing, it makes you think. Amy fills it with stories that will keep you entertained, but she also talks about what it’s like to succeed as a woman in a man’s world, how to have an amazing female friendship and why it’s ultimately rewarding to follow your passion (even if it’s hard). A quality read for any budding feminist.

7. For sci-fi lovers, or someone who was obsessed with yesterday’s eclipse: The Martian

Honestly, from page one of this novel I was hooked. People who don’t usually even read sci-fi (and I can probably be counted among them, since I read it pretty rarely) love this book. I don’t know much about science, but from what I’ve heard, the science is actually pretty solid so people who do know something about it won’t roll their eyes as they read it. It’s a survival story too, so once you’re in it, you won’t want to put it down until you know how it ends.

8. For your friend who’s always hungry: The Omnivore’s Dilemma or I Loved, I Lost, I Made Spaghetti

I was a little nervous to read The Omnivore’s Dilemma initially, but I was too intrigued not to. I loved that it really dug into where your food comes from and why quality is important. It wasn’t like a scary documentary, and it’s definitely not about giving up meat. Best of all, it’s written in a really approachable way, so you don’t slog through it like some other nonfiction books. So if you know someone who cares about what they eat and wants to learn more, this one’s for them.

On a slightly different part of the food spectrum, Giulia Melucci’s memoir pairs humorous bad relationship stories with delicious and comforting recipes that will have you wanting to run to the kitchen. It’s funny, uplifting, and there’s food. What more can I say?

9. For citizens of the world: The Dressmaker of Khair Khana

This true story by Gayle Tzemach Lemmon follows young female entrepreneurs in war-torn Afghanistan. Lemmon helps to expand on what we usually see in the media, showing Muslim women as individuals, not necessarily beholden to the men in their lives. They are optimistic, savvy and resourceful. They are survivors. It’s nonfiction that reads like fiction, and it will leave you enlightened and inspired.

10. For anyone: Harry Potter

Now, this may be a bit presumptuous – I get that not everyone loves Harry Potter, but I do think that it’s a series everyone should read (or at least try). If there are hesitant adults out there, find a kid in your life and read it with them. The quality time is unbeatable, and hopefully it will spark a love of reading and imagination in them too. JK Rowling’s books are not only entertaining, they’re insightful and full of lessons to be learned. If nothing else, there’s this: reading Harry Potter actually makes you a better person, so get on it. 🙂

I hope this list inspires you to share some wonderful books with budding readers out there, or even to create your own so you can wholeheartedly recommend amazing books you’ve read to others!

Until next time…

of interest

Show Us Your Books – August 2017

It’s another edition of Show Us Your Books! But, before I kick off what I’ve been reading lately, I wanted to remind all of my readers about my 1 Year Blogiversary Giveaway! This Friday, August 11th is your last chance to enter to win a free book – pick the book you most want to read from my first full year of blogging at The Hungry Bookworm, and you could be chosen to win! Full details in last week’s post. Good luck 🙂

Linkup Guidelines:
This linkup happens the second Tuesday of every month. The next is Tuesday, September 12, 2017.
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

 

Engrossing Reads

Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine – We picked this book for my September Good Reads & Good Eats book club, but my library hold happened to come in sooner than I expected. This book reminded me a lot of A Man Called Ove, except that the curmudgeon was 30-year-old Eleanor. I found her oddly relatable and caught myself chuckling at her wry, sometimes out-of-touch observations. Definitely can’t wait to discuss this next month!

 

Passed the Time Just Fine

Cloud Atlas – People love this book, but I’m not one of those people. It was long and confusing and sometimes too on-the-nose about itself. The characters and chapters I enjoyed, though, kept me from hating it. I’m glad I read it – at over 500 pages, it was a feat! – but I just won’t be reading it again.

Geek Love – Weird is an understatement for this book! Katherine Dunn created a carnival of freaks that had me cringing but also kept me reading for more. It prompted interesting discussion at my book club, and it led to some tasty popcorn and another ice cream recipe, so I can’t complain. 🙂

Pachinko – Another book club pick, I was looking forward to Lee’s saga about Koreans living in Japan, a slice of life I honestly knew nothing about. The writing was excellent, but the story was full of sadness. It was good, but it was emotionally rough – as I said in my book club, I liked it, but I don’t think I’d recommend it.

 

Not Worth It / Did Not Finish

I may not have read a lot this past month (some of my choices took a while to get through…), but I didn’t have any I disliked nor did I have any I left behind. It was a good month!

 

Currently Reading

The Other Einstein – I’m smack dab in the middle of Marie Benedict’s novel about Albert Einstein’s first wife Mileva Maric, who was also a physicist. As a feminist, the story intrigued me as soon as I heard of it, and I’m certainly enjoying it so far. More to come, of course 🙂

East of Eden – I haven’t technically started this, but it’s next in my queue! I’m mostly putting it here to hold myself accountable, since it’s been hanging out on my TBR list for a while now…

Until next time!

This post contains affiliate links. Full disclosure here.

 

of interest

Anniversary Giveaway + A Look Back

Last year, I made my first Hungry Bookworm recipe on June 27th for an upcoming book club meeting, where we discussed The Age of Miracles. A few days later, on June 30th, I published my very first post. I was nervous and excited, but clearly, it worked out – and today is my 1 year blogging anniversary!

I can’t believe a whole year has already gone by, but I’m really happy that I’m still going strong. Sometimes you start an endeavor and you’re not quite sure where it will go or how it will turn out. I have definite improvements to make, but mostly, I’m loving blogging. I’ve had the opportunity to make (and eat!) 56 new recipes across the 63 posts I’ve written. Of those posts, 50 have been book reviews and another handful have been wonderful book memes that have connected me with so many other amazing book bloggers.

I decided to take a look back at all the recipes I’ve made and books I’ve read over the past year and choose some highlights. Here they are:

Favorite Savory Recipes

  1. Grown-up Ramen: I don’t always love the books I read. Who does? But, in this case, a crappy book led to an amazing recipe. I had so much fun planning for this one, and I was legitimately excited when my first attempt at a soft-boiled egg turned out picture-perfect. Oh, and by the way, the ramen itself was amazing. It will definitely on my menu when cold weather starts in again.
  2. Breakfast Casserole: This one made the list mostly because it was one of the few blog recipes that I specifically made for people other than Scott and myself (post-holiday brunch with my parents), so it was a big deal at the time. Also, it’s ridiculously easy, ridiculously delicious, and I’ve already made it several other times and, whenever I share it, people love it. Plus, it’s pretty versatile and I’ve discovered that my favorite meat add-in is sausage. Bring on the breakfast and brunch potlucks!
  3. Norwegian Fish Stew: The reason this made my top three was because I was pretty nervous about making this – exuding confidence to Scott, but mostly wondering if it would be something we actually wanted to eat when it was finished. I felt the same way about the book – hesitant in the beginning, but in the end, loved them both. This was just an amazing recipe for fall, a really warming and filling soup that I will be making again. And this time I know to not invite any guests over for about a week afterward due to the smell. 😛

Runners-up: Spanish Bean Stew with Chorizo (Scott’s favorite, for a book we both loved) and Mac and Cheese in a Jalapeno-Chipotle Cream Sauce (both because it was tasty and because Gilmore weekend with Deanna was so much fun)

Favorite Sweet Recipes

  1. Earl Grey Ice Cream: Yes, I just made this, but I’ve already made it four more times because it was such a hit when I brought it to work, so it’s definitely top of mind. (And, despite efforts to get me to start making ice cream full time, I won’t be doing so…) Most of all, it is one of the best ice cream flavors I’ve ever had, and it was way easier than I expected.
  2. Swedish Dream Cookies: This is another recipe I’ve made multiple times since trying it for the blog. I loved the book that brought them to me, and I ended up loving them way more than I expected to (for coconut reasons, which I explained in the original post). They’re pretty foolproof for people who don’t always excel at baking – ahem, me – and absolutely delicious.
  3. Exploding Truffles: I made these in honor of the wonderful Weasley twins last Halloween, and like the two of them, this candy was pure fun. The combination of chocolate truffles and Pop Rocks surprised some unsuspecting tasters and brought delight to those who were expecting a bit of an explosion.

Runners-up: Strawberry Pie (memorable – and not just because I had to bake the crust 3 times to get it right) and Funfetti Cake (easier than I expected, over-the-top and super fun to share)

 

Favorite Dog Recipe

Just kidding, I only made one recipe for dogs, but it was great. Beta loved the little bone-shaped treats and so did all of the coworkers’ dogs that I shared them with. They’ve inspired another pup-friendly recipe coming up soon!

 

Favorite Books

  1. Small Great Things: This has been my only 5-star book in the last two years that wasn’t in the Harry Potter series. I’ve had some very close calls, but no question, this is the best one since I’ve been blogging. It stuck with me for weeks after reading it, and I’m still thinking about it and recommending it to people. If you haven’t read it yet, do it.
  2. My Grandmother Asked Me To Tell You She’s Sorry: Ah, this novel was just so charming. I was completely immersed in the story of Elsa and her grandmother’s fairy tales. It also led me to the aforementioned Dream Cookies, which I am forever grateful for.
  3. Lillian Boxfish Takes a Walk: Apparently I love charming novels, because this one falls into that category as well. I was drawn to this book because, like myself, Lillian Boxfish is also a woman of the advertising industry, and it was based on a real person. It made me appreciate where we are today and the women who led us here, though as whole, we still have a long way to go. (Bonus reason: Oreo Cheesecake)

Runner-up: Bridge Daughter, which was such an interesting concept I couldn’t resist and literally went out to get the book as soon as I heard about it from a friend. It also led to my “biggest blog surprise” moment when the author Jim Nelson approached me to be a part of an online cookbook because of my early post about his novel. I was so honored to be asked and have my recipe for Zucchini Pancakes chosen to accompany his work in KP Authors Cook Their Books. It’s one of the few recipes that I made my own (usually preferring to use recipes from people far more gifted at recipe-creation than I am), but it’s also one that I’m proud of. It turned out to be delicious and it fit the story well, which has really been the point of Hungry Bookworm from the start – good books leading me to good food.

 

More than 600 people visited my blog last year, and over 1,000 visitors have already dropped by in 2017! I’m still astonished by and so grateful for the positive feedback I get on my blog on a regular basis. I looking forward to another year of reading, eating, and sharing it with all of you!

And, finally, to celebrate I’m doing an Anniversary Giveaway! You can win a copy of your favorite book from the first year of Hungry Bookworm posts (US only). See details below:

  1. You must be a blog subscriber (if you aren’t already, follow me here!)
  2. Leave me a comment that includes your favorite blog post – this is the book you’ll be sent if you win
  3. Share this post on social media and be sure to tag me – Facebook (@hungrybookwormblog), Instagram or Twitter (@dreammkatcher). One share/tag is plenty, but feel free to share more widely if you like!

The winner will be selected by random drawing on August 11, 2017 at 6 PM Eastern time. I’ll post the winner in my next post on Saturday, August 12 – so come back then to see if you’ve won a free book! 

Thank you all for making my first year as The Hungry Bookworm a great one! Good luck!

This post contains affiliate links. Full disclosure here.

of interest

Show Us Your Books – July Edition

It’s another edition of Show Us Your Books! This last month has been a pretty busy one, so you’ll see that my book list is much shorter than the first time I did it, which also really included about a month and a half (from beginning of May until mid-June) since I sort of arbitrarily chose a start date.

What have I been up to that’s been delaying my book-devouring, you ask? Well, obviously last week was the Fourth of July, which in Michigan means almost everyone goes up north, me included. Scott and I spent a handful of days camping (sort of) outside of my family’s cabin and enjoying all the things that come with lake life, which included some reading in a hammock but mostly hanging out and catching up with family. But before that long weekend, on the First Day of Summer, Scott and I got married (yay – I’m a Mrs. now!) and then celebrated with a trip to Mackinac Island, which is also up north, but farther.

All exciting things! But let’s get to the books…

Linkup Guidelines:
This linkup happens the second Tuesday of every month. The next is Tuesday, August 8, 2017.
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

 

Engrossing Reads (sort of…)

This time, sadly, I didn’t have any standout amazing reads. All of these may have suffered a bit from high expectations, and for me, were almost 4-stars but not quite.

The Sisters Chase – I’m happy I picked this as my Book of the Month selection for June. It was a quick read with a twist I didn’t see coming. Plus, it’s all about a big sister who does everything for her younger sister, and I can always get behind that. (Review coming Saturday!)

Beartown – Hockey hockey everywhere. I didn’t really get into this book until about 40% in, which is why it didn’t get outstanding marks for me. The character building was definitely needed and paid off in the end, but it didn’t stick with me the way Backman’s other books did.

This Is How It Always Is – This novel seemed like a fictionalized version of Becoming Nicole, which I talked about in my June edition of Show Us Your Books. I’m not sure if that colored how I felt about it at all, but I think it may have. It’s still a very important read, and I would recommend it.  

 

Passed the Time Just Fine

Jane in Austin – I haven’t read Sense and Sensibility (I know, I can hardly believe it myself), but I liked this modern adaptation. It was about tea, which I love, and I finally get to make ice cream, so I couldn’t be more excited.

 

Not Worth It

None this month!

 

Did Not Finish

The Country of Ice Cream Star – Guys, it didn’t work out with this one. I ended up getting 15% in and literally couldn’t take it anymore. I decided to stop torturing myself. This reminds me why I don’t buy books before I read them.

 

Currently Reading

Cloud Atlas – Phew, I’m almost done with this one! At about 500 pages, with a new location, time period and main character every chapter, it’s been a marathon. There are definitely parts of this book I’ve enjoyed and parts I’ve enjoyed less, but I’ll hold all judgments until I finish.

Until next month!

Life According to Steph

 

This post contains affiliate links. Full disclosure here.