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Show Us Your Books – September 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! Compared to last month, which included a couple 2-star reads and a couple of DNFs, this one was AMAZING. I had 6 — yes, SIX — 4-star reads, which is pretty unheard of, for me. I love great reading months!  

But I’m also a little bit sick this week (I’m blaming it on the abrupt transition to fall from a week of suffocating 90 degree weather…), so I’m keeping my blurbs short and linking to full reviews in lieu of blurbs where I can. Know that I 100% recommend any of the 4-star books, and honestly, you should go read them now, if you haven’t already… Let’s get to it!  

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TBR Mix ‘n’ Mingle – What I’m Reading in September

September is here and it’s exciting! Fall is coming… those cooler, breezy days that are perfect for reading. The end to the hot and sticky summer means it’s soon going to be comfortable enough (and acceptable) to bake all the pumpkin things. And, finally, I’m starting my September with four days off work, which means LOTS of extra time for reading. Yay!

Below is a look at what I plan to read in September — and make sure to check out the rest of book blogs for lots of other TBR fun. (Link at the bottom of the my post.)

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Show Us Your Books – April 2018

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 wanted to let you know about a contest I’m currently hosting. In the Hungry Bookworm Spring Giveaway, I’ll be sending one lucky winner a brand new copy of America The Great Cookbook: The Food We Make for the People We Love from 100 of Our Finest Chefs and Food Heroes by Joe Yonan.

It’s a beautiful cookbook, full of delicious recipes and would be a wonderful addition to your home, or a perfect Mother’s Day gift. If you’d like to enter, you can do so here until April 21, 2018.  

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Fandom Foodies Linkup: #MagicalRealFood

Starting today and all April long, I’ll be hosting #MagicalRealFood, a link up through Fandom Foodies dedicated to food found in and inspired by magical realism. According to Wikipedia, magical realism is “what happens when a highly detailed, realistic setting is invaded by something too strange to believe.”

When magical realism is done well, it’s absolutely one of my favorite types of fiction. But magical realism can also be found in other types of art outside of literature – movies, television shows and video games can all have elements of magical realism as well. It’s more common than you may think!

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Top Ten Tuesday – Books That Take Place In Another Country

Happy Tuesday, everyone! It’s time for another edition of Top Ten Tuesday, a literary list with a new bookish topic every week. This Tuesday’s topic is Books That Take Place In Another Country; for me, that is anywhere other than the United States.  

I love this topic because one of the best parts of reading is the ability to experience a life that’s different from your own. They also provide the opportunity to travel without leaving the comfort of your favorite armchair. While foreign settings often just feed my desire to travel, the food inspiration they provide at least allows me to experience the culture in some tangible way. I decided to look back on books I’ve already read, and when I’ve done a review (and recipe), I’ll link to it below.

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Show Us Your Books – March 2018

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!  

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Top Ten Tuesday – Books I’ve Decided I’m No Longer Interested in Reading

Hi everyone, and happy Tuesday! Welcome to another edition of Top Ten Tuesday. This is an original weekly blog meme that was created at The Broke and the Bookish but is now hosted over at The Artsy Reader Girl. 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.

This week’s topic is Books I’ve Decided I’m No Longer Interested In Reading, which is kind of a funny one. I’m warning you ahead of time I’m not going to have much to say about any of them…because I haven’t read them yet! If you stopped by for my list of Books I Really Liked but Don’t Remember Much/Anything About, I imagine this list will be similar.

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Show Us Your Books – February 2018

Happy Tuesday, everyone! I hope you’re somewhere warmer than I am! I don’t mind wintery weather – as I shouldn’t if I’m going to continue to live in Michigan for the foreseeable future – but sometimes it’s a little more than I can take. We were literally snowed in this weekend; Scott only really left the house to shovel and use the snowblower! (I supported him from the couch…under a blanket…with a book.) I was going to say I’m surprised at the amount of books I’ve read over the last month, but now that we’re talking about it, perhaps the snowy weather has something to do with it. Let’s get into this month’s book list, shall we? 

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Show Us Your Books – January 2018

Happy second Tuesday of 2018, everyone, and welcome to the first Show Us Your Books of the year! I’m excited to share with you what I read over the holidays and what I’ve gotten into so far this year, especially thanks to some fun reading challenges that I’m hoping will help me read my shelves and get through my TBR.

Before I kick off today’s SUYB, I want to explain how I’ll be rating the books today and moving forward. I’m going to start using my Goodreads rating method here to keep my ratings consistent across every platform. This is how I typically rate books:

⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ 5 stars = LOVE LOVE LOVE. I will recommend a 5-star to anyone and everyone and won’t shut up about it. I absolutely need to own a 5-star read, so I can lend it out and have it available for re-reads. I usually have half a dozen or less books in this category each year because they need to be really outstanding to warrant 5-stars.

⭐⭐⭐⭐ 4 stars = REALLY liked it. I will recommend a 4-star book to someone I think would like it – depending on interests/genre – and like to have them as part of my collection (for the same reasons as above). I’ll probably rave about this one a fair amount as well.

⭐⭐⭐ 3 stars = liked it. A 3-star book was good. I didn’t feel like it wasted my time and walked away with an overall positive feeling about it. I give the majority of the books I read each year 3 stars, and I don’t consider this rating to be a bad one.

⭐⭐ 2 stars = not a fan. This book just didn’t do it for me. It may have been a bit of a waste of time, or it may have been an experimental genre/topic that didn’t work out. I’m not upset about the time I spent reading it; I was likely just hoping for more. I didn’t hate it, but I didn’t really like it either.

⭐ 1 star = hated it. Pretty self-explanatory, and I don’t hand a 1-star rating out lightly. Like the 5-star books, these are pretty rare.

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

 

4-Star Reads ⭐⭐⭐⭐ 

The Boat People – Inspired by true events, this fictional account of refugees seeking asylum in Canada tackles a timely topic. It did an excellent job straddling the complexities surrounding asylum-seekers and the emotional decisions refugees must face not only at the beginning of their journeys but throughout the process. In short, it was everything I wanted Exit West to be.

The Secret Life of Bees – I adored this coming-of-age story about fourteen-year-old Lily Owens and her black caretaker Rosaleen, as they navigate the troublesome South in 1964 and take refuge in a pink house owned by beekeeping sisters. It was a strong show of female power, heartwarming and uplifting.  

 

3-Star Reads ⭐⭐⭐

In the Midst of Winter (3.5) – This seemed like the perfect book to read in the cold of December – and it was. It takes place over the course of a week or so, in the middle of a snowstorm in New York; the cold was palpable. Allende weaves together the beautiful and harrowing stories of three very different characters, taking us to 1970s Central and South America and back to present day America. It brings to light the struggles of undocumented immigrants and issues of human rights, and it all starts with a seemingly innocuous fender bender.

The Nest (3.5) – Cynthia d’Aprix Sweeney’s novel is the story of four siblings who must learn to deal with disappointment and potential financial ruin when their trust fund, or “the nest” as they call it, is not quite as big as they anticipated. Filled with unlikable characters in unlikely situations (compared to most of us), it wasn’t a story I expected to like. But, low expectations may have saved this book for me and I was quite surprised to find myself enjoying it throughout – even the epilogue, which left me walking away satisfied.

The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Society (3.5) – A book about books and so much more than that, I’m looking forward to discussing this one in my book club tomorrow night (for which I’m making actual potato peel pie…stay tuned for that). Through a series of letters, this novel tells the story of a group known as the Guernsey Literary Society, which comes together while Germans occupy their island during WWII. It was like a less tragic The Nightingale combined with everything I wished The Readers of Broken Wheel Recommend was.

 

Standard Deviation – This was one of those completely random, stumbled-upon books; I can’t even remember how I heard about it. Still, it was funny and entertaining. Katherine Heiny’s novel was a quick read about Graham, his second wife Audra, his son who may have Asperger’s, and all of the random house guests that flit in and out of their NYC apartment.

No Time to Spare – Ursula K LeGuin is an inspiring woman, and though I’ve only read one of her novels, I have every intention of exploring her work further (thanks, in part, to Karen Joy Fowler who is an admirer of hers). As I am not as familiar with LeGuin as I’d like to be, I probably didn’t appreciate this memoir as bigger fans may but it was still enjoyable. As in her fiction writing, she discusses gender equality and meditates on life.

I will not be doing a longer post on this book, but if I were to do so, I would definitely have to make soft-boiled eggs, to which LeGuin devoted an entire chapter. It became very clear that I do not have the very specific tools required, nor the patience to handle a food that requires such delicate precision.  

  

MAUS I & II – I read MAUS I as part of the Literary Feast 2018 Reading challenge, since it was published in the year of my birth; it was the first book I picked up and finished this year. I also read the second MAUS because it just felt right to complete the story.

Though graphic novels aren’t my genre of choice, I tend to end up reading one almost every year. I’m always surprised when I don’t really like them, especially these since the ones I choose are so critically acclaimed. I just found it hard to get into, I suppose; the style didn’t evoke as much emotion as I would expect from a story about concentration camp prisoners. That being said, both were quick reads (as graphic novels are) and the content was clearly heartfelt and personal. It’s an important story to be told.

Britt-Marie Was Here – I wanted to like this more than I did, probably because I love Fredrik Backman’s writing (especially A Man Called Ove and My Grandmother Asked Me to Tell You She’s Sorry). Like all of his novels, there was quite a cast of characters, some likable and some not. Britt-Marie fell in both categories intermittently, though of course she grows more endearing as you get to know her. I certainly enjoyed the story, but I wish there’d been a different ending.

When the English Fall – I’ve always been fascinated by the Amish lifestyle, so when I saw this dystopia about what happens when the power grid goes down and no one but the Amish are situated to survive, I knew I had to pick it up. I read it in a few hours – it was quite riveting for the most part. I think I was hoping for more about how the rest of the world was surviving, aside from the bits of information brought in to the Order from the outside, and in that, it fell short.

 

2-Star Reads ⭐⭐

Manhattan Beach (2.5) – Jennifer Egan may not be my author. I didn’t like her much-acclaimed A Visit from the Goon Squad, and while this one was a bit better, it wasn’t really my thing either. A historical novel set first during the Great Depression and then in WWII, it primarily follows the young, fearless Anna Kerrigan. There are several chapters that focus on other main characters, but her story was the most interesting to me; I especially enjoyed her journey to become a female scuba diver and wish it was a bigger focus of the narrative.

 

Books I Didn’t Finish

None!

 

Books I’m Reading Right Now

I haven’t actually picked anything up yet, since I just finished When the English Fall last night, but my plan is to dive into another Book Challenge by Erin selection – I’m leaning towards The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo because it’s been on my shelf long enough!

What did you read last month?

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Top Ten Tuesday – Books I’m Looking Forward To in 2018

Hi everyone! We’ve made it to the end of year (almost)! What a wonderful year in reading it’s been… and now since it’s Tuesday, 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.

This week’s topic looks to the future and all of the books that await us on the other side of the new year: Books I’m (Most) Looking Forward to in 2018. This list skews a bit towards the early part of the year, and also includes a few books-becoming-movies that I’ve been meaning to read.

 

The Spring Girls by Anna Todd – releases January 2

In the remix tradition of the cult favorite movie Clueless and Curtis Sittenfeld’s Eligible comes a modern retelling of the beloved story of the March sisters, delivered with Anna Todd’s signature style. With plenty of sass, romance, and drama, The Spring Girls is the perfect chance for you to revisit Little Women or discover this cherished story for the first time.

I’ve always loved the story of Little Women, thanks to the 90s movie starring Winona Ryder (among others). When I read the book for the first time years later, I felt like I struggled through it. I’m hoping this modern retelling ends up evoking the spirit of the story that I’ve always enjoyed.

 

The Immortalists by Chloe Benjamin – releases January 9

If you were told the date of your death, how would it shape your present?

It’s 1969 in New York City’s Lower East Side, and word has spread of the arrival of a mystical woman, a traveling psychic who claims to be able to tell anyone the day they will die. The Gold children—four adolescents on the cusp of self-awareness—sneak out to hear their fortunes.

Like They Both Die at the End before it, I’m always interested in books that explore the topic of death (you can blame my college writing teacher), and this concept looks like a good one.

 

Red Clocks by Leni Zumas – releases January 16

In this ferociously imaginative novel, abortion is once again illegal in America, in-vitro fertilization is banned, and the Personhood Amendment grants rights of life, liberty, and property to every embryo. In a small Oregon fishing town, five very different women navigate these new barriers alongside age-old questions surrounding motherhood, identity, and freedom.

If you’ve been a blog reader for a while, you know feminist dystopias are in my wheelhouse. I’m just hoping I like this one better than The Power.

 

The Milk Lady of Bangalore: An Unexpected Adventure by Shoba Narayan – releases January 23

When Shoba Narayan, a writer and cookbook author who had lived for years in Manhattan, moves back to Bangalore with her family, she befriends the milk lady, from whom she buys fresh milk every day. These two women from very different backgrounds bond over not only cows, considered holy in India, but also family, food, and life.

In this charming true story about two women and the animal they share, readers are treated to an insider’s of view of India. The Milk Lady of Bangalore is also a window into our universal connection to food and its sources, the intricacies of female friendship, and our relationship to all animals.

This is the first of a few memoirs on this list, and it also appears (from the outside) to be the most light-hearted. Honestly, it had me at “writer and cookbook author.” It sounds wonderful and I’m looking forward to cooking some Indian food to go along with it!

 

Educated: A Memoir by Tara Westover – releases February 20

An unforgettable memoir in the tradition of The Glass Castle about a young girl who, kept out of school, leaves her survivalist family and goes on to earn a PhD from Cambridge University. Educated is an account of the struggle for self-invention. It is a tale of fierce family loyalty, and of the grief that comes with severing the closest of ties. With the acute insight that distinguishes all great writers, Westover has crafted a universal coming-of-age story that gets to the heart of what an education is and what it offers: the perspective to see one’s life through new eyes, and the will to change it.

I’m always drawn to stories about those who live just outside mainstream society. I love learning about those ways of life, and this one is told not from an outsider’s perspective but from the perspective of someone who lived it. Doesn’t this one sound fascinating?

 

The Coincidence Makers by Yoav Blum – releases March 6

In this genre-bending novel, there is no such thing as chance and every action is carefully executed by highly trained agents. You’ll never looks at coincidences the same way again.

What if the drink you just spilled, the train you just missed, or the lottery ticket you just found was not just a random occurrence? What if it’s all part of a bigger plan? What if there’s no such thing as a chance encounter? What if there are people we don’t know determining our destiny? And what if they are even planning the fate of the world?

Enter the Coincidence Makers—Guy, Emily, and Eric—three seemingly ordinary people who work for a secret organization devoted to creating and carrying out coincidences. What the rest of the world sees as random occurrences, are, in fact, carefully orchestrated events designed to spark significant changes in the lives of their targets.

I love that the author decided to explore this topic! I expect this to be one of those books that sticks with me even after I’ve put it down – hopefully not as haunting as The Word Exchange, but given that it’s not dystopia, I’m sure it will be lovely. 🙂

 

Too Afraid to Cry by Ali Cobby Eckermann – releases March 6 (in US)

In Too Afraid to Cry, Ali Cobby Eckermann—who was recently awarded the Windham-Campbell Prize, one of the most prestigious literary awards in the world—describes with searing detail the devastating effects of racist policies that tore apart Indigenous Australian communities and created the Stolen Generations of “adoptees,” Aboriginal children forcibly taken from their birth families. Too Afraid to Cry offers a mirror to America and Canada’s own dark history of coerced adoption of Native American children, and the violence inflicted on our continent’s Indigenous peoples.

It looks like this book has been out in Australia for quite some time, but it’s being released in the US this year. When I was looking at upcoming books this one caught my eye.

 

The Elizas by Sara Shepard – releases April 17

When debut novelist Eliza Fontaine is found at the bottom of a hotel pool, her family at first assumes that it’s just another failed suicide attempt. But Eliza swears she was pushed, and her rescuer is the only witness.

Desperate to find out who attacked her, Eliza takes it upon herself to investigate. But as the publication date for her novel draws closer, Eliza finds more questions than answers. Like why are her editor, agent, and family mixing up events from her novel with events from her life? Her novel is completely fictional, isn’t it?

The deeper Eliza goes into her investigation while struggling with memory loss, the closer her life starts to resemble her novel until the line between reality and fiction starts to blur and she can no longer tell where her protagonist’s life ends and hers begins.

I’m not usually drawn to mysteries outright, but given that the protagonist is an author, I’m intrigued. I adore stories that explore the blurred line between what an author writes on the page and what could happen in the real world as a result.

 

Crazy Rich Asians by Kevin Kwan – movie release August 17

Crazy Rich Asians is the outrageously funny debut novel about three super-rich, pedigreed Chinese families and the gossip, backbiting, and scheming that occurs when the heir to one of the most massive fortunes in Asia brings home his ABC (American-born Chinese) girlfriend to the wedding of the season.

I’ve heard wonderful things about this book and honestly have been meaning to pick it up since it’s debut – now that the movie’s coming out, I need to make sure to get it from the library before everyone else catches on!

 

Bel Canto by Ann Patchett – movie release 2018 TBD

In an unnamed South American country, a world-renowned soprano sings at a birthday party in honor of a visiting Japanese industrial titan. Alas, in the opening sequence, a ragtag band of 18 terrorists enters the vice-presidential mansion through the air conditioning ducts. Their quarry is the president, who has unfortunately stayed home to watch a favorite soap opera. And thus, from the beginning, things go awry.

This book has been on TBR and on my shelf for at least two years now, and I’m excited the movie is finally coming out to get me motivated to pick it up and read it. With Julianne Moore involved, I’m hoping for the best.

What books are you looking forward to?

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