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Show Us Your Books – December 2017

Happy Tuesday, everyone! It’s time for this year’s last edition of Show Us Your Books, where I briefly recap what I’ve read since last time, giving you a sneak peek of what I might be reviewing on the blog next. I read a lot more than I expected to in November, and honestly a lot of that is due to my participation in the Thanksgiving Readathon, where I managed to tackle a surprising 5 books in 5 days. Since I already recapped those 5 in my wrap-up post, I won’t do it as much here, but I’ll still share a few brief thoughts on each. 🙂

Linkup Guidelines:
This linkup happens the second Tuesday of every month. The next is Tuesday, January 9, 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

Engrossing Reads

A Homemade Life – Molly Wizenberg’s food memoir was truly the only book I read this month where I was into it 100% and walked away loving it. Racing through it for the readathon may have compounded this love, but I’m standing by it. In the meantime, I’m still deciding what to make to accompany its review… For those who’ve read it, I’m open to suggestions! The recipes all sound seriously delicious.

Young Jane Young – Any book that makes me laugh out loud is usually a good one, and this novel by the author of The Storied Life of AJ Fikry did just that. The story-telling was surprising (in a good way), and I always appreciate a story that revolves around strong female characters. I don’t think I went in with any expectations – having only heard of it in passing – and I’m glad I picked it up.  

 

Passed the Time Just Fine

Everything Everything – I’m probably the last person in the world to read this popular YA novel, especially since it came to theaters over the summer. The story was predictable, until it wasn’t. I was totally surprised by an unexpected turn of events about two-thirds of the way through, which I thought gave the novel a little more heft.

Seven Days of Us – I read over Thanksgiving too, as a sort of kickoff to the Christmas season. It wasn’t exactly what I expected, but I still thought it was an interesting read. I’m looking forward to making mince pies in my upcoming blog post about the novel, so look out for that closer to the 25th.

How to Behave in a Crowd – The cover of this novel initially caught my eye when I was perusing in a bookstore one evening, so I made a note of it and found it later at the library. On a bit of a stories-about-family-dynamics kick, this made its way into the Thanksgiving Readathon too. The tale narrated by an eleven-year-old boy in a family of brilliant older siblings was both heartbreaking and charming.

My True Love Gave to Me – I don’t often read short stories, but I saw this collection on a list of Christmas-y books from Carly Blogs Here and it piqued my interest. I enjoyed more than half of the stories, disliked a few and was meh about others. The stories I liked I really liked and it was a relatively quick read since it’s YA. If you’re looking for something to get you in the holiday spirit, I suggest giving it a try!  

Hunger – Having been a fan of Roxane Gay’s other work, I didn’t hesitate to pick this up when I saw it on a shelf of new releases at a recent trip to the library. Every woman struggles with feeling comfortable in her own skin, and Gay’s memoir about her weight, her relationship with food and how she got here is deeply personal and raw. It’s also relatable and particularly poignant in today’s social/political climate.

 

Not Worth It

I read both of these during the readathon, and while the speed with which I read them and their close approximation to books I liked much better may have exacerbated my dislike, I just wasn’t a fan of either of these.

The Readers of Broken Wheel Recommend –  Since my wrap-up post, I’ve met with my book club, and honestly, no one really enjoyed this book. In fact, the more we talked it through, the less I liked it. Characters felt one-dimensional, the setting and plot felt a bit absurd, and books weren’t as transformative as I think we would’ve hoped. Perhaps if it wasn’t compared to AJ Fikry my expectations wouldn’t have been as high, but either way, it fell flat.

The End We Start From – I think something I’ve learned from the few books I’ve disliked this year is that it’s not my favorite thing to be stuck in an unknown world and be unable to empathize or relate to the characters. This one lacked characterization and as a result the whole thing felt very far away and unrelatable. On a positive note, it was literally the quickest read of the year.

 

Did Not Finish

The Power – As you may recall from my last SUYB post, I was pretty determined to finish this book after having already read 200-ish pages, despite not being very into it. My lack of enthusiasm kept me from picking it back up, and I’m okay with that. I read a lot this month, most of it worthwhile, so I’m glad I didn’t let this one hold me back. (I’m not the only one who felt that way, and I too am looking forward to the release of Red Clocks to fulfill my feminist dystopia quota.)

 

Currently Reading

The Boat People – I’m only about a fifth of the way through this book, which I’m reading courtesy of NetGalley before it releases on January 9, but so far, I’m a fan. It’s a debut novel inspired by real events and follows a group of refugees who flee their dangerous homeland to find safety in Canada. It already promises to be more like what I was hoping Exit West would be, and let’s hope it continues to be worth the read.

 

What did you read this month? Which books did you enjoy most? Least? I’d love to hear your recommendations!

This post contains affiliate links. Full disclosure here.

of interest

Top Ten Tuesday – Books That Feature Characters Who Love Books

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.

Today’s topic is a bit of a freebie, where we’re able to fill in the blank in Ten Books That Feature Characters ___________, so I’m going with a super bookish list here. Books about books are among my favorites, but sometimes there are characters that come along in other kinds of stories that love books as much as I do, and I wanted to recognize those wonderfully bookish characters in Ten Books That Feature Characters Who Love Books.

In no particular order, let’s begin:

1. Matilda from Roald Dahl’s children’s novel of the same name: She is many children’s first exposure to how wonderful the world of books can be and how sometimes it can be a welcome escape. I think I actually saw the movie as a kid before I read the book, and since then I’ve also seen the Broadway musical, but the message remains the same – it’s okay to be different, you can accomplish whatever you set your mind to, and of course, there’s nothing quite like a good book!

2. Hermoine from (do I even need to say it?) the Harry Potter series: Hermoine is synonymous with reading. She can often be found in the library, or at the very least, pouring over a large volume somewhere. Books are an important part of many of her adventures (thank you, magical bags!) and usually hold the answer to help her and her friends get out of a sticky situation.

3. Anne of L.M. Montgomery’s beloved series, Anne of Green Gables: Anne has always been one of my favorite characters. Like Matilda, she used stories and her imagination to get her through tough situations, and like Hermoine, she is a lover of learning. Anne is a precocious trouble-maker who is also utterly charming, and as a result, worked her way into the hearts of readers everywhere.

4. Jo from Little Women: Not only a reader, but a writer as well, Jo was modeled after Louisa May Alcott herself. She is “boyish” and strong-willed, eschewing the traditional trappings of young women of her time in order to pursue a literary career. Jo is one of the reasons I wanted to become a writer when I was a young girl.

5. Scout from To Kill a Mockingbird: The daughter of a lawyer, Scout is intelligent with an inquisitive mind and reading comes as second nature to her. In fact, this wonderful quote is attributed to her: “Until I feared I would lose it, I never loved to read. One does not love breathing.” I mean, that pretty much sums it up.

6. Hazel from John Green’s The Fault in Our Stars: Hazel and Augustus’s relationship blossoms after they agree to read each other’s favorite novels. Her last wish is to meet her favorite author, whose novel she gave to Augustus, and much of the story takes place in pursuit of that dream.

7. Henry from The Time Traveler’s Wife: Henry has a disorder that causes him to involuntarily travel through time, and his position as a librarian allows him a quiet place to disappear when he happens to. Not only does he work in a library, but Henry meets his wife Clare there for the first time, leading to one of my favorite love stories.  

8. All 6 main characters from The Jane Austen Book Club: This novel is full of Jane Austen fans and one newbie, who nevertheless dives into her novels wholeheartedly. This book makes me want to read Austen every time, and I love how deeply they feel about her novels.

9. AJ Fikry from The Storied Life of AJ Fikry: AJ Fikry owns a bookstore. He transforms many of the people into his town from non-readers into readers. The entire book is like a love letter to reading and he’s at the center of it.

10. Emilia from How to Find Love in a Bookshop: Another bookstore owner, Emilia Nightingale, rounds out my list. Like her father before her (also a wonderful bookish character), Emilia loves reading and spends much of the novel rescuing her father’s and their town’s beloved book haven.

Who are some of your favorite characters who love books?

This post contains affiliate links. Full disclosure here.

of interest

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.