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Show Us Your Books – October 2017

Happy Tuesday, everyone! It’s time for another edition of Show Us Your Books, where I briefly recap what I’ve read since last time and give you a sneak peak of what I might be reviewing on the blog next. Welcome! Let’s take a quick look at what I’ve read recently.

Linkup Guidelines:
This linkup happens the second Tuesday of every month. The next is Tuesday, November 14, 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

Sourdough – I didn’t hesitate to grab this book when it came out because a) it was from the author of Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore, and b) it was about the world of food. When Lois unexpectedly gets stuck with a sourdough starter, she discovers a skill she didn’t know she had, and as the starter takes on a life of its own, her life is transformed as well. It was absolutely an engrossing read, quick and fun. I’d recommend this to anyone looking for a bit of an escape, especially if you’re a foodie. 🙂

The Red Tent – This was recommended to me after I read Anita Diamant’s The Boston Girl, so I picked up a copy at the library book sale in the spring, and it’s been sitting on my shelf ever since. I finally picked it up, and I’m glad I did. I thought historical fiction taking place in biblical times – the main character, Dinah, and her family are literally in the Bible – would be hard to get through, but Diamant’s writing style is engaging from the start. The story she told was one of several very strong women, and I found myself enthralled.

Behind Her Eyes – As a thriller, this book almost automatically belongs in this category. It wasn’t my favorite, but it did keep me turning the page, and for the day and a half that I read it, I was engrossed. I stayed up late in an attempt to finish it Sunday, accidentally fell asleep and then woke up early to finish it on Monday morning. I did not see the ending coming; I thought it was set up well and cleverly done.

Passed the Time Just Fine

Exit West – This is at the top of the category this month because it was on the cusp for me, maybe a 3.5/4 star book. Almost a novella, Exit West by Mohsin Hamid is the story of a young couple trapped in a turbulent country and their journey to safety. It was nominated for numerous awards and is probably obviously really well-written and clever in its devices.

East of Eden – After hanging out in my “Currently Reading” for the past two months, I finally finished John Steinbeck’s novel! I felt like it was a touch too much like reading for school and because it was so long, I got a little cranky about needing to finish it before moving on to something else, which didn’t earn it any love. That being said, the characters were extremely well-developed and I can see why people love it. For me, though, it was just fine.    

Bread & Wine – A new co-worker brought me this essay collection one day after learning how much I enjoyed reading and eating. A super quick read, I gobbled it up last weekend. It was full of wonderful stories about friendship, community, and of course, food. Almost every chapter included a recipe, and all of them sounded delicious.

Mad Girl – I read this memoir for my office’s Diversity Book Club, chosen to spark conversation about mental health since the first week of October is Mental Health Awareness Week. The subject matter is so deeply personal to the author and her struggles come through the page. That being said, I didn’t think she crafted the most cohesive story and it was a bit of a chore to get through. I definitely appreciate it for telling a hard truth, but I’ve read other books on the subject that I’ve gotten more out of. Mad Girl falls somewhere between this category and Not Worth It.

The Kitchens of the Great Midwest – I didn’t hate this book, probably because of all the food references and occasional recipe, but I definitely didn’t love it. The blurb was extremely misleading (in my opinion), and so this book was not what I expected at all. I didn’t find it heartwarming, and I thought some of the connections between characters felt contrived and/or out of place, making some chapters weaker and less enjoyable than others. It should maybe be in the Not Worth It category, but the food-centric theme is keeping it up here.

 

Not Worth It & Did Not Finish

None this month!

 

Currently Reading

The Refrigerator Monologues – I haven’t gotten really into this yet, but I’m excited about to dive in. I first heard about it on an episode of All the Books (source of many of my book recommendations, as you’re probably aware), and I got excited about the combination of feminism and superheroes. It’s pretty short, so it should be a quick, fun and hopefully thought-provoking 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

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

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

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.

of interest

Show Us Your Books – June Edition

Show-Us-Your-Books

This is my first time participating in the Show Us Your Books linkup, but I’m excited to be a part of the conversation and hopefully meet more bloggers who love reading as much as I do. (Thanks to Heather of Heather’s Hurrah for telling me about it!)

Linkup Guidelines:
This linkup happens the second Tuesday of every month. The next is Tuesday, July 11, 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!

I guess the best place to start is what I’ve read over the past month.

Engrossing Reads

Becoming Nicole: The Transformation of an American Family – I think I’ve mentioned before that my office has a Diversity Book Club, and though I was gunning for The Golden Boy to win as our recent pick, this book proved to be an excellent nonfiction version of the same story. It’s definitely an eye-opening read, and one that I would recommend.

The Kitchen House – I bought this book on May 19th at my new local library’s used book sale (along with 12 other books!) and, on the many, many recommendations from one of my online book clubs, I didn’t wait long to dive right in. It’s been awhile since I’ve read a piece of historical fiction that I truly enjoyed. I can’t wait to tell you more about it in my blog post later this week!

The Royal We – part The Prince & Me, part William and Kate’s love story, and basically every girl’s princess dreams come true, this novel was the perfect read to kick-off summer. Filled with drama, I couldn’t help but get sucked in as an American girl studying abroad (why couldn’t that happen to me?!) unexpectedly meets her real Prince Charming and takes us along for the ride. I sped through it.

Lilac Girls – Perhaps “enjoyed” is the wrong way to describe a WWII Holocaust novel, but for such intense subject matter, I still couldn’t put it down. I wouldn’t normally put a 3-star book in this category, but if it weren’t for Caroline’s chapters, I would’ve given this book four. I really wanted to try cooking with lilacs for this one, but unfortunately I started reading it about a month too late. Stay tuned to see what I do make 🙂

The Sisters Chase – In a Facebook group of fellow bookworms, this book was talked up as the best selection for June’s Book of the Month so, of course, it’s the one I selected. It was a super quick read and had a twist that I didn’t see coming.

Passed the Time Just Fine

Truly Madly Guilty – Liane Moriarty’s latest installment was a hot commodity when it came out, and with HBO’s Big Little Lies just finishing up, I couldn’t wait to read it. It probably suffered from a little bit of over-hype or high expectations, but it was pretty good. Plus, it led to some delicious “shrimp on the barbie” and you can’t beat that!  

Lots of Candles, Plenty of Cake – I usually pick up a book to read because the story sounds good and I want to actually read the story, but occasionally I really want to make something specific for the blog, and I find a book to fit that bill. This book was one of those, and it was all about the cake. Anna Quindlen’s memoir wasn’t bad, but it just wasn’t for me, right now.

Not Worth It

The Unbearable Lightness of Being – Phew, this one was hard to get through! I’m sure you know the feeling – if it wasn’t for book club, it definitely would’ve ended up in the didn’t finish column.

All Grown Up – Luckily a short and easy read, I just didn’t empathize with the characters (or like them very much) and the immature attitude of the main character, who is very not grown up, was frustrating.

Did Not Finish

None this month – I persevered!

Currently Reading

Cloud Atlas – This is one of my friend Deanna’s favorite books and I’ve been hanging onto it for far too long. I figure it’s about time I started it, so she can have it back. I’m not even finished with the first chapter (which admittedly isn’t easy to get into), but I’m hoping for the best. I’m also looking forward to *maybe* making some goofy sort of cloud egg recipe (like this one), but we’ll have to see where the story takes me…

The Country of Ice Cream Star – I got sucked in by the title of this one too, and (surprise!) I really wanted to make ice cream to go with it. I got about 10% in and dropped it in favor of four other books, but now it seems like it’s time to give it another try. It may end up in the “did not finish” pile…

Until next month!

Life According to Steph
This post contains affiliate links. Full disclosure here