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Show Us Your Books – July 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! Before I get into the list, I’m going to warn you it’s a long one! I went on a reading binge of sorts and have basically read a book every day over the last 12 days. I never thought I’d say this but I need a little break… there is such a thing as reading overload. My mind has been to SO many places and back. And, I think, it’s the perfect time to catch up on the last couple of episodes of The Handmaid’s Tale in time for the finale.  

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Show Us Your Books – June 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! It feels like forever since I did one of these, though it’s really been just a month. Time seems to be going more quickly than usual. Anyone else have that feeling? Either way, I was able to finish 8 books since May’s SUYB, and I’m already working on my 9th. This has been a great reading month – all 3- and 4-star reads!   

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Show Us Your Books – May 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! Over this past month, I’ve read a different mix of books than I usually do – half fiction and half memoirs, one of which was a graphic novel (which I never read because I thought I didn’t like them). With the exception of the one book I didn’t finish – likely a case of wrong book, wrong time – I liked everything. Yay for a good month of reading!

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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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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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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?

This post contains affiliate links. Full disclosure here.

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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.

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Show Us Your Books – November 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, giving you a sneak peek of what I might be reviewing on the blog next. What’s really exciting about this month’s edition is that there were a lot of books I was really into. It was a good month 🙂 Let’s take a quick look!

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

The Rules of Magic – This prequel was one of the books I was really excited about this month. I read and post about Alice Hoffman’s Practical Magic in anticipation, and I scooped this one up from the library the first day it was available (thank you, waitlists!). I adored this much more than I thought I would. You can read my review here and check out a delicious recipe for Tipsy Chocolate Cake while you’re at it.

The Word Exchange – This debut novel by Alena Graedon combines our dependence on technology and the importance of language in a dystopian way that’s truly haunting. We read this for one of my book clubs, and even though we met almost two weeks ago, I still think about it almost every day. Admittedly, it started out a little slow, but just two chapters in and I was hooked. Keep an eye out for my review later this month!

Beasts of Extraordinary Circumstance – I gushed about this book last week, and today it’s available to own! My post about Ruth Emmie Lang’s novel says a lot, so I encourage you to pop on over and read it here. I adored this imaginative story, and I know you will too. 🙂

They Both Die at the End – Since reading this novel, I’ve read some mixed reviews, but that doesn’t change how I felt about Adam Silvera’s young adult dystopian novel. Imagine a world where you knew exactly which day you would die but not how – on the morning of your death, you get a phone call with the warning and are instructed to make the most of it. That’s the premise behind this novel, and I devoured it in a single day. Even though the title is basically a spoiler, I appreciated that the ending wasn’t what I was expecting.

Passed the Time Just Fine

Turtles All the Way Down – John Green’s latest novel (also YA) was released to much fanfare. While I really enjoyed it, it wasn’t my favorite this month – it had a lot of stiff competition. I still like The Fault in Our Stars the best of all his work, and I can’t resist picking up a new John Green whenever one is released. This book takes on the important topic of mental health, and honestly, it’s executed expertly. Definitely worth a read.

Little Fires Everywhere – This is another novel that’s been getting a lot of attention since it’s recent release. Having enjoyed Celeste Ng’s previous book, I was absolutely looking forward to reading this one, which many people have said is better. For me, it was 3 stars (not a bad thing!). I liked getting immersed in the world of Shaker Heights that Ng described, and I thought the characters were very interesting. I just finished it this past weekend, and it’s possible that the more I think about it, the more I’ll like it. Another one I’d recommend – especially if you like keeping up with the latest in contemporary fiction.

Not Worth It

Nothing – way too many great reads this month! (But here’s looking at you, currently reading category…)

 

Did Not Finish

The Refrigerator Monologues – I was pretty excited about this book’s combination of feminism and superheroes. It was pretty short, and I thought I could power through, but I read about 25% of the book and still wasn’t feeling it. I had a lot of books I was really looking forward to in the TBR pile, so I just let this one go.

 

Currently Reading

The Power – I’m trying to save my judgments of this novel until the end, but I’m almost finished – last 100 pages to go! I will say that so far, I’m underwhelmed by Naomi Alderman’s dystopia. (Wow, I’ve read a lot of dystopia this month…) I was expecting amazing things, but I’ll admit I’ve put it down to read a few other books since starting it. I just picked it up again after finishing LFE and I’m determined to finish.

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.

 

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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.