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Show Us Your Books – July Edition

Show Us Your Books – July Edition

Hey, internet friends! Long time no see! I’m working on a catch-up post, but today is Show Us Your Books link-up day, so let’s talk books!

Here’s what I’ve been reading the last few months:

(Amazon links are affiliate links because cat food is expensive.)

 


You Are Not Alone by Greer Hendricks and Sarah Pekkanen

Goodreads * Amazon

I enjoyed the two previous books by these authors (The Wife Between Us and An Anonymous Girl – you can find my reviews here and here respectively) so I requested this as soon as it appeared on Netgalley. Like their other novels, this is told in chapters that alternate between different perspectives. I love that they always seem to do the main character’s perspective in first person and the other chapters in third – makes it much easier to keep up with.

This definitely sucked me in – I read 89% of it in one sitting on the night I started it. The only thing these authors don’t seem to nail with their books is the ending. For all three, the endings are fine, but not super satisfying. I’d still recommend this one for a rainy night in, though.

 

The Dilemma by BA Paris

Goodreads * Amazon

It’s been ages since I’ve read any fiction, so I requested an advance review copy of this Netgalley. I went into it knowing basically nothing about the plot. I’ve previously read Behind Closed Doors and Bring Me Back by this author, and I recall them being interesting but frustrating. The story is told in chapters that alternate between husband and wife, and the timeline jumps around a bit. After reading a couple of chapters, I had a feeling I wasn’t going to be that into it. At around the 20% mark I felt like things were moving WAY too slowly, so I basically skimmed through until I found the answer to the big question that had been raised. Once I saw that, I didn’t really care to read any more. I had expected it to be a psychological thriller like the author’s other books, but nope. I read a Goodreads review that called it a short story stretched out into novel length, and that feels pretty on the nose. It’s really rare that I don’t finish a book, but this was a no for me.

 

 

 

Tiny Beautiful Things by Cheryl Strayed

Goodreads * Amazon

I read Wild back in 2009 long before it was a movie and Cheryl Strayed was a household name. I was finally able to get this collection of Cheryl’s “Dear Sugar” advice column from my library. It’s one of those books that I had to read in small chunks, because most of her answers to the advice questions are so poignant. Definitely recommended, but go into it ready to feel all of the emotions.

 

 

Goodreads * Amazon

Over the Top by Jonathan Van Ness

I already loved JVN from Queer Eye but this book made me love him so much more. I had no idea how much he’s been through – he’s had such a crazy life and he’s only in his early 30s. This was a fun (despite a lot of heavy stuff), quick read and it got me to start listening to his podcast, which is great. (I only recently learned that Bobby from Queer Eye worked at Applebees in Branson where I grew up! I need him to write a book now, too!)

 


Will My Cat Eat My Eyeballs?

Goodreads * Amazon

I love Caitlin Doughty. This is her third book and all three are great. She runs the “Ask a Mortician” YouTube, and much like that channel, this book answers a lot of the questions about death that you never really realized that you had. This time, she used all questions that kids have asked, with one question as the subject of each chapter, so you get to learn things like “Can Grandma have a Viking funeral?” and “What if they accidentally bury me when I’m just in a coma?” Caitlin is so, so good at handling these subjects with both respect and humor at the same time.

 


Live, Love, and Hack Life – A Fresh Look at Understanding Law of Attraction by Jennifer Teske

Goodreads * Amazon

Here’s something I didn’t expect to be saying in a review – I recommend this book whether you’re into the Law of Attraction or not simply because it has one of the BEST systems for identifying what you actually want and removing the mental blocks you have around achieving those things that I’ve seen anywhere. There is a big shift about halfway through where the author talks about her experience with trauma for a few chapters, but she then uses that as an example for shifting your thought process, so it makes sense.

(Complimentary review copy via NetGalley)

 


Thru Hiking Will Break Your Heart by Carrot Quinn

Goodreads * Amazon

I first heard about Carrot on the podcast “Real Talk Radio with Nicole Antoniette”, which is one of my favs. She was a big inspiration in the host’s decision to start long-distance hiking.

Amusing note – the top review of this book on Amazon says that the author hated it because there was too much cursing, promiscuity, and lesbianism. It’s so cool that someone managed to time travel from 1822 to write an Amazon review! 🙄 What makes the reviewer’s disgust even more amusing is that the author has implied (there’s nothing spelled out) sex with one girl on her journey and spends the last 30% or so of the book falling for a dude. C’mon, reviewer!

That said, the writing is not always great. I found that there was a lot of detail about things I didn’t care about (such as exactly what everyone ate when they went into town) and not enough about things I was curious about (I think I was halfway through when I realized I had no idea what any of the hikers she was hanging out with looked like or much about their personalities at all.) I saw that a lot of reviews said she complains too much, but I found that honest. If you’re 500 miles into a hike, you’re mostly thinking about pain you’re in and wondering if you have enough water like 80% of the time and things like “Wow, those mountains are majestic!” and “What am I going to do with my life after this?” like 20% of the time at best. It makes sense that since this was adapted from her blog posts while on trail, it reflects what she was actually thinking about for all of those miles. So basically the writing is so-so but the journey is interesting and I wasn’t ready for it to be over when she reached Canada. It’s very much what you’d expect as a first book that was adapted from a blog and now that she’s been writing and long-distance hiking for like 7 years I think that if she wrote a second book it would be much better, but I still enjoyed it.

 

That’s it this month! Be sure to visit Life According to Steph and Jana Says to check out the link-up and see what dozens of other bloggers have been reading lately.

Show Us Your Books – February Edition

Show Us Your Books – February Edition

Happy Tuesday! It’s been a few months since I’ve participated in the Show Us your Books link-up, so I’m glad that I finally finished a post on time! Can I get some kind of trophy for that?

 

Here’s what I’ve been reading recently:

 

As You Wish

Goodreads *Amazon

A while back I was discussing The Princess Bride with a friend and realized that I had never read the book. When I went to borrow it from my library (see below) there was a long wait list, but this was available, so I grabbed it! I listened to the audiobook, which is read by Cary Elwes, which definitely adds to the experience. It’s fun to hear his experiences making the movie, from learning how to fence to stories about how much Andre the Giant could eat. Check it out if you’re a fan of the movie!

 

 

The Princess Bride

Goodreads *Amazon

 

As always tends to happen when you finally read the book that a movie is based on, this gives a lot more depth to the story and characters that I never knew. Where the movie has the grandfather telling Fred Savage the story, the book is set up as the author abridging this old text that he found, so you still get the interludes. It’s a fun read if you haven’t already!

(It’s available to read for free if you have Kindle Unlimited! You can get a free month of Kindle Unlimited here.)

 

 

 

The Body: A Guide for Occupants by Bill Bryson

Goodreads * Amazon

I was super excited to find a new Bill Bryson book available on Netgalley for review! I love most of his travel books, but I didn’t make it very far through his last nonfiction. I’ve really enjoyed this one, though! It’s full of crazy facts about the body and medicine, and there’s a little bit of humor sprinkled in to keep it fun. It’s one of those books that makes you annoy your friends because you keep saying things like, “I’m reading this book about the body and I just learned that…” 

A couple of my favs:

*According to the USDA, about a quarter of all chicken sold in stores is contaminated with salmonella.

*”Giraffes, oddly, sometimes have gallbladders and sometimes don’t.”

*Loss of balance usually makes you nauseous because your brain doesn’t know what’s up and interprets it as you being poisoned. 

*Almost 3/4 of the prescriptions written in the US for antibiotics are written for conditions that can’t be cured with anitbiotics.

 

If you like reading nonfiction that gives you random trivia to spout off, this one is a lot of fun.

 

 

 

Maybe You Should Talk to Someone by Lori Gottleib

Goodreads *Amazon

You’ve probably heard about this memoir by now. The author is a therapist who winds up seeking therapy after a breakup. The chapters alternate between her experience in therapy and her experiences with her patients. It’s one of those books where you laugh, cry, and have big “ah-ha!” moments. One that stuck with me is the idea that when we lose someone, whether through a breakup or death or whatever, we like to keep talking about them almost obsessively for an extended period because it’s a way of still feeling connected to them. 

People often mistake numbness for nothingness, but numbness isn’t the absence of feelings; it’s a response to being overwhelmed by too many feelings.

 

Side note – There’s an episode of the Armchair Expert podcast that interviews the author that’s worth checking out if you like the book.

 

Finish – Give Yourself the Gift of Done by Jon Acuff

Goodreads * Amazon

I am terrible at finishing things. As an example, I currently have 156 posts published on this blog, and 51 half-written posts sitting in the drafts folder. Some of those drafts have been sitting therefor YEARS. I’m great at starting, but definitely have issues around finishing things.     I listened to this as an audiobook (borrowed from my library) several months ago and really enjoyed it, but when I went to write about it here I couldn’t remember anything, so I got on the waiting list and finally got to listen again. Yay! However, even after listening again all I can tell you is that I found it to be good motivation – I can’t remember the other takeaways.

“The opposite of perfectionism isn’t failure, it’s finished.”

“You don’t just give time to something, you take it from something else.”

 

Leaving the Witness: Exiting a Religion and Finding a Life by Amber Scorah

Goodreads * Amazon

I was browsing my library’s nonfiction e-books and found this. The description mentioned it being similar to Educated, which I loved, so I had to request it. The author grew up as a Jehova’s Witness and wound up moving to China with her husband to attempt to convert people. As you can imagine, living in a whole other culture opened her eyes to a lot of things she had been sheltered from. I can’t say that this was anywhere as good as Educated, but it is an interesting read.

 

Be sure to visit Life According to Steph and Jana Says to see what dozens of other bloggers have been reading and reviewing.

Show Us Your Books – October Edition

Show Us Your Books – October Edition

Happy Show Us Your Books link-up day! Here’s what I’ve been reading recently!

(Apologies for the tight spacing on this post. The latest WordPress update made things funky and no matter how much extra space I try to insert between paragraphs/photos, it keeps crowding it all together!)

*

Toil & Trouble by Augusten Burroughs

*This book was released on October 1. I received a complimentary review copy via Netgalley.*

Goodreads * Amazon

I came across this at random while browsing NetGalley and recognized the author’s name but couldn’t think of what I knew him from. He’s written a bunch of best seller memoirs (I think “Running with Scissors” is the best known.) This one is woven around the phenomenon he’s experienced his whole life. His mother told him he was a witch, but to be honest it mostly sounds like what we know as intuition and the law of attraction. Whatever you want to label it, the book is filled with interesting stories of knowing things he couldn’t have known, willing things  into happening, etc. Even more than that, it’s a memoir of he and his husband moving from NYC to an old house in Connecticut. Whether you buy into the magical aspect or not, it’s a fun read with good storytelling.

Next Level Basic by Stassi Schroeder

Goodreads * Amazon

You guys… I have no idea why I requested this book. I heard the author on a podcast and they were talking about her book, and I guess that it sounded interesting enough that I decided to check it out? What was I thinking? I’ve never seen the reality show she’s on, and it’s just not my kind of book. The writing is vapid and just… bad. (She frequently tacks “AF” onto things for emphasis, for example.) Most of the content would have been better as blog posts than a book. For example, there’s a whole multi-page thing about what kind of person you are based on what percentage of cell phone charge you have. No, really. It would be cute as a Buzzfeed-style post, but not in a book. Would I have maybe liked it better as an audiobook? I downloaded an episode of the author’s podcast just to see if I was missing something, but… nope. Definitely not for me.

I always try to find something positive to say about books, and in this case the underlying message of the book is a good one – to like what you like no matter if it’s considered cliche or silly.

Imperfect Birds by Anne Lamott

Goodreads * Amazon

I loved Anne’s “Bird by Bird” so much that I had to request this when I saw it on my library’s website. I got the audiobook because I love how this author reads her books, then was totally disappointed to discover it’s a different person reading it. Then a few minutes in I figured out that it was a novel, not another memoir. Oops. That’s what I get for requesting a book just based on the author! I listened for almost an hour but it’s like 12 hours long and just not my kind of book, so I went ahead and returned it. Lesson learned!

Currently Reading:

I got an ARC of Rachel Maddow’s new book and I AM SO EXCITED. She’s one of my favorite humans and an awesome author.

Linking up with Life According to Steph and Jana Says. They’re hosting a giveaway in honor of the five-year anniversary of the link-up, so be sure to check it out!

Show Us Your Books – Summer Edition

Show Us Your Books – Summer Edition

 

At long last, I’m showing up for another Show Us Your Books link-up! Apparently the last time I did one was back in April. Life needs to settle down for a bit so I can catch up on everything! (HA! Not gonna happen.)

Here’s some of what I’ve been reading over the last several months!

 

 


Sh#t Your Ego Says

Goodreads * Amazon

This might be one of my most highlighted e-books of all time. It’s not that it was the best book ever, but so many passages felt highlight-worthy, either for being really motivational or just stated in a way that really struck me. I feel like I need to re-read it, though, because a lot of what I highlighted is less striking when I look back at it out of context even though it was apparently really resonating at the time.

Shortly after moving to NYC to follow his dream of becoming a writer, the author finds himself homeless and jobless after Hurricane Sandy struck. This life-changing turn of events causes him to examine his life and his thoughts. It’s part memoir, part self-improvement.

 

I was going to share some of what I highlighted, but as I said, it turns out that it has zero impact out of context. Instead, I’ll share the passage that blew my mind and that I’ve been telling people about ever since:

 

“If we were to take the entire light spectrum and condense it to the size of the Mississippi River , which flows 2,340 miles from the top of Minnesota into the Gulf of Mexico, the portion that would be visible to the human eye is merely eight inches. We are unable to see most— in fact, nearly all— of the light that we know to exist because it is a frequency beyond our perception. The same is true for sound, smell, taste, and touch. We only experience a small percentage of what has been proven to exist.”

 

(I received a complimentary review copy via Netgalley)

 

 

Devil in the White City by Erik Larson

Goodreads * Amazon

This is an odd book – it tells the story of the design and construction of the 1893 World’s Fair in Chicago and also the story of a serial killer who was operating in the area at the same time. There’s not really much crossover between the stories, just the fact that they’re in the same time and place, so they make a kind of unusual combination.

Gotta be honest – the parts about the fair were hit and miss. Some aspects were fascinating – hearing about how it was the first time people got to try Cracker Jacks and Juciy Fruit, it was the unveiling of the first Ferris Wheel, and it was when the first zipper was introduced (I KNOW! WHAT??), were all very cool. But there was also a LOT about the design and construction and relationships between architects that drug a little. Buffalo Bill meeting and honoring Susan B. Anthony? Cool. Arguments about what kind of boats fit the aesthetic they had in mind for the lake? Meh.

Something that I found odd- My library e-book expired when I was only halfway through the book, so I checked my library for a hard copy because the e-book waiting list was pretty long. I was surprised that it was in the biography section, and cataloged under the name of the serial killer. Holmes’s story makes up…maybe 1/3 of the book? Why isn’t it just classified as nonfiction?

 

 

 

 


The Radium Girls

Goodreads * Amazon

Workplace safety in the US has come a long way since the 1920s, y’all.

These poor girls, mostly in their teens and early 20s when they were hired, were employed painting watch dials with paint that contained radium. The job paid great and the work atmosphere was fun, and then, you know how it goes… people’s jaws started falling off. The usual.

I saw a lot of reviews of this before reading it, but somehow expected it to have more on the time before they got sick. Instead, more than half of the book takes place during the lawsuits against the radium companies when the girls tried to get compensation for their suffering and medical bills. It’s still interesting – the crap the workplace tries to pull to avoid taking responsibility is insane – just different than I expected. It’s a fascinating book, but also quite sad between the death and illness and long, drawn out fight for the courts to recognize them. I can’t imagine the terror of watching your coworkers die horrible deaths and knowing that you are probably next.

 

Lab Girl by Hope Jahren

Goodreads * Amazon

I heard about this book on the Brain Candy Podcast and was surprised to see that my local library actually had it. The audiobook was available before the ebook, so I went with that. The author’s writing style is great, sort of poetic, and her soft, sincere voice really sells it. The book alternates between scientific info about plants and her personal life while working in labs over the years. I noticed a lot of reviews where people hated one of those aspects and hated the other. I found the science fascinating and the personal memoir hit and miss. Her research partner Bill stands out as an extraordinary character, but some of the later chapters drug a bit. Liked but didn’t love.

 

It seems crazy that I only have four reviews after so many months off, but life has been crazy and as usual, I’ve started a ton of books that I didn’t finish. I really need to start reviewing some of those as DNF’s instead of just leaving them on my kindle forever with plans to come back to them eventually. Would probably do wonders for my Netgalley review percentage!

Be sure to visit Life According to Steph and Jana Says to check out the dozens of other bloggers taking part in the Show Us Your Books link-up and see what they’ve been reading lately!

 

 

Show Us Your Books – April Edition (with Giveaway!)

Show Us Your Books – April Edition (with Giveaway!)

 

Happy Show Us Your Books link-up day! It’s been a weird last couple of months for me reading-wise. I started reading Devil in the White City about the Chicago World’s Fair, but my library e-book expired halfway through and there were other holds so I couldn’t just renew it. Right after that, my hold on Radium Girls finally came through, but THAT one expired when I was only 70% finished! Back on the wait list for it, too. I did finish a few new books, though, so it’s time for reviews!

As usual, I link to both the Goodreads and Amazon page for each book. The amazon links are affiliate links, which means that purchasing something after clicking that link throws a little money into the “Crystal needs to trade in her car!” fund without costing you any extra.

 


Someone You Know

Goodreads * Amazon

I’ve seen mixed reviews of this on Goodreads, but I really liked it. It’s a mystery told from two different perspectives in different time periods. One is a first person perspective from Tess, whose twin sister went missing as a teenager. The alternating chapters are told third person from her sister’s perspective 20 years ago. I liked how the stories built towards the same event, and loved a totally unexpected twist near the climax.

It’s not an edge of your seat thriller, more of a slow accumulation of clues that leaves you suspecting pretty much everyone. The writing is solid but not remarkable, but it was a fun way to spend a few evenings.

I received a complimentary e-book for review via Netgalley. The Kindle edition is currently available on Amazon for just $1.99! Not sure how long that price will last – the book was just published in February.

 

 

The Accidental Beauty Queen by Teri Wilson

Goodreads * Amazon

Someone raved about this on last month’s link-up (sorry I don’t remember who!) and my library had it available, so I grabbed it. Such a fun, feel-good read! I read it in one evening, so it’s pretty quick, too. I originally thought it was YA, but the main characters are in their late 20s. A great poolside read if you’re looking for quick and fun.

 


Orange Is the New Black

Goodreads * Amazon

This was a re-read for me. I recently re-watched the first couple of seasons of the show, which made me want to pick the book up again.

I’m really happy that the first time I read it, it was before watching the show. It’s a really interesting look at a woman’s experience in the prison system, but compared to all of the super dramatic things that happen in the Netflix version, it’s fairly tame. Still an interesting read, but reading it before and after watching the show are totally different experiences.

 


The Girl He Used to Know

Goodreads * Amazon

I actually reviewed this book a few days ago in its own post here! The publisher accidentally sent me two review copies instead of one, so I’d like to pass one on to one of you guys! Just enter on the Rafflecopter widget below for a chance to get it.

Due to shipping costs and different giveaway rules in different countries, this is only open to those 18+ with a US mailing address.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

 

Be sure to visit Life According to Steph and Jana Says to check out the link-up and see what dozens of other bloggers have been reading lately!