Show Us Your Books – November Edition

Show Us Your Books – November Edition

Happy Tuesday and happy Show Us Your Books link-up day! (Dang, it’s TUESDAY, which means it’s only been a week since election day! WHAT A WEEK!!!)

As usual, the Amazon links are affiliate links because cat food is expensive and I need those four cents I get if you buy a book from my link.


The Silent Patient

Goodreads * Amazon

I heard from so many people that this was one of their favorite books in years, so I think I went in with expectations that were too high. It was good but not phenomenal. Worth reading – the writing is good and there’s just the right amount of suspense – but probably much better if you don’t go in with huge expectations.


Chosen Ones by Veronica Roth

Goodreads * Amazon

I requested this from Netgalley because I recognized the author’s name but could not think of what she wrote. (It was the Divergent series!) This is her first novel “for adults”, but it still reads very much like a YA novel with slightly older characters. I almost quit reading multiple times during the first 20%, but kept going in hopes it would get better. Every time I was about to put it down something just interesting enough would happen that I kept going in optimism. It felt like the author had created these interesting characters and then did nothing with them. The book takes place 10 years after the main group of characters saves the world, but of the allusions to things that had happened a decade before didn’t feel like slowly revealing backstory, but like I’d missed the first book in a trilogy and was trying to start with the second. And then… around 30% in something totally absurd happens. I read one more chapter before I realized I was just hate reading at that point and finally gave up. I very rarely do not finish a book, but this is going to remain forever at 35% unless I get very, very bored and decide to try again.




Goodreads * Amazon

THIS BOOK. It tore me apart and put me back together again multiple times. I read like half of Love Warrior (her previous book) before my library ebook expired and it was good but not life-changingly good or anything. But oh man, THIS ONE. I highlighted so much. Part of it was the timing of when I read it a few months ago – my heart was in a very raw, vulnerable place so parts of her love story hit me harder than they normally would.

“When I was a child, I felt what I needed to feel and I followed my gut and I planned only from my imagination. I was wild until I was tamed by shame. Until I started hiding and numbing my feelings for fear of being too much. Until I started deferring to others’ advice instead of trusting my own intuition. Until I became convinced that my imagination was ridiculous and my desires were selfish. Until I surrendered myself to the cages of others’ expectations, cultural mandates, and institutional allegiances. Until I buried who I was in order to become what I should be. I lost myself when I learned how to please.”


“We sat down on my couch, and I spilled it all. I told her about how Abby and I had met, how we’d spent the past weeks falling deeper in love through emails, how our letters felt like blood transfusions. Each one I read and wrote pumped fresh life through my veins. I told her how ridiculous and impossible it all was.”


“Maybe Eve was never meant to be our warning. Maybe she was meant to be our model. Own your wanting. Eat the apple. Let it burn.”

I could quote the whole dang book here, but I’ll leave it at that.


One To Watch

Goodreads * Amazon

Oh man, this is a hard one to review. I requested an ARC from Netgalley because I kept hearing how great it was, but my feelings went up and down. The story is about a woman who becomes the first plus-sized star of a Bachelor-style dating show. Much like watching reality TV, at times reading this was a lot of fun, sometimes it tugged at my emotions, and sometimes it just felt dumb. I almost quit reading after the first couple of chapters. I didn’t like the main character (that never really changed) or the format, which is a 3rd person narrative interspersed with articles, emails, tweets, podcast transcripts, etc. It got better after the first few chapters, but towards the end I found that I was pretty over it and kind of skimming.


All The Way To The Tigers by Mary Morris

Goodreads * Amazon

I requested this book from NetGalley because I knew Mary Morris had written *something* that I liked, but as tends to be the case with me, I could not remember what. (It was “Nothing to Declare”, which sticks in my brain as the book I was reading when my dad died.) This is a sort of half-travel memoir that flashes between the author’s trip to India where she hoped to spot a tiger in the wild and the life-altering accident that she suffered a few years before the trip. It’s not action-packed, just good, solid memoir writing that makes me want to check out some of her other books that I’ve missed.


Burnout by Emily and Amelia Nagowski

Goodreads * Amazon


“We thrive when we have a positive goal to move toward, not just a negative state we’re trying to move away from.”


Confession: I requested this book from NetGalley like, last winter but kept postponing reading it in favor of other things I was more excited for. Then Brene Brown interviewed the authors on her podcast and the ideas were so interesting that I was super happy that I already had it and could start reading immediately! It’s an interesting, easy-to-understand book and I did pick up some handy info about processing stress from it, but if we’re being honest, I think that just listening to the podcast episode is almost as good as reading it. As with almost any book like this, some sections really hit home while others just didn’t resonate with me.


The Lies That Bind by Emily Giffin

Goodreads * Amazon

I’ve really enjoyed some of Emily Giffin’s books so when I saw this one available on NetGalley I requested it immediately. I finally got around to starting it this week, and I was totally sucked in for about the first quarter of the book. However, around halfway through, the plot gets weird and the tone changes in a way that made me lose interest. I had a pretty solid guess about what the twist would be so I did a thing I rarely do and skimmed ahead to see if I was right. In the process of doing so, I saw just enough to know that the plot gets REALLY absurd along the way, and that while I didn’t totally call the twist, I was close enough. Seeing how unbelievable the plot gets turned me off from finishing it, so this is going to be a Did Not Finish. When I pulled up its Goodreads page just now to grab the link for this post, I half expected to see glowing reviews that would encourage me to go back and finish, but nope – tons of very low reviews at the top that also sound disappointed. (And dang, apparently there’s some big Emily Giffin controversy that I missed? Yikes.) Anyway, it’s weird to have too books I didn’t finish in one SUYB post since I finish almost everything I start, but I’m glad I didn’t devote more time to something that would have just annoyed me in the end.


That’s it for me this month! Visit Life According to Steph and Jana Says to see what dozens of other bloggers have been reading lately!

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.

WIN a Family Pass to Shipwrecked Treasure Museum in Branson OR an Authentic Pirate-Era Coin! (Hello Spring Giveaway Hop)

WIN a Family Pass to Shipwrecked Treasure Museum in Branson OR an Authentic Pirate-Era Coin! (Hello Spring Giveaway Hop)

If you saw my post about Shipwrecked Treasure Museum in Branson, MO last week, you’re probably considering checking it out the next time you’re in town. Good news! It’s giveaway hop day and I get to treat one of you to a Family Pass that will get 2 adults and 2 children into the museum!



If you won’t be visiting Branson in 2020, don’t worry, we have a giveaway option for you, too! One lucky winner will get an authentic pirate-era coin that is from between 1400-1600 AD!


The museum’s gift shop has all kinds of cool coins recovered from shipwrecks, so one of you will be receiving a coin that was underwater for at least 400 years!!


PLEASE NOTE that there are two DIFFERENT giveaway options below! The first one is to win the Family Pass to the museum, the second is for the pirate-era shipwreck coin. The family pass is only good in 2020 and will have the winner’s name on it, so please only enter that giveaway if you can make it to Branson this year to use the pass. If you want to gift it to a family member or friend that you know will be in Branson this year, I am happy to put their name on it when you win, but it can NOT be sold or otherwise transferred once you give me the name to put on it.

You are totally welcome to enter both giveaways, I just want to make sure the museum pass goes to someone who can actually use it!

Both giveaways are open to US residents ages 18+. In the highly unlikely event that the same winner is drawn at random for both giveaways, they will get to choose one prize and a new winner will be drawn for the other. Winners will be contacted via the email they provide in the Rafflecopter form and will have 48 hours to reply to the email to end their prize. Giveaway start at 12:01 am on March 17th and ends at 11:59 pm on March 31st. You can return daily for extra entries into both giveaways.


a Rafflecopter giveaway


a Rafflecopter giveaway


Check out the other blogs participating in the Hello Spring giveaway hop! There are a lot of fantastic prizes, and you can enter to win as many as you’d like!

You are invited to the Inlinkz link party!

Click here to enter

Incredible Artifacts and Interactive Fun at Shipwrecked Treasure Museum in Branson, MO

Incredible Artifacts and Interactive Fun at Shipwrecked Treasure Museum in Branson, MO

Located at the Branson Landing, the brand new Shipwrecked Treasure Museum in Branson, MO just had its official ribbon cutting ceremony last Thursday. This interactive treasure museum is filled with fascinating artifacts recovered from miles beneath the ocean’s surface!


Branson shipwrecked treasure museum


I received complimentary museum admission to facilitate my review.

Whether you’re a history buff, a pirate enthusiast, a rare coin collector, or just a fan of visiting museums while on vacation, Shipwrecked Treasure Museum offers something for everyone. I loved learning the stories behind each exhibit, and it’s crazy to look at artifacts like a piece of pottery that was literally underwater for thousands of years!

Read More Read More

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.