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.)
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
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
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.
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!)
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.
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)
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.