Tag - reading

Show us your books: September 2018

I can’t believe it’s this day again. Show Us Your Books Day!

And yes, it’s also 9/11. Seventeen years ago I was an adult and watched the horror on one of the TVs at the Courier-Post while it happened. (And then we went to work putting stories and photos online, because that’s what newspaper people do.) I still look at low-flying planes to gauge if they are flying erratically. But I, me, Kim, speaking for myself, can’t dwell on it every year for the rest of my life. I can recall the pangs of fear and loss and helplessness, and then go on trying to make life as great as I can.

outdoors reading

I will miss this most of all when summer leaves us.

Which includes posting book reviews on the day designated. Which is today.

Onto the books! I use the Goodreads system to rate books, which is:

  • One star: did not like it
  • Two stars: it was ok
  • Three stars: liked it
  • Four stars: really liked it
  • Five stars: it was amazing

Let’s Talk about Death (over Dinner): An Invitation and Guide to Life’s Most Important Conversation — Michael Hebb

Weird fact about me: I am always interested in books about death and dying. I even have a shelf.

Tired of playing Table Topics? How about hosting a Death Dinner? In this book, Michael Hebb gives tips on how to talk about death. He suggests doing it over dinner, but the questions included in the book are good for discussion anytime, or answering them for yourself.

Death is an inevitable part of life, and a natural consequence of living is having to deal with the deaths of those close to you. Working through the questions with your family and friends will undoubtedly make that easier.

I enjoyed the anecdotes from Hebb’s friends and colleagues as they tackled the questions. It’s a lot to think of.

Four Stars. Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for letting me read this book in exchange for an honest review.

The Kiss Quotient — Helen Hoang

Stella Lane is super smart, super successful, and super rich. But she’s awful at dating and doesn’t like sex. Stella has Asperger’s Syndrome, which doesn’t make social interactions impossible, just more difficult. Stella hires an escort, Michael, to give her lessons.

THIS BOOK GETS STEAMY. As in, I stopped reading when someone sat next to me on the train. But I really really loved it because it was a different kind of romance. After years of avoiding the genre because I thought I was too snobby for it, I’m enjoying the modern take on romance novels.

I gave this five stars on Goodreads because I was all YEAH immediately after reading. It’s probably a four-star book, but I feel bad taking stars away on Goodreads after the fact. Especially when the author is active on Goodreads.

Woman Last Seen in Her Thirties — Camille Pagán

Maggie Harris is 53 years old with two adult children, an unnecessary part time job, and a good marriage with her attorney-husband. Who suddenly ends their marriage because of someone else. In dealing with all of that mess, Maggie realizes that she lost herself to her family years ago. She decides to build a new life for herself, taking all sorts of chances along the way.

Four Stars. I was rooting for Maggie the entire time. The book sounds super cliched and formulaic, but the characters grew more real as the book continued.

The Widows of Malabar Hill — Sujata Massey
In 1921 Bombay, Perveen Mistry is a solicitor in her father’s law firm. Acutally, she is the only female lawyer in Bombay so although she’s not allowed to be appear in court, she is able enter worlds that her male colleagues cannot. In this book, she’s integral to solving a murder that happened in the house of three Muslim widows who have closed themselves off to the world. Through the second plotline set in 1916 we learn about Perveen’s past.

You know how people tell you to read books from writers of different backgrounds? They’re right. I learned a lot about Indian culture of the time, the struggles of women, and religion. There’s a glossary in the back but the book is so well written I didn’t need it. The first half of the book moves slowly as all of the characters are established but once it gets going, it goes.

Four Stars. The second book in the series is coming out in February! Sujata Massey writes another mystery series around a 27 year old Japanese-American teacher in Tokyo. The first in that series is called The Salaryman’s Wife and I’m adding it to my TBR.

Currently reading: Enchantments: A Modern Witch’s Guide to Self-Possession — Mya Spalter. It’s a NetGalley book and I’m allllllmost done. It’ll be my 50th book of my 50-book goal. I’ll be tackling more reading in the next few days.

All of my book lists and reviews are on Goodreads.

This a part of the Show us Your Books linkup from Jana Says and Life According to Steph. If you want to read more bloggers gush about the books they’ve read this month, click the button below and have fun!

Life According to Steph

What are you reading?

January | February | March | April | May | June | July | August

Show us your books: August 2018

I eked out five books this month. My Seattle trip was heavy on the socializing, and I actually watched a movie on the flight back instead of reading. It was Game Night. It was funny enough and had my problematic boo Jason Bateman. Two of my books required a bit of digestion which slowed me down.

The reading I’ve been doing lately.

As always, I have many magazines to keep me busy. O Magazine continues to delight this middle aged lady, but sadly Magnolia Journal has become a bit of a hate read and I’m not going to renew it. I want to see pretty things and learn about decorating, but I’m getting preached to instead. Chip’s column this issue comes really close to declaring themselves as Quiverfull Christians and … not my cup of tea. But they have millions of adoring fans who share a belief system so they won’t miss my subscription. Funny enough, I buy items from their Hearth & Home line at Target, but only if they go on clearance. If they can save money by re-purposing old doors and windows, they’ll be okay with me not spending full price on their stuff.

Onto the books! I use the Goodreads system to rate books, which is:

  • One star: did not like it
  • Two stars: it was ok
  • Three stars: liked it
  • Four stars: really liked it
  • Five stars: it was amazing

Men Explain Things to Me — Rebecca Solnit
I needed to top off my rage meter and this little ditty did it. It’s a collection of Solnit’s essays about feminism. The first essay (and source of the book’s title) is probably her most famous. It touches on how men feel the need to explain things to women, even if the man clearly knows less about the subject than the woman does. It’s the source of the term “mansplaining” even though Solnit didn’t coin the phrase.

The essays are, frankly, depressing, and I had to put the book down in between each one. Women are hated. Women are silenced. Women are disbelieved and abused and killed. It was true hundreds of years ago, it’s still true today as evidenced by domestic violence statistics and how at least once a week I have to say something like, “yes, I know. I was the one who told you.”

“Most women fight wars on two fronts, one for whatever the putative topic is and one simply for the right to speak, to have ideas, to be acknowledged to be in possession of facts and truths, to have value, to be a human being.”

Four stars and when’s the next march?

Behold the Dreamers — Imbolo Mbue
What is the American Dream? For Jende Jonga, it’s providing opportunities for his children that they wouldn’t have in his native Cameroon. For his wife, Neni, it’s the ability to get an education and be rich. For Clark Edwards, it’s making as much money as he can to provide for his family. For his wife, Cindy, it’s the ability to rise above a rough start. For their son Vince, it’s freedom to escape.

These two very different families and their futures intertwine right before the fall of Lehman Brothers in 2008. The story was pretty simple but the feelings ran deep. It made me think a lot about class, race, and privilege.

Five stars!

Grin and Beard it #2 — Penny Reid

I started this in July, but because I owned it, I put it aside when Behold the Dreamers finally became available. I know that main characters don’t always have to be likable, but it really helps in a romance novel when you don’t find the heroine annoying. Sienna Diaz is an intelligent, funny, Latina Academy Award winning actor with no sense of direction. She’s in Green Valley, Tennessee to shoot a movie. Jethro Winston is a bad-boy biker turned park ranger, trying his best to make up his past transgressions to his family and the community. Of course, his nose is so far on the grindstone that he hasn’t heard of Sienna, so their meet-cute is pretty cute. I found Sienna to be too “extra” as the kids today would say. The sizzly parts made for uncomfortable train reading, but everything ends up (inconceivably) fine in the end.

Two stars which means it’s not bad, just okay. I’ll get the third one if it hits $1.99 and features one of the more-fun Winston brothers.

Also, I am in awe of the readers on Goodreads who review romance novels and provide collages of how they’d cast the main couple.

Pyramids (Discworld #7) — Terry Pratchett

Pteppic is next in line to the throne of Djelibeybi, Discworld’s version of Ancient Egypt. He spends his youth at the Assassin’s school in Ankh-Morpork and on the day of his final exam, his father dies. Pteppic goes home and finds out that being a God means a lot less freedom than being an assassin. The story diverts into some metaphysical and mathematical weirdness which seemed to function as padding. I had to go back and reread a key part to figure out what actually happened. I think this is probably when fans started referring to him as Pterry.

Three stars – I liked it just fine.

Major Pettigrew’s Last Stand — Helen Simonson

I purchased this a while ago, waiting for the inevitable gap between library holds. It’s a sweet book about a 68 year old widower, Major Ernest Pettigrew, and his love affair with 58-year old widow Mrs. Ali. He’s English, she’s Pakistani. Their cultures, families, and friends clash, but our couple keeps their heads up high through the whole thing. Subplots include the fate of a pair of shotguns, a developer encroaching upon the small English village they live in, and a disastrous country club gala. Growing old is a bitch, but it’s easier if you have love.

Four stars because I’m a sucker for sweet love stories and can I have this as a movie, please and thank you?

Currently reading: Let’s Talk about Death over Dinner, by Michael Hebb. This is my first-ever Netgalley book. And The Kiss Quotient by Helen Hoang, because my Kindle died in the middle of my nightly sitting-outside session. Rude!

Stupid purchase: Hope Never Dies, a fictional (natch) Obama/Biden murder mystery. WM sent me this NPR story about it and I bought it right on impulse. How could I resist this cover?

Philadelphia Library eBook Hold list:

I’m using Libby, the new Overdrive app, to manage my holds now.

  • The Queen of Hearts — Position: 10 of 28
  • The Widows of Malabar Hill — Position: 7 of 33
  • The Female Persuasion — Position 86 of 211
  • The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet — Position: 41 of 55
  • You are a Badass — Position: 70 of 102
  • Bad Blood: Secrets and Lies in a Silicon Valley Startup — Position: 65 of 145
  • There There — Position: 171 of 185
  • From the Corner of the Oval — Position: 64 of 99
  • So Close to being the Sh*t — Position: 35 of 38
  • Guards, Guards! — Position: 6 of 9

All of my book lists and reviews are on Goodreads.

This a part of the Show us Your Books linkup from Jana Says and Life According to Steph. If you want to read more bloggers gush about the books they’ve read this month, click the button below and have fun!

Life According to Steph

What are you reading?

January | February | March | April | May | June | July

Show us your books: July 2018

My goal is to read 50 books this year. I’m at 40. I’ll be glad once I hit 50 because maybe then I’ll pick up some longer books. This month I made a conscious decision to stick with happier books, because some of the ones I read this year were emotional doozies (I’m looking at you, Idaho), and I need a bit of light for a while. To that end, I cancelled my hold on “Just Mercy” by Bryan Stevenson when it came up. I’ll get to it this year, but I can’t do a death penalty/unjust incarceration book right now. I don’t want to be known as the woman who cries on the PATCO line every day.

Onto the books!

I use the Goodreads system to rate books, which is:

  • One star: did not like it
  • Two stars: it was ok
  • Three stars: liked it
  • Four stars: really liked it
  • Five stars: it was amazing

Elinor Oliphant is Completely Fine — Gail Honeyman

Beautifully written and incredibly funny, Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine is about the importance of friendship and human connection. I fell in love with Eleanor, an eccentric and regimented loner whose life beautifully unfolds after a chance encounter with a stranger; I think you will fall in love, too!” —Reese Witherspoon

What Reese doesn’t tell you is that you have to work through a lot of bad shit before you get to the “beautifully unfolding life” part. Eleanor had a childhood full of trauma and awfulness. But now she’s an adult and she’s fine. She has a job, an apartment, a routine. And that’s all someone needs, right?

Four stars, because things eventually beautifully unfold for Eleanor. She has a lot to straighten out first, though. Huge-ass triggers for child abuse, domestic abuse, and an “offscreen” suicide attempt. Triggers the size of tractor-trailers. And lots of cringe-worthy awkward social moments.

The Wedding Date — Jasmine Guillory

Alexa and Drew are on an elevator in a San Francisco hotel when the car gets stuck. Thankfully, they’re not stuck for the entire book, just long enough for sparks to fly. Drew needs a plus-one for a wedding he’s in town for, and he impulsively asks Alexa. She says yes, and pretends to be his new girlfriend for the rehearsal dinner and the wedding.

Alexa is black, and is the chief of staff for the mayor of Berkeley. Drew is white, and is a pediatric surgeon in LA. Can they make it work? To do that, they have to deal with a long distance relationship, their two very demanding jobs, and racism and privilege.

Five stars for a fresh, modern, HOT romance that made me smile!

Fitness Junkie — Lucy Sikes and Jo Piazza

Janey Sweet is the CEO of a wedding dress design house. She’s also overweight, or so we’re told. There is never a weight assigned to her. Her business partner Beau puts her on leave until she loses weight so she can not be seen as an embarrassment to the brand, which specializes in dresses for tiny women. Mmmmm. Okay. So Janey goes on a quest to lose weight with the help of her best friend CJ and some truly wacky people she meets along the way.

Here is my beef. Janey immediately jumps into the weirdest, most extreme exercise classes I have ever heard of. And she complains about being tired, but … she shouldn’t even be finishing these classes. She’s doing spin and climbing ropes and this is not entry-level, fat-girl, gets-winded-while-walking fitness. The plot about the company gets lost amidst the (completely over-the-top) drama with the fitness gurus.

Three stars. I liked The Knockoff better.

Truth or Beard (Winston Brothers Book 1) – Penny Reid

If you can imagine a rednecky romance book with educated characters and men-who-know-boundaries, this would be it. Our heroine, Jessica, is a math teacher who returned to her home of Green Valley, Tennessee to pay off her student loans. Once that’s done, she is OUT OF THERE, because she wants adventure in the great wide somewhere. She wants it more than she can tell. But she hooked up with our beefcake, Duane. He’s one of six bearded brothers with a no-good biker daddy and a dead librarian momma, and thus this book is first in a series. The plot points are eyerollingly nonsensical. I still don’t understand how one of them wrapped up, but the dialogue was good and the action was steamy and it’ll do to raise the spirits

Three stars, have moved on to the second book. I probably won’t make it through all six.

Young Jane Young — Gabrielle Zevin
Aviva Grossman is a college student interning in the office of the congressman from her hometown. She’s smitten by his charm and power. He initiates a relationship. She accepts and writes an anonymous blog. Oh, Aviva. Things blow up. The congressman recovers from it just fine thankyouverymuch. Aviva becomes a punchline, is unable to find a job after graduation, and her life seems to be in tatters.

This book is narrated by its women characters and I appreciated the differing points of view because each one filled in blanks in the others’ stories.

Four stars, because I do love a redemption story. By the way, you should follow Monica Lewinsky on Twitter. She’s doing just fine.

Currently reading: Beard Science, Winston Brothers Book 2, which was only $5.99 on the Amazon Kindle store.

Philadelphia Library eBook Hold list:

  • Pyramids — Position: 1 of 2
  • The Queen of Hearts — Position: 17 of 32
  • The Widows of Malabar Hill — Position: 20 of 41
  • The Female Persuasion — Position 138 of 242
  • The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet — Position: 46 of 49
  • You are a Badass — Position: 92 of 100
  • Bad Blood: Secrets and Lies in a Silicon Valley Startup — Position: 100 of 100

All of my book lists and reviews are on Goodreads.

This a part of the Show us Your Books linkup from Jana Says and Life According to Steph. If you want to read more bloggers gush about the books they’ve read this month, click the button below and have fun!

Life According to Steph


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