Tag - reading

Show us your books: April 2018
Show us your books: March 2018
Show us your books: February 2018

Show us your books: April 2018

Oh crap you guys. I’m attending a software user conference in Austin, TX this week and I completely neglected the blog. And now it’s Show Us Your Books day and I can’t NOT do it. I have a streak going. It’s 10:43pm Austin time which means I have 17 minutes to make the EST deadline.

From The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry.

Tonight was the client appreciation party, and it was in an outdoor area in the warm (finally) Austin weather, with food trucks and strings of lights and an 80s cover band. Basically, if you were to climb into my head and plan a massive party for me, this would be it.

(I’m a little tipsy. Tito’s is based in Austin.)

My reading goal this year is 50 books and I’m at 21!

As always, I use the Goodreads scale, 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

Louisa: The Extraordinary Life of Mrs. Adams — Louisa Thomas

Louisa Adams was the wife of John Quincy Adams, the less popular Adams president and that’s saying a crapton, because nobody liked his dad very much at all. Louisa was the product of an American father and a faux-Aristocratic English mother. She was brought up to be the model wife. This biography traces her life and how she managed to adapt to crazy circumstance after crazy circumstance. Rich, pampered daughter in Europe? Check. Ambassador’s wife in Prussia? Check. Hardscrabble farm wife? Check. Widow? Check. Her life was simultaneously amazing and a sack of shit, yet she persevered and found her voice. Three stars, because it was a bit repetitive.

Lillian Boxfish Takes a Walk — Kathleen Rooney

This is a story about Lillian Boxfish, an 84 year old woman who lived an amazing life. She takes a walk around New York City on New Year’s Eve, 1984, and the places she visits causes her to reminisce about the people who crossed into and out of her life. She is based loosely on the real-life Margaret Fishback), an advertising copywriter for Macy’s. It was charming, and even though she is old she doesn’t die at the end, so read without dread. Four stars, and I hope I’m that spry at 84.

Textbook Amy Krouse Rosenthal – Amy Krouse Rosenthal

Because I continue to break my own effing heart, I decided to read another AKR book, which sucks because she’s dead. It’s a memoir that’s written like a textbook with chapters that evoke subjects like English, Mathematics, Poetry, etc. There is an interactive portion where, if you send a text to a certain number, you get responses from Amy.

Except it doesn’t always work. And she’s dead, which makes it that much more poignant. Four stars, because I still thinks she could have been one of my best friends, and I wish she was still around to send out pies.

Britt-Marie was Here — Fredrik Backman

Backman hates me and wants nothing more for me to cry all the time. Even after the lesson of “My Grandmother Told Me To Tell You She’s Sorry” I still picked up this book, a loose sequel about Britt-Marie, the nag-bag that lived in Elsa’s building. She leaves her philandering husband, Kent, and ends up on her own. I have a soft spot for curmudgeonly childless women who grow and make a difference. Britt-Marie, you are my sunny story as well. Four stars and a box of Kleenex.

Highlight: The winter requires whoever is doing the watering to have a bit of faith, in order to believe that what looks empty has every potential.

Naked in Death (In Death #1) — J.D. Robb

J.D. Robb is really Nora Roberts. This is the first in a 1,000-book series (or so it seems) about Eve Dallas, a New York City Detective in the year 2058. She solves a case of a grisly serial killer. Are there books with female cops who aren’t complete sartorial disasters? I’m not looking for a cop dressed in Kate Spade, but it would be nice to read about a female cop who is neither a model nor practically a hobo. This is a well-written book and many people love it, but it was not for me. The crime was dark, with sexual violence triggers galore. Two stars, because somewhere in the middle it went full-on romance novel and our hard-boiled protagonist turned out being someone who needed to be taken care of.

The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry — Gabrielle Zevin

A fiction book about A.J. Fikry, a widowed bookstore owner whose life and business change for the better when a baby is left in his store. There is a strong theme of “babies make everything better” but this was so charming and creative that I didn’t care. It’s a book about the love of books, which is different than a book about books where if you haven’t read every classical work (like me!) you feel left out. Five Stars and two puffy eyes! I used the rest of the box of Kleenex left over from Britt-Marie Was Here.

Currently reading: Option B by Sheryl Sandburg and Adam Grant

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


Time for bed. Sessions start at 7:30am.

Show us your books: March 2018

The second Tuesday of the month is a special one in literate blogland – it’s Show Us Your Books day, and it takes me a good week to get through everyone in this linkup.

Currently on the endtable. The Jughead comic — I MEAN GRAPHIC NOVEL — was an impulse borrow.

This month I realized that the highlights I put in a Kindle book stay with my Amazon account, even with the ebook goes back to the library. I’ll definitely be using that feature more.

My reading goal this year is 50 books and I’m at 15! Pretty impressive, Kim! Thanks, Kim!

As always, I use the Goodreads scale, 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

Books for Living — Will Schwalbe

I do like me a book about books. In this one, Schwalbe gives a list of books with valuable advice on living and ties them into various points in his life. Plus, you have to like a guy who believes that “Reading and naps, two of life’s greatest pleasures, go especially well together.” I added plenty of books to my TBR thanks to this one. Three Stars.

Wyrd Systers (Discworld #6; Witches #2) — Terry Pratchett

Would you belive I’ve never read Macbeth? I so hated the Shakespeare that I was force-fed through school that I never pursued it on my own. Doesn’t matter, because I’ve read Terry Pratchett’s take on it. This is stop 6 on my journey through the Discworld series, which is quickly becoming my favorite series ever. And the witches are BY FAR my favorite characters of that universe. In this one, Magrat (Maiden), Nanny Hogg (Mother), and the amazing Granny Weatherwax (Crone) reluctantly take on an unscrupulous Duke and his manipulative wife who have stolen a kingship. In their corner is the ghost of the dead king and a Fool who is quite smart. Will good prevail? OF COURSE because these stories are balm for the soul.

Favorite line: The Fool jingled miserably across the floor.

Four Stars.

Words in Deep Blue — Cath Crowley

It wasn’t until I was 20% in and realizing that ALL of the teens were the smartest and most mature teens on earth that I realized it was YA. I was going to put it down (YA isn’t my thing AT ALL) but decided to finish it out anyway because I had it on hold for so long. And I’m glad I did because it was a good book. The male lead, Henry, is an emo shithead, but matures in the end. The female lead, Rachel, is coming off of a really bad couple of years. I really wanted to know more about Henry’s parents and if they worked it out but alas, it’s YA.

Favorite line: Shit nights roll into shit mornings that roll into shit afternoons and back into shit, starless midnights. Shitness, my sister says, has a momentum that good luck just doesn’t have.

Three reluctant stars, and maybe I can do one YA book a year.

Where I was reading last week.

Song of Solomon — Toni Morrison

This was mentioned in Books for Living and I realized I had never read any work of Morrison’s. That ended in February and I picked a hell of an epic story. What makes a family? What’s in the name you are given? What is the measure of success? How far is too far? What does it mean to escape? This is the story of Macon Dead III, aka “Milkman” and his decades-long journey toward truth. I couldn’t put it down, and I lack the words to explain why. Five Stars!

Between the World and Me — Ta-Nehisi Coates

Written as a long letter to his teenage son, Coates covers his life experiences as a Black man growing up in the rough area of Baltimore, and how his life was changed and sharpened by the books he read and the people he met at Howard University. It was an uncomfortable read for me, because of who I am and the privilege I carry. It was also uncomfortable because while I eagerly wanted to read Coates’s words, I realize that he probably wouldn’t even give my words the time of day.

His prose is beautiful; it is lyrical and poetic. However, I’m not the audience for his words. I have quibbles with his arguments, but of course not his experiences. I hope his son has a presence in his life telling him that it’s okay if he wants to have the nice house in the suburbs with a treehouse and a son in Cub Scouts. Three Stars which still means I liked it.

Hello, Sunshine — Laura Dave

Sunshine is a farmer’s daughter who moved to the big city with her handsome husband and, homesick for the farm, began to cook her childhood favorites on Youtube. She parlayed this into Youtube stardom, a cookbook deal, and a proposal to have a TV show on the Food Network.

Except, she’s not anything that she claims to be. Her secret is exposed and she loses her house, husband, money, prospects — everything. She has no choice but to go back to her actual family in her actual hometown and try to put the pieces back together. The characters were all unlikable but worse, had no depth to them. There’s a “babies/children fix everything!” theme that’s never my thing. I HAAAAAAAAATED the ending. HAAAAAAATED it. There were levels of UGH that ruined what started out as a one-day beach read.

A line from the protagonist: …the way Jersey actually looked pretty from across the river. Oh piss off, Sunshine. Two stars.

10% Happier — Dan Harris

If you do a web search for ABC News correspondent Harris, the first video that comes up is of his panic attack on live TV. That’s grossly unfair and makes me thrilled I’m not famous. This book is a byproduct of the years of therapy Harris went through to try and become a calmer, happier person. Not always easy when you’re on network news and 90% of your job is jockeying for stories. He lands on meditation as an effective took. I used to be a big self-help book junkie (ask me about my SARK phase*) and I welcomed Harris’s snarky, self-deprecating, and self-aware take on everything he was trying. At least he’s aware of what a d-bag he comes off as at times.

Favorite lines: Overall, compassionate people tended to be healthier, happier, more popular, and more successful at work.

Eating mindfully, I actually put the fork down between bites rather than hunting around the plate still swallowing. As a result, I stop eating when I’m full, as opposed to stuffing my face until I’m nearly sick, as I usually do.

Three Stars and I downloaded a meditation app. Whether I use it is another story.

Currently reading: Louisa: The Extraordinary Life of Mrs. Adams, which is more interesting than I thought.

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


*I was going to link to SARK’s website, but right now the front page is a giant banner featuring Maya Angelou’s giant portrait and a giant quote from her about how SARK is needed in this world. My eyes rolled so far back that I’m staring at my brain. SARK also bills herself “A Beacon of Hope in a Chaotic World.”

Show us your books: February 2018

Happy birthday, Mom!

I’m back on the reading train, because I’m back to reading on the train. I spend 26 minutes on a train and 10 minutes on a shuttle, twice a workday. Last year I was so mentally exhausted from the Big!Work!Project! that I’m sure you’re ALL sick of hearing about that I would just sink into Instagram or a taxing round of 2048. This year I resolved to not take my phone out while I’m on the train. The shuttle gets bumpy and that makes reading difficult for me.

I’m also a sucker for magazines.

My reading goal this year is 50 books and I’m at 8! Go me go!

As always, I use the Goodreads scale, 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

On Living — Kerry Egan
Egan is a hospice chaplain, and these are some of her patients stories juxtaposed with stories from her own life. I have a special interest in hospice. I’m a huge supporter and actually trained to be a volunteer. Once I passed training and was certified, I chickened out and never followed up. Egan is much less cowardly than I am. I appreciated the stories and lessons. Life is beautiful and then you leave it. Four stars because I’m interested in the subject.

The Identicals — Elin Hilderbrand
I needed a beachy read, and this one sort of delivered. It’s the story of 39-year-old twins who live on Martha’s Vineyard and Nantucket, and of course they are both very different and of course there are family misunderstandings that cause strife. I didn’t even see a beach until about halfway through the book. Every minor character has a huge backstory. And babies and motherhood fix everything. I keep reading Hilderbrand’s books because they keep coming up as good beach reads.; however, I think I keep picking the wrong ones because they don’t ring my bell like they should. I liked The Island, and I abandoned A Summer Affair. There is a dog in the story. If you’re like me , you’ll want to know if the dog lives. I spoil it at the bottom of this post. This would have been 2.5 stars, but because Goodreads only allows full star ratings, it’s a three.

Hallelujah Anyway — Anne Lamott
I ADORE Lamott’s writing, and I’m a complete sucker for her words. This book is more of her usual musings on religion and mercy. The most interesting part of the essays was her sort-of-apology for the anti-trans statements she tweeted about Caitlin Jenner. Don’t get me wrong, Caitlin Jenner is a dirtbag, but one can easily make the case for that without slamming transsexuals. Lamott’s son Sam made her apologize, which makes me thinks she did raise a good kid after all. Three stars. Would have been two, but it’s Anne Lamott.

Letterman: The Last Giant of Late Night — Jason Zinoman
I’ve always been a David Letterman fan, and I liked this book because while it was no-holds barred (his acerbic personality, the affairs, etc) it was written by a fan, and crafted with love. I didn’t learn anything new, but it was like spending time with an old friend from years ago, when you couldn’t buy a Late Night shirt on eBay or NBC.com – you had to go to New York or know someone who was going. Four stars.

If you are a fan of Dave, check out his Netflix show titled “My Next Guest Needs No Introduction.” It’s a once-a-month, hour-long interview with a powerhouse. Last month’s was with Barack Obama. This month is George Clooney.

The Brand New Catastrophe – Mike Scalise
Scalise was 24 when a brain tumor burst in his head, a result of acromegaly. Acromegaly is a disorder when a tumor grows on one’s pituitary gland. Like Andre the Giant. Mike lives and this is the story of how he lives with this life-changing development, and how he continues to live years after it becomes old news, and then no news. His support system is his girlfriend Loren and his slightly-selfish family including a mother who was used to grabbing the family’s medical attention for years. Everyone evolves through the book. Three stars.

2am at the Cat’s Pajamas — Marie-Helene Bertino
Another book that I purchased expressly to read through the holiday season but forgot about it until January. The main cast consists of a plucky (attitudinal) 9 year old girl, her sensitive (self-pitying) teacher, and the owner of a jazz club called the Cat’s Pajamas, all in beautiful Philadelphia. Most of the action takes place on Christmas Eve Eve. There’s a supporting cast of at least a dozen people, all with their own issues. It’s a grittier Love, Actually and while there was some sparkly magical moments, it wasn’t enough to buoy me up past the awkward bleakness that was the other 75% of the book. There is a dog, spoiler at the bottom. Two stars, which isn’t
as awful a rating as it looks on the surface.

I’m currently reading Will Schwalbe’s Books for Living, because it’s been a while since I’ve read a book about books.

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



Both dogs live. In The Identicals, the dog even ‘narrates’ the epilogue!

Copyright © 2019, Kimberly Russell. Seashell theme created by Meks. Kimberussell.com is powered by WordPress.