Tag - show us your books

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

Show us your books: May 2018

I was a voracious reader as a child. Magazines, cereal boxes, and any book I could get my hands on. And then I entered high school. Being forced to read the assigned books crushed the love of reading right out of me and it took years to get it back.

The current haul.


But it did! I’m at 28 books read of my 50 book goal this year. The only explanation I have is that reading is a muscle — the more you exercise it the faster and easier it becomes.

With that bit of philosophy out the way, let’s review the books I read since I returned from Austin.

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

Option B — Sheryl Sandberg and Adam Grant

I read Lean In a few years ago and really liked it. A lot of the criticisms lobbed at Sandberg was that she was coming from a position of privilege and not everyone has the resources at home to take care of families like she did. I get it. But she did make some very valid points about women in the workplace. Now I ALWAYS sit at the conference table rather than the chairs around the perimeter and use the phrase “I want a seat at the table” in every self-evaluation.

Sandberg’s husband Dave Goldberg died three years ago, leaving her with two young children to raise on her own. Yes, I know, she has the resources wealthy people have at their disposal to raise children. But not a partner. Everything she and Dave had planned together had to change. This book details her (and occasionally her children’s) journey of grief and having to take many, many option Bs. Along the way she tells stories of others whose lives changed dramatically and how they embraced their Option Bs.

Three stars and I dream of a day that Sandberg becomes CEO of Facebook.

The Hate u Give — Angie Thomas

Starr is 16 and lives two lives. She is the Starr who is one of only two black kids at her fancy private school, and she is the Starr that lives in a poor neighborhood and works in her father’s store. Starr’s oldest friend Khalil is shot and killed by a white police officer during a traffic stop while Starr was in his passenger seat. And Starr’s life begins to slowly come to a boil as the news that she was the eyewitness reverberates through her family, her neighbors, the local gangs, the activists, the police, the lawyers, the reporters, her friends, her boyfriend and most importantly, herself. It’s a YA book and you know how I feel about YA but the kids weren’t all perfect literary-quoting critical thinkers and the adults were competent and helpful.

I read books to learn new things and for enjoyment. Ideally, I get books that satisfy both of those urges at once. This book was eye-opening and gave me insights into lives and issues that I don’t have exposure to. But it was a hard read. Time after time, I cried at the unfairness of it all because even though it’s fiction, it’s real. I don’t know what I can do to even try and make these things better, except to continue to tell my own pears (edit: PEERS dammit) that it’s not as easy as shutting up when cops pull you over/jailing gangs/etc.

Starr’s family includes a dog. Dog spoiler at the bottom of the post.

Five beautiful stars.

American Fire: Love, Arson, and Life in a Vanishing Land – Monica Hesse

This is the non-fiction account of a series of fires in Accomack County, Virginia which reads like an amazing fiction novel. It’s not a mystery who set the fires — you’re told in the first or second chapter. This book goes through the who, what, when, where, and why objectively, but with heart. It’s a smooth read for a nonfiction book.

Four stars.

The Sunshine Sisters — Jane Green

Let’s have a look at the cover, shall we?

Happy ladies on a beach! Yes! I shall read this book, for I have just read books about 1) a grieving widow, 2) a grieving teen girl, and 3) serial arson and I’m in desperate need of a pick me up. And Jane Green says, “HA! PSYCH!” Because … HIT THE MUSIC!

Here’s the story of unlovely Ronnie,
who was bringing up three very troubled girls.
All of them had loveless lives
like their mother
And all four lives unfurled…

‘Til the one day Ronnie found out she was dying!
Tests confirmed it was much more than a hunch
So she summoned all three daughters to her beside
For a docu-drama ’bout the Sunshine Bunch!

The Sunshine Bunch!
The Sunshine Bunch!
Ronnie wants to be euthanized by the Sunshine Bunch!

(ba DA! Ba DA DA DA DA DAAAA DA DA!)

A dying, narcissistic, B-list actress calls her 3 daughters to her bedside to be there while she dies. We get to see through flashbacks how much Ronnie (and to be fair, the girls’ father was no prize either, but this isn’t his story.) messed these kids up. But now Ronnie wants to make things right as best she can with her now-grown daughters. Nell is a farmer, Meredith is an accountant and Lizzy is a celebrity chef. They don’t get along with their mother or each other.

Despite all of the baked-in drama, it ends nicely, if a bit too neatly. Three stars and a hearty BOO to the cover.

The Violet Hour: Great Writers at the End — Katie Roiphe

Apparently I was on a death kick in April, because this book is a collection of stories of famous writers’ last days. To pad the chapters — because it would have been a damn short book otherwise — Roiphe researched how each writer felt about death as they lived their lives. Through that biographical work, I learned a bit about Susan Sontag, John Updike, Dylan Thomas, Sigmund Freud, Maurice Sendak, and James Salter. Sontag’s death is just awful. Yeesh.

Three stars and I have GOT to stop reading about death for a while.

A Thousand Mornings — Mary Oliver

Poetry? Poetry! April was National Poetry Month and since I haven’t read poetry since Emily Dickinson back in high school I decided to give it a shot.. I heard nice things about Mary Oliver via Book Riot’s All the Books podcast, so I dove in. The poems were refreshingly modern, no “Lo! Forsooth my Love that ye dithered ‘ere” language that always immediately turns me off.

My favorite of the collection is “Lines Written in the Days of Growing Darkness” which I’m going to use as my new outlook for the crapfest that is fall and winter. There are also 2 poems about her dead dog Percy that choked me up fiercely.

Four surprising stars. Poetry!

The Wife Between us — Greer Hendricks

A rich, handsome man who turns out to be emotionally and physically abusive? Check.
His drunk ex-wife who can’t get her life together? Check.
His young, hot fiancee? Check.
Twists? Check. Check. Check.

It had everything that Gone Girl and Girl on the Train had, but I think I’m just tired of unreliable narrators and omgTWISTS and the like. The last twist had me saying, “srsly?” instead of “WOW!”

Two stars, I had to push myself through.

Currently reading: Own it: The Power of Women at Work by Sallie Krawcheck. I am in need of a feminism in business pep talk.

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

Previously:
January
February
March
April

Dog spoilers:
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The Hate U Give: The dog lives, but I actually cared more about the people which is a testament to the writing.

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

Previously:
January
February
March

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

Previously:
January
February

*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.”

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