Tuesday, June 14, 2016

What I read in March and April and May

House/moving/unpacking/visitors really kicked reading to the curb... and Goodreads is judging the shit out of me saying I'm 4 books behind on my goal for the year.. Well, Goodreads, YOU DON'T KNOW MY LIFE.  #DONTJUDGEME

Fortunately, airports/flights/vacation/long drives = sleep and reading time. 

Life According to Steph

Rating scale:

1/5 - Hated it, didn't finish.
2/5 - Tolerated it on principle to finish, didn't like it.
3/5 - Eh, didn't love it, didn't hate it.  Had some good parts/kept me interested/finished it on principle.
3.5/5 - I liked parts of it.
4/5 - I liked the whole thing.
4.5/5 - I like it a lot, but not sure I'd read it again.
5/5 - I LURVED it and I'd read it again.

Skimmers, stick with the bold text (TL;DR* parts).
PS. Possible spoilers included in reviews.

This Is Where I Leave You – Jonathan Tropper    5/5 (hard copy)
This book felt real and that was awesome for me.  It was real life, but funny, and truthful, and painful, and perfect.  Judd's life is falling to pieces and his family is super familiar and awkward and probably like someone you may know.  Despite the shitty circumstances, he doesn't do anything crazy.  The only weird thing was the situation with Judd and Alice in the basement and it was awkward and weird and WTF?  That was the only part that didn't feel like it was resolved in anything more than, "Let's not talk about this ever."  Which was the exact opposite point of the entire book.  If you leave things unspoken, there are misunderstandings and incorrect assumptions.  Just talk about it!  Unless you're the mother and it's your sex life, then please stop. 

TL;DR: This book felt real and like it might be a friend telling me the story.  More please.

James Herriot’s Dog Stories – James Herriot    3/5 (hard copy)   
I wanted this book to be stories like Marley and Me or The Art of Racing in the Rain.  It wasn't.  It was stories from a vet that lived somewhere in the UK (I won't even pretend to know British geography).  Some of the stories were heart warming, but most of them were kinda like an update I'd give to Teh MD-AR about Meri or Phil.  Just a run-of-the-mill day, nothing particularly special, IMO.  I read this as my birth year (1986) book for Erin's challenge.  My favorite part was the Scottish-y accent the author wrote in.

TL;DR: If you want a good dog story, check out The Art of Racing in the Rain or Marley and Me.  If you like short stories about dogs and can handle an English an accent, read this book.

The Bonesetter’s Daughter – Amy Tan  2/5 (ebook)  
I just don't think I'm an Amy Tan fan.  I wanted to be, but it's just not working out.  I tried to read Saving Fish from Drowning eons ago and never finished it.  I read this for Erin's Challenge and it was very trying at times.  I hated the main characters.  I hated the daughter, I hated the mom.  Everyone was selfish and whiny.  I semi-enjoyed the part of the story set in China, except that I didn't feel like it transitioned back to the story very well.  It was like she forgot she was telling a story in a story.  I'm glad that Daughter and Husband ended up working things out, but for me nothing was resolved with the mother.  I just don't feel like a mother telling her daughter about how shitty her life was resolves her of making her daughter's life shitty.  It didn't absolve the mother of her responsibility to raise her child properly.  Additionally, if there were "mystical" things at play here, they weren't fully explained or I just didn't understand them.

I couldn't tell if Tan was trying to say the cloud over the daughter's head was Nanny's dead spirit or Mom's bad attitude.  I just couldn't figure it out, if there was something to be figured out.  Maybe I wanted more and this was lacking.  I don't even know.  Overall, it was too whiny for me to even moderately enjoy.

TL;DR: If you enjoy a Chinese setting, maybe this book is for you.  If you can't handle whiny bitches, don't read this book. 

All the Bright Places - Jennifer Niven    4/5 (audiobook)
This book broke my heart in so many ways... although I'm still not over the irritation of what was wrong with Finch (bipolar disorder).  The fact that it took so long to find out what he was "awake" from irritated me to no end.  I had forgotten what the summary said so I couldn't remember if this was a book where the kid had magical powers or something and went dormant for a period of time (don't judge Megan brain, it's a weird place).

Also, why did we call him by his last name when everyone else went by their first name?  I liked that most of the teenage love story line seemed believable and less like teenagers who do whatever the fuck they want whenever the fuck they want.  I struggled with Violet's inability to make decisions on her own but was glad when she finally came around. 

The end of the book is pretty morbid with Violet's discovery.  By the end of the book I was missing Finch's narration, which I think was the point.  Do NOT read this book if you are already depressed.  Sadly, I must agree with many Goodreads reviewers that the characters become their mental illness and it felt like the adults didn't really notice.

TL;DR: A solid read about mental illness (not magical powers) that will ultimately lead to devastation because it wasn't treated.  Characters might come off a little cliche, but as a YA book, that doesn't seem to stray from the norm.

Lamb: The Gospel According to Biff, Christ's Childhood Pal – Christopher Moore  4.5/5 (ebook)I really enjoyed this book.  You have to have a bit of bible knowledge to really get most of the jokes, but a lack of knowledge didn't stop Teh German from enjoying some of the parts that I read aloud to him.  The gist of the book is that Biff, Jesus's (or known as Joshua) best friend, has been raised from the dead to fill in the story of the 33 years of Jesus's life that the bible is missing.  If you're acquainted with the story of Jesus, you know the progression of the story, which only made it better for me.  It was fun to see events from the bible being fleshed out, even if there were obvious creative liberties taken.

TL;DR: This story implies that Jesus was an actual person who said "fuck" sometimes.  #seemslegit

All the Light We Cannot See - Anthony Doerr   */5 (audiobook)This started out as my commute audiobook and due to vacation, I was able to listen for longer periods of time, which was awesome.  I listened on the plane (to help dull the pain of the child behind us kicking our seats and yelling) and on long car rides (while Teh German listened to German news, yay for earbuds).  I didn't want to stop listening.  It was great how the author was able to intertwine the lives of the unrelated characters.  Summary: a blind girl in German occupied France (during WW2) is learning to live life after having relocated when her family evacuated from Paris.  A German orphan has some crazy radio fixin' skills and ends up in the German army.

TL;DR: This book about WW2 coincided perfectly with my visit to Germany, which made me want to listen to this book even more.  If you like stories with several characters who eventually cross paths, this book is for you.  If you like WW2 novels, this book is for you.  

Fat Girl Walking: Sex, Food, Love, and Being Comfortable in Your Skin...Every Inch of It by Brittany Gibbons  4/5 (ebook) I still have no idea who Brittany Gibbons actually is.  Something about a plus-sized blogger gone famous who poses in her bikini?  The book started off pretty weird and seemed pretty irrelevant after actually getting into the actual topic of the book: accepting your self-image.  I felt like she had a really good message to send and does it very effectively.  Even I felt like I should walk around naked more after reading it.  I hadn't heard of this book until Kimmi reviewed it approximately ahmabillionty years ago and I thought, hrm, sounds funny, let's check it out.  

At 240 pages, it didn't take me long to power through this book.  I actually preferred reading this to starting Bossypants.  

TL;DR: Accept your body the way it is, is the moral of the story.  This book is for anyone who has ever thought, "Ugh, I hate the way I look."  Also, do your kids a favor and normalize bodies by walking around naked in front of them.

In Progress:

On Deck:

Erin's book challenge is starting again on July 1st, so expect my reading list this week.  My selections are my "on deck" books through Oct 31st and whatever I didn't finish from the last challenge (specifically the WW2 intel book and Did You Ever Have a Family).

*TL;DR = too long, don't read


  1. OK I will be honest and admit that I love your review a Fat Girl Walking! I have actually had the privilege to become friends with Brittany Gibbons at least through social media and she is really hilarious and currently working on another book that I feel will be a little more focused on body positivity then this one was to start with. Still I'm really glad that you the book!

    I need to add This is where I leave You to my list.

    Lamb was a hilarious read. Actually read that one in college for a class!

  2. hmmmm the fat girl walking sounds interesting. all the bright places is on my list (is the bipolar thing a spoiler? gosh darn it, i shouldn't read reviews of books i want to read lol). i liked this is where i leave you but i agree about the thing in the basement, i had forgotten, but so true!

  3. All the Bright Places has been on my list for awhile. I tried to read All the Light We Cannot See but couldn't get in to it. I think I wasn't in the right mood at the time and may revisit.

  4. All the Bright Place is on my list and I'm excited to read it, but I need to mentally "gird my loins" so to speak. I do live with depression, so it concerns me a bit and just need to make sure I'm in a good head space when I read it. This is Where I Leave You is another book already on my TBR and I recently learned the Trooper was a producer on one of my guilty pleasures - Banshee on Cinemax. And now I feel like I really need to read the book sooner than later.

  5. I loved This Is Where I Leave You, All the Bright Places, and Biff.

    I have no interest in All the Light. I don't know why.

  6. Your "TL:DR" for Lamb made me snort with laughter.
    I heart Tropper. Hard.

  7. All the Light was so beautifully written. I loved it on audio too. I like Christopher Moore's book and that one sounds humorous :)

  8. I've been wanting to read This Is Where I Leave You ever since it was made into a movie. I think that I definitely should now! I've also wanted to read All The Light We Cannot See for a very long time now! It sounds so interesting! We're headed to Germany in September, so I think that will have to be a book that I read before then.

  9. This Is Where I Leave Uou has been on my radar, glad to read a good review.

    And don't feel bad about Bossypants. I read it (ebook) a few years ago and it didn't impress me either. I loved Yes, Please & Is Everyone Hangig Out Without Me but Fey just didn't do it for me...I've even considered rereading to be sure but the thought of going back to it is not appealing lol.

  10. I love your TL;DRs! I saw the movie of This is Where I Leave You and loved it but I'm not sure if I want to read the book AFTER I've seen the movie. Hmmm... My dad was a minister and he enjoyed Lamb. I should read it but I haven't yet. Also, I really did LOL at "don't judge me, Goodreads!"


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