Wednesday, July 29, 2020

Books Books Books! 1st half of 2020

Because I was late posting last time (and yet again), these are actually Feb-now's books. Which is pretty much Winter-Now.  /shrug  What the fuck ever.  I read some shit ok.  It was hard enough with just school, but toss in a helping of stay-at-home and my brain was D.U.N., done.

I'm 3 or 4 books behind on my Goodreads challenge and I'm about to give it the 2020, fuckyoualotamus, because principle, and I don't like to stress myself out about trivial shit these days, when I have PLENTY of other major issues to focus on.

I've actually started listening to my audiobooks while I play WoW.  Talk about a real multitasking adventurer, that's me, Gentle Readers.

Me + Anxiety.

Ultimate TLDR** 
Definitely Read:  
  • Untamed by Glennon Doyle
  • I'm Still Here: Black Dignity in a World Made for Whiteness by Austin Channing Brown (because if you are white and not self-educating about race issues, you are part of the problem).
Maybe Read:  
  • Recipe for a Perfect Wife by Karma Brown
  • What the Wind Knows by Amy Harmon 
  • The Keeper of Lost Things by Ruth Hogan

Rating scale*:

1/5 - Hated it, DNF (did not 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 liked it a lot, but not sure I'd read it again.
5/5 - I LURVED it and I'd read it again.

*Subject to change based on my mood, the phase of the moon, or other unpredictable variables.
PS. Possible spoilers included in reviews.

Regretting You by Colleen Hoover   3.5/5 (Audible, audiobook)  

I was torn between being impressed that this wasn't overly YA and then feeling like it was too YA. Roller coaster. Overall, I enjoyed the story though and I appreciated the solid resolution at the end.  That said, who ever the narrator was for the Mom had a voice that absolutely drove me up the wall.  IDK why, but it did.

Where the Desert Meets the Sea by Werner Sonne   2.5/5 (Kindle, ebook)   

This book probably would have done better as a screenplay because of the way it is written in short bits then moves on to another character. I didn't feel any attachment to any of the characters other than a curiosity about what would happen to them, but I didn't care either way. Things that seemed like they were supposed to feel significant just felt like, huh, ok that happened, moving on now.

This review accurately surmises how I felt about this book:
"The history is correct, but the story told through these fictional characters is very bland and melodramatic. It flip flops all over with hyper hot-headed Arabs and Jews massacring each other while the British smoke cigarettes and ignore the mess that they have created by their 31 year Mandate in Palestine. Israel's history is complicated, and deserves to be told in a more balanced story where the people are more than paper dolls wanting to survive. In this book, everyone is the "bad guy" and that's just not how it was."  ~Mollie

It might be relevant to mention that this book is written by a German author and translated into English.  Experience has taught me that authors from other cultures don't always write in the same styles as English-speaking authors.  Specifically, Swedish authors aren't my jam and I have had to accept this life.

The Twelve Lives of Samuel Hawley by Hannah Tinti   3/5 (Kindle, ebook)

I didn't love this book like everyone else did.  I wanted to, but this is also part of why I wait until the hype has died down for popular things.  My interest was piqued from the beginning, but as more of the story was told, I was less and less interested.  Sam (which is what I will call him despite everyone calling him by his last name for 99% of the book) was a shady character that I 100% could not relate to.  He got shot for valid reasons that were self-inflicted so I had zero sympathy for him.  Throughout the chapter about how he felt no attachment to Loo (which I will get back to), I was like, I'm only finishing this to find out what happens, I don't even care anymore about why/how he he got 12 bullet wounds.

Loo vs Lou.  FUCKING STUPID.  Because I listened to this book, I just thought the girl's name was Lou and that was fine.. and then there was the part in the book about the spelling of the name, which probably cleared up the confusion if you were reading the book, but did zero things for me except make me question, WHY name your child something that you hate?  Ugh.

Finally, I didn't like the ending.  Everything in the book was so certain and then the end was like, did they live?  Did they die?  YOU DON'T FUCKING KNOW.

Life and Other Near-Death Experiences by Camille Pagán   2/5 (Kindle, ebook)

As a queen of being over-dramatic about shit, I get you.  But this book was over over-dramatic-ed.  We get it, you were wronged.  I hate books where the crux of the issues in the book are purposeful lack of communication, it's just a simple crutch to use and feels lazy to me.  Maybe that's the over-communicator in me.

Mostly, this book annoyed me. I get that Libby wanted to handle things her way, but maybe someone should have told her that being obsessed with another person in the way she was obsessed with Tom was mmmmaaayyybee a little bit unhealthy? IDK. And her "Devil Wears Prada" job felt cliche. The end felt wholesome, but also like a relief to finally be done with Libby's shit.

Daisy Jones & The Six by Taylor Jenkins Reid   3.5/5 (Audible, audiobook)

I love TJR and this book was SUPER hyped up, so I was skeptical because I don't always LURVE what everyone else is raving about.  Someone else stated that they felt like they were watching a VH1 behind the band type of show (or whatever it's called) and that is what it felt like, so for that, it was a win.. But I've never been into the drug, sex, and rock 'n roll life, so it was hard to hang with some of the things that occurred.  I get that's the rock 'n roll life, but it's not that appealing to me.

I do remember feeling satisfied when the book was over, so there's that.

Recipe for a Perfect Wife by Karma Brown   4/5 (Audible, audiobook)

I didn't think I was going to like this book, but I ended up liking it. I didn't really love the way it ended, but I didn't hate it. I appreciated that Nellie's story was closed. This was actually a pretty quick listen since I spent a lot of time in the car. I was surprised I listened for as long as I did while driving because generally after an hour or so, I lose interest. Maybe it was the dual timelines that really helped. 

I appreciated the history "suggestions" for women and scoffed after most of them, but I know that times change... and APPRECIATE THAT.

Recursion by Blake Crouch   3.5/5 (Audible, audiobook)

I listened to this and the last 2 hours were recursively painful. Otherwise, I very much enjoyed this book. As a computer science major, I know of recursion, so I was curious how this would play out. 

Helena and Barry made for a good story and I didn't expect the end to be what it was.

Call Your Daughter Home by Deb Spera   4.5/5 (Audible, audiobook)

Listened to the audio version and loved everything except Anne's Canadian "o" sounds with her southern. It was distracting, otherwise, LURVED the narration. Felt like being in South Carolina. 

The story was fantastic although I was disappointed by the end and how everything was just solved and no one cared that this poor white woman just shot a rich white man... also the hunger strike? Meh

Children of Blood and Bone (Legacy of Orïsha #1) by Tomi Adeyemi   3/5 (Audible, audiobook)

Ever read a book that you know you are supposed to like, but just can't get into? That was this book for me.  I understand the symbolism that was happening and how extremely relevant it is RIGHT NAOW.. but I didn't love the characters or story really.  IDK.  

Watchers by Dean Koontz   3.5/5 (Audible, audiobook)

This was a recommendation and I wasn't sure at first because there was a lot of murdery things happening and that's not really my jam. Ultimately though, I got into it despite the killing.  I also felt like the symbolism of The Outsider being the ugly things about humanity was solid.  Also, the main character being a dog didn't hurt my heart.

What the Wind Knows by Amy Harmon   4/5 (Kindle, ebook)

I didn't love this book at first. It took me a bit to get into, but once I was hooked, I was hooked. Anne travels back in time after going to scatter her grandfather's ashes in Ireland. This book was like a history lesson with a hug and it gave me the happy ending I wasn't sure I was going to get... and THAT is the real reason for 5 stars, I got a happy ending that I wasn't actually sure would happen.

I gave this 5 stars on Goodreads but had to go back and look at my review to write this, so while it was good, it was good at the time although not overly memorable.  /shrug.

The Keeper of Lost Things by Ruth Hogan   4/5 (Library, audiobook)

Cute. It started off slow and throughout most of the book I was confused at how these stories were going to be related, but it came out in the wash.

The Water Dancer by Ta-Nehisi Coates   2.5/5 (Library, audiobook)

Maybe I just needed to pay more attention, but I didn't feel drawn into this book. Maybe Hiram was too distant, even for the reader. I was interested in what happened to him at first, because my heart-strings were tugged on, but then after that, I mostly just got confused with the flashbacks and his rather comfortable life.

Untamed by Glennon Doyle   10/5 (Library, audiobook; hard copy, own)   

Sometimes a book comes to you when you NEED it and that's exactly what happened with this one.  I'ma be honest, I had never heard of Glennon Doyle before but I had heard good things about this book and I loved the cover, so I requested it from the library and waited 29482921023 weeks and DEVOURED IT.  I loved it so much I bought a hard copy.. and not like an Amazon hard copy delivered to my door, a local bookstore hard copy that I had to venture out of my house during the quarantine period to pick up.

Also, straight up, I had NO IDEA what this book was about.  Didn't even realize it was nonfiction.  Just hoped that several other bloggers wouldn't lead me astray.  

I loved that Glennon talks to herself and calls herself by name (like I do).  I loved the way she framed things.  Yes, some of the conversations with her kids were like, do you really talk to your kids like that?? Nahh.. but maybe?  IDK.  It's not my business.  I'm in it for the words on the page and those words SPOKE TO MY SOUL.  I listened to this book during one of my runs and I was sobbing and running at the same time.  Kinda makes it hard to breathe.  

I actually re-listened to about half this book because my app didn't sync up with the computer and so I was hours behind when I started my run and I didn't want to be skipping through the book during my run so I skipped some of it and then just re-listened from there.  

I'm Still Here: Black Dignity in a World Made for Whiteness by Austin Channing Brown   4/5 (hard copy, own)

I bought several race conscious/education books in 2018 and never got to read them because #School.  Rude.  Anyways, after continuing to fail at reading White Fragility, I finally pulled this book off the shelf and read it instead.  Good life choice, Megan.

Brown writes about the un-obvious obviousness of being a woman of color.  Some of the topics were items I had considered within my own female view (being the only female in a room of males) and as someone who cannot identify with but could understand, being a person of color or a woman of color.  These are the topics that need to be discussed.  

City of Girls by Elizabeth Gilbert   1/5 (Library, audiobook)  

DNF. Couldn't handle more than 30 minutes of the audiobook, read the summary and wasn't interested in the sex life of someone in the 40s. Life's too short.

Nothing to See Here by Kevin Wilson   4/5 (Library, audiobook)  

I needed a palate cleanser after so many socially conscious books and a DNF and this quickie was perfect.  This book was under 10 hours, which made it feel less tedious (maybe I really should start reading shorter books).  At first I thought the book was going to be too weird to finish, but once we finally met the fire kids, everything panned out.  I was sometimes annoyed by Lillian's flippant way of being, but she was ultimately redeemed. 

This was a good, quick listen. 

The Book Woman of Troublesome Creek by Kim Michele Richardson   3.75/5 (Library, audiobook)  

Sometimes, I felt bashed over the head with the "early 1900s in Kentucky" setting (abuse of women, poor mountain people), but ultimately powered through.  The absolute worst thing about this book was the narrator's pronunciation of Appalachian (which was wrong, siiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiigh).  I appreciated how Cussy sacrificed so much for everyone else, even if I never could get used to that name.  

I will say, this book felt very similar to The Giver of Stars by Jojo Moyes,

The 7½ Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle by Stuart Turton   1.5/5 (Library, audiobook) 

Truthfully, this was a hate listen. I hated this book. I hated being so confused for so long at WTF was happening, but I stuck it out for the premise of the book and then the twist at the end had me rehating everything. When the library took this back I almost didn't even bother to renew when I was at 75% complete, that's how disgruntled I was. 

Everyone raved about how good this book was, but I didn't like it.

Currently Reading:  

**TLDR: To long, didn't read.


  1. I had to laugh at this post, we have SUCH different tastes in books, bahaha. Loved DJ&t6, Blood & Bone, they are some of my top books of last year.

    But totally agree about the 7.5 Deaths...that book was a friggin' SLOG.

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