Show Us Your Books - What I Read in October/November

Hello friends! I'd like to start this out with a dumb complaint: if you're sending me an email with an invoice in it, SEND THE LINK TO PAY THE INVOICE AS WELL. Why are you making me go search on your website for how to pay you? Help me to help you please. I'm feeling very irritated about all of these end of year bills I need to pay and how much work I'm having to do to pay them. Just take my damn money, good lord. 

OKAY so here we go. Let's round up what I read in November! I'm writing this on December 1st and it snowed last night (not okay) and I have 6 books to read to hit my Goodreads goal. Do y'all think I will make it? 

This post contains affiliate links, which means if you click through them and make a purchase, I will receive a small commission at no cost to you. 

The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes: Y'all, I was Very Upset that they started out trying to get me to like President Snow. So if that's where you are in the book, keep going, it gets better. This was really good. It made me want to read all the books again, and I did end up watching the first movie after I finished it. It's a bit long, but what else do we have to do in the cold months anyways? I definitely recommend it if you enjoyed The Hunger Games. The Games are terrible but it was interesting to see how they really got to where they were by the 75th annual... 

Hercule Poirot's Christmas: A holiday murder mystery! Secret identities!  A granddaughter from somewhere warm and exotic! This one has it all! I know y'all know I've been working through the Poirot stories, and that I love them all. So once again, I didn't guess the murderer, Hercule scooped it! 

Conjure Women: I didn't understand the artwork on the cover of this book until I was about halfway through, and I thought that was really cool. I don't really know how to explain this one, so here's a blurb from Goodreads:

 Like her mother, Rue is an all-knowing midwife, healer, and conjurer of curses on the plantation of Marse Charles. Moving back and forth in time between the years before and after the Civil War, Conjure Women tells the story of Rue, the families she cares for, and the mysteries and secrets she knows about the plantation owner's daughter, Varina.

I enjoyed this because it didn't really follow the stereotypical bell curve most books do, if that makes sense. It wasn't like a slow build to a big climactic event then the wrapping up of a story. It felt more like a chunk out of the middle of a bigger story. I don't know if that makes any sense to y'all. There were big events and drama and mystery and a relatively "neat" ending if you will, but it was a very good read. I am doing a bad job of explaining it.  

Sad Cypress:  BACK to Poirot. We have three in here. Oh man. This one was good. It had a Very Christie twist, but only one you can see coming after it's happened. If you've been here for more than one reading recap, you'll be very familiar with my current task trying to read through every single Poriot novel. I'm making pretty good time, very excited to move onto Miss Marple once I'm done with our mustachioed friend. 

One, Two, Buckle My Shoe: For some reason, goodreads was CONVINCED this was an audiobook, it was not, but I thought that was very weird. Anyways. This one was one where I thought I knew who the murderer was at the end of each chapter, which we know Agatha does on purpose. There were more twists and turns than normal in this one and I couldn't put it down! 

Hood Feminism: Notes from the Women That a Movement Forgot: I saw a meme the other day about how anti-racism work isn't self improvement for white people & doesn't end when you feel better about yourself. I understand why that was a meme, lookin' at you, white women voting for Trump, but at the same time thought "how do you ever feel better about yourself?" because everything I read and everything I learn and every new thing that I come to understand just makes me more mad. So, now that I've made this review about me, in true white lady fashion, I highly recommend this one. It's informative and connects the dots on a lot of things and made me feel more radicalized and more sound in my understanding of how feminism should work. 
They need feminism to recognize that everything that affects women is a feminist issue, whether it be food insecurity or access to transit, schools, or a living wage.

That's it! I have to read 6 books in December to hit my 2020 reading goal, so wish me luck! Linking up for Show Us Your Books! Tell me what you've been reading! Have you read any of these? I'm currently reading (er, devouring): A Court of Thorns and Roses and I've already borrowed the second book of the series because I am enjoying this one so much. 

Life According to Steph

Show Us Your Books: What I Read in September

Full disclosure: I'm currently writing this while not paying attention to a zoom call that I apparently misunderstood the content of. I don't do a lot of zoom stuff for my full time job, just my real estate stuff, and so I haven't been on a call like this in a while and lord do I not envy a single one of y'all that has to do this regularly. In the before times this meeting would have at least come with snacks. SO here's what I've been reading lately. This post contains affiliate links. That means if you click through one of these links and make a purchase I will earn a small commission. 

The Warmth of Other Suns : When everyone was making the Anti-Racism Reading Lists, I wanted to make sure I wasn't getting perspective of other white people. I can safely tell you that I did not learn anything about the Great Migration when I was in school. It was smoothly glossed over. This book is FIRST PERSON stories. It was so cool, I learned so much, and it broke my heart. 

Caraval : After I had a whole ~moment~ about the Discovery Of Witches series, someone recommended this tribology to me, and as you can see below, I tore through it too. I think it took me one weekend. Hello, my name is Kasey, and I have no self control. Anyways, this trilogy is set in a land of magic and I don't know if I could explain it if I wanted to without giving away some things. But it's the tale of two sisters as they make their way through said world of magic. It's very good and honestly keeps you guessing until the very end, which leaves us with a cliffhanger into the second one!

Legendary : This is the second of this trilogy, it's set obviously after the end of the first one (wow, hire me to write all of your book reviews y'all) but you have a base understanding of the world as the sisters get deeper into it. They've learned their mom has a connection to this world aside from the little bit they knew. This one is told more from the perspective of the other sister. Feels very much like a middle novel, if you will? Like there are a lot of storylines that aren't dropped or completed but you know there's a third book so you're not worried?

Finale: This one is aptly named. There are A LOT of moving parts and it's told by BOTH sisters. I don't know if I could pick a favorite of the three, because unlike some multi book series, this one almost felt like it could have been one, very long, book? (Kasey, do you think maybe that's because you read all three of them in one weekend?) If you're a fan of magic and action and light fantasy, I think you'll enjoy this series. I know I did. 

The Paris Hours: The ending of this book made me very mad. Mad isn't the right word. But if you've read it, maybe you can sympathize with me. It has that vibe of like. Love Actually? or those movies in the early 2000s where there are like 10 characters and their stories seem disconnected then they're all at some kid's Christmas play. It was very good story telling, I just have FEELIGNS about the end. 

Between the World and Me: I read The Water Dancer sometime either earlier this year or last year (tbh I don't know what time means anymore) and I really liked the writing style so I wanted to see other things written by Ta-Nehisi Coates. This book is written in the form of letters to his son and just, the way he speaks to him both warmed and broke my heart. It also felt very... intimate? Almost like I was snooping in someone's mail or something. Also, there's a part where he talks about a trip to Paris and it made me cry more than it should have because he so acutely describes travel and what I miss about it. 

Life According to Steph
Currently. I'm reading The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes, which I will almost certainly finish over the rainy weekend, but like I said, I'm writing this mid zoom call I'm not paying attention to, so it'll have to be in my November SUYB. What are you reading? What have I missed? How have you been? 

Show Us Your Books: Summer?

Hi friends! It's been so long since I've sat down and written that blogger decided to change their interface! I honestly don't hate it. I'm sure it'll take some getting used to but I'm a grown up, I can handle change. I haven't felt like anything I could write lately would be worth reading. I have, however, gotten back into my reading rhythm, and spent more than one full weekend doing nothing other than reading. Yes, the weeds in the garden beds are out of control, how did you guess? I think a few posts are in order and we'll pretend like they're already in the pipeline. Specifically about how we somehow have a tomato forest in our garden and also more okra than you can shake a stick at. 

This post contains affiliate links. 

The Beekeeper of Aleppo: This one was kind of hard for me to finish because I could almost see what the ending was going to be? Without trying to spoil it, I can't really explain that any further.. It was a heartbreaking story from start to finish though, and I recommend it! 

The Price of Paradise: This one was one of the free amazon books you can get for kindle if your a prime subscriber? It was originally written in Spanish and translated over. It's a story about love and loss and revolution and it was so good. There were twists and turns and the mob and I really enjoyed the whole thing. Plus! I learned a lot about Cuba in the process!

The Victory Garden: I think this one was also a free amazon one? It's been a minute so I'm not sure. It was also a good read. WWII, y'all know I get stuck there quite often. Again, love, loss, war, my bread and butter it seems. As it goes with most of my reviews, I recommend this one too. It was somehow light and predictable even for a WWII novel, you know? Maybe that's silly. 

Just Mercy: This one also broke my heart. I learned a lot and plan to watch the movie soon ( I haven't had the attention span for a movie in quite some time...) This one will really open your eyes to the prison industrial complex, the school to prison pipeline, and the death penalty. I highly recommend it, but just know that you're probably going to come out the other end very angry. 

A Blade So Black: This was so fun! It's a new take on Alice in Wonderland and I couldn't put it down. The only reason I haven't finished the series (this is the first of said series) is because the library didn't have the other books available for eBook checkout and they've only recently reopened for curbside pickup. I tore right through this one, the characters are so fun and witty and I love a good re-imagining of Alice. 

The Vanishing Half: I also read this one in one single weekend. Like, started it on Friday evening, finished it on Saturday night. It tells the story of twins who choose to live completely different lives, and then the lives of their daughters. It's a really great story and I definitely recommend it too! I think it lives up to the hype.

A Discovery of Witches: OKAY GUYS WHY WERE YOU HIDING THIS SERIES FROM ME FOR REAL? I tore through this entire series and these books are all like 500 pages long. Couldn't put them down. Wasn't patient enough to wait for the second and third one to come off library holds so I bought them. Then I watched the entire first season of the TV show, followed by several hours on the internet trying to figure out when season two would be released (like everything else, it's on a corona delay)

Shadow of Night: I think this might be my favorite of the three, if I had to pick. In this one Diana & Matthew TIMEWALK and live in the 1590's in England. Time travel, witches, vampires, murder, bad guys, IT HAS EVERYTHING OKAY. Honestly. Which is part of why I was so bummed to find out the second season is delayed, because obviously I wanted some period drama to fill my days with. 

The Book of Life: I know this one is allegedly the last one in the series, but I think there will be more. At least I hope so. There's another book, Time's Convert that depending on where you read it is either #1 in the "All Souls" Series, or #4 in the Discovery of Witches. WHO KNOWS. There are a couple of story lines in this one that sort of get dropped? I'm hoping that just means they'll be picked up in future books. And a little bit of unnecessary unrequited love drama, but like, still very good. I still tore right through it, and honestly can't wait for more. 

Girl, Woman, Other: This one tells the story of several Black characters that eventually all tie together. It felt more like a collection of short stories with a chapter at the end tying them all together? I really enjoyed it but I did kind of forget about various overlapping characters until they were all tied together at the end. 

Time's Convert: BOOK FOUR! or book one of the universe series? Anyways, it focuses more on the story of Marcus and Phoebe and honestly I would read books about all of the lives of the supporting characters in this story universe forever and ever amen. This one is set after the first three, like in immediate succession so you definitely need to read the other three to really understand what's going on in this one (which is why I feel like it's more of a book 4 than a book 1, but I'm neither author nor publisher so what do I know?)

Dread Nation: BLACK GIRLS FIGHTING ZOMBIES. This one is the first of two books (see the second one as my next book, lol) Where the Dead rise up the day after the battle of Gettysburg and it re-imagines history if that happened. This story touches on all kinds of issues and involves our heroines straight up kicking ass and taking names. I really enjoyed both of these, and highly recommend!

Deathless Divide: I liked that this one sort of wrapped up the story. Like, there's a little bit of an opening at the end for there to be more books in the series? But it also ties up a lot of loose ends and things that usually frustrate me. It feels like the story is complete. More zombie fighting, a few Utopian towns that aren't actually Utopian, happily ever afters, and people not wanting to settle. It's a fun little series.

Murder in the Mews: BACK AT IT AGAIN WITH MY PAL POIROT! This one is a collection of like, five Poirot stories. I love the theme that people think they can pull one over on Poirot. He always figures it out! Those little gray cells my friends. I always enjoy a Poirot novel and sometimes when I get overwhelmed trying to pick a new read, as silly as that may sound. I love the format and I love watching characters try to outsmart him. 

Appointment with Death: Another Poirot novel! This time it's set in Jerusalem and involves an American family! We don't even really see Poirot until the second half of the book. I really didn't see the murder coming in this one. I know I say that almost every time but ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

Currently reading:  The Warmth of Other Suns. Also, in other personal news, we invested in an AIR FRYER and now are frying ALL THE THINGS. So please send me any and all of your tips, tricks, favorite recipes, etc. Finally linking back up for Show Us Your Books, I've missed everyone! 

Life According to Steph

What I Read In February & March

I don't know what the weather is like where y'all are but it has been raining in Georgia for what feels like my entire life. We'll have one MAYBE two days of sunshine and then just pouring rain. There's just a constant puddle in the driver's side of my Jeep (please send me all of your soft top leaking tips and tricks.) Lots of rain means lot's of time to sit on the couch and read. Someone asked me the other day how I have so much time, I realized it's because we cut cable and I'm overwhelmed trying to choose something to watch on TV, so instead I sit on the sofa and read. If you missed what I read in January, check that out here! It includes a book about the 1918 Spanish Flu which is now a thing we should all know more about.

So, that was my intro for the February post, which clearly I did not get posted. So hold on to your butts guys, this is going to be a double month post! I honestly thought I'd read more with the whole "social distancing" and "shelter in place" situations but I'm having a super hard time focusing on any specific task. Are y'all having that trouble too? I think it's just like my baseline anxiety is so much higher now that everything is out of whack. I just ordered tie-dye supplies, so that'll be a fun thing. Also we've been working on our victory garden, which I will absolutely be blogging about once we get everything in the ground. Without further ado, here are a bunch of books I've read since February!

This post contains affiliate links.

Albus, a black lab, is staring directly at the camera. A slightly out of focus e-reader shows the first page of chapter fourteen

The Man In The Brown Suit: I picked this up at a used book store. Apparently finding Agatha Christie books at used bookstores is what I do now. This isn't even a Poriot novel, so at least I was branching out? This one got me. I thought I knew who the killer was, then there were twists and turns and at the very end I was right after all! I still don't consider it figuring out the murderer, because it didn't end anywhere like I thought it would. 

Killers of the Flower Moon: I had this on holds FOREVER. It was one where I kept forgetting it wasn't a work of fiction. Truth is stranger than fiction and this was wild and terrible and heartbreaking and I think you should read it. 

The Book Woman of Troublesome Creek : I actually found this one from this linkup and where everyone was saying to read this instead of a bigger named author who almost certainly plagiarized it. I was so mad this one ended. I didn't want it to end. I would read like 6 more novels about this lady. I didn't know about the pack librarians OR that the blue people of Kentucky weren't a thing made up for this story. It was a wild ride and I loved it. I'm sorry I just used wild in back to back reviews.  

Ask Again, Yes: I had this one on my library holds for a while, long enough to where I'd forgotten why I requested it.  It reminded me a little of Little Fires Everywhere in a good way - the way the timeline was structured and the way it's told from multiple character POVs. I enjoyed this one and when I got to the end I went to turn (swipe) to the next page and realized I was at the end, literally said "oh, that's the end" out loud. I apparently could have kept reading about these characters forever. 

The Water Dancer: I enjoyed this story but I didn't at the same time? I felt like there was potential for so much more to have happened, I felt like the ending and everything was lacking, but it was an interesting story nonetheless. I have to say, I don't know if it was worth waiting as long as I did on the holds? Like, if it had been something I really wanted to read, not something that I had just put on hold and forgot about, if that makes sense?

The Sun Is Also A Star: I almost immediately forgot this was YA once I started it. You know how sometimes it can feel like it's specifically written for teenagers who think the worst thing EVER is not having a date to prom? Maybe it's sadistic, but I genuinely enjoy when kids take on adult problems in their own way. I like to see the kids do better than the adults, maybe because I was raised on Harry Potter. This story tackles some grown up stuff, but it's a fun read. I tore through it. Highly recommend.

Dumb Witness: Hercule Poirot strikes again! This one passed the time just fine, it's not one of the best Hercule stories, but it kept me entertained.

An American Marriage: This was an interesting story, it had more twists than a mystery novel, but it wasn't a mystery novel. I didn't really like most of the characters? I wasn't really rooting for anyone (well, Roy Sr. I liked him) but the ending wasn't really what I expected either. It took me a while to get through, partially because I can't focus and partially because I didn't really feel like I needed to get anywhere with this story? I feel like this sounds like a wishy washy review. I enjoyed the story but didn't feel strongly about any of the characters. It's well written, plenty of twists, worth the read.

His Dark Materials Trilogy: I somehow missed out on this trilogy as a kid? But I'm kind of glad I read it for the first time as an adult? I tore through the entire trilogy in a little over a week. I'm excited to watch the HBO Miniseries next. I loved this whole series, and I don't care if it's cheating to review them as one. I don't know that I could pick a favorite book of the three. If you're into fantasy and what not, I'd recommend it. It is a little dark, but I don't feel like that should surprise anyone since it's literally called "His Dark Materials" but that's just me. Traveling between worlds, daemons, witches, bears that talk, villains and anti-heroes, it's got it all!

Currently, I'm reading The Beekeeper of Aleppo, another book I put on my holds list from this linkup! I'm excited for another Show Us Your Books readathon this weekend, hope to see all y'all there!

Linking up with Steph & Jana for Show Us Your Books! 
Life According to Steph

What I Read In January!

"I'm going to try to blog about things other than what books I read" - me, in December. Me through the entire month of January: I am exhausted. I have the SADs real bad. I always struggle a little more in the winter than summer months, but this winter has been tough. I've been taking a lot of things personally and essentially hibernating because I don't want to deal with it. So, rough month for mental health, but I did get a lot of reading done! If you missed what I read in December, you can catch that here. Linking up with Steph & Jana for Show Us Your Books!

This post contains affiliate links.
A kindle book with the title page for Death on The Nile by Agatha Christie with a cup of coffee next to it.

The ABC Murders: Again, another month with lots of Poirot novels. I regret nothing. I've started looking for Agatha Christie novels in used bookstores. I'm turning into a monster. I love it because I have yet to figure out the murderer. Cannot get enough. Highly recommend all of them.

Cards On The Table: This Poirot novel taught me about Bridge. A card game I didn't realize I might be interested in until reading about people playing cards. I think, aside from never being able to guess the murderer, I also love how quick these reads are. I can never put them down. 

Where the Crawdads Sing: I'd had this on library holds forever. To the point where I thought maybe I wouldn't ever get it or it wouldn't be as good as everyone said. I enjoyed this one, the main character really broke my heart. I saw someone on instagram say it was unreasonable that they were always going to Asheville instead of like. Charlotte or Raleigh. and I agree. I don't know anything about the history of North Carolina but I do know where Asheville is in relation to the coast. Anyways, this was a good one, kind of stressful, gets a little slow but not so slow you're like "ugh will this ever end?" just slow enough where you're like "okay I don't feel bad stopping after this chapter."

Murder in Mesopotamia: Poirot strikes again! I feel like I'm not giving good reviews of these because I love them all for the same reasons. There's different characters and new things I learn in each of them but like, again, baseline: I love that I can't guess the murderer and that I can breeeeze through them. 

Death on the Nile: I read this entire book during the Show Us Your Books Readathon and I regret ABSOLUTELY NOTHING. I liked that I technically had an excuse to read all day and not feel guilty or like I was avoiding dealing with something (reader, I was avoiding some things.) I even won one of the prizes for playing along, and I never win things! Anyways, this one is on a boat (obviously) and made me want to go on a river cruise up the Nile. I didn't guess the murderer but this time it was because they worked so hard to make me believe it wasn't who I thought it was! (maybe I have an Agatha Christie addiction forming)

The Last Town on Earth: I found this one from this linkup! It's a part of American history I didn't really know much about. I feel like I should remember the Spanish Influenza outbreak, but I really don't think we studied it. This one made me cry and feel all sorts of things for the main character. The author kind of lost my attention for a little bit, but I wanted to know how it all ended. I realize that I didn't give any stars up until this point,  but I give this one 4. Maybe 4.5. It was an interesting story and like, timed well with the whole flu situation going on now.

That's it! That's everything I read in January! I've set my goodreads goal at 50 this year, so hopefully I can keep this pace up. I've been trying to read a chapter or two every morning instead of mindlessly scrolling through twitter, because man is twitter making me feel tired all the time. Now I'm currently reading The Book Woman of Troublesome Creek, which I learned about when I found out a bigger name author had basically stolen her premise and work! 

What I Read in December

HAPPY NEW YEAR Y'ALL. I actively set my 2020 reading goal for 50 books, and I've already read 4 so hopefully that's a thing I can accomplish. Who knows, best laid plans and everything. December was insane and I'm pretty sure it really only lasted about 15 minutes. We took all the decorations off the tree this past Sunday but we aren't taking the tree itself down. I'm not ready to part with it yet and we're having a bonfire next Saturday soooooooo. Anyways. If you missed What I Read In November, you can catch up there! Maybe I'll blog about more things than books this month, who knows.

This post contains affiliate links.

I didn't take any book pictures so here's one of me in sunny Cancun where I'd very much like to be right now.

A Woman Is No Man: I'd had this on holds since April, which is insane.Then I absolutely devoured it. It broke my hear a little, but I also felt like I learned a lot? It's told from the point of view of three different generations of women and it will open your eyes to a different experience than the one you may have. Also, one of the character's favorite books is A Tree Grows in Brooklyn which is actually my favorite book too. Maybe I'll re-read that one. I've lost my original copy though, which really bums me out. ANYWAYS. A Woman Is No Man, I recommend it. 

Educated: This is another one I've had on holds since I got my library cards and discovered I could check out ebooks from the library. I felt a lot of ways about this one. There's a lot of stuff I feel like I can't really talk about without spoiling it? I honestly didn't love it. I didn't hate it? But I didn't love it either.

Death in The Clouds: Another Poirot novel! Y'all, spoiler alert for What I Read In January -- I've already finished three more Poirot novels. NBD. I love it. This one features an implausible murder on a plane, that sounds like it's made up even to the characters in the book! I've said it once, I'll say it several times more, I never see the real murderer coming. Every time I think, oh man I've figured this one out and I am always wrong. I love it.

Three Act Tragedy: Again, Poirot. I'm reading them all in order, which you really don't have to do, it's just an easy way for me to decide which one comes next!

It wasn't a big reading month for me because December was crazy with holiday things and more holiday things. Linking up with Steph & Jana for Show Us Your Books! What have you been reading lately? Anything I should pickup? I'm currently reading Murder in Mesopotamia, told y'all I was all about Poirot... 
Life According to Steph