Tuesday, April 11, 2017

What I Read: March

It's that time of the month where I show up to this spot and share some books. As I was starting this post, I noticed that I have blogged a total of seven times this year, counting this post. woof. I had big plans to get back to some semblance of a schedule. There's always next week. Anyways, March was a pretty solid reading month and I'm excited to share some good books.

Loved It:

Totally engrossing read suitable for fans of Gone Girl and Girl on the Train. I don't even care that the plot was obvious because I was hooked. I'm sure most people would agree that the setting of this novel was more creepy than the story itself. I was reading it at night and kept getting that feeling that someone was watching through the windows. I love books that creep you out and a secluded house in the English countryside with a heavily psychotic woman does it.


I cannot tell you how much I loved this book. I fell in love with Ove from the beginning. He was the perfect curmudgeon-y old man who burrows his way into your heart. I enjoyed the way the book was written from a third person perspective.  Ove is this so well developed character who is trusting and good while being oblivious to all of the postive things about himself. I was sobbing by the end of the book and will now be reading all of Backman's books.

I didn't expect to like Big Little Lies as much as I did. I read The Hypnotist's Love Story a couple years ago and really disliked it but wanted to give Moriarty another try since the consensus seems to be that she writes good books. I was surprised by the ending and liked all three women. I read this shortly before the show came out but knew who was playing each person so I found myself envisioning them as I was reading. I felt Witherspoon and Kidman were cast perfectly, without even seeing the show. I'm not sure about Woodley, I'll have to watch the show to see how she plays Jane.

Liked It:

I'm slowly working my way through Moyes' novels. I didn't love love this one but liked it well enough. It reminded me a lot of The Nightingale, with the two sisters in a town and one makes a choice that the other doesn't agree with. It also kind of reminded me of the movie Woman in Gold because of the artwork restitution aspect. I liked the mix of WWII and art history. In a weird twist, I actually enjoyed the modern day half of the story better. 

Hearts of Men started off really slow but I did end up liking it. I doubt anything will be as good as Shotgun Lovesongs. I like books/movies set at summer camps and this was no different. I did find the ending with the tent scene odd, almost like Butler threw it in there to mix things up. I think the book would have been solid on its own without that scene. It just really didn't make sense with the context of the rest of the book. As always, Butler's writing is well done and I wish there was more of Nelson's story in there.

Leave It:

I seemed to be a bit of the minority on this one but I could not get into Twelve Tribes of Hattie. It dragged on forever and it wasn't even that long of a book. I tend to like Oprah's book picks but this one just didn't do it for me. The concept of 12 stories interwoven around Hattie with each one progressing through time was different but the story itself wasn't for me. I need more meat or something more solid to string me along to each story and it wasn't there.

Love It: A Man Called Ove & In a Dark, Dark Wood
Leave It: The Twelve Tribes of Hattie

Life According to Steph

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Ten Ways to Enjoy a Day In

Leesa wanted to know what a perfect day in would look like for me and it sounded like a good way to get me to write a post. I'll take it these days! There is nothing I love more than spending a day in, preferably a good snow day when you should be at work. I quickly came up with ten things that would make for a good day at home.

  • Sleep in, wake up slowing and begin the day with a long hot shower. Take time to do a body scrub or face mask.
  • Put on my most comfy loungewear; a big oversized sweatshirt, some leggings and fluffy socks or slippers. 
  •  Play some good music to get me singing along. Currently loving this Mike Posner song.
  • Have a few treats to graze on throughout the day, like this Seven Layer Dip.
  •  Spend the majority of the day with a good book.
  • Break the reading up with some Chitty cuddles.
  • One thing I really enjoy doing with Errol is cooking dinner. So I know my perfect day would have us cooking a favorite dinner together.
  • Put up the twinkly lights and spend the night in a fort.
  • Enjoy the rest of the night in the fort binge watching a new favorite series. We just finished Dexter so we're catching up on a few shows we have recorded. I know I'm late to Dexter but I was so upset with the finale. If you've seen it, let's talk. I need to express my feelings for this one.
  • End the night with pillow fight in bed. Errol and I have this thing where we try and push each other off the bed, all in good fun of course but I love giggling until I can't breathe and tears are streaming down my face. 
So that ends my perfect day at home. How would you spend a day in? What would you add to my list?
While you're at it, don't forget to check out Leesa for your next mattress.

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

What I Read: February

In case you missed it, I posted my January reads last week. I was only about a month late but you should check them out. I had some really good reads in January. February was a decent mix after I finished a book that took me a solid two weeks to read because of my lack of interest. Check out my reviews below to see which one.

Loved It:

I finally gave into reading A Dog's Purpose. One of my good friends recommended it to me when it first came out many years ago and I thought it might not be a book for me. I literally bawled everytime Bailey died. I've found myself thinking about it quite a few times since I finished. I'd like to think the same kind of loyalty is found in cats but we all know cats dgaf. I absolutely loved that the book was narrated from the dogs view. 

I'll Give You the Sun is easily my favorite book of the year so far. I fell into this one head first from the opening page. Everything about this book was superb. I loved Nelson's writing and the story of Noah and Jude and Jude's evolution. I was a huge fan of Aristotle and Dante and if you were too, you need to check out this book. The only thing that would have made this book better is if there was pictures of Noah's art.

Liked It:

Inspector Gamache #11

This is the first of the Inspector Gamache books read not by Ralph Cosham. Even though I knew it was coming, it took me a while to get into the book. I was confused why they would choose someone with a British accent to narrate a French-Canadian book and the pronunciation of characters and words was just off. (I just Googled Cosham and he was British too but I never would have guessed that) With that being said, I did enjoy the story. It was a bit darker than Penny's other books. This is the first time a child has died. I hope this isn't the last we see of Fleming because I was intrigued by him; I like psychopaths.  It's still hard to see Gamache in a different role. Next up is The Great Reckoning which I heard was amazing and then I'm all caught up.

Leave It:

All Fall Down was my first Weiner book and I'm not sure if I will read another one. I probably should have DNF this one a long time ago but I slogged through it. I kept thinking surely something is going to happen but nope. I found this pointless and mind numbing. I was hoping that there would be some major turning point like the character would crash her car or OD on pills but it was so uneventful. 

I think I might have liked this one more if I hadn't just come off my I'll Give You the Sun high. Both books shared the same theme of a boy finding his sexuality and because that was the main thread, it felt like the two books were leagues apart. Totally chalking this one up to timing.

Love It: I'll Give You the Sun
Leave It: All Fall Down
Life According to Steph

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

What I Read: January

I'm more than a little late to the Show Us Your Books link up but I had such a good reading month in January that I had to share. I started 2017 off right with reading ten books with some really good ones in there. It helped that I went on vacation in January so there was lot of travel reading which I love. I have no problem sitting at an airport or on a plane and getting lost in a book. 

Loved It:

Chief Inspector Gamache #10

The Long Way Home was a slightly different Penny novel. It centered around the main characters and I found it to be pretty depressing and bleak, which is totally not a bad thing, just different from her usual. I found myself feeling frustrated with Clara from time to time. I know she had to do things her way on this journey but sometimes I wanted Gamache to take charge. Errol used to work with asbestos so I found that aspect interesting. The ending was heartbreaking. I was kind of angry at Penny for getting me to actually like Peter for once and then nope, jk. I dove right into the next one, The Nature of the Beast, right away.

c/o Netgalley 

All the Missing Girls hooked me from the first page. The backwards time flip flop was weird and had me confused at first but once I wrapped my head around it, I realized that it helped add to the mystery. I couldn't turn the pages fast enough. Miranda had all of the elements of a great thriller; lost love, a disappearance, fragmented memories. While this may be morbid, I love stories of disappearances. I would recommend this to fans of The Girl on the Train and Gillian Flynn.

I devoured this book and I found myself thinking about it long after. What really hit home for me was the section of the book where Lina was in Siberia. I kept thinking about how I think it's cold here when it's negative 10-15 but that is nothing compared to what Lina endured. I remember taking a hot shower at one point and just feeling thankful that I have never felt that cold. I was fascinated by the whole story. I never knew that people were deported to Siberia during WWII and held there long after the war ending. I can't imagine being stuck there for 12 years and surviving it. I would have liked to know more about her liberation and Andrius.

Another WWII winner. Lilac Girls did not evoke my emotion the way Nightingale or All the Light We Cannot See did but it was still thoroughly engrossing. I liked the way it was told from three women's point of views and didn't just focus on the war itself but the after effects, both physical and psychological, of living during that time. While I could not agree or even understand Herta's perspective, I appreciated that Kelly included it. You rarely see that point of view but Herta's complicity and belief that even after the fact she did nothing wrong, left me so angry. I struggled with Kasia and her anger as well. She was such a positive and strong women during the war and after, she was so full of hate and anger that she let it ruin so many years of her life.

Liked It:

I'm generally a fan of Bohjalian but this wasn't my favorite. Bohjalian is from Vermont so he tends to write about areas that I am familiar with. The Double Bind started out slow but the setting (Burlington,VT) and the whole Great Gatsby thing was intriguing. The depiction and development of the character's mental state was not at all where I thought this story was going. It started as a mystery and slowly turned into a psychological thriller of sorts.

A short and quick read that left me with a smile on my face. I tend to be a glass half full type of person and loved the positive theme of this book. The writing and the story were original. I liked that it made you question your version of happiness. I shared the same opinion as the happiness doctor in that I think happiness is a state of mind and that some people are more predisposed to be happy/positive than others. I'm interested in reading the other Hector books.

It's hard for me to formulate an opinion on this book. It was just so fucked up that part of me really liked it but the other was like wtf just happened. I spent the whole book waiting for the thing to happen that when it did, it left me reeling. I'm still trying to decide if Reid constructed a brilliant story or not. Another book about the psychology of madness but this was more intense than The Double Bind.

This is my third Tropper book and it didn't disappoint. Totally different than Book of Joe, One Last Thing reminded me of This is Where I Leave You. Tropper has a thing for writing about middle aged men divorced and going through a mid-life crisis. My one negative of this book is the open ending. I hate endings that leave you wondering what happened and if the author meant for you to believe that the outcome that you wanted to happen, happened. 


I think if I had listened to this and not known so much of the Maura Murray story, I would have liked it a lot better. Maura Murray disappeared not far from where I live. I've been by the crash site many times and because it happened in basically my backyard, I'm interested in the case. I read Renner's blog about Maura several years ago and was actively reading it when he mentions some of the things happening in the book. I even went down the Topix message board rabbit hole because I was so into the theories and what everyone was saying. Because of this, there were no huge revelations in this book for me. If you've read his blog, this book is basically there. The only thing that isn't is the parts about Renner's personal life, which I had a hard time with. I personally had a problem with him sharing so much about his son's behavioral issues and didn't feel that it was his right to share some of it. I also found it a little too neat/convenient when he basically self diagnosed himself as a psychopath. Errol and I listened to this together and one day even took a ride by the crash site while listening to the book because we're cool like that. I'd like to believe that Maura did run away over the alternative that there is some pyscho in my backyard.

Leave It:

I bought this book on a whim and man, what a let down. I was expecting so much more out of this book and it was not at all what I thought it was. It was boring and pointless. I thought it was going to be about an abduction and someone being taken and it was about everything but that. 

Love It: Between Shades of Gray and All the Missing Girls
Leave It: A Man Came Out of a Door in the Mountain