Transcendent Kingdom by Yaa Gyasi–published 2020–contemporary fiction–four stars: Gifty, a Stanford doctoral student, studies addiction and depression and their effects on mice. When her mother has a mental breakdown, she moves in with Gifty. The narrative gets interrupted by flashbacks to Gifty’s childhood, outlining her brother’s life as an addict and her Christian faith. Gifty struggles with justifying her religious beliefs to her Ivy League science community. While this book is beautiful, it is dull. I liked this more than Homegoing.
Piranesi by Susanna Clarke–published 2020–fantasy–three stars: Piranesi lives alone in a labyrinth of halls. The whims of nature and the tides batter his world. Occasionally he meets with the Other, a mysterious man. When Piranesi suspects another person has penetrated the labyrinth, he questions his entire reality. The writing style was a bit too repetitive for my taste.
He Started It by Samantha Downing–published 2020–thriller–three stars: When Beth, Eddie, and Portia’s grandfather dies, the siblings recreate a harrowing, murderous road trip that their grandfather forced them to take as children. If they don’t, they won’t receive their millions in inheritance. Not gonna lie, this book is pretty twisty, but it was long for a thriller despite being written in a whole bunch of short sentences. The ending was a complete surprise.
Rosemary’s Baby by Ira Levin–published 1967–horror–four stars: I might be the only person on the planet unfamiliar with this book’s premise. I pictured myself huddled up under the covers, scared shitless, the entire time while reading, but it wasn’t scary. However, I appreciated the writing, the layered details that melded together in the last chapters.
A Deadly Education (The Scholomance #1) by Naomi Novik–published 2020–fantasy–four stars: A heroine 95 percent unlikeable? Check. A magic school that tries to kill its students? Check Check. Novik killing it at worldbuilding with a super original storyline? Check Check Check. Is this Uprooted, one of my all-time fantasy faves? Absolutely not. This is dark. And that damn cliffhanger at the end. Ugh!
The Kind Worth Killing by Peter Swanson–published 2015–thriller–four stars: Truth bomb alert: because school’s back in session, I’ve had less time to write book reviews as I finish each book. I’m typing this three weeks after finishing the book. Yes, I enjoyed this thriller. Was it twistier than Twister? Sure! Can I tell you the main characters’ names without revisiting the book’s blurb on Goodreads? Nope.
The Year of the Witching by Alexis Henderson–published 2020–fantasy/horror–three stars: Think feminist dystopian literature meets witches rebelling against oppressive religion. Also, prepare yourselves for religious men taking multiple wives, you know, because, oppressive religion. The book read more like YAL than true adult fiction. Some parts were scary. Others weren’t. The pacing was off.
Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier–published 1938–classics/gothic/mystery–four stars: I dislike when authors layer on the imagery thick right at a book’s beginning, which happens here. Just begin in medias res, please! And while I wasn’t necessarily creeped out, I enjoyed the slow burn of the mystery surrounding Rebecca’s death.
We Are Never Meeting in Real Life by Samantha Irby—published 2017–nonfiction/essays/humor/memoir–five stars: All I want to do in real life is meet Samantha Irby. Her writing IS goals. I had to put the book down at one point because I was laughing so hard my whole body shook. Irby makes writing about literal SHIT, mainstream (mainpoop?), and she deserves all of the claps (and chorusing of toilet flushes?). I too suffer from IBD, and we should flush the talking about poop taboo down the toilet.
3 thoughts on “Mini Book Reviews October 2020”
Another fantastic selection. You know, I’ve seen Rosemary’s Baby the film but I’ve never read the book. It’s been so long since watching it that I’ve totally forgotten most of it anyway so maybe I could give the book a go without any preconceived ideas. I also quite like the sound of A Deadly Education as something rather ‘novel’. You’ve saved the best for last by the sound of it – I’ve never heard of Irby or this book but it’s definitely going on my TBR! xx
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Mrs. Ram Jam
Best for last and the last read of the month too! Irby will not disappoint. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did.
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Sorry to hear you found Transcendent Kingdom dull, I have been meaning to read it, but let’s see. I just read Rosemary’s Baby, which I enjoyed even if it wasn’t scary as such (and I’d watched the movie already, so I knew where it was going). Still thought the build up was well done and the same goes for Rebecca, even if I wasn’t entirely bowled over. Great mini-reviews!