Posted at 1:02 pm , on December 1, 2018
I love and loathe writing my monthly mini book reviews. For one, it’s a gimme post. I always know what I’m going to write the last week of every month. But conversely, writing reviews are hard–even if they are mini!
This month I did KIND OF keep my promise that I’d pen reviews as soon as I finished a book. By KIND OF, I mean I wrote the first two reviews immediately upon book completion–but then slacked off on reviewing the rest until last night.
Also, it was a bit of a slow reading month for me. I started two books, A Spark of Light by Jodi Picoult and The Clockmaker’s Daughter by Kate Morton, that I ended up quitting because I couldn’t get into them.
- Girl, Wash Your Face by Rachel Hollis: Please don’t hate me, but I wasn’t a huge fan. I much prefer The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck. Is it just me, or do lots of these self-help books fall prey to promoting the author’s brand?
- Sharp Objects by Gillian Flynn: Camille Preaker, a cub reporter at a mediocre Chicago newspaper, unwillingly gets sent to her Missouri hometown to cover the grisly murders of two girls. While investigating the homicides, Camille stays with her disquieting mother and off-putting yet beautiful teenage half sister in Camille’s too perfect childhood home, uncovering the truth of her past in the process. Too frequently, I read thrillers that neglect to create a specific mood besides suspense; however Flynn’s graphic, unsettling diction flayed me and left my arms in gooseflesh. This novel disturbed me; I absolutely loved it.
- The Alice Network by Kate Quinn: A work friend who adores historical fiction recommended this book to me. It’s a true-ish story about women spies during World War I. Even though I found it bingeable, it teetered on inconceivable poetic justice-like plot events.
- Stardust by Neil Gaiman: Gaiman. Is. A. Fantasy. God. It’s the shit. That is all.
- Elevation by Stephen King: King eschews horror in this novella and tells the tale of Scott Carey, a man who’s quickly losing weight but not showing it outwardly. It’s a plainly written story, highlighting the importance of friendship and community.
- Ella Enchanted by Gail Carson Levine: In an effort to read more middle grade books, I snagged Ella Enchanted off a library shelf. What a cool take on the Cinderella story for girls! At birth, Ella gets cursed with obedience by a seemingly well-meaning fairy. Ella spends her days trying to fight commands given to her by others but ultimately has to do the curse’s bidding, which leads her on quest to break the curse.
- Bring Me Back by B.A. Paris: Bring Me Back screams predictable, formulaic mystery novel lacklusterness, but it’s frustratingly readable. Read Sharp Objects instead if you crave literary merit.
- Clock Dance by Anne Tyler: In the throes of an empty nest, Willa Drake finds new meaning in life when she answers a call to care for a little girl, whom she’s never met, while the girl’s mother recovers from a gunshot wound. Tyler’s been writing novels for over 50 years; why has it taken me this long to pick up one of her books? I ranked this a four out of five stars on Goodreads only because I disliked the book’s last page.
As always, discussion is welcome! And does anybody have any holiday book recommendations for me?
(Book cover art taken from Goodreads.)
Posted at 9:48 pm , on May 11, 2018
Because I was relatively immobile (Read more about that here) during March and April, I went a little book crazy.
Here’s what I read with quips about the books peppered in.
- The Crown (The Selection, #5)–Kiera Cass
- Origin (Robert Langdon, #5)–Dan Brown
- The Dry (Aaron Falk, #1)–Jane Harper–I loved this murder mystery set in Australia during a drought. The protagonist, Aaron Falk, is a federal agent and returns to his hometown, which he was chased out of as a teenager. While trying to unearth the truth about a suspected murder-suicide, Falk comes face to face with his past.
- The Horse Dancer–Jojo Moyes–Moyes is one of my favorite contemporary British authors. I admire her ability to layer humor into her plots, but I have zero interest in horses (NO OFFENSE TO MY HORSE LOVING FRIENDS; YOU KNOW I LOVE YOU.) and a part of the novel was more than a tad far-fetched. This was a tough read for me.
- Room–Emma Donoghue–Told from the perspective of five-year-old Jack, born and raised in captivity, Donoghue encapsulates the wonder and terror of a child observing the outside world for the first time.
- A Little Life–Hanya Yanagihara–I’m going to say it. I wasn’t a huge fan of this book. 1. It didn’t have to be quite the tome it is. The editing choices, or lack thereof in some places, could have shaved a massive chunk off the book. Maybe I just didn’t get the author’s style. 2.The focus of this book is on friendships, and I get that, but when I’m reading a book that takes place over years, I think it’s negligent on the author’s part to choose not to incorporate historical context. 3.There’s too much rape, too much pedophilia, too much cutting, and too many suicide attempts.
- The Sunshine Sisters–Jane Green
- The Bear and the Nightingale (Winternight Trilogy, #1)–Katherine Arden–Gorgeous. Lyrical but not pretentious. Set in a fantasy medieval Russia with a young heroine with magical gifts who is pigeonholed because of societal norms.
- The Girl in the Tower (Winternight Trilogy, #2)–Katherine Arden–If anything, this book is more captivating than the first in the series.
- How to Stop Time–Matt Haig
- Never Let Me Go–Kazuo Ishiguro
- The Ninth Hour–Alice McDermott–I’m not quite sure that this book had a plot or was about anything . . .
- One of Us Is Lying–Karen M. McManus–This YAL piece is after school detention turned into murder mystery. I wouldn’t recommend it for adult readers, but my students would totally snarf this right up.
- Sh*t My Dad Says–Justin Halpern–Pretty damn funny.
- Furiously Happy–Jenny Lawson–Lawson is by far my favorite autobiographical comedy writer, and this book doesn’t disappoint. In this book she talks more openly about her battle with mental illness than in Let’s Pretend This Never Happened, my favorite read of last year.
- The Rules of Magic (Practical Magic, #1)–Alice Hoffman—I’ve never met a book by Alice Hoffman that I didn’t like. She’s one of the best magical realist authors out there.
- The Lying Game–Ruth Ware
- The Last Black Unicorn–Tiffany Haddish–I started watching Haddish’s stand-up after my friend showed me Haddish’s appearance on Jimmy Kimmel Live where she relays the tale of going on a Groupon-bought swamp boat tour with Will and Jada Pinkett Smith. Haddish is hilarious. Her comedic talent is apparent in the book, but watching her perform the same vignettes in front of a camera is so much better. The book is worth the read though. Or at least Google search “Haddish Swamp Boat Tour” and watch. You’re welcome.
- Norse Mythology–Neil Gaiman–I’m not a huge fan of reading mythology for fun, but I adore Gaiman. He manages to put a fresh spin on the myths.
- The Immortalists–Chloe Benjamin–Four siblings visit a fortune teller and learn the dates of their deaths. The book chronicles the decades of the aftermath and does what A Little Life didn’t do for me–situates the characters’ lives within historical context.
- Naked–David Sedaris
- An American Marriage–Tayari Jones–Read this book.
- Young Jane Young–Gabrielle Zevin
- The Woman in the Window–A.J. Finn–Even though I knew the first turn this psychological thriller was going to take before it happened and it features a much-too-popular-unreliable-alcoholic-female narrator, I compulsively read this novel about an agoraphobic woman who witnesses a murder (or does she?). I totally sobbed at one part, too.
- Still Me (Me Before You, #3)–Jojo Moyes–Louisa Clark moves to New York City to work for an uber wealthy family. Yes, it is terribly predictable, but who doesn’t need more Lou in their lives?
What have you read recently friends? Also, any discussion about the books listed is more than welcome.