10.06.2020

September Book Reviews

 


Sort of unpopular opinion on this one. Perhaps it was due to my super high expectations going into it - I’ve seen nothing but rave reviews, and decided to buy it for my Independent Bookstore Day purchase.
Alas... This story of a caseworker evaluating an orphanage of magical children (set in the future? The past? An alternate universe? There’s no clear indication.) was just too saccharine and vapid for my taste. The setup is exactly like X-Men, and I wish it had been similar: messy and imperfect characters instead of precious and unquestioning, real talk instead of platitudes, and real tensions when it comes to prejudice instead of a world where bigotry can be solved with a feel good bromide. IF ONLY.
For sure it’s a warm and fuzzy read, like cozy slippers and a mug of tea. Which is the PERFECT book for so many right now. So your mileage may vary! For me, it was if somebody spiked my tea with Splenda and hit me over the head with messaging.
I peeped the negative reviews on Goodreads, and many readers were fans of TJ Klune that felt disappointed with this particular novel. I definitely wouldn’t rule out reading his other books!

The Lager Queen of Minnesota  by J. Ryan Stradal
I put off reading The Lager Queen of Minnesota for too long! After adoring Kitchens of the Great Midwest, I was worried my expectations were going to be too high. I shouldn’t have worried!
This story of multiple generations of Midwest women struggling through different challenges, societal and familial, was utterly absorbing. Stradal poignantly conveys the obstacles that women and people in poverty so often encounter in our society. I love how he captures that quiet stoicism, as well as the petty grievances, that seem so prevalent and familiar to the part of the country where I come from. It resulted in laughter and heartache in equal measure while reading.
“...she wouldn’t leave the legacy she desired simply through prideful public displays, like some men did. There were advantages to a low profile. It was like a man to scratch his name on the banister of history, but Helen had come to believe that it was better to be the stairs.”

The Nickel Boys by Colson Whitehead
Y’all. I absolutely get it now. This book blew my mind.
I thought I knew mostly what I was getting into, having some surface level knowledge of the unforgivable travesty of the real life Dozier School. The Nickel Boys is Whitehead’s fictional take on the life of one student and his, all too common, incarceration for no reason other than being in the wrong place at the wrong time while Black.
The story unfolds in the way I thought it would, given history and Jim Crow laws, and I put the book down to take quite a few breaks. But I’d pick it back up quickly, as I was so invested in Elwood and the other students with such vibrant personalities.
And. The. Ending. Of course I won’t spoil it, but a perfectly executed and emotionally resonant ending MAKES a book for me. Whitehead’s writing knocked my socks off. Perfectly illustrating that you don’t need flowery prose to create something so emotionally resonant. The use of a simple phrase like “this...or that” employed in different contexts throughout the novel echoes with meaning. Just.... All the stars. If you’ve been stalling on this one, hop to it.

How to be an Antiracist by Ibram X. Kendi
I don’t know if there is much more I can add to the conversation about how essential this topic continues to be. I appreciated Kendi’s passion in the narration of the audiobook and all of the salient points made with eye opening, detailed research while relating to his lived experience.
I will constantly be thinking about this book and the idea of lifting up individuality instead of assimilation into a fixed hierarchy, equalizing instead of ‘civilizing’, and the interconnection of racism and capitalism in our society. Absolutely a must read, but you probably knew that.

The Switch by Beth O'Leary
The Switch was a perfectly lovely little comfort read! This story of a twenty something city dweller switching lives with her nearly 80 year old grandmother was full of adorable humor and quirky characters. The romantic plots are completely transparent from the first pages, but it’s fun to see how O’Leary gets the story from A to Z. I think I liked The Flatshare a tad more, as it had much more depth than breadth. I got discombobulated a few times with who was who amongst the dozens of characters in The Switch. Still, a fluffy good time. I highly recommend this one for fans of Jenny Colgan’s books!

With the Fire on High by Elizabeth Acevedo
This was the one of Acevedo's three novels I had not read and it was lovely, as I expected it to be. Depending upon how you feel about YA stories, your mileage may vary. This story of a teen mom felt as if it was leaning very heavily into tropes of the genre. Obviously she's an outsider, parents are out of the picture, she has a spunky sidekick girlfriend, there's a mean girl and a love triangle with the perfect guy. But, I loved the cultural undercurrents and the way Acevedo brought intersectionality issues to light, as well as her characters to life. 












9.09.2020

August Book Reviews

 


Lovely War by Julie Berry
I usually don’t reach for historical fiction centered around a world war, as my reading experience with them tends to feel predictable and uninspired. But the buzz around Lovely War, plus a very original sounding plot device (the story is narrated by Greek gods) got my attention.
What held my attention were the adorable characters, I was really rooting for all of them, and the inclusion of Black narratives from that time period. Berry brings the story of many real historical figures into the novel, and had me googling afterwards - always an indication of a great book.
I will say that, despite the sweet and romantic storylines, it did fall into the category of a little predictable, a little tied up neatly with a bow. But it was a solid WWI historical fiction, and if you are a fan of the genre (which I think SO MANY are) this one is a must read.

Fun Home by Alison Bechdel
Given my love for graphic memoirs, I felt like I needed to go and make up some back list titles. Fun Home by Alison Bechdel (yes, of the excellent ‘Bechdel Test’) seemed like something I should absolutely read.
I knew it was adapted for the stage, and I remember the controversy around it being required summer reading for Duke University and, in my opinion, the baseless claims that it is considered pornography. I could absolutely see why it was assigned reading for new college students, given that a huge focus of Bechdel’s coming of age was at university. And, where the book lost me, it almost seems like a textbook on literature and philosophy.
The sections of the book where Alison delves into her family relationships, especially with her mother and her father, absolutely grabbed my attention and I found them heartbreaking and fascinating. But, for long swaths of the book, especially near the end, she becomes tedious drawing so many literary parallels. I really think I’ve had my fill of learning about Proust. Perhaps not for an incoming freshman, though?
I’m glad I read it, and I’m glad for more LGBTQIA+ literature getting attention. Just not my cuppa.

Check Please by Ngozi Ukazu
Caved to a non-memoir graphic novel I’ve been seeing alllllll over bookstagram! Check Please was super cute, fluffy, palate cleansing brain candy. I thought the main character Bitty was adorable and compelling (and he inspired me to finally start baking with our blueberry picking haul) but I really wasn’t wowed by the book overall. 
I did appreciate the point that cis-gender bro dudes being young, silly and fun can also be smart, empathetic, accepting and kind.
I would say that this would definitely be a great pick for the intended YA audiences! 

What We Carry by Maya Shanbhag Lang
One of the things I love about memoirs is how I automatically hone in on how my personal experiences relate to the author. I suppose that’s true of ALL books, but memoirs are special in this way. There was SO MUCH I could relate to in What We Carry - mostly about our relationships with, and expectations, of our mothers and as mothers. What are the stories we tell each other? Tell ourselves?
It was heartbreaking, affirming, and really a book that can be helpful during this sh*tshow of a world we live in - there is much to chew on about how the unexpected or unasked for can make us stronger, more the person we’re meant to be.
I could also strongly identify with her fitness routine being that time to connect with herself, time not spent taking care of others. I, too, tend to push myself, and it’s a good reminder that health is more important than fitness and I need to care for my body for the long haul.

The Summer Wives by Beatriz Williams
I REALLY enjoyed this novel! It has perfect summer vibes, vacationing with the wealthy on an exclusive east coast island. And throw in an innocent girl, a big ol’ family estate, and a murder for a Gothic mystery feel.
The narrative told in three different timelines (1930, 1951, and 1969) perfectly converged to keep me turning pages until the heart pounding conclusion. Some reveals I saw coming, but there were still perfectly plotted surprises.
If you’re looking for a beach read to squeeze into the last days of summer, this is a PERFECT choice.

Summerland by Elin Hilderbrand
It is September, and school has started, but it is still summer and I’m going to keep cramming summer reads until the 21st!
I finished Summerland over the weekend, and oh my heart.
She tackles heavy stuff in all of her books, but this one felt even more so. TW, especially for parents, it is about two families and how they navigate loss of a child - an infant in one family, a teen in another. Understandably, the frothy factor is dialed down compared with her other books. But the characters, in all of their heartbreaking fallibility, are as endearing as always. I flew through this novel, hoping for their happy ever afters and it tied together perfectly.


8.06.2020

July Book Reviews


The Duchess Deal by Tessa Dare
 I was excited to see what all the fuss was about with The Duchess Deal and to read my first regency romance. Maybe my expectations were sky high, but I ended up skimming quite a bit.
There is definitely comfort in the predictability of reading romance, which must always end happily, but the journey to that end should keep me engaged. I just felt as if I knew how every single moment in this book would play out and got bored real quick. I also think the idea of using Shakespearean insults has been done already, and I certainly give points for humor on that score... to Shakespeare. I do think the main characters banter was fun, and it made me chuckle.
If anyone has a good regency romance to recommend that might fit a less predictable pattern, please do let me know! I might try reading the Bridgerton books/The Duke and I before the Netflix show comes out...

What You Wish For by Katherine Center
Thank you to St. Martin's Press for the complimentary copy! What You Wish For delivers on what I’ve come to expect from Center’s novels: sweet, funny, romantic, lovable and poignant stories of fallible characters figuring out their lives in the face of trauma.
Last week I posted about a romance novel that felt too predictable to keep me engaged, even though familiar narratives can be comforting. In this novel, and others I’ve read by Center, I generally know where things are going to shake out by the end. But the journey to that comforting ending involved many scenarios I could not have predicted, definitely keeping me on my toes and fully engaged!
If you are new to this author, I’d say that How to Walk Away is my favorite and a great way to get hooked, and What You Wish For has a timely feel that might be inspiring during these trying times we all find ourselves in...
”Joy is an antidote to fear. To anger. To boredom. To sorrow."

All Boys Aren't Blue by George M. Johnson
Adding my praises to the pile for George M. Johnson’s All Boys Aren’t Blue. I love that this memoir covering gender identity, sexuality, toxic masculinity, structural racism, family bonds and Black joy is geared toward a YA audience. Johnson’s family love shines through on every page, and is one of the most honest and brave memoirs I have read. Definitely recommend the audiobook, too.

I can see why people are loving The Girl with the Louding Voice.
The story of Adunni’s coming of age, while surviving all kinds of abuse and oppression, felt familiar and not terribly complex. Though the plot did not grab me, the 14 year old Nigerian village girl who longs for an education absolutely stole my heart. It was eye opening to learn more about Lagos and Nigeria alongside her. I also thought that her non-standard English narration was the most compelling and unique aspect of the novel.
Overall, I found this to be an impressive debut and look forward to more of Daré’s writing!

Snapdragon by Kat Leyh
 A wonderful middle grade graphic novel about self discovery, family, friendship, magic and inclusiveness. LGBTQ+ representation is an integral part of the narrative, which is written so seamlessly and lovingly - it just all around warmed my heart. 

Crossings by Alex Landragin
Many thanks to St. Martin's Press for the gifted ARC of Crossings by Alex Landrigan! I haven’t seen this one on the early reader bookstagram radar, and I’m surprised because it’s a wildly fun premise...
A little bit fantasy, a little bit historical fiction, and a little bit mystery that can be read in two different ways. If you read it cover to cover, it is like reading the story from three separate, subsequent perspectives. If you decide to read in the “Baroness“ sequence, directions are given at the end of every section where to turn next, giving it an alternating perspective of telling of the story (and the nostalgia of Choose Your Own Adventure books). Naturally, I chose this method and thoroughly enjoyed watching the pieces of the puzzle come together. I also thought it would be easier to skim the opposite method of reading once I was done!
I won’t say too much about the contents of the book to avoid spoilers. But it felt reminiscent of Anne Brashares novel My Name is Memory, and the more recent Ten Thousand Doors of January by Alix Harrow. I love the idea of souls destined to be together across time and space.
If that, along with Paris after the turn of the century, sounds like your cup of tea, definitely check out this book!

Go to Sleep, I Miss You by Lucy Knisley
Ah, Lucy Knisley just perfectly illustrates real life with her drawing and wit in every book she writes. I feel pretty far removed from the crazy baby days with a 10 and 13 year old, but ‘Go to Sleep, I Miss You’ made all those hazy memories rise to the surface. I even got out the baby books to peruse. Short and sweet, it’s a hilariously fun read for parents of any age!

Clap When You Land by Elizabeth Acevedo
This was as gorgeous, haunting, and of course, lyrical as I expected it to be. Usually I share a favorite quote from a book, but with  it is IMPOSSIBLE to choose. Her novels, written in verse, carry such emotional heft and absolutely captivate with her beautiful words.
It’s good going into this story about two girls who’s lives are mirror images, and yet worlds apart, without knowing too much. The way Acevedo masterfully lays out the plot and builds incredible tension, while also clearly illustrating the effects of race, class, misogyny and the power of women despite the patriarchy, is perfection.
Run, don’t walk to pick up this book. I’d also recommend The Poet X, and I’m so glad I already have With the Fire on High in my stacks at home!



7.02.2020

June Books Reviews



There's not much I can add to the conversation about this book, other than to say that it does feel like an actual conversation with a friend (I especially enjoyed the audiobook). Oluo clearly lays out the structural racism and bias we all live with, and it was even more impactful as a fellow Seattle dweller. I could vividly picture the story she told of staying with her mother's friend in the small mountain town we have driven through countless times, and I knew exactly where she was going when talking about cultural appropriation when traveling at our local airport. Ooof, the Africa Lounge really ought to go...

Normal People by Sally Rooney
Okay, I GET IT. I like to know what’s up with polarizing books, and I wouldn’t say that I came down on either extreme of ‘all time fave’ or ‘worst book ever’ for Normal People. But I REALLY liked it - 4 stars. And I confess that I LOVED the BBC series - 5 big stars.
As for the book, I was enthralled by Connell and Marianne’s back-and-forth through their coming of age, the very real feeling breakups and makeups. Sure, they were insufferable in their constant miscommunication. But they’re teens/young adults figuring sh*t out. And they DO FIGURE IT OUT, which is wonderful and heartbreaking by the end. I also appreciated that they never cheated on each other and acted deferential towards one another.
In my reading experience, I felt very empathetic towards Marianne. Who doesn’t love a story of the bookish nerd girl glowing up and getting the guy? My heart ached for her as she dealt with Connell’s immaturity and her family trauma. It was harder for me to get my arms around Connell and his struggles with anxiety. He didn’t leap off the page for me. But after watching Paul Mescal’s performance on screen, I saw scenes from the book differently. Looking back on what I highlighted, I don’t know how I missed such a beautiful character study the first time around.
“He finds himself rushing to the end of the conversation so they can hang up, and then he can retrospectively savor how much he likes seeing her, without the moment-to-moment pressure of having to produce the right expressions and say the right things.”
Rooney’s writing was hypnotic, nostalgic and so thoughtful about socioeconomic status, family, mental health, trauma, and learning self-worth through it all. And I actually liked how it flowed without quotation marks! I think it lent itself well to such an interior focused narrative.

The Revisioners by Margaret Wilkerson Sexton
I finished the Revisioners on a typical June gloom day here in the PNW and it felt like the perfect fit for this amorphous and mystical novel. I am a sucker for a dual timeline narrative, and the common threads that Sexton weaves between present day Ava, and her mother’s great grandmother Josephine, a formerly enslaved woman who becomes a sharecropper, was beautifully nuanced and thoughtful. For only 288 pages, it’s quite an epic family story about the power of mothers and Black women. I do wish it was a tad longer, as I felt that it ended too abruptly and I was just beginning to learn about the Revisioners magic.

Good Talk by Mira Jacob
I am realizing that one of my favorite genres is the graphic memoir. Good Talk is as FANTASTIC as every person I know that’s read it says it is. It is ‘timely’ for sure, about a dark skinned south Asian woman raising a mixed race child with her Jewish husband. But, in any time, the whip smart art paired with heartfelt prose is utterly compelling and completely gutted me.
“We think our hearts break only from endings - the love gone, the rooms empty, the future unhappening as we stand ready to step into it – but what about how they can shatter in the face of what is possible?”
As with all graphic memoirs, even if you don’t think they’d be for you, I strongly urge giving them a try. Similar to memoirs on audiobook, there is something about the visual arts paired with the prose that gives the reader so much more. In addition to Good Talk, I’d recommend anything by Lucy Knisley, and The Best We Could Do by Thi Bui. 

Anne of the Island by LM Montgomery
It’s been over two years since I picked up where I left off in reading my beautiful Tundra Books Anne of Green Gables box set. Spending time with Anne is always a perfect respite, and I need to remind myself of this more often! In book three, Anne of the Island, we’re treated to the halcyon days of her college life. It’s filled with all of the drama of young adulthood, immersive scenery, and the mirthful humor of all L.M. Montgomery books.

28 Summers by Elin Hilderbrand
Another summer, another Hilderbrand novel! I can now see why people are raving about her latest, it is indeed fantastic. It’s a testament to how much I love her storytelling, despite utilizing one of my least favorite conflict tools in storytelling: people just not being truthful and saying how they feel. Ugh. As a riff on Same Time Next Year, it’s built on two people in love who only meet once a year and go back to their separate lives. Normally I get frustrated with the characters obtuseness in these situations and just tap out. For the first part of 28 Summers I was wary of how I would feel by the end. But, Hilderbrand knocks it out of the park with this cast of characters, intricate plot and the realness she brings to each fraught relationship: spouses of course, but also mothers and sons, best girlfriends and, what stood out to me most, the relationship between siblings.
She is one of the few authors I can immerse myself in for hours and wonder where the time went (4 hours of reading until 2 a.m. to read the entire second half of the book). It’s like listening to a friend relay an unbelievable story, filled with sumptuous atmosphere (oh, Nantucket), humor (“Mallory’s breathing is so shallow, she feels like she’s playing a dead person on television.” ha!), nostalgia (especially for us Gen X’ers - I mean, how many people get the Yaz or Michael Hutchence references??), and so much heart.
If you love Hilderbrand’s work, this is a no-brainer. And if you’re new to her novels, this is an excellent place to start.

6.09.2020

May Book Reviews


A housekeeping note, I’ve begun using  Bookshop affiliate links to support independent bookstores instead of the big A, which gets me a small percentage of sales if ya purchase books through my link. I’m working on setting up a storefront soon!

A Good Marriage by Kimberly McCreight
This book lives up to the hype, and is definitely my kind of thriller: thought provoking social commentary, nuanced characters, and absolutely believable twists and turns.
McCreight creates a rather large cast of characters, but I could completely understand each and every one’s motivations, which I find lacking in a lot of thrillers. And she thoughtfully ties in the theme of ‘a good marriage’ leaving no couple behind. Even those on the fringes are analyzed, from divorced or seemingly perfect, to those with an open marriage. Nothing is what it seems and I absolutely was guessing until the last. Not since I read Miracle Creek last year did I enjoy this kind of provocative legal thriller (with Angie Kim’s excellent social commentary on parenthood). Methinks I need to seek out more thrillers written by women with law degrees...
Thank you to Harper Books for the complimentary advance copy!

Hidden Valley Road by Robert Kolker
The story of the Galvin family, with six out of twelve children diagnosed with schizophrenia, is as fascinating and compelling as it sounds. I can see why Oprah chose it for her book club! If there is any criticism I’ve seen, is that more readers are drawn in by the family narrative, and less so by the scientific and bureaucratic interludes about schizophrenia research. But, those are the parts that I am finding truly remarkable! Science, y’all.

A Court of Mist and Fury by Sarah J. Maas
I stayed up way past my bedtime finishing A Court of Mist and Fury (book two in this series), and I’m so glad I did.
The world building of the Night Court is spectacular, the character development of the heroine Fayre is much more empathetic (as is Rhys, obviously), I was on the edge of my seat for much of the book. And llast, but not least, the swoon factor is OFF THE CHARTS. I also appreciated the very strong theme of valuing consent and being autonomous, equal partners in a relationship.
I’m so glad that I started these after all the books were published, as I just popped the third book into my recent Target order.

Stepping Stones by Lucy Knisley
Oh, I am SO HAPPY that Lucy Knisley is doing middle grade fiction with her amazing drawing and storytelling.
In Stepping Stones, Jen’s coming of age story is told in the aftermath of her parents divorce, moving to the country from the big city, and gaining new family members she certainly did not ask for. It is heavily based on the author’s own experiences, and the emotions of Jen’s highs and lows are certainly on-point and easily identifiable. I couldn’t help but root for her, and her new family by the end.
My daughter and I gobbled up our (signed!!) copy, and we are eagerly awaiting the next installment in this TRILOGY. My love for this author knows no bounds, and I highly recommend all of her books, reviews can be found in the tab above 'by author' and my favorites are definitely Kid Gloves and Something New.

Go with the Flow by by Karen Schneemann and Lily Williams
This boooook!! I would love to put this graphic novel into the hands of every school principal and every girl in the world, as a start.
I’ve been breaking into some of my daughter’s library stash, and Go With the Flow was an absolute delight while confronting the insufferable stigma around menstruation, and exposing period poverty. I was also so impressed with the diversity of the book - not just with race, but body types, sexuality, family structures and even our cycles, and how they can be vastly different. It’s full of heart and a call to action. Highly recommend!!!

Welp. I am in agreement with most of the reviews that I have seen for A Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes. The consensus is that the first two parts of the book are engaging, and then the third falls flat. I would argue that it ALL felt dull.
At first I was sucked back into the world of Panem, and the idea of seeing the origins of the hunger games. I just wish Collins would have gone in a less predictable direction with Snow’s character. He was just wooden, predictable, and uninspiring - as a villain or a hero.
On the bright side, I do love how it matches and rounds out my beloved trilogy

5.06.2020

April Book Reviews

Godshot by Chelsea Bieker
Thanks to the folks at Catapult, I was able to get a complimentary early digital copy of Godshot. This story of a girl coming of age, while stuck in a dead-end town and being brainwashed by a cult was a WILD ride. Lacey May is an utterly authentic and compelling character, whom I wanted to hug and smack upside the head in equal measure. The same goes for her mother, the town beauty who is the focus of the evil pastor’s designs. Godshot offered up a lot to think about when it comes to the relationship between mothers and daughters, what makes a family, and what it means to forgive.
I flew through this book wanting to know how things would end up for Lacey May. I find books about cults rather fascinating, even though this was fictitious. One might wonder where the author drew her inspiration, as some of the details were pretty horrific (Lots of trigger warnings - definitely research before reading, or shoot me a DM.) but she grabbed my attention in a visceral way. Bieker certainly nails the inherent misogyny of cults.
“But my body did exist and was only growing bigger. I would only keep existing more and more, and then when the baby came she too would exist, angering men and boys all on her own. When did this end? I wondered.”
If you think a sinister, and also weirdly charming story about a young girl in throes of a cult sounds fascinating, for sure grab this singular debut!

The Blue Bistro by Elin Hilderbrand
I normally save Elin Hilderbrand books for the summer. However, with my waning attention span and anxiety these days, I decided that getting to some unread backlist might be a good idea! The Blue Bistro wasn’t my favorite narrative of her novels, but the food writing sure was! If you know Hilderbrand’s work, you know that the love she puts into talking about food is such a huge part of her appeal. That, and being so vividly transported to beautiful Nantucket, which was SO NICE RIGHT NOW.
If you haven’t read any of her novels, hit me up and I can try to recommend one that might be perfect for you! I especially like to recommend her to fans of Louise Penny, because they have many of the same enchanting elements.

Here for It by R. Eric Thomas
 I’m really glad that I had R. Eric Thomas to keep me company in the last few weeks at home doing the thousands of dishes and loads of laundry that come with going absolutely nowhere. Anyway! Anyone that can tie in my favorite childhood read aloud (The Monster at the End of This Book) from the beginning of their memoir, to the heartwarming ending is TOPS in my book! This was an astute, eye opening, and obviously good humored collection of essays on his coming of age and confronting issues of race, class, LGBTQ, and religion. Highly, highly recommend!

Bury Your Dead by Louise Penny
I hadn’t planned on reading the next winter-y installment of Inspector Gamache in April, but here I am craving those comfort reads. Bury Your Dead was excellent, of course, and each book just compounds upon the last. I rather enjoyed the tied up loose ends from the previous novel, while also taking in Québéc through Penny’s eyes in this volume. It’s like being given the gift of travel right now.

A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J. Maas
I finally CAVED to this series that is all over Bookstagram. I dabble in fantasy books a few times a year, but many of the hyped series didn’t suck me in past the first book - Six of Crows, Caraval, A Darker Shade of Magic... All great, just didn’t have that something that made me want to devour them. (Sorry! I know how beloved those titles are!) ACOTAR is reminding me of my reading experience with The Selection or Twilight series: kind of ridiculous, but so ADDICTIVE. It’s like Katniss mashed up with Cinderella whilst being rather sexy (PSA: not all fantasy written by women is YA). I have already ordered the next book!

The Whisper Man by Alex North
This was the first fiction novel I have ever listened to on audiobook! I tried to when I first started listening to audiobooks, but learned quickly that nonfiction holds my attention best, preferably memoir. But I had a complimentary advance copy sitting in my Libro.fm account and thought that I'd give this thriller a go. I listen to books at normal speed (or sometimes 1.1 speed, which is so awesome this is available on Libro.fm), but I pushed this one up to 1.25 in the final chapters, absolutely riveted. The ending was downright unsettling. If you are into creepy thrillers, I would definitely recommend this story about a child killer who whispers in victim's bedroom windows, complete with a scary rhyme about 'The Whisper Man.' *shudder*

4.09.2020

March Book Reviews

Valentine by Elizabeth Wetmore
This novel, reminiscent of Kingsolver, will definitely go down as one of my favorite books this year! Full review here

Middle School Matters by Phyllis L.  Fagell
Well, I guess I don't need to worry so much about school dynamics for awhile now... ANYWAY. This book was pretty dry, and there was a lot of information within that I have taken in from various articles and books. But, it does contain a lot of good information. Funny enough, there were many gems that I had already gleaned YEARS ago from Connecting Boys with Books, which is a great read.

Scythe by Neal Shusterman
It’s been a RULL LONG time since I dipped my toes into YA dystopian fiction. But, my 7th grader chose is for his book club in English class, so I figured it was time to pick it up - especially after hearing so many of y’all singing it’s praises. I must say that I found it very entertaining, and cinematic in tone. Is there a screen version in the works? I can’t imagine there not being one. It definitely evokes excellent philosophical discussions about life, death (obviously), and purpose. Though I felt the pace sag in the middle, it comes to a heart pounding end that is equally satisfying and tantalizing. I for sure plan to finish the series.

The Vanished Birds by Simon Jimenez
I didn’t burn through it very quickly, and I thought it sagged in the middle. But would I have felt that way when reading it a month ago, pre-covid 19?? Overall, I’d say Jimenez drew me in immediately with his eerie, somber and vivid world building. I was reminded a bit of A Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet. Though the tone of Vanished Birds is much more introspective and dark, I’d definitely recommend it as another example of thought provoking literary sci-fi.

Nothing to See Here by Kevin Wilson
I felt ambivalent about Perfect Little World, but Catherine at Gilmore Guide to Books convinced me to give this a try. I appreciated Wilson’s fantastical story, his take on class and power, and completely unique and convincing characters. How an author can make spontaneously combustible children seem like a plausible storyline, while balancing a sweet as well as sinister tone, I can't quite articulate. It has to be read to be believed, which I'd certainly recommend.

Maybe You Should Talk to Someone by Lori Gottlieb
This one definitely lived up to all of the hype! Gottlieb gives a fascinating glimpse into the work of a therapist, some excellent nuggets of wisdom through which we can look at our struggles in a more constructive manner, and a string of excellent narratives that propel the book forward. I was so invested, not only in her life story, but those of her patients Rita, Julie and of course JOHN. The raw humanity she shares in herself and others instills such empathy - just a lovely book.