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Welcome to TBR Etc., a book recommendation blog.

Talking all things books and reading. Easily distracted by new releases.

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Welcome to September! I've gone though 5 books over the past month, which seems to be pretty consistent for me. Of these, I read 3 on Kindle, read 1 hardcover, and listened to one on Audible. While I love the feeling of a book in my hand, I do find I read more quickly if it's an electronic version. I don't think any were a perfect 5 stars this month, but all of them were in between 3 and 4.5.

Four Monkey Killer, J. D. Barker 

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There's something in me that really likes a twisted and dark story. I kept seeing this book around Instagram being praised for both its beautiful cover and its unique take on a traditional police officer serial killer cat and mouse game. I finally picked it up last week and I found it to be as good as advertised. Sam Porter is a police officer that's on furlough who is brought back because a serial killer that he's been tracking for years has struck again. Set against the backdrop of downtown Chicago, we're taken to lots of different settings to help unravel the mystery. There were layers upon layers to this story and I found myself hustling through the pages to find out how it ends. Fair warning, though: This is book one of a duology, so you'll have to wait until next summer to see how this story ends. It didn't end on a cliffhanger, necessarily, but i think there is still more story to be told! Full review here

Annihilation, Jeff VanderMeer 


Well, this was one weird little book. I am a big fan of post- apocalyptic or dystopian, and somehow I stumbled into Annihilation. I gather that VanderMeer is known for his unique writing style, and that was definitely apparent in this book. This is the first book in the Southern Reach series. I honestly don't know how I feel about it. Pros- it was different. It's set in a future world where something has happened on Earth and explorers from various backgrounds go into an area that's been blocked off to try and figure out what happened. There's a lot of confusion. It's not the writing; it's because you're right in the action along side of the protagonist, who also doesn't know what's going on. All we know going in is that this is the twelfth expedition, and the explorers from each of the other groups have all had something catastrophic happen to them after they returned. One group was wiped out by aggressive cancer, another group committed group suicide. Area X reminds me of Fillory from The Magician King in some ways. It was definitely surreal and had a dreamlike feel to it. I'll probably pick up book two, just to see where things go. The book was also quite short, so I don't feel like I lost anything by reading it.

Are You Sleeping, Kathleen Barber 

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This was probably the biggest letdown for me this month. It was a good story, but I went in with very high hopes and it didn't deliver. I loved the premise. It seems like it was inspired by the podcast, Serial. In Are You Sleeping, we meet Josie Behrman, a young woman who has spent the last 10 years rebuilding her life after her father was brutally murdered in her childhood home. One day, everything in her current life gets put into jeopardy due to a podcast, Reconsidered, which unearths a decade old murder case to reconsider the facts. It just so happens that her father's case is the the one that's being examined. I thought it started out really strong, but fizzled out by the end. I didn't like the main characters and found it hard to empathsize with her, despite the troubles she faced. The best part of it to me was that It was very of the now.  Twitter served as a Greek chorus and it was a very clear demonstration as to the perils of a viral news story. I listed to the Audiobook and didnt like the narrator, so I wonder if that had something to do with my ambivalence. Probably a 3 star story overall, at least to me. 

Bird Box, Josh Malerman 

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Bird Box was similar to Annihilation in that the characters are faced with a vague threat that has the capacity to kill those who get too close. It's dystopian, and I picked this book up because I often heard it described as 'one of the scariest books' various people have ever read. People are dying. There's something outside that kills people if they set their eyes on it. I enjoyed the story, but I didnt think it was one of the scariest things I'd ever read. The main character, Malorie, finds strength that is unimaginable in present day and serves as a admirable main character. The scariest part for me wasn't the vague threat that lived outside, but the humans they faced it with. 

Too Fat, Too Slutty, Too Loud: The Rise and Fall of the Unruly Woman, Anne Helen Peterson 

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This fit really well into my goal of reading harder and reading more books written by women. There were so many themes packed into this little book: race, feminism, weight, age, sexual orientation, socioeconomic status. Each chapter centers on an iconic 'unruly' woman- Serena Williams is unruly for being too strong, Madonna for being too old, Hillary Clinton for being too shrill. There are a lot of citations and the author has clearly done her research; it reads like a PhD wrote it (and one has- Petersen earned her PhD in media studies from the University of Texas). That said, it's accessible. She makes fantastic points and does a great job explaining specific criteria that have made women throughout history identified as unruly, and why that can be a good thing. It was a very straightforward book, and I recommend it to any seasoned or budding feminist in your life.

What was your favorite read this month?ย 

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Four Book Friday | Books to Enjoy With Your PSL

Four Book Friday | Books to Enjoy With Your PSL

Review | The Fourth Monkey | J.D. Barker

Review | The Fourth Monkey | J.D. Barker