Book of the Month Club Pick - Book Review of The Lies We ToldRead More
Well October has been a month so far, hasn’t it? Theres so much going on in the world; I sometimes struggle to find ways I can make a difference. I want to be educated and I want to inform others. One of the things I’ve been working on this year is tracking my reading. I want to make sure I’m reading authors from a variety of backgrounds, especially stories from women and people of color. I love that this space allows me to connect with other readers from around the world and I want to be sure that I’m sharing books from all kinds of authors. I read widely to broaden my horizons, listen to the stories from people from all backgrounds, and to get inspired to facilitate change.
Here’s what I’ve read over the past month.
This was a slim book that knocked my socks off. Set in Nigeria, it’s a story about two very unique sisters. Ayoola is the beautiful younger sister with a nasty habit of killing off her boyfriends. Korede is the responsible older sister who is always bailing Ayoola out of unfortunate situations. She’s generally happy to save her, but when Ayoola sets her sights on the man that Korede is secretly in love with she starts to unravel. This book is dark and satirical look at family, culture, and obligation. I read this as an ARC from Netgalley- it’s out November 20th. Rating: 3.75/5
This is probably one of the more unique books I’ve read this year. I’ve been a fan of Hank Green for years. He is the younger brother of John Green-of The Fault in Our Stars fame-but he’s a celebrity of his own right. He’s the creator of Sci Show, Vlog Brothers, and a myriad of other internet based endeavors. An Absolutely Remarkable Thing was wonderful. It’s sorta sci-fi, sorta speculative fiction. April May stumbles across the titular Remarkable Thing and has no idea what she’s looking at. As any Gen X’er would, she makes a YouTube video about it, and it immediately goes viral. It’s partly a story about being famous in the digital media age, but I honestly think this one is best gone in knowing little. Rating: 4.5/5.
I've got such mixed feelings about this book! I loved the premise- Fi coms home one day to find that a new family has moved into her beloved multi-million dollar home. She’s estranged from her husband Bram and has no idea who these people are or how they got there. The story is told in a really unique way- we get to hear her size of the situation via The Victim podcast. Bram tells his story through a word document. The beginning sucked me in but the pacing was wrong- I kept waiting for the other shoe to drop and it never did. It was also about 100 pages too long. Rating: 2.75/5
This will land on my favorites list for 2018. Never one to shy away from the tough stuff, Jodi Picoult is at it again. The book opens with an active shooter situation at the last standing abortion clinic in Mississippi. There is no easing into this book. It’s told in reverse, so you get plopped straight into the meat of the story. The characters were vivid and my heart was beating the whole time. No matter which side of the debate you fall on, this one will make you think. Full review here. Rating: 4.5/5.
This saying can be over used but when it fits, it fits- Just Mercy is required reading. Bryan Stevenson tells the story of how he came to be the founder of the Equal Justice Initiative, an organization dedicated to racial justice and challenging wrongful convictions. This book was heartbreakingly sad, but I couldn’t look away. Stevenson did such a good job infusing facts about the broken criminal justice system and true stories about those incarcerated. He brought humanity to these people and he’s such an inspiration. I can’t overstate how much I loved this book. 5/5
TL;DR- I recommend My Sister the Serial Killer, An Absolutely Remarkable Thing, A Spark of Light, and Just Mercy.
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This was the sequel to Beartown, and did the almost impossible; the sequel was as good, if not better than the first book! The town is still reeling after the events from last year and, making matters worse, nearly all of the star players for Beartown were recruited by rival team Hed. Backman is so talented- there are a lot of characters and a lot of story lines going on, but he manages to make the entire thing cohesive. This is a heartbreaker- so I'd advise against reading this in public. Rating- 5
When Life Gives You Lululemons | Lauren Weisberger
I've loved Lauren Weisberger's stories since her Devil Wears Prada days. Her latest focuses specifically on Emily Charlton, Miranda Preiestly's senior assistant. She’s been away from the agency for ten years working on her own image consulting business. Business isn’t what it onced was and she needs a big break. She gets involved with Karolina, a supermodel who’s amid a huge domestic scandal and works to help her get her life back. I thought the book was fine- a breezy beach read, but I honestly can’t remember much of the meat of the plot so that says something. Rating, 3.5
I had this on my list for the ten buzzy book I want to read in 2018 list, and I’m so glad I got to it. I loved it! It's got 12 narrators and I had to take extensive notes to help me keep things straight, but it was so worth it. It was moving and powerful, but also accessible. I loved reading stories about today’s Native Americans. Great debut! Rating, 5
Z: A Novel of Zelda Fitzgerald | Therese Anne Fowler
Even though I read a lot of thrillers/ contemporary fiction, I do like historical fiction when it's well done. Z - A Novel of Zelda Fitzgerald is a great example of the kind of historical fiction I like. The author did such a good job of bringing Zelda to life. It was fascinating to read about her husband's writing process and to see how many other famous people they associated with, but it was also pretty depressing to read about their downfall. Zelda was talented in her own right but didn't get to fully follow her own dreams because she always had to be Scott's muse. Still, this was well done and made me want to read more of Fitzgerald/ Zelda's/ Hemingway's works. Rating, 4.
You might know the name Sarah Pinborough from her book last year, Behind Her Eyes with the fitting tagline of #WTFthatending. Cross Her Heart is different from Behind Her Eyes, in that it’ more of a slow burn and domestic drama than straight thriller, but I really enjoyed it. Her writing is gripping but know going in that it’ a bit slow for the first third. There’s no weird twist in this one, so if Behind Her Eyes wasn’t to your taste I’d recommend giving this one a try. Rating, 4.75
TL;DR- Books I'd recommend you add to your TBR list: Us Against You, I’d Rather Be Reading, There There, Z, Cross Her Heart.
It was a good 30 days.
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Publication Date: 9/4/18
Publisher: Park Row
Page Count: 336
Why I Read This: Ever since The Good Girl, Mary Kubica has been an auto read author for me. I also got a free copy sent to me by Book Sparks- thank you!
Synopsis: From Amazon-
Jessie Sloane is on the path to rebuilding her life after years of caring for her ailing mother. She rents a new apartment and applies for college. But when the college informs her that her social security number has raised a red flag, Jessie discovers a shocking detail that causes her to doubt everything she’s ever known.
Finding herself suddenly at the center of a bizarre mystery, Jessie tumbles down a rabbit hole, which is only exacerbated by grief and a relentless lack of sleep. As days pass and the insomnia worsens, it plays with Jessie’s mind. Her judgment is blurred, her thoughts are hampered by fatigue. Jessie begins to see things until she can no longer tell the difference between what’s real and what she’s only imagined.
Meanwhile, twenty years earlier and two hundred and fifty miles away, another woman’s split-second decision may hold the key to Jessie’s secret past. Has Jessie’s whole life been a lie or have her delusions gotten the best of her?
Opening Sentence: "The city surrounds me.”
My Review: The book is sad. Jessie’s mother is dying. Early in Jessie’s mother’s life, she had trouble conceiving and the grief nearly drove her mad. She ending up pushing her husband away. so it’s always just been the two of them. Soon, Jessie is going to be alone in this world and she starts to have insomnia. She moves into a new place and begins to hear voices. Her neighbor is hiding something- but she can’t say what. Worst of all, it appears that the person she always thought she was was a lie. Her social security number isn’t really hers, she doesn’t have a driver’s license, and has no way to find the answers to her many questions with her mother gone.
All of this to say, I was very disappointed by this book. I don’t quite understand what happened. Mary Kubica's writing is great. There was a solid premise that sucked me in. There was tension in the story and the setting was evocative- I was starting to feel as worn out as Jessie. But. The ending? Arguably the best part of a book (for me?) Completely unfinished. To the point where I to had to look to make sure I wasn't reading an early version of the it. I can generally buy any far fetched premise you want me to, as long as it's well thought out and clever. I didn't get that here. The twist was not shocking; the twist was lazy. I really hate to give bad reviews, especially for authors that I typically love, but I always want to share my honest thoughts. This was definitely not her best work, and it’s disappointing because most of the book was really good. It’s that last 10% that made me regret the hours I had put in to get that far. Try it for yourself and see what you think- there seems to be a small minority that didn’t mind it.
This does lead me to a question: why are endings so important? Shouldn’t we be able to enjoy the journey? If the writing is good enough, can we forgive a bad ending?
My answer to my own question is this- a book can be as tightly wound and page turner-y as it wants to be, but if there isn’t a solid conclusion, then I feel cheated. It feels like a waste, and generally books with shaky endings are the ones that end up on my “do not recommend” list.
Let me know your thoughts about endings in the comments below. Whats the last ending that made you regret the whole reading experience? (I already know Behind Her Eyes is going to be on there! But that was one that was far fetched but I liked.)
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Whoo hoo! Another month, another round of new releases. There's a new book from a very controversial author, true crime, a debut, and a book I've been waiting forever for! Here's what's new to my TBR list.
TBR 1 | The Real Lolita: The Kidnapping of Sally Horner and the Novel that Scandalized the World | Sarah Weinman | Release Date: September 18th, 2018
I've been on a true crime kick recently so this book immediately caught my eye. I think we're all familiar with the premise of the super controversial book, Lolita- Humbert Humbert is obsessed with 12-year-old Dolores Haze, and ultimately gets into a relationship with her after becoming her step-father. Around the same time that this book was being written, real-life Sally Horner was kidnapped and was moved around with her captor for 21 months. It's a terribly sad story, but I'm interested to see how the kidnapping and novel tie in to each other.
I've had my eye on this for awhile. Hank Green is probably best known from YouTube- he's the creator of Crash Course, Sci Show, and Vlog Brothers- his channel with his author brother, John Green. This is a debut and the premise sounds so interesting. He takes his knowledge of social media and has created a story about what it would be like for a character to film an unexplained phenomenon and have a video go viral and gain overnight fame.
I am SO excited for this! The All Soul's Trilogy is my favorite fantasy trilogy so any chance I get to read more stories about the characters, I'm going to take. Time's Convert is set over two time periods- during the Revolutionary War when Matthew meets Marcus and makes him a vampire, and modern day Paris when Marcus aims to make his love, Phoebe, immortal. Although I don't think it's necessary- it really makes me want to re-read the whole series.
You guys remember James Frey, right? He of A Million Little Pieces fame? It was picked as an Oprah's book club pick and marketed as a memoir, until it came out that much of it was fabricated. Either way, I remember loving the story, so I'm interested to see how I find his actual fiction. I won't lie- the two main things drawing me into this are the cover and the author, so we'll see how the book itself actually is.
Tell me what you're excited to read!
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