March 30, 2017

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One thing that I loved about my survey results was that even though some people said that they wanted to see less book review posts, wayyyy more people wrote that they like my book reviews. I love reading book reviews too. So they are definitely here to stay, on the last Friday of every month! On the last Friday of every month, Christy and I host a linkup as a part of our Beyond Words bookclub. This month we read The Girls by Emma Cline and in April we are reading I Let You Go by Clare Mackintosh. If you are interested in joining us on Goodreads, click here.

Honestly, most of this month’s books were just so-so, but I did get to spend a lot of time on the beach devouring them. There were some duds but there were also some winners that I absolutely recommend:

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1. The Girls by Emma Cline

I already read this book before, but I am excited to discuss this book with my book club because I just loved it so much and there is so much to discuss. It is about a woman looking back on her life. As a teenager in the 60’s, she became sucked into a Mason-like cult. The book is about how she got there. How she escaped. How it affected the woman she became.

“I waited to be told what was good about me. I wondered later if this was why there were so many more women than men at the ranch. All that time I had spent readying myself, the articles that taught me life was really just a waiting room until someone noticed you — the boys had spent that time becoming themselves.” – Emma Cline

Although I was drawn to this book because I found the cult plot interesting, this book is about so much more than a cult. It’s it’s about girls, the way we are raised, the way we are viewed, the way we are seen and not seen. The author so powerfully wrote about what it is like to grow up as a teenage girl and it brought back a lot of memories from high school. Even though I have never been a part of anything like this cult, I felt like I could really relate to the characters. I gave this book 5 stars and I can’t recommend it enough.

“That was part of being a girl — you were resigned to whatever feedback you’d get. If you got mad, you were crazy, and if you didn’t react, you were a bitch. The only thing you could do was smile from the corner they’d backed you into. Implicate yourself in the joke even if the joke was always on you.” – Emma Cline

2. Norse Mythology by Neil Gaiman

“Do you wonder where poetry come from? Where do we get the songs we sing and the tales we tell? Do you ever ask yourself how it is that some people can dream great, wise, beautiful dreams and pass those dreams on as poetry to the world, to be sung and retold as long as the moon will wax and wane? Have you ever wondered why some people make beautiful songs and poems and tales, and some of us do not? It is a long story, and it does no credit to anyone: there is murder in it, and trickery, lies and foolishness, seduction and pursuit. Listen.” - Neil Gaiman

It always fascinates me when authors are inspired by mythology to create something totally new, and I know that Neil Gaiman has been heavily influenced by Norse mythology. Unfortunately, my mythology knowledge is very low, so I was dying to get my hands on this book. I ordered a signed copy from Gaiman’s event at  The Strand and I was thrilled when it came in the mail.

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I loved everything about this book. I felt like I really have a good grasp on all of the gods, their personalities, and their stores. These gods are flawed. They make mistakes. They are jealous and cunning. They lie and steal and steal and don’t care who they step over to get what they want. I loved the tone and the little insertions of himself Gaiman put into the book. I highly recommend if you are a fan of Neil Gaiman or just are interested in this topic.

3. All Is Not Forgotten by Wendy Walker

At first we begin with an off-putting narrator. Well, I think, that’s okay. I don’t think that characters have to be likable for a novel to be good. Plus, I was interested in the idea behind the novel: a young woman is given a drug so that she won’t remember being raped, but goes to a therapist because she wants to get her memory back. As the story went on, the narrator got even more twisted and gross, but also repetitive and not super interesting. Terrible ending, terrible narrator, terrible plot.

If you are a fan of twistedness beyond Gillian Flynn, you might want to give this book a try. But don’t say I didn’t warn you.
4. The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot

I have a lot of issues with this book. Henrietta Lacks’ story is really important and needs to be told, and I am glad that this book brought more attention to that. I appreciate the bioethical dilemmas that the book raised. All of that gets 4 stars.

However, my huge problem with this book comes from the author. She relentlessly badgered Henrietta Lacks’ family, obsessed with the idea of writing this book. She wrote way too much about what she went through to write the book, about how many daily phone calls she had to make to get them to talk to her.

The physical and mental toll that the making of this book took on Henrietta’s daughter really shook me. I squirmed reading about the time where her blood pressure and blood sugar were skyrocketing but the author did nothing. I got the impression that Skloot was just so focused on getting her story, on writing this book, that she was willing to do anything to do it – and that is no okay with me.

The author also talked a lot about how Deborah would be in control of the story, but unfortunately, since Deborah died before she could read the book, I have to wonder what she would have thought of the book and how she was portrayed. She portrayed them as great friends but I didn’t really get that vibe from the things that Deborah said to her.

5. The Good Girl by Mary Kubica

Mia has been kidnapped. The man who kidnapped her was supposed to drop her off to his boss so that she could be held for ransom, but at the last minute, he decides that he doesn’t want to deliver her to a man who will likely murder her. So, he takes her to a cabin in the woods, trying to figure out what to do next. Knowing that his boss and the police are looking for them, he holds her there for months as he tries to figure out how to get out of the country with her. The story goes back and forth between those months that Mia is held captive and the months after Mia has been returned home. It alternates between the perspectives of Mia’s mother, the detective who finds her, and the man who kidnapped her. Mia’s perspective is not included.

The writing isn’t the best and I have lots of mixed feelings about this book that will be hard to talk about without giving spoilers. It did keep me up super late last night because I was dying to know what was going to happen. Some of the issues that I had with the book were cleared up in the very last chapter. That definitely threw me for a huge loop. Well done, Kubica.

6. The Grownup by Gillian Flynn

60 quick pages, so you can read it in one sitting. Cool, weird ghost story. I definitely recommend it if you’re a Gillian Flynn fan. I love her characters, especially her female ones. When is her next book coming out?! Also, if you read it, I’m dying to talk about the ending with someone!

7. The Shack by William P. Young

A man whose daughter was kidnapped and brutally murdered gets invited to meet God in a cabin in the woods. Some of the ideas in this book were good. But it read more like a philosophy textbook and tried to cover too many ideas in too short of a time. I haven’t seen the movie yet, but I feel like this book might translate better as a movie.

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4 responses to “Book reviews are here to stay: What I read in March.”

  1. I feel like you had a good mix of books this month, and while some of them sound just meh, I think that I might still pick them up. I read my first Neil Gaiman book last month and I fell in love! I need to pick up another one, and the idea of reading one about Norse Mythology sounds really good! I’ve had The Good Girl on my list for a while, and I’m hoping that I end up reading it soon. The Girls definitely wasn’t my favorite, but I thought that it was a good read. I just felt like the ending cut off too soon after you figured out what happened to The Girls. I just finished I Let You Go, and I can’t wait to discuss it next month!

  2. Carly says:

    You definitely had a great mix of books this month! I skipped over The Girls because I think it’s too far outside of my wheelhouse in terms of the plot, but I’m so glad to hear you really enjoyed it. I’ve heard a lot about Henrietta Lacks, but it sounds disappointing that the lack of integrity in the reporting took away from the story.

  3. Audrey says:

    Psssh- just casually spending time on the Hawaiian beaches devouring books. YOU LUCKY GIRL! Haha! So jealous of that warm, soft sand pic!
    I REALLY need to pick up a Neil Gaiman book and give him a try.
    I’m sad that you got such a bad vibe from “The Immortal Life…”. I have that book and wanted to read it, but now I’m not sure. (I’m also no sure how I got it. I think my brother had to read it for school…?)
    Pretty sure The Grownup is already on my list 🙂
    I think I want to see The Shack, but I don’t have much interest in reading it. Lol. Which is kind of rare for me.

  4. Almost all of these are on my TBR list. I’m most excited about The Girls so I’m glad to hear that you enjoyed it.

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