Overall: 3/5 for the book, 4/5 because I love Harper Lee
SRP Goal: 12/20
I finished Go Set a Watchman by Harper Lee and it took me over a week (which is a long time for me) and I don’t really know how I feel about it. I absolutely love To Kill a Mockingbird and in no way did Go Set a Watchman change that- it actually enforced it. I know have a deeper appreciation for TKaM and its underlying narrative, issues, symbolism, and overall feeling. I’ve read TKaM over and over (at least 5 times) and each time I find something new/different to enjoy. GSaW is NOT a sequel, in the truest sense, to TKaM- yes it takes place after TKaM, Scout is grown up and the characters have evolved with the times but it’s a drastically different story. I had a hard time keeping the two separate- I didn’t want to compare them, TKaM is wonderful and I don’t think GSaW could ever truly compete with it. The biggest issue I had with GSaW is the time jumps, the entire book is set within a week (or less) but there are flashbacks to Scout’s childhood. The flashbacks got so confusing- there was no indication of when (in time and in the book that) they were happening- the only indication was Jem's participation. I struggled with how many stars to give this book- 3 or 4? Three because I enjoyed it but I probably won’t read again anytime soon. Four because I love TKaM and Harper Lee. I ultimately settled on four because I love TKaM.
Overall: 3/5 for the book, 4/5 because I love Harper Lee
SRP Goal: 12/20
I want to know who decides how to market books because sometimes they are right on the nose and other times they aren’t even in the same universe….
I just finished Luckiest Girl Alive by Jessica Knoll and it is marketed as crime-fiction, thriller, suspense, mystery, “the next Gone Girl or Girl on the Train” and while yes it does have a crime in it and have some horrific moments, a small mystery and a bit of suspense- it’s not exactly the same (at least in my opinion). No two books will be exactly the same, there may (and will) be some similarities and I don’t see very many between Luckiest Girl Alive and GG/GotT. That doesn’t mean I didn’t like Luckiest Girl Alive- I did but I think I would’ve enjoyed it more had I not been expecting something along the lines of Girl on the Train. Luckiest Girl Alive was a coming of age-dealing with your past-accepting yourself for who you are type of story- not a thriller.
Ani (TifAni FaNelli) reinvents herself after a horrible (and I mean horrible) high school experience. She’s engaged to one of New Yorks wealthiest men and is working as a writer/editor for a magazine- a far cry from the “poor” girl of high school. A TV studio approached her about producing a documentary about her high school experience- she says yes, much to the dismay of her fiance. Through flashbacks (the novel is told entirely from Ani’s POV) we find out what exactly happened to her during high school. Her fiance doesn’t support/believe/care/trust/want his “image” damaged by her past so he tries to get her to hide certain aspects of what happen from the producers/public. All of this drama culminates (not a very big climax in terms of plot but more along the lines of personal growth) for Ani and she ultimately has to decide how much of her past deserves to be heard.
At first I found Ani an annoying bitch- she judged people based on looks and how much money she thought they had but after learning/reading about her past, it became obvious to me that that was the only way she knew how to deal with people who were “better” than her. As the novel progressed, she didn’t grow or have an “ah-ha” moment where she realized she shouldn’t judge people for what they look like but she did realize that she should stop punishing herself for things she had no control over and that ultimately is what she’s judging people on- the things they/she can control: looks, money.
After writing this review, I think I will reread this book and, now that I know not to expect GotT, I might actually enjoy it a lot more than I did initially.
SRP Goal: 10/20 (half-way there!)
I finished Disclaimer by Renee Knight and was satisfied with the overall story and ending, though at times the pacing as a tad slow. The concept (a tad Inception-y) of a book within a book was interesting and could've gone either way- really horrible or really well. It landed towards the really well end of the spectrum. The main character, Catherine, finds a copy of a book The Perfect Stranger on her bedside table and picks it up to read, not knowing that it is a re-telling of one of the darkest times in her life 20 years ago. The only other person who knows about this is dead- who wrote the book?!
The entire book is told through multiple points of view- its starts out with just two (Catherine and the Author) and then two more are added about half way through the book (Catherine's son and husband). It got kind of confusing- there wasn't a huge difference between the voices so until you got to a name or place, it was hard distinguishing who was telling that particular aspect. It also time-hopped and that just added another level of confusion because at first it started out as a memory but then it became present tense and towards the end of the flashback it became a memory again but nothing changes textually (though in hindsight, I guess this is how it happens when you're talking about memories- it starts out past tense and then you get into the moment and switch to present tense).
I was very satisfied with the plot twists and the ending- by the end of it I wanted to punch a specific character (I won't say who so I don't give anything away) but lets just say he/she is an ASS.
SRP Goal: 8/20
I finished All the Rage by Courtney Summers last night.
It was an intense read- I had to take a few hours to process. It deals with some tough topics- rape, death, social cliques, and bullying are just a few of the big issues. The book flap summary:
The sheriff's son, Kellan Turner, is not the golden boy everyone thinks he is, and Romy Grey knows that for a fact. Because no one wants to believe a girl from the wrong side of town, the truth about him has cost her everything-friends, family, and her community. Branded a liar and bullied relentlessly by a group of kids she used to hang out with, Romy's only refuge is the diner where she works outside of town. No one knows her name or her past there; she can finally be anonymous. But when a girl with ties to both Romy and Kellan goes missing after a party, and news of him assaulting another girl in a town close by gets out, Romy must decide whether she wants to fight or carry the burden of knowing more girls could get hurt if she doesn't speak up. Nobody believed her the first time-and they certainly won't now-but the cost of her silence might be more than she can bear.
made the book sound like it would be about the aftermath of Romy Grey’s rape, the disappearance a classmate and the sexual assault of another girl- all related to Kellan Turner, the sheriff’s son. I thought the three crimes would show the town what a monster he really is- the multiple assaults, the disappearance- all would be linked back to him with evidence and witnesses.
If that is what you thought the book is/was going to be, then you’re in for disappointment/shock/frustration because that is not what it was at all. Nope. Not one bit.
Kellan doesn’t even make an appearance in the book- NOT ONCE. He’s mentioned three times by name and hinted at quite a few more times but the reader is never introduced to him outright. He is in no way connected to the disappearance of Romy’s classmate and the second sexual assault is mentioned twice, both in passing. Nothing is ever done about Romy’s rape- she reports it but the town turns against her because Kellan is the golden boy and can do no wrong. Everyone at school hates her because they think Kellan moved away because of her accusation. She is shunned and bullied by the student body- at one point the “popular girls” steal her underwear and put them on the school mascot. They spread rumors around that Romy was “asking for it” because she had a crush at Kellan. NO ONE EVER ASKS TO BE RAPED. EVER. High school was pure hell for Romy because of something that she had no control over. I ended up despising the town, and that was the point of the story, but it also shows how easy it is to jump to a bandwagon based on a single side of the story (not that I’m saying you should EVER be supporting the rapist) but when you can’t comprehend someone's actions- it is easy to just ignore the problem and pretend it didn’t happen.
I felt the book flap was very misleading- even now, having read the novel- I don’t think it describes what happens accurately. 80% of the book focuses on the missing classmate (who used to be Romy’s best friend but turned against her after Romy reported the rape) and what happened to her- though it turns out she died trying to protect Romy from a second rape by a different boy.
If I had been correctly informed of what this book was about, I think I would’ve enjoyed it more but because I was expecting something different- I felt disheartened (and kinda lied to).
Overall: 3/5 - If I got the story I was expecting, I would’ve given it 4/5 - I really enjoyed Summers’ writing style and the issues NEED to be tackled- especially for young adults.
SRP Goal: 5/20
I finished Where They Found Her by Kimberly McCreight in two days- well technically three but that is only because I had to work. I really enjoyed 99% of it. The last 1% felt rushed and inconsistent with the rest of the story.
I read this book because I really enjoyed Girl on the Train- it was supposed to be a similar style: multiple points of view, semi-unreliable narrator(s), mystery, thriller, psychological aspects, and drama. I loved the mystery, the back story and the multiple formats- the story was told through four women's point of view but through newspaper articles, online comments, journal entries, narration, and therapy transcripts. I thought it added an extra level of dimension- not only did you get to read the multiple POV, but you get the community reaction to the “murder” in the newspaper comments and the blog comments.
Like I said, I enjoyed 99% of this book but the last 1% felt rushed, forced, and too neatly tied up. There were multiple storylines present in the novel and I thought the ending would combine a majority of them- and it did but it shoved a random character into the mess that didn’t need to be there. After the all the hurt, confusion, mystery, and twists/turns- there needed to be some storylines left open and not tied into a neat little bow. Not everything in life works out like that and books shouldn’t either- especially ones that are supposed to reflect everyday life or could be something that happens in your neighborhood. I wish the ending could be re-written to reflect how life really is- messy and incomplete. When reading a book that is supposed to reflect life, the ending should too.
SRP Goal: 4/20
Up next: All the Rage by Courtney Summers
I finished Will Grayson, Will Grayson by John Green and David Levithan and as much as love John Green, this book wasn't my favorite. Don't get me wrong, it was a good book but I am not a fan of David Levithan's writing style so every time it switched to his chapter I felt like I was being taken out of the story a little bit. I know why they chose to write it that way- each author writing from a different Will Grayson's point-of-view, it just wasn't something I particularly enjoyed. I do like the themes in WG,WG- friendship, identity, inner strength, coming of age, and dealing with everyday high school issues and I really like the way Green and Levithan handled the semi-tough issues (coming out, break-ups, depression, online dating and cat-fishing). I am a huge fan of John Green and will continue to read anything he publishes but having read one and a half (I read Every Day and I consider WG,WG half-his, since he wrote half the chapters) of Levithan's works, I really like the story lines and subject matter but can not get over his writing style. It's just not my cup of tea. I might try again in the future- give it a few months/years and read another of his books to see if my opinion changes.
SRP Goal: 3/20
I haven't decided what to read next so the next title/review will be a surprise I guess! :)
I finished Before I Go to Sleep by S.J. Watson two days ago and I am just now finding the time to sit down and write a review.
Where do I start? This book was recommended to me because I liked Girl on the Train (thanks Amazon!) and the synopsis sounded interesting- a women with severe amnesia wakes up everyday not knowing where she is or what time period it is because of an "accident" that caused severe brain damage and put her in a coma for months. Unreliable narrator (for obvious reasons), suspense and mystery made it seem like a good combination.
It was a good book but at times it felt like it was trying too hard to be something it wasn't. It was trying to add way more suspense or thrills where there shouldn't have been and adding sexual tension where it wasn't necessary. The thing that bugged me the most about this book though was the fact that a majority of it was supposed to be the main characters journal entries- to remind herself of what happens each day to hopefully help her memory return- BUT there was no difference style/voice-wise between the journal and the rest of the novel. I found it very frustrating and difficult to jump between the two when there was no discernible difference between them. The journal entries read like third-person-ominsinciant point-of-view, instead of first person. There were things that Christine mentioned that as a first person narrator, she shouldn't have know about- especially if she had amnesia and couldn't form new memories or remember a majority of her past. The premise of the novel was good, but the execution needed work.
SRP Goal: 2/20
Currently reading: Will Grayson, Will Grayson by John Green and David Levithan
When you're laid up in bed for 24hours because of a medical procedure, what do you do to pass the time (besides Netflix).... you read an entire book! I read Me and Earl and the Dying Girl by Jesse Andrews while I was confined to my bed/couch not able to move much. Review to come later in the post.
I joined an online Summer Reading Program since most libraries don't like when their staff/librarians join their programs (seems a tad mean to me- telling your staff they can't participate. They should be allowed to participate if they want but not eligible for the prizes- but hey, I don't make the rules). I am super excited to join this SRP- especially since a majority of the participants are librarians and fellow book lovers! Its nice to see what other librarians are reading and what they think of the titles. Since I work in an academic library, we don't really have a popular collection (i.e. current fiction) so unless it pops up on my Goodreads or Amazon recommendations, I tend to miss out on some good titles. My goal this summer (May 30-August 29) is 20 books.
Onto my first review for the SRP!
Me and Earl and the Dying Girl reminds me, at first of The Fault in Our Stars by John Green (loved this book)- mainly because of the cancer aspect and characters in high-school. That is where the comparison ends. Fault in Our Stars this book is not. Me and Earl and the Dying Girl is told from Greg's point of view (the "Me" in the title)- a loner by his own admission, just trying to survive high-school under the radar. Earl is his "co-worker"- they make films together; he is also Greg's only friend but he will never admit that out loud. The Dying Girl is Rachel, diagnosed with leukemia during her (I assume senior year of high-shool, though its never really mentioned). This is FIOS for guys- its not a sappy, romantic, heartbreaking, love story. Its a humorous, realistic depiction of a guy who's semi-friend gets cancer and is forced to deal with it. Greg is self-centered but what high-school senior isn't?
One of my favorite lines/sections came towards the end of the book when Rachel (and I hope I'm not giving anything away as its in the TITLE of the book but if I am SPOILER AHEAD!!!) decides to stop receiving chemo and head home.
Greg is sitting with Rachel in her room and this is his inner monologue:
"You're probably hoping that I was sitting there overflowing with love and tenderness. Maybe you should think about switching to a different book. Even to, like, an owner's manual to a refrigerator or something. That would be more heartwarming than this. Because mostly I was feeling resentful and annoyed. I was resentful at Rachel for deciding to die. How stupid does that sound? There's a decent chance that I'm not even a human being. Anyway, yeah, I was pissed that she was just going to die." (pg 261-262)
I read that paragraph and thought, "that is an honest reaction- how many friends and family members of cancer patients have thought this and felt horrible afterward because its not what "you're supposed to think" or that "they aren't being supportive of the decision"
SRP Goal: 1/20
Up next: Before I Go to Sleep by S. J. Watson
Short and Sweet
I am a Reference Librarian at a community college and an avid reader. These are my thoughts, reviews, ideas, comments, and everyday musings.