When quarantine first started, I took the opportunity to squeeze in as many books as possible and now that I’ve started, I can’t stop! Here’s the list of books I’ve read these past 2 months, with mini-reviews.
When We Believed in Mermaids by Barbara O’Neal
After believing her sister had been dead for years, Kit sees a clip on the news that unmistakably contains her sister–alive and well. But in order for the sisters to reunite they need to discover what was keeping them apart for so long. The childhood flashbacks and gravitational pull to the ocean made this kind of enchanting and I both enjoyed the mystery and cared for the characters. I recommend it if you like soft mysteries about family dynamics.
Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng
This book was the first quarantine pick for Laredo Book Club because of its Hulu series premiere. To be honest I haven’t watched the show yet, but I did enjoy the book. What made me want to pick this one up was the trailer for the show: it looked suspenseful, an edge-of-your-seat kind of watch, and those are my favorite kind of reads. But the book was nothing like that. It definitely had mystery, I was constantly wondering, “What does that mean? Who is he? What is she hiding?” And I was eager to keep reading to figure out what the big secrets were, but there wasn’t really a big twist and reveal like a suspense novel. It began at the end of the story and told a slow, calculated tale with well-placed twists and turns to show the road it traveled. A very good read, but not what I expected.
The Pale-Faced Lie by David Crow
I found this book on Kindle Unlimited and I wasn’t let down. It was absolutely engrossing and what made it even more so is that it’s a true tale from the life of author David Crow. He grows up on the Navajo Indian Reservation with his siblings and ex-con father who “intimidates him with beatings to coerce him into doing his criminal bidding” (Goodreads). David’s mother is too mentally ill to help him, but throughout the course of his life he meets people who push him toward college and a way out of his unfortunate circumstances. This book was written well and the story flowed; it never left me confused or wondering what happened to one character or another, and the realizations and lessons David learns are important reminders everyone can learn from. He eventually comes face-to-face with the father he hasn’t seen in years and has hours to outsmart him at his own game. This book was a roller coaster of emotions and I highly recommend it.
Bringing Home the Birkin by Michael Tonello
Birkin bags are notoriously expensive and difficult to attain so when I first heard of this book I placed it on my TBR list, until I finally found it on Amazon. I was looking for a funny, easy read and this one was a pleasant surprise. Michael figures out how to get one of these bags and is miraculously able to waltz into just about any Hermes on Earth and walk out with multiple purses using his secret formula. Well, the author is an ace at using humor and injects just enough of his personal life to make things interesting but not too much where I was like, “who cares? what about the bags??” During his purse pursuit travels he stays at nice hotels and eats the most lovely foods so that was also welcome banter in the narrative. If you’re looking for a feel-good, fabulous, luxury read then this one is top notch.
Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte
This classic had been on my list ever since I took British Literature and I finally got a chance to pick it up. The family tree got me a little confused at the beginning because there are 2 characters with the same name but once I drew it out on paper I understood. I love how the eerie gothic novels have that tinge of ghost story that makes it all feel slightly creepy but with an undercurrent of dark romanticism. There’s not much to say about this one, it’s a classic for a reason, it’s obviously a must-read and if you haven’t read it then you definitely should.
When I Was You by Minka Kent
Looking back, I feel kind of bad that I gave this one 2 stars, but in all honesty I hated it. The only way I can summarize it is: Brienne Dougray discovers someone has stolen her identity and doesn’t go to the police. It’s aggravating how dumb and clueless she acts throughout the entire book. This read more like a mystery than suspense and there was nothing edge-of-your-seat about it. The big plot twist came about 30% into the book and could be seen coming from miles away. The rest of the novel was just sitting back and saying, “Well you got yourself into this, Brienne, let’s see what you do now.”
Consider This by Chuck Palahniuk
Wow. This book has my heart. Not just because Chuck as an author holds a special place in my life but because it felt like he was speaking directly to me. I’ve been dabbling in writing fiction for a bit so the fact that this book was released this year didn’t seem like a coincidence. As readers he becomes our writing teacher, though he doesn’t admit it, and it feels like we’re sitting in his classroom. As he regales us with stories from his life, he weaves in the writing tips he’s learned and explains the ways to go about writing a good fiction story. With each writing tip he gives, he also provides a list of books and short stories that fit hand in hand with each element, like receiving a bit of homework from our professor. If you’ve ever wanted to write fiction the way Chuck does check this one out. Or if you’d love to get inside his head so you can pick apart the way he writes his next novel, then you’re definitely gonna love this one. So my next assignment: pick up a Chuck book.
Damned by Chuck Palahniuk
The reviews for this on Goodreads are horrific. I cringe just reading them. Just about every one is complaining that this book isn’t like the books Chuck wrote before it. And really, do they have any idea what it’s like to write fiction? It starts from an idea and from there you just go where it takes you, wherever that may be. How dare they expect him to write the exact same book 30 times in a row! I found this book to be awesome for what it is. 13-year-old Madison ends up in a stinky, candy-coated Hell where she meets a crew of Breakfast Club type kids. You get to explore the circumstances of her death with her, you get peeks into the luxury lifestyle she led because of her movie star mom. Of course weird shit makes appearances, such as the sea of Wasted Sperm, but I don’t think that stuff is meant to be shocking in the book, it just makes Hell funny in a dark way, what is that again? Um, SATIRE, PEOPLE. Seriously, read the book and then read those reviews. Stupidly harsh. I gave this book 4 stars because yes I did enjoy the read but I didn’t love it in a “have-to read at least once in your life” kind of way.
You by Caroline Kepnes
2nd quarantine pick for Laredo Book Club. So when I first picked up this book, fuggedaboutit. I could not, For The Life of Me, put this down. Probably because I watched the show when it first aired on Lifetime a few years ago and also recently watched the second season on Netflix. So why didn’t I give it 5 stars if I loved it so much? Honestly it went on too long, and the amount of sex scenes got really annoying. I guess it’s to drive home the point that Joe isn’t really in love with Beck, he just loves having sex with her? But if that’s the case then the book should’ve just ended about 80 pages earlier. I also hated Beck, in the show as well as the book. In the book it’s easier to see why Joe likes her so much but halfway through the book any care I had for either of them just died away and I kept screaming in my head, “JUST END IT ALREADY!” Thankfully it did. I fully intended on reading the 2nd book but, eh who knows when (or if) I’ll get to that one.
Breakfast at Tiffany’s by Truman Capote
In 1940s New York, Holly Golightly is living it up! I’ve only seen this movie so I was excited to read the book. It was light and easy breezy. What was cool about it was there were no chapters, the whole thing is about 130 pages so it was easy to read in a day. I really enjoyed this one and it was lovely to have the images from the film playing in my head in each respective scene. I do recommend if you liked the film.
The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood
The writing in this book took my breath away. I still haven’t seen the series so that could have added to the appeal. I had to piece together whether this took place in the past or present and figure out what was going on so that mystery was fun to take part in. This is one of those books I would definitely read over a couple of times because I loved–and this is kind of random–but I loved the similes. I’ve read stories before that had jarring similes that added nothing to the situation and would be better if they weren’t there. There was something about these that were placed so perfectly into the situations and context of the character’s life. It wasn’t so much the story that I loved about this book, but the way it was written.
Diary of a Beverly Hills Matchmaker by Marla Martenson
I picked this one up during The Handmaid’s Tale so I could have something lighthearted to read in between serious reads. I thought it was going to be like Bringing Home the Birkin: hilarious and indulgent. Yeah, it wasn’t that at all. The majority of the book was the author talking about her previous book and how much she wanted to be a writer instead of a matchmaker. Sure there was matchmaking but there was nothing surprising or funny about what the clients wanted or what happened to them. The dialogue in this book was also very unnatural, like unbelievable that people would talk that way. The “funny” parts weren’t funny, they were more like inside jokes between the character and her family and even though she clued us into things they still weren’t funny. So in that sense, yes it truly is her diary. Her deepest thoughts and desires that it turns out, I don’t care one bit about. I do not recommend this one.
Originally posted 17 May 2020