All posts tagged: book review

Unlike Anything Else

For the past year I’d been hearing people rave about The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo. But frankly, I didn’t really believe the hype. I thought it was another romanticization of hollywood glamor and a fictional icon’s love story. Which I’m okay with, and it is that. But so much more. This book is unlike anything I’ve read before. Beginning as the life story of Evelyn Hugo as she tells it to a unknown journalist for unknown reasons, we learn about each of the seven husbands as her story becomes more significant than I ever expected. I’d say there are two major twists in the story of Evelyn Hugo, neither of which I saw coming when I started reading. Eventually the first was hinted at, and I saw where it was going. But the second I didn’t see coming until it hit at the very end. I enjoyed Jenkins’ writing (much like I did in One True Things), and the characters were interesting, but the story she tells is unlike anything I’ve ever read. I don’t …

Discovering the Truth About Evelyn Hugo

I did very little “research” of The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo before I read it. Basically just the jacket description (side note: I keep wanting to call her Eleanor Hugo and I’m not sure why…), and therefore I wasn’t totally sure what to expect from this one.  So, I thought I’d walk you through my thoughts as I read the book (spoilers abound!): “Oh, this’ll be a good beach read… maybe a little like Devil Wears Prada” (i.e., girl trying to make it in journalism gets job of a lifetime, but has to make sacrifices, etc.) “Well, Evelyn is no Miranda Priestly.” (i.e., I found Evelyn to have more redeeming qualities than Miranda out the gate) “What does Evelyn want with Monique? What am I missing?” (and it was at this point that I started to do something I don’t usually do – I scoured every word I read for clues as to what the twist/kicker would be in this book) “OH! Well. This is a beach read with a message. Love is love. Love it!” “OK. …

Unburying the Osage

It is wild to me that I had never heard even a peep about the Osage murders until I picked Killers of the Flower Moon. And I guess, in some ways, that’s the point of the book. An entire group of people targeted and being systematically murdered for money and it’s been completely washed out of our history for everyone but those personally touched by it. The story told in this book is almost so wild that it’s unbelievable, and the craziest part is that what has been told is probably not even the half of it! I feel gross using the word “fascinating” to describe it, but… It’s truly fascinating that 1) all of this actually happened, 2) basically everyone got away with it, and 3) there are probably hundreds more victims that we will never even know about. Aside from the story itself, I also really enjoyed how Grann laid it out, unfolding it bit by bit, seemingly allowing us to discover the webs and cover-ups the same way he did. I won’t lie …

picture of a book on a coffee table with a mug of coffee

An Eye-Opening True Story

While this book was a little outside of my usual comfort zone, I’d heard so many good things that I decided I had to give it a try. And I’m glad I did. Both disturbing and informative, Killers of the Flower Moon tells a true story I knew very little about. The devastating murders of hundreds of members of the Osage Nation is a shameful part of our history, but one we should all be aware of — and something that should be taught in schools. This book is an entertaining and educational blend of true crime and history, a genre I want to read more of. Grann is a masterful storyteller, creating a convincing and haunting narrative that can’t be missed.

The Future of Life and Death

I fully intended not to like this book. YA fantasy is a little out of my wheelhouse, however, it hooked me more than I expected. The whole concept of the book — a future that has eradicated death and therefore tasks certain humans with the job of killing people in the name of population control — was fascinating to me. The first third of the book flew by as Schusterman built this world and introduced us to the main characters. And as much as I was entertained, it was too easy to put down. For some reason that I still can’t put my finger on I wasn’t eager to gobble it up. It did a good job of grappling with difficult questions in way that was accessible, and while it didn’t necessarily answer the questions, they’ve stuck with me. The characters were well developed and relatable, and I liked that the book’s focus wasn’t on a romance (something that happens a little too often in YA, IMO). While the book hinted that Citra and Rowan …

Phone on table

A Dog is a Bicycle with Emotions

“We tell people to follow their dreams, but you can only dream of what you can imagine, and, depending on where you come from, your imagination can be quite limited.” First things first, I loved this book. After hearing people rave about the audiobook version, I decided to give it a shot. (I mean, who doesn’t want to list to Trevor Noah on their way to work and while making dinner?) I’m fairly new to audiobooks, but this one might be my favorite so far. Noah was able to convey his story as only he can, with perfect inflection, comedic timing, and emotion in his voice. The story kept me engaged the entire time, and my mind tends to wander easily. Noah’s story is an incredible one, and he did a phenomenal job of injecting just the right amount of humor to lighten up even the most intense situations. In fact, (if you’ve read it, you’ll know just the scene I’m talking about) one particular story toward the beginning of the book had me laughing …

A Heavy Kind of Funny

When I read and review a book that I love, one of the most common compliments I give is “I read this in one sitting” or something similar. Born a Crime was quite the opposite. It’s a book that I love that took me forrrevvvverrrrr (in my world) to read. My husband actually commented about how few pages I was able to read in one sitting each night. So why did it take me so long? I think that, for a humorous book, it was heavy and it felt too dense to read quickly. I wanted to take it one chapter at a time and really sit with what I’d read. Obviously, apartheid and racism are not new to me, but South African history is certainly not my area of expertise and a lot of the details were new. I just needed time. {Spoiler alert: this paragraph has them!} Noah’s story is simply incredible. That one person lived all of those stories is almost mind-boggling. And even more so when you think about the fact that there …

Humor and Heart

Our April book Born a Crime was just what I was in the mood for! After lots of dark and cloudy months and some intense books (i.e. Birdbox, The Hate U Give, The Healing of America), Trevor Noah’s ability to make anything into a joke was just what I needed. He covers some really dark subjects to say the least (attempted murders, carjacking, domestic abuse, apartheid, racism, etc), but manages to tell his stories with humor and heart. “One day as a young man I was walking down the street, and a group of Zulu guys was walking behind me, closing in on me, and I could hear them talking to one another about how they were going to mug me. ‘Let’s get this white guy. You go to his left, and I’ll come up behind him.’ I didn’t know what to do. I couldn’t run, so I just spun around real quick and said, ‘Yo, guys, why don’t we just mug someone together? I’m ready. Let’s do it.’ They looked shocked for a moment, …

A Shining Starr

I hate to stay a timely piece. I feel that because a book like this has never NOT been timely. Perhaps its impact is potentially more grand because of the current cultural narrative.  Regardless, I felt this book was everything it was meant to be. One of my favorite scenes in the book is one Kathryn H. referred to – when Starr, Seven, DeVante, and Chris are leaving the riots in the car. The conversation on names and race was one that I felt so delicately touched on the idea of the spectrum of racism. Chris is carefully constructed as a slightly awkward white guy with a level of caring for Starr that I just found so sweet. So when he asks about why black people don’t have “normal” names, was it awkward?  Sure largely because he asked it as gracefully as a dump truck on ice. But was it racist? Kind of, yea…but Starr, Seven, and DeVante go on tell him why that question is grounded in his perceptions of race and answer his question. …

A Promise

Talk about timely. This is maybe the most relevant piece of fiction I have read. And it raised so many questions and thoughts and ideas for me. But the two words that kept coming to the surface were: Required Reading. I like to consider myself an ally. I’m not black, I can’t really begin to understand what it’s like to be black in this country at this time. But I can try and I can be supportive and I can listen and I can walk alongside and I can protest and call for change and do my best to make change happen. All of that and… this book still made me say, “whoa.” It brought up so much that I hadn’t thought of, so many little things that happen every day that I don’t have to think about because of the color of my skin. “It seems like they always talk about what he may have said, what he may have done, what he may not have done. I didn’t know a dead person could …