BOOK REVIEW ROUND UP // VOLUME 1 ISSUE 3

A quick review and rating of the last 5 books I read and a look into my TBR list

Home Before Dark
Author: Riley Sager
Publication Date: June 2020
Genre: thriller, mystery, horror, fiction
Method: hardback from BOTM subscription

Review: This was my first Book of the Month selection and it did not disappoint! This book made me feel physically anxious as I got further and further into the story, every ‘thud’ and ‘tap-tap-tap’ I heard while reading made me hesitate and survey my surroundings before continuing on. This book did a great job of shifting focus from one character to the next to keep the reader guessing and miss-identifying the ending. I suppose this is the goal of all thriller and mystery authors, but I’m always surprised and entertained nonetheless. Also, the concept of reading a book in a book was new to me and made this read really something special. I loved the back and forth, alternating nature between chapters. At one point, I was hopeful I was reading a book in a book IN A BOOK – didn’t end up being the case, but would have been a better ending, in my opinion. Regardless, A+++

An American Marriage
Author: Tayari Jones
Publication Date: February 2018
Genre: fiction, contemporary
Method: digital copy via TPL

Review: It’s been hours since I finished this book and I’m still in a state of awe? Sadness? Content? Confusion? I’m not sure how to feel or who to be happy for at the conclusion of this story. I’m mad at Celestial, Andre, and Roy, in that order, for their actions and reactions throughout the story but dang, this is some heavy, real life stuff surrounding marriage, racism, incarceration, infidelity, death, and deception. A good book to read right now when we are at the height of police brutality protests and Black Lives Matter movement across the nation (and the globe).

Me Before You
Author: Jojo Moyes
Publication Date: December 2012
Genre: romance, fiction, contemporary
Method: digital copy via TPL

Review: Wasn’t really a fan initially given the language and use of the terms ‘disabled’ and ‘crippled’ – two words I loathe and never use in my dialogue as a physical therapist. I tried to keep an open mind, convincing myself it would be beneficial to read a story from the perspective of those who are new to caregiving, but my overall impression is meh. I have to admit, I wasn’t expecting that ending. I knew that there were two sequels in this series so I assumed a different ending, but boy was I wrong, and I sobbed as a result. Then I sobbed some more when I watched the movie trailer and I saw some of the pivotal moments in the book brought to life. This was the first romance novel I’ve read in years and while I don’t know that I’m dying to jump into the sequel, or another romance for that matter, I can find some benefit to having read this book. If anything, it serves as a reminder that my patient’s have hopes, dreams, aspirations, but also fear, struggles, and deep, dark periods in their lives. I would have preferred a happier ending, but not all lives, nor all stories, end happily.

I’m Still Here: Black Dignity in a World Made for Whiteness
Author: Austin Channing Brown
Publication Date: May 2018
Genre: nonfiction, race, autobiography
Method: digital copy via TPL

Review: While I cannot claim to begin to understand life as a Black woman in America, I did feel connected to Austin Channing Brown early on when she discusses growing up in Toledo, Ohio – as I’ve lived here for nearly a decade. There’s something about reading a book, fiction or nonfiction, that makes it feel so real and close to home when you can literally put yourself in the cities and places described. Overall I found this easier to read and digest when compared to How to be an Antiracist by Ibram X. Kendi (haven’t finished yet, waiting for the digital copy to become available again from the library). These books are similar in that both authors recount personal life events related to racism, discrimination, oppression, etc., but I found Brown’s writing voice to be easier to read and relate to personally. Also, it’s hard to rate non-fiction. Did I enjoy reading this book? Yes, from an educational stand point – but also no. It isn’t “fun” to learn about my own racial biases. There is, and will always will be, work to do in learning to be an ally.

The Guest List
Author: Lucy Foley
Publication Date: June 2020
Genre: mystery, thriller, fiction
Method: digital copy via TPL

Review: What holds me back from a 5/5 rating is how slow the first third of the book felt as we were learning the back stories of the 5 main narrators. At the half way point, my interest was picking up, and by the final quarter, I was hooked. I had figured out that the person who was going to turn up dead probably wasn’t one of the 5 narrators but I never could have imagined how their stories intertwined with the murder victim. Every time I thought I was on the right track and I had solved the mystery, the story line turned and I was perplexed again, but entertained. I definitely feel like this story challenged me mentally to keep tabs on the 5 to 6 different story lines, which required me to do some re-reading at times. Oddly enough, Foley mentioned in a Goodreads interview that her idea of a perfect mystery “should be like a beautiful puzzle: all the clues should be laid out so that if the reader were to go back through the book they’d see that all along they had everything they needed to solve the case.” Article and interview linked here.

Reads On Deck: books I have physical and/or digital copies at the ready

Until tomorrow, Meryn


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