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

The Vanishing Half
Author: Brit Bennett
Publication Date: June 2020
Genre: fiction, contemporary
Method: digital copy via TPL

Review: It was the first paragraph of chapter 5, for me. It was at this point I started recommending it to friends, followed Brit Bennet on Instagram, and requested her first novel, The Mothers, from the library. It was then I knew that I loved this book. It offered so much more than I could have ever imagined with topics including racism, prejudice, love, self-discovery, identity, and gender. I’ve seen other reviewers complain about the jumping timeline but I quite enjoyed that aspect of this book. I loved the similarities and differences between the 3 generations of woman and how their stories weave together and apart. Rumor has it this book is in the running to be Book of the Year – I could not agree more!

The Girl in the Mirror
Author: Rose Carlyle
Publication Date: October 2020
Genre: thriller, mystery
Method: hardback from BOTM subscription

Review: I have mixed feelings. Overall, it was just too improbable and unbelievable for rating above 3. A set of twins that no one, not even their mother, can tell apart? Ehh, okay. Setting that aside, I did enjoy the twists and turns, especially the reveal at the end. This story was a well-timed follow up having just finished The Vanishing Half -also about twin sisters. After finishing, I proceeded to think about this story for the next 45 minutes – enough so that I cracked the book back open 3 times to re-read sections, not typical for me after finishing a book. Not something I would read again but would lend to friends.

Urban Jungle: Living and Styling with Plants
Author: Igor Josifovic, Judith De Graaff
Publication Date: December 2016
Genre: nonfiction, gardening
Method: hardback, borrowed from TPL

Review: Requested this on a whim from the library. Honestly, I didn’t even read the title assuming it was a book focused on plant care (classic judging a book by it’s cover move). Despite my confusion, thanks to my own carelessness, I enjoyed this beautiful and educational book, though it was quite repetitive at times. There’s a variety of information including DIYs, plant care, styling tips, and in depth looks into the lives and homes of plant lovers across Europe. I would love to include this in my personal library or display on our coffee table if I happen to come across a used copy!

The Mothers
Author: Brit Bennett
Publication Date: October 2016
Genre: fiction, contemporary
Method: hardback, borrowed from TPL

Review: Jumped in on this after finishing Bennett’s second novel, The Vanishing Half, which I absolutely, without a doubt, loved. So appropriately titled, this story dives deep into motherhood through multiple themes including suicide, abortion, and single parenthood alongside betrayal, infidelity, identity, race, and grief. This book inspired multiple discussions with my partner regarding abortion and parenthood, but also a conversation reflecting on how the required reading in high school did or did not prepare us for the real world. While reading, I found myself thinking how if/when I have a daughter, I’d want her to read this book and come to me with questions because this is real life. Parental suicide is real, parental abandonment is real, abortion is real. Of Mice and Men and The Great Gatsby are well and good, but not indicative of modern life. I guess I’m realizing I rate books based off of their ability to challenge me to think and engage in conversations with my peers, rather than plot structure, plot holes, and character development.

The Nothing Man
Author: Catherine Ryan Howard
Publication Date: August 2020
Genre: thriller, mystery
Method: hardback from my collection

Review: Earlier this year, I sped read and thoroughly enjoyed Riley Sager’s Home Before Dark (HBD), a suspense thriller written in a ‘book within a book’ format. Abby from Crime by the Book recommended The Nothing Man (TNM) as a similar read as it is also a ‘book within a book’ style story. It feels natural to compare the two books, though their themes are different; TNM is more crime and murder focused whereas HBD is more haunted house and spooky. I loved the plot of this story: serial killer gets away with horrendous violence and murders only to be surprised 20 years later when one of the survivors writes a book about the events in the hopes of finally catching him. I liked having both perspectives represented, that of the victim(s) via chapters from her newly published book, and that of the serial killer as he reacts to chapters of her book. However, the ending felt semi-rushed, anti-climatic and predictable, hence the 4/5 rating.

What’s Up Next

Until tomorrow, Meryn



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