BOOK REVIEW ROUND UP // VOLUME 2 ISSUE 11

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

Survive the Night
Author: Riley Sager
Publication Date: June 2021
Genre: thriller, mystery
Method: hardback from BOTM subscription

Survive the Night was my most anticipated book of the year, and I’m so disappointed. I have a lot to say and not enough room. Full thoughts can be found here. But the quick of it is the two biggest plot twists were predictable if you’ve read Sager’s entire back list, which I did in 2020. Based off the synopsis alone I was able to guess the conclusion, and I was right. Regardless, I was still entertained and caught by some smaller plot twists. A very quick read I sped through in less than 16 hours. This is my lowest rated of Sager’s books at 4 stars, but definitely the most disappointing given how much I hyped it up in my head. I just can’t give it a 5 star rating having guessed the two biggest plot twists.
Buzzword Readathon: August selection

Circe
Author: Madeline Miller
Publication Date: April 2018
Genre: fantasy, fiction
Subgenre: Greek retelling, Greek mythology
Method: paperback

Absolutely, 100%, WORTH THE HYPE. I don’t often annotate books, largely due to the fact that I mostly read library books, but this paperback from my collection went through it. I’m talking dog eared corners, underlined passages, curled cover, and the occasional sweat droplet from reading on the stair master. The writing style and imagery was beautiful. The story was epic and expansive. I savored every chapter of this book, going as far as rereading the first few chapters to really soak in the Greek mythology. I can see myself revisiting the story of Circe, adding new annotations and thoughts. I may be in the minority, but I really lost interest chapter 18 and beyond as Circe progressed through motherhood. Even so, a four star read. I can’t wait to dive in Song of Achilles, I have high hopes it will make me sob.

Me and White Supremacy: Combat Racism, Change the World, and Become a Good Ancestor
Author: Layla F. Saad
Publication Date: February 2020
Genre: nonfiction, race
Method: audiobook borrowed from TPL

I did myself a disservice by listening to this audiobook instead of actually utilizing it as a workbook, as intended. Some discussion points I enjoyed included tone policing , white exceptionalism, color blindness, optimal allyship, and called out vs. called in. Even so, I found the journal prompts and the end to be repetitive. Glad I listened to it, but my learning continues.

Impactful passage: Following advances in sciences such as the completion of the Human Genome Project in 2003, scientists were able to examine human ancestry through genetics. Science has proven that the concept of race is not a biological fact but rather a social concept. According to Dr. Harold P Freeman, who has studied biology and race, “If you ask what percentage of your genesis reflected in your external appearance, the basic by which we talk about race, the answer seems to be in the range of .01 percent. This is very, very minimal reflection of your genetic makeup.

People We Meet on Vacation
Author: Emily Henry
Publication Date: May 2021
Genre: romance
Method: audiobook borrowed from TPL

No doubt, a 5 star read. And for a multitude of reasons. The first being the various levels of relatability because I don’t think I’ve ever related to a book more than this one. And no, I definitely don’t mean the romance. Main character Poppy’s parents are literally my parents. “I’m the product of a cheapskate father and a sentimental mother, which means I grew up in a house filled to the brim with junk.” And I’ve never felt so seen in a single line of text in my life. Later we get, “Or the fact that our garage was riddled with things like once used duct tape Dad was sure he could repurpose.” Anyone who has met my Dad would whole heartedly agree, these men are one in the same.
I also enjoyed how current this story felt with relevant references to influencers, Instagram, movies, the Bachelor franchise, all that pop culture stuff. The multiple and reverse timelines were a welcomed surprise, as Henry’s previous novel, Beach Read, was told linearly – other than some minor flashbacks. Prior to this book, I hadn’t really read a friends-to-lovers romance and I think I just found my trope. At least when it’s presented in this way, where we get years and years of build up, like a long history of friendship. I love a good origin story, usually in the context of parents, but this works too.
Sometimes when I finish a book, I feel like objectively its fine, but just came to me at the wrong time. But this was definitely right book, right time. A book jam packed with 12 years of vacations spent between friends when I myself leave for an 11 week vacation with my best friend/partner at the end of the month, felt like fate.

The Last Garden in England
Author: Julia Kelly
Publication Date: January 2021
Genre: historical fiction
Subgenre: WWII historical fiction
Method: hardcover borrowed from TPL

Three separate timelines, five female POVs, all intertwined through one beautiful, atmospheric setting, Highbury House and their immersive gardens. I have a thing for books about houses, it just a fact I’ve accepted. Add in an abundance of flowers? Sold.
Historical fiction usually isn’t my jam, especially set in World War II, but the stunning cover drew me in. If there ever was hope of loving a WWII centric story, it would be this one. Where most WWII novels focus on the men serving, and thus lose my attention, this story is a glimpse into what life was like for the women who remained at home and their efforts during the war.
During WWII, Highbury House is transformed into a convalescent hospital for wounded soldiers. I was so hoping for one of the women to become a “reconstruction aide” (as they were known during WWI, e.g. modern day physical therapists) and assist in rehabilitating the injured men. There were subtle mentions about the health and wellbeing of the men, but overall this very much was a story about women. Even so, I thought the story was wonderful.
My only one regret is not looking into the audiobook before starting my physical copy from the library. After finishing the book, I noticed there are five narrators of the audiobook and it has received great reviews – now I’m kicking myself for not looking into the audiobook!
Buzzword Readathon: July selection

What’s up next on my TBR

Until next time, Meryn


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