Wednesday, October 2, 2019

The Trial of Lizzie Borden - by Cara Robertson - Book Review



 

Time for a #60secondbookreview that feels very fitting for October - "The Trial of Lizzie Borden" by Cara Robertson. This is a non fiction book, and it covers exactly what you think, and it does it in a really informative way. The author did an outstanding job completing this research. It is definitely one of those books where when you're done you just want to invite everyone to your TED Talk about this new topic you've learned so much about. But this book did make me realize just how much personality is part of my enjoyment of murdery things ( can i get a hey hey, fellow murderinos?). Most of the time, but especially when a case happened over 200 years ago, I'm not here for the outcome, I can Google that - I am here for the personality of the individual telling me the story. So while the research was top notch, I do think it fell short on that aspect. 

As you're reading "The Trial of Lizzie Borden", whether you think she is guilty or innocent - it's hard not to become angry for her. One of the arguments for why the murder couldn't have been completed by Lizzie, was that, "Abbie Borden was killed not by the strong hand of a man, but by the weak and ineffectual blows of a woman." huh. Because they both looked pretty dead to me - the pictures are gruesome, guys, don't Google it - plus, the story isn't that she could barely muster a whack, it's that she did 40 and 41 whacks! My favorite parts of the book explored this obvious sexism and how frequently it came up in the trial, as well as the at the time burgeoning field of forensic science. It was super interesting!

Have you read "The Trail of Lizzie Borden"? Comment down below and let me know what you thought of the book! Or let me know your favorite book about murder! Thanks for reading. Have a great day!

Tuesday, October 1, 2019

Five Amazing Books You Should Read ( that also happen to have numbers in the title)



Happy Top Ten Tuesday! This week's posting prompt from host, That Artsy Reader Girl, is to find "Book Titles with Numbers In Them", so I have rounded up five books that I really enjoyed reading that also just so happen to have a number featured in the title. This prompt was way easier than I expected it to be, I guess I've just never realized how many books have numbers in the title. Keep reading to check out my picks!

Monday, September 30, 2019

The Great Believers - by Rebecca Makkai - Book Review





Time for a #60secondbookreview! And this week, we'll be discussing "The Great Believers" by Rebecca Makkai.

I love this book *so much* and just want to scream it from the rooftops - it is that kind of book love. What do I have to say to you so you'll be motivated to read this book, too - because it's all that matters to me right now. I want even more people to read it, fall in love with it, and it for it grow in popularity so that Amy Poehler, who owns the production rights, is forced to adapt it as quickly, but also beautifully, as possible. And that's not asking a lot because this book is amazing and really important, as well!

"The Great Believers" follows what is now, one of my absolute favorite literary characters, Yale. He is a gay man living in Chicago in the 1980's. He has this amazing crew of friends, including a woman named Fiona. The story in the book is told from dual perspective and timeline, following Yale in the 1980's - what it was like to be gay at that time, why it was terrifying but also how it could be wonderful. Side note, his story is also so much more than that plotline, and I really didn't feel this book falling into a trope-y or contrived story, which was awesome. The story also follows Fiona in present day as she tracks down her daughter in Paris - which I realize sounds separate, but it's not - omg this book is so good. The layers, you guys! Not only did the characters pull me in, but the book is SO well executed, with the perfect balance of plotting and character development with beautiful writing.  

Have you read The Great Believers? Comment down below and give everyone more reasons to check this book out! Thank you so much for reading! Have a great day!



Wednesday, September 11, 2019

The Mars Room by Rachel Kusher - Book Review




#60secondbookreview aka reviewing books as quickly yet thoroughly as I can! And this week's review is for "The Mars Room" by Rachel Kushner.

"The Mars Room" by Rachel Kushner was a two-star read for me, and it's hard to not blame the description writer for some of that. Going into the book it really appealed to me, based on what I had read about it, I thought I would be reading about main character Romy Hall, a woman serving two life sentences in prison, and she is also a mother who is struggling with being away from her child. I'm not totally naive to the hype and also my own preconceived notions of what "female-centric prison stories" look like, I knew that this wouldn't measure up to Orange Is the New Black, for instance. But the reading experience is just SO incredibly different than the description because it leaves out the two other male perspectives that take up a good chunk of the book! Seems like a pretty important thing to include. At its best, for brief fleeting moments, this book did feel a bit like "One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest" where you had this behind the scenes look at the power trips, unfair treatment, and absurdity that runs amok in institutions like these, but then the perspective would change to the other characters that just added nothing for me to the novel. Overall, it was a pretty terrible reading experience.

Have you read "The Mars Room"? Comment down below and let me know what you thought of it! Was it as much of a reading struggle for you as it was for me? Or, drop a comment below with a female prison novel that you really enjoyed  - because I'm definitely open to trying others! Thanks for reading and watching! Have a great day : )


Tuesday, May 28, 2019

10 Favorites for 10 Years - Top Ten Tuesday

top ten books of the last ten years


It wasn't until I was creating the graphic for this blog post that I realized just how drunk with power this Top Ten Tuesday prompt should have made me feel! - Favorite Books Released In the Last Ten Years. It was easy putting this list together, only because if I really had to think about it, it would be impossible! The bulk of my reading has been books from the last decade - how could I !? How !? So keep reading, check out the shamble of a list I pasted together and let me know - what do you think the best books have been in the last decade!?

the help kathryn stockett

2009

Y'all we are starting off with a * super * eventful year! Random pop culture fact, in 2009 Somalian pirates kidnapped Captain Phillips and his crew, their story would go on to become a movie starring Tom Hanks, and coincidentally, an event that would also become a movie starring Tom Hanks, Captain Sully had his emergency landing on the Hudson River that same year!

In my reading life, 2010 is actually a pretty big year. At that point, I was just far out enough from college to start enjoying reading again! y a y! Not only did I rediscover my love of reading, but I was able to do it in a work environment that was super supportive of reading. I worked on a college campus and it seemed like everyone had a book they were working through, the office I worked in had a lending library, and my reader's heart was super content. My favorite book this year was "The Help" by Kathryn Stockett. I read it during breaks at work, and it felt like everyone was reading also! When the movie came out in 2011, my coworkers and I went to see the movie and it was just one of those super fun reading moments we get, you know? Enjoying a wonderful story with friends and also getting to see it adapted perfectly to film!


 


2010

Random pop culture fact, the first ever version of the iPad was released in 2010!  

Favorite book published in 2010, that I didn't actually read until 2016, but who is counting - - is "Room" by Emma Donaghue. As much as I love to be on top of reading amazing books as soon as they hit the shelves, I'm just not sure that this one would have meant as much to me if I had read it in 2010 and do really feel like it was good that I - unintentionally - saved it. When the book was published, I was enjoying my early 20s and didn't have the life experiences needed for "Room" to truly resonate with me, when I read it in 2016 I was a new mother who was absolutely floored by the plot and themes of this heartbreakingly beautiful story of a mother and son. One of my earliest ever #60secondbookreviews was actually for this book!







 



2011

Royal wedding number one, Will and Kate were married in 2011. Also, really!? Because it feels like longer ago! 

"Bossypants" by Tina Fey absolutely wins this year. Because 2011 was * the year * of audiobooks for me, I had a really sedentary job where I answered the phone and didn't really have a reason to get up from my desk but a few times during the day. After work, I wanted to get exercise and started to notice how much better I felt getting exercise while also knocking out reading goals. I definitely recommend listening to this one, Tina's timing is amazing and it just brings the hilarious and heartwarming stories to life!






2012


Fun and timely pop culture fact in what was otherwise a pretty bleak year in the news, 2012 was the release year of the first Avengers movie, unpopular opinion from me - not a fan. 

H o w e v e r, I am a fan of SO MANY BOOKS that came out this year! Where to even begin, I mean really! "The Light Between Oceans" by M.L. Steinman, "The Fault in Our Stars" by John Green, "Gone Girl" by Gillian Flynn, "Me Before You" by Jojo Moyes, "Eleanor and Park" by Rainbow Rowell, "The Martian" by Martin Weir, "Wild" by Cheryl Strayed - I think I read that one twice that year - and last but not least, "A Man Called Ove" by Fredrik Backman. I can not pick just one, don't make me. They are all unique and amazing and I only chose TFIOS as the cover because it is the book that I enjoyed but also really enjoyed the film adaptation of as well, which is truly my reading favorite - solid film adaptations are bae. But then SO MANY of the books this year were turned into films, too. So I don't know - what a year, though, right!?









2013

This was another devastating year in the news ( Boston Marathon bombings, Bangladesh garment factory collapse, Moore, Oklahoma tornado, to name just a few) but this year also brought us Vine, which was probably more of a double-edged sword for internet culture - but, still pretty entertaining!

I actually don't have a favorite book published this year! But! Taking a peek at Goodreads ( side note, thank you Goodreads for making this Top Ten Tuesday post possible, finding the publishing dates for groups of books was super easy there!) I absolutely have quite a few books that I would like to read from 2013 - and would likely become favorites, too - such as "The Goldfinch" by Donna Tartt!













2014

The was the year Shia LaBeouf graced us with his "performance art", 2014 what a time to be alive.

My favorite book published in 2014 is hands down "All The Light We Cannot See" by Anthoney Doerr. I read this book in 2016, and posted a picture of it on my personal Instagram - which was a gateway drug to #bookstagram and ultimately the blog you are currently reading! I can't imagine how different the last three years would have been without the creative and intellectual and just plain fun outlet of online book blogging, reviewing, photographing and more. Seriously, such a blessing!











2015

Time for some good news headlines, 2015 marked the year that global poverty fell to its lowest point. That year, the percentage dropped below 10%, and while there is still much progress to be made, considering that 50 years prior it was at 60%, it feels like an accomplishment worth noting!

My favorite book published in 2015 is "A Darker Shade of Magic" by V.E. Schwab. I didn't actually read this book, though, until 2018 after watching and reading countless glowing reviews for the series. I also had the opportunity to see Victoria speak at Texas Book Festival - seeing authors speak about their work always gets me jazzed to start it! Fantasy is totally out of my usual reading comfort zone, but I am glad I took a chance on this one!



 

2016

While I live in Texas now, as a former Chicago suburbian, I'm contractually obligated to mention that in 2016 the Cubs broke their 108 year World Series curse! 


My favorite book published in 2016 is a tough one, but I am going to pick "Dark Matter" by Blake Crouch. I *still* think about and recommend this book to others after three years. It is a psychological science fiction thriller - yeah, it's a lot but it does it so well and it does it with H E A R T! It's a such a rare kind of novel and definitely one I would like to reread! But there are so many other books I love that were 2016 books also, "Behind Closed Doors", "When Breath Becomes Air", "Talking as Fast as I Can", and "Lab Girl" by Hope Jahren. Check out a video review that I created for this book below!








 

2017


This year will stand out in my mind for a while because of Hurricane Harvey. My husband and I lived in Corpus Christi, Texas and the night that the storm hit, I was sitting in my parents-in-laws home in Austin, Texas, watching a giant blob move towards our home. Thankfully it stayed safe, but the loss of others and the emotions of the time will definitely stick with me.

My favorite book published in 2017 is "Eleanor Oliphant is Completly Fine" by Gail Honeyman. Not only was this a favorite the year it was published, but it is also still one of my favorite books. There is so much to get out of reading "Eleanor Oliphant", and I would recommend it to most other readers. If you haven't read it yet, definitely give it a chance!


2018

This was a dumpster fire of a year according to most of the internet, but also, you know what - some good things happened - particularly in medicine - fun fact, in 2018, researchers discovered that dogs can help detect malaria! Neat!
My favorite book published in 2018 is "I'll Be Gone in the Dark" by Michelle McNamara. This book is terrifying, haunting, amazing, all of the words you might expect about a nonfiction serial killer book - but it's also hopeful! In part, because the killer was captured shortly after the book was published, but also because of the community of people who came together to make that arrest possible. Check out the #60secondbookreview below I created for the book!





Which brings us to 2019 - the end ta-da!! I don't have a favorite published for the year yet, and I'm excited, but also a little overwhelmed, by the number of amazing books published this year that I still want to read. I'm sure you can relate, reader friends. Comment down below! Let's chat about your favorites from the last decade!


Wednesday, April 17, 2019

Boy Erased by Garrard Conley - Book Review




#60secondbookreview aka reviewing books as quickly yet thoroughly as I can! And this week's review is for "Boy Erased" by Garrard Conley.

This book is a memoir Garrard wrote about his experiences as a gay teenager and adult, growing up in the bible belt - his dad is actually a preacher at their church. In college, Garrard was outed to his parents by a man who sexually assaulted and raped him. After finding out, his parents insisted that Garrard receive counseling at an organization called Love in Action - it was conversion therapy and Garrard initially willfully attended it because after living a life being told that his attraction to men was sinful, he sought out the help he felt he needed, too.

I had a really difficult time processing everything that happened to Garrard, and I truly appreciate the courage it took for him to share his story. The writing in this book is beautiful and he does such an amazing job really putting you into the story. The emotional toll this organization took on its attendees, it's quiet, and then it's loud, but it isn't necessarily the shock value some readers might expect - but still so harmful. It was hate, under the disguise of compassion and love.

My favorite parts of the book were when Garrard discussed his relationship with his parents - one that was otherwise happy and healthy, and how hard it is to respect and acknowledge that love when their attitude towards his sexuality was- and is - so negative. Side note, Garrard is hilarious, which thoughtfully does not come across in this book, but you should definitely check out interviews of his because they are charming and inspiring.

Let's chat books! What are you currently reading?  Have you read "Boy Erased"? Comment down below with your thoughts! 


   amazon
 goodreads 
 local library 

Monday, April 8, 2019

Bookishly Unboxing - Little Women Theme





So many thank yous to the creative and brilliant ladies at Bookishly for sending this box to me in exchange for an honest review! Check out the video above for my thoughts on the items included, and then head over to their website https://www.bookishly.co.uk/ for adorable bookish merchandise. I love that Bookishly has adorable book boxes, but also merchandise that can be ordered individually, as well!

Snapped a picture of the adorable tote bag included in the box in my IG post. *so cute* right!? Comment below and let me know - what quote would you love to have on a bookish tote bag?!


Tuesday, March 26, 2019

A Place for Us by Fatima Mirza - Book Review


Time for another - way longer than intended - I should probably change the name of this thing I do, but I am also committed to the project. help. #60secondbookreview of "A Place for Us" by Fatima Farheen Mirza - a book that felt like being wrapped up in a warm blanket - so cozy.

This debut novel ( which holy moly how is this her first novel!?) follows an Indian American Muslim family, and when the book begins it is set at the wedding of the eldest daughter, Hadia. Hadia has decided to invite her brother, Amar, even though he has been estranged from the family for the last three years.

Through the next 400 plus pages, you get a very close look at the interpersonal relationships of this family : how the parents met, how the siblings interact with each other, and also their individual lives, how the parents interact with the children - and after all of that, you get a very good sense of why Amar is estranged from his family.

I really enjoyed reading this book, and I think one of the reasons it works so well is the author's ability to make you feel like you are a part of this family - by the end of the novel you know all of their in's and out's - and because of that it is also does an excellent job of exploring identity. How family and religion can aide but also complicate that process. One you think you've found that, once you feel like you know yourself, your families fight against that image can be a misguided attempt at showing their love, but it can also be one of the most harmful things you experience. 

I did struggle a bit to get into this book, it's a common criticism of the book, so it's nice not to feel alone in that - the hurdle for me was that the book jumps around quite a bit in the timeline of this family, and also between different characters. But, once I was all in, I was all in, and also really want this book to be adapted to film, really rooting for this to happen!

Have you read "A Place for Us"?! What was your reading experience with this novel? Comment down below and let's chat about it!












Saturday, March 23, 2019

Tin Man by Sarah Winman - Book Review



#60secondbookreview time, and this is a good one, readers! "Tin Man" by Sarah Winman is the story of two boys, Michael and Ellis, who become the best of friends, fall in love - and then everything that happens after that. Sometimes a book hits you in one or two emotional soft spots - this book hit me in at least six. It's impossible for me to tell you what those are without just epic, novel ruining spoilers, but just know, lots of tissues, so many tissues. A huge part of that is Sarah Winman's writing, it is breath taking and haunting, and this entire book review could just be me listing off quotes from this book I loved, like -  

"there's something about first love, it's untouchable to those that played no part in it, but it is the measure of all that follows."

"he clung to every word as if they were hand holds up a cliff face."

This little book, it is under 200 pages, but it packs a disproportionately large emotional gut punch. If like me, you enjoyed "The Hearts Invisible Furies", you will likely love this book. My only struggle reading "Tin Man" was that there is no punctuation for dialogue. It made sense as an author choice considering the events in the book, but it definitely made the book harder for me to read and pulled me out of the story at times, which is pretty remarkable because this is definitely a story I did not want to be pulled out of. 

Have you read "Tin Man" by Sarah Winman? Comment down below and let me know what you thought of it!





Tuesday, March 12, 2019

The Dreamers by Karen Thompson Walker - Book Review


#60secondbookreview of "The Dreamers" by Karen Thompson Walker - a book it  felt like everyone read last month. A bit of an exaggeration, but it has super popular, for sure! This book follows an isolated college town in California, where one day a girl falls asleep in the dorms and she can not be woken up. This "sleeping sickness" ( try saying that five times fast) spreads and soon the town is caught up in a paranoia, and also legitimate fear, of an illness that no one understands, and also grappling with the realities of treating hundreds of sick patients. The things that scare us the most are also at times the most compelling to read about. If this scenario were playing out in real life, I'd be hiding in the fetal position somewhere. I gave "The Dreamers" three stars - I enjoyed big chunks of this book - but - the parts that I enjoyed were for the author's beautiful writing, not for plotting. And the further I got into the book, the less those poignant quotes were holding my attention. The book's depiction of what an illness like this would look like, what the experience would be, as well as the characters and feelings evoked by the book - now that I am two weeks out from finishing it, just haven't stuck with me.

Have you read "The Dreamers"? Comment down below and let me know what you thought of it!





Monday, March 4, 2019

Daisy Jones and the Six by Taylor Jenkins Reid - Book Review


#60secondbookreview of "Daisy Jones and The Six" by Youtube, Instagram, just general Internet and life winner - Taylor Jenkins Reid. 

This book is about a fictional band from the 1970's called "Daisy Jones and the Six", who broke up at the height of their fame. It is structured as a novelization of a rock documentary and looks like a script. The band members are being interviewed individually, but their answers bounce off of each other, and as you go through you get a sense of where things might've gone wrong. Even though it hasn't released yet ( many thanks to the publisher for allowing me to read it before publication, as well ; ) this book already has rave reviews on Goodreads - and I can completely see why! SUPER strong pacing, it sidestepped a lot of the tropes I expected going into the book. And the themes it focuses on instead are excellent - individuality, the struggle and joy of creating art, and what you have ( or are seen as ) sacrificing, particularly if you are a woman, in order to participate. And also how substance abuse, addiction, and depression, play a role, as well. This novel was important and more powerful than expected. I wouldn't recommend "Daisy Jones and the Six" to all adult fiction readers, but if you are looking for something lighter that also manages to have a lot of depth at the same time, I think this is a great one to pick up! 

Comment down below and let me know your thoughts about "Daisy Jones and the Six" or let me know your favorite Taylor Jenkins Reid novel, it's 'Evelyn Hugo", isn't it?!


Monday, February 25, 2019

The Fact of a Body by Alexandria Marzano-Lesnevich - Book Review


Happy Monday, everybdy! It's time for a new #60secondbookreview and this week we'll be discussing "The Fact of a Body" by Alexandria Mazano - Lesnevich. This book is *amazing*, part true crime, and part memoir. The true crime parts of the book explore the murder of Jeremy Guillory by Ricky Langley. In 1992, Ricky, a convicted pedophile who had been released from prison, he lived near Jeremy, and one day Jeremy went to Ricky's house looking for a friend. Ricky invited him inside, where he murdered and assaulted him. The perspective the author takes in exploring the day of the murder and everything leading up to it was so insightful and well-researched. What really sets this book apart for me was the way the author weaves her own life into that story - you find out that Alexandria's family has a lot in common with both the murderer's family and the victim's family. "The Fact of A Body" is hard to discuss without spoilers, and in fact, this book is just hard for me to discuss, generally. It is a must in my mind as a true crime book, but it is also one I don't think I could ever personally recommend to someone. Alexandria's writing is terrifying, gritty, and raw and does not shy away from any of the facts of the discussed cases - while also bearing witness to an immense amount of human suffering, to the point that you can't imagine asking someone else to experience what you did, even though I gave this book 5 stars. Have you read "The Fact of A Body"? Comment down below and let me know your thoughts on this one! I'd also love to hear about your favorite true crime novel!


Monday, February 18, 2019

Five Feet Apart by Rachel Lippincott - Book Review


#60secondbookreview time! okay, this one is way longer than 60 seconds..whoops! but also, sorry not sorry ; )


Today we are going to be discussing "Five Feet Apart" by Rachel Lippincott, also known as, the last book to make me cry despite my very best efforts not to. This YA book is a novelization of a screenplay for a film that is coming out in March and I am *so* excited. "Five Feet Apart" follows Will and Stella - two teenagers with cystic fibrosis who have very different approaches to dealing with their disease, both emotionally and practically. Stella is very regimented, she likes to do lists - I feel her in my soul. Will is more of a rebel, his condition in some ways is worse than Stella's and so he just doesn't see the point in fighting a death that feels so imminently inevitable. I gave "Five Feet Apart" 4/5 stars - it got me (emotionally) which was shocking to me( I'm not usually a fan of YA contemporary) - - BUT - - I will vouch for it with a pretty big caveat -- you're going to have to turn your brain off just a little bit for this one - teenagers had access to the NICU (no way) and prepared a meal for themselves in the hospital cafeteria ( what would surely be a highly sanitized and controlled kitchen space, again no way).

The emotional impact of this novel is worth any suspension of disbelief that I struggled with. I knew about some aspects of this disease, but reading this story and falling in love with these characters, and really internalizing the fact that Stella or anyone with cystic fibrosis - in order to protect their health- shouldn't hug, or hold hands, or be closer than six feet, away from the only people who truly understand what they are going through. Although this is just one aspect of CF, and an easily romanticized one at that, the book drove the complexities of that home so well, among other aspects of the disease. This book is worth reading for it, and the hope that it might convey even a tiny bit of the anxiety, isolation, fear, and pain of cystic fibrosis. 

I'm on the look out for #ownvoice reviews of this book, so please link them down below if you happen to find some. I have several linked to this video on YouTube! And also, if you read "Five Feet Apart", #ownvoices or not, please comment down below and let me know what you think of it! Thanks for reading! Have a great day!



Monday, February 11, 2019

Once Upon A River by Diane Setterfield - Book Review


Happy Monday, readers! Today we're chatting about the highly anticipated new release from Diane Setterfield, " Once Upon A River". Discussing this book in sixty seconds (ish) was tough because I loved this book, but the plot is complex and meandering, and just doesn't lend itself to quick explanations. Where to begin! The story is set along a river, one day a man wanders into a bar holding a young girl - the man collapses and the young girl is believed to be dead - she isn't breathing and has no pulse. As it turns out, she comes back to life, *but* she is mute. The plot really picks up when three different families come forward, believing this young girl to be their missing child. There is so much more to the plot, but that's a good start! "Once Upon A River" has these beautiful small doses of magical realism, they're pretty subtle, and they're used to explore how these families are grappling with the grief of losing their child. It's one of the few times where magical realism really worked for me in a book - and I love that. This novel is longer and it is a slower burn, but it is so well written, and so thought provoking, and so creative - if you're in the mood for a longer, whimsical novel this is definitely one I would recommend. 

Have you read "Once Upon A River"? Comment down below let me know what you thought of it! 



Many thanks to the publisher and the author for providing me with a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.