Simple Book Reviews

While September ended up being a major letdown reading wise, I overcompensated in October, having read 14 books, my highest amount for one month yet! I am 10 books away from my goal of 100 books throughout the year and I really feel like I can do it!

I don’t want to get into my personal garbage in this post.  I’ve been through a lot and I’m tired of sounding like the perpetual sad girl with all of the sad things going on.  I’m working on my relationship with God.  I’m working on being hopeful in my tribulations.  I don’t want to dwell on or think about all of the negative things in my life right now, so I’m going to say this: there is so much beauty in this life even when things are hard.  There are things like cozy blankets, beautiful candle smells, baked goods, dog cuddles, cheese (I mean I’m super grateful for cheese), nature, and above all there is love.  There is always something to be grateful for.

I’m grateful that this is my blog and I can move on to my book reviews whenever I want to… like now!

My Dark Vanessa by Kate Elizabeth Russell was close to a 4 star read for me.  This novel focuses on a young girl’s sexual relationship with her teacher and the implications that has in her adulthood, especially when said teacher is under fire for sexual allegations.  This book was very well-written and definitely exposed the rawness of a teenage girls emotions as she is being manipulated by her teacher.  The author made sure to not make this “sexy” and also made sure that the teacher was seen as a creepy monster, but did so in a way that was delicate so that the reader could see how easily a young girl could be put under his spell.  I struggled with how little emotional progress the girl made though.  In her early 30s, she still seems far from making progress and even though she does start to move forward, I became really frustrated with Vanessa.  I wanted her to mature and heal more, which I do feel is realistic, but unfortunately, she stays pretty stagnant.  3.5/5

Next I read two books by B.A. Paris.  Behind Closed Doors follows the life of a woman who is the primary caretaker for her sister with downs syndrome and how her life makes some major changes as a result of getting married.  Somewhat a thriller, without the mystery or shock and awe values, this book felt very safe.  It was a solid read, but nothing to write home about.  3/5. 

Since B. A. Paris is a well-loved author, I decided to try one more book of hers.  Also, it was available at the library so I went for it.  Bring Me Back, however was far worse.  While this book had more of the thriller aspect and aimed for the shock and awe value, it really just felt quick and easy and very lowbrow.  The ending of this book was so utterly ridiculous and unbelievable, I can’t see how anyone could forgive this author.  I think it’s safe to say, I’m not a fan of this author’s work and will not be seeking out anymore books by her.  While they are quick reads, they are cheesy, fluff thrillers when I need something with substance. 2/5.

The Girl in the Mirror, a thriller by Rose Carlyle was actually not much of a thriller initially.  Once the book started to fit the genre, the ending was so sped up it nearly gave me whiplash.  This novel was so dependent on characterization, which is ironic as the author really neglected that aspect.  The ending was a bit contrived.  Perhaps I just need to take a break from thrillers for awhile 3/5.

The next book I read was The Devil All the Time by Donald Ray Pollock.  I actually picked this book up three years ago at a southern literary festival.  I started it then, but forgot it in my car, where it had been living every since until recently when a friend told me this book was made into a movie on Netflix.  I found my book and started reading so that I could watch the film version (which was good, but with so many things cut out).  This novel was dark and sinister and brought to mind mastermind writer Cormac McCarthy, an author I love.  I really enjoyed this epic novel and would definitely recommend it to lovers of literary fiction and the southern grotesque genre.  Though this novel takes place in Ohio, it takes place in the holler near the Appalachian mountains.  A truly intriguing and upsetting novel sure to stay with you long after that contemplates religion and humanity, The Devil All the Time gets a very shiny 4 stars from me. 4/5.

A Long Petal of the Sea by Isabel Allende is a beloved book of Spain and focuses on war and loss and heartache.  I enjoyed the historical aspect of this novel, but by the midway point, I was about done with all of the telling.  This author did nothing but tell, tell, tell.  Nothing was shown and there was minimal dialogue.  It seems like most people really love this book though, so perhaps it’s just me, but this book was a low 2/5 and I feel like I’m being generous.

My final read of October was Dandelion by Gabbie Hanna a collection of poems, thoughts, and letters.  This book has received many bad reviews as some were bothered by her random observations being seen as poems.  They certainly are not poems in my book, but I don’t think they had to be? This book felt like reading someone’s private journal entries, not something literary.  The heart of this book was the vulnerability in her letters at the end.  I would have been really into this in my early twenties, but I grew out of the mindset she had. 3/5. 

I’m excited to go into the Holiday season! It means more time off, which means more reading 🙂

Happy reading y’all!

Author:

Writer, reader, traveler, singer, painter, life-long learner, chef, foodie, and lover of all things good in life. My husband and two dogs bring me joy. So does red wine and good coffee. My works have been published in HelloGiggles, Thought Catalogue, Elite Daily, and most notably, Atticus Review

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