Title: Ordinary Girls
Author: Jaquira Díaz
Page Count: 336
Publishing Date/Publisher: October 29, 2019 by Algonquin Books
Review: Every so often I get in the mood to read memoirs. I am especially interested in coming-of-age stories, so this one immediately appealed to me when I read the synopsis. I did enjoy the book, especially the parts that took place in Puerto Rico, but I found that Díaz jumps around too much in the chronology for my personal taste. As a reader I found myself getting frustrated by the tangents she would go on in the midst of telling a story. I find that a lot memoirs take place in snapshots of a life; however in this case it was just too many things at once and it was difficult to get a clear picture.
At the conclusion of this book, I couldn’t help but feel that it was unfinished. It is clear that at some point Díaz pulls herself out of the cycle of poverty and self-loathing she grew up in, but this is not really explored in this memoir. Each time I thought she was going to make it out of the tunnel of darkness, she would throw herself back in. Clearly she achieved her goal of becoming a writer and I just wanted to know more about that journey. I wouldn’t consider this book uplifting or particularly inspiring, but it was very real and didn’t sugarcoat anything. Díaz seems to have a lot of self-awareness in writing this memoir, so it was overall an interesting and revealing read.
Title: The Wrath and the Dawn
Author: Renée Ahdieh
Performer: Ariana Delawari
Length: 10 hr, 38 min
Series: The Wrath and the Dawn, Book 1
Publishing Date/Publisher: 2015 by Listening Library
Review: I like the story of A Thousand and One Nights, so I was excited to read this YA adaptation. I was underwhelmed. This book did not do nearly enough to develop the story or the characters before jumping into the romance. The whole time I was thinking, they have spent hardly any time together, know almost nothing about each other, and yet they are deeply in love. After so many extraordinary girls before her, it is unclear why Shahrzad is the one who gets to live. She tells stories? So what. I personally did not find the stories she told to be that riveting and I was perplexed by the rapid passage of time. She tells one short story and then it’s dawn. Hooray she lives to tell another tale! The king trusts Shahrzad implicitly, but again, why? I just didn’t buy it.
I did enjoy the imagery and I listened to the book in it’s entirety, so I didn’t hate it. I would have loved to see the magic aspect fleshed out better. I saw great potential with that particular storyline, even if it didn’t get a lot of page presence. I am on the fence about starting the next book The Rose & the Dagger.
Author: A.S. King
Page Count: 394
Publishing Date/Publisher: March 26, 2019 by Dutton Books for Young Readers
Review: This book is bizarre from start to finish. It comes together in the end, but I was confused for about 3/4 of it. Personally it wasn’t my cup of tea. It was dark and delved into difficult topics such as abuse, murder, and deeply entrenched racism. There were many things that still didn’t make sense to me even at the conclusion, but I just did not have the bandwidth to wade back through the book to try to make all the connections. The writing style is very unique and it took me awhile to adjust to it. I would not be surprised if people DNF this book simply because it is difficult to follow. Although I can see why there is buzz surrounding this book, it is not one I will be widely recommending.
Title: Maybe You Should Talk to Someone: A Therapist, Her Therapist, and Our Lives Revealed
Author: Lori Gottlieb
Page Count: 432
Publishing Date/Publisher: April 2, 2019 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Review: This was an utterly engrossing read, and it really gave me a lot of food for thought. I am a huge proponent of therapy (I myself have benefitted from it greatly), but this book offered me a perspective I embarrassingly have never considered – that of the therapist. After reading this book, I couldn’t help but wonder, what does my therapist think of me? Does she like me? Does she talk about me in therapist work groups? Has she ever needed therapy? My therapist always seems so wise and put together, it is difficult to imagine what she might be like in the “outside world.” Lori makes the role seem so incredibly sophisticated, and at the same time so incredibly human. Here we get a multi-focal look at her life and work through the lens of her personal experiences, biases, and training. It was a very smooth read that universalizes therapy and gives us an insiders look at the dangerous traps we often find ourselves cycling in. I cannot recommend this book enough. Even if you think you don’t need therapy, you may find out that you do!
Title: Across a Broken Shore
Author: Amy Trueblood
Page Count: 360
Publishing Date/Publisher: November 5th 2019 by Flux
Review: The setting for this book was lovely, but I found the plot to be painfully slow and I did not find any characters to be particularly compelling. This falls into the rare category of books that I did not finish (I stopped at 42% completion).
Title: A Court of Frost and Starlight
Author: Sarah J. Maas
Performer: Amanda Leigh Cobb
Length: 6 hr, 24 min
Series: A Court of Thorns and Roses, Book 3.1
Publishing Date/Publisher: 2018 by Recorded Books
Review: I don’t know how this author churns out as many books as she does. With both her Throne of Glass series and this one, she has supplemented her series with interspersed novellas. This novella is much shorter and less action packed than the three full-length books that come before it, and it is focused on the introspection of our main characters as they deal with the aftermath of the great battle with Hybern. It reveals more insight into our main characters and offers POVs that were not present in previous books. I did enjoy the book and the reader, but I found this book to be much soppier than the rest of the series. A lot of focus is put on the mating bond between Rhysand and Feyre, and the rest of the book is more of a snapshot in time as our characters prepare to enjoy a holiday together.