WWW Wednesday

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WWW Wednesday 

So here we are at Wednesday again. And it seems like a good time to explain a few things. First, I am a full time graduate student. Second, I am also the full time caregiver of my two daughters. So what does this mean? Well, it means often I don’t finish a book in a week. It also means I read a lot of academic-related things. But here’s the other thing about me and my reading: I also have a tendency to read multiple books at the same time. So what does that mean for this week’s WWW Wednesday? It means I haven’t finished the book I mentioned last week or started the next one I plan to read. But it also means that I was reading other books when I was reading The Hate U Give. So for this week, I’m going to do a completely different set of books I’ve just finished, am currently reading, and plan to read. These books were or are read at the same time as the ones listed last week. So here it goes.

What did I just finish reading? A Lost Lady by Willa Cather

This book was technically read for graduate school. I had never read Cather for school or fun prior to this. I have to say, I have been missing out. This book was rather short, less than 200 pages total. While it’s technically considered a “classic” in American 20th century literature, it was surprisingly readable and accessible. The story centers around Niel and his growing up in the Nebraska frontier at the end of the 19th century. He watches as the idealistic frontier dream gives way to more industry driven economy. At the same time, he watches the slow descent and demise of a lady in his town, married to one of the old frontier discoverers, as they lose their place in this changing society. It’s profound while simultaneously dealing with mundane details. I really felt connected with the landscape itself as a character. Cather does such a terrific job of making the vast frontier and its changes as industry changes into a dynamic character of the book. The lost lady herself, Mrs. Forrester, is so fascinating. Her husband is equally fun. This book is for anybody who grew up reading any of Laura Ingalls Wilder’s books and is looking for a slightly more grown up version of frontier prairie life. It’s steeped in history while being absorbed in character development.

What am I currently reading? The Favorite Sister by Jessica Knoll

This book is one I have been hoping to read all year. I saw it listed as a great summer reading/beach read book. Of course, the reserve list at the library was over 100 so my intended beach read is turning into a winter break read. Ce la vie, huh? I’m not very far into it. I’ve read the prologue and I’m in the first chapter now. It’s definitely a thriller, involves the death of one of two sisters who were cast members on a Bravo TV-esque reality series about entrepreneurs. I haven’t gotten far enough to stay how much I’m enjoying it yet, but the prologue did create plenty of intrigue. I’m hoping this book ends up being fast-paced and enthralling. I enjoy thrillers and I love complex female characters. This book has the potential to deliver on both fronts. We shall see. Hopefully I whip through it quickly and am posting a review soon!

What do I plan to read next? On Day in December by Josie Silver

One book on my To Read list is One Day in December by Josie Silver. This is Reese Witherspoon’s December Book Club pick. This will be my second time participating in the book club pick. I enjoyed November’s. So hopefully December’s also delivers. From what I’ve seen of its description, it is romance/comedy/chick lit driven. So it sounds like a perfect winter break read. The ratings on Goodreads seem good, so hopefully I enjoy it too. It takes place in England, so that should only make it better! I’m next in the reserve list at the library so I can’t wait to start it.

WWW Wednesday

WWW Wednesday!

So this is my first in what will hopefully be a weekly post. WWW Wednesday. The questions are: what are you currently reading? What did you just finish reading? What do you plan to read next?

What I’m currently reading?

I’m currently branching out from fiction novels into some more heady nonfiction. Right now I’m working through Stephen Greenblatt’s Tyrant: Shakespeare on Politics. I know what you’re thinking. It’s dreadful, boring literary analysis. Technically, yes, it is literary analysis. But I am thoroughly enjoying it. Greenblatt is a renowned Shakespeare scholar and literary theorist. His books are informative but his writing is conversational. The connections to contemporary life are especially prevalent in this book. I’m about a third of the way through it so far, and he has managed to discuss both the trilogy plays of Henry VI and Richard III in reference to the rise of tyrants and public response/opinion when that happens. This book certainly isn’t for everyone. It demands some prior knowledge of Shakespeare, the Renaissance era, the Wars of the Roses that preceded the Tudor dynasty, and the plays discussed. But he introduces things clearly that I think anybody who has any interest in politics could read this book with occasional references to Wikipedia for quick background knowledge. I can’t wait to see where he takes his discussion next.

What did I just finish?

I just finished the novel The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas. Listen, folks. This book was nothing short of a revelation. The characters were complex and engaging and so real. It presented a scenario we have seen a lot in the past several years, the killing of a black man by a white police officer. And yet this novel was more than just an ‘activist’ book or an ‘issues’ book. It interweaved that scenario with issues of identity, poverty, community, values, and safety. Thomas wrote in a thoroughly conversational style that gave glimpses into the ways that how we speak and act plays such an integral role in how the world perceives us. The protagonist is Starr Carter. She lives in an impoverished urban neighborhood primarily populated by African-Americans. One night she is the sole witness to her oldest friend, Khalil, being shot and killed by a police officer during a routine traffic stop. What she must decide is how she can and should use her voice to stand up for her friend, her community, and ultimately, herself. If you have not read this book yet, please please please read it. If you can find it, I recommend the newly released collector’s edition. In addition to a small map of Starr’s community, it has a short story written by Thomas that was one of the original stories that would eventually become the novel. She also includes some information about characters’ names and meanings. It’s so worth it if you enjoy a reading experience that really envelopes you in the world. Read it. You won’t be sorry.

What do I plan to read next?

This is the tricky question, I’d say. I’m never 100% sure of what I will read next. Sometimes I take a suggestion from a friend. Sometimes I happen upon a book featured on Goodreads or Instagram. I think my current plan is to read a book I’ve been meaning to read for some time now: Welcome to Night Vale the novel. I’ve had this book on my shelf for a couple years. I love the podcast and I love that the world is so steeped in H.P. Lovecraftian inspiration. It never takes directly from Lovecraft but the entire otherworldly tone of the podcast is very Lovecraftian. So, I’m thinking that’s th book I want to read next. Often I am a multiple books at a time reader, so I may add another book to this list, too. We shall see.

So that’s my first WWW Wednesday! Happy reading, folks!

The Other Woman: A Review

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The Other Woman
Sandie Jones
Rating: 3.75 stars

Psychological thrillers are having a bit of a moment. We have Tana French, Gone Girl, Big Little Lies, Ruth Ware and so on and so forth. Another one to add to that growing list is The Other Woman by Sandie Jones. This is her debut novel. I picked up this book after seeing it on the Reese Witherspoon Hello Sunshine November book club pick of the month website. In many ways, I really enjoyed this book. The main character was fun to follow; I felt for her throughout the book. The antagonist was a formidable force in the book. The twist was unexpected and thrilling.

Emily wasn’t looking for a relationship when she met the handsome, charming Adam. They begin an intense relationship quickly. All is going well until Pammie enter’s the picture. Pammie is the mother of Adam and his younger brother James, and she isn’t going to be replaced as primary woman in Adam’s life without a fight. What start as small snide remarks quickly erupt into actions that leave Emily wondering why she is the only one who can see Pammie is out to get her.  Emily is left reeling by this woman who is intent on forcing her and Adam apart by any means necessary.

As this is a psychological thriller, plot is such an important aspect of the book. This one took several chapters to truly ensnare me, but once it did, I was committed. The twist at the end was unexpected without jumping the shark. As soon as everything was revealed, all the pieces fell into place. My biggest critique is that the book would’ve benefitted from one more chapter explaining the resolution before jumping into an epilogue. I ended with some questions that I felt deserved more of an answer. On the one hand, I appreciate this in a psychological thriller. Sometimes things aren’t neatly wrapped up. But in this case, the questions were more about wanting more background information that would’ve cemented the twist completely in my mind. I like how it ended, but it needed a touch more explanation before lurching me into a nice summative epilogue.

A psychological thriller would be nothing without a good, solid manipulative character, and this one delivered on that front. Pammie is a piece of work. Her comments were enough to set my skin crawling and fantasize EXACTLY how I would’ve responded to some of her manipulative statements. I don’t want to spoil the ending, but I will say that Pammie is not the only character that left my scratching my head. I was so so so satisfied when all the questionable behavior and motives were explained. Emily gets put through the ringer in this book. She was a pleasant protagonist to follow. She was flustered without appearing naive. Her behavior made sense and fit with her characterization. As the situation in the book escalated, my empathy for Emily grew and grew.

Overall, this book is a solid 3.75 stars, for me. It would get 4 stars if it had one or two chapters at the end to help solidify the resolution. Final thought: if psychological thrillers are your thing and you’re tired of ones that are heavily centered around law enforcement, give this one a try.

The Journey Begins

But for my own part, if a book is well written, I always find it too short. –Jane Austen

This is a blog about books. Hopefully many of them will be excellent. Some of them undoubtedly will not. I have loved reading and found solace in it from the moment words on paper became more than indecipherable symbols. I love reading so much, I am making my career about books. I have strong opinions on what constitutes an amazing book and equally strong opinions on what constitutes a terrible book. My hope for you is that you find some humor and plenty of inspiration for finding your next favorite book. Libraries aren’t built in a day, so we better get started.