books

5 QUICK BOOK REVIEWS

Hello, my dear readers!

Another week has gone on by, and in its place is a new weekend. Can you guys believe this is going to be the last weekend of September 2019? It’s a weird thought, but it’s kind of cool to think that October is just around the corner.

For today’s post I thought it would be interesting to share my thoughts on the last 5 books I’ve read. I did this on another post over the summer, which you can check out here. Since most of you guys are literary minded, why not share our book recommendations with each other? (Although I’m not going to be able to recommend every book on this list, I’m sorry.)

So, without further ado, let’s get to the list!


1. A ROOM OF ONE’S OWN by Virginia Woolf

This essay was originally published in 1929, but it reads as if it could be written today. Woolf’s A Room of One’s Own is a stinging feminist collection published from her time as a guest lecturer at Cambridge University in London, and to be honest it does seem like something I’d read in my creative writing classes.

The principle point Woolf makes is that female writers must have a room of their own in order to write well and make a life for themselves. In order to do this, she showcases the history of women in literature and extends it to the still-rigid era of her own works.

As a writer I appreciate Woolf’s sentiments, and I do think the essay is relevant even today. That being said, it’s not written to entertain you, as it’s a critique on society as a whole. Woolf’s arguments are valid, but it’s not an essay that is meant to make its audience feel warm and gooey inside.

Overall, I’d give it this score, out of a possible five: ◊◊◊.


2. THE NARRATIVE OF THE LIFE OF FREDERICK DOUGLASS by Frederick Douglass

The Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass is a chilling tale that made me think, “How did this happen? How was this real life?” But that is the power of this autobiography from the freed slave and avid abolitionist Douglass, whose storytelling is passionate and uplifting as he describes the harsh reality of slavery. Douglass wrote his autobiography with the utmost care, and it shows throughout the narrative.

This book is not for the light-hearted. It asks its reader, even in the modern day, to consider the disgusting practice of slavery, in the Americas and elsewhere. It reminds us that just two hundred years ago, slavery was legal in my home county, the United States. But it also reminds us that so much has changed since the successful case for abolition, and that we must remember what happened so that it does not happen again.

Please read this book! It will make you appreciate everything you have in life.

Overall, I’d give it this score, out of a possible five: ◊◊◊◊.

 


3. 1984 by George Orwell

I know, I know, 1984 is a classic, and I’d never read it before, which makes me feel like a fool. 1984 is one of those books that a person must read. It’s got so much in it, and I feel cheated since I was never required to read and analyze this book in school.

While this novel is rather politically charged, I think its depiction of totalitarianism is necessary for one to consider when it comes to government reach. Though I don’t want to go too far down the rabbit hole (you can read the book if you’re interested), there is so much in this book to dissect and think for oneself. What happens when the government controls every aspect of our life, to the point that freedom of speech is so heavily monitored that dissent is impossible?

Well, 1984 forces its reader to think of the possibilities.

Overall, I’d give it this score, out of a possible five: ◊◊◊◊.


4. THE DOVER DEMON by Hunter Shea

While the previous novels were classics, let’s consider a book that was recently published by Hunter Shea, The Dover Demon. We’re shifting genres as well, and heading into the science fiction/horror realm.

The Dover Demon takes place in a small Massachusetts town called, rightfully, Dover. In the 1970s, Dover was hit by a conspiracy known as “The Dover Demon,” in which a creepy humanoid creature was discovered by a group of teenagers. Flash forward to the modern day, and The Dover Demon story remains. Except this time… There’s no playing around, and The Dover Demon makes an appearance.

While I think this plot could have been so incredibly interesting, Shea’s writing seemed rushed and confusing. The opening section of the book was strong, but it read completely different than the latter section of the novel, as there was a shift in scenery and pacing. Plus, the ending was so ridiculous that I sat the novel down and thought, “Okay. Shea must have been on a serious deadline from his editor, because there’s no way this is legit.” ;/

Whatever the case may be, the story had an interesting premise. The delivery falls flat.

Overall, I’d give it this score, out of a possible five: ◊◊.


5. A FIRE SPARKLING by Julianne MacLean

As a fan of romance novelist Julianne MacLean for years, I wondered how her latest novel, A Fire Sparkling, would turn out. She’s best known for her Color of Heaven series, but she smartly took a turn and published this standalone that is equal parts romance, World War II drama, and family saga.

A Fire Sparkling introduces us to Gillian, a career woman who has recently discovered her boyfriend has cheated on her. Despondent and dejected, she heads home and discovers that her grandmother was not who she said she is… And there’s quite the story that follows. This summary does this story no justice, but I ask you to read this book. Please, read this book.

It’s entertaining, it’s thoughtful, it’s clever, and it’s original. I don’t want to write too much, because I want you to be as surprised as I was. But please support Julianne, and read this book! Her hard work really paid off, and the novel reflects this.

Overall, I’d give it this score, out of a possible five: ◊◊◊◊◊.


THANK YOU!

All right, you guys! Thank you so much for reading this post, and I hope you got some good book ideas of what to read next. 🙂 If you have anything to share with me, leave a comment below, and I’ll definitely check out your recommendations. There’s nothing quite like reading a book, and I know you feel similarly, so do not hesitate to share!

Thank you guys, as always, for being so supportive! I hope you enjoy your weekends and make smart choices.

-Katie Kay.

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thoughts

THE LAST 5 BOOKS I’VE READ

Well, it’s that time of the week again…

A blog post from yours truly! Thank you so much for reading this and supporting my blog, as you guys are such a joy in my life. It means so much to see views from all over the world. ❤

Today’s post is going back to my roots, when I shared my thoughts on certain books and movies I’d recently read and watched. Thanks to Goodreads, I’m able to easily remember the latest books I’ve read (considering I would not remember otherwise), and I really recommend this website/app to those who enjoy books. Goodreads is a way to keep track of what you’ve read and what you want to read in a user-friendly model.

So let’s jump in already!


1. THE ROSIE PROJECT by Graeme Simsion

A romantic comedy set in modern-day Australia, The Rosie Project is an easy, enjoyable read for those who enjoy the genre. When Don Tillman, an analytical professor who isn’t the best in social situations, creates the Wife Project in order to find the perfect match, his world is tilted upside down with the introduction of Rosie Jarman, the opposite of what he’s looking for.

The Rosie Project has a unique point-of-view that cements the story. While rom-coms are hard to pull off in the realm of originality, Simsion’s Tillman is such a well-written and believable character that the book really revolves around his social awkwardness. These awkward encounters further promote the book’s comedic moments.

However, the book is rather predictable. Boy meets girl, and they fall for each other, get engaged, etc. As a romance writer myself, I’m just as guilty of satisfying what the reader wants (a promise of happily-ever-after, right?), but this book seemed to drop off at the last fifty pages or so. The first two hundred pages, I was really unsure what would happen for Don and Rosie, and I think Simsion got caught up in just getting the book done rather than tying the plot together at the end.

That being said, it was enjoyable, and a good weekend read during endless Tennessee thunderstorms.

Rating: ♥♥♥ (out of a possible five)


2. REBECCA by Daphne du Maurier

A classic that defined the mystery genre for decades, Rebecca is Daphne du Maurier’s legacy. It’s a spell-binding story that was groundbreaking in its day for its dark themes. When Maxim de Winter brings his new wife, the second Mrs. de Winter, to his grand estate, Manderley, secrets of his first wife’s mysterious death are brought to life.

You may recognize Rebecca by its perfect opening line: Last night I dreamt I went to Manderley again. Supposedly there was an incredible Hitchcock adaptation of the book (though I would disagree, as I only got through five minutes of it), but the book is pretty incredible. It centers on the shy Mrs. de Winter, who learns to push back against Manderley’s evil housekeeper, Mrs. Danvers, who is obsessed with Rebecca, even after her death. Slowly, Mrs. de Winter discovers the truth behind Rebecca’s death, and I refuse to spoil this. You’ll have to read for yourself to figure it out.

Rebecca relies on suspense, and du Maurier is a pro at this. She knows how to hook you into the plot, despite its faults, and leave you curious as to what will happen until the very end. Du Maurier is incredible at description, and Manderley is the perfect backdrop for her creepy tale. While these elements grounded me in the story, I do believe that reading this book in 2019 is very different than reading it in the 1930s, when it was published. Mrs. de Winter is a let-down character, a weak woman who suddenly becomes strong at the end of the novel, and her husband, Max, is overly brooding and boring. The shift of the novel that changes how readers perceive the de Winters is a bit unbelievable and anti-climactic in comparison to the discovery of Rebecca’s death.

I still recommend this book to those who like twisted suspense stories.

Rating: ♥♥♥


3. ON WRITING: A MEMOIR OF THE CRAFT by Stephen King

Stephen King is arguably one of modern American literature’s best writers. The unarguable king of horror, King has been a withstanding symbol in writing for decades now, and he remains as popular now as he was when he first came onto the scene. On Writing remains one of the my favorite memoirs, in my opinion, though it also acts as a manual for aspiring writers.

The book is split into two perspectives. King gives a peek into his childhood that inspired his writing that would eventually propel him into legendary status. The other perspective is his professional guidance on the writing front, in which he gives awesome tips that I am using now. (One of my personal favorites: Get rid of superfluous adverbs, such as, I was walking quickly.)

The way King writes is gold. He says things simply and magically, and this is really hard to pull off. However, I don’t think of King as a cocky writer; instead, he wrote this book as a response to a traumatic car accident that left him almost dead. And he knew he wanted to pass on his tips to future generations of writers, and this is quite admirable, in my opinion.

You don’t have to be a writer to enjoy On Writing. It has enough material to showcase how King went from a struggling teacher to one of the most successful writers known today.

Rating: ♥♥♥♥


4. THE HATE U GIVE by Angie Thomas

The most controversial book on this list (and I will explain more later), The Hate U Give is  the debut novel of young adult writer Angie Thomas, a native of my second-favorite state, Mississippi. Thomas is an honest, natural storyteller, and The Hate U Give radiates as a result.

For those of you who are not familiar with the idea of police brutality in the United States, Thomas offers her opinion on the subject through this fictional portrayal of sixteen-year-old Starr Carter, who witnesses the murder of her friend when they are pulled over for speeding. The book is unafraid to be itself, and I appreciate this.

While I expected the novel to be very politically charged, I was happy to realize it wasn’t as much as I thought it was going to be. (While I do not want to go on a rant, I enjoy books that are not political. To be honest, I would not have read this book unless it hadn’t been required for a creative writing class.) However, Thomas does a good job of showing a society she sees as flawed while respecting others’ viewpoints on the issue.

That being said, the story itself was not my favorite. I’m not a fan of young adult fiction or teenage characters, and I haven’t ever been. I’ve always been a person to read adult fiction, as I like adult perspectives. Therefore, this story, though serious in nature, was not as interesting to me. You don’t have to agree with my opinion, but I hate love triangles and petty teen drama, and I did not understand why I was reading this book in a college classroom.

The book is important, and I won’t argue that. But it’s not my favorite.

Rating: ♥♥♥


5. SMOKE GETS IN YOUR EYES: AND OTHER LESSONS FROM THE CREMATORY by Caitlin Doughty

A total shift from young adult and romance, Smoke Gets in Your Eyes is a book I’d NEVER thought I would A) read, or B) enjoy. However, Doughty is an incredibly interesting person and writer, and this shines through her memoir/informational guide on funeral homes.

What in the world? you are probably asking. I asked the same thing before I dived into this book.

Caitlin Doughty is a mortician who specializes in cremation, and she is unabashed in her approach to the United States’s funeral home practices. She offers historical background, witty opinion, and clever stories that inform her readers on the misconceptions of mortuary work. Now this book is not for people who are uncomfortable around death, as the entire book revolves around it. What I love is Doughty’s direct and honest perspective, and it’s a unique career path she chose.

Read this book if you’re curious as to what morticians do. Hey, maybe I liked it so much because it wasn’t required for class or written for teenagers. Sue me.

Rating: ♥♥♥♥


MOSTLY AVERAGE.

So, if we’re being honest, the past books I’ve read are… In, my opinion, average. Though I am a very critical person, I do know a great book when I’ve read one, and I’m hoping to be impressed soon!

What are some of the books you guys have read recently? Do you have any recommendations for me? I love when you tell me what you enjoy, as you are exposing me to authors, novels, and genres with which I would not otherwise know. 🙂

Until next time,

-K.

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Books, books, books… Random books from my shelf (Tennessee // May 2019)

 

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