Review – Her Pretty Face, by Robyn Harding


Her Pretty Face
by Robyn Harding

Genre: Thriller, Mystery

Length: 352 Pages

Release date: July 10, 2018

Publisher: Gallery/Scout Press

Synopsis: 

The author of the bestselling novel The Party—lauded as “tense and riveting” by New York Times bestselling author Megan Mirandareturns with a chilling new domestic drama about two women whose deep friendship is threatened by dark, long-buried secrets.

Frances Metcalfe is struggling to stay afloat.

A stay-at-home mom whose troubled son is her full-time job, she thought that the day he got accepted into the elite Forrester Academy would be the day she started living her life. Overweight, insecure, and lonely, she is desperate to fit into Forrester’s world. But after a disturbing incident at the school leads the other children and their families to ostracize the Metcalfes, she feels more alone than ever before.

Until she meets Kate Randolph.

Kate is everything Frances is not: beautiful, wealthy, powerful, and confident. And for some reason, she’s not interested in being friends with any of the other Forrester moms—only Frances. As the two bond over their disdain of the Forrester snobs and the fierce love they have for their sons, a startling secret threatens to tear them apart…because one of these women is not who she seems. Her real name is Amber Kunick. And she’s a murderer.

In her masterful follow-up to The Party, Robyn Harding spins a web of lies, deceit, and betrayal, asking the question: Can people ever change? And even if they can, is it possible to forgive the past?

rating

three

I received a free copy of this book through a GoodReads giveaway. All opinions are my own and are not influenced by the publisher. 

**As you may know, I try to keep my reviews spoiler-free unless indicated otherwise. As a necessity of discussing certain aspects of the plot which impacted my enjoyment of the book, this review will contain more plot information than I generally like to include. No end-game plot twists will be revealed, but other minor spoilers do come into play here.**

Her Pretty Face is loosely based on events surrounding real-life serial killers Paul Bernardo and Karla Homolka. Amber Kunik (the character loosely based on Karla) pushes the blame for her role in a murder solely onto her boyfriend and partner in crime, Shane Nelson. After she obtains a plea deal based on her testimony, video evidence later shows her to be a much more willing participant in the torture and slaughter than she had claimed. Amber walks free after an unjustifiably short prison sentence.

The major part of the novel takes place years later, and Amber has taken on a new identity and gone into hiding. While it is obvious from the importance placed on the Amber Kunik case within the narrative that we will see Amber again, we are not told anything about her new identity.

The biggest strength in this novel lies in its characters. The central POV character is Frances, somewhat of a misfit mom and painfully insecure around the other mothers at her son’s school. Her son has emotional issues and has been ostracized by the other children as a result of his acting out. Frances, in turn, has been ostracized by the other moms. When Kate comes to her defense in front of the other moms, Frances latches onto her in a borderline unhealthy friendship. Frances is lonely and guilt-riddled by events in her past; while her constant insecurity was occasionally grating, I truly felt for Frances and she made for a good protagonist.

We also get to peek into the mind of Daisy, Kate’s teenage daughter. I understand why these chapters were included, as they relayed information crucial to the plot and foreshadowed upcoming twists. That being said, Daisy’s chapters were sometimes difficult for me to stomach. Daisy is bullied quite relentlessly by some of the other students, but can’t be bothered to defend herself because she’s to above it all. Daisy is too cool for their petty, childish high school drama, because Daisy is very Mature for Her Age and Not Like Other Girls. I do think she improves as a character later in the book, but good lord did I have some eye-rolling moment with Daisy.

Finally, there’s DJ, the younger brother of Amber Kunik’s murder victim, Courtney. DJ’s chapters are told in flashbacks to the 1990’s, when Courtney first went missing and the subsequent murder trials for Amber and Shane. DJ is around ten years old when his life is thrown into disarray by the death of his sister. He develops and obsession with Amber Kunik due to her lack of remorse and ability to fool everyone around her into viewing her as a victim.

The problem with this novel comes with the plot twists. There are two instances where Harding’s attempts at misdirection are really poorly executed. You can’t spend several chapters hinting relentlessly at something without the average mystery reader picking up on the fact that they need to look elsewhere. Harding’s giant neon arrows pointing at red herrings only had the effect of eliminating them as actual suspects. Had the clues pointing at these people been a bit more subtle, I’d have actually been more inclined to be misled.

Her Pretty Face is a novel you can absolutely enjoy if you’re not going into it hoping to be surprised. If solving the mystery before it’s actually revealed kills a book for you, this is probably not the right book for you.

Purchase links

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository | IndieBound

Thank you for reading! If you’ve read Her Pretty Face, please share your thoughts in the comments!
Have you read any other novels based on real-life crimes?

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WWW Wednesday 11/14/2018

Welcome to another WWW Wednesday! This meme is hosted by Taking on a World of Words. To participate, just answer the following three questions: What are you currently reading? What did you recently finish reading? What do you think you’ll read next?

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I’m currently reading…

reading The Girls at 17 Swann Street, by Yara Zgheib This novel opens with the protagonist, Anna, entering a treatment facility for anorexia. As you can see, I’m not very far into it yet, but it’s already a bit of an intense read.

My Grandmother Asked Me to Tell You She’s Sorry, by Fredrik Backman I was first introduced to Fredrik Backman through A Man Called Ove, which I absolutely loved. I then realized that my book club had read this book before I joined, and I had to see what I missed. This novel follows the story of seven year old Elsa following the death of her grandmother, who happened to be her very best (and only) friend. It also features the titular character of Britt-Marie Was Here and takes place before that novel. This is super sweet and funny so far, and it’s Fredrik Backman, so I know it’s going to make me cry.

Before We Were Strangers, by Brenda Novak I received an ARC of this courtesy of The Girly Book Club and Booktrib. This is a mystery/thriller novel coming December 4th which follows the story of a young woman Sloane McBride as she tries to investigate the disappearance of her mother… twenty years after the fact.

I recently finished reading…

finished When the Lights Go Out, by Mary Kubica (review) I was not a fan of this mystery/thriller; your mileage may vary. It has plenty of five star reviews absolutely raving about it, but it’s also currently holding a 3.26 average on Goodreads, so I definitely wasn’t the only one who wasn’t impressed. If you liked Mary Kubica’s other books, you’ll probably enjoy this one as well, but it almost certainly won’t be your favorite. The storytelling itself was mostly okay (with occasional instances of bafflingly clunky prose) but the conclusion absolutely killed it for me.

Daisy Jones and The Sixby Taylor Jenkins Reid (review to come) This is an ARC and the book release is scheduled for March 2019. A review will be scheduled for around that time. Daisy Jones and The Six is the story of a fictional rock band from the 1970’s, told in documentary style. I enjoyed this a lot, but I think I may have enjoyed it more had it not been for the format. Seriously, the whole book is told as if it’s an interview, and it got stale for me after a while. I was invested enough in the story itself that I’d still probably rate this four stars, but I think it would have been an easy five stars for me had the interview portions been broken up with a more traditional narrative format rather than… the whole book.

Her Pretty Faceby Robyn Harding (review to come) I’m struggling to come up with a rating for this one; I liked the reading experience well enough because I found the characters interesting, but it’s meant to be a mystery and I saw most of the major plot points coming a mile away. Harding makes attempts at misdirection, but they are so heavy-handed that the deception is obvious. You can’t spend chapters at a time telling me someone is a killer early in the novel without it becoming apparent that I need to look elsewhere or else the book would be a lot shorter.

Our House, by Louise Candlish This one (another mystery/thriller novel, by the way; I didn’t plan to be reading this many at once but library holds come in when they want to and not when I’m in the mood for a certain type of book) had a fun concept. Fiona Lawson comes home from a business trip to find that the house she has been sharing with her ex husband has apparently been sold. And the ex husband is nowhere to be found. It transitions between Fiona and her ex, Bram, and the mystery slowly unfolds. I do mean slowly. Our House had a really fun concept but it definitely suffered from some pacing issues.

Up next…

46131265_512751709241959_4005187922713116672_n The Only Woman in the Room, by Marie Benedict This is another ARC I received from The Girly Book Club and Booktrib. This historical fiction novel should be a nice change of pace for me after the mystery/thriller overload this past week. Here’s the book blurb:
She was beautiful. She was a genius. Could the world handle both? A powerful, illuminating novel about Hedy Lamarr.  Hedy Kiesler is lucky. Her beauty leads to a starring role in a controversial film and marriage to a powerful Austrian arms dealer, allowing her to evade Nazi persecution despite her Jewish heritage. But Hedy is also intelligent. At lavish Vienna dinner parties, she overhears the Third Reich’s plans. One night in 1937, desperate to escape her controlling husband and the rise of the Nazis, she disguises herself and flees her husband’s castle. She lands in Hollywood, where she becomes Hedy Lamarr, screen star. But Hedy is keeping a secret even more shocking than her Jewish heritage: she is a scientist. She has an idea that might help the country and that might ease her guilt for escaping alone — if anyone will listen to her. A powerful novel based on the incredible true story of the glamour icon and scientist whose groundbreaking invention revolutionized modern communication, The Only Woman in the Room is a masterpiece.
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Review – This Will Only Hurt a Little, by Busy Philipps


This Will Only Hurt a Little
by Busy Philipps

Genre: Autobiography, Memoir

Length: 288 Pages

Release date: October 23, 2018

Publisher: Touchstone

Synopsis: 

A memoir by the beloved comedic actress known for her roles on Freaks and Geeks, Dawson’s Creek, and Cougar Town who has become “the breakout star on Instagram stories…imagine I Love Lucy mixed with a modern lifestyle guru” (The New Yorker).

Busy Philipps’s autobiographical book offers the same unfiltered and candid storytelling that her Instagram followers have come to know and love, from growing up in Scottsdale, Arizona and her painful and painfully funny teen years, to her life as a working actress, mother, and famous best friend.

Busy is the rare entertainer whose impressive arsenal of talents as an actress is equally matched by her storytelling ability, sense of humor, and sharp observations about life, love, and motherhood. Her conversational writing reminds us what we love about her on screens large and small. From film to television to Instagram, Busy delightfully showcases her wry humor and her willingness to bare it all.

I’ve been waiting my whole life to write this book. I’m just so grateful someone asked. Otherwise, what was the point of any of it? 

rating

three

“I’ve determined that just about everyone feels left out; it just comes down to how you handle it. I haven’t handled it the best, historically speaking. And truthfully, isn’t there something incredible about the fact that we all feel left out? Shouldn’t that somehow make us all feel a little less alone?” 

This Will Only Hurt a Little is unpolished, but surprisingly heartfelt and raw. This celebrity memoir reads like Busy Philipps herself is recounting her life for you over a few glasses of wine; the tone is casual, humorous, and occasionally brimming with emotion.

I think the biggest drawback for this memoir is that it sometimes feels like Busy is trying too hard to be #relatable, emphasizing often how much she felt like an outsider in Hollywood. Sure, she’s a wealthy celebrity, but she’s no Angelina Jolie, so she’s practically one of us little people, am I right? Honestly, I’m not faulting her for this as a person; the desire to connect and be understood is universal, and Busy is in this rare in-between state of being a celeb without ever really “making it” that makes her feel alienated from both the A-list celebrities and from average people. I get it. But the fact is her struggles are not relatable to the vast majority of people. That’s part of what makes her interesting. So just own that.

Regardless, I enjoyed this memoir a lot overall. Busy’s sense of humor shines through in every chapter, but she also gets almost painfully personal at times. It was revealed shortly before the memoir came out, but it bears repeating here in case anyone needs the trigger warning: Busy details the rape she suffered as a young teen and the ways she struggled to process it in the aftermath. She didn’t view it as rape at the time and still seems to struggle to do so. We’ve all heard those “grey area” assault stories where the victim rationalizes what happened, thinking that if perhaps they had been more clear or forceful in their protestations, things would have gone differently.

Busy was unable to view what happened to her as rape. What followed was a long bout of promiscuity and a struggle to reconnect with her sense of self worth. This story, while surely painful for Busy to share, is one of the biggest strengths of her memoir, and stands in stark contrast to her struggles in Hollywood. Busy’s voice felt authentic and raw, and there are surely a lot of girls and women out there with similar stories who will be made to feel less alone by hearing her story.

Purchase links

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Review – Dear Mrs. Bird, by A.J. Pearce


Dear Mrs. Bird
by A.J. Pearce

Genre: Historical Fiction

Length: 281 Pages

Release date: April 5, 2018

Publisher: Scribner

Synopsis: 

A charming, irresistible debut novel set in London during World War II about an adventurous young woman who becomes a secret advice columnist—a warm, funny, and enormously moving story for fans of The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society and Lilac Girls.

London 1940, bombs are falling. Emmy Lake is Doing Her Bit for the war effort, volunteering as a telephone operator with the Auxiliary Fire Services. When Emmy sees an advertisement for a job at the London Evening Chronicle, her dreams of becoming a Lady War Correspondent seem suddenly achievable. But the job turns out to be typist to the fierce and renowned advice columnist, Henrietta Bird. Emmy is disappointed, but gamely bucks up and buckles down.

Mrs Bird is very clear: Any letters containing Unpleasantness—must go straight in the bin. But when Emmy reads poignant letters from women who are lonely, may have Gone Too Far with the wrong men and found themselves in trouble, or who can’t bear to let their children be evacuated, she is unable to resist responding. As the German planes make their nightly raids, and London picks up the smoldering pieces each morning, Emmy secretly begins to write letters back to the women of all ages who have spilled out their troubles.

Prepare to fall head over heels with Emmy and her best friend, Bunty, who are spirited and gutsy, even in the face of events that bring a terrible blow. As the bombs continue to fall, the irrepressible Emmy keeps writing, and readers are transformed by AJ Pearce’s hilarious, heartwarming, and enormously moving tale of friendship, the kindness of strangers, and ordinary people in extraordinary times.

rating

four

I received a free copy of this book through a GoodReads giveaway. All opinions are my own and are not influenced by the publisher. 

Dear Mrs. Bird is short and sweet. There is nothing really earth-shattering in terms of plot (odds are you’ll see most of the plot points coming before you get to them) but the narrative is imbued with enough humor and charm that it’s difficult to care about its predictability.

While the backdrop of this novel (WWII London) is rather bleak, the tone is surprisingly light and fluffy. The old slogan “Keep calm and carry on” will definitely come to mind as you watch Emmy go about day to day life in the midst of bombings and the looming threat of Hitler. This was one of the most interesting things about the book to me; Dear Mrs. Bird exemplifies how people are able to normalize just about anything. The danger of war is never forgotten, but Emmy and her friends have been living with it long enough that they’ve learned to live with it. Sure, Hitler is dropping bombs on their city, but everyday life, blossoming careers, and trips to night clubs must go on. There are moments when the danger becomes sickeningly real to them, but in between, letting life stop would be letting Hitler win, and they can’t abide that.

The letters Emmy sorts for her work at the women’s magazine are a large driving force in this novel. Mrs. Bird is loathe to respond to any queries about “socially unacceptable” problems, leaving very little in the “acceptable” pile. Emmy’s heart breaks seeing the letters of women in need (women with unfaithful husbands, unplanned pregnancies, and controlling mothers) go into the trash. Mrs. Bird’s old fashioned sensibilities about what constitutes ladylike behavior are leaving all the women with difficult problems out in the cold. Emmy’s inability to let these letters go unanswered endears her to the reader.

Fans of The Curious Charms of Arthur Pepper by Phaedra Patrick or the work of Fredrick Backman will absolutely devour Dear Mrs. Bird. While there are heartbreaking moments and social commentary in this book, as a whole, Dear Mrs. Bird is a lighthearted read that is sure to lift your spirits.

Purchase links

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Review – Sadie, by Courtney Summers


Sadie
by Coutney Summers

Genre: Young Adult, Mystery

Length: 311 Pages

Release date: September 4, 2018

Synopsis: 

Sadie hasn’t had an easy life. Growing up on her own, she’s been raising her sister Mattie in an isolated small town, trying her best to provide a normal life and keep their heads above water.

But when Mattie is found dead, Sadie’s entire world crumbles. After a somewhat botched police investigation, Sadie is determined to bring her sister’s killer to justice and hits the road following a few meagre clues to find him.

When West McCray—a radio personality working on a segment about small, forgotten towns in America—overhears Sadie’s story at a local gas station, he becomes obsessed with finding the missing girl. He starts his own podcast as he tracks Sadie’s journey, trying to figure out what happened, hoping to find her before it’s too late.

rating

five

“It was a terrible thing, sure, but we live in a world that has no shortage of terrible things. You can’t stop for all of them.” 

Let me start by saying that I listened to this as an audiobook, and the story is so well suited to that format. Sadie’s first person point of view chapters are broken up with excerpts from West McCray’s podcast on the subject of her disappearance. This was recorded with a full cast, so you’re treated to the varying voices of all the people interviewed by McCray and it really lends a sense of realism to the narrative.

GoodReads users have labeled this as “young adult,” but I’d personally place it more in the “new adult” category due to the maturity of some of the themes. Sadie is a fast-paced mystery that almost borders on horror at times, as it explores the depths of human depravity and selfishness.

Mattie once asked me… she’d just come home flush from a crush on Jonah Sweeten and asked me how you know when you like someone, and if I liked any boys like she did, and I didn’t know what tot tell her. That I tried not to think about that kind of stuff, because it was painful, because I thought I could ever have it, but when I did end up liking someone, it always made me ache right down to my core. I realized pretty early on that the who didn’t really matter so much. That anybody who listens to me, I end up loving them just a little.

As fun as the “podcast” chapters were, I often spent them looking forward to hearing from Sadie again. This was partly because we get to untangle the mystery through her perspective, but mainly because I found her to be a really interesting and sympathetic protagonist who fails to fall into the pitfalls and cliches common in YA novels. Sadie’s story does not hinge on finding love with a boy or on finding a sense of identity as she ventures into adulthood.

Sadie’s story is a single-minded hunt for revenge against the person who took her sister’s life. This is complicated by her young age, her gender, and a stubborn stutter which causes people to underestimate her at every turn. Essentially, this unassuming girl has been given a storyline you’d expect in a male superhero origin story. But she has a car and a knife and she’s pretty sure she can handle it. Besides, she spent most of her childhood learning how to be stronger than the world had any right to expect of her, mainly in service of keeping her little sister safe; now that Mattie, the center of her world, has been taken from her, the only thing she has left is the hope for justice.

Part of what I love about Sadie is that she’s so angry in a way we don’t often get to see in young female heroines. While there’s a plethora of teenage angst when it comes to characters in her age group, this is different. This is a deep, simmering rage at a sense of powerlessness and injustice on the most personal scale, and it’s heavily gendered. This is resentment at being underestimated, absolute fury over having devoted her life to one thing only to be sabotaged by a predator.

Sadie expertly handles harsh realities such as sexual abuse, addiction, and poverty. This novel gives us a protagonist who, despite the fact that circumstances have made her a victim, has such fierceness and agency, such determination to be in control of her own story.

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Review – When the Lights Go Out, by Mary Kubica


When the Lights Go Out
by Mary Kubica

Genre: Mystery, Thriller

Length: 384 Pages

Release date: September 4, 2018

Synopsis: 

A woman is forced to question her own identity in this riveting and emotionally charged thriller by the blockbuster bestselling author of The Good Girl, Mary Kubica

Jessie Sloane is on the path to rebuilding her life after years of caring for her ailing mother. She rents a new apartment and applies for college. But when the college informs her that her social security number has raised a red flag, Jessie discovers a shocking detail that causes her to doubt everything she’s ever known.

Finding herself suddenly at the center of a bizarre mystery, Jessie tumbles down a rabbit hole, which is only exacerbated by grief and a relentless lack of sleep. As days pass and the insomnia worsens, it plays with Jessie’s mind. Her judgment is blurred, her thoughts are hampered by fatigue. Jessie begins to see things until she can no longer tell the difference between what’s real and what she’s only imagined.

Meanwhile, twenty years earlier and two hundred and fifty miles away, another woman’s split-second decision may hold the key to Jessie’s secret past. Has Jessie’s whole life been a lie or have her delusions gotten the best of her?

rating

two

I don’t know why I keep trying to read Mary Kubica. I’ve felt very lukewarm towards her previous books which I’ve read, and When the Lights Go Out fell especially flat for me.

One of my biggest issues with her is that her writing simply feels stylistically off, with very clunky and sometimes redundant prose. One such example was this sentence: “We talked about private things, non-public things, things we weren’t apt to tell the rest of the world.” I’m sure the repetition was intended for emphasis, but it reads like a high school student fumbling to hit the word count requirement on a particularly tedious assignment. I honestly don’t know how an editor read that sentence and then went, “Yep, sounds good to me.”

That being said, the basic concept sounded like it had a lot of promise. The protagonist, Jessie, has just lost her mother to cancer. She is struggling with insomnia and slowly losing touch with reality due to the stress and lack of sleep. When her social security number is flagged as belonging to a dead girl in the process of applying to college, Jessie is forced to question everything she thought she knew about her life with her mother. Was she really her mother at all?

So we have the setup for a potentially interesting mystery (although perhaps a bit overdone; I already read The Face on the Milk Carton back in the ’90s, after all) but with a bit of a twist because the protagonist is an unreliable narrator due to her deteriorating mental state. We are also treated to flashbacks from the mother’s perspective which slowly lead up to how she ended up with Jessie. Okay, you have my attention.

If you’ve read any reviews of this book, you probably already know that it has a twist ending and that people have… mixed feelings about it. A lot of people disliked it because they felt like they’d had the rug pulled out from under them with no warning. I disagree with that assessment. There was a lot of foreshadowing peppered in throughout the book, but it could be disregarded as a product of Jessie’s insomnia, so it was easy to miss where it was actually going. Personally, I guessed where it was all leading, but held out hope that I was wrong, because the twist is simply infuriating, cliche, and cheap. I won’t spoil it here, but I will say that it left me (and a lot of other readers) feeling like I’d wasted a lot of time on this novel.

Suffice it to say that I think this will be my last Kubica novel.

Purchase links

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Thank you for reading! Have you read When the Lights Go Out? Please share your thoughts in the comments.
Have you ever read a twist ending that left you feeling cheated? Let’s discuss.

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WWW Wednesday 11/07/2018

Welcome to another WWW Wednesday! This meme is hosted by Taking on a World of Words. To participate, just answer the following three questions:
What are you currently reading?
What did you recently finish reading?
What do you think you’ll read next?

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I’m currently reading…

current.PNGBefore We Were Strangers, by Brenda Novak
As you can see, I’ve barely dipped into this one, so I have no thoughts so far, but it’s a mystery/thriller novel. It follows the story of a young woman named Sloane McBride as she tries to solve the mystery of her mother’s disappearance years ago.

Daisy Jones and The Six, by Taylor Jenkins Reid
Bless NetGalley, this is all I’ve been wanting since I heard about the book shortly after finishing The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo. This is an ARC for a March 2019 release; it’s about a fictional rock band from the 1970’s and it’s written up sort of like a “mockumentary.”

When the Lights Go Out, by Mary Kubica
I’ve felt very lukewarm towards the other Kubica novels I’ve read, but I was curious about this one after seeing it over and over and over on Instagram, so here we are. I’ve been listening to the audiobook and once again feeling like Kubica isn’t really the author for me. This is a mystery novel which follows the story of Jessie Sloane after the death of her mother. When she applies for financial aid for college, an administrator tells her that her SSN is showing up as belonging to a dead girl. With no father in the picture and her mother taking any answers with her to the grave, Jessie needs to find out if her whole life has been a lie.

I recently finished reading…

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Oooookay, clearly I’ve been busy.

This Will only Hurt a Little, by Busy Philipps
I don’t read a lot of memoirs and in general I find them hard to review when I do. How do I give a star rating to someone telling me about their personal life? That being said, I may or may not attempt to write up a full review for this one. While I don’t think Philipps is a monumentally gifted writer, I did enjoy this one; it’s written in a very conversational tone and just feels like she’s casually dishing gossip to the reader for the most part (although it does get a bit heavy more than once – CW for sexual assault.)

House of Gold, by Natasha Solomons (reviewed here)
I feel like I liked this one in concept more than I did in execution. It’s a historical fiction novel about a young heiress during World War I as she enters into an arranged marriage with a distant cousin. There’s a lot of social commentary and the family faces a lot of issues despite their wealth, as they are a Jewish family living in a time of rising antisemitism. However, the novel felt a bit rambling, skipped over big chunks of time, and had a few too many side-plots which I felt didn’t add much of value to the story.

The Bell Jar, by Sylvia Plath (reviewed here)
This was very emotionally difficult to read, but I’m glad I finally made the time for this one. Esther Greenwood’s descent into debilitating depression and madness was so well written, perhaps in large part due to the fact that Plath based much of it on her own experiences. Plath’s background as a poet was also evident in the writing.

Sadie, by Courtney Summers
I still need to write up a full review for this one. I don’t read a ton of YA, but I grabbed this one due to the huge amount of hype around it, and it was definitely worthwhile. Sadie follows the story of a young woman who disappears after the death of her younger sister. It’s fast-paced and heartbreaking.

Dear Mrs. Bird, by A.J. Pearce
I still need to review this one as well. This was a much-needed feelgood read for me, given some of the other content I’ve been reading lately. Dear Mrs. Bird is a historical fiction novel which takes place in England during WWII. The protagonist, Emmy, inadvertently takes a job at a women’s magazine where she will be sorting through the letters written into the help column. When it becomes clear that Mrs. Bird, who responds to these letters for the magazine, won’t answer anyone with any actually difficult problems, Emmy takes it upon herself to respond, risking her job and reputation in the process.

Up next…

The Girls at 17 Swann Street, by Yara Zgheib

(I know I said this last week… and maybe the week before. But I’m really trying to catch up on my ARCs and this is the last thing I have sitting out there in NetGalley right now.)

Blurb:

The chocolate went first, then the cheese, the fries, the ice cream. The bread was more difficult, but if she could just lose a little more weight, perhaps she would make the soloists’ list. Perhaps if she were lighter, danced better, tried harder, she would be good enough. Perhaps if she just ran for one more mile, lost just one more pound.

Anna Roux was a professional dancer who followed the man of her dreams from Paris to Missouri. There, alone with her biggest fears – imperfection, failure, loneliness – she spirals down anorexia and depression till she weighs a mere eighty-eight pounds. Forced to seek treatment, she is admitted as a patient at 17 Swann Street, a peach pink house where pale, fragile women with life-threatening eating disorders live. Women like Emm, the veteran; quiet Valerie; Julia, always hungry. Together, they must fight their diseases and face six meals a day.

Yara Zgheib’s poetic and poignant debut novel is a haunting, intimate journey of a young woman’s struggle to reclaim her life. Every bite causes anxiety. Every flavor induces guilt. And every step Anna takes toward recovery will require strength, endurance, and the support of the girls at 17 Swann Street.

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What are you reading this week? Any thoughts on the books listed in this post?  Please feel free to discuss or share WWW links in the comments!