Book Reviews xi

Aug 29

This is the 11th Book Reviews post, and I honestly can’t believe there are only that many.  I feel like I’ve been reading more and more lately, so I want to share some of the things I’ve been loving a lot and not so much!

#GIRLBOSS by Sophia Amoruso — I was DEAD WRONG about this book.  Lesson: never judge a book by the Netflix series it inspired because Netflix got this so wrong.  I had this impression that Sophia would be awful, conceited, and entitled, but her book is now my new favorite business book.  What the Girl Boss show on Netflix missed entirely was the KINDNESS culture behind Nasty Gal — the safe haven it creates for girls who are just a bit different: “freaks,” Sophia would say.  She even talks about choosing models who look like the type of girls who strike up a conversation with you at a party if it looked like you were floundering a bit and didn’t know anyone.  THAT is what Netflix missed when they imagineered all those bratty tantrums and bitchy comments.

In short, his book rocked my world.  I love a good rags to riches story, and I love a girl who doesn’t take B.S. from anyone.  GIRLBOSS quotes are surely going to start popping up on my Letterfolk board.  It’s a book any entrepreneur will want to read again and again.

girlboss review

Marlena by Julie Buntin — This was a Book of the Month Club GEM!!  I wanted it to go on forever, and I was still thinking about it LONG after I read the last words.  These characters will stick with you.  As unreliable a narrator as Cat is, I couldn’t help but believe every little nuance of Marlena and their friendship.

The book tells the story of their intense 9-month long friendship that ends with Marlena’s death.  There are flashbacks to how her life AND her death altered the course of Cat’s life forever.  If I’m being 100% with you guys, I really related to the small town culture Marlena depicts.  I WISH that I could describe that lackluster feeling of small town life as well as Buntin does here.  The drug culture, feelings of regret, hesitation, the desire to be accepted by your friends, struggling with your relationship with your mom . . . it’s all here and it’s all so, so good.  I would summarize it, but I want you to read it, so no spoilers!!

June by Miranda Beverly-Whittemore — I feel like I WANTED to like this book more than I did.  I would have given up on it, but it was a Blogging for Books read, so I had to finish it.  Finally, after putting it down nearly 5 months ago, I picked it up again.  It took 100 pages to get interesting.  Up until then, I could NOT get into it, which is probably one of the worst qualities a book can have!

The story goes back and forth in time between Cassie, who is hiding out in her grandmother’s mansion in St. Jude, Ohio in 2015 and June, the grandmother living in the same town in 1955.  Cassie learns that iconic film star, Jack Montgomery, has left her everything after his death.  Soon, her house is filled with Jack’s daughter, Tate, and her team of Hollywood sycophants as they try to figure if Jack was actually Cassie’s grandfather.  Back in 1955, we’re getting to know Lindie, June’s best friend, as she gets a job on set of the Hollywood film, Erie Canal.  Jack Montgomery is the star of the movie, and things intensify when he shows interest in June.  Over the course of 379 pages, we are taken on a journey of love, blackmail, small town politics, murder, and mystery as Cassie and Tate try to understand more about their families.

It’s a plot that sounded really great, but the book always seemed to TELL more than it was SHOWING.  I often felt bogged down in unimportant details while wishing that the author would have spent more time developing the characters and the scenery.  I found Cassie’s character immediately frustrating because I can’t stand whiny, lazy characters who are just moping around about their lives.  Beverly-Whittemore reveals the reasons that Cassie is so stunted, but that characterization comes too late.  Tate’s team of Hank (a female) and Nick (a male) were far more interesting than Cassie herself, so their appearance onto the scene made the book a bit more enjoyable.  The character who REALLY lacked characterization, ironically enough, was June.  Everything we learn about her personality comes secondhand, and most of that is just folks from Ohio saying she was “really something.”  It’s not much to go on and makes the love story between she and Jack barely a love story at all.

My main pet peeve with this book, and the reason I wanted to toss it on page one, was the supernatural element.  The mansion that is falling down around Cassie, Two Oaks, has dreams and feelings.  The house presents these “feelings” to Cassie in dreams and sometimes she feels/sees people in the house from the past, like ghosts that Two Oaks is showing her.  It’s odd, distracting, and entirely unnecessary to the story.  I will give this book a generous three stars though, because it DID get slightly more interesting.  The problem is . . . all the interesting things only started to happen about 300 pages in.

I received this book from Blogging for Books for this review.

The Blinds by Adam Sternbergh — This was another Book of the Month Club read that started out SO WELL.  It had me completely hooked — I read the majority of it (like 75%) on one lazy, post-wedding recovery Sunday.  I loved the way Sternbergh writes, but man did it disappoint in the final chapters.  All I can say is . . . a book that ends with a mass shooting is not really a book I enjoy.  But don’t let that turn you completely off.  It IS a complicated story, so I think it’s still worth a read.

Basically, the Blinds is a nickname for a town that is a psychological experiment.  A scientific institute sends hard criminals to the middle of nowhere Texas to live “under protection,” but they have no idea what they’ve done to end up there.  Some may be innocents who are in a new kind of intense witness protection program, some are violent criminals. The institute wipes their memories clean, so everyone gets a fresh start in the Blinds.  Life is peaceful and easy there until a murder and a suicide rock the town.  It’s up to Sheriff Cooper to keep everyone calm as he investigates two shootings in a town where HE is the only person with a gun.

It’s a great story . . . until the end.  The end feels rushed and unimaginative, like the author was trying to tie all the loose ends together in an interesting way but comes up short.

If you’re interested in signing up for Book of the Month Club, DO IT!! If you use THIS LINK, you’ll get your first book for 9.99 PLUS a free tote.  And if you remember, I’m a big fan of my BOTM Club tote!  I take it everywhere.  Plus, is there ANYTHING better than getting a new book of your choice in the mail every month??

The Blinds Book of the Month Club pick

 

 

No.  There is not!

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