T-Fierce Takes: Bonfire by Krysten Ritter

So I was at Barnes and Noble walking around, and was like, is this book by THE Krysten Ritter? In fact, it is. I’m not sure if she actually wrote it or had like a ghostwriter to help or what, but it does say by Krysten Ritter, not by Krysten Ritter and so and so.

Anyway, I’m not even a huge Krysten Ritter fan (not personal, just holding a grudge against her Breaking Bad character) but Bonfire sounded interesting enough and then I saw it at the library and checked it out. I don’t want to say it was a mistake, bc that sounds harsh, but not the best decision of my life.

Bonfire has the somewhat typical plot of a woman who ends up back in her hometown for some reason or another and is confronted with boyfriends and mean girls from her past, but in this book it’s coupled with a strange environmental law subplot.

Readability: Pretty easy, finished in a few hours, but not engrossing.

Plot: Ehhh… the main character, Abby, is ostensibly in town investigating this factory that is probably poisoning the towns water but she’s super obsessed with this girl who was mean to her in high school/also her ex bff and wants to know what happened to her, but that ties in with the whole poison water thing kind of. But then the BIG REVEAL is completely different. All this to say, the plot could’ve probably benefited from some streamlining.

Entertainment factor: Google Books calls it’s a “gripping, tightly wound suspense novel” but I wouldn’t go that far. It’s fine.

You’ll probably like this if you like: If you’re really far into the psychological thrillers and thrillers and all that jazz and you’re completely out of other things to read.

Quality of writing: She’s definitely a better writer than Lauren Conrad! lol

Overall thoughts: Not the worst book I’ve ever read, but if you have other stuff to read I wouldn’t waste my time. Unless you LOVE Krysten Ritter.

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T-Fierce Takes: The Witches of New York by Ami McKay

The Witches of New York by Ami McKay had been sitting in my waitlist area of the library website foreverrrr so I was excited when it finally came my way! I will read anything featuring witches, and I think I saw the cover at Barnes and Noble and was like yes, this looks amazing.

The witches fall under the hedge witch and can-communicate-with-supernatural spirits variety, so it wasn’t like a whole secret magic world, which is actually sort of different for me. I thought it was well-written and almost quaint in a way without being cutesy–probably because it was set in the 1880’s. There are evil religious fanatics who totally remind me of like Credence’s family from Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them. Hopefully I am not the only one with this opinion…

 

Readability: It took me a few days, so it wasn’t a huge page turner but definitely interesting enough to keep you engaged.

Plot: Pretty low key and slow at times, with some like sideline evil stuff going on so you pretty much know what’s going to happen with the climax, which occurs pretty late in the book. What I felt drove the book more was the ambiance. Plus, strong women!

Entertainment factor: Would not describe this as a rollicking ride but more of a calm and cozy read– but enough happens that you feel satisfied.

You’ll probably like this if you like: Witches or historical fiction.

Quality of writing: It’s been a few days and my memory is going but I thought it was very well written and evoked ye olde days without being suuuuper old fashioned.

Overall thoughts: Worth a read (especially think it would be good in the fall) if you like witches, the Victorian era, feminism, and tea.

How Do We Actually Use A Rating System, Anyway

Aka, how I justify giving books stars on Goodreads. I had to think long and hard about it when I first started using it, since I wanted to be consistent and not hem and haw every time I finished a book and needed to give it a rating.

1 star– I never give books one star, because I think a one star book is a book I should have put down and not finished. If I didn’t finish it, I don’t rate it, just because I don’t think that’s fair (maybe it got really awesome in the last 50 pages!)

2 stars– 2 stars means that there was SOMETHING there in the book that kept me going, and even though I really didn’t like it, I finished it.

3 stars– I consider this average, a book I enjoyed, might have some writing I didn’t like, might have a plot hole, might have a terrible character, but it was overall a solid read.

4 stars– A good book or a great book. Could be one of the best books I’ve ever read, but…

5 stars– The only way to get 5 stars is if I know I want to READ IT AGAIN. This means my collection of 5 stars might end up being a bit random, but hey. It’s a good way to mark which books I really, really enjoyed.

 

How do you go about rating books, either on Goodreads or on your blog or just mentally? Also–how good does a book have to be for you to recommend it to a friend?

My Favorite Books of 2016

Probably more for my benefit than yours, dear reader, I’ve decided to compile a list of my favorite books of 2016!

Books I read in 2016, that is, doesn’t mean they were RELEASED in 2016…. Let’s begin. The order? Me going down my iPhone list of what I read and slapping them on here. (WordPress did this cool mosaic but somehow The Queen of the Tearling got really large.)

  1. The Queen of the Tearling by Erika Johansen: God I love this book. I think I must have some sort of internalized misogyny because I am SUPER picky about female protagonists in books, but I loved the flawed heroine Kelsea. This is like both dystopian AND medieval, two of my favorite things, and it’s a trilogy, so it doesn’t end too soon.
  2. Oryx and Crake by Margaret Atwood: So I loved The Handmaid’s Tale, could not finish The Robber Bride, but Oryx and Crake is another win in the Margaret Atwood column. I’m a sucker for well-written sci-fi. So hard to find (if you only look not-so-hard, like me). My friend Annie recommended it to me! And it’s ALSO a trilogy, but I think this one is definitely the best.
  3. A Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara: Literally no words. This book like wrenched out my gut and then STOMPED on it. I cried. It stayed with me for days. And I recommend it to everyone. I think this will be a little like “Titanic” or “Brokeback Mountain” for me–a favorite, but one I can only read (watch) every few years because it ruins me.
  4. Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell: My not-so-secret secret? I love fan fiction. Sorry, not sorry. So when I picked up Fangirl I really felt for the main character, a slash fan fiction writer, lol, and it was just hilarious and great and I subsequently read everything else Rainbow Rowell has written, but this is by far the best.
  5. The Rules of Attraction by Brett Easton Ellis: Of course I’ve seen the movie, but god I didn’t know the book was SO GOOD. Ellis’s writing style, very stream of consciousness, I’m sure isn’t for everyone, but I love it and it was PERFECT for this book and the multiple narrators. I love books set on college campuses where everyone is an alcoholic fuckup. The super fun fact is that Ellis went to college with Donna Tartt, and they dated, and some details from my absolute favorite book The Secret History are mentioned in Rules, which 100% blew my mind because I didn’t know about this ahead of time.
  6. Just Kids by Patti Smith: I’m so late to the Patti Smith train, but this book about her early life and romance/friendship with Mapplethorpe is SO. GOOD. Ugh. Reincarnate me as a bohemian living in a hotel in NYC. On second thought, don’t, just let me visit for a day.
  7. The Singles Game by Lauren Weisberger: It’s rare that I find chick lit I really love, but The Singles Game was just really, really good! The transformation of a top tennis player, with some soapy drama. Would I read it again? Yup.
  8. The Cartel by Don Winslow: Oh man, I was so into this. It’s about drug cartels (fiction) but it’s never dry, the writing is great, and it’s gory, violent, and unexpected. Surprised me how much I liked it.
  9. Ready Player One by Ernest Cline: Part Ender’s Game, part best science fiction I’ve ever read, this book is amazing and filled with 80’s nostalgia that I had even know about but it was so compelling and interesting. I try to make everyone read this. Successfully got my ex-boyfriend to. It’s so nerdy, in a good way.
  10. The Passage by Justin Cronin: This is the first book in an epic and kinda confusing zombie trilogy with some writing that I didn’t really love but it was really just so good and I haven’t read that many zombie novels before and I just loved it. Plus, it’s nice ‘n long.
  11. Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi: Starts with two girls in Ghana, spans generations and comes to the US. It’s vast, it’s well-written, beautiful and sad.
  12. Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozie Adichie: Ifemulu is such a great main character and her trajectory from Nigeria across the US and back to Nigeria is so interesting. And, the excerpts from her blog really make you think about how unintentionally racist you probably are.
  13. The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath: Lol, I was an English major and somehow didn’t read Plath. I know, what a loser. Worth the wait, though! Truly an excellent novel.
  14. Middlesex by Jeffrey Eugenides: I remember my mom saying she hated this like 5 million years ago, but I’d liked the Virgin Suicides so I decided to give it a try and was blown away. The Detroit setting really stuck, and Cal’s journey and coming of age was just so interesting. Plus, the flashbacks to the family history did not bore me, and they usually do.
  15. Probably a few more but this is the highlight reel!

Anyone have some of their favorite books they read in 2016 to share? I pretty much will read anything, unless it’s like some HELLA BORING nonfiction.

 

 

T-Fierce Takes: You Will Know Me

I read You Will Know Me by Megan Abbott in a few hours last night. I loved it! I haven’t read any of her other books, but they were on my list, and Stephen King tweeted he loved this one, so I put myself in the library queue ASAP. I’ve never actually read anything by Stephen King, other than On Writing, but as a fellow Mainer, apparently I trust his reco’s.

Your two-sentence summary: Parents with an Olympic-track gymnast daughter find some things out about her and the people at the gym where she trains. Intrigue ensues in this coming-of-age tale about ambition, puberty, and of course a hit-and-run.

Readability: Anything I finish in a night is eminently readable. The thing is, You Will Know Me was so WELL WRITTEN, unlike some of the other “thrillers” I’ve encountered.

Plot: There was plenty of backstory, so when you get to the twists and turns, you don’t feel like they’re rushed or forced. And, there were enough plot twists to keep you interested, but not a surfeit.

Entertainment factor: High! You want to know what’s up with Devon (the gymnast daughter) and you keep on reading for the intrigue.

You’ll probably like this if you like: Again, if you like any of those female-centric thrillers by Gillian Flynn or Ruth Ware or Paula Hawkins or what have you. Also, if you like gymnastics, or any sort of cutthroat sport involving young girls.

Quality of writing: As I mentioned earlier, I thought this was very well-written, so you can appreciate the words AND the plot.

Overall thoughts: Go pick it up-you won’t be disappointed. Perfect for the beach, the airplane, or a rainy night by the fire.

T-Fierce Takes: The Couple Next Door

Guys, what if I called this book review series “T-Fierce Takes”? Or maybe “T-Fierce’s Hot Takes.” I love anything alliterative.

Today’s topic is one of this year’s slew of thrillers dubbed “the next Gone Girl” or “for fans of Gone Girl,” The Couple Next Door by Shari Lapena. I wouldn’t say I was impressed. Your one sentence plot summary: a couple’s baby is taken from their house in the middle of the night, but THINGS ARE NOT AS THEY SEEM.

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I got this image from NPR

Readability: For sure a very readable book, it only took me three hours. Plot moved along pretty well.

Entertainment factor: There’s a minor salacious theme or two, and there are the requisite plot twists and turns, but despite the fact that the baby was like missing, the book lacked an urgency I think could’ve helped.

You’ll probably like this if you like: Any of the thrillers that are supposed to be Gone Girl but aren’t as good as Gone Girl.

Quality of writing: Eh, I think this might be where I took issue with the book. I didn’t care about any of the characters. The narrative POV also switched a lot-I would say it was third person limited omniscient, but it kept hopping around. So you’d get a page basically only knowing what the wife knows, but then the next page it’ll be focused on the husband. I think if LaPena was going to do this, she should’ve switched POV’s in chapters, to make it less choppy. Additionally, the characters weren’t likable, but I’m not sure if this was intentional or not. I feel like you’re supposed to like the mom if her baby is missing. Or MAYBE NOT who knows.

Overall thoughts: I wouldn’t say don’t read it, and there was a pretty good plot twist, but I just found that I didn’t care what happened to anyone. So it was like, a dull thriller?Definitely just borrow it from someone or the library, though.

Book Review: But Enough About ME

Hello fans!
I’ve decided to some quick n’ dirty book reviews on the blog, partially because it will help me if I want to look back and remember what I read, and partially because this format is a lot easier than an actual book review, which I had to write once for a class and it was actually the hardest thing to do, since you’re supposed to describe how it was without giving away the plot, and also by using big and useless words. (It was about Southern Cross the Dog, if you want to know, which I absolutely hated.)
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First up: But Enough About Me: How a Small-Town Girl Went from Shag Carpet to the Red Carpet by Jancee Dunn. She was a Rolling Stone writer and this memoir about her life and her time working there interviewing celebrities is a hoot.

1. Readability: Super easy and engaging to read, and well paced. She’s a very likable, relatable narrator.

 

2. Entertainment factor: It’s funny, it’s got the dirt on celebrities that you probably haven’t heard, and it never felt boring.
3. You’ll probably like this if you like: David Sedaris, Augusten Burroughs, Isaac Oliver, any of the books written by the lady comedians (Poehler, Kaling, Fey, etc.)
4. Quality of writing: I thought this was really well-written, rightly so because the author was a journalist.
5. Overall Thoughts: Can’t recommend this enough. My dad bought it offhand in the airport one day when he needed something to read, and was pleasantly surprised and told me to read it. 3 years later, still in a stack of my to-read books, I picked it up, and was so glad I did!