Sharp Objects by Gillian Flynn

Title: Sharp Objects
Author: Gillian Flynn
Genre: Fiction / mystery / thriller

Rating: 3.5 / 5

Goodreads

Why I picked it up: Ever since I read Gone Girl some time ago, I wanted to read more of Flynn’s work. This book turned up in a free box on my street. Easy choice!

What it’s about: A newspaper reporter goes back to her hometown for the first time in years after a second girl child is horrifically killed.

What I liked: It kept me engaged. It was for the most part effectively creepy (although I think she could have cranked it up a little). It moved along at a good pace. It did keep me guessing even after I suspected some of the mystery aspect.

What I didn’t like: It definitely didn’t feel as polished as Gone Girl, but that’s totally understandable as it’s her first novel and not everything needs to be compared to Gone Girl amirite. The ending felt a little rushed or like it was wrapped up quickly with little exploration. Also this is probably due to its short length, but I felt like the psychological aspects could have been fleshed out a little more.

Overall / recommended: Sure, if you like thrillers and can stomach self harm. It’s not super gory/graphic or anything, but I can see it bothering some people. It’s short, moves right along, and is satisfying in its way.

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News of the World by Paulette Jiles

Title: News of the World
Author: Paulette Jiles
Genre: Fiction / historical fiction

Rating: 4 / 5

Goodreads

Why I picked it up: I put it on my to-read list when I saw a Goodreads friend had rated it highly, and when it was time to read something new to Peter, I read out synopses of books and he picked this one.

What it’s about: A girl taken captive by Kiowa as a small child is then turned in by them; the Captain, an old veteran who makes his living by reading newspapers to packed halls in rural Texas, agrees to take her hundreds of miles south to be reunited with her family.

What I liked: The book is short and quiet. I liked that aspect of it, because especially in Westerns it often seems like the author wants to make sure that a lot of stuff happens. This book was more reflective and slow. Peter also like what he called the “anticlimactic structure” of the book and it having its focus be on children, women, Indians, and the elderly. He also liked the battle scene.

What I didn’t like: Peter didn’t like the “obscure references” that the author made to the time period that he felt was just her proving that the story was well-researched. I’m kind of hard pressed to come up with any single thing I “didn’t like,” but at the same time, I didn’t love the book.

Overall / recommended: Peter is a strong yes. I also would recommend this sweet story to most readers.

Universal Harvester by John Darnielle

Title: Universal Harvester
Author: John Darnielle
Genre: Fiction / mystery

Rating: 4 / 5

Goodreads

Why I picked it up: I had heard about it on Goodreads, I think, and put it on my to-read list. Then it showed up in the university library so I snagged it!

What it’s about: At a video rental store in rural Iowa, tapes start turning up with disturbing scenes on them…

What I liked: I knew the book was going to be a little creepy, and especially in first part, it’s really well done. I was like, oh no, am I going to have to read this only when it’s light outside or someone’s at home with me? But it wasn’t all that creepy, as it turns out, which is something else I liked. I liked the writing style and the stories we get of the characters. I thought it was interesting and it reminded me of “weird fiction” that I’ve read (and liked).

What I didn’t like: It’s been a couple months now since I finished this book and nothing is really ringing any bells as to what I didn’t like about it. It was short but there are several story lines; I thought it did them all justice but I could understand others feeling like it wasn’t “enough.”

Overall / recommended: Yes. I liked the book enough to probably read it again some day.

7 short reads

In the Presence of Fear by Wendell Berry
Three short essays, written after 9/11, about our outlook as a country, our economic system, our values, how political/social movements work (or don’t). You can read the title essay for free right here. It was good, and we agree on a lot of things, but it wasn’t really paradigm-changing for me. But it is a thoughtful book.


Kindred: A Graphic Novel Adaptation by Octavia Butler, Damian Duffy, and John Jennings

I love Kindred (reviewed here), and I love Octavia Butler. So when I saw this at my local library, I was like, sounds good, I will give this a shot. It’s a decent version of the story but I have to say nothing really compares to the original. Some of the art is quite effective and affecting, but I missed the real immersion that comes in a story when it takes long to read and the author can fill you in on their own details.

for colored girls who have considered suicide/when the rainbow is enuf by Ntozake Shange
I bought this when I was in high school after hearing good things about it, but it had been like…15 years…? And I hadn’t read it yet. So I was going to give it to a thrift store, but then I started the first couple of pages and realized how quickly it would go. Although it is a play, and I don’t really like reading plays, it worked well as poetry (which is I guess what it started as).


Another Brooklyn by Jacqueline Woodson

Beautiful writing, beautiful book. It’s about growing up female (like childhood to adolescence) in Brooklyn, and how hard that can be, and the things friendship can and can’t do. This is probably my favorite book on this list. It’s a very quick read–I think I may have even read it in one sitting, but in any case I definitely read it in one evening. It’s a book that deserves a reread.

 

Harry Potter & the Cursed Child by some randos
Can we…actually just forget I ever read this? Great, let’s.

 

 

 

 

The Nonviolence Handbook by Michael Nagler
A friend gave me this book. It’s pretty short, and I guess it has some good insights, but it’s not really my thing. It’s a lot of focus on Gandhi and didn’t really move me toward action in any way. It’s called a “handbook” for “practical action” but…failed to deliver on that (for me). I’ve been exposed to a lot of similar things, and this one was just really low impact to me, probably because he’s not exactly saying anything new or interesting.

 

Candy Corn Crime by Grace Lemon
I picked this up as Halloween reading. It was a really short cozy mystery. The title and cover led me to believe that this may have been one of the mysteries that have recipes in them. Alas, it was not, but I googled recipes for candy corn fudge and ended up making this one anyway. The fudge was good, the book was…okay.