The Testaments

Author: Margaret Atwood

Published: September 10, 2019

Publisher: Doubleday

Where I picked up my book: Local Indie

Key Words: dystopian, feminist, science fiction

My Rating: 4.5 stars 

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My Thoughts:

I LOVEDDDDDDD this book! I was slightly hesitant when I heard that Atwood was coming out with a book and it promised to give us some answers to the long awaited questions that rose from The Handmaid’s Tale. Did I need answers? Would the answers hold up today? Could Atwood write this new book as well as she wrote The Handmaid’s Tale? If not, are we at risk of not liking The Handmaid’s Tale as much as we once did? Will the show on Hulu ruin this book or vice versa? Well…I’m here to tell you to just go into this The Testaments and know you’re going to love every second of it. No, I don’t think it’s on par with The Handmaid’s Tale per say. The Handmaid’s Tale was a once in a lifetime book that has gone down in history as a work of tremendous fiction that is considered to be a part of the literary canon. The Testaments isn’t necessarily on par with that, but it’s an amazing work that takes you on a final journey to Gilead where you’ll be sucked in and spit back out when you’re done. It takes a broader look at the world and I really enjoyed that view. It’s brilliant, terrifyingly relevant, answers the questions that have haunted you since you read The Handmaid’s Tale and just like the first, will leave you wanting more.

I don’t want to give away too much. I literally put my blinders on with every social media post, book blog or book review that I came across before I read the book and I’m so happy that I did that! Going in completely blind left me to just go into the world that Atwood created and enjoy it on it’s own merit and that made my experience exponentially better and more raw. I was taken away for a few days and I feel honored that we were given that gift. Thank you Margaret Atwood for creating another unforgettable piece of fiction.

bookishfolk…read instead.

Good Talk

Author: Mira Jacob

Published: March 26, 2019

Publisher: One World (Random House) 

Where I picked up my book:  Purchased from local bookstore

Key Words: graphic novel, memoir, identity, interracial families, politics

My Rating: 5 (ALL THE STARS!!)

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My Thoughts:

I LOVED THIS BOOK!!! At first, if I’m being honest, I wasn’t sure about the fact that it was a graphic novel. I remember lovinggggg Maus by Art Spiegelman though when I read it in high school, so I thought I might enjoy this one too. And I was wrong. I didn’t just enjoy it, I LOVED LOVED LOVED this one and I am officially a convert to the graphic novel and will forever and always choose a graphic novel without hesitation from now on. In fact, I got so excited reading it-I started working on a graphic novel myself. I am an artist and a writer (nothing official, but in my heart-that’s what I am) and I can’t even believe I hadn’t thought of combining those two loves and created something powerful. It’s all talk on my end right now, but I’m excited about it! There are some things that I want to say and I want the world to hear, but creating something with only words didn’t seem quite right for me, or for the subject I wanted to talk about. Once I read Good Talk though, I had my ah-ha! moment and I’m excited. But…I digress. SO-if you’re anything like me, do not hesitate for one second to pick this one up. It’s powerful (probably even more powerful as a graphic novel) and I promise, you will not be disappointed!

Second, the amount of topics that Jacob covers is bewildering to me! I should say, the amount of topics she thoroughly covers in a beautiful, thought-provoking, intimate way… is bewildering to me! She delves into immigration, American identity, interracial families, politics, our divided nation (and sometimes, divided friendships and families), Obama’s election (YAY), the 2016 election (BOO), love, racism, sexuality and so much more. Somehow, she does it in a beautiful, thought-provoking, non-rushed, powerful way that will have you gushing to everyone you come in contact with.

Third, the artwork in here is fantastic! Humans are hard to draw…but Jacob does it brilliantly! And then to put the drawings on top of photographs?! Brilliant! I would LOVE LOVE LOVE to see Jacob’s process, how it worked, understand how much time this took, and what it took to get this amazing piece of art published. I am in awe.

Fourth-please get this book! You will not regret it for one second. It’s funny and sad, heart-wrenching and beautiful all at the same time. It’s the exact book that America needs right now and I feel privileged to have read it. I think it’s one you will come back to again and again. (Thank you for coming to my Ted Talk 😉 )

As always, come find me on Instagram!

bookishfolk…read instead.

We Love Anderson Cooper

Author: R.L. Maizes

Published: July 23, 2019

Publisher: Celadon Books  

Where I picked up my book:  Publisher (#partner) THANK YOU and then I bought a final copy at my local Indie 🙂

Key Words: short stories, outsider POV, Jewish Lit, Magical Realism

My Rating: 4

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My Thoughts:

I loved this debut collection so much! As someone who has always felt like a bit of an outsider, and as a part of the LGBTQ+ community, these stories particularly resonated with me, made me feel seen and had a lasting effect of, “Huh. Life can be pretty great as an outsider and actually, when you think about it-there are a lot of us walking around as outsiders and that means I’m never really alone” and that feels good.

First, this collection had me thinking long and hard about the idea of being a part of the “other.” In this collection, these characters are treated as outsiders because of how they look, their sexual orientation, religious affiliation or race. As I read this collection, I kept thinking about how it felt fitting to read a book geared toward this topic with today’s political climate.  There seems to be a huge backwards jump to this sort of segregation mindset where the idea of the ‘us versus them’ is running rampant from the person on top and then trickling on down. I should probably say, it’s always been a part of our narrative (unfortunately) but now, it seems like there is this sense of permission happening and I can’t think of anything scarier. I’m not going to beat around the bush here-our political climate, and hence the nation in general, feels vulnerable and on the brink of disaster and I think those of us that have always felt like outsiders are feeling that awareness even more. Families are being separated and put into cages, Black and Brown people are being discriminated against and killed and it feels like no one is doing anything about it. Rights are being taken away from women, queer folx are being discriminated against and the government is tolerating it, and at times, initiating it. Outsiders are being put at risk and it’s truly terrifying to me. On the plus side, we’re seeing a battle cry rising from so many of us and again-just like in this book, it makes me feel less alone. There’s a whole, beautiful group of us ready to stand up for, and with, the ‘outsider’ and it’s truly the rainbow after (in this case, during) the storm. R.L. Maizes puts all of those thoughts and real-life scenarios, into enjoyable, relatable and amazing fiction and it’s a breath of fresh air.

Second, each short story has it’s own life and personality, but they are all funny, moving, thought-provoking and full of empathy. Truly, each story is full of this and that seems like a huge feat. I think some people tend to shy away from reading short stories because they can feel choppy or just as you start to get into the story, it ends-but that isn’t the case here! Each story provides a unique plot and story, but the themes are the same and it makes for a beautiful flow.

Third, people always ask me what my favorite stories in a collection are and although that can sometimes be hard to say, and it’s particularly hard in this case because I truly enjoyed all of the stories, I REALLY loved Tattoo, We Love Anderson Cooper and Couch. Seriously though-I thoroughly enjoyed them all…but this third point is for all of you who like itemization 😉

Lastly, I was lucky enough to hear R.L. Maizes speak at my local bookstore last week here in Colorado and I was completely enamored by her backstory, her motivation to write, how she writes and the path she took to get to where she is today. What she has to say carries a lot of merit and depth and I’m excited to see what else she has to offer us! And BONUS, she signed a book deal at the same time as this short story collection, so her book will be coming out in the near future. Woohoo!!  Here is a great write up from NPR too about this book! It’s a great review!

As always, find me over on Instagram at bookishfolk and let’s chat books!

bookishfolk…read instead.

The Whisper Man

Author: Alex North

Published: August 20, 2019

Publisher: Celadon Books  

Where I picked up my book:  Publisher (#partner) THANK YOU!

Key Words: thriller, father/son relationship, serial killer

My Rating: 4

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My Thoughts:

If you’re like me and the Summer/early Fall is for psychological thrillers full of creepy feels…then The Whisper Man is coming out just in time! I don’t read a ton of thrillers, but I LOVE to pick up a good one, during the longer daytime hours ;), and get totally engrossed, flipping through the pages as fast as I can, until A. I finish, or B. I hear a noise somewhere in the house and I literally cannot deal with reading it anymore. God forbid the sun has gone down and I’m still engrossed lol. That happened a few times with this one (as you might be able to tell, I’m a bit of a wuss when it comes to thrillers…but listen to this and you might see why I may never read a thriller at night again)!! One evening I got sucked in and was reading The Whisper Man long into the night, completely creeped out with the idea of a serial killer whispering outside of a child’s bedrooms to lure them outside the safety of their home. WHAT?! My wife was sound asleep-never helpful when reading a creepy book :/ I finally exhausted myself and fell asleep. A few hours later, I woke up to my dog growling (she NEVER does that) and I heard  a little girl sing-songy whispering in another room in my house. I nearly sh*t my pants. I’m not kidding. I’ll get to the point because I’m starting to sweat just thinking about this-after some investigation where I turned every light on in the house, had my phone dialed up to 91 and ready to hit the other 1 at a moments notice, and forcing my dog to come with me even though she was all of a sudden terrified to move from the bed (side note: wife is still sound asleep), I realized what was going on and sighed a sigh of relief like I’ve never sighed before. The publisher included a card introducing the book to us that when opened, it was a little girls voice whispering the catchphrase of the book. The card must have gotten cracked open and low and behold, it was what I was hearing. I’m not even kidding. Lord have mercy. So that’s how creepy I found this book and also…why I will forever read thrillers in the daytime or with every light in the house on (but then I can’t see out the windows so, Oyyyyye). But I digress…

This was a creepy, heart-pounding, unsettling and well-paced read that is full of character development, family dynamics, imagination and quite detailed, beautiful writing. I don’t want to give too much of the plot or my thoughts away because I think going in relatively blind is always more fun with thrillers, but just know The Whisper Man is sure to keep you up long into the night flipping pages, ferociously trying to find out what is going on. It’s a page-turner that is sure to give you all those creepy vibes and BONUS! I just read that it’s been snapped up by the same production company that created various Marvel films and Arrested Development. So read the book before movie comes out and let’s all be completely creeped out together!!

As always, find me over on Instagram and let’s chat books! The Whisper Man comes out on August 20th-don’t miss it for your end of summer/beginning of Fall, perfect, creepy read!

Synopsis:

In this dark, suspenseful thriller, Alex North weaves a multi-generational tale of a father and son caught in the crosshairs of an investigation to catch a serial killer preying on a small town.

After the sudden death of his wife, Tom Kennedy believes a fresh start will help him and his young son Jake heal. A new beginning, a new house, a new town. Featherbank.

But the town has a dark past. Twenty years ago, a serial killer abducted and murdered five residents. Until Frank Carter was finally caught, he was nicknamed “The Whisper Man,” for he would lure his victims out by whispering at their windows at night.

Just as Tom and Jake settle into their new home, a young boy vanishes. His disappearance bears an unnerving resemblance to Frank Carter’s crimes, reigniting old rumors that he preyed with an accomplice. Now, detectives Amanda Beck and Pete Willis must find the boy before it is too late, even if that means Pete has to revisit his great foe in prison: The Whisper Man.

And then Jake begins acting strangely. He hears a whispering at his window…

Bookishfolk…read instead.

Wilder Girls

Author: Rory Power

Published: July 9, 2019

Publisher: Delacorte Press  

Where I picked up my book:  Publisher (#partner) THANK YOU!

Key Words: feminist, mysterious illness, YA lit, survival

My Rating: 4

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My Thoughts: 

I really enjoyed this book! It checked so many boxes for me-a gripping story line, strong female friendships, feminism, queer feels, a beautiful cover (come on…we all judge a book by it’s cover sometimes and this one completely wrangled me in), an island under quarantine, and add in a plague-I’m sold!

First off, I don’t want to give too much away in this review. I went into the book kind of blind, and I think that made it that much more fantastic! So I’d avoid reading too many reviews and just go for it and get emerged in the story-I think you’ll enjoy it so much more that way! But just know-there are girls who get a plague called The Tox and the story continues on from there.

Secondly, this book revolves around female friendships and I’m ALWAYS here for that! These girls go to an all-girl school called the Raxter School for Girls and it brought up some fond memories for me. I also went to an all-girl high school and I could imagine the relationships and friendships (and possibly more than friendships, wink, wink) happening as if it was yesterday (side note: it was a longgggg time ago for me). We were a close-knit group of young women who walked through life, and the halls of our school,  in a do or die sort of way. Maybe all high school girls feel this way, but for us, it was legit. I would have done just about anything for the ladies I went to school with, so I could 100% relate and I loved every second of it!

Third, this story is so atmospheric that I could literally feel myself in the plot. I was walking in those woods, tasting the food, feeling the feels, angry at certain points, feeling lonely at other times and getting my game face on to prep for the future right along side these characters. I was completely immersed and that’s saying something for a 40 year old reading YA lit.

The only problem (and by problem, I mean slight annoyance) I had with this book was the ending. Apparently, I like a final conclusion and you won’t find that here. BUT it also allows the reader to surmise and let their imagination run a bit wild and alas…isn’t that the point of good fiction?!

All in all, I really enjoyed this unique book and I’m excited to see what else Power has in store for us. Wilder Girls is full of female friendships and female empowerment. It’s a dark book, but uplifting at the same time full of atmospheric writing that is sure to put you right in the characters shoes. I will definitely be reading more of what Power releases out into the world.

Summary (via Goodreads):

It’s been eighteen months since the Raxter School for Girls was put under quarantine. Since the Tox hit and pulled Hetty’s life out from under her.

It started slow. First the teachers died one by one. Then it began to infect the students, turning their bodies strange and foreign. Now, cut off from the rest of the world and left to fend for themselves on their island home, the girls don’t dare wander outside the school’s fence, where the Tox has made the woods wild and dangerous. They wait for the cure they were promised as the Tox seeps into everything.

But when Byatt goes missing, Hetty will do anything to find her, even if it means breaking quarantine and braving the horrors that lie beyond the fence. And when she does, Hetty learns that there’s more to their story, to their life at Raxter, than she could have ever thought true.

bookishfolk…read instead.