The first reading wrap-up of 2020! Let’s do this.
As a reminder, here is how I rate my books:
- (★★★★★): Loved it
- (★★★★): Really liked it
- (★★★): Didn’t hate it, didn’t love it
- (★★): Barely finished it
Another few notes: I will warn if there are any spoilers with (start spoiler) and (end spoiler) so you know when to stop reading and pick up again if you don’t want to ruin the book for yourself. I no longer go out of my way to watch adaptions, but will continue to mention them and their general critiques (from Rotten Tomatoes) in my reviews. Finally, you can always check out my book review index page if you’re looking for my extremely important opinion on any book in particular.
Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens
Genre: Historical fiction, mystery
GoodReads rating: 4.50 / 5 (514,000 ratings)
Medium used: E-reader (borrowed from library via OverDrive)
Warning: This book contains themes of sexual assault.
Summary: Kya grew up alone in the marshes of North Carolina as an outcast. When popular Chase takes interest in her, they enter a relationship that goes on for a short while. When Chase is found dead, the “Marsh Girl” is suspected, can she clear her name?
Thoughts: This was my first book of 2020 and I sure hope that Merphy’s theory of your first read predicts how your reading year will be false because this book was abominable. First and foremost, the only reason I didn’t DNF this is because I waited the better part of a year for this insanely popular book on hold at the library, so on principle I had to struggle through it. I’ve seen very polarizing reviews of this book: people either love it or they hated it. If you can’t already tell, I hated it. I think it was the most sold fiction book of 2018 and has an outstanding GoodReads rating, but I’m not alone in disliking it, especially for my age group (under 30). It was just so boring, I didn’t care about the characters, which is just about the worst crime a fiction books can commit. The first 40% could have been cut down to a dozen pages and it doesn’t get much better. The writing was fine but the plot and characters just seemed paper-thin. Not to mention, the author is not without her controversy. I don’t think this is mentioned enough, but the book contains an underage relationship (a 19-year-old with a 15-year-old) and the author’s family was implicated in the murder of a poacher. I feel like the author explored the idea of whether or not this was justified through her writing, which seemed too on the nose. Finally, the ending was too conclusive. The last chapter literally followed Kya to her death, which I can understand why as a plot device, but it just felt like the easy way out. On paper, this book should have interested me: nature, legal battle, murder… but I’m sorry I read it. As Cindy said, if the only thing you can think of is ways to improve the book once you put it down, it’s bad.
Other adaptions: Our favorite producer Reese Witherspoon is on the case. Seriously, is there any contemporary adaption she isn’t a part of? No joke, I think she produces a lot of high-quality adaptions (Gone Girl, Wild, Big Little Lies) and can’t wait to see what she puts out in the next few years. The screenplay for a feature film almost has its first draft complete as of September.
Daisy Jones & The Six by Taylor Jenkins Reid
Genre: Historical fiction
GoodReads rating: 4.22 / 5 (140,000 ratings)
Medium used: Hardback book I got as a Christmas gift
Summary: When beautiful, complicated Daisy Jones joins in on an established band called The Six, the become an overnight success. However, fame comes with its issues of addiction, broken relationships, and internal struggles. This book details the history of the band and how it influenced their abrupt fall from grace.
Thoughts: I got this book for Christmas from my brother and liked it a lot! A great plot with strong character-building and an exciting tone (I mean, who doesn’t dream of being a rock star?). However, like The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo, I felt like a bit anti-climatic. The author’s books would absolutely be five stars with a bit more unpredictability. Regardless, it was a lovely read.
Other adaptations: Another Reese Witherspoon catch. A few cast members have been announced but there’s no final date… yet.
The Girl with the Lower Back Tattoo by Amy Schumer
Genre: Non-fiction, memoir
GoodReads rating: 3.37 / 5 (92,500 ratings)
Medium used: Audiobook (borrowed from library via OverDrive)
Warning: This book contains themes of sexual assault.
Summary: “Amy mines her past for stories about her teenage years, her family, relationships, and sex and shares the experiences that have shaped who she is – a woman with the courage to bare her soul to stand up for what she believes in, all while making us laugh.”
Thoughts: First and foremost, this was a hate-read. I never cared for her comedy and was looking forward to how messy this book was going to be. But as it turned out, I didn’t hate this book. Some parts were really relatable, such as her dad having M.S. and the complicated relationship with her mom. She talks candidly about rape, relationships and women in comedy, which women in all professions can relate to. I admire her for the way she speaks about these topics, but still don’t like her comedy. Now, let’s get into a few reasons why I don’t like her work and parts of this book that I didn’t like:
- She defends a lot of her “edgy” jokes in this book… if you have to defend a joke so hard, maybe you shouldn’t be making it in the first place?
- She talks about hard it was for her when an ex-boyfriend came out as gay
- She brags that a news story about her tipping a waiter going viral while trying to maintain that she’s humble (pick a lane)
- She claims to write her own jokes when she’s now a well-known joke stealer
- “Riches to rags to riches” is a big part of her narrative even though she admitted several times she didn’t have a massive lifestyle change when her family lost money in her early childhood (why force this story line?)
I somewhat expected this when I was going in, but I wasn’t expecting her great discussion on important topics and how she uses her platform as the first female comedian to headline Madison Square Garden to bring awareness to these issues.
I’ll only force these three reviews on my readers as they were a bit longer!
Have you read any of these?
Photo by Radu Marcusu.