Reading wrap-up #31

As a reminder, here is how I rate my books:

  • (★★★★★): Loved it
  • (★★★★): Really liked it
  • (★★★): Liked it enough
  • (★★): Didn’t care for 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.

Dark Places by Gillian Flynn

Dark Places: A Novel: Amazon.ca: Flynn, Gillian: BooksRating: ★★★★

Genre: Fiction, thriller, mystery

GoodReads rating:  3.93 / 5 (543,700 ratings)

Medium used: Appeared on my Kindle out of thin air (maybe my dad bought it?)

Summary: “Libby Day was seven when her mother and two sisters were murdered in “The Satan Sacrifice” of Kinnakee, Kansas. She survived—and famously testified that her fifteen-year-old brother, Ben, was the killer. Twenty-five years later, the Kill Club—a secret secret society obsessed with notorious crimes—locates Libby and pumps her for details. They hope to discover proof that may free Ben.”

Thoughts: I often site Gone Girl as my all-time favorite thriller books and use it as the benchmark to which I compare all other domestic thrillers to (such as that of Ruth Ware, Lock Every Door, etc.), so needless to say I had extremely high expectations for this book. It was entertaining, but there was never an “Oh my God” moment per se. I did, however, find the “Kill Club” increasingly relevant as Netflix specials (most recently Tiger King) often make the public judge, jury and executioner in a lot of high-profile cases. Personalluy, I find people who take an interest in such topics beyond an educational uses (e.g. for entertainment or those find it too “interesting” for my liking) deeply distrubing, but that’s a topic for another post.

Other adaptations: The 2015 movie has a star-studded cast including Charlize Theron, but royally bombed.

Digital Minimalism by Cal Newport

Amazon.com: Digital Minimalism: Choosing a Focused Life in a Noisy ...Rating: ★★★

Genre: Non-fiction, self-help, productivity

GoodReads rating:  4.07 / 5 (24,500 ratings)

Medium used: E-book (borrowed from library via OverDrive)

Summary: “Technology is intrinsically neither good nor bad. The key is using it to support your goals and values, rather than letting it use you. This book shows the way.”

Thoughts: The first bit of this book really gripped me, but then as it went on the book lost me. Some of it seemed contradictory (one part telling you to stop listening to music on your commute, but another part saying that listening to music can be an important  way to reflect) and holier-than-thou (we get it Cal, you’ve never used Facebook, I heard you the first dozen times). I also wasn’t on board with being super-productive in your downtime. When I have one free evening a week, I’m ordering huge pizza and watching Arrested Development until my eyes bleed because I love it, sue me. At the end of the day, that’s what minimalism is all about to me: asking “Does this add value to my life?”. I work on boats where I often don’t get Internet for days at a time and when I do, it’s super slow and costs a lot of money, so I’m familar with what social media I miss most and what platforms I’m willing to literally pay for. Watching a moderate amount of YouTube and listening to music does add value to my life, but scrolling Twitter for hours probably doesn’t. I was able to take some principles from this, but nothing completely life-changing that I haven’t heard from general minimalist theories (I love the YouTube channel A Small Wardrobe).

Pretty Girls by Karin Slaughter

Pretty Girls — Karin SlaughterRating: ★★★★

Genre: Fiction, thriller, mystery

GoodReads rating:  3.99 / 5 (158,000 ratings)

Medium used: E-book (borrowed from library via OverDrive)

Warning: This book contains strong themes of rape and violence.

Summary: Estranged sisters are united by a new crime they think might be linked to their oldest sister’s disappearance nearly 20 years ago. The truth is much, much darker.

Thoughts: With a last name like Slaughter, this author was destined to write a great thriller. A lot of people say this book has excessive amount of violence and rape and I agree it isn’t for everyone, but I personally didn’t find it excessive: meaning it only contained enough details to advance the plot. I love Stephen King and the violence was about on-par with his work and the sexual assults were mentioned vaguely with hardly any detail. Anyway, I couldn’t put this down, which says a lot because it’s quite long. Like Dark Places, the book unfolded pretty much as expected (I’ve come to long for a twist in my thriller books to make it five-star) but it was gripping.

The Animals at Lockwood Manor by Jane Healy

Jane Healey on Twitter: "It's so gorgeous! I feel very lucky ...Rating: ★★

Genre: Historical fiction, mystery

GoodReads rating:  3.51 / 5 (881 ratings)

Medium used: E-book (borrowed from library via OverDrive)

Summary: Hetty is overseeing the taxidermied animals evacuated from the London Natural History Museum housed at the mysterious Lockwood Manor. When the animals start going missing one by one, who, or what, is to blame?

Thoughts: Meh. This was a really disappointing read. I love historical fiction and animals and after living in Brighton for two years with regular visits to London, all signs pointed to that I would enjoy this, but no. The story was slow but I held on for the ending only to find out conclusion was just as anticlimatic. The concept was fabulous but it left something to be desired.

Have you read any of these?

Photo by Radu Marcusu.

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