Reading wrap-up #40

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.

A Gentleman in Moscow by Amor Towles

A Gentleman in Moscow: A Novel: Towles, Amor: 9780670026197 ...Rating: ★★★

Genre: Historical fiction

GoodReads rating: 4.35 / 5 (273,000 ratings)

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

Summary: Count Alexander Rostov is sentenced to house arrest by a Bolshevik tribunal in an upscale hotel a stone’s throw away from the Kremlin. The count “must now live in an attic room while some of the most tumultuous decades in Russian history are unfolding outside the hotel’s doors,” meeting a colorful cast of characters along the way.

Thoughts: The writing and atmosphere was beautiful, but it was quite slow and didn’t suck me in. There’s nothing wrong with this book, it’s just not to my particular taste. Usually I’ll finish books of this length in four days tops and this took me a week and a half. Ugh.

Other adaptations:  A limited series is in the making, keep your eyes peeled! 

The Vanishing Half by Brit Bennett

The Vanishing Half: A Novel - Kindle edition by Bennett, Brit ...Rating: ★★★★

Genre: Fiction, historical fiction, contemporary

GoodReads rating: 4.40 / 5 (61,000 ratings)

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

Summary: “The Vignes twin sisters will always be identical. But after growing up together in a small, southern black community and running away at age sixteen, it’s not just the shape of their daily lives that is different as adults, it’s everything: their families, their communities, their racial identities. Ten years later, one sister lives with her black daughter in the same southern town she once tried to escape. The other secretly passes for white, and her white husband knows nothing of her past.”

Thoughts: Unlike A Gentleman in Moscow, this book really engaged me. However, the first half was a bit slow, then it got really good until the last 50 pages, then it just fizzled. I know categorizing it as historical fiction as well as contemporary might seem contradictory, but the time period was rarely underlined in the storytelling. Every 50 or so pages with a new part of the book and date I was reminded that it did, in fact, take place decades ago. But no matter.

Other adaptations: HBO has bought the rights to the book, can only expect great things!

Killers of the Flower Moon by David Grann

Killers of the Flower Moon: The Osage Murders and the Birth of the ...Rating: ★★★★

Genre: Non-fiction, history, crime

GoodReads rating: 4.08 / 5 (120,000 ratings)

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

Warning: This books contains brief descriptions of body horror.

Summary: “In the 1920s, the richest people per capita in the world were members of the Osage Indian Nation in Oklahoma. After oil was discovered beneath their land, the Osage rode in chauffeured automobiles, built mansions, and sent their children to study in Europe. Then, one by one, they began to be killed off. One Osage woman, Mollie Burkhart, watched as her family was murdered. Her older sister was shot. Her mother was then slowly poisoned. And it was just the beginning, as more Osage began to die under mysterious circumstances… As the death toll surpassed more than twenty-four Osage, the newly created F.B.I. took up the case, in what became one of the organization’s first major homicide investigations.” 

Thoughts: The oil deposits beneath the displaced Osage were valued higher than all the gold rushes combined. That’s so unfathomable. Maybe I’m not deep enough into true crime but I’ve never even heard about these murders before reading this book. This book is mind-blowing and reads like a mystery and crime thriller despite being non-fiction. I loved the personal narrative towards the end where the author travels to the Osage Nation to pick up some final pieces. Fabulous book. I should also add that the electronic/paper book has picture inserts (over 70!) that I really enjoyed.

Other adaptations: The movie, directed by Martin Scorsese starring Leonardo DiCaprio and Robert DeNiro, is in pre-production to be released next year. 

The Farm by Joanne Ramos

The Farm by Joanne RamosRating: ★★★★

Genre: Fiction, science fiction, contemporary

GoodReads rating: 3.50 / 5 (24,000 ratings)

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

Warning: This books contains mentions of miscarriage and abortion.

Summary: In order to provide for her young daughter, Jane becomes a surrogate for an elusive wealthy family at The Farm: where surrogates get the best food, accommodations and medical attention within the confines of the grounds for a handsome payday. After run-ins with the parents, bosses and other Hosts, Jane is desperate to reconnect to the outside.

Thoughts: I really liked this book. The plot is thought-provoking and the story adds layers as it goes. However, for so much build-up and suspense, the ending was kind of stale. Too bad.

Have you read any of these?

Photo by Radu Marcusu.


1 Comment

  1. Christopher Merck
    August 24, 2020 / 4:54 pm

    Killers of The Flower Moon is one of my favorite books of the year, and I have two of the other books on hold.

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