Reading wrap-up #52

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.

My Dark Vanessa by Kate Elizabeth Russell My Dark Vanessa: A Novel (9780062941503): Russell, Kate Elizabeth: BooksRating: ★★★★

Genre: Fiction, contemporary

GoodReads rating:  4.04 / 5 (87,000 ratings)

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

PopSugar prompt: A book with a black-and-white cover.

Summary: At boarding school, Vanessa develops turbulent relationship with her teacher. Nearly twenty years later, allegations of misconduct form other students come out and she’s encouraged to “share her truth.” However, she doesn’t feel victimized and is convinced her relationship was good. This book “[explores] the psychological dynamics of the relationship between a precocious yet naïve teenage girl and her magnetic and manipulative teacher.”

Warning: This book contains themes of child abuse and rape throughout.

Thoughts: This book definitely the praise it’s gotten on BookTube. However, the disgusting subject manner immediately takes off a star for me and I can’t recommend it to just anyone. This is such a powerful, true-to-live story that explores different points of view of an abuse case and victimhood. This hit close to home for me as in high school, an art teacher I had was sentenced to prison for having sexual contact with multiple students. Her name is Missy Dalton and deserves to be shamed for this of the rest of her life. I’ve also recently discovered her disgusting blog she kept while in prison and the title should tell you everything you need to know: I Will Consider It Pure Joy. The fact that she (or anyone) thinks that any god can forgive something like this is the reason I’m an atheist. Anyway, we got off topic and I’m just making myself more upset. It’s a whole new can of worms regarding female teacher-student “relationships” that’s not worth getting into. Also, this book is not without its controversy (besides the subject manner): it has been alleged to have copied a memoir of a minority women which was rejected by big publishing while this book by a white author made bank. Honestly, based on the article, My Dark Vanessa‘s plot seems like something people absolutely could have thought of separately and I don’t think there was any plagiarism. However, racism in the writing/publishing world is still alive and well.

Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll

Lewis Caroll's Alice's Adventures in Wonderland | Digital HumanitiesRating: ★★★

Genre: Children’s

GoodReads rating: 4.00 / 5 (258,000 ratings)

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

PopSugar prompt: A book that has a heart, diamond, club, or spade on the cover (there are many, many editions of this book cover, a lot of which have some or all of the card suits on them, I just chose my personal favorite!)

Summary: “After a tumble down the rabbit hole, Alice finds herself far away from home in the absurd world of Wonderland.”

Thoughts: I thought this was just okay. Whenever I read children or young adult books I always rate it based on how a younger me would have liked it and I don’t think I would have enjoyed it. Alice complains too much and really takes away from the other magnificent characters.

Other adaptations: Disney’s animated 1951 movie is by far the most popular. The two more recent ones… not so much.

Similar reads: The Wonderful Wizard of Oz

Fantastic Mr. Fox by Roald Dahl

Fantastic Mr. Fox: Dahl, Roald, Blake, Quentin: 8580001048246: BooksRating: ★★★★

Genre: Children’s

GoodReads rating: 4.06 / 5 (107,000 ratings)

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

PopSugar prompt: The shortest book (by pages) on your TBR

Summary: Fantastic Mr. Fox is on the run! The three meanest farmers around are out to get him. Fat Boggis, squat Bunce, and skinny Bean have joined forces, and they have Mr. Fox and his family surrounded. What they don’t know is that they’re not dealing with just any fox–Mr. Fox would never surrender. But only the most fantastic plan ever can save him now.”

Thoughts: I’ve read a handful of Roald Dahl books now and find great pleasure in all of them even as an adult. Another cute, witty tale for the books.

Other adaptations: The Wes Anderson movie is critically acclaimed. While I’ve never seen it, I love that style of animation.

The End of Policing by Alex S. Vitale

The End of Policing: Vitale, Alex S.: 9781784782894: BooksRating: ★★★★★

Genre: Politics, race, social justice.

GoodReads rating: 4.22 / 5 (6,200 ratings)

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

PopSugar prompt: A book about a social justice issue

Summary: “Recent years have seen an explosion of protest against police brutality and repression. Among activists, journalists and politicians, the conversation about how to respond and improve policing has focused on accountability, diversity, training, and community relations. Unfortunately, these reforms will not produce results, either alone or in combination. The core of the problem must be addressed: the nature of modern policing itself.”

Warning: This book contains descriptions of police brutality.

Thoughts: This gave me everything The New Jim Crow didn’t. This is succinct, jam-packed full of useful information organized in a way that makes the layperson like me to understand why simple reform isn’t enough. This is definitely an essential read for the times. Covering all sorts of police issues from the War on Drugs to the criminalization of homelessness and sex work, this is a comprehensive guide to corrupt American policing practices and solutions.

Similar reads: The New Jim Crow

Have you read any of these?

Photo by Radu Marcusu.


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