Blake Crouch’s “Good Behavior” – A Review.

good-behavior-blake-crouchStory   ★★★★
Writing ★★★★
Mystery ★★★★

PROS: Well structured 
      Real characters 

CONS: No real ending (what?)
      Author comments throw off the 
      reading cadence

Whoop whoop. Who doesn’t love to read a book that has been adapted for television? When I first received Good Behavior: The Letty Dobesh Chronicles, it was yet to be aired. Now, you can watch the first season on TNT (rather, catch up on the already completed first season) featuring the lovely Michelle Dockery (aka Downton Abbey’s own Lady Mary).

Anyway. Today I’ll tell you a bit about the book itself,since ahem, this is after all a book-review, and not a TV series, blog.

Good Behavior: The Letty Dobesh Chronicles by Blake Crouch is a collection of his three interlinked novellas (The Pain of Others, Sunset Key, and Grab), which follow the (mis)adventures of Letty Dobesh, a thief and drug junkie fresh out of the prison and who finds herself back on the market, stealing for hire. Because the book has been adapted for television, after the first story is over, we are offered a commentary from Blake Crouch on the idea behind the storyline, and what he envisions for Letty as the star of the new TV show. It is like watching behind the scenes of the show after you’ve finished an episode. A bit unusual in the book setting, but nonetheless interesting. I enjoyed the commentaries by Blake, but also found it to somewhat break the reading rhythm. The stories are well written, in a fast paced rhythm that are expected of a crime/mystery style novel. Letty Dobesh is pretty personable, and we often feel bad for her, as her  bad choices are really dictated by her desire to change and do good – hence the clever title Good Behavior.

By now you’ve guessed, I enjoyed this book. Although I understand these were novellas put together as a book, I still would have liked them to be rewritten to actually make one novel, and not a novel in three parts. The reason is that when all was said and done, there was no real ending, no real epilogue/conclusion for the reader to fall on. We can just assume that Letty’s Good Behavior was only temporary and that her desire to reunite with her son and be a good mom, is not as strong as being a world-class thief. I did enjoy however the cliffhangers that were presented to us in each storylines, leaving me completely shocked and mesmerized in the end. To find what will happen next to Letty, I, the reader, am only left with one solution: to watch the TV adaptation. Well done, Blake, well done. However, can we next time have an actual novel with a beginning and an end to satisfy the readers, please? That was my only grievance for this book, and that is why I gave it a 4 star.

That being said, if you love crime/mystery novels, and don’t mind them telling three different stories that build on each other til the end, and love interesting female characters, well, this book is for you. It can be devoured in a couple of hours over a cup or glass of your favorite beverage (Letty would approve).

Thank you to NetGalley, and Thomas & Mercer for an ARC of  Good Behavior: The Letty Dobesh Chronicles by Blake Crouch, in exchange for an honest review.

BUY THE BOOK: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Indie Bound
 Language: English
 Genre: Fiction, Thriller, Suspense, Psychological Thrillers
 ISBN-10:  1503940497
 Published: November 15, 2016
 Publisher: Thomas & Mercer

Emma Cline’s “The Girls” – A Review.

the-girls-emma-clineStory   ★★★
Writing ★★★

PROS: Well structured
CONS: A little slow beginning
      No strong characters
      No real plot twists

You have probably seen Emma Cline’s book all over the internet by now. It seemed at one point to be THE book you ought to read, if you were only going to read one book (after all it made it to the NY Times Bestsellers list!).

I really had high hopes for this book. And maybe that’s the problem. I am not sure it if was all the hype constructed around the book, or if it was my hope to read the next “Gone Girl” with an even bigger story twist. Instead… well. It was all but that.

The Girls is Emma Cline’s debut novel and it tells the story of Evie Boyd, a young privileged teenager, who finds herself drawn by a group of girls living in some sort of made-up boho camp ( really a run down ranch), and following an older man as their leader. It is very clear whose story Emma Cline is trying to tell: the infamous Manson clan. The story doesn’t get any more original from that point, instead, we are offered to relive the horrors of the past but it a very slow fashion. Where one would hope to see strong female characters and their take of what it must have been like to be part of a cult like Manson’s was, we are instead offered a pretty pale version. Evie is another stereotyped rich girl who finds herself sucked into something bigger than she had bargained for. We are supposed to feel bad for her, but instead I fell very annoyed by her character and disappointed by all the other female characters in  this book.

As you can imagine by now, I didn’t think much of this debut novel. Yes, it was well structured and well told, but the magic and the surprise elements were just lacking. Don’t get me wrong, there is nothing wrong inspiring ourselves from history (what would be do without a good historical fiction anyway?), but there must be something more compelling than just regurgitating facts and changing names. There must be an element of surprise for the reader, and the characters have to be compelling enough to lead us til the end. However, in my humble opinion, The Girls missed the mark.

I give the book a solid 3 stars, and that is mostly due to the fact that despite Emma Cline missing the ‘Thrill’-bandwagon, she was pretty good at describing scenes and translating how Evie felt and why she was drawn to the leader of the cult. We get it – she is lonely, feeling unloved, and desperate for attention. Emma Cline made me understand Evie’s struggle, and why Suzanne seemed so appealing to her. But like I said, besides that, there was nothing else to the story, and that is very sad.

I think Emma Cline has potential to write a good novel, and I hope that someday I will come across a much enticing novel that will really make me rate it 5 stars.

Thank you to NetGalley, and Random House for an ARC of  The Girls by Emma Cline, in exchange for an honest review.

 Language: English
 Genre: Fiction, Coming of Age, Thriller
 ISBN-10:  0735208182
 Published: June 14, 2016
 Publisher: Random House Large Print

Sara Ahmed’s “Living a Feminist Life” – A Review.

Writing     ★★  
Cover       Informative 


CONS: Redundant 
      Too much repetition
      Narrow definition of feminism

I like to switch up my reading a little, going from fiction, to non-fiction and vice-versa. I saw Living a Feminist Life by Sara Ahmed some months ago, and was really looking forward to read it and learn from its content.

I thought about whether or not I should share my review of the book with you, as I really don’t like leaving negative reviews. I am always looking to promote authors and encourage them in their labor. However, life is not all made of roses.

Living a Feminist Life by Sara Ahmed aims to show how feminist theory is generated from everyday life and the ordinary experiences of being a feminist at home and at work. The promise to the reader is huge; to understand what feminism is and how to lead a feminist life. However, within the first pages of the book, I quickly realized that I was not going to finish it. I tried my best to get through the book, telling myself that I just needed to get through the (long) introduction and that then! the book and all its promises would be revealed to me. I should have known better. The introduction sets the tone to the book, serving as a preview of what is yet to come. Sara  Ahmed starts off the book as one would expect, through a recollection of memories of her childhood that led her to become a feminist. However, her writing is very scattered and quite redundant. She justifies repetition as a way to reinforce an idea. Although it may be true, I found it quite annoying to find words and concepts to be regurgitated to me every two paragraphs, as if I, the reader would not be able to grasp the highlighted concepts and understand the full implications of what being a feminist or leading a feminist life entails.

I also could not really agree with Sara Ahmed’s view of feminism. It seems that for her, feminism is really a result of either sexism or harassment. However, I believe that feminism embraces many social injustices and seeks to bring social justice as a whole, by promoting an egalitarian and respectful society. Also, Sara Ahmed thinks of feminism as being something that is “sensational”. In fact, she goes through several paragraphs to define the term for us readers (in case we do not understand it), and reiterate that feminism is sensational. I can’t agree with that, as it seems like feminism is a superficial cause, that is not even a cause, but merely a trend which everyone is slowly adopting. Feminism is much more than that.

Living a Feminist Life, should have been a guide to all those who seek to lead a feminist life. Instead, I thought it was more of a memoir, a recollection of life events that led the author to become a feminist. It is also a repository of inspirational quotes by other famous feminists. As such, I think the book should have been titled more like “A collection of personal experiences” or something like “How I live a feminist life, and what inspires me“. I personally have not learned much from this book, and probably this is because I couldn’t make my way through its end. I guess, not all books are meant to be finished, and despite my reluctance to give up, I had to make amends and close the book.

Of course, this is my take on Living a Feminist Life. Another person might have actually enjoyed it better than I did. I really wish it had been me.

Thank you to NetGalley, and Duke University Press for an ARC of  Living a Feminist Life by Sara Ahmed, in exchange for an honest review.

 Language: English
 Genre: Non-fiction, Feminist Theory, Ethnic Studies
 ISBN-10:  0822363194
 Published: February 3, 2017
 Publisher: Duke University Press Books