RECENT READS

April 30, 2020

It has been a while since I have posted any book reviews on the blog. That is partially because I have been blog-lazy and also because this year started out slow when it came to me sitting down with a book. Thanks to quarantine and slower mornings, I have picked back up and started to read a lot more. My hope is that this momentum stays with me throughout the rest of the year. For now…here’s what I have been reading.

UNTAMED by GLENNON DOYLE

Soulful and uproarious, forceful and tender, Untamed is both a memoir and a galvanizing wake-up call. It offers a piercing, electrifying examination of the restrictive expectations women are issued from birth; shows how hustling to meet those expectations leaves women feeling dissatisfied and lost; and reveals that when we quit abandoning ourselves and instead abandon the world’s expectations of us, we become women who can finally look at ourselves and recognize: There She Is.

This book…. this wonderful wonderful book. Glennon Doyle has simply outdone herself when it comes Untamed. It is purposeful, loving, motivating, inspiring, and above all – needed. When I dove into this book, I really expected it to be more of a memoir about her embracing who she really is and showcasing her story with now wife, Abbey Wambach. However, this book is so much more than that. From racism to religion; from stories of her children to stories of her followers – this book covers so much and it does so brilliantly.
This is more than a memoir. This book is a platform that encourages people to reflect and to embrace.

AMERICAN LIKE ME by AMERICA FERRERA

American Like Me, America Ferrera invites thirty-one of her friends, peers, and heroes to share their stories about life between cultures. We know them as actors, comedians, athletes, politicians, artists, and writers. However, they are also immigrants, children or grandchildren of immigrants, indigenous people, or people who otherwise grew up with deep and personal connections to more than one culture. Each of them struggled to establish a sense of self, find belonging, and feel seen. And they call themselves American enthusiastically, reluctantly, or not at all.

I bought this book a while ago and tucked it nicely into my bookshelf only to forget it was there. While recently combing through my shelves I discovered it and quickly dived in. In my opinion this book should be a mandatory read for people. It was a great inside look at what it is like to be an immigrant (or child of an immigrant) in the United States. I appreciate how the stories ranged from light and funny to heavy and emotional. There was such a great blend of cultures and ethnicities, all sewn together by what it’s like to be an immigrant in America today. This is without a doubt one of my favorite books on this subject to date and highly recommend you all get your hands on it soon!

MY FAIR JUNKIE by AMY DRESNER

Growing up in Beverly Hills, Amy Dresner had it all: a top-notch private school education, the most expensive summer camps, and even a weekly clothing allowance. But at 24, she started dabbling in meth in San Francisco and unleashed a fiendish addiction monster. Soon, if you could snort it, smoke it, or have sex with, she did. Amy Dresner’s My Fair Junkie is an insightful, darkly funny, and shamelessly honest memoir of one woman’s battle with all forms of addiction, hitting rock bottom, and forging a path to a life worth living. 

Is it weird to admit that I am always fascinated by memoirs of addicts who work their way into sobriety? Even if it is – that is exactly what brought me to read Amy Dresner’s book My Fair Junkie. It was a recommendation from Wilder Book Club and I almost always love the books that Chaucee posts. There’s no way around the fact that this book is not for the faint of heart. Amy’s witty and blunt personality shines throughout her story. Her honesty also lends for a pretty graphic tale of her battle with multiple addictions. While some might find her style a bit ‘crude,’ I personally found her story fascinating and I appreciated the rawness of it. Her sharp tale to sobriety was definitely interesting which made this a quick read for me and if you have the thick skin to handle Amy’s personality, this is definitely a book I would recommend. 

WHAT I LOST by ALEXANDRA BALLARD

What sixteen-year-old Elizabeth has lost so far: forty pounds, four jean sizes, a boyfriend, and her peace of mind. As a result, she’s finally a size zero. She’s also the newest resident at Wallingfield, a treatment center for girls like her—girls with eating disorders. Elizabeth is determined to endure the program so she can go back home, where she plans to start restricting her food intake again. She’s pretty sure her mom, who has her own size 0 obsession, needs treatment as much as she does. Maybe even more. Then Elizabeth begins receiving mysterious packages. Are they from her ex-boyfriend, a secret admirer, or someone playing a cruel trick?

I don’t love to give bad reviews to books because at the end of the day, the beauty of a book is in the eye of the beholder. With that being said – this book wasn’t really worth the read for me. To start:  I don’t think I have ever read a book faster than this. Yes, it’s young adult (YA) but it was almost too easy of a read. The story of Elizabeth’s eating disorder was honest and I appreciated the author’s ability to make you feel for her; however, the story of her recovery from anorexia never really caught for me. While this book had lots of good reviews online, I just felt that it fell a little flat at the end. It was definitely not a bad book, but not one I would go out of my way to recommend. 

THE CURIOUS INCIDENT OF THE DOG IN THE NIGHT-TIME BY MARK HADDON

Although gifted with a superbly logical brain, for fifteen-year-old Christopher everyday interactions and admonishments have little meaning. He lives on patterns, rules, and a diagram kept in his pocket. Then one day, a neighbor’s dog, Wellington, is killed and his carefully constructive universe is threatened. Christopher sets out to solve the murder in the style of his favourite (logical) detective, Sherlock Holmes. What follows makes for a novel that is funny, poignant and fascinating in its portrayal of a person whose curse and blessing are a mind that perceives the world entirely literally.

I really wanted to love this book and while I did enjoy it – it definitely wasn’t a favorite read for me. I appreciated the author’s choice to write a story from the perspective of a young boy living with autism. It was a unique approach that I have not seen before and it made for an interesting tale. I also enjoyed the quest throughout the book for the truth and seeing the main characters emotions unfold as he faces new realities. For me, it was the ending that left me wanting a little more. It just felt a bit flat and rushed towards the end, but overall it was a decent enough read.

THE SILENT PATIENT by ALEX MICHAELIDES

Alicia Berenson’s life is seemingly perfect. A famous painter married to an in-demand fashion photographer, she lives in a grand house with big windows overlooking a park in one of London’s most desirable areas. One evening her husband Gabriel returns home late from a fashion shoot, and Alicia shoots him five times in the face, and then never speaks another word. Theo Faber is a criminal psychotherapist who has waited a long time for the opportunity to work with Alicia. His determination to get her to talk and unravel the mystery of why she shot her husband takes him down a twisting path into his own motivations—a search for the truth that threatens to consume him…

After all the praise this book had received online, I thought it was finally time to take it off my bookshelf and give it a go (it’s been up there for a while). Majority of the reviews I saw online were highly praising the book’s murder-mystery stype and while I appreciated the plot enough to keep turning the page, there wasn’t a ton of suspense within the book. Overall this was a good read and the ending, while slightly expected, unfolded nicely. I did like the author’s writing style and felt like this was a super easy read. Not a top pick for me, but an overall okay book.


Want have you been reading lately? Let me know your top picks in the comments below! Want more book reviews? Check out these posts from the blog & the book club over on Instagram!

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