Fall 2020 Mini-Reviews

These are some books that I’ve read recently that I think are perfect for the fall season. Atmospheric, lyrical, and perhaps a little spooky.

Hamnet by Maggie O’Farrell

This book is centered around Shakespeare’s family–specifically his wife and children. It’s interesting, though, because Shakespeare himself is never actually mentioned by name. Despite that, Agnes (his wife) is such an interesting character and Shakespeare’s absence just made me want to pick up a biography on him. This book took me a little while to get into and I thought the writing was a little too flowery for my taste, but in the end I still really enjoyed it. I could definitely tell that this book hit me different now that I’m a parent than it would have before I had kids. There were just so many mom feels–the desperation to protect your kids from anything and everything…it was real.

Overall Rating: 4
Language: None

Violence: Mild
Smoking/Drinking: Mild
Sexual Content: Moderate

Order: Hardcover | eBook

The Coldest Girl in Coldtown by Holly Black

I honestly can’t believe I haven’t read this book before now! Holly Black is so masterful in creating these parallel worlds that are close to what we have now, but with one fantastical twist. I thought the beginning of the book very smoothly introduced the world and its rules. I also thought the flashback chapters were a great way of creating context without interrupting the story or forcing characters to unrealistically reflect on something. I really liked Tana as a main character and loved that she stuck to her guns throughout the story. I often have a problem with these “immortal beings falling in love with average mortal girl” story lines, but I thought for once we were given a compelling reason as to why Gavriel fell in love with her–there legitimately was something different about Tana. I definitely thought something was up with the San Francisco Coldtown and that they were get involved, but that didn’t end up happening. I can’t believe this is a standalone book! I really feel like we need a book specifically exploring the San Francisco Coldtown.

Overall Rating: 4
Language: None
Violence: Heavy
Smoking/Drinking: Mild
Sexual Content: Mild

Order: Paperback | eBook 

The Inheritance Games by Jennifer Lynn Barnes

I just want to start this review by saying that I enjoyed this book. Reading over my notes, I had some issues with it so it might seem like I didn’t, but I really did. It’s very The Westing Game meets Knives Out and I was super into it. In general, I liked Avery as a character, though it feels like JLB tends to write the same protagonist into all her books. Don’t get me wrong, I like that character, but they’re pretty interchangeable between books. I liked that Avery had a strong relationship with Libby and I hope that gets explored more in future books. I also really liked the puzzle aspect and it was enjoyable for me to watch Avery try to figure them out. My main issues really all center around the romantic subplot. First of all, I hate–HATE–love triangles involving siblings (usually brothers). It just feels like there’s no way for that to end well in the long run. Second, I’m really over the “hot bad boy gives protagonist an annoying nickname” trope. It just feels so cringe to me. Every time. Lastly, THERE IS NO COMPELLING REASON WHY JAMESON AND GRAYSON ARE SO PROTECTIVE OF AVERY. They just ARE all of the sudden and it’s like…why? In the end, though, I liked this book and am FOR SURE reading the next book in the series.

Overall Rating: 4
Language: None
Violence: Moderate
Smoking/Drinking: Mild
Sexual Content: Mild

Order: Hardcover | eBook

The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue by V.E. Schwab

Okay, since finishing this book I’ve read some pretty negative reviews about it and that just makes me so sad! This book has my whole heart and I realize it’s not going to be for everyone, but some people are really just missing out. This is different from any other book Schwab has written, but it still has her signature worldbuilding. It’s more magical realism than fantasy like some of her other books have been, but I feel like that makes the entire story more poignant. There’s this pervasive sadness throughout the book–even when Addie is with Henry, you just feel like any happiness cannot possibly last. I really liked that Schwab didn’t gloss over the beginning of Addie’s story while she’s figuring out her curse. I feel like I really liked having that backstory as a reader and her struggle provided some good perspective. Despite the romantic subplot with Henry, this story is not about the two of them or even about Addie and Luc–it’s about Addie alone and the ending makes that very apparent. This story was beautiful and heartbreaking and I’ll admit to sobbing through the last couple chapters. (Honestly, my only qualm is that Schwab used the word “palimpsest” like 50 times throughout the book).

Overall Rating: 5
Language: Moderate
Violence: Moderate
Smoking/Drinking: Moderate
Sexual Content: Moderate

Order: Hardcover | eBook

The Devil and the Dark Water by Stuart Turton

I very much enjoyed Turton’s debut, The 7 1/2 Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle and was pleasantly surprised to hear that he had a new book coming out! This book is just as twisty a mystery as Evelyn Hardcastle was, but with even more of a supernatural element to it. Right off the bat, it felt like there was a lot going on–we were meeting all kinds of characters and learning the backstory for the legend of Old Tom–but at the same time nothing was really happening. Our characters were running around doing a lot of things, but not learning anything. As the book progressed, I did feel myself getting more and more invested in figuring out what the heck was going on, but I also became certain that there were only two possible endings. One of those endings would be a great payoff, but the other would be incredibly lame and ruin the book. In the end, I thought the “solution” was pretty good, but felt a little rushed in its explanation. Regardless, this was the perfect book to be reading this time of year. Slightly spooky and very atmospheric.

Overall Rating: 4
Language: Mild
Violence: Moderate
Smoking/Drinking: Moderate
Sexual Content: Moderate

Order: Hardcover | eBook

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