Book Review: Evil: The Science Behind Humanity’s Dark Side

Who is evil? What is evil? Dr. Julia Shaw makes the argument that evil is a subjective concept in which we, as a society, need to have a more nuanced discussions around.

Dr. Shaw dissects evil throughout eight chapters and asks the reader to think about each example of evil through a different lens. It was a fascinating examination about evil. With each example, she asks us to examine our gut reactions and move away from naming behaviors as evil until we examine the underlying causes. It takes some of those uncomfortable topics and makes the reader really think about them without the labeling or othering that typically comes when discussing ‘evil’ topics..

If you’re interested in human behavior or human psyche, then you will love this.

Who’s has this on their TBR list? Who has read this book?

The Daisy Children by Sofia Grant

**SPOILER ALERT: This blog post has spoilers**

I have absolutely no idea how this book ended up on my library queue. It showed up at the library and I read the back and I was flummoxed. Nothing rang a bell. It didn’t even seem like a book I would typically read.

The Daisy Children follows three generations of women but told from the perspective of Katie and Margaret. Katie is Margaret’s grandchild. The story is told between Katie and Margaret’s perspective. Margaret was the replacement child her parent’s had after her sister was killed in a tragic accident. Katie is Margaret’s grandchild. At it’s heart, the novel is a romance story.

Katie is a thirty something woman, unhappily married, when her estranged grandmother, Margaret, passes away and names her in the will. Katie is brought back to her home state of Texas and meets her cousin Scarlet. Together, the cousins discover their shared past and begin to take steps to empower themselves to live a better life. Because it is a romance novel, Katie ends up finding out her husband is having an affair and decides to take up with the handsome wounded vet who is Margaret’s neighbor.

The novel uses a real life accident that occurred in Texas as a focal point of the story. It is the thing that connect all the characters together. However, the idea of the daisy children or the replacement children is completely a work of the author’s imagination. Using this accident as the point that ties the novel together was interesting even thought the novel as a whole was pretty shallow.  The characters didn’t have a lot of depth and it was very transparent how everything was going to end up. I wasn’t a huge fan of the book and I wouldn’t recommend picking it up unless you are a serious Romance genre fan.

Fates and Furies by Lauren Groff

Holy Schnikes! I did not see that coming.

I had seen a lot of press when Fates and Furies by Lauren Groff was first released last year. I followed along and added her to my #TBR list but never made any moves on it. She is by no means a new writer. This was her third novel.

However, the description of the novel was always lackluster to me. A story following a couple? Meh. I’ll read it, when I read it.

But this was so much more than that. It was a deep dive into a relationship from each person’s perspective. It was a study of how our younger lives shape our later lives. It was a story about the stories we choose to tell ourselves and believe about ourselves rather than relying on the truth.

The novel was constructed in a unique way. It follows Lotto throughout his life. Then it starts over following his wife Mathilde. The reader was reading the same story but vastly different perspectives and motives for behavior. It felt like I was reading two very different books but each book would not be complete without the counterpart.

I cannot wait to read her new short story collection Florida. It was released this month and it is the Odyssey Bookshop’s First Editions Book Club’s July selection. Very excited to get my hands on it and dive into it.

Girls Burn Brighter

I’m reviewing my Goodreads notes on this book, and I have absolutely not idea how it ended up on my list. I’m assuming it was from one of the lists I saw in the last couple of months about upcoming books.

Girls Burn Brighter by Shobhan Rao arrived from the library with about five other books. For once, I asked for the printed receipt and realized that Girls Burn Brighter was a 7 day loan. I rolled my eyes and crumbled up the receipt and tossed it into the trash as I exited the library.

I am perilously close to being unable to borrow more library books due to unpaid library fines. However, in my defense, 7 days and 14 day loans are the culprits! And it’s very difficult to return a book you are halfway through when you KNOW there is a waiting list for the book(which is the reason you are unable to renew it). What is a girl to do?

Moving on, Girls Burn Brighter arrived in a cache of books from the library. I was heading home to my parents house for the holiday weekend and brought a few books with me. I opted to pick up Girls Burn Brighter because of the looming deadline.

This books is many things but the strongest impression that was left on me was the examination of the power of female friendship and the quiet power of women. Poornima and Savitha both had, what can only be described, as a quiet power within themselves.

This book was set in 2001/2002 and I am absolutely horrified to have confirmed that this story is not an outlandish work of fiction. The stories of Poornima and Savitha are not uncommon or unlikely to have happened. The hunger, the poverty, and the violence are all typical and expected experiences for Indian women.

Who else has read this book? I have been talking about this book non stop in the hopes of finding someone to discuss it with. I would love to hear other people’s thoughts on this book.

Happy Reading and Drinking!

I’m Thinking of Ending Things

I decided to read I’m Thinking of Ending Things by Iain Reid because it was pitched to be in the same category of Eileen. On the inside flap, it said Reid’s debut novel was reminiscent of We Need To Talk About Kevin. I assumed that this story was simply a story of violence against women.

When I first finished the book, I didn’t know what to think about it. Granted it was the middle of the night and I went from being creeped out to confused. However, I’ve had a couple of days to digest the book and I will say I’m impressed. The story is interesting and the structure of the novel is unique.

Reid does a great job of building fear and anxiety in the reader. What I find so fascinating is that he builds it incrementally in a genuine, believable way. In horror/thrillers, some authors full into the trap of writing shocking scenes or situations just to shock the reader rather than progress the plot line.

In I’m Thinking of Ending Things, the reader slowly feels more upset and anxious without being able to put a finger on what is causing the feelings. I would feel my chest tighten. I was reading this book before bed and every time I would stop to go to bed my mind was spinning with possibilities about what was going on. In the final pages of the novel, you are surprised and flipping back and forth to try and find a sign you missed earlier in the novel.

Great debut. I am interested to see what else Iain Reid has for us in that head of his.

2018 March Book Dump

TRYING TO BE BETTER. But it would appear I failed for another month seeing as its April 23rd. I’m currently on the road for my full time (“real job”) and have found myself with an extraordinary amount of alone time in hotel rooms over the last few days.

The books I read in March were:

1) Fates and Furies by Lauren Groff

2)There Are More Beautiful Things Than Beyonce by Morgan Parker

3) Sisterland by Curtis Sittenfeld

4) Sadness is a White Bird by Moriel

5)Girls Burn Brighter by Shobhan Rao

Fates and Furies knocked my socks off. I only moved it up on my #TBR list because she has another book coming out that has a lot of buzz surrounding it.

I hate to do this but I’m doing it. Sisterland was so incredibly disappointing. Which I think speaks more to me than Sittenfeld as a writer. I have high hopes and then am always disappointed by her stories. I should just stop reading her. The stories she tells don’t engage me in they way I expect to be engaged. (I take that back, I loved American Wife. However, I think that it set the bar too high for any of her other novels to follow up and be satisfying.)

I read Girls Burn Brighter in one day. Which says two things: 1) it was a great story 2)I was at my parents house for Easter break and had nothing to do. It was an eye opening book and am in the midst of doing a deep dive into the background information on the book.

Happy Reading and Drinking!

2018 February Book Dump

The February Book Dump has finally arrived! I have big aspirations to write about all the books I’m reading but that just isn’t going to be in the cards anytime soon. (It’s good to have goals though!)

They are listed in order of when I completed them.

1) Peach by Emma Glass

2) The Financial Diet: A Total Beginner’s Guide to Getting Good with Money by Chelsea Fagan

3) The Wife by Alafair Burke – see my review here.

4) The Power by Naomi Alderman (Review is forthcoming)

5) The Couple Next Door by Shari Lapena

My favorite book for the month was The Wife. While I’m writing this post, I was trying to put my finger on why I liked the book so much. The best answer I can come up with was because everything about it was so unexpected.

I read The Couple Next Door in a mad dash to finish it in time for book club. Then I arrived at book club to find no one but me had read it.

I have been reading Chelsea Fagan since she was over at the Thought Catalog. Her book is a great resource for anyone who is looking to learn the basics about money. She gives great information in an easily digestable way for the finance newbies.

Have you read any of these?

The Wife by Alafair Burke

What does anyone ever really know? About themselves? About their friends? About their spouse?

Alafair Burke brings up this question in her novel The Wife.  The novel follows Angela as she navigates her life in the wake of accusations of sexual misconduct against her husband. Angela has created a quiet life in Manhattan with her son and her husband Jason Powell. Since their marriage 6 years ago, Jason has turned from unknown, brilliant NYU professor to New York Time best seller and sought after celebrity economist.

At the height of his fame, Jason has been accused of sexual harassing an intern and then another colleague comes forward accusing him of rape. Angela has her trauma in her past that she has been trying to escape from. The accusations bring up her past and Angela wonders about the man she married.  Does she actually know him? Can she believe the things that he is saying?

Alafair Burke does a great job playing with the theme of doubt throughout the novel. She slowly picks apart what you think you know about the characters and sucks you into Angela’s mind. How far would you go to protect you spouse, your family and your life?

I would categorize this book as a thriller however, it’s worth noting that while the twists are shocking, they do not feel forced.  The novel has great timing, character development and plot progression. Burke is a talented writer and I’m excited to read her other novels.

Happy Reading!