Review: A Higher Loyalty by James Comey

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Hey there bookworms!

For those who follow my Instagram, you’re already aware of my apprehensions with the current political climate today. I would like to reiterate them here before I write my review:

I know that there are people who strongly disagree with my views, and I highly encourage a healthy dialogue between people in order to reach a mutual understanding. What I do not encourage are insults, inflammatory comments, and a general lack of respect for fellow human beings. These comments have serve no purpose in the political narrative. For those who argue that I should not post political content if I cannot stomach the lack of respect in our political climate, I must disagree. I believe more dialogue is the only path to alleviating the current disrespect in politics today, and I have never been one to shy away from difficult conversations and content.

With that aside and with this understanding, here is my review of Comey’s memoir, A Higher Loyalty:

1. Great Writing Style and Voice

Objectively, I would consider this book very well written. James Comey is a wonderful narrator and writer who really takes you through his thought process and emotions. Despite its serious content, Comey really tells this story using an authentic voice. I learned a lot more personal details about him then I thought I would, like facts from his childhood and personal relationships. His sense of humor and his passion for his work oozes from every word. I found that Comey has very Ben Franklin-esque principles: he desires to constantly improve by recognizing faults and then working to better them. Whether or not Comey successfully recognizes and addresses his faults is up for debate, but it is clear to me that he values self-critique.

2. A Profound and Thoughtful Concept of Leadership

I absolutely loved the theme of Comey’s memoir: leadership. This novel, at its core, focuses on outlining the great qualities in a leader by using examples from James Comey’s life. I appreciated that each story was carefully curated to contribute another quality to the definition of ethical leadership. I think Comey sums it up best here:

“Values — like truth, integrity, and respect for others, to name just a few — serve as external reference points for ethical leaders to make decisions…Ethical leaders choose a higher loyalty to those core values over their own personal gain.”

Again, the question as to whether or not he lives up to his own definition of ethical leadership is up for debate. I imagine that is a question we will be debating for a long time.

ALSO: I appreciated that this books did not focus on solely presidential leadership. Comey draws from leaders in his life before Washington D.C. (Howell, Fahey, his wife). 

3. An Unreliable Narrator

So here’s where this book gets complicated. Of course I expected Comey’s memoir to be voice by an unreliable narrator: he’s human! All human perspectives are unreliable and want to be clear: it is not unreliable because I think he is lying. For example: when Comey planned to resign due to the Stellar Wind program. He explains that his desire to resign wasn’t to get his way in refining the program; instead, he writes that he could not work for an institution which went against his principles. Around the same time, Comey states that there were people in the Bush administration threatening to resign if that same program were not protected; in Comey’s eyes, these people were only doing it to get what they wanted. Yet aren’t the the same as Comey: fighting for something they believe in, however flawed? Isn’t that the definition of ethical leadership, to remain true to a higher cause even at personal expense?

I think that overall, Comey does a good job checking his personal bias at the door to write this memoir. But a good job is by no means perfect.

And I know what question you’re all asking….

3. ….What about Donald Trump? And Hillary Clinton? Or the 2016 election in general?

What I really liked about this book is that it did NOT focus on Trump or Clinton. Most of Comey’s career is apolitical, and it wouldn’t have been representative of his career to only write about the 2016 election. Neither of them appear until the latter half of the book.

Comey does spend a fair amount of time on the Hillary Clinton email scandal, but it doesn’t present a lot of new information. I didn’t expect it to, but it felt like a rehash of what most of the country has already heard: After closing the investigation, emails on Anthony Weiner’s computer prompted Comey to reopen the investigation on October 28th and then close it days before the election. We did get a glimpse into Comey’s psyche. As a Clinton supporter, I wasn’t fond of Comey days after the election. I appreciated this explanation and in retrospect, I can acknowledge that given the information and context it was a difficult decision to publicly reopen the case. I can see why he made the decisions he did. Overall, he made the decision using his fierce passion for the integrity of the FBI as an institution.

A CAVEAT: I don’t know if I completely buy the idea that he didn’t consider any politics in this decision to reopen the Clinton email investigation. Comey does allude that if Hillary were elected and there was information that the FBI found to indict her, it would be devastating to the reservoir of trust in the FBI. So while I don’t think he was purposefully trying to elect anyone, it feels like he did consider politics in his decision to go public with the investigation.

In the case of Trump, I found that Comey held back no punches. Comey spends majority of the book drawing on all of the lessons he’s learned from leaders before Trump, and then uses Trump as a counterpoint. By building up a strong definition of ethical leadership in the preceding pages, Comey gives himself and the reader a leadership litmus test: one which Trump clearly doesn’t pass. The book offers some genuinely frightening anecdotes regarding Trump’s interactions with Comey and the FBI. It also hones in on the inability of Sessions, Priebus, and other WH staffers to control the actions of an impulsive president. I think that some of these stories would frighten both Republicans and Democrats alike.

Overall, I give this book 4.5/5. Well written, great definition of leadership, but told by an unreliable narrator interested in defending his recent actions. Did you read this book and agree/disagree with me? Comment below! 

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Top Ten Tuesday: Classics Edition

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Hey there bookworms!

Hope you’re having a wonderful Tuesday. I’m still muddling IMG_4211through The Girls of Atomic City by Denise Kiernan, so no review yet. I’m expecting to finish sometime soon, but for now y’all will have to wait.

I do have a list for you: Top 10 favorite classics! This was so hard to make, since I love classics (they’re in order too!) Here we go, my top ten:

#10: Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald

I first read Great Gatsby in high school. I don’t really like school reading on principle, but this book was such a wonderful read. Fitzgerald is a master at using setting and imagery to nuance the plot of the novel i.e. the Green Light, the eyes of doctor T.J. Eckleberg, and the hottest day of the summer scene.  If you get the chance, I would definitely recommend this short and captivating novel.

Book blurb: “Here is a novel, glamorous, ironical, compassionate – a marvelous fusion into unity of the curious incongruities of the life of the period – which reveals a hero like no other – one who could live at no other time and in no other place. But he will live as a character, we surmise, as long as the memory of any reader lasts.It is the story of this Jay Gatsby who came so mysteriously to West Egg, of his sumptuous entertainments, and of his love for Daisy Buchanan – a story that ranges from pure lyrical beauty to sheer brutal realism, and is infused with a sense of the strangeness of human circumstance in a heedless universe.It is a magical, living book, blended of irony, romance, and mysticism.

#9: Merchant of Venice by William Shakespeare

This is one of the more recent additions to my favorite classics list. I read Merchant of Venice for a GenEd class in college, and when it was assigned I didn’t read it. I actually read this book after the class ended during summer break and I DEVOURED it. Centuries before his time, In Merchant of Venice Shakespeare specifically addresses anti-semitism, racism, and class-based issues, all of which pertain to today’s current political climate. As per usual, Shakespeare’s characters are nuanced and incredibly human despite the stilted language; Portia is easily my favorite. I’m also a fan of the casket riddles, as I love mystery.

Blurb: The Merchant of Venice is an intriguing drama of love, greed, and revenge. At its heart, the play contrasts the characters of the maddened and vengeful Shylock, a Venetian moneylender, with the gracious, level-headed Portia, a wealthy young woman besieged by suitors. At the play’s climax, Shylock insists on the enforcement of a binding contract that will cost the life of the merchant

 Antonio — inciting Portia to mount a memorable defense.In this richly plotted drama, Shylock, whom Shakespeare endowed with all of the depth and vitality of his greatest characters, is not alone in his villainy. In scene after scene, a large cast of ambitious and scheming characters demonstrates that honesty is a quality often strained where matters of love and money are concerned.The gravity and suspense of the play’s central plot, together with its romance, have made The Merchant of Venice a favorite of audiences, and one of the most studied and performed of Shakespeare’s plays. It is reprinted here from an authoritative text, complete with explanatory footnotes.

#8: Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen

IMG_4007So I LOVE Pride and Prejudice, honestly. I spent most of my high school years trying to become Elizabeth Bennet, and I think we all wish either Darcy or Bingley were more than just book boyfriends. All in all, a great feel good read with some WONDERFUL humor. If you’re a fan of romance in any way, shape or form, read this quintessential novel!

I won’t do a book blurb for this one, since most bookworms I know have at least a basic understanding of the plot! 

#7: Crime and Punishment by Fydor Dostoyevsky

Crime and Punishment was the book that first introduced me to Russian Lit, which I am now OBSESSED with. Though the book is often described as long-winded and full of tangents (I don’t deny it) it features some WONDERFUL political and cultural theory from 19th Century Russia. If you’re looking for a challenge that contains a TON of character development, Raskolnikov is your dude. Go read this book. Also, C&P is about a murder at its core: so of course, I’m sold, since I’m a glutton for murder/crime novels.

Blurb: Raskolnikov, a destitute and desperate former student, wanders through the slums of St Petersburg and commits a random murder without remorse or regret. He imagines himself to be a great man, a Napoleon: acting for a higher purpose beyond conventional moral law. But as he embarks on a dangerous game of cat and mouse with a suspicious police investigator, Raskolnikov is pursued by the growing voice of his conscience and finds the noose of his own guilt tightening around his neck. Only Sonya, a downtrodden prostitute, can offer the chance of redemption.

#6: Murder on the Orient Express by Agatha Christie

This is my most recent aIMG_6955.jpgddition  to the list! Honestly, I read this book only so I could see the movie and then fell in love with Christie and pretty much all of her novels. Murder on the Orient Express also introduced me to Mystery as a genre: what a better way than to read a book by the Queen of Mystery herself? If you like fast-paced mysteries with twist endings, Christie is definitely a must-read.

Blurb: Just after midnight, a snowdrift stops the Orient Express in its tracks. The luxurious train is surprisingly full for the time of the year, but by the morning it is one passenger fewer. An American tycoon lies dead in his compartment, stabbed a dozen times, his door locked from the inside. Isolated and with a killer in their midst, detective Hercule Poirot must identify the murderer – in case he or she decides to strike again.

#5: 1984 by George Orwell

How could I not include 1984? Like Fitzgerald, Orwell does a fantastic job using setting and objects to nuance the plot. In our current political climate, 1984 is a relevant read about totalitarian regimes and their effect on humanity.  I re-read this novel recently and the concept of Big Brother really resonated with me.

Blurb: Winston Smith works for the Ministry of Truth in London, chief city of Airstrip One. Big Brother stares out from every poster, the Thought Police uncover every act of betrayal. When Winston finds love with Julia, he discovers that life does not have to be dull and deadening, and awakens to new possibilities. Despite the police helicopters that hover and circle overhead, Winston and Julia begin to question the Party; they are drawn towards conspiracy. Yet Big Brother will not tolerate dissent – even in the mind. For those with original thoughts they invented Room 101. . .

#4: Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy

For the LONGEST time Anna Karenina was my favorite book. Tolstoy writes such wonderful prose, and Vronsky is such a dream. Like Crime and Punishment, Anna Karenina addresses Russian society and culture in the 19 Century using a variety of characters- I would argue that there’s less exposition and theory in this work though. ALSO this book is more marriage, love, and relationship oriented. Anna’s journey as a women in high society who falls from grace is both captivating and saddening to read; though it’s long, I’d 310% recommend this book.

 

#3: Hamlet by William Shakespeare

YES Hamlet is on this list, and I know it’s extremely hyped, but it’s honestly (in my opinion) Shakespeare’s best work. A fallen prince on a murderous rampage, ghosts that haunt castle grounds, and who could forget Rosencrantz and Guildenstern? If you haven’t read this play (or seen the version by Kenneth Branaugh) then what are you doing. Do that now. Seriously. 

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(Again, no blurb for this classic Hamlet play!)

#2: Emma by Jane Austen

Emma is my favorite Austen novel, admittedly. Emma Woodhouse is SUCH a witty and hysterical character, and I personally identify with her antics (which may not be a good thing!) And of course, we all not Clueless- may or may not have been the reason I read this novel….

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#1: Mother Night by Kurt Vonnegut

Mother Night is my ALL TIME FAVORITE BOOK by my favorite author.

IMG_4100 (1) With a storied past and unclear future in the post WWII era, protagonist Howard J. Campbell is manages to be both funny and incredibly depressing. I’m not saying anything more, since it’s SO much better to go in without knowing anything about the plot. Just go read it. Really. Vonnegut is the BEST. Other Vonnegut suggestions pictured here!

So that’s all of them! Let me know: was one of your favorite classics not on here? Have you read any of these, or what order would you have given?

 

Book Review: Ready Player One by Ernest Cline

Hey there bookworms!

For those of you that follow my Instagram account ( @busycollegebookworm ), you know I firmly belief in reading the book before seeing its movie adaptation. For whatever reason, it’s more fun and satisfying when I can watch the movie and connect details from the novel to the widescreen. So when I heard that Ready Player One was coming to theaters, I knew I had to read it. Also side note: it’s been getting a lot of hype on bookstagram and I wanted to check it out for myself and see: Did it live up to the hype?

The short answer: Kind of…?

Here’s the blurb on the back cover:

“In the year 2044, reality is an ugly place. The only time teenage Wade Watts really feels alive is when he’s jacked into the virtual utopia known as the OASIS. Wade’s devoted his life to studying the puzzles hidden within this world’s digital confines- puzzles that are based on their creator’s obsession with the pop culture of decades past and that promise massive power and fortune to whoever can unlock them. But when Wade stumbles upon the first clue, he finds himself beset by players willing to kill to take this ultimate prize. The race is on, and if Wade’s going to survive, he’ll have to win- and confront the real world he’s always been so desperate to escape.”

 

And here are my thoughts!

2 Things I liked about this book:

  • The Concept of OASIS

I absolutely loved how Cline went into the history of OASIS and its many features. He really honed in on how life changed post-OASIS without making it feel like exposition. I also feel like a got a sense of the context in which OASIS was created: fraught with war, poverty, and environmental issues, the OASIS became a sanctuary for all to escape reality. And who doesn’t want a machine where you can literally teleport to any practically reality for a small fee? I thought that the way in which Cline addressed the impact the OASIS had on humanity is both realistic and layered. Definitely a great backstory and conceptual explanation for the creation and context of OASIS.

  • The Characters

I think that the characters may have been my favorite part of the book. Aech is easily my favorite character by far (though I won’t give any spoilers why!). I loved that each character was essentially two characters: their online profiles and their real world existence. The duality really made for an interesting read.

Two Things I didn’t Like

  • The Sheer Number of 80s References

Ok, so I know that this is unavoidable. The book is based on an era that embraces 80s culture, and I get that. But I felt like this book bombarded you with 80s references, often with no explanation or reason whatsoever. I loved how the references would tie into the Hunt, but it felt a little over the top for me. The amount of references came off as cheesy and annoying.

  • The “Can-Do” attitude within OASIS

So this one was harder for me to name. I really couldn’t stand that you could do anything in the OASIS. And I mean anything. It became a major scapegoat in so many parts of this book, and I felt like Cline continually used the fact that the OASIS could do or be anything as an excuse for potential plot holes or gaps. EVERYTHING has it’s limits. I got really sick of hearing “the OASIS has a world for that” or “there was an artifact for that, which was very rare” and so on. It felt too unrealistic for me.

In the end, I give this book 3.5/5 Stars!! Worth a read, but not worth the hype!!

Review: Woman In the Window by AJ Finn

Hi bookworms!

I’m a little late on my March Wrap up, but here we are! Woman in theWindow was my 5th or 6th read this month (I lost count) and it was totally unexpected! I normally wait until books come out in paperback edition to read them, since I’m a poor college kid and I need to cut the costs where I can! Though it looked really interesting, I actually won this book in a giveaway on Instagram ( go follow @writing_fun for more giveaways, they do them often and it’s WONDERFUL!)

So anyway, I was really intrigued by this thriller and as you all know, after reading SINNER (if you haven’t checked out my review give it a look:Book Review with Saturday_Nite_Reader: Sinner by Christopher Graves ) I got really interested in them! So this book looked like a fantastic read to me. Here’s the blurb on the back:

“It’s been ten long months since Anna Fox last left her home. Ten months during which she has haunted the rooms of her old New York house like a ghost, lost in her memories, too terrified to step outside.Anna’s lifeline to the real world is her window, where she sits day after day,watching her neighbors. When the Russells move in, Anna is instantly drawn to them. A picture-perfect family of three, they are an echo of the life that was once hers.But one evening, a frenzied scream rips across the silence, and Anna witnesses something no one was supposed to see. Now she must do everything she can to uncover the truth about what really happened. But even if she does, will anyone believe her? And can she even trust herself?”

Here are my thoughts, in list order!

3 things I liked about this book:

  • Well developed characters

I really appreciated how well Finn could give a character backstory without being too explicit. Especially in the case of the Russells, Finn does a great job of giving us information about our characters through the plot and not through exposition. I also liked the unreliable narrator use here, though I do sometimes feel it can be overused.

  • Mental Illness Representation

Ok. So I could write a whole essay about this one, because it’s really bittersweet for me. I appreciate that in 2018, we’re finally getting diverse heroines. I really liked how this book tackled mental health stigma through Anna’s struggle with validation from the police, from her friends, and from the Russells. And I really, really  liked how this book portrayed Anna’s eventual redemption. However, (and I won’t reveal the spoilers!) The ending did NOT sit well with me. Something to do with using mental illness as a way to further a plot twist. If you’ve read it, I’m alluding to the skylight incident. Definitely wasn’t a fan, and I think it’s because this book did so well portraying the need for validation and support for mental illness, but I felt like that work was all for nothing once Finn villianzed a character using mental health. 

angry cbc GIF by Kim's Convenience-downsized_large

I don’t know, that’s just my spin on it. I was certainly surprised and it was a great twist, for what it was worth.

  • The References

I’m not too much of a movie buff, but I loved the movie and art references in this novel. Anna is a huge fan of cinema, so be prepared for that! It’s really endearing and (for the most part) cleverly used to further the themes/foreshadow in the book.

One Thing I didn’t Like

  • It Was Fairly Predictable

Don’t get me wrong, it was a wonderful story. While this book did a great job in providing a character study of mental illness, there was a lot of predictable dialogue and plot points. Most of the mystery portion of this novel is pretty basic, and it’s certainly not its strength. There are a few plot twists that blew me away, but outside of them it was a pretty standard and predictable read.

OVERALL, I still give this book 5/5. Definitely a good psychological thriller!

Book Review with Saturday_Nite_Reader: Sinner by Christopher Graves

Hey there bookworms!!📚📚

I finished SINNER by Christopher Graves yesterday. Which, I know, may not seem like much of a feat for me since it is just a book and that’s what readers do: we finish books.

HOWEVER, SINNER was my first horror read ever! 👻 Two months ago, I promised myself that in the spirit of the New Year I was going to try new things and change my reading habits: I vowed to explore book genres and read a little everyday. Historically, I would have NEVER touched a horror novel, never mind read one in its entirety. The last time I experienced any horror was five years ago when I watched my first and last horror movie. I don’t remember the name, but the plot line still keeps me up at night every once in a while.

So despite the fact that I’m clearly a scaredy cat (for lack of a better term), I told Smith Publicity to send this ARC along and forced myself to try new things. As luck would have it, Nikki (whose bookstagram handle is @saturday_nite_reader) reached out to me after recieving the same book, and we did a buddy read! With my determination and a buddy, I was going to finish this pshycological thriller whether I liked it or not.

And to my surprise, I did! And I know what you’re thinking:

So let me explain: it wasn’t that I expected the author and the book to be terrible. On the contrary, Graves is an incredible writer that really knows how to weave a story. SINNER is originally an award winning screenplay written by the same person, so I expected it to be well written. What surprised me was that I actually liked reading horror.

Here is the plot of the book, as told by the blurb on the back cover:

“As a direct descendant of the 19th Century vigilante gang, the Bald Knobbers, Ezekiel Woods, Jr. has been indoctrinated into a world ruled by violence and a literal interpretation of the bible his entire life. Now, over a hundred years later, Zeke continues his ancestors’ crusade, spending his days camouflaged as an aloof middle-aged grocery store sacker and his nights in a farmhouse cellar, preparing captives’ souls for their ultimate destiny: redemption or death. Zeke must recapture this lost sheep or face a consequence far worse than any worldly fate: that God has forsaken him.”

And here are the rankings that Nikki and I gave the book. PS: You should definitely check her review out!: https://saturdaynitereader.com/2018/03/22/sinner-by-christopher-graves

unnamedOverall, I gave this psychological thriller a 5: VERY scary for me! The book follows Zeke, a serial killer who essentially kills in the name of God. I love that Graves set up a framework where we would meet characters and see them interact in their own element before weaving them into the plot; I also love that the book considers multiple perspectives from each of the characters. It was pretty gore-y for me, which is probably a good thing- I hate needles I’m claustrophobic, and I’m DEATHLY afraid of snakes which made this read super difficult for me (No spoilers though, you’ll have to read it for yourself!) It was also surprisingly (and uncomfortably) relatable. Many of the characters are like me: young females who live alone in a relatively new area. I did wish that we spent more time learning about Zeke’s relationship with his family (I was super fascinated by his and Sylvia’s relationship). However, it was overall a pretty great read, even for a scaredy cat like me. After reading this novel, I was afraid to walk outside alone at night! Definitely nightmare worthy!

The book will be released on April 5th, 2018; you should definitely buy a copy if you’re into thrillers and horror novels!

5 Ways to Get out of a Reading Rut

Hey Bookworms!

So if you’re anything like me, then once in a while you get into the worst book ruts. It’s impossible for me to read no matter how hard I try. I’ll sit down, get really fidgety and distracted, and ultimately waste all of my reading time on other mindless activities. So I did what I know best when confronted with a problem: I asked others!

Here’s the top 5 things that bookworms do to get over a reading rut!

Don’t Stress

The best thing you can do when in a book rut is to remain calm! If you start to get frustrated or panic about your reading rut, try to reframe the issue. Put the book down, take a few breaths, grab a cup of tea- sometimes indulging in a little relaxation for 10-15 minutes will re-energize your reading habits.

Netflix

If you need a real brain break from reading altogether, Netflix or other streaming subscriptions are the way to go. Why not catch up on a TV show? Watch a movie you’ve never heard of or a indulge in a guilty pleasure? Get your mind off of books entirely and recharge from the reading situation. Sometimes if my rut is really bad, I’ll binge a TV show for a week or two just to relax and get my mind off of the problem.

Re-read a Favorite Book

I’ve also found that re-reading a favorite book can motivate me out of a reading rut! I tend to read Emma by Jane Austen if my rut is BAD (I’m talking over a month bad…!) and that usually does the trick. Sometimes our reading rut isn’t caused by distractions or stress, but the book we’re currently reading. It can be helpful to take a break from your current reads. Some of my other guilty pleasure reads are pictured below ☺️

Get rid of distractions

Do you keep checking your phone? Maybe the notifications go off all the time and you can’t help it? Solution: put it on the other side of the room! Sometimes it’s helpful to really disconnect from technology and other distractions when trying to get into a book.

Just keep reading

Even if all else fails today, just keep reading! Three pages in one day is better than none at all, and sometimes it just takes a while to bounce back into a reading groove. Instead of getting frustrated at how little you’re reading, celebrate the little wins and remember that you’ll make it out the book rut!

To Read or Not to Read: My February TBR!

Hey there readers!

So I’m still in the middle of All The President’s Men (which I have LOTS of thoughts on so stay tuned!) but since it’s the first of the month, we’re going to talk about my February to read pile! These are books that I hope to read this month, and I’m budgeting one book per week. This is a SUPER busy month for me, since my a cappella group is competing in the ICCAs on Feb. 24th (it’s the real life pitch perfect, for all the non a cappella people), so I’m spending more time in rehearsals and less on books. I figured one a week was doable. We’ll see……

So, without further ado, here’s my list this month:

 

1. WOMEN by Chloe Caldwell

So I’ll be honest- I don’t know too much about this book. I picked it up as an impulse buy at the Strand Bookstore last week, and I haven’t done too much research on it. (I prefer to know as little about the book as possible before reading!) After perusing through it for a little bit, I felt compelled to pick it up. There’s no synopsis on the back or inside cover, but from what I can tell, the book centers around a love affair between two women from completely different backgrounds. I’ve had WOMEN recommended to me before, so I’m giving it a try this month and I’m really looking forward to reading it

2. The Alienist by Caleb Carr

Ok, I’m really nervous about this book. It isn’t exactly the plot or genre. Part historical fiction and part thriller, the novel centers around a group of investigators who endeavor to solve a string of murders in NYC around the turn of the 20th century. Theoretically I should love this book, since it checks off most of my list: strong female character, historical fiction, brilliant plot….
The only issue for me is the hype around it. Ever since the TV show came out, I’ve heard nothing but the best things about this book. And while I’m sure those claims aren’t entirely false, I really don’t want to be let down by an over-hyped book. I hadn’t heard about The Alienist until the TV show had come out, and I’m a HUGE fan of Dakota Fanning and Luke Evans. I’ll be watching the series either way, but again, nothing ruins a franchise for me as much as an over-hyped book.

3. Hopscotch by Julio Cortázar

This book has been sitting on my to read shelf for months! Here’s part of the synopsis: “Horacio Oliveira is an Argentinean writer who lives in Paris with his mistress, La Maga, surrounded by a loose-knit circle of bohemian friends who call themselves the Club. A child’s death and La Maga’s disappearance put an end to his life of empty pleasures and intellectual acrobatics, and prompts his return to Buenos Aires…”

WHOA.

I’m super excited about this novel. I have a weakness for books that take place in Paris, admittedly. But even beyond that- I love the diversity of genre going on in this book. It’s romance, mystery, thriller, historical fiction…and I’m really excited about finally reading Cortázar. I’ve heard so much about his other works and I’m really excited to finally read Hopscotch.

4. The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot

This is the only book on this list that was recommended to me by a teacher, AND it’s the only non-fiction. I’m in a Quantitative Research class, and we were talking about the ethics of scientific inquiry when my professor mentioned the Lack’s story: A poor black woman in 1950s United States, Lacks was a tobacco farmer whose stem cells were unwillingly taken to develop major milestones in medicine; namely, the polio vaccine, cloning, and a whole host of treatments. While scientists profited off of using her stem cells, she and her family received no credit or compensation.

I’m extremely interested in this read. It outlines the intersectionality of race and science in the United States while spreading the word about this woman’s incredible life story. I seriously can’t wait to read this book.

Have you guys read any of these, or anything similar? What’s on your TBR pile?