Contributor Book Review of ‘Into the Water’

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Into the Water by Paula Hawkins
Review by: Noelle Simonson

Warning: This review contains spoilers. Read at your own risk.

If you’ve read Girl on the Train, you are aware of Paula Hawkins’ writing expertise. She knows how to craft a world and the people within it. However, this book was different. Into the Water, while also a thriller, wasn’t quite as thrilling. That’s not to say that I didn’t enjoy it. If I could, I’d probably rate it 3.5 stars because it doesn’t quite hit that 4-star mark.

The world within Into the Water is a complex one. With at least eight different narrators, it is somewhat hard to follow. I was listening to the audiobook on my way to and from work and that made it easier to comprehend because of the different voices for the narrators. It took me until about halfway through to remember who was who and what their background story was. Though I understand the necessity of having this many characters, it might have been better to have longer excerpts from each narration, not as many character jumps, and to tighten up the loose ends. There are still some parts of the story left unanswered and that’s part of the reason for my middle-high rating.

Lena and Jules were mainly the only characters within this novel that I found interesting. Everyone else, except for Erin, fell a little flat. I found the ending to be somewhat predictable and didn’t leave me wanting more. It’s like I already knew what was going to happen before it did. I don’t want to keep comparing this to Girl on the Train, but after such a compelling page-turner, this is not what I had hoped it would be. The writing was just as good but the story was not. The characters were complex and some of them were even horrifyingly bad. As in, most of the people within the town were just not good people. Each of them had their own personal vendetta and seemed guilty of Nel’s death. I wish we could have seen more from Nel’s perspective as it would have been easier to sympathize with her and understand why she did what she did.

Overall, I recommend reading this book. It wasn’t a difficult read by any means and it was definitely enjoyable. Just don’t expect the world.

You can purchase Paula Hawkins’ Into the Water here.

My Thoughts on Season 2 of 13 Reasons Why

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A little over a year ago, I read Jay Asher’s novel, Thirteen Reasons Why. I hadn’t heard of the book until the news that it would be made into a Netflix original series. So, I read it in time to watch season one right when it released and there were areas I was happy with and others that felt dangerous. If you’ve seen or heard about the show, you are likely aware of the controversy that it brings with its existence.

The book is about a teenage girl who commits suicide. She leaves behind a series of cassette tapes, which hold recordings of the thirteen reasons why she felt driven to take her own life. The T.V. adaptation is astronomically different than the book, as so many other details and events are added in. With the tremendous popularity the show has received, there has been high praise in addition to contrasting warnings to avoid the show entirely. Before you begin watching, you need to know that this show is explicit and can be triggering. There are graphic scenes of sexual assault and suicide that you need to be aware of before making the decision to push play. Some viewers that have experienced depression, self-harm, and attempts at suicide have been caught off guard and triggered back to their old ways of thinking. This is not the intention behind the show but has been a result of its release. I feel that the first season of the show does a solid job of offering insight into what suicidal thoughts, bullying, slut-shaming, rape, and suicide look like in today’s society. However, there wasn’t enough of a focus on mental illness or an accurate portrayal of depression, which is what leads people to suicide. Many argue that this is an irresponsible, inaccurate look at a suicidal individual and glamorizes suicide, as a result. I’m glad that the show changed the way that Hannah Baker kills herself in the show, as I think the way she did it in the book would be less painful to watch and therefore more glorified to vulnerable viewers.

As for the rape scenes, I completely understand why they were triggering.  I think the graphic hot tub scene was necessary because it shows young men an example of rape that isn’t the woman screaming “no” or struggling. Often times, women feel frozen in the fear of the moment and they can’t consent, as a result. If your partner does not give you a clear, verbal “yes”, they are not consenting. Too many young men are failing to realize this, so I am glad that this highly popular show used their platform to clearly show such an important message to their adolescent male audience. I hope that season one of this show positively affected young men in that way. Maybe a male viewer wasn’t clear on consent, as many teens aren’t, and future rapes were avoided by changing his viewpoint. I’m not a teen boy and cannot attest to that, but I can’t help but hope that at least one man will better understand consent thanks to this show. Women aren’t the issue in our country’s despicable rapist culture–men are. We shouldn’t be given rape whistles and told to travel in pairs and to dress modestly. Men need to be held accountable and be the focus on how to stop raping, rather than telling the victims how to avoid being raped.

Rape isn’t always a strange man jumping out of the bushes and assaulting a woman. In fact, a friend or acquaintance is far more likely to be the perpetrator of sexual assault. 93% of victims already knew their rapist. From a study found on RAINN’s website, 59% were acquaintances and 34% were family members. Also, according to RAINN, 94% of women who are raped experience post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) symptoms during the two weeks following their assault. For 30% of women, these PTSD symptoms are still very present 9 months afterward. 33% of women who have experienced rape contemplate suicide and 13% attempt suicide. With this being said, these statistics are not and will never be accurate because these are only from those who have reported their rapes and their experiences following their rapes. More people who are raped don’t report their incidences than those who do. If you need help after being sexually assaulted, call RAINN at 1-800-656-4673. They are a very helpful resource.

I do not think that what Hannah did was the right choice and, while the bullying and assault that she faced filled me with anger, I don’t blame any of the thirteen for her death, directly. While I understand why Hannah felt the way she did, she made the worst choice that a person can make. She could have survived, fought against the injustice, and gone on to live an incredible life. I’ve seen online opinions that feel some of Hannah’s reasons for committing suicide were “petty,” but I don’t think anyone should be able to decide whether another person should feel hurt by something that wouldn’t hurt us. Hannah was in dire need of mental health support, which she did not receive in any form and was not mentioned in the first season of the show.

Suicide is the second leading cause of death for teens, with over 5,000 attempts each day in the U.S., this subject needed to be discussed. The author of the book, Jay Asher, said, “Suicide is an uncomfortable thing to talk about, but it happens, and so we have to talk about it.”

Now onto Season 2. The new season dropped just two days ago, on May 18th. I binged this new season even more quickly than I did the first time around. There were things that I felt they did an excellent job with, but other things that I am appalled by and disgusted with. If you haven’t yet finished this season, feel free to bookmark this blog post for later and read on. Proceed with caution. SPOILERS AHEAD!
Continue reading “My Thoughts on Season 2 of 13 Reasons Why”

Contributor Book Review of ‘The Night Circus’

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The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern
Review by: Jamie Gogocha

Warning: This review contains spoilers. Read at your own risk.

Continue reading “Contributor Book Review of ‘The Night Circus’”

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Credit: Read, Sav, Read. 

You can purchase Fredrik Backman’s A Man Called Ove here.

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My Top 10 Favorite Reads of 2017 (So Far)

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Last year, my goal was to read 25 books and I ended up reading 41. This year, I upped my goal from 25 to 40. As of today, September 8th, I have read 46 books and am expecting to finish up three more within the next few days. I hope to read at least 60 books by the end of the calendar year, but that will depend on how busy my new M.F.A. life will be, a few weeks from now. With that being said, I’ve read quite a few books this year and wanted to share my top ten 2017 favorites, in no particular order, with all of you.

Continue reading “My Top 10 Favorite Reads of 2017 (So Far)”

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Credit: Read, Sav, Read. 

I just read this book in a little over a day and I really loved it. I’ve read quite a bit of YA fiction, which only occasionally have featured a gay relationship and when they have, they’ve always been male. While I have read a few books (“The Price of Salt”, “The Hours”, etc.) that included lesbian relationships, that has never been the case in my experience with young adult fiction. Annie on My Mind was published in 1982 and was one of the first young adult books with a lesbian protagonist in a healthy relationship with a happy ending.  I really appreciated this book and thought it was well written, in addition to being extremely important and needed. I can see this book being a comforting, relatable read for teens who are queer or questioning their sexuality.

You can purchase Annie on My Mind here.

Contributor Book Review of ‘Natural Born Charmer’

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Natural Born Charmer by Susan Elizabeth Phillips
Review by: Jamie Gogocha

Warning: This review contains spoilers. Read at your own risk.

Continue reading “Contributor Book Review of ‘Natural Born Charmer’”

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Credit: Read, Sav, Read.

You can get this “Winter is Coming” bookmark here.

How To Buy More Books For Less

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While I try to utilize my local library as often as possible and read for free, I also like to purchase books that I end up loving. I justify my book buys by telling myself that they will all fit much more nicely in my future in-home library. With that being said, when I buy books (aside from the rare brand new purchase), I like to keep it on the cheap side. My three go to websites that I always keep my eye on are Thriftbooks, Book Depository, and Book Outlet.

Thriftbooks

Thriftbooks is one of my favorite book websites because it has some of the best prices for books that I am actually interested in purchasing. I’ve come across some websites that do, indeed, have low prices, but don’t have currently popular books, classic literature, or best sellers of any kind. While the books are used, all of my orders have been in good to excellent shape. With a current deal on Thriftbooks, you can get 2 books for $7, 3 for $20, or 4 for $12. The website says, “Any book you find with a ‘Deal’ tag qualifies.” Thriftbooks is also currently offering 15% off your order if you use the coupon code “SAVEMORE” when you check out right now. The website offers Reading Rewards where you earn $5 for every $50 you spend. On a typical book website, you might rack up more $5 stipends than you will on Thriftbooks. For the sake of savings, I’d advise you to invest in additional bookshelves in advance. Thriftbooks also has a Tell-A-Friend program where those who create a free account get a 15% off coupon, as does the person the newcomer signs up under. You can sign up under my link here and we will both get 15% off our next purchases.

Book Depository

Book Depository has a plethora of best sellers, new releases, and top picks for readers of all ages. One of Book Depository’s signature feats is their free worldwide shipping. This website has over 17 million available titles ready to be purchased by you. Check out the Bargain Shop section on the Book Depository website for even larger savings. You can get shopping now by clicking here!

Book Outlet

Book Outlet claims to have “read-iculously low prices” and they mean it. Just peruse their website and you’ll see exactly what they mean. All of their books are 50%-90% off the original retail price. Book Outlet, much like Thriftbooks, also has a rewards system. With every dollar you spend and friend you invite to Book Outlet, you earn points. Your points become Book Outlet credit. 100 points equates to $5. For every two dollars you spend, you get one point. For every friend you introduce to the site, you get 200 points (or, in other words, $10 credit). You can also earn points by following them on social media, creating a free account, and signing up for their newsletter. Book Outlet has free shipping on all orders over $35. You can start buying books from Book Outlet right now, right here.

I hope that you all get as much out of these discount book websites as I do. Hooray for cheap reading! Share with us what books you purchased from these websites (and for how much) in the comments section to let everyone else know how little they can spend for the books they want to read.