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”

10 Holiday Gift Ideas for the Bookworm in Your Life

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The holidays are just around the corner, which means now is the time to purchase gifts for your loved ones. While I may not be the person to tell you what your tech-y brother or your garden-loving aunt have on their wish lists, if you have a book lover in your life, this list should help ease your gift buying trepidations.

Readers Gonna Read Enamel Pin

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Help the bookworm in your life promote their book-obsessed lifestyle with this adorable enamel pin.

“Books Turn Muggles into Wizards” Socks 

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Every bookworm knows that books turn muggles into wizards, so now they’ll have some adorable socks to prove it.

Gift Card(s)

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If you don’t know which books the bookworm you’re shopping for is longing for, a gift card to Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Half Priced Books, Book Outlet, or Thrift Books are an excellent alternative!

Frostbeard Candle

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Bookworms love candles, so bookish candles will surely be a hit. Frostbeard has a multitude of different scents that come in different forms and sizes.

Edgar Allen Poe Socks

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The bookworm in your life’s feet will be cold nevermore.

“When In Doubt, Go To the Library” Shirt

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Because you can’t go wrong with a Hermione Granger quote t-shirt.

“Please Go Away I’m Reading” Throw Pillow

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Finally, a throw pillow that says what your bookworm really wants to say.

Book Page Holder

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Now, the bookworm in your life can keep those pesky pages in check.

Book Beau (Protective Book Sleeve)

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Book lovers always keep their current reads on hand, which typically means they’re either being tossed into a purse or backpack (and getting bent) or being held (and getting rained on or risking being dropped). This book sleeve from Book Beau will solve all of their problems, while also being their most stylish bookish accessory. The Book Beau comes in many different patterns and sizes.

Book Beau Bean (Lap Pillow for Reading)

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The Book Beau Bean makes reading more comfortable! Give your bookworm the gift of relaxing reading this holiday season.

Do you have more bookworm gift ideas that you want to share? Leave some links in the comments section below. Share this post to drop not-so-subtle bookish gift hints to your Facebook friends. Happy holidays, bookworms!

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Book Review: ‘Before a Million Universes’ by T.W.R. Shelton

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Credit: Read, Sav, Read. 

Before a Million Universes by T.W.R. Shelton

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

Continue reading “Book Review: ‘Before a Million Universes’ by T.W.R. Shelton”

Credit: Read, Sav, Read. 

I added two new tattoos to my collection and they’re finally book-themed.  The left is an outline of Hogwarts from Harry Potter and the right is a quote from Sylvia Plath’s The Bell Jar. Both were done by Ben Stagner in Bellevue, WA at Deep Roots Tattoo and Body Piercing.

Do any of you have bookish tattoos? Tell me about them in the comments section below.

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Credit: Read, Sav, Read. 

I finished reading Truly Madly Guilty by Liane Moriarty a few days ago and absolutely loved it. If you perused Goodread’s Best Books of 2016 list, you’ll see that Truly Madly Guilty made #1 in the fiction category. Moriarty is also the author of Big Little Lies, which was one of my favorite reads of the year. Truly Madly Guilty has also made my list of top favorites, as well. Have any of you read this book? If you’ve read Big Little Lies or Cynthia D’Aprix Sweeney’s The Nest, I can bet that you will enjoy this novel, as well. You can purchase Liane Moriarty’s Truly Madly Guilty here. I look forward to reading more of her books.

Summary: “Six responsible adults. Three cute kids. One small dog. It’s just a normal weekend. What could possibly go wrong?

Sam and Clementine have a wonderful, albeit, busy life: they have two little girls, Sam has just started a new dream job, and Clementine, a cellist, is busy preparing for the audition of a lifetime. If there’s anything they can count on, it’s each other.

Clementine and Erika are each other’s oldest friends. A single look between them can convey an entire conversation. But theirs is a complicated relationship, so when Erika mentions a last minute invitation to a barbecue with her neighbors, Tiffany and Vid, Clementine and Sam don’t hesitate. Having Tiffany and Vid’s larger than life personalities there will be a welcome respite.

Two months later, it won’t stop raining, and Clementine and Sam can’t stop asking themselves the question: What if we hadn’t gone?

In Truly Madly Guilty, Liane Moriarty takes on the foundations of our lives: marriage, sex, parenthood, and friendship. She shows how guilt can expose the fault lines in the most seemingly strong relationships, how what we don’t say can be more powerful than what we do, and how sometimes it is the most innocent of moments that can do the greatest harm.”

Share your thoughts on this book in the comments section below.

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What is everyone reading right now? I listen to a lot of audiobooks because I don’t have a ton of free time right now to sit down with print copies of books. Nonetheless, here is my “currently reading” list:

The Peacock Door by Wanda Kay Knight
Truly Madly Guilty by Liane Moriarty
Before a Million Universes by T.W.R. Shelton
A Court of Mist and Fury by Sarah J. Maas
A Clash of Kings by George R.R. Martin
All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr
Drums of Autumn by Diana Gabaldon

Do you like to read one book at a time or read multiple at a time? As you can see, I identify with the latter. I’d love to hear what you’re reading right now or recently finished reading. Share your titles in the comments section below!