Wednesday, March 6, 2019

Book Reviews - Memoirs and Mysteries

This round of books included one that's been on my list for quite awhile, two memoirs I adored, and a thriller that I couldn't put down - Thrillers like these are why I'm perpetually tired - #latenightreadingprobs

Sounds Like Titanic: A Memoir by Jessica Chiccehitto Hindman was just a gem of a memoir unlike any other I'd read. This is the true story of how the author traveled the country (and world) as a violinist. That sounds neat, right? Well, she wasn't actually playing. Instead, she was pretending to play her instrument while a CD played. Each location, each appearance, she just acted as if she was the musician. It was all a sham put on by a man she refers to only as The Conductor. This one is just absolutely fascinating y'all. Interwoven in the sham, she talks about her own journey to figure out who she wanted to be. She went to college thinking she wanted to major in music, but realizes that's not the right path for her. She finds this gig allows her to do something, as she figures out her path, but it continues to be complicated by the lie she is living. This is a book that is such an intriguing premise, and I was so captivated. I felt a particular connection given I played violin through college. The way she talked about her music and her quest to figure out her life was absolutely wonderful. I so loved this one.

Read this book if - You want a unique memoir with a bit of orchestra!

Raising Holy Hell by Bruce Olds was quite an interesting read. It was a historical fiction piece about John Brown. In Kansas, he's somewhat of a folk hero. I wanted to read this to get a better picture of who he was. This book was a great exploration of that. Through letters, through news articles, and through the stories of those closest to him, this pieces together a picture of him from a variety of angles. It talks about all the tragedy in his family, including lots of death. It talks about the methods he used, many of which were quite violent. It talks about where he found allies, as well as where he encountered enemies. When looking at a figure like this, there can be many narratives, and I appreciated that this one shared many of them. I also really liked the storytelling methods used. The variety of mediums allowed me to gain more of an understanding of how he has been both celebrated and critiqued. It wasn't the type of book I usually read, but I learned a great deal more of John Brown's story and history in general. 

I've also had this on my reading list for ages (and finally found a used copy at Powell's!), so this meets my challenge of reading a book that's been on my list for 2+ years!

Read this book if - You want to look at a historical figure (and maybe John Brown specifically) from a variety of perspectives. You want to critically examine a historical figure.

The Last House Guest by Megan Miranda was an intriguing thriller. This is the second book by this author (the first was All the Missing Girls where she tells a story backwards), and I really enjoy how she crafts her thrillers. In this one, Sadie is found dead. The death is ruled a suicide, but her friend Avery doesn't believe this to be true. The story then weaves through what could have happened as Avery commits to finding out the truth. Part of this includes navigating the dynamics of the town. Littleport has its locals, but it also has a wealthy vacationing community. Avery is from the local community, while Sadie is from the vacationing crowd. Their friendship is an unlikely one which is something Avery has always appreciated. However, the unlikely nature of the friendship also raises some questions. What did Avery know? What role did she play in the tragedy? As she asks more questions, she raises suspicion about herself. The story is told mainly a year after Sadie's death, while also revising the night of her death. Avery tries to piece together the stories of everyone who was at the party where Sadie never arrived at the night of her death. Y'all the twists of this one were great. I always love a thriller where I don't see the drama coming, and it's so good that my jaw drops as it is revealed. I got an early preview of this one thanks to NetGalley, and I can tell y'all that it's one to check out for yourself once it's released in June!

Read this book if - You want your next great thriller. You're looking for a thriller of "beach read" variety.

This Will Only Hurt A Little by Busy Phillips was an all-around outstanding memoir. This has taken me for-ev-er to get from the library, and the timing when I finally did could not have been more perfect. I absolutely loved the authenticity with which she told her story. There was definitely some tough stuff she has encountered, both personally and professionally, and she told those stories with such honesty and her signature humor, too. This memoir is written in a way that it feels like you're just catching up with a friend. By virtue of her role on Dawson's Creek (my favorite show of all-time), I've known of her for some time. However, reading this, I feel like I really know and understand who she is so much more. I especially appreciated that she talked about challenges she'd found. I think it's easy to assume who a celebrity is based on what we see and/or they choose to share. In this book, she chooses to share her realest of realities, and it so resonated with me.

Oh, and this meets one of my Exploreading challenges to read a memoir by something in their thirties, so yay for that! 

Read this book if - You're a fan of Busy Phillips. You like celebrity memoirs that give you a real, real look into their lives.