fiction

books i didn't finish

10 Books I Didn’t Finish Last Year

Almost everyone says the same thing about books you don’t finish: Just move on. Read something better, read something that’s more engaging. But for some reason, I stubbornly want to finish books that I’ve started.

If I start a book, I want to finish it so I can either write a review of what I didn’t like or be pleasantly surprised when the book improves as I read. And if I’ve gone to the trouble of buying a book and spent time reading it, it seems like a waste of time and money to abandon it.

Despite good intentions, I abandoned several books in 2017. Here are 10 books I didn’t finish last year:Read More »10 Books I Didn’t Finish Last Year

the end we start from

To Read or Not to Read: The End We Start From

I first came across The End We Start From on a LitHub list of new releases in November. The initial description checked a lot of boxes for me: literary fiction, lots of overarching metaphors, beautiful prose. It sounded promising (and the cover looked gorgeous). When I saw it on the shelf in Barnes & Noble, I had to pick it up and decide for myself: To read or not to read?Read More »To Read or Not to Read: The End We Start From

all the dirty parts

To Read or Not to Read: All the Dirty Parts by Daniel Handler

If you don’t know, Daniel Handler is the author of A Series of Unfortunate Events, aka Lemony Snicket. I love love LOVE A Series of Unfortunate Events, but I haven’t read anything else by Handler. His latest novel, All the Dirty Parts, was recently published by Bloomsbury, so I picked up a copy to decide: To read or not to read?

Read More »To Read or Not to Read: All the Dirty Parts by Daniel Handler
sourdough robin sloan

To Read or Not to Read: Sourdough by Robin Sloan

I admit, I’m already a bit biased toward reading Robin Sloan’s second novel, Sourdough. I enjoyed Sloan’s debut novel, Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore, and I heard Sloan speak on an author panel at BookFest St. Louis. Naturally, he talked about this new novel, specifically about how food is such an interesting topic to write about and how he wrote his characters. I couldn’t resist picking this book up on a Barnes and Noble visit and to take a peek at the first few pages to decide: To read or not to read?Read More »To Read or Not to Read: Sourdough by Robin Sloan

favorite banned books

These Are a Few of My Favorite Banned Books

It’s Banned Books Week! Each year, we English majors and readers get excited to celebrate books—especially those that have been banned or challenged at some point. The goal is to talk about the importance of letting people read books, even if they’re full of “dangerous” ideas and content.

With that in mind, here are a few of my favorite banned books, why they were banned, and why I like them.

Read More »These Are a Few of My Favorite Banned Books
The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian

The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie

The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie is a young adult novel about an Indian boy, Junior, who decides to go to a white school off the Spokane reservation to get a good education. He is attacked by his own community for his choice and rejected at Reardan, the white school off the reservation. The book, told in a diary structure, tells of his struggles to fit in and find his identity.

I am an affiliate of Bookshop.org and Amazon through my literary magazine Capsule Stories, and Capsule Stories will earn a commission if you click through and make a purchase on affiliate links in this post. Please consider buying your books through Bookshop.org to support independent bookstores—and Capsule Stories!

Read More »The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie
girl in snow

Girl in Snow by Danya Kukafka

Girl in Snow is Danya Kukafka debut novel exploring how a small town in Colorado reacts after the most popular girl in school, Lucinda Hayes, is murdered. Three characters share the spotlight as narrators: Cameron, Lucinda’s stalker; Jade, a unpopular girl whom Lucinda was indifferent to; and Russ, a police officer who is in love with Cameron’s dad. As they tell their stories, we learn about their relationships with Lucinda and their grief, longing, love, and obsession.

Read More »Girl in Snow by Danya Kukafka
a stranger in the house

Why I’m Not Writing a Review of Shari Lapena’s A Stranger in the House

I feel like I need to 1) read more, a LOT more, and 2) write intelligent book reviews of every book I read. After all, I want to succeed in book publishing, right? And this is how you do it?

I’ve fallen victim to some weird mix of internal pressure (you need to write book reviews to advance your career) and the fear of missing out (everyone on #bookstagram writes several reviews each month) that led me to this mindset. I have to churn out book reviews, especially if I am so lucky to get my hands on an ARC or a newly released book. When I received an ARC of Shari Lapena’s latest thriller, A Stranger in the House, I felt that urge to read it just so I could write a review of it. I don’t usually read thrillers, but here it was, a golden opportunity to read a new book and showcase my book reviewing skills to the world.

Read More »Why I’m Not Writing a Review of Shari Lapena’s A Stranger in the House

The Girls by Emma Cline

Spoiler alert: This review has all the spoilers for The Girls. Although, I’m not sure how you don’t know what this book is about by now (it was ALL over bookstagram last summer) and how you haven’t come to the conclusion that it ends with a murder.

Emma Cline’s debut novel The Girls made a splash in the summer of 2016. Readers loved the story of Evie, a girl who flirts with joining a cult as she grows away from her mother and her former best friend and becomes entranced by a girl—Suzanne. The novel ends with gruesome murders, which leaves Evie questioning what she was and is capable of.

It was really hard for me to get into this novel for two reasons: The jumps between the past and the present were confusing at the beginning of the novel, and Cline’s word choices jarred me.

Read More »The Girls by Emma Cline