Poor Unfortunate Souls

by Serena Valentino

The story of The Little Mermaid from Ursula’s point of view.

Sort of.

The story starts with Ursula walking down the streets destroying a small town. She then meets of with a group of witches (who happen to be sisters). This is nearly all we learn of Ursula’s back story. I was a little disappointed with this because in the two earlier books in the series, we learn a lot about The Wicked Queen and The Beast.

I also feel like Ursula is hardly in a book about…Ursula. It felt like it focused more on the sisters trying to save their other sister than it did on the infamous Sea Witch.

I didn’t dislike the novel. I just watched we could’ve learned a little more about this Disney villain; she’s one of my favorites, if not my very favorite.

Snowflakes

by Ruth Ware

This. short. story.

Ruth Ware wrote an incredible story for Amazon Original Stories’ “Hush Collection”, and it is so. good. It is about a father who takes his children, in the middle of the night, to an island to escape the war. One day, the father forces them to build a wall. But why?

I really waffled over whether to give this book 3 or 4 stars. The actual writing wasn’t necessarily better than her normal writing, but…she did manage to convey so much into so little space without using extra words, so I guess it actually was. I settled on four stars because I would definitely read it again.

The Boy from the Woods

by Harlan Coben

(TW: bullying, kidnapping, abuse of several kinds [including child abuse], rape)

SPOILERS AHEAD.

A little boy emerges from the woods. No one knows who he is, where he comes from…people call him “Wilde”. Over 34, he lives in the woods and serves as an occasional private detective of sorts. He becomes involved in investigating the disappearance of a girl who has been bullied mercilessly and gets much more than he bargained for.

I’ll be honest, I’m not sure why I picked up this book in the first place. Harlan Coben isn’t a bad writer and comes up with awesome storylines, but his writing just isn’t my style. His characters all seem to be beautiful, intelligent, the best at what they do, and I’m including his TV series. None of the main characters, except for ones that are already cops or private detectives, never seem to actually go to their regular jobs. That being said, I very much enjoyed all of his TV series, and I think this would’ve been more enjoyable for me if this had been one of them.

The ending very much frustrated me (SPOILERS). Somethings never got resolved. Who is PB? Where did Wilde come from? Does everybody really get off scot-free? Why is the bullying never stopped? How is Wilde going to travel? Did he just happen to dig out all his important papers?

I can’t necessarily recommend this book, but because I’m a sucker for a good back cover description, I’ll probably read another Coben novel eventually.

Bossypants

by Tina Fey

Bossypants by Tina Fey is a humorous collection of autobiographical essays, ranging from her high school days to her days at 30 Rock. It’s a great read if your looking for a book to laugh at after you’ve read a heavy book (which is why I checked this one out in the first place).

I don’t read a whole lot of non-fiction, but I do enjoy humorous essays. Fey is a great writer, which is obvious from her time at SNL, so I knew this would be a funny read.

I did expect the book to be constant laughs, not just laughs sprinkled through the essay, but that’s on me. There were a couple of jokes that fell flat for me. I know that it’s the job of the comedian to push limits, but she makes a couple of jokes about molestation and rape, and that is NEVER funny.

So go ahead and pick it up if you need a light read. It goes by pretty quick, too.

Pretty Baby

by Mary Kubica

(TW: all of them?…sexual abuse, rape, abortion, cutting, suicide, mental illness, nervous breakdown…)

When Heidi sees a young girl with a baby at a train station, she’s concerned but still gets on the train, thinking she’ll never see the girl again. However, the next time she’s in that particular area, she looks and sees the girl again. Heidi later invites Willow and her baby into her home, but this one helpful action sets off a chain of events that could destroy Heidi and her family.

The chapters of this novel alternate between Heidi, Chris (Heidi’s husband), and Willow. This can be tricky to use different voices and have them all sound actually different, but Kubica pulls it off wonderfully.

This book is labeled as a thriller, and it definitely is. However, by the end, you realize it’s a heartbreaking book intertwining the lives of two women (and one man) and how each cope with their terrible circumstances. I love psychological thrillers, but I’m going to read a funny book next. This one ended up sitting very heavy with me by the end, which I was not expecting.

I do recommend this book, but I would utilize some caution, maybe read a funny book after or exercise some self-care.

The Death of Mrs. Westaway

by Ruth Ware

Hal works on the pier as a tarot card reader. One day, she receives a letter in the mail indicating she might receive an inheritance from a recently deceased grandmother. The problem is…this letter was a mistake. Hal, however, is desperately in need of money and decides to go to the funeral. When she arrives, she sets in motion something no one expects, including herself.

This was my favorite of the Ruth Ware novels that I’ve read so far. It didn’t feel as…forced?…as The Turn of the Key, and it was more exciting than In a Dark, Dark Wood. Both of those were good—I loved the atmosphere of the former—, but this was better. The Gothic atmosphere, the locked-room feel, the British location…it was great.

One thing I didn’t like was the over-emphasis on the tarot cards. I know that her job is important to the plot, especially her cold-reading skills, but it just seems like it was brought up too much in spots where it didn’t really matter.

There was also a thread at the beginning that wasn’t resolved (SPOILER AHEAD). I feel like if Hal hadn’t shown up for work in a week, he still would’ve found a way to contact her, seeing as he found her apartment. Maybe it’s because the book ended before she could get back to Brighton, but I would’ve at least liked to know she had a plan in place.

Overall, I’d definitely recommend it.

The Ginza Ghost

Super short review here:

The Ginza Ghost by Osaka Keikichi is a collection of short mysteries, most of which are “locked room” mysteries. Several also try to make the reader wonder: could the crimes have been committed by something supernatural?

I used to not really like books of short stories, but over the last couple of years, I’ve come to really enjoy these collections. Plus, I love Japanese literature, and I love mysteries, so this was a great pick for me.

Also, can we just pretend I didn’t take such horrible picture of my e-reader?

How I Broke Up with My Colon

How I Broke Up with my Colon: Fascinating, Bizarre, and True Health Stories by Nick Seluk is a comic book that explores true health stories through humor and colorful illustrations. Characters from The Awkward Yeti and it’s spin-off Heart and Brain are present throughout, which makes this recommended read for fans of those characters.

There are a couple jokes that made me slightly uncomfortable. I can’t remember exactly what they were, but I know one had to do with mental health. I hate it when people do that.

The only other problems I had were editing problems: seemingly blank text boxes, missing text boxes, and possibly a missing illustration. They didn’t disturb the continuity of the stories much, but I hope it gets fixed my publication time.

This book will be published in March. If you’re a fan of Seluk, you’ll more than likely enjoy it.

Huge thanks to #NetGalley for providing an advanced copy of #HowIBrokeUpwithMyColon by #NickSeluk in exchange for an honest review.

The Turn of the Key

by Ruth Ware

Rowan Caine applies for a dream nannying job in Scotland, but is it too good to be true? Apparently, since the novel starts with her writing letters from a Scottish prison to a barrister. But is what happened cause by the supernatural or something closer to her new home?

This is intended to be modern take on Henry James’ The Turn of the Screw.

This is only my second Ruth Ware novel, but I enjoyed it more than In a Dark, Dark Wood. I was concerned they were going to be too similar since both “houses” have giant glass walls, but that fear was mostly unfounded.

I really only had two big concerns throughout the novel. My first concern was that almost too much of the action was saved for later. Several little things happened throughout the book, but it didn’t really pick up until the middle or so. I’m not saying the big twists need to be revealed right away, but since you’re supposed to question whether or not ghosts are living in the house, I could’ve used a bit more creepiness.

My second concern: WHAT HAPPENS TO ROWAN?!?!

I did enjoy this novel a hole lot and rated it four stars on Goodreads. It wasn’t my favorite book, but it kept me reading way past when I should’ve been asleep, so that deserves a little something.

The Whisper Man

by Alex North

Possible spoiler ahead

A child is kidnapped in a way eerily similar to the Whisper Man’s crimes twenty years ago…but Frank Carter is in jail. Who is behind it this time, and can they catch them in time?

I expected a lot out of this book. Celadon is a relatively new publishing company, and they published the excellent The Silent Patient. That was what I was expecting out of this. It was not really what I got.

I understand that a book doesn’t need to have action on every single page. However, in this particular book, nothing much happened. There were a few things here and there, but most of the action was confined to the very beginning and then the last 3/4 of the book.

The book seemed to want to let the main character and his son (especially be the son) be slightly supernatural, and I love the identity of Jake’s imaginary friend…but since the rest of the book was not supernatural, it seemed out of place and kind of a deus ex machina…not even that since it’s present from the beginning of the book. How would the book have looked without Jake’s imaginary friends?

I also guessed who the kidnapper was, but I don’t think that was the fault of the author. I just made an assumption based on another book I had read and stuck with it.

Anyway, it’s not an awful book, but it wasn’t the best thriller I’ve read.