Hey, friends! Reading is one of my favorite things to do in my spare time, and I often pair it with a warm beverage, face mask, or cozy spot outdoors. It’s a staple in my self-care routine. That’s why I thought I’d start sharing what I read with you all on a seasonal basis! With that being said, today, I’m writing a post with reviews of the books I read this past fall. For my fellow bookworms who also read to relax, see if any of these titles pique your interest!
I know they say you should save the best for last, but I’m tossing that guideline out the window. First up, I’m sharing my favorite of the three books I read this fall.
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1. Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens
My Rating: 5 Stars
Let me just start by saying that I LOVED THIS BOOK! Do yourself a favor and add it to your reading list right now. You won’t regret it.
As a writer myself, I marveled at Delia Owens’ writing. It is phenomenal. So phenomenal, that I checked the back book flap to read her bio and discover more of her work, only to find out that this is her first novel! You know what else I learned? She has no academic background in English or creative writing. Zero! Nope, instead, she holds a bachelor’s degree in zoology and a Ph.D. in animal behavior. Plus, she was a wildlife scientist for decades!
You can totally tell by Owens’ writing in Where the Crawdads Sing that she has a science background. Her highly detailed descriptions of North Carolina’s marshland and the wildlife inhabiting it will thoroughly transport you off your living room couch (or wherever you’re reading from). In fact, this aspect was my favorite thing about the book, besides the page-turning plot. Each page is filled with carefully constructed sentences that will make the English-nerd in you marvel at the beautiful prose.
Set in coastal North Carolina, Where the Crawdads Sing is both a murder mystery and a love story. It’s also a story about family, abandonment, and the human connection to nature. Kya, the protagonist, must grow up and survive alone after first her mother, then her siblings and father leave. Her only company is found in the wildlife of the marshland surrounding her home, and eventually, the two lovers she takes on in her youth (but not at the same time). When one of the young men turns up dead, the plot thickens as you wonder how he died and what will happen to Kya–who becomes a prime suspect for murder.
I will definitely read this book again in the future. It has secured a front-and-center spot on my bookshelf because I plan to use it as inspiration when I write. Yes, her writing is that good. I hope she writes more novels in the future; if so, I will be first in line to buy it!
2. Girl, Wash Your Face by Rachel Hollis
My Rating: 4.5 stars
My girlfriends recommended this book to me. After reading it, I can see why. So now, I’m paying it forward and recommending this book to you. If you feel like you’re going through some serious life crises that no one else understands…stop right there and read this book. Hollis shares–quite funnily and relatably–that we are not alone.
With chapters centered around twenty lies that Hollis once believed about herself, the book addresses these lies we tell ourselves and offers insight on how to see them as the baloney they truly are. Two of my favorite chapters are “I Should Be Farther Along By Now” and “I’m Going to Marry Matt Damon.” Other great chapters include “I’m Not Good Enough,” “I Will Never Get Past This,” and “I’ll Start Tomorrow.”
I really feel like I can relate to the chapter “I Should Be Farther Along By Now.” For the entirety of 2020, I struggled with this perception. Granted, we’ve been enduring a global pandemic for most of the year that didn’t help things much, but it goes deeper than that.
All throughout the year–even still now–I saw on social media how people I went to high school with are getting new jobs and promotions, buying houses, getting engaged or married, having kids, etc. And here I am, with nearly none of that yet. I felt behind. Like I should be farther along in life by now. Like I haven’t done much.
But the reason I’m not doing all those things yet is that my timeline is different than theirs. It took me six years of school to get two degrees for my dream career. Which is a HUGE accomplishment! And that’s why I’m not buying a house or getting married now. I valued getting the education I needed to land my job, which took a bit longer.
Everyone has different values and desires, so everyone’s life timeline will look different to reflect that. And if you didn’t know it yet, there is no universal right or wrong timeline for reaching these life milestones. The chapter addressing this topic has helped me to see this truth and it’s like a weight has been lifted off me.
And just think, there are 20 chapters just like this in Girl, Wash Your Face.
The only reason I didn’t give this five stars is that some chapters were a little shorter than others, and I wished that Hollis would’ve expanded on them more. Maybe they were uncomfortable topics for her to write about. I only feel this way because I was relating to her 100% and I just wanted her to delve a little deeper into some topics and share more personal stories or advice.
Overall, I think Girl, Wash Your Face needs to be on every girl’s bookshelf. To read through once to get a good grasp on the life lessons, but to also have on standby for whenever these lies start creeping back into your psyche.
3. Midnight Sun by Stephanie Meyer
My Rating: 3 Stars
Before you groan, roll your eyes, or back out of this page, let me explain why I had to read this book. Yes, I’ll admit I was a Twihard as a teenager back when Twilight was at its peak. I read all the books and saw all the movies like a loyal fan would. While I wouldn’t consider myself a Twihard anymore, I still felt like I had to read this book. Why? Because I remember waiting and waiting and waiting for it to be released years ago when Meyer teased it. Plus, I would be lying if I said I wasn’t curious to read Twilight from Edward’s perspective.
And this is essentially the premise of this hefty novel (coming in at a whopping 658 pages!). Much like how Edward has the ability to read minds, in this book, the reader is allowed inside Edward’s head. While there are a few things I disliked about the book, I personally think this is the strongest aspect of Midnight Sun. The access to Edward’s introspection as he grapples with the insane urge to sink his teeth into Bella over his stalkerish obsession to protect her holds your interest enough to keep reading.
One of the biggest issues audiences found with Edward’s behavior was his controlling, obsessive behavior toward Bella. Midnight Sun attempts to explain such behavior by revealing the extent of this internal conflict I mentioned above. You will feel like you understand why Edward is the way he is in the entire saga, and I think Meyer did a good job of addressing this issue in this novel.
Although I will say–and I add this as a warning to you–after reading the book, I liked Edward a lot less. Seriously, consider me off Team Edward now. Reading his perspective reminded me all too much of the Netflix show “You” and he gave me a creepy, stalker/psycho vibe. Yes, he’s a vampire, and yes, the scent of Bella’s blood is like heroin to him, but that doesn’t make me any more comfortable with him sneaking into her room every night to watch her sleep. Yikes. I know undertones of this exist in Twilight, but it’s amplified in Midnight Sun. Prepare yourself accordingly.
Besides that, the other drawbacks I saw with the book are its length and subsequent redundancy. I felt like this story could have been told in half the book’s length, so parts of it seemed to drag and repeat itself. Plus, that’s why I didn’t read more than three books this fall; the book is so dang long! It took me 6-7 weeks to finish it. I’m fine with reading long books, but when the content tends to repeat itself often, the task can get a bit tedious. Know what I mean?
This book is definitely a commitment. But if you were also a Twihard back in the day (or maybe still today?) and need to read this book to fill the gap that years of an unreleased book created, then pick up Midnight Sun. You’ll be equally fascinated and creeped out by Edward’s point of view enough to get you through the nearly seven-hundred pages of this Twilight re-telling.
So there you have it, my fall reading list! Have you read anything on this list yet? Hopefully, I’ll get more books for Christmas that will become a part of my winter reading list. Stay tuned for more book reviews to come at the end of the season. Until then, Happy Holidays and happy reading!
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