“I’m Not A Stalker” found quick fame on Wattpad and I can see why: a quick story told through a series of emails and texts about what happens when a girl accidentally hits “reply all” and finds herself in the center of a torrent of gossip and (not so) secret admirers? Telling the whole story of Anissa, the main character, trying to figure out who the secret admirer is while dodging nosy classmates and a kind of douche ex-boyfriend through emails and texts works great in a blog / serial format, where the story is more of a guilty-pleasure popcorn munching tale. But when you put all of that in a traditional book format, the charm of it being such a unique format ran out rather quickly, at least for me. Plus, with the title, part of me was hoping for a little of a psycho-thriller aspect to it. I’ve hit “reply all” on important emails before, and the fear and anxiety that comes with that is nothing to laugh at! But none of that is in this story so… don’t worry?
“Like Broken China” is the story of a young woman divorcing her alcoholic husband. Right there should be the only trigger warning you need if people dealing with addiction or divorce isn’t something you enjoy. Personally, I thought this book was not only a quick little page turner, with a sort of cozy feel thanks to the sarcastic way the main character tells the story, but I also found the subject matter important. Too often this kind of story focuses on the rebound that these women go through when they leave their bad husbands, or the story focuses on meeting a new guy, not so with Thompson’s book. Instead we get to see why Courtney fell in love with an alcoholic to begin with, and how his disease destroyed their marriage, as well as what it’s like for a young mother of two to get out of that toxic situation before she can even attempt to start her life over.
“Choose to Rise” is a lyrical account of the Armenian Genocide. I know what you’re thinking: how can such a horrendous (but historically important) part of our history be LYRICAL? Allow me to explain. “Choose to Rise” is a historical fiction of the events that happened in the years leading up to the Armenian Genocide, during, and very briefly the aftermath. The vast majority of this book occurs over the span of a few years (1913-1915) and is told in first person through the main character Armen, who is finally telling his grandchildren what he and his family endured. Despite the heavy subject matter, the author endeavors to make his readers really feel what his characters (and countless real people) encountered. He aims to bring that era to life by painting us a picture through prose. Mekaelian’s descriptions throughout the book are just lovely, which is why this book has a lyrical quality to it. While I thought the author’s writing was beautiful, it didn’t always work well with the story he was aiming to tell, however.
“Beyond The Vale” is the tale of Logan Leonard’s afterlife. Yup, our main character is dead, though he doesn’t remember how, or why, or much else really. All he knows is that in order to “earn his passage”—aka, get out of this in-between place—he needs to remember what happened, what led him to this place, and find a way to bring salvation to the other tortured souls in this land. If Logan fails, then everyone fails, everyone goes to Hell. So, you know, no pressure. This book reminded me a lot of “What Dreams May Come” mixed with “A Christmas Carrol” (tis the season after all), with a few animal guides for good measure. It was a fun ride, with a really powerful message that caught me completely off guard!
“Hiding In Third Person” is, on the surface, about an orderly in a mental institution gaining the trust of a patient in order to learn the truth behind his fantastic story about runaways and murder, and keep the troubled man from going to another facility. But things are not as simple as they appear, and the patient, Mr. Rivers, has a story that many think is false, but Ricky, the orderly, knows otherwise. It’s a storyline that should be thrilling, with an intriguing mystery as to what’s real, and who is responsible for Mr. Rivers’ ultimate fate, but the story didn’t really achieve that for me by the books’ conclusion.
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