Hamilton: The Revolution

I loved listening to this audiobook. I am unashamed of my obsession with Hamilton. I first heard the musical when NPR put the tracks on their website. One of my best friends lives in NYC and heard the buzz about the show. He knows about my love of musical theatre and history, and Hamilton is the perfect blend of both.

This book follows the show song by song and gives background information about the show that relates to each song. The book version also has the lyrics of the show accompanied by Lin-Manuel Miranda’s Genius annotations.

This book was a great behind the scenes look at Hamilton that any fan won’t want to miss.

4/5

The Kind Worth Killing

A the recommendation of a patron, our unofficial circulation book club read this book. The Kind Worth Killing by Peter Swanson is a mystery/thriller that follows Lily, a woman who meets Ted on a plane. Ted confides in Lily that he wants to kill his wife, who he caught cheating on him.

While this sounds like it would be plenty for the plot of the novel, it is only the beginning. There are so many twists and turns in this book. Every time I thought that I knew the direction it was going, Swanson delivered another plot twist.

Unexpectedly, I loved this novel. It was more feminist than I thought it was going to be. I admit that I’m not an expert in this genre, but when I’ve read mysteries and thrillers written by men, the women are more archetypal than Lily. Even Miranda, who is painted as the shrew from the opening of the novel, has motives for her actions and is not just a plot device.

Overall, I enjoyed this novel. After trying to guess the next plot twist during the first section, I eventually gave up and let Swanson lead me on his tightly crafted roller coaster. This isn’t the most cerebral novel, but it kept everyone in the book club intrigued and gave us plenty to discuss.

4/5

Milk and Honey

I don’t give many 5-star reviews. I give a fair amount of 4s and some 3s, but it takes a lot for me to give a book 5 stars. It has to move me personally, as well as being extremely well-written. I am more familiar with prose over poetry, so I don’t know how much I can judge the writing of this book. But I do know that Milk and Honey by Rupi Kaur touched me.

This collection of Kaur’s poetry is divided into four sections meant to move one through the stages of heartbreak. Kaur first gained fame as an Instagram poet. Her poetry is frequently accompanied by hand-drawn minimalist/line-art pictures. Sometimes they just match the poem, but they always heighten it.

When I first went through these poems, I read some of them with my boyfriend. I expressed to him that I would love my own copy so I could write in the book and share it with other people. Ever the amazing man that he is, he bought be a copy for our anniversary and even marked a few of our favorites. This is, by far, the best gift I’ve ever received.

Overall, I don’t have anything negative to say about this collection. I love the structure, illustrations, and the poetry itself. I would recommend this book to anyone and I can’t wait to pass my copy around to everyone I know.

5/5

Before the Fall

Before the Fall by Noah Hawley is about a man who performs a heroic act, and then he has to live with the consequences. This novel follows Scott Burroughs, a painter who lives on Martha’s Vineyard. After a plane crash from a flight he never should have been on, Scott saves the life of a boy who is now the sole inheritor of a media empire.

This novel slowly picks apart the mystery of why the plane crash happened by diving into the backstories of the people aboard the plane. I love stories that start with the center of the story and then pick apart everything else to give the viewer the full picture. This succeeds in this, as you would expect from the creator and writer of Fargo.

Overall, I really liked this novel up until the end. Hawley is a master of spinning narrative out of a central event. But I thought the ending of the novel was cliché. Hawley is too good of a plotter and writer to fall into the traps that he did. But this novel will make a great blockbuster movie and it has already been optioned.

3/5

Ms. Marvel, Vol. 1: No Normal

Like I’ve said before, I have little to no knowledge of Marvel outside of MCU. So I’ve heard of Ms. Marvel, and I’d heard the hype about this newer series, starting a Muslim American teenager living in Jersey City. While MCU hasn’t had much diversity (where is our Black Widow movie??) the comics have been doing alright from what I can tell.

This graphic novel collects the first five issues of Ms. Marvel. It follows Kamala Khan as she goes through high school, gets powers, hangs out with her friends, and saves lives. She struggles with the meaning behind her newly-acquired powers and what she is obligated to do with them.

Even though my family is not Muslim, there are so many similarities between Kamala’s parents and mine. These similarities, plus the occasional Arabic, were like little gems for me. I’ve spent the majority of my life without seeing people who look like me in the media. Well, unless they played Terrorist #3. I can’t even begin to express how I fell when I see a superhero who looks like me.

Overall, I enjoyed this graphic novel a lot. Most of it was introductory in nature, so I can’t wait to read more of the series to see where they go.

4/5

The Handmaid’s Tale

When I read this book for my 2016 Reading Challenge, I’d just heard about the TV series for Hulu. I’m reviewing this book through a recommendation. If there’s anything else that you want me to read and review, please don’t hesitate to ask! When I say that this book changed the way I think, I do so without a hint of irony. Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale is literary without being pretentious and, since January 20, 2107, closer to reality in the United States than we ever expected.

For those unfamiliar with the novel, it follows the story of Offred, a woman who is a Handmaid. Handmaids are women whose function is to sexually satisfy and bear children for the elite of a new religious oligarchy. But these men who are the head of the new system also have wives. Offred is assigned to The Commander and his wife, Serena Joy, because she is infertile. In actuality, The Commander is infertile, but men are not allowed to be infertile under the laws of Gilead, the new nation and government.

I’ve read the majority of classic dystopian novels. This one stands out to me for three reasons: the female protagonist, its subsequent focus on female issues, and that it is from the perspective of someone who remembers ‘before’. I like 1984 and Brave New World, but they have no concern for women beyond the typical archetypal roles of whore and/or mother. The Handmaid’s Tale is from the perspective of a woman who remembers the freedom she had before the current extreme patriarchal society that took over.

I can’t really express how much this novel affected me in just a few short paragraphs. I have trouble articulating it at all, actually. I read literature to gain perspectives that aren’t my own. But we are just a few small steps away from a United States that could resemble the one that Offred lives in. I love this novel because it’s a mixture f many of my favorite genres: dystopian, feminist, and sci-fi/fantasy. Every word of this novel resounded with me and I already can’t wait to read it again.

5/5

Everything, Everything

I read this YA novel at the recommendation of a coworker and because of the recent movie staring Amandla Stenberg, who also played Rue in The Hunger Games. Everything, Everything by Nicola Yoon is the story of Maddy, who is sealed off in her house due to an extreme illness. Literally, anything from the world could kill her. But then Olly moves in next door and she has to ask herself what she would do for love.

One of my favorite parts about this novel is the multiple formats used to tell the story. There are journal entries, blogs, plane tickets, drawings, and many other creative ways that Yoon created the narrative. This also made the novel pass extremely quickly. Most of the “chapters” were just a few pages. It felt almost more like a scrapbook of her experience. While a device like this can feel kitschy, it actually drew me deeper in to the novel. It was like I stumbled upon a stranger’s mashed-up diary and learned about her through it.

Overall, I enjoyed this novel. It could have easily gone on too long, but I felt like one complete story. I can’t wait to watch the movie so I can compare the two. I feel like this story will translate extremely well to the big screen.

4/5