March 2022 Book Review

I’m back again with another month’s worth of books.  Come check what I’ve read and I hope you might find something that catches your eye.  There’s nothing quite as nice as a good book, especially when you can discuss it with others.  

Books will be rated on a 1 – 5 star scale with 1 being bad and 5 being excellent.  If you enjoy what you see and don’t want to wait until the next book post, please follow us on Goodreads.  We’ll stay consistently updated there before compiling our month’s reading and thoughts here.

The comics Chaos has read will also be included at the end of the post.  Normally those will just be listed and not officially reviewed.  If you ever want to hear about a comic in particular though or want his thoughts, don’t be afraid to ask.  He enjoys discussing what he’s read. 

Now to the main event!

The Hypnotist’s Love Story by Liane Moriarty – 2.5/5 Stars

The premise of this book was unique and interesting enough: A hypnotist is trying to make a relationship work with a guy, and father, who is being stalked.  When she finds out about the stalking, she finds herself oddly excited and thrilled about the situation and the possibility of meeting this stalking.  Little does she know, the stalker might be closer than she thinks!

There was a lot to like about this book, but often the characters got in the way of a better story.  Over and over, the characters were frustratingly selfish.  Alternating between the hypnotist (Ellen) and stalker (Saskia), the two leads both gave reasons to support them, but also often seemed too into their own ideas of how the world should work.  The boyfriend/ex Patrick is absolutely awful.  The cold way he broke up with Saskia makes him seem like a huge jerk and his relationship with Ellen never really redeems him.

Again, there was enough to keep me interested through most of the novel, but it would have benefited from being much shorter.  Every time I felt like a wrap up was happening, I’d look to see I was nowhere near the end of the novel.  Honestly, the final, post-climax stretch is about a third of the book.  Moriarty ties up her loose ends, ties them up again, and then looks around to see if she can find any more to tie up just in case.

This was a decent enough read, but I won’t be rushing to pick up any of Moriarty’s other books any time soon.

Born a Crime: Stories of a South African Childhood by Trevor Noah – 4/5 Stars

Trevor Noah is a very funny writer and is excellent at relating his own personal experiences in an engaging manner.  Add to that his exploration the deeper themes of his childhood: family, race, apartheid, religion, freedom, etc, and you have a book more than worth reading.  

Noah does a wonderful of painting a picture of the world he grew up in and letting readers learn what life could be like for a mixed child in apartheid South Africa.  There is a great mix of viewing the world through a younger Trevor’s eyes and reflecting back on it with more of an adult Trevor’s mindset.  Noah doesn’t shy away from the harshness and hardships that at times were the reality he grew up in, but his humor does a great job of keeping the memoir from ever feeling like a depressing slog, while still not undercutting the emotional weight of his memories.  

The heart and backbone of this memoir is Noah’s relationship with his mother.  They test each other and push each, but they are clearly stronger people due to one another.  

Whether already familiar with Trevor Noah or not, readers should be able to enjoy Born a Crime for its humorous and thought-provoking style.

Final Girl Support Group by Grady Hendrix – 4/5 Stars

Horror has never been one of my favorite genres and yet I can’t seem to get enough of good horror stories.  Over the last few years, I’ve found Grady Hendrix to be a strong source of horror-based novels (My favorite of his books being My Best Friend’s Exorcism).  

The Premise of a group of last girls (final survivors of their own horror stories) forming a support network and then being hunted down by a mysterious force would probably have been enough to make a decent novel by itself.  Add Hendrix’s willingness to include plenty of references and nods to the slasher genre, and his clear understanding of the source material and things only get better.

Hendrix uses this book to explore the ways that horrific traumatic events can affect individuals and how they have to learn to live after those experiences.  The credits have rolled and their fifteen minutes of fame have faded.  What now?

This novel is clearly meant to deconstruct the slasher/thriller genre in a tongue in cheek way.  The level of execution varies.  During its best moments, the novel gives readers something to think about in terms of the genre as a whole, why readers might enjoy it, and how it has/hasn’t evolved.  At other times, the novel is just another solid entry into the thriller genre itself, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing.

Final Girls Support Group came at the slasher genre at an interesting angle and did a strong job building its protagonist and the mystery she was trying to unravel.  If you’re into horror, this book is worth checking out. 

Infinite Country by Patricia Engel – 3.5/5 Stars

This is a very touching and well-written novel about a family divided between America and Columbia.  Readers are given a look into one family’s quest to better themselves and the lives of their children, while dealing with the hardships of the immigrant experience and the struggles of being people torn between worlds.

Engel packs a lot into such a small and quick paced book.  The lives and histories of several family members are delved into and it’s impossible not to feel for each of them as they long for wholeness and a sense of belonging.  In a world where easy answers are rare, each person must do what they can only hope is for the best.

While the novel throws in things like prison breaks and trips across Columbia to help spice up the story, it never truly feels necessary.  The family drama alone and the Columbian history and culture are enough to keep the book interesting.

The fast pace and need to cram a lot into summary/exposition might not be for everyone, but I personally felt Engel did a great job of making her pages count and maximizing the impact of everything she wrote.  This can be a heavy read, but I believe it deserves to be read.

The Astronaut and the Star by Jen Comfort: 2.5/5 Stars

A no nonsense, career-driven astronaut who needs to learn to prove she can be a people-person if she hopes to be selected for a mission to the moon.  A Hollywood heartthrob who needs astronaut training to prepare for the potential role of a lifetime.  They’ll be alone and training in a simulated lunar lab for one month.  Can they move past what makes them so different in order to actually help one another?  Once they breach their surfaces will they discover the potential for a deeper connection?

For the most part, I would call this book more of a comedic “lust story” than a “love story.”  The two main characters can’t stop pining for one another physically from the start and have so much trouble keeping it in their pants, until they decide not to any more.  Then they have to battle with the struggle of loving sex together so much, but the uncertainity of whether they can make a real relationship work.  

This book is ridiculous in a mostly fun way.  It follows the standard pattern of romantic comedies but turns the characters’ personalities up to an extreme, as well as their limbidos.  So many times a simple look, touch, or thought makes both of the two main characters whimper, moan, and lose control of their minds and bodies.  For two people who claim to be very sex-positive and active, they sure act like they’ve never been around someone they find attractive before.  The characters are meant to bring out something new and better in one another, but often they just end up awkwardly fumbling around their feelings.  Rom-coms, am I right?

Outside of the nonstop, heavy lusting, the rest of the book provided enough fun escapades to keep the book interesting: visiting parents, dinners out, scorpion attacks, one-planet truthers, etc.

This isn’t the type of book you read to better yourself intellectually.  It’s light and fun trashiness, but at least the characters are well defined and you want to see them succeed.  If this is your genre, you can do a lot worse.

The Things They Carried by Tim O’Brien – 4/5 Stars

Tim O’Brien’s The Things They Carried is a excellent blend of fiction and reality.  O’Brien’s tales give readers a peer into the lives and minds of soldiers, but more importantly it allows readers a chance to get to know O’Brien’s characters and their messy, complicated lives.

These interconnected stories set in and around (physically and topically) the Vietnam War are highly engaging and enjoyable on multiple levels.  O’Brien examines the war, the people who took part in it, his experiences, and the task of writing about his experiences.  O’Brien’s novel is not just worth reading for his experimentation with how to tell a war story, but also all the substance of his story and protagonists.  Through peeks into their lives at different points, and the recursive, non-linear storytelling, a reader really feels like they get to know the people of fictional Timothy O’Brien’s life.

This is a great book for those interested in people, war, writing, and the art of storytelling.

Comics Read This Month:

  • Captain America vol. 5 – All Die Young Part Two by Ta-Neshi Coates Leonard Kirk
  • Ghost-Spider vol 2 – Party People by Seanan McGuire Ig Guara
  • Kang The Conqueror: Only Myself to Conquer by Jackson Lanzing and Carlos Magno
  • Non-Stop Spider-Man: Big Brain Play by Joe Kelly 

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