Quick Lit: February 2015

Quick Lit reviews of the Circle, The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks, Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children, The Good Girl, and the Girl on the Train | MrsRobbinsSparkles.com

It's that time again! Time to link up with Anne Bogel over at Modern Mrs Darcy and talk about I've been reading lately. Let's dive in!

I had to force myself to finish The Circle. About halfway through I started really hating it. I found the main character obnoxious and brain washed, though perhaps that was the point. But I’m getting ahead of myself. The Circle features Mae, a twenty-something who has just started working for a company called the Circle. Basically the company is Google, if Google had joined forces with Microsoft, Twitter, Facebook, and was behind every single tech thing. To me, this book is like a prequel to something like the Hunger Games or Divergent. It’s pre-dystopian, if that makes sense. It sets up a world where one company slowly starts to take over everything. I found it incredibly interesting in the beginning, but about halfway through (if you’ve read it, my icky feelings began with the kayak incident) I almost couldn’t stand it. By the end, I was just glad it was over.

 That being said, it was very well-written. Perhaps it was meant to make you feel that icky nasty, to make you grateful for a world where privacy can still exist. I know it made me want to pack up and move to a cabin in the woods, if only for a night. (Don’t tell my husband that, though. His dream is literally for us to live in a log cabin in Alaska!) I wouldn’t call this book a pleasant experience, but I do think it is worth a read. Maybe with a glass of wine to help you through.  ($9.99 for Kindle

Now let’s talk about The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks. First, stop what you are doing right now and get yourself a copy of this book. It’s only $1.99 for the Kindle version, so go ahead and click through and buy. I’ll wait.

Ok, great. Now we can begin. Because I really think every single person should know who Henrietta Lacks was. You and I may not be here if it wasn’t for her cells. Is that statement too bold? Maybe, but it could very well be true. Because Henrietta’s cells have been an integral part of the medical community for over 50 years. Her cells helped create the polio vaccine. They’ve helped in cancer research, AIDS research, gene mapping, and so much more. And for decades no one had any idea. For those of you who have no idea what I’m talking about, here’s a brief summary. Henrietta Lacks was a mother of 5 who was diagnosed with cervical cancer in the early 1950’s. A doctor removed two samples of cervix (a sample of healthy tissue and a sample of cancerous tissue) without her permission. At the time scientists were trying to find a way to keep cells alive indefinitely. And the only cells that were able to grow and thrive were the cancer cells taken from Henrietta, which were called HeLa cells. Those cells are still used in all kinds of research today. Those cells changed history. And Henrietta never knew about them. Her family didn’t know about them for years and years. And her family never saw any money from the profit made off the cells. Henrietta’s story is incredible and heartbreaking. While it is amazing what her cells did for the scientific community, it is also a story of racial and ethical issues. The Tuskegee experiment (a study where poor black men were either diagnosed with or actually given syphilis and then never treated for it to “see what would happen”) actually ran at the same time Henrietta’s cells were being mass produced. In Tuskegee. So a black woman’s cells were being used to save thousands of kids (at the time the cells were primarily being produced for polio vaccinations) at the exact same time that hundreds of black men were being  denied treatment for curable disease.

 This review ran longer than my usual Quick Lit reviews because this book had such an impact on me. And that’s why I think everyone should read it. Or at least do a Google search on Henrietta Lacks and learn about her. Or you know, read the book. ($1.99 for Kindle)

I had no idea what Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children was about when I began. I picked it up in a Kindle sale because I’d heard good things. But I had no clue it was about monsters and time loops and children with special skills. (Not the Liam Neeson kind, by the way.) I liked it anyway! It’s a quick read, as it is a young adult book (I know not all YA books read like YA, but this one does). It is a dark fantasy, so if that isn’t your thing, you won’t like this. But if it is, definitely give this a shot. There are super interesting pictures in the book, and most are real vintage photographs. The only thing I didn’t like is that I wasn’t aware it was a series. The book could be stand alone I suppose, but it definitely sets things up for the next one. I’m not sure I want to keep reading. I have such a long To Be Read list as it is, but we’ll see. ($3.99 for Kindle

I have mixed feelings about The Good Girl. I listened to it through Audible after snagging it during a big sale at the first of the year. I’d heard it was a good one; I think it was compared to Gone Girl (in the same breath as the Girl on the Train, below). First, it was no Gone Girl. It’s the story of Mia Dennett, the daughter of a prominent Chicago judge who is kidnapped and held in a tiny cabin in Minnesota. The book was entertaining; I mostly listened to it while driving to and from the office every day. It is told from various view points (the mother, the detective, the kidnapper) and jumps between “Before” and “After”. You don’t know what the event breaking time into before and after is until the very end, though. They did use different narrators for each viewpoint, so it was fairly easy to keep up. My least favorite viewpoint was the kidnapper, at least in the beginning. I turned it off in the middle of one of his chapters one day because I felt like his parts got too monotonous. Overall, it was a decent read. Don’t skip the epilogue, though. It will confirm what you (if you’re like me) were suspecting all along. ($7.99 for Kindle)

Girl on a Train, unlike The Good Girl, has more of that Gone Girl feel to it*. As you read the book you know there is something you are missing. Something is going on, something feels off, but you can’t quite figure out what. This is another book told from multiple perspectives. Rachel, an alcoholic divorcee who is something of a voyeur who finds herself wrapped up in this mystery (or inserts herself in it, you be the judge), Anna, the new wife of Rachel’s ex-husband  and Megan, the woman who disappears. This book kept me intrigued all the way through. I read it during my lunch breaks and would get so annoyed when my hour was up because I just wanted to read one more chapter. This mystery kept me guessing until about ¾ of the way through, which is way longer than most of them do! (See the Good Girl review above.) I highly recommend this one if suspense/mystery is your thing. Bonus: it isn’t gory like some of the Gillian Flynn novels.  ($8.99 for Kindle)

And that’s it for this month! I’m still slowly working my way through the Magic of Tidying Up and Essentialism, and I’m slogging through Frog Music (not loving it - I might actually not finish it). But I have a big pile of library books, my Kindle library is overflowing, and my Audible collection is growing. I’m ready to tackle another round of books!

 But first, what have you been reading lately? Anything you think I should check out immediately?

 *Man, that is a lot of titles about girls, isn’t it? Especially when they are all about women not girls…but that’s an entirely different topic.

Check out some of my other posts while you're here! 

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