Book Reviews, Bookworm Blogging

The Education of a Coroner [review]

**Note: I received this book from Netgalley in exchange for my honest opinion. This in no way impacts my review**

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The Education of a Coroner by John Bateson
To be published by Scribner on August 15, 2017
368 pages. ISBN-13: 978-1-50116-822-2
Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️
[Goodreads[IndieBound[Author Website]

In the vein of Dr. Judy Melinek’s Working Stiff, an account of the hair-raising and heartbreaking cases handled by [Ken Holmes] the coroner of Marin County, California throughout his four decades on the job—from high-profile deaths to serial killers, to Golden Gate Bridge suicides.

cw: death, murder, sexual assault, rape culture, sexism, racism

It’s been a hot second since I’ve read some nonfiction and I was really looking forward to this book. I plucked it off Netgalley, thinking that it looked fascinating. From the beginning, it reeled me in. I think a lot of us find the concept of death fascinating, and the idea of what follows here, in the corporeal world, isn’t something I’ve thought much about, even though I’ve watched many crime dramas.

For instance, I had no idea what a coroner’s job entails. What I’ve gathered is that it’s a great deal of investigative work and a position that requires intensely strong people skills, observational skills, and strength. Coroners quite literally see it all, and they assist the police very closely in their work when a death doesn’t appear to be natural. It was really interesting to discover how the system operates after a person dies.

As much as I enjoyed Holmes’ anecdotes towards the beginning, things began to feel off to me about a quarter through the book. There’s one specific quote that set me off, in which Holmes completely discredits a woman’s rape allegation by saying that she was too heavy and not attractive enough to have been raped. He also throws in some casual racism regarding the situation.  I have no idea why the author thought this was appropriate to include because, to me, it discredits Holmes as a serious investigator. How many other alleged crimes has he shrugged off because of how a woman looks? He talks about the injustices that the dead face, but how about the living?

Holmes then went on to tell what he thought was a heartwarming, funny story about a late coworker who egged on a bartender by speaking in a “Middle Eastern” accent. In talking about a robbery that he experienced, Holmes explained that he didn’t pull out his gun because the store was “filled with women” who could have been hurt–as if he is only concerned with hurting women. And there was a horrifying story in which a man told Holmes that he was going to kill himself and Holmes did nothing.  In most instances it is required, if not legally then at the very least morally, to inform someone in a situation like that. Not only did Holmes keep this information to himself until after the fact–he also seemed not to express remorse for this decision, which struck me as shady and wrong.

In addition to all of that, I felt super uncomfortable about the fact that the book referred to all the deceased by name and revealed intimate information about their lives and families. Some of these cases were decades old, but some weren’t. I understand that most, if not all, of this information is probably public record, but it just felt really voyeuristic and like it was taking advantage of the deaths of all of these people just for the personal gain of these two men, Holmes and the author.

After these issues started creeping in, the book began to drag on for me. It’s less about the life of a coroner in general and more a memoir about one specific coroner’s career. It is also important to note that Holmes is a relatively privileged man working in an extremely privileged environment (“Marin ranks in the top one percent of counties nationwide in terms of affluence and overall health”) and that this is an extremely biased view of both life and death.

Generally an okay read and maybe something I’d recommend to folks interested in forensics, but I enjoyed it much less than I thought I would.

Thanks to all for reading! Do you plan to read The Education of a Coroner? Please share your thoughts in the comments. You can also find me on Twitter and Goodreads.

Book Reviews

Emma in the Night [review]

**Note: This book was given to me by St. Martin’s Press as part of a sweepstakes. This in no way impacts my review. Review was written in May of 2017.


Emma in the Night by Wendy Walker
To be published by St. Martin’s Press on August 8, 2017
Advance Readers’ Edition, 305 pages, ISBN-13: 978-1-250-14143-9

I honestly do not know where to begin with this book. I entered the sweepstakes to win a copy of the ARC of Emma in the Night on a whim. The cover was enticing, the plot looked interesting. Hey, why not. I had not read anything else by Wendy Walker and I had not heard anything about this release yet. Boy, was that a good decision. This is an incredible read that could otherwise have slipped me by.

Emma in the Night is a story about a girl and her sister, who vanish without a trace. Three years later, the younger sister reappears. She seems willing to tell the authorities everything she knows about their disappearances. There’s a lot going on, however, that she isn’t willing to talk about. The story is told from the perspectives of Cass, one of the sisters, and Dr. Walker, an FBI agent who can see deeper than anyone else working the case.

At first, I found the disjointed storytelling to be confusing and frustrating. We were just getting bits and pieces of the story from Cass herself or secondhand from Dr. Walker’s recounted conversations with Cass. Right off the bat, the writing style made me feel really lost in the story. As things progressed, I realized how intentional (not to mention essential) this was. Cass is an unreliable narrator, and makes it clear that she only feels the need to reveal things that will help her cause: finding her sister.

The characters were fascinating, complex, and well-developed. The plot and the writing were phenomenal. I could not make myself put this book down. I loved watching the story unravel, seeing things make both more and less sense as we progressed until it all came together with an impressive flourish. I knew there were twists coming, but I truly had no idea what was in store for me.

Wendy Walker blew this out of the water. Her writing is immersive and carefully crafted. I cannot emphasize enough how much I enjoyed this book–and I’m sure it will be great as a re-read as well. I’d recommend it to all who enjoy a good plot twist, but particularly to fans of thrillers and crime novels.

 

Rating: ⋆⋆⋆⋆⋆

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Book Reviews, Bookworm Blogging

Arrows of the Queen [review]


Arrows of the Queen by Mercedes Lackey
Published by DAW Books, Inc. in March 1987 
First Edition, 320 pages. ISBN-13: 978-0-88677-378-6
Rating: ⭐️⭐️

I read Arrows of the Queen for the first time approximately 4 years ago and this was my second time with it. I wanted to reread it so I could continue with the series. Unfortunately, it ended up having the opposite effect. The writing needed a lot of polishing and I’m surprised I enjoyed it so much the first time around, but the plot had probably grabbed me too hard for me to notice it.

The main character, Talia, was kind of a Mary Sue (perfect in every way, essentially no faults), the other characters weren’t very well-developed, and the main romance felt really forced and completely random. I felt like it could have been done without completely and was kind of stuck in for no reason. The pacing of the story itself was jerky and weird with large swaths of time skipped over at random. There were far too many “but little did she know…” moments, which drove me nuts.

On the plus side, the world-building was good, the concept was really interesting, and there were several women loving women!!! I loved the way that the lgbtqia+ female characters were incorporated into the story. Their sexuality didn’t define them, but homophobia was still briefly discussed–it seemed similar to today, where some people had no issue with homosexuality, but others did.

Overall, the book wasn’t completely without its merits, but it just wasn’t really an enjoyable read for me.

Thanks for reading! Have you picked up any books by Mercedes Lackey? Let me know in the comments. You can also follow me on Twitter or Goodreads.

Book Reviews, Bookworm Blogging

The Stranger [review]


The Stranger by Albert Camus
Translated from French by Matthew Ward
Published by Random House, Inc. in 1989 (originally in 1942)
First Vintage International Edition, ebook format, 124 pages. ISBN-13: 978-0-307-82766-1
Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

I read The Stranger at the behest of my cousin, Debbie because she wanted me to read The Meursault Investigationwhich probably doesn’t make any sense to read by itself as it is an independently-written sequel of sorts. I had never read The Stranger and I typically don’t like classics, so I honestly wasn’t expecting much. It’s a short read, so I figured I’d zip through it, read The Meursault Investigation, write brief reviews for both, and move on with my life. I do have to say, I was very pleasantly surprised. (Just a quick content warning for domestic abuse. It won’t be brought up in my review, but it is present in the book.)

Then he asked me if I wasn’t interested in a change of life. I said that people never change their lives, that in any case one life was as good as another and that I wasn’t dissatisfied with mine here at all.

The book is written in first person, which is typically off-putting for me, but it wouldn’t have worked in any other format. I desperately wish I had read this in school because I’m positive there is so much I didn’t pick up on that would have led me to appreciate it even more. The tone is relatively dry and matter-of-fact, which I disliked at the outset. It’s kind of a “this happened, and then this happened, and then that happened” kind of story.

I would have liked to have tried explaining to him cordially, almost affectionately, that I had never been able to truly feel remorse for anything.

Camus starts off the book with the death of Meursault’s mother, an event which seems to have little to no impact at all on the man. As the book continues, it becomes clear that Meursault moves through the world like an automaton: he goes about his daily life with barely a hint of emotions. He seems content, if contentedness differs from happiness.

Meursault started off as a flat, boring character, but he became fascinating to me. He has no moral code, he has no real sense of right or wrong. He’s not malicious, he just doesn’t seem to understand that the people around him feel. He mentions at one point that the deaths of others don’t bother him because he’ll just forget about them. He expects that when he eventually dies, that they’ll forget about him too. He falls into the same trap that many of us sometimes fall into: he cannot comprehend what others are experiencing because that is not what he is experiencing.

I truly felt for him. Is it possible to feel empathy for someone who cannot feel? It’s just a projection of my own feelings onto him. I place myself in his shoes and know how I would feel, so I feel that for him. But isn’t that exactly what he’s doing? He’s placing himself in others’ shoes and assuming they feel (or don’t feel) the same way he does. I don’t know, it was a fascinating concept, and very well-executed. The Meursault Investigation is next on my TBR, but I’ll also probably look into some essays and articles on The Stranger so I can wrap my head around this all a little more.

Have you read The Stranger? If so, please share your thoughts! If not, do you have any interest in reading it? It’s certainly a strange book, but also a quick one to get through.

Thanks for reading! You can also follow me on Twitter and Goodreads.

Book Reviews, Bookworm Blogging

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo [review]

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson
Published by Vintage Books in June 2009
Mass-Market Edition, 644 pages. ISBN-13: 978-0-307-47347-9
Rating: ⭐️⭐️

I have been plodding my way through this book for weeks, trying to figure out how I’m going to properly review it without tearing it apart. I dragged myself through the first 200 pages and then put out a call for help. After consulting with many people, all of whom had already read the book, I concluded that the book was to get better and I would not DNF it. I put it on pause to read Everything, Everything and then continued my way through it. And, well, here are my thoughts.

I think just about everyone has heard of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo at this point. The whole series is famous and the first book has been made into a movie–twice. Somehow I hadn’t gotten around reading it until now. I had been intending to for years, but the opportunity just never presented itself. A couple years ago I ended up getting a copy and immediately forgot about it completely. Recently I rediscovered it and decided it was time.

I usually keep my reviews spoiler-free, but in the interest of discussing all my issues with the book, I’m going to warn you all that there will be rampant spoilers throughout this review. I also want to put out a content warning for this book for rape, assault, incest, and plenty more. It was quite the read.

I’ll start off with the problem that almost caused me to DNF this book: it is almost entirely exposition. The first 200 pages alone are exposition. The first half of the book was, in my opinion, dry and boring and unnecessary. It is a translation, so it’s possible that something was lost here. I understood, to some extent, why so much setup was needed, but in my opinion the payoff just wasn’t there.

None of the characters were compelling to me. I understand books with unlikeable characters, but here the main characters were boring and two-dimensional. Blomkvist was bland and I couldn’t fathom why women were throwing themselves at him left and right. Salander had so much potential as a Strong Female Character™, but just ended up being more like an unrealistic caricature. She didn’t feel like a real person and because of that, she just wasn’t interesting to me. All of the romantic and sexual relationships had no chemistry and felt entirely unnecessary.

Sexual assault was essentially just used for shock value throughout the entire novel. Salander is assaulted multiple times. A graphic assault scene is bookended by sex scenes, which is a huge pet peeve of mine as, in my opinion, it contributes to the sexualizing of rape and assault (a huge problem in media). I really didn’t think I got anything out of the repeated assault except for motive for Salander’s distrust of men (I mean same, amirite).

The plot was in and out. Like I said, it kind of dragged on for a while, but it got interesting once things finally picked up. If the story had been condensed, I think I would have liked it a lot more. After the main mystery was resolved, it slowed down again. I almost wish the entire Wennerström plotline had been left out. It provided motivation and background for Blomksvist’s character, but really took up too much time and space and could have been avoided.

Apologies if this was a little meandering, I’m struggling to get all my thoughts put together concisely. I feel badly for not having much good to say about this book, but I was deeply disappointed by it. I’m intrigued about the Swedish film and intend to watch it, but I do not plan to continue reading the series.

Rating: ⭐️⭐️

Thanks for reading! Please let me know your thoughts on this book, either version of the movie, and/or the Millenium series at large. You can also follow me on Twitter and Goodreads.

Book Reviews, Bookworm Blogging

The Love That Split the World [review]



The Love That Split the World
by Emily Henry

Published by Penguin Random House in 2016

Kindle Edition, 396 pages. ISBN-13: 978-0-698-40815-9

I picked up The Love That Split the World on a whim. I think I had read one or two good reviews, and then I saw it on sale for the kindle so I took my chance. And I’m glad I did! Also look how beutiful that cover is AHHH.

I’ve tried to write a summary for this story several times, but I just can’t quite seem to get it right, so I’ll copy Goodreads’ here: Natalie Cleary must risk her future and leap blindly into a vast unknown for the chance to build a new world with the boy she loves. Natalie’s last summer in her small Kentucky hometown is off to a magical start… until she starts seeing the “wrong things.” They’re just momentary glimpses at first–her front door is red instead of its usual green, there’s a preschool where the garden store should be. But then her whole town disappears for hours, fading away into rolling hills and grazing buffalo, and Nat knows something isn’t right.

Right off the bat, cw for abusive relationships, rape, and alcoholism. I won’t be discussing any of these in-depth, but they are present in the book.

I’ll be honest, for the first 20-30 pages, I struggled a bit with the writing. Natalie herself was a somewhat irritating as a narrator and it kept feeling like the whole book was trying too hard. Some of Natalie’s inward thoughts felt petty and I rolled my eyes several times. But the writing evened out some and I adjusted to the style and fell into the story.

Things got better very quickly. I liked Natalie, I loved Beau more than I could ever love a real human being, I really appreciated the importance of the deep friendship between Natalie and her best friend, and I was enthralled by the plot itself. Emily Henry wove a beautiful tale, interspersed with indigenous peoples’ myths. I liked this concept, but was a little wary–and with good reason. A cursory search led me to this piece, which I highly recommend folx read. As a white person, I cannot speak to the accuracy of Henry’s novel, but I will admit a lot of the discussion of indigenous peoples made me feel deeply uncomfortable. From the White Savior adoption aspect to the depiction of indigenous peoples as bad people who live in bad places, I felt that more bad than good came of Henry’s attempt at inclusion–but I’m no expert and I’d rather defer to the  opinions of non-white folx on this one.

Examining the novel from an enjoyment standpoint alone, I’d say Emily Henry did a great job with her debut novel. It wasn’t perfect, but it was compelling, interesting, and heart-wrenching. I tentatively recommend it, but with the caveat that it deserves some serious examination when it comes to reinforcing negative sterotypes about indigenous peoples.

Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Thanks for reading! Please let me know what your thoughts are in the comments. You can also follow me on Twitter and Goodreads.

Book Reviews, Bookworm Blogging

Everything, Everything [review]

everything everything by nicola yoon book cover

Everything, Everything by Nicola Yoon
Published by Ember (Penguin Random House, LLC) in 2017 (originally 2015)
First Ember Edition, 305 pages, ISBN-13: 978-0-553-49667-3

Y’all I just finished Everything, Everything by Nicola Yoon and WHERE do I BEGIN.

Actually, I know exactly where to begin. I’m going to begin with the caveat that, while I enjoyed this book, I can acknowledge that there are a lot of problems with it!! I do not consider myself physically disabled and thus cannot speak to the topic as an expert. I implore you to seek out some reviews speaking specifically to the problems present in this book, particularly this one (it does contain spoilers, although mine does not).

My review will be specific to my enjoyment of the book as a book, and not objective in any way. I am coming from a place of extreme privilege in this respect and acknowledge that. All this is to say that I am very aware of the many troubling issues there and I encourage other readers to explore these as well.

And with that, let us begin.

One thing I’m certain of: Wanting just leads to more wanting. There’s no end to desire.

Everything, Everything is an adorable YA novel about a girl named Madeline who has a condition known as Severe Combined Immunodeficiency (SCID). This means, essentially, that she is allergic to loads of things and cannot leave her house because she doesn’t know what might trigger a deathly reaction. Madeline is 18 years old and hasn’t left her home since infancy. No one comes in, and she lives in near-isolation with only her mother and her nurse, Carla. Of course, an intriguing young man moves in next door and Madeline is immediately smitten.

This book gave me so. Many. Feelings. I haven’t felt this way while reading a book in ages!! I think it’s also been a while since I’ve read YA, specifically contemporary romantic YA. I’ll admit it upfront: I’m a sucker for cheesy romance. I’m a hopeless romantic. I love instalove. I love the concept of loving someone with your whole being. This book GOT ME. My heart ached and it took all my self-control not to roll around wailing the whole time I was reading it. But that’s just me.

Love is a terrible thing and its loss is even worse.
Love is a terrible thing and I want nothing to do with it.

I really adore that Maddy and Olly got to know each other through emails and IMs! (I won’t count that as a spoiler because it’s pretty predictable and happens very early on.) It made me so nostalgic. I can’t tell you how many of my relationships (friendships included) have been formed through online interactions. I’m such a shy, anxious person out in the real world that technology allows me to build relationships with people in a low-pressure environment where I don’t have to stress face-to-face interactions until after I feel comfortable with someone!

I also ADORED the writing. Nicola Yoon is very talented and there were only a few phrases from this book that I rewrote in my head (for some reason I keep getting Editor Brain while reading–I’ve never been an editor! Although, I did work in my college’s writing center for a while.) It was easy for me to feel immersed in the story and I love the illustrations that we get every so often! It’s a cute, fun way to tell a story and I really appreciated it.

I will caution avoiding the movie trailer until you’ve read the book. That’s something I try to avoid in general and I didn’t even know Everything, Everything was being made into a movie until I bought it a week or two ago, so I lucked out. The trailer, in my opinion, gives away some things that I considered to be too revealing. Basically, the movie trailer is filled with spoilers. You basically get the whole plot out of it, except for the ending. It’s annoying. I’m glad I got to go into this mostly cold and I want you to do the same if you can!

Anyway, I think that’s about all I have for this one. I definitely recommend it, particularly if you enjoy romantic YA novels. Don’t go into it expecting a great portrayal of someone with a disability, others do a much better job explaining this than I would (as stated in my initial paragraph).

Rating: ⋆⋆⋆⋆⋆

Thanks for reading! Please let me know what your thoughts are in the comments! You can also follow me on Twitter and Goodreads.

Book Reviews, Bookworm Blogging

The Glass Castle [review]


The Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls
Published by Scribner in 2006
First Scribner Trade Paperback Edition, 288 pages, ISBN-13: 978-0-743-24754-2

You can’t kill something just because it’s wild.

Oh wow, I have so many feelings about this book. This was my first time reading The Glass Castle. In all honesty, I didn’t even realize it was a memoir until I sat down with it and really took a look at the blurb on the back. I’ve been hearing about this book for ages and the fact that it’s getting a movie finally pushed me to read it NOW. So when I saw a used copy for sale at a bookstore recently, I couldn’t help but pick it up.

The Glass Castle is a memoir by Jeannette Walls that focuses mainly on her relationships with her family. Jeannette had an atypical upbringing; her father was a manic alcoholic and her mother spent most of her time daydreaming instead of parenting. Jeannette and her siblings had to raise each other and often had to go without food and proper shelter.

I could hear people around us whispering about the crazy drunk man and his dirty little urchin children, but who cared what they thought? None of them had ever had their hand licked by a cheetah.

Jeannette perfectly conveys the intricacies of the difficult relationships we sometimes have with the people we love. In many ways, Jeannette’s father reminded me of my own and reading her story hit harder to home than I expected it would. While there are countless differences between her experience and mine, I can relate to some of the things she has dealt with and I can understand loving someone in spite of things that could be seen as unforgivable by others.

She was keeping it, she explained, to replace the wedding ring her mother had given her, the one Dad had pawned shortly after they got married.

“But Mom,” I said, “that ring could get us a lot of food.”

“That’s true,” Mom said, “but it could also improve my self-esteem. And at times like these, self-esteem is even more vital than food.”

While I deeply appreciated the story, the writing itself fell flat for me at times. Jeannette is descriptive and often paints a full picture of the scenes in her life, but at the same time she feels somewhat removed. Her story is told matter-of-factly, often with little emotion. While this is commendable in some ways, it also made it hard for me to really get into the story at some points. Although I may have struggled for a bit, I did find myself quickly devouring the last third of the book.

Overall, Jeannette presents a fascinating, well-written story that I would recommend to all.

Rating: ⋆⋆⋆⋆

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Book Reviews

The Roses of May

**Note: This book was received through NetGalley in exchange for my honest review.


The Roses of May by Dot Hutchinson
To be published by Thomas & Mercer on May 23, 2017
Advanced Reader’s Copy E-book Edition, 302 pages, ISBN-13: 978-1-503-93950-9

Right off the bat I’m going to give my trigger warnings for this book, although it isn’t necessarily a comprehensive list. I will not be discussing these triggers in my review. Content warning for The Roses of May for: eating disorders, stalking, and sexual assault.

I was STOKED when I saw this on NetGalley. I had just read The Butterfly Garden a month or two beforehand and couldn’t believe my luck in stumbling across an ARC of the sequel. I gave The Butterfly Garden five stars and was really looking forward to what Dot Hutchinson was up to next.

Let me just start off by saying that even though I hyped this book up in my mind, it completely lived up to it. I didn’t even read the plot summary because I was so sure that Dot would pull out another wonderful work. It was kind of nice to go in cold and without much in the way of expectations as far as plot goes, but I will briefly cover the story.

The Roses of May is definitely a sequel to The Butterfly Garden. I think I’ve seen a few folks say it could work as a standalone piece, but I really disagree. I mean, it’s certainly possible to read it without any context, but I just don’t think it’ll hold up as well. A lot of the characters carry over and their stories are so closely tied that I don’t think it would do the story justice not to have that background.

The Roses of May focuses on a young woman named Priya whose story is largely unrelated to The Butterfly Garden, save for the fact that the same group of FBI agents had worked a case close to her. Dot Hutchinson uses this connection to weave Priya’s story in with that of the Butterflies’. This book follows Priya’s life five years after the murder of her older sister. Naturally, the killer returns and the agents are on the case. It sounds a little cheesy, but it’s really well done in my opinion.

Dot Hutchinson’s writing is fantastic, per usual. I remembered being struck by her writing in The Butterfly Garden and was glad to experience it again so soon! The story was immersive, the characters were wonderful, and it was almost impossible for me to put down. It was also wonderful to read a book with women of color as the main characters! There are also two notable lgbt women, which I was super excited about! There are so many complex women in Dot Hutchinson’s books, I love it. It was also great to see a really nice mom-daughter relationship, which I feel like we don’t see enough of.

Overall, The Roses of May was a fantastic read that I would highly recommend to anyone interested, but would probably be best for lovers of thriller and crime. I can see why it wouldn’t work for some people, but I loved it!

Rating: ⋆⋆⋆⋆⋆

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Book Reviews

The Goddess Revolution

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The Goddess Revolution by Mel Wells
Published by Hay House UK on June 7th, 2016
Kindle Edition, 291 pages, ISBN-13: 978-1-781-80712-5

Alright y’all, let’s dig in! My most recent read was The Goddess Revolution. I’ll admit, I was pretty excited for this one. The subheader reads “Make Peace with Food, Love Your Body and Reclaim Your Life.” Without getting too much into my issues, I’ll just say that I’ve struggled with my self-image just about as much as everyone else in the modern world has. While I’ve never hit any extremes, I have always struggled with eating in a healthy, moderate way and with feeling good about my body. So I was really excited to pick up Mel Well’s book and really hoped that it’d help me change my ways of thinking.

I definitely had a few problems with this book, but overall it was good! The main message really came down to this: listen to your body, listen to your feelings, and love yourself the way you are. Pretty straightforward and you’d think it would be common sense, but Mel really opened up my eyes to a lot of things I hadn’t focused on before.

She talks about paying attention to how you’re feeling when you’re eating, and how you’re feeling after you’re eating. I practiced this a little today and it actually helped me rein in myself a few times when I would have otherwise eaten more than I should have. This didn’t take a lot of willpower–I just thought “am I actually hungry?” And the answer was no, so I didn’t pick up a bag of chips. Of course, sometimes things are more complicated than that, but the little moments add up.

Life is short. Don’t miss out on 95 per cent of your life just to weigh 5 per cent less. –The Goddess Revolution, Mel Wells

The writing itself was pretty informal, and Mel definitely takes more of a coaching stance than a teaching stance. It’s like a 300-page pep talk! This manner of writing comes with some cons, however. The book was really a compilation of inspirational messages with some testimonials peppered in. And the testimonials were exactly that–I think they were meant to be stories the reader could connect to, but they really just came across as sales pitches. I didn’t feel like I was sharing another woman’s story so much as reading an advertisement for Mel’s skill as a life coach.

The ideas just didn’t really feel fully-formed to me. The transitions between chapters were jarring and I was never really sure what I was in for next. I definitely found some techniques to help me improve my own life, but I also really felt that it could use some more direction. I wish there had been some fun exercises or activities that I could have done while reading. It would have been nice if there was a little more about how to turn these principles into actions, but I also understand that a lot of it is just retraining your brain.

I did have one issue that I really wanted to address, and that was one instance of cissexism that rubbed me the wrong way. The phrase I had an issue with was “Got a vagina? Congratulations. You are officially a real woman.” This mindset completely erases the very real experiences of trans women, who are also goddesses, and trans men, who can have vaginas but certainly are not women. I don’t think this was intentional or malicious on Mel’s part, but it is something important to be aware of. I think that it’s important to keep in mind how your words can hurt and exclude others.

Anyway! Overall, I loved the message of this book. I’ll almost certainly read it again, as I really want to cement a lot of these ideas into my head and incorporate them into my lifestyle. Thanks Mel Wells for putting out a book that has hopefully benefited many people and will continue to do so!

Rating: ⋆⋆⋆