November Wrap Up / by Chakriya Phal

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The Heart's Invisible Furies: "Long before we discovered that he had fathered two children by two different women, one in Drimoleague and one in Clonakilty, Father James Monroe stood on the altar of the Church of Our Lady, Star of the Sea, in the parish of Goleen, West Cork, and denounced my mother as a whore." And so begins the life of Cyril Avery a gay man born in 1940s Ireland to an unwed teenager. I went through every emotion while reading this book-it utterly slayed me. At about 570 pages it's quite a read, but felt quick due to Cyril's fascinating and often times, heartbreaking journey. 

Ginny Moon: I read this for the Diverse Book Club rather late in the game, and it was as great as everyone said it would be. Ginny is a fourteen year old girl on the autism spectrum, trying to make sense of her life with her "forever parents" and rightfully obsessed with keeping her baby doll safe. Told in her perspective, you can't help but empathize and root for Ginny as she makes mistakes, gets frustrated, and find her way in her new world. Benjamin Ludwig wrote our heroine in such a beautiful and honest way. Ginny was such a gift.

Buried Child: I picked up this Pulitzer Prize play by Sam Shephard after listening to the podcast Literary Disco (episode 111). So while I knew the entire premise, I was completely taken aback by how skillful Shephard created madness in three simple acts and one backdrop. Bizarre and unsettling, you get to witness an extremely dysfunctional American family fall apart. And of course, there's the buried child in the backyard. I'm dying to see this on stage. 

Here We Lie: I received the ARC through a Goodreads contest so this won't be out until late January 2018. A story of two college friends-one from a prominent New England family, the other from the middle of nowhere-this book is so relevant in today's social climate. I went back and forth hating and loving the two friends and felt drawn into their experiences. The story goes back and forth between the past and the future unveiling what sadly happened the summer of senior year that tore the friends apart. I'll be reviewing this book closer to the publication date, but it was one of my favorites this season.

The Name Of Dead Girls: The sequel to All the Silent Girls. While I love the first book more, this was still enjoyable and equally atmospheric. Eric Rickstad makes Vermont spooky. Think cold and foggy. Lots. Of. Fog. I won't say much about the plot for fear of spoiling the series, but do know that things pick up immediately where it left off in the last book. Former detective, Frank Rath, is the central character and he continues to track Preacher, the man who brutally killed his sister and brother-in-law as his infant niece slept upstairs. Be warned the description of this, especially in the first book, is gut wrenching. A great thriller/mystery. 

Hello, Sunshine (audio book version): Probably better if I had read the book. The audio version wasn't bad, the story predictable but fun, and yet I can't stand when female narrators use husky "male" voices when reading the part of men. Why?! This is the story of Sunshine Mckenzie, celebrity chef and cookbook author, whose world comes crashing down when she gets hacked. Losing her friends and husband she runs, tail between her legs, back to her hometown. This book tries to be fresh but is saturated with superficial "enlighten" moments. Sunshine isn't all that different, she just got caught. The ending was hasty but frankly, do I really need to follow the life of an unlikeable character for another 50 pages? No, thank you.

The Breakdown: The psychological thriller that could have been so much more. Rarely do I give a rating lower than a three stars but this book, ugh. This isn't my first run in with B.A. Paris. There was Behind Close Door, which I liked despite it being a bit unbelievable and horrific. This just was not my cup of tea. On a raining night, Cass decides to take a shortcut through the woods. She sees a car stopped on the side of the road with a woman in the driver's seat. The next morning she is horrified to learn that the woman was murdered. Her guilt eats her up and worse, the phone keeps ringing (and boy does that phone ever rings). I liked a majority of this book, but then the ending came and the ratings dropped significantly. Predictable.