Writings: August 2021 Reading List & Reviews by Beth Bowser

Novels by Charlaine Harris, Anna Pitoniak, Andrea Bartz, and Jasper Fforde August 2021 Reading & Reviews Click here for a printer friendly version of this page

Just like 2020, August has left me feeling unimaginative and I spent more of my free time reading rather than writing. Speaking of, the first book I finished in August 2021 was An Easy Death by Charlaine Harris (Gunnie Rose #1). This novel is based in alternate fantasy world where the US president is assassinated and general terrible things happen to America so that it's split into smaller countries including the Holy Russia Empire taking over western USA and... they have magic! I know it sounds like too much going on, but it's not! Lizbeth, the protagonist, is a kick-ass heroine that makes me wish a little that I lived in the alternate history and could be at all like her or at least a friend of hers. This novel is very entertaining, fast and if you're like me, you'll devour it in a few days, not even annoyed by the western setting! Yes, there is a love interest we get introduced to and he's one of Russia's holy magical people. I have to warn you that there is a rape early on, but it's written well. It's not descriptive to the point where us readers can decide how far the rapist got before being stopped. I won't say any more as you should get this book and read it! I had to select it as a masterwork for my work in progress novel! All that means is that I need to dissect it scene by scene and pick out the scenes that fit my novel and ensure my novel has scenes similar to them. This is following story path/story grid novel writing and you clicked on this page to read about the books I read so, no more from me on that!

The second novel I picked up was Necessary People by Anna Pitoniak. I found Necessary People listed as being similar to An Easy Death. It's not, but had some similarities such as female protagonists with ambition! The main character in this novel matches somewhat to my novel's main character as she's very driven to success. But I didn't like her character... She's well written, don't get me wrong, but she's unlikable. About the first 200 pages we read about two good friends and the main character's work. The friendship is very dysfunctional to me. I prefer to believe that women can be friends without being foes, but not these two 'friends'. The main character, Violet, is poor and gloms onto Stella for the benefits of being friends with a rich person. It was interesting to read some behind the scenes happenings in a news station but, if you wanted a thriller, it could be boring. The writing is wildly different from the first novel I read this month as it connects with Violet's greatest desire of becoming a success. Honestly it fits my novel in content much better, but I didn't like the characters at all and could not connect with them. It's not a bad story, but nothing was amazing to me. If you like ambitious people duking it out, grab this novel!

I'm going to briefly mention the third novel I read in August was the 2nd novel in Charlaine Harris's Gunnie Rose series, A Longer Fall. I liked it! But there's nothing major that pushes the plot along further past the first novel. If you loved the first like I did, grab this second novel! You'll enjoy Lizbeth's continuing adventures, with dresses even! If you weren't liking book 1, I can't suggest you grab this as it's more of the same. Honestly, Charlaine Harris could have combined book 1 and 2 together into one very large novel.

My fourth choice for August was The Herd by Andrea Bartz. It's a story about two sisters, written first person switching between their POVs every chapter. The Herd is a business designed for co-working women where the founder goes missing the day she was to give a huge announcement. The sisters then commence their own individual investigations not letting the other know anything they found. All the women working at The Herd as just as untrustworthy as the sisters. It does lead to annoyance for the reader (in my opinion!) but the novel is a very fast read with its short chapters. I liked the feminism, but disliked the execution as it seemed to turn into petty fights between the women rather than female empowerment... There were lots of twists in the novel, but the biggest is in the epilogue which was a great choice of Bartz to include! We got answers to all the unanswered questions I had at the last chapter. If you like mystery thrillers, especially ones with women leads, try this book out! If you hate backstabbing squabbling cat fights, you may want to pass on this.

My fifth and last novel was The Constant Rabbit by Jasper Fforde. I picked it up at random because the novel is billed as a comedy and I felt I could use a laugh! We begin with along Peter Knox in an alternate version of England where the social programs such as libraries are diminished to such an extent that there is 'speed librarying'. I suppose if my library is only open for a half an hour, once a week, we might have speed librarying in my city too! Peter is employed at Rabbit Compliance only because he has the unique ability to notice differences in Rabbits. He has no hatred or even dislike of them, but it's uncommon that humans can connect and differentiate easily between different Rabbits but he can! Yes, there is quite a bit of heavy satire peppered through the novel along with hints of Animal Farm. Possibly I only have the Animal Farm connection because these Rabbits have been anthropomorphised into 6ft talking, car driving Rabbits and they are a marginalized class of citizens. There was an 'Event' that raised up rabbits, foxes (all with names like Ffox, ffoxxe, etc which may be a dig as his own name Fforde!), weasels and more. This book appears to mostly be a direct attack against bureaucracy, government, domestic terrorism (one group in the novel is TwoLegsGood, or Proud Boys in our world), racial injustice and general immigration policies. It was a very good read! The ending is magnificent and may even cause a few tears. Grab this book if you like reading witty satire, you won't regret it!