Tuesday, April 24, 2018

Book Reviews: 'The Woman in the Window' by A.J. Finn and 'Hunger Makes Me a Modern Girl' by Carrie Brownstein

1. The Woman in the Window, by A.J. Finn
Holy Mother of TWISTS! This is one of those thriller books where you look at the quotes from critics on the back cover who say "such a thrill ride" and "non-stop twists" and you think "mhmm yeah sure Brenda from Publishers Weekly," but The Woman in the Window is actually pretty twisty. I wasn't completely blown away by it, though. It's about Anna Fox, an agoraphobic psychologist who has become a recluse in her New York City home, watching old movies and drinking too much wine, who ends up meeting her new neighbors and witnessing something she shouldn't have. It is very character-driven, which I commend and love very much in these kind of psychological thriller books, and I enjoyed the protagonist's love of movies and the author's use of film imagery throughout. But, ultimately, I found it very slow-moving (which wasn't really a bad thing for the first 150 pages, because it felt like we were building up to get somewhere more fast-paced) and then the story started to drag a bit in the middle, which you kind of want to avoid in a psychological thriller. I also couldn't bring myself to be completely blown away by the book in general, because it seems very much like a redux of The Girl on the Train. And there isn't something necessarily wrong with that; The Girl on the Train is a damn good thriller and people should be modelling off of its success. But it just felt bland at times in comparison; the ending felt pretty rushed, for example, but the final twist was good in itself. Overall I enjoyed it and I know others will too, so it was good for what it was. 4/5 stars.

2. Hunger Makes Me a Modern Girl, by Carrie Brownstein:
I didn't enjoy this as much as I would have liked to...and it's pretty much my own fault. I first heard of Hunger Makes Me a Modern Girl either last year or the year before that (I can't remember which) when Emma Watson chose it as a title for her book club on Goodreads, Our Shared Shelf. But, since I'm very bad with online book clubs, I will usually add a title they've picked to my TBR and then never get to it because I just suck like that. I've added more titles picked by Emma Roberts' book club (which I love), Belletrist (The famous Emma's like their books, it seems), and I haven't gotten to any of them. I'm literally the worst. Anyway. I decided to pick up Hunger Makes Me a Modern Girl from the library because I was in need of a good memoir and because Emma Watson liked it, so it must be at least a little good. And it was. I just don't have any prior knowledge of Carrie Brownstein whatsoever and I probably would have enjoyed her memoir more if I had. Brownstein rose to fame as a member of the indie punk rock band Sleater-Kinney in the 1990s, who apparently were revolutionary for challenging notions of gender in rock, so for that reason I felt like I could enjoy Hunger Makes Me a Modern Girl regardless of whether or not I was familiar with the author or her band, because it sounded like it might address more than just her own experiences with music and notions of gender in music. I was wrong. This book is for people who know Carrie Brownstein and Sleater-Kinney, and I won't begrudge it that. I can't stand people who pick up memoirs from people they don't know or enjoy and then go on Goodreads, give it 2 stars and write, "This is really a book for Carrie Brownstein fans." I get that some celebrities write their memoirs with their fans in mind which makes them difficult to enjoy for people who aren't obsessed with them, but as a whole, I think people who are gonna read a celebrity's memoir are at least a fan of that person in some capacity. So when you say this is a book for Carrie Brownstein fans and then rate it 2 stars, maybe don't read it if you don't like Carrie Brownstein? I'm gonna practice what I preach and try not to read memoirs from people I'm not overly familiar with. Maybe. Probably not. I like a good memoir, so I'm always going to try. 3/5 stars.

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