eARC Review: We Keep the Dead Close by Becky Cooper

We Keep the Dead Close: A Murder at Harvard and a Half Century of Silence by Becky Cooper

Categories: True Crime

First Publication Date: November 10th 2020


I received an advance copy via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.


Synopsis: 1969: the height of counterculture and the year universities would seek to curb the unruly spectacle of student protest; the winter that Harvard University would begin the tumultuous process of merging with Radcliffe, its all-female sister school; and the year that Jane Britton, an ambitious 23-year-old graduate student in Harvard’s Anthropology Department and daughter of Radcliffe Vice President J. Boyd Britton, would be found bludgeoned to death in her Cambridge, Massachusetts apartment.

Forty years later, Becky Cooper, a curious undergrad, will hear the first whispers of the story. In the first telling the body was nameless. The story was this: a Harvard student had had an affair with her professor, and the professor had murdered her in the Peabody Museum of Archaeology and Ethnology because she’d threatened to talk about the affair. Though the rumor proves false, the story that unfolds, one that Cooper will follow for ten years, is even more complex: a tale of gender inequality in academia, a “cowboy culture” among empowered male elites, the silencing effect of institutions, and our compulsion to rewrite the stories of female victims.

Continue reading

Mini-Reviews of Non-Fiction November Reads: Between the World and Me, The Princess Diarist and more

Hello readers!

Non-Fiction November is now over, can you believe it? It’s been a wildly productive month in terms of reading (not so much in other areas, oops), so decided to put together all my reviews for NonFicNov reads, in case someone is looking for inspiration.

Darkness Visible: A Memoir of Madness by William Styron

Categories: Non-Fiction, Memoir, Mental Health

First Publication Date: September 4, 1990

Continue reading

Review: Space Race by Deborah Cadbury

space race the battle to rule the heaves deborah cadbury

Rating: ★★★☆☆

Categories: History, Non-Fiction

The Space Race is an exciting time in history for me, although somehow the implications of the Cold War on its development and how insanely tight the deadlines were completely went over my head until picking this up. All I had really absorbed in school were “cool space things” and a vague notion that this was going on during the Cold War.

Deborah Cadbury writes this incredibly interesting story as a thriller, and you follow both men (von Braun and Korolev) follow their dream of space at great cost, with lots of political and personal dramas, at times lauded as heroes or eyed with suspicion. While this makes for amazing storytelling, I had some issues with the portrayal of Wernher von Braun. Continue reading

Why You Should Read Know My Name by Chanel Miller

know my name chanel miller

I can’t make myself write a review for Chanel Miller’s Know My Name, although I gave it 5 stars in Goodreads – it’s strange to review a book that left me so raw in terms of “brilliant” and “beautiful writing” or “one of the best books I’ll read all year”. Those are all true but barely scratch the surface of what this book means to me and to others.

Chanel Miller’s account of who she was before the attack and what happened to her after is incredibly heartbreaking and shines a light on the very real problem that is the justice system. She is a “perfect” victim – she had her sister with her just a few minutes before to witness that she was drunk, she had witnesses who saw what the rapist was doing to her and caught him, keeping him there until the police arrived, she had a good job, friends, came from a middle class background, was educated and all around a “good girl”. And yet, she was re-traumatized by the process, silenced and given a whole new persona as a drunk, very willing young woman who “cried rape” after regretting her encounter and became “hysterical” in the trial. She had her voice silenced and dismissed, while her rapist had his voice amplified and taken as the true account of events, even when the claims were ridiculous. His sentence was even more ridiculous. Continue reading

Mini-Reviews: Queen of Nothing, The Deep, To Drink Coffee with a Ghost, Stay Sexy & Don’t Get Murdered

queen of nothing holly black Queen of Nothing by Holly Black

Rating: ★★★☆☆

Goodreads

I really enjoyed the first two books in the series, especially for how cutthroat Jude was, and all the scheming and twists and betrayals were just really exciting to read. This final book, however, just felt like one long ode to how amazing Cardan is, how worthy of love and how secretly a good guy he was all along. There is not much going on at all for most of the book, and even what conflict is there was too quickly resolved, too neatly wrapped up. I did enjoy the book, just felt a bit disappointed by it. The audiobook was really good, though! Continue reading

Review: Say Nothing: A True Story of Murder and Memory in Northern Ireland, by Patrick Radden Keefe

say nothing patrick radden keefeRating: ★★★★★

Genres: Non-Fiction, History

Goodreads

In December 1972, Jean McConville was kidnapped from her home, in front of her children, and never seen again. The criminal investigation for this disappearing would unleash several decades later the release of the tapes of Project Belfast, a secret oral archive of the Troubles.

Say Nothing is a fantastic book – and one of the best non-fiction I’ve read all year. You definitely don’t need to be too knowledgeable about the violent conflicts during the Troubles in Northern Ireland to pick this up at all, and this fascinating read has it all: drama, violence, twists, betrayals and so much blood spilled for an ideal. It’s for those reasons a great pick also for people who, like me, are more used to reading fiction. Continue reading

Review: In the Dream House: A Memoir, by Carmen Maria Machado

in the dream house carmen maria machado

Rating: ★★★★★

Categories: Memoir, LGBTQ+ (lesbian and bisexual)

Goodreads

In the Dream House is the true story of the author’s experience with violence in a queer relationship. The beautiful prose and the choose-your-own-adventure style of the book sets this apart and describes a story that has happened for as long as people have been in relationships, but is hardly ever acknowledged.

This is the first book by Carmen Maria Machado that I’ve read, and it immediately made me add Her Body and Other Parties to my to-be-read list. In the Dream House is one of the most difficult books I’ve read this year, a painful look into domestic violence in a queer couple, as experienced by Carmen herself. The author divides this story into several chapters, most of which are one page long, and told in different styles, and always in second person. Continue reading

eARC Review: How To: Absurd Scientific Advice for Common Real-World Problems, by Randall Munroe

how to randall munroe

Rating: ★★★★☆

Genres: Non-fiction, Humor, Science

Goodreads

I received a free eARC of this book via Edelweiss in exchange for an honest opinion.

How to is the second book by Randall Munroe. The first one, What If?, answered absurd questions with science. This one answers normal questions with absurd science, which is absolutely hilarious. So if you’re considering moving and have to pack and move your things, Randall Munroe will give you several absurd ideas on how to do that! Much like the first one, this was a quick, great read and I have a really nice time.

The best thing about this book in comparison to the other one is that Katie Mack and Serena Williams made appearances in some chapters! That was really exciting. I also loved the space-related questions, although I suppose that’s because I love space science. As expected, some chapters are better than others, so I really enjoyed the one about how to throw a pool party, but was rather underwhelmed about the one on how to get a Christmas tree.

This reads easily despite being science-y, the language is accessible and fun, so I would say it works for readers who aren’t science geeks, too, but if you are a science geek, this book is quite a perfect fit.

Review: Trick Mirror: Reflections on Self-Delusion, by Jia Tolentino

trick mirror jia tolentino

Rating: ★★★☆☆

Genres: Non-Fiction, Essays

Goodreads

Trick Mirror is a collection of essays by Jia Tolentino, a writer for The New Yorker, in which she discusses social media, gender violence, reality TV, self-optimization and more.

I did not know Jia Tolentino very well before reading her book, but I saw Sarah reading it and it sounded like such an interesting book that I decided to pick up the audio. The author herself narrates the book, and it’s pretty well done!

I found this book to be a mixed bag, with some essays very interesting and thought-provoking, but others felt more like a narration of news I already knew, without adding much more to them than adding them together. Jia Tolentino is a witty, matter-of-fact writer and her essays make for really good reads, even those I didn’t enjoy as much. Continue reading

Review: In Cold Blood, by Truman Capote

in cold blood truman capote

Rating: ★★★☆☆

Genres: Non-fiction, True Crime

Goodreads

In Cold Blood tells the true story of the gruesome murder of the Clutter family, and the subsequent hunt for the killers.

I’ve been looking forward to read this for a while! In Cold Blood is Truman Capote’s most famous work, the last book he ever finished, and has been on my list for many years now. I decided to pick it up as an audiobook, and I’m a bit disappointed to say that it’s not a book that worked for me in audio. I’m sure this influenced in some capacity my enjoyment of the book in general. It’s not that the narrator isn’t good, he is, but the writing style sounds pretentious and a bit repetitive when read out loud. Continue reading