Why You Should Read 'These Shallow Graves' By Jennifer Donnelly

Why You Should Read 'These Shallow Graves' By Jennifer Donnelly

If you're in the mood for a murder mystery, look no further!
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As listed on one of my previous book lists, I finally got around to starting "These Shallow Graves" by Jennifer Donnelly. The premise of this book is that the main character, Jo Montfort, receives the dreadful news that her father is dead. Set in Victorian New York, Jo comes from an upper-class life of ease; an easy life full of rules and etiquette that she struggles to follow. She must behave like a proper lady for her time, but would much rather be writing for a newspaper as a journalist about social issues. She can't quite seem to find a place among her friends and family with her "odd" behavior.

So, when the news comes that her father accidentally shot himself while cleaning his gun, Jo knows something is wrong. She begins to suspect that the trigger was pulled on purpose and by someone else. Jo teams up with a reporter named Eddie to discover the truth; as she begins to fall for him, she must figure out how to balance her proper life and her passion.

The premise of this book is interesting. While the plot itself isn't the most original, it still has a unique setting and is entertaining to read. As a murder mystery, it succeeds it keeping me guessing throughout the book. There were times I felt some of the reveals were a little cliché or the plot was moving too slow or fast, but overall, I couldn’t guess who the killer was before the end of the book. Not being able to guess the mystery is one of the strongest points a murder mystery book can have, after all!

There were a few points that seem to be teaching the reader about the injustice women faced back in this time, but in a way, that is obvious. Such as, the female characters will tell Jo that she can't do something because she is a woman, and Jo thinks about how she wishes she had the same freedoms as a man. While it's clear that Jo is a forward-thinking woman, I felt as if her thoughts and those around her were a little too on-the-nose, and didn't trust the reader to interpret the oppressed state of women without explicitly having the characters say it.

Overall, I enjoyed reading "These Shallow Graves". I recommend it to anyone who wants to get into the murder mystery, Victorian New York mood. It took me a little bit to get into the book, but once I got halfway in, I was entranced and couldn't put it down.

Cover Image Credit: Random House

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Dear Shondaland, You Made A Mistake Because April Kepner Deserves Better

"April Kepner... you're not average"
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I'll admit from the first time we were introduced to April in Season 6, I didn't like her so much. I mean we hated the "Mercy Westers" in the first place, so how could we see the potential in the annoying, know-it-all resident that was trying to compete with our beloved Lexie Grey.

But then, we saw her come face-to-face with a killer and thought maybe she had potential.


We then saw her surprise everyone when she proved to be the next trauma surgeon in the making and we were intrigued.

Notice how none of these stories had anything to do with Jackson Avery. Not that we didn't love her with Jackson, but for whatever reason you've chosen to end their very popular relationship. Suddenly, you think that April is not worth further exploration but you've forgotten one simple thing. We fell in love with her before "Japril" was ever in the picture.

We love her because her story was unlike the others and she had one of the best character developments on the show. She wasn't damaged like Meredith Grey or Alex Karev who have been on their journey to become all whole and healed, but she still had to fight hard to be taken seriously. Her story has so much potential for future development, but you've decided to throw it all away for "creative reasons."

I'm sorry, but there's nothing creative about doing the exact same thing you've done to all the other characters who have left the show. We've endured the loss of many beloved characters when you chose to write off George, Henry, Mark, and Lexie. We even took it when you did the unthinkable and wrote McDreamy out of the show - killing off one half of the leading couple. (WHO DOES THAT???)

But April Kepner? Are you kidding me?

She may no longer be with Jackson, but she was so much more than half of Japril. While most of us hate that Jackson and April are over, we probably could have dealt with it if April was still on the show. Now they're done and you think there aren't any more stories to tell about her character. Why? Because she'll just get in the way of Jackson and Maggie?

How could you not see that she was way more than Jackson's love interest?

She's so much more than you imagined her to be. April is the headstrong, talented trauma surgeon no one saw coming. The farmer's daughter started off an ugly duckling who became a soldier because she needed to be one and turned into one big beautiful swan who constantly has to fight for her coworkers and family to see her as such.

She's proven to be a soldier and swan on many occasions. Just take giving birth to her daughter in a storm on a kitchen table during an emergency c-section without any numbing or pain medication as an example. If she wasn't a soldier or a swan before, how could she not be after that?

Yet, you - the ones who created her - still see her as the ugly duckling of a character because she always had to take the backseat to everyone else's story and was never allowed to really be seen.

But we see her.

She's the youngest of her sisters who still think of her as the embarrassing little Ducky no matter how much she's grown.

This swan of a resident got fired for one mistake but came back fighting to prove she belongs. Not only did April Kepner belong there, but it was her talent, her kindness, her strength that made her Chief Resident. This simply wasn't enough for Dr. Bailey or her other residents so she fought harder.

She endured the pressure but always ended up being a joke to the others. When she was fired yet again, your girl came back a little shaken. She doubted herself, but how could she not when everyone was against her.

Despite everyone telling her she couldn't, she did rise and no one saw her coming because she remained in the background. She went off to Jordan broken and came back a pretty risky trauma surgeon.

We've watched for years as she was handed promising stories that we never got to see fully develop because she was in the background. We never got to see her rise. We get the beginning and the end, but hardly ever the middle.

I thought we were finally going to have an amazing story arc in season 11 when she loses Samuel, but what did we really get? Two or three episodes of her coming to terms with the loss of her baby and then April's disappearance from the show while she's grieving off screen so that Dr. Amelia Shepherd can shine her first season on the show. Where is April's life-changing surgeries? What does April get? She's background music.

Now what?

It's season 14 and we finally get the story we've been waiting 9 years for! We get Dark April and her crisis of faith. A story arc all Christians can appreciate. Here's the chance for real character development in the foreground, but wait...

Before her story is even wrapped up, you announce that this season will be her last. So we're forced to realize that the only reason we're getting this story now is that you're writing her off.

No matter how you end it, it's not going to do her story justice. If you kill her off to end her crisis of faith story, you're not reaching the many Christians who watch the show. If you have her leaving Seattle and taking Harriet with her, you didn't know April. If you have her leaving Seattle and abandoning Harriet, you really didn't know April. So anyway you choose to end her story, you lost out on one great character.

You messed up.

Both April Kepner and Sarah Drew deserved better.

Cover Image Credit: YouTube

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Why You Should Read 'Snotgirl' By Brian Lee O'Malley and Leslie Hung

I'm absolutely obsessed with Leslie Hung's artwork.
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Back in high school, I was obsessed with the Scott Pilgrim comic series. So when I saw that Brian O'Malley was working on another comic, I knew I had to pick it up. I'm a little late to the party, so that means I was able to read the first five issues bundled as Volume 1: Green Hair Don't Care all at once.

Needless to say, I'm still a fan of O'Malley's writing, and I'm absolutely obsessed with Leslie Hung's artwork. The premise is interesting and utilizes modern day technology/social media jobs to its advantage. There's also something mysterious and possibly supernatural going on, but it hasn't quite been revealed yet.

The characters are also very real; in fact, a lot of them are kind of unpleasant (especially our main character, Lottie), but the fact that we get to see their ugly sides makes them more believable. It's compelling that one moment I'm rooting for Lottie to fail, then the next I'm rooting for her. Although sometimes the text language and vapid characters can be a little cringy, I'm still interested enough in the plot that I'm willing to look at these elements as intentional social critiques.

There's really only one thing that's off-putting to me, and this is something that could be remedied over the course of the series as it continues. Currently, I'm not really understanding what's going on in the story and know I probably won't get any answers for a while. I can't tell if I'm supposed to focus on the drama between Lottie and her ex, her crumbling relationships with her crappy friends, or the mysterious new relationship with Coolgirl. There are hints of something going on under the surface, some darker undertones, that's just not prevalent enough for me to understand exactly where Snotgirl is going.

If you don't like cliffhangers, I suggest waiting a while before trying out Snotgirl.

Cover Image Credit: comixology.com

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