Review of the books in July’s Blue Spider’s Attic Book Subscription Box

I have to say, there were some really big surprises in July’s books from Blue Spider’s Attic. The biggest surprised was that I actually read July’s books before August’s books got here! Thanks to that 24in48 readathon, I’m actually getting somewhat caught up on my reading. Exciting!

The books though, the books. You can check out all the goodies in the July box. It had some cool stuff but today we’re just discussing the books.

The Fall of Rome book coverFirst was The Fall of Rome by Martha Southgate. As expected from reading the description, I really loved this book. The story took place at an elite boarding school for boys that was primarily made up of white kids. There were a number of narrators, each chapter switching between them, including a new student, who is a poor black kid from a lower income neighborhood and is not used to being the only black kid around, the only black teacher at the school, and a woman, a white teacher, who is dating the black teacher and mentoring the kid.

The story is complex and I think it does some justice to the difficulty of navigating an all-white space like that. The teacher, a black man, was really anti-black. I know that’s a thing but it was jarring every time I read one of his chapters, where he sounded like any number of other white supremacists. I then read some GoodReads reviews and saw this lady saying that she really liked that guy because his point of view was “refreshing.” His point of view was basically that black people all think they’re victims and just don’t want to be successful. He was clearly the villain there was not even an nuance to that. I can’t imagine reading this guy and thinking he sounded “refreshing?”

Anyway, that was my main issue with the book. The other characters were dealing with complex situations in complex ways while he was very clearly just “bad”. Very one note. I would have liked him to feel more human before he made me angry.

Otherwise, I loved this book and thought it handled some tricky territory very well.

Rating: 9/10

Recommended for: Fans of stories with multiple narrators, fans of stories that deal with complex situations

Does it pass the Bechdel–Wallace test? Yes

Author of color / main character of color / female author / female main character: Y / Y / Y / Y

Next up is Eloise by Judy Finnigan. I read, oh, I think 25 pages of this before giving up. There was SO MUCH description. Like, holy shit, just get on with it – tell me what’s happening! You’ll note that my preferred genre is literary fiction so I am not averse to description generally but this was ridiculous.

The Venus Fix book coverThe third book is The Venus Fix by M.J. Rose. This is the surprise I was talking about.

Man, y’all, I can’t tell you how long it’s been since I’ve read a straight-up thriller, whodunit type of book. Years and years ago I read them all the time. While this book was basically empty calories, I forgot how great it can be to just get totally swept up in a tense, totally unbelievable plot. I was on the seat of my pants for a lot of this book.

The story was that of a sex therapist who was dating a detective in the sex crimes unit at the NYPD. As you can imagine, conflicts ensue! There’s lots of sexy bits and some sad bits and lots and lots of exciting bits. The writing was far above average for this type of book but, obviously, was not trying to be literary.

Rating: 9/10 – So, my rating based on my own personal preferences would be more like a 6 or 7. However, this book 100% delivers on what it’s trying to do.

Recommended for: Fans of sexy thrillers / whodunits

Does it pass the Bechdel–Wallace test? Yes

Author of color / main character of color / female author / female main character: N / N / Y / Y

Overall, I’m happy with the books in this box. One didn’t hit the spot, but one was very good and one scratched an itch I didn’t even know I had.


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