dystopian, Fiction, literary fiction, Young Adult

Book Review: Our Missing Hearts by Celeste Ng

Bird is 12 years old and he lives with his white dad. His mom, Margaret, is Chinese-American and she walked away from them 3 years earlier to protect them. They are living in a world governed by PACT (Preserving American Culture and Traditions Act) which is supposed to protect America from foreign influence aka China but what it is really doing is giving room for anti-Asian hate. Bird’s dad has told him to lay low and keep his head down but Bird is dealing with the loss of his mom and everything going on around him. After seeing a cryptic note, he is determined to find his mom and fill the gaps that have been resurrecting in his heart and mind.

I am a fan of Celeste Ng. I enjoyed Little Fires Everywhere and Everything I Never Told You. Those books were slow burns and I thought this was going to be the same journey for Our Missing Hearts when I started. Except, where the two books led to something, this one never did. I don’t remember at what point I realized this was going to be the book but I was probably too far gone to quit. We have seen a rise in apocalyptic settings in books and some may disagree but this was apocalyptic for me. It’s truly not fun to read something that is close to real life. All that to say that the mood for the whole book was dreary, I felt a dread the entire time.

We were told the story from Bird’s perspective and he just seemed sad. I have to say that Ng did a good job of conveying his complicated feelings as a 12 year old. His dad on the other hand didn’t seem fully fleshed out and seemed very much like a background character. When the story gets told from Margaret’s perspective, I felt like the book picked up some and was more interesting and we got more insight. But then, that felt rushed and after waiting to know more about Margaret she just seemed so impulsive and I don’t think I fully understood her motives.

I completely understand Ng’s frame of mind for writing this but I feel like she didn’t find the balance between writing about a conscious message and writing something enjoyable. There was a lot of focus on getting the message across that it didn’t feel relaxed. Although it was an important message, I think it failed in execution because overall I found it boring. I could not get myself to connect with any of the characters. I really wanted to like this one but being bored + the constant sense of dread didn’t make for a pleasant read.

Taynement

Chick-Lit, Fiction, literary fiction, romance, women's fiction

Book Review: The Most Likely Club by Elyssa Friedland

“The thing about problems is that they will be there tomorrow.”

It’s 1977 in Belfort, California, 4 high school senior friends are ready to take on the world. Melissa Levin, Priya Chowdury, Tara Taylor, and Suki Hammer have weathered high school together and even their yearbook superlatives confirm their dreams: Most Likely to Win the White House, Cure Cancer, Open a Michelin-Starred Restaurant, and Join the Forbes 400. Fast forward 25 years and only Suki has made her dreams come true while the rest of the girls are struggling to figure out life. As they gather at their high school reunion and look at the ones who did turn themselves into something, they dream of what life could have been if they had stuck to their goals or if life hadn’t decide to screw them over. There and then, they make each other a promise to strive more and finally achieve at least a version of their high school superlatives.

I love a second chance story, which is why I picked this one as my Book of the Month Pick. Unfortunately, this book fell flat for me because it was trying to do too much. I enjoyed learning about these women’s friendship dynamics because I quite like reading about complicated female friendships. Ultimately, I didn’t think they had a good enough friendship for the bad parts of the friendship to be overlooked or read as just complex human nature. When Melissa finds out something about Priya’s daughter on social media, instead of going to her friend with it (it’s a child for crying out loud), she uses it to feel better about her own life and her own child. She then uses it to comment snidely to her friend whenever she felt like Priya was being holier than thou. I just felt, this is not friendship. Once it involves children, you cut the shit and make sure your friend’s child isn’t putting herself in dangerous situations.

There are so many issues that the author would just throw at us and then none of it even mattered at the end of the book in her hurry to try to pull together all the threads she tried to force into the book. Tara, the bisexual character in this book told us so much about her crush on Suki. Her every high school memory is tied to Suki and the author doesn’t fail to tell us this, every chance she got. But when we finally meet Suki, which for some reason doesn’t happen till the last 15% of the book, nothing is even explored with that. It’s like the storyline just died? Suki seemed like the one with the most interesting life among the friends but we never get her actual full story and when we meet her, she’s in crisis and we can’t even follow what exactly is wrong with her husband. Melissa just happened to meet a millionaire at the high school reunion who just proceeded to fund her campaign for Mayor which I found so eye roll inducing.

The only character I liked in this book was Priya. I think her problems were real life grown woman problems that I could identify with. She was a doctor who was turning down opportunities because she couldn’t get her husband to be an actual full participant in their family. Her evolution in this book was honestly the only one worth reading. Her, standing up for herself and insisting her husband actually parent the children he helped bring into this world, was the only reason I didn’t give this book one star. I wish every character had been written as honestly as Priya was. Her struggles trying to balance being a doctor, a wife, a mother and a daughter in law was so hard for me to read. I was exhausted just reading what her day was like.

I gave this book 2 stars on Goodreads. I think you should check it out if you’re looking for something easy to get through and hopefully, this review has made your expectations realistic so you’d probably enjoy it more than I did.

Leggy

Fiction, literary fiction

Book Review: Carrie Soto is Back by Taylor Jenkins Reid

“My ambition has long felt oppressive. It is not a joy—it is a master that I must answer to, a smoke that descends into my life, making it hard to breathe. It is only my discipline, my willingness to push myself harder, that has been my way through.”

At 37, Carrie Soto is a retired, celebrated tennis player. The year is 1994 and she is sitting in the stands with her dad, Javier who introduced her to tennis and was her coach for a long time. They are both watching Nicki Chan at the US Open as she inches closer to breaking Carrie’s record of having the most Grand Slam titles. Carrie is not having it and decides there and then to un-retire to defend/maintain her titles.

Her retirement opens the floodgates for the media, who have never liked her, to share their not so nice opinions about Carrie who is nicknamed “The Battle-Ax”. It also brings back someone from the past, fellow tennis player, Bowe Huntley who is also trying to prove something to himself before he retires. Jenkins takes us on a journey of all the events that led Carrie to this moment and how she deals with this new phase in her life.

“One of the great injustices of this rigged world we live in is that women are considered to be depleting with age and men are somehow deepening.”

TJR rarely misses for me and this was no different. I absolutely loved this book. It didn’t take long for me to get swept into Carrie’s world. Something TJR does well is that she creates world that feels so real that you start wondering if you aren’t reading a biography. It felt so real to me that I spent so much time googling each tennis tournament as it came up in the book. The pacing of this book was just right and nothing dragged. I truly enjoyed Carrie as a character and I loved how unapologetic she was. I know TJR was trying to subtly point out the injustices of how women are being treated vs. men and she achieved it.

“I am afraid of losing. I am afraid of how it will look to the world. I’m afraid of this match being the last match my father ever sees me play. I am afraid of ending this all on a loss. I am afraid of so much.”

Another character I truly liked was Carrie’s dad, Javier. It was fun watching the many stages of their relationship and how TJR fully developed it for our understanding. Carrie was a hard shell but you could tell she had a soft spot for her dad. Just like her character, TJR wrote their relationship as flawed which made it realistic. Javier was so good at tennis that I kept wondering how much research TJR did to come up with all the techniques and tricks that Carrie had to do to keep up with her opponents. I want to add that it may seem little but I appreciated TJR infusing Javier’s culture in the moments when he speaks to Carrie in Spanish.

“When did I lose that? The delight of success? When did winning become something I needed in order to survive? Something I did not enjoy having, so much as panic without?”

One thing TJR does in her books is she infuses characters from her other books. When I started this book, I was confused because I thought it was a sequel to Malibu Rising till it dawned on me that it wasn’t a sequel and instead Carrie was the person Nina’s husband left her for in the book. It’s easy to think this was just a book about tennis but not at all. If you ever watched the show Friday Night Lights, it’s something like that. Where the anchor is the sport but it’s truly about everything else surrounding it and life as we know it. CSIB had a lot of heart and soul and I liked how it ended. I enjoyed every stop along the way and the lessons learned as well.

Just in case you couldn’t tell, I highly recommend this one.

Taynement

Book Related Topics

Our 2023 Reading goals

Leggy:

Happy New Year! I hope everyone had an amazing and relaxing holiday because I did. I went home to Nigeria to see my family and friends and have a detty December, which was fantastic. Anyway, back home to the hustle and bustle of work and real life. How was your reading life in 2022? Mine was amazing. I hit the 100 mark for the first time as an adult reader. I set a goal of 70 books like always on Goodreads and read 107 books the entire year. I read so much during the summer and barely read after October so I’m super proud of that number.

This year will be exactly the same number of books on my Goodreads challenge – 70. I usually spend January reading all the books I missed from last year and catching up on some backlist titles that I ignored for more recent reads. I’m also super excited to read Spare by Harry.

Taynement:

Happy New Year everyone. Hope everyone had a memorable holiday with loved ones. I had family around so it was nice but very busy. I got gifted physical books for Christmas which if you have been following us, you know that I have not read a physical book in years. But I decided to give it a go and started reading them and I even got a book mark and everything. All that to say that, that is one of my reading goals to start my journey back into reading physical books (preferably hard covers!)

I have been in a weird reading slump in the last few years. The pandemic did a number on me as my anxiety was at an all time high and my reading began to drop as I could not concentrate or keep my interest on anything. Last year, I had a goal of 35 books and only ready 26. Mostly because nothing was really holding my interest and I had quite a number of DNF titles.

So to combat this issue this year, I am going to try and find titles that really sound interesting. As a side bar, Leggy is part of my issue because she reads all the good books and once she does, it’s usually a DNR for me lol. But as a goal, that shouldn’t matter, I am currently reading Sea of Tranquility because it was Leggy and Obama’s list of favorite books because a good book is a good book. I hope to enjoy most of the titles I read this year and I wish the same for everyone.

We hope everyone has the best reading year ever and we hope this year brings us good things with this blog. We really appreciate y’all andare so grateful for everyone who keeps tuning in to read our content. Can’t wait to see what this year brings!

Book Related Topics, celebrity memoir, Chick-Lit, Fiction, literary fiction, Memoirs, Non-Fiction, romance

Our Best and Worst Books of 2022

Leggy’s Best:

“My point is, there’s always something. I think, as a species, we have a desire to believe that we’re living at the climax of the story. It’s a kind of narcissism. We want to believe that we’re uniquely important, that we’re living at the end of history, that now, after all these millennia of false alarms, now is finally the worst that it’s ever been, that finally we have reached the end of the world.”

Emily St. John Mandel has become such a must read author for me. I have enjoyed every book of hers I’ve ever read. I absolutely adored this book and gave it 5 stars. You can read my full review of this book here. This year has been a fantastic reading year for me in all genres so I thought it would be hard for me to pick a favorite but this was such a clear answer for me.

Other favorites:

  • Book Lovers by Emily Henry (favorite romance book this year for sure! Full review on the blog here.)
  • Dreadgod by Will Wight (The 11th book in the Cradle series by Will Wight. Please read these series if you haven’t yet. These books are so much fun. The 12th and final book comes out next year. favorite fantasy book of the year for sure!)
  • Our Wives Under the Sea by Julia Armfield (This was my favorite weird book I read this year. Goodreads marks this as horror? Didn’t get that at all but it was so strange and such amazing writing)

Taynement’s Best:

This was one of the first books I read this year and nothing else captured my attention like it. This memoir of sorts has Faith Jones recounting her time in a cult and how she got out of it. I could not believe a lot of the things I read and the fact that it was someone’s real life was really jarring. As mentioned in my full review, loads of trigger warning for this one. Any book that had me go down a rabbit hole of wikipedia and documentaries just to get more information after I was done, was bound to be top of my list.

A lot of the books I enjoyed were niche favorites (books about reality show bts) but some other favorites were:

  • Verity by Colleen Hoover (This book was an acid trip but I probably read this the fastest. Full review here)
  • The Anthropocene Reviewed by John Green (I guess I had my number of non fiction reads. Perfect blend of smart and interesting. Full review here)
  • The Good Sister by Sally Hepworth (This was a random read that I ended up liking a lot. Full review here)
  • Carrie Soto Is Back by Taylor Jenkins Reid (TJR rarely misses with me and this was not an exception)

Taynement’s Worst:

This was a recent review of mine so it should be no surprise that it is my worst. Up until writing this, I didn’t realize how much non-fiction I read this year. Well, my worst book is also in this genre. Every Tom, Dick and Harry has a memoir now whether they deserve it or not. This memoir had so many missing gaps, way too much toxic positivity and just overall missed the mark. Extra negative points for the terrible voice cadence that was used in the audio book. I just really hated this book y’all! (Full review here)

Leggy’s Worst:

Instagram loves this book. I have a mini rant about this book on our Instagram page (@nightstands2, follow us!). I picked up this book because of the hype and because I saw a trailer of the movie adaptation on Youtube and decided to just read the book instead, what a bad idea. There was nothing romantic about this book. The heroine is the exact type of character I hate in a romance – think Zooey Deschanel from New Girl, obviously hot girl who is “awkward” and has no idea she’s hot. I rolled my eyes so much reading this book it almost fell out of the sockets.

We hope you have enjoyed talking books with us this year. We’d love to know what your best and worsts were so let us know in the comments. Have an amazing Christmas and we’ll see you in the New Year. Happy reading everybody!

Leggy & Taynement

celebrity memoir, Memoirs, Uncategorized

Book Review: Friends, Lovers, and the Big Terrible Thing by Matthew Perry

“Do you know what St. Peter says to everyone who tries to get into heaven?”

“Peter says, ‘Don’t you have any scars?’ And when most would respond proudly, ‘Well, no, no I don’t,’ Peter says, ‘Why not? Was there nothing worth fighting for?”

I picked up this book because Chandler was always my favorite on Friends and I could not watch the reunion special because I could not believe how bad all the men aged. I wanted them all stuck in my head how they were when I watched the original show. Now, Friends premiered when I was 3, so obviously I watched it after it had ended and so avoided any knowledge of any of their private or celebrity news. I had no idea Mathew Perry was an addict until I picked up this book. Perry in this book is baring his addiction in such a glaring way that it is hard to read and yet, so hard to look away. I listened to this book on audio and could not listen all the way through. I could only do 2 hours at a time because the big terrible thing is really that big and terrible.

“I’m hopeless and awkward and desperate for love!”

A lot of fans know that a lot of Mathew Perry went into the character of Chandler on Friends. Mathew Perry is Chandler without Monica and without the twins at the end, but with the same baggage and an insane addiction problem. Perry takes us through his birth in America, his childhood in Canada with his mother who was Trudeau Sr. ‘s Chief of Staff when he was Prime Minister and then to his return to America to live with his father. Perry has had a roller coaster of a life. He started drinking at 15 and then never stopped. Every time he picked up any substance at all, he got addicted. There is no drug he hasn’t done, there is no amount of alcohol he hasn’t drunk, it’s actually quite insane to listen to. Perry spent most of his young life wanting desperately to be famous. He was actually getting steady work doing a lot of guest starring roles, shows that never led to anything while drinking his nights away with friends and sleeping with as many women as possible.

“Now, all these years later, I’m certain that I got famous so I would not waste my entire life trying to get famous. You have to get famous to know that it’s not the answer. And nobody who is not famous will ever truly believe that.”

I’m going to say something I don’t think anyone has ever said about a memoir but this book is too honest. Perry is so honest that I can see why people would consider him unlikeable after reading this book. He doesn’t pretend that he just loved acting and that’s all he wanted to do. Perry wanted to be famous. He longed for it, him and his friends would audition all day and then meet up at night to fantasize about being famous. Perry talked about his obsession with love. He was rarely ever single even through the worst of his addictions. He was either in a committed relationship or he was sleeping his way through Los Angeles. I can see why people would consider him a womanizer who objectifies women, but you don’t pick up a memoir about an addict looking for a saint. He would date amazing woman after amazing woman and break up with them before they had a chance to leave him. He would be at the cusp of proposing then crack a joke and then never do it.

Yes, he really is Chandler and it would be endearing and funny if he didn’t spend most of his time trying to escape reality through drugs and alcohol. Perry doesn’t make excuses about his mistakes. His story telling is very matter of fact. He tells you how much he’s spent on rehab. He tells you how most rehab are bullshit and he could sue them. If you’re looking for a humble man who is looking for forgiveness for his actions, you won’t find him here. Does Perry wish that he didn’t have this disease? Absolutely. But this book is not about convincing you that he is a good man who was riddled with this addiction. It is just a book about an addict.

“I was so often just a tourist in sobriety.”

There’s info about Friends and lovers, yes, but don’t pick up this book if that’s all you want scoop on. 75% of this book is about the big, terrible thing. This book desperately needed an editor. There are so many jokes that fell flat that should have never made it to the page. The Keanu Reeves joke for example. It made so many people mad that when I went to Goodreads to rate this book and saw so many 1 star ratings, I was so confused until I saw that some of them were mad about the Keanu quip (which Matthew Perry has apologised for). Also, this book was not linear so sometimes it left me confused, trying to figure out where we are at any particular time. Also a lot of it read as repetitive. Where were his editors? This book would have been so much better if it was thoroughly edited and a proper timeline worked out for all the events outlined in the book.

“If I drop my game, my Chandler, and show you who I really am, you might notice me, but worse, you might notice me and leave me. And I can’t have that. I won’t survive that.”

I felt sad after reading this book. It’s so hard to evaluate memoirs because how do you judge a person’s life story on a point system? I’m curious to see how reading this book is going to affect my further watching of Friends. I wonder if I’m going to still see my beloved Chandler Bing or if I’m going to be stuck staring into the crack Mathew has opened in this funny character. I gave this book 4 stars on Goodreads and based on the reviews I’ve seen about it, I will give one warning – do not read this book if you will be offended by the actions of an addict.

Leggy

Chick-Lit, Fiction, literary fiction, romance, women's fiction

Book Review: Before I Let Go by Kennedy Ryan

“That,” she says, “is an irreversible outcome. Divorce may or may not be. Broken relationships may or may not be. You may never repair those completely, but you’re still here to try. Do you recognize what an amazing gift that is? To still be here to try?”

Yasmen and Josiah were what the kids would call “#couplegoals”. They liked and loved each other, the sex was great, they had two kids and shared a vision and a business together. Until they go through some tragedies and realize that their love was not enough to hold them together and they eventually divorce. Now, they are living in their new normal, still business partners but learning to co-parent. But spending that much time together jogs both their memories and they start to reminisce about the good times. The story takes us down memory lane to the beginning of their story, how they got here and if there is a chance for a future as a couple again.

“Depression,” she goes on, “is a liar. If it will tell you no one loves you, that you’re not good enough, that you’re a burden or, in the most extreme cases, better off dead, then it can certainly convince you that you’re better off without the man you love, and that, ultimately, he’s better off without you.”

Y’all know that I am not one for romance novels and I don’t think I quite knew it was a romance novel but it worked for me and I really liked it. I liked this because it was very realistic and definitely wasn’t a “boy meets girl” story. Ryan did a good job of giving us a clear picture of who Yasmen and Josiah were as a couple from the beginning to present day, so you feel like you know them. I liked how she introduced their traumas in just the right doses and didn’t try to shove it all down at the same time. And when I say traumas, this also serves as a trigger warning for pregnancy loss, depression and suicidal thoughts. Ryan found a way to weave these real life situations into the story while also incorporating the different reactions people have to therapy and the different ways people deal with grief.

“Do people remember the exact moment they fall in love? I’ve learned it’s not one moment, but a million of them”

I have mentioned earlier but I would reiterate that the best thing about the book was how realistic it felt and that is a testament to Ryan’s writing. From something as little as Yasmen acknowledging the versatility of black hair or being kind to her body or her rebellious teenager. As much as I mentioned the TWs earlier, there were fun moments in the book like the great friendship Yasmen develops as an adult, the passion for their restaurant and the healthy friendship between Josiah and his best friend that is open. I have said in previous reviews how I have noticed a lot of books lately seem to be incorporating food into their stories and this was no different

I can’t sing the praises of this book enough. If you are looking for a mature, happy ending having romance novel look no further. This was my first Ryan novel and I was not disappointed. It reminded me a bit of Seven Days in June. Oh , I forgot to add that there’s loads of sex in the book but that’s not why I am recommending 😀

Taynement

Chick-Lit, Fiction, romance

My Favorite Romance Books in 2022

I’ve really enjoyed reading romance this year. I find that a lot of the books I read this year were quite delightful and everything I wanted in a good book. I’m usually a fan of the romantic comedy genre. I’m not a fan of the angst in dramatic romanceo so, I’m sure my list is going to reflect that. Also, these are my favorite books that I read this year and not just books published in 2022, even though some of them are. Anyway, without any further ado, these are my 2022 favorite romance books!

  1. Nora Goes Off Script by Annabel Monaghan:

Nora Hamilton is a romance channel screenwriter. She knows the formula for a corny romance novel – two people have a meet cute, fall in love, 90% into the movie they fight and the man leaves, then 99% into the movie the man comes back and they live happily ever after. She’s been churning these out her entire career and taking care of her children and free loading husband. When Nora’s marriage falls apart, she turns the story of the breakup into a screenplay that gets picked up by a big Hollywood director complete with a star studded Hollywood cast including former Sexiest Man Alive, Leo Vance who plays her ex-husband. When Vance comes to film in her house, the two connect in such a deep way and she starts experiencing life like never before. The full review of this book can be found here!

2. Funny You Should Ask by Elisa Sussman:

I’m genuinely shocked that I never reviewed this book on the blog or on our Instagram timeline, I think I just talked about it on Twitter and then thought I reviewed it? Wow. Okay here goes!

Chani Horowitz is stuck writing puff pieces which is not what she went to her MFA program for. All her former classmates are getting book deals but she’s stuck with no way to move forward. She gets hired to write a profile piece of movie star, Gabe Parker. The hottest Hollywood leading man, according to her, and currently her phone screen saver! Chani is so excited and terrified but she knows that if she keeps her cool and nails this piece, it could skyrocket her career. But what comes next proves to be life-changing in ways Chani never saw coming, as the interview turns into a whirlwind weekend that has the tabloids buzzing.

10 years later, she’s still getting asked about that profile piece. No matter what new book she’s promoting, it always came back to Gabe. The speculation of if she slept with him or not. So when Gabe’s PR reaches out and wants a recreation of that amazing profile piece and weekend, she really wants to say no because there is so much that happened during that weekend that she left out of her piece and is only known by the two of them. This book was inspired by an amazing profile piece that a journalist did on Chris Evans that I think you should read before going into this one. It makes the book even more amazing. Link HERE to the real life Chris Evans piece!

3. Book Lovers by Emily Henry:

Emily Henry has become such a reliable author for me. I’ve liked every book better than the last so I’m so excited for what she has coming next and also terrified that she’s reached her peak with this one!

Nora Stephens is an amazing book agent who loves her job and loves living in New York City. She comes to Sunshine Falls with her pregnant sister before the baby comes, to destress. Instead of running into a hot farmer and having a stereotypical Christmas romance (you know those ones!), Nora keeps bumping into Charlie Lastra, an editor from the city who is in Sunshine Falls to take care of his aging parents and whip their affairs into order. Charlie and Nora have met many times before but always on days when they both weren’t bringing their best to the world, so this presents a chance for them to start over and get to know each other as people not as an editor and agent. I really loved this one. It was smart and funny and realistic. I love that Nora loves her job and makes no apologies for it. You can read my full review of this one here!

4. It Happened One Summer by Tessa Bailey:

I reviewed this one on our Instagram timeline where I review a book every Wednesday on the timeline, (follow us!- @nightstands2)

Piper Bellinger is an influencer. She just is. Think Paris Hilton at the height of her fame. She’s from a rich family, has multiple relationships that never last more than a month and she loves to party. After one of her massive parties goes awry and she lands in jail, her step father sends her to a small town in Washington to show some contrition and taxes her with running her dead father’s dive bar – a man who died when she was young and she has no connection to. Piper has not been in Westport, Washington for up to 5 minutes when she meets Brenda, a gruff fisherman, who thinks she won’t last a week outside of Beverly Hills, so she sets out to prove him wrong! Don’t be put off by the rich, spoilt girl trope here. Piper is smart, funny and kind but just happens to be spoilt and rich. I found her so likeable and it made it so easy for me to root for her. One of my favorite romance reads of the year for sure!

5. The Deal by Elle Kennedy:

This is another one I reviewed on Instagram (again, follow us! You’re missing out!)

Hannah Wells has a lot of baggage when it comes to sex and seduction but if she wants her crush’s attention, she’ll have to step out of her comfort zone and make him take notice. Even if it means tutoring the annoying, cocky captain of the hockey team in exchange for a pretend date to drive up her popularity and make her REAL crush notice her. Obviously, shenanigans ensue. I really enjoyed this book. It was such a fun read, and I hadn’t read anything in recent memory set on a college campus which I utterly enjoyed. Even though I felt this was a fun read, it’s important to note that there are trigger warnings – rape, emotional and physical abuse but all of this happens off the page and in the past, just events referred to.

Which romance books have been your favorite of the year so far? Let me know in the comments!

Leggy

celebrity memoir, Memoirs, Non-Fiction

Book Review: You Should Sit Down For This by Tamera Mowry-Housley

Tamera Mowry-Housley is best known as half of the identical twin duo that starred in “Sister, Sister” and as one of the talk show hosts on “The Real”. Because everyone gets to write a memoir these days, Mowry-Housley has written one at age 44. The book title says it’s about life, wine and cookies which I assume is supposed to be about her personal life, her career and I guess life advice as she sprinkles across the book, something she calls “Tamera-isms”.

I won’t mince any words and just flat out say that I thought this was a terrible book. In fact, it was an insult to the word memoir. I picked up this book because Mowry-Housley has the reputation of being the “boring” twin and is often misunderstood, I figured I’d pick this one up to hear from her point of view and see if I could gain a different perspective of her and unfortunately, this did not help her case at all. It was awful.

As always for a celebrity memoir, I did this on audio and I wanted to end my suffering as soon as I started. I am not sure who signed off on this because the tempo was not it at all. It was almost like she was putting on a forced positivity and the cheeriness came off as fake. It was just over the top. But it was just 5 hours long so I figured I could bear it. The book had soooo many metaphors and euphemisms that were over the top and was distracting from whatever surface story she was telling us.

When you read a memoir, you should feel like you learned things about them that you didn’t know before reading and this was not the case here. In fact, you would know more about Tamera looking up her old interviews and watching The Real than reading this book. For example, in a story talking about her breakup with her now-husband, Adam she says “I don’t want to talk about it, even just thinking about it now brings a tear to my eye”. No memoir should have the phrase “I don’t want to talk about it” that is a signal that you do not need to be writing a memoir.

As mentioned above, she is best known for “Sister, Sister”. I had settled in to listen to the behind the scenes of the show and couldn’t believe that it was a blink and you miss it situation. One minute she mentioned they booked the show and the next she is saying when the show ended. For someone who is partly famous because she is an identical twin, she barely if at all talks about their relationship. We don’t learn more about her family and that’s because most of the stories were surface. I didn’t understand the choice to not talk about being biracial instead she refers to herself as a black girls with curls. She never referenced the reality show she had with her twin sister, never referenced the depression she went through in college.

I can give a little credit to her getting a little more authentic when talking about being on The Real and how much anxiety it gave her but she over compensated by telling us every 5 seconds how much she loved her coworkers and she spent most of it defending her husband. The chapter where she talks about the death of her niece due to gun violence was the other story she was authentic about. She tries to be down with people by talking about sex and how people consider her a prude to which she boldly tells us that they are wrong and she is infact “a freak in the sheets” (cringe). She proceeds to share her sex goals which are places she wants to have sex that include a lavender field and on top of a car in the rain (gosh) and then follows it up with it’s none of our business which ones she has checked off. Sigh.

Overall, I just got the impression that Tamera is the kind of person who likes for everything to look nice. She mentions how she is proud of her positivity but it almost sounded like a detriment in this book. I think the idea of the book was a cross between Yvonne Orji’s “Bamboozled by Jesus” and Gabrielle Union’s “We’re going to need more wine” except she failed on both ends. Orji found a fun way to give fun, personalized advice while Tamera told us things that everyone already knows and wasn’t able to capture Union’s realness. In case you couldn’t tell, I do not recommend this book. I gave it 1 star and immediately told Leggy that it is in the running for my worst read of the year.

If you have read this and think otherwise, I’d really like to hear your thoughts. Let me know in the comments!

Taynement

Chick-Lit, Fiction, literary fiction, race, romance, Uncategorized, women's fiction

Book Review: Mika in Real Life by Emiko Jean

“It seems the tighter I try to hold on, the more things slip through my fingers. It is a reminder to me of how impermanent life is.”

Mika Suzuki’s life is a mess. She’s 35 and has just been laid off from her paralegal job. She’s living with her best friend but still can’t make ends meet. She is an absolute disappointment to her traditional Japanese parents. Her last relationship ended in flames. Mika is at her lowest when she gets a call from her daughter Penny – the daughter she gave up for adoption 16 years ago. Penny wants to get to know her birth mother and Mika is determined to be a woman who daughter would be proud of. Mika spends the entire month talking to her daughter and making up the perfect life for herself – the perfect career, the perfect romantic relationship, and even the perfect house. As the lies snowball into a fully fledged fake life and Penny decides to come visit Mika in Portland with her adoptive widower dad, Thomas Calvin, Mika must figure out a way to keep up with her lies while forming a relationship with her daughter.

I really liked all the family dynamics portrayed in this story especially the one between Mika and her mother. Mika and her parents have a very difficult relationship where she has never felt understood. Her parents being immigrants has shaped a lot of their experiences and has made it hard for them to understand each other. Their relationship involves church, her parents trying to introduce her to eligible Japanese men and Mika asking them for loans which she always promises to pay back but never does. I like how the author portrayed Mika’s mother as complex instead of demonizing her as an absolutely bad mother. She was just a woman who was limited in her world view and moved to a country she didn’t want to be in in the first place and then was saddled with a daughter who didn’t want the traditional path to success her parents had set out for her to follow. I enjoyed reading about her experiences and what made her into the person she was today.

I didn’t expect this book to grab me as much as it did. Sure, there’s romance in it and a few spicy scenes but that is not all this book is about. The romance lends a certain layer of lightness to this story that would have otherwise been depressing. The relationship between Mika and Penny’s adoptive father, Thomas comes across very organic and believable. The relationship Penny and Mika build throughout the book was so well done to me. Seeing Penny being accepted into Mika’s family and beginning to explore her Asian identity was very touching. This book explores interracial adoptions and some of the pitfalls. Even though Penny’s adoptive parents tried to expose her to Asian culture, their whiteness still gave them a lot of racial blind spots.

I really enjoyed this book. Are there some aspects that felt predictable? Sure. But it explores so many topics and does them in a nuanced way. I really recommend this book. I gave it 4 stars on Goodreads.

Leggy