african author, Fiction, literary fiction, Nigerian Author, Uncategorized

Book Review : His Only Wife by Peace Adzo Medie

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“Elikem married me in absentia; he did not come to our wedding.”

Afi is a young seamstress who is offered a life changing opportunity. She is offered the position of the chosen wife of Elikem Ganyo – a man she doesn’t truly know. His family gives her a task – make him fall in love with you and leave his wife (the mysterious Liberian woman) who everyone seems to have terrible things to say about. He doesn’t even show up to their wedding, her only contact with him before the wedding day is a phone call acknowledging her presence in his life. After the wedding, she is whisked to Accra and installed in a luxury apartment, with a driver, a huge allowance and anything she can ever wish for except of course, the actual man she married.

“Please, put love aside and be practical. Love will not put food on the table; it won’t hold you at night.”

If you enjoyed Stay With Me by Ayobami Adebayo, you’d probably enjoy this book. I’ve heard white book people compare this book to Crazy, Rich Asians and that’s ridiculous, this book is nothing like that. It’s not frivolous or “fun”. This is a quick and easy read but it tackles a lot of familiar African issues.

What I enjoyed about this book is that it shows how the status of an African woman is always defined in relation to the men they are bound to. The women in this book are all different and it shows us the different ways women adapt to the society they find themselves in and the ways they decide to exist in it. Some women end up being the pillars of the patriarchal society that has oppressed them, some women discover that they can rise above it and define their own paths and some decide to just go with the flow and take the little wins wherever they can get them.

I loved the tension between Afi’s family and the Ganyos as Afi became more of herself and built a sense of self. She stopped being the grateful girl who was indebted to the Ganyos and became a woman demanding better for herself. I loved watching the power dynamic play out between this powerful and rich family and the young woman they empowered unknowingly.

“All men are the same, they only know how to love themselves and to sit on women.”

As much I enjoyed watching Afi grow, I still found Afi extremely naive. I’m Nigerian and this story is as old as time and everyone knows what the deal is. First of all, I couldn’t believe Afi believed all the things her in-laws told her about Elikem’s first wife – that she is ugly and rude and everything bad. I couldn’t believe how the entire story played out. I must admit that I was extremely irritated with Afi demanding more from the arrangement. I thought she should have been old enough to accept the perks and ignore the drawbacks. I found it hard to accept that a girl who grew up in Ghana was this naive when she walked into this arrangement knowing fully that there was another woman involved in the mix. So whenever she talked about loving Elikem, I couldn’t stop myself from rolling my eyes. Nothing about Afi’s behaviour rang true or realistic to me.

There were some plot threads that the author started but never took anywhere. In the beginning of the book, Yaya (Elikem’s sister) takes Afi to a party where she meets a young handsome young man. This meeting is told to us in great detail and she runs into the young man some other time but nothing happens. That character just disappears and the author does nothing with him for the rest of the book, so what was the purpose of those scenes? This is her debut book so I’m going to be looking out for what she writes next because I think this book had the potential to be great but just stopped short.

This book is very readable and the imagery the author conjures is so fantastic that you can see the book play out right in front of you. The descriptions of the various uncles and aunties who are there to suck your entire resources were spot on! The Uncle character in this book is so realistic and the descriptions of contemporary Ghanaian life were great. Even though I gave this book 3 stars, I hope you still give it a chance. I recommend it!

Leggy

Fiction, literary fiction, race

Book Review: Luster by Raven Leilani

In 'Luster,' a Young Woman Moves in With Her Lover — and His Family - The  New York Times

“I am inclined to pray, but on principle, I don’t. God is not for women. He is for the fruit. He makes you want and he makes you wicked, and while you sleep, he plants a seed in your womb that will be born to die”

Edie is a 23 year old black woman and an artist that is aware of her dysfunctions and trying to navigate her way through life. She gets into a relationship with Eric, a white married man with a black adopted daughter, Akila. His wife, Rebecca is aware of their relationship as they are in an open marriage. Edie loses her job and while trying to figure out her finances and living arrangements, Rebecca invites her to live in their house while Eric is out of town on a work trip – without Eric’s knowledge. The book follows the strange dynamic of figuring out how she fits into the family, her relationship with Eric and her slow ease into a relationship with their daughter when she realizes that she might be the only black person in Akila’s life.

Cool premise huh? Yup. That’s why I promptly added to my TBR list. The accolades too. This book had so much high praise, I definitely didn’t want to be left out and this may be partly why this didn’t work for me. I have low tolerance for protagonists who seem to be lost but Edie is 23 so it makes sense. She is practically a baby. I think she had relatable struggles for her age especially being an actual “starving artist” so to speak. Struggles like being broke in NYC, having a raggedy apartment with a roommate and the politics at her 9-5 job and being one of only two black people.

“I think of how keenly I’ve been wrong. I think of all the gods I have made out of feeble men”

Edie’s biggest detriment seems to be the men she chooses to have sexual relations with and how she lets them treat her. We get a background of her family life that somewhat explains why but it didn’t stop me from cringing a little. At some point with Eric, she encourages him to hit her and that was a tad uncomfortable to read. And this leads to what I think is the major reason this book didn’t work for me – I just couldn’t connect.

Granted I am older than Edie and lived a very different life but I just couldn’t hunker down and feel anything for Edie, not even annoyance. For every new chapter and new revelation, I kept going “okay and..?” because I just was not moved. And while this may be a reality to some, I found a lot of it farfetched. I truly could never understand why Rebecca invited Edie to live with them especially without Eric’s knowledge. We also did not get much insight as to why they had an open marriage. At some point in the book, Edie sees Rebecca and Eric still having sex which makes it more complicated.

A part of why I could not connect is I found the author to be verbose. A line that could be so simple would be described in a complex way with so many words and I am not a fan of that kind of writing. What I thought would be the most interesting story line was the relationship between Edie and Akila, their adopted daughter but the book never really goes in depth with that. I should mention the book is told from Edie’s perspectives so we are privvy to her thoughts.

Its a short book at 227 pages but for me, it was a book in circles. It felt like we went around and around the block, where the views weren’t necessarily pretty and never quite landed at a destination. Basically, nothing made sense to me. I gave this two stars and I’d like to say I have learned my lesson and will not fall for the over-raving and over-hyping of a book but chances are high I will.

Taynement

Book Related Topics, Chick-Lit, Fiction, race, romance

Recommended Romance Books With Black Female Characters (NO STRUGGLE LOVE INCLUDED!)

I find a lot of times the romance marketed to black women in entertainment is very much limited to struggle love. I grew up on Mills & Boons where the devastatingly handsome Millionaire/Prince/Duke sweeps the girl off her feet, but the characters were always white.

Black women never get to see themselves this way in literature. We’re always portrayed as strong mules who can take whatever shitty love is offered and we never get the fantasy. Today, I want to introduce you to romance books that black women can escape into and find themselves very well loved and with all their romance fantasies fulfilled.

The Wedding Date by Jasmine Guillory

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“Just because their standards are low does not mean that we should lower ours.”

Alex Monroe gets stuck in an elevator with Drew Nichols and in a moment of insanity agrees to be his date to a wedding he’s in town for. They have a lot of fun and after they head back to their respective cities they can’t stop thinking about each other so they try to make it work. I enjoyed this one but this is not my favorite in the series. I think Guillory really found her stride as she wrote the other books in this series. Also, just fair warning, this is not a closed door romance, there is a LOT of sex! If that’s not your thing, you might consider skipping this one, or reading it anyway and just skimming the sex scenes.

Guillory has a whole series with great black female characters getting the love they deserve. Her female characters are always complete human beings who just need a man to complement them instead of complete them. So, if you read this first book and love it, there are many more where that comes from. Also, I think this might be the most mainstream of the books I recommend today.

A Princess in Theory by Alyssa Cole

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 “Everybody wants something from you, but sometimes there’s a person you want to give to. Sometimes what you give them makes you better for having given it.

Naledi Smith keeps getting a lot of emails telling her she’s betrothed to an African prince which she deletes constantly, very much convinced that it’s all a scam. Prince Thabiso is the sole heir to the throne of Thesolo, and the first thing on his mind is his duty to his people to find a wife. He tracks down Naledi and when a chance encounter makes Naledi think he’s just an ordinary guy, Thabiso grabs the opportunity to experience New York without the weight of his princedom.

I absolutely loved this one. It was funny and very charming. This one is also the first book in a series (The Reluctant Royals series) but I didn’t like the next two books and so I gave up after that. This first book though is fantastic and you should check it out!

Get a Life, Chloe Brown by Talia Hibbert:

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“You think this is a big deal because, no offense, you’ve had a lot of people in your life who claimed to care about you but didn’t act like it. That’s not me. I can cook, and right now, you can’t. So I’m doing it for you because that’s how people should behave; they should fill in each other’s gaps”

I just finished reading this one exactly 10 minutes before I started writing this post and I credit it for giving me the idea for this post. Chloe Brown is chronically ill but has decided to get out there and get on with her life. She has moved out of her parents’ mansion and moved into a flat armed with a list of things to do to get on with her life so that her funeral speech would have more than her illness in it.

Redford Morgan used to be the toast of the art world but after being dumped by his verbally abusive posh girlfriend he’s hiding out as a superintendent in Chloe’s building. As Chloe and Red become close, she enlists him to help her achieve her list, sparks fly and Chloe and Red might just be the answer to each other’s prayers.

I really enjoy British romance and this one was no different. I thoroughly enjoyed it! There are other books after this one in this series (The Brown Sisters) but I haven’t read it so I don’t know how good they are.

Have your read any of these? Let me know what you thought in the comments! Have a great reading week, everybody!

Leggy

Memoirs

Book Review: Eat A Peach by David Chang

Eat A Peach - by David Chang & Gabe Ulla (Hardcover) - image 1 of 2

“Recovering alcoholics talk about needing to hit rock bottom before they are able to climb out. The paradox for the workaholic is that rock bottom is the top of whatever profession they’re in.”

David Chang is well known in the culinary world through so many arenas. He has a number of restaurants, books, cook books, podcasts and has featured on a number of cooking TV shows including his Netflix show, Ugly Delicious. He has a reputation for having a DGAF attitude and has amassed a lot of success in his career. And yet it is possible that you may never have heard of him. There is nothing I love more than a good ol’ celebrity memoir and if it involves the culinary world, that is even better (Exhibit A and B – Padma Lakshmi’s to be specific) So, I was eager and curious to read Chang’s memoir.

How David Chang defined the decade in food, through ramen, noise and  rebellion - Washington Post
David Chang

I had prior knowledge of who he was and a little insight to his carefree personality. I have even visited one of his restaurants, Momofuku (which I found overrated), so I wasn’t going in completely blind. Chang delivered the basics. I think he was open and honest and really gave insight to his rise as a chef. Chang also was open about his bipolar diagnosis and being heavily prone to outbursts of rage, even among people he loves.

I added this book to my TBR list when I read an article and excerpt of his book that focused heavily on his outbursts and diagnosis – which I did not know about. I think the book missed the mark for me because the excerpt I read, made me think this book would be focused on his personal life but it turned out to be more of a “How to” book that focused more on his career. I take responsibility that this could be my fault for having different expectations but an example is that the excerpt had my curiosity piqued because I honestly was curious on how he navigated his anger issues within his marriage and how his wife handled it. He barely mentioned his wife in the book but we got loads of examples of how it played out in his various kitchens.

Like I mentioned earlier, Chang was very honest about his life especially the ugly (which there is a lot of) He spoke about being a child of Korean immigrants and how it influenced his desire for success. But his honesty was not something that exactly sat well with me. He talked about behaviors he was not proud of, but for me being honest about awful things doesn’t necessarily excuse the fact that it happened. I didn’t exactly think he went super deep on certain topics. It almost read like he was telling us just enough to be defined as a memoir but you can tell things are missing. He tells us on more than one occasion that he did not create the best working environment for his employees, who were sometimes scared of him but in another says how his greatest talent is bringing out the best in people so that dissonance was hard for me to comprehend.

Something else I struggled with is the fact that Chang’s account of himself made him unlikable. I have mentioned before how this affects my enjoyment of a book, when a protagonist is unlikable, and it was no different here. Once I realized that I was only going to get his version of a memoir, my interest waned. His career trajectory was impressive but I don’t think it was told in a compelling way, I was just ready to be done with the book.

Something Chang does well is actually go deep about the reasons for his restaurant choices, his love of food and the history of food. Fun Fact: Momofuku means “Lucky Peach”. He does give the appropriate kudos where credit belongs for example to black women and Taiwanese women when he started a fried chicken place. A tiny segment of the book that for some reason struck a chord with me was Chang giving his former intern, Madge a chance and making her Momofuku’s CEO at age 30. That is a huge risk that I applauded him for.

I think if the book was presented as a career “How To..” it would have leveled my expectations and been a better representation of what kind of memoir it was. Not to discount his hard work, but it’s hard to take advice from someone who flew a lot by the seat of his pants and even by his own admission was lucky from the very beginning starting with how his dad gave him 100k as seed money. He does have an appendix chapter titled “33 Rules To Being A Chef” that could be applied to any career path that I think aptly fits what I think would have been a better direction for the book.

Per usual for a memoir, I audio’d it and gave it 2 stars for all the reasons mentioned above but that is not to say this book won’t work for a lot of people. For people who may not know anything about Chang, who may be more interested in knowing more about culinary success or who don’t need their protagonist to be likable, this book might actually be a good read for them.

Taynement

Book Related Topics, Fiction, literary fiction, race, Uncategorized

Book Review: Transcendent Kingdom by Yaa Gyasi

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“My memories of him, though few, are mostly pleasant, but memories of people you hardly know are often permitted a kind of pleasantness in their absence. It’s those who stay who are judged the harshest, simply by virtue of being around to be judged.”

Gifty is a fifth-year candidate in neuroscience at Stanford School of Medicine studying reward-seeking behavior in mice and the neural circuits of depression and addiction. Her brother, Nana, was a gifted high school athlete who died of a heroin overdose after a knee injury left him hooked on OxyContin. Her mother’s pastor calls to let her know that her mother is going through a depressive episode and she asks him to send her to California.

While Gyasi’s outstanding debut novel, Homegoing, zooms out with its broad story spanning generations across Ghana and the United States, Transcendent Kingdom zooms in to a specific Ghanaian immigrant family in Huntsville, Alabama as the family explores grief, faith, racism in the evangelical church, addiction, science, and trying to develop a sense of belonging.

“You cannot go around claiming that an idea or an item was imported into a given society unless you could also conclude that to the best of your knowledge, there is not, and never was any word or phrase in that society’s indigenous language which describes that idea or item”

This book is written in a first person point of view. Gifty tells us the history of her family as best as she can remember it reading as a stream of thoughts. It’s not chronological in its retelling as it jumps between present day California and her family’s history in Alabama. We know from the very first page and the novel’s blurb that her brother, Nana, died from a drug overdose so every time she comes close to getting to his addiction you almost hold your breath, dreading it.

Reading the kind of child and kind older brother Nana was, made you dread his inevitable end that you know is coming. Nana was kind, smart and talented and had no history of previous misdemeanors. He was a star in whatever sport he decided he wanted to be a part of. Already attracting college scouts by the time he was 15, his future was so bright and promising. Gyasi paints a picture of Nana so heartbreaking that just like Gifty, even you are praying for his death to come and go already to spare us the anticipation distress.

“…We humans are reckless with our bodies, reckless with our lives, for no other reason than that we want to know what would happen, what it might feel like to brush up against death, to run right up to the edge of our lives, which is, in some ways, to live fully.”

Gifty’s family is the only black family in their congregation. Her mother, not knowing the politics of race in Alabama figured the God in Ghana was the same as the God in Alabama and did not have second thoughts about sending her family to a congregation that feared God but hated them. I liked the juxtaposition of the head pastor – who was so kind to Gifty’s family and the congregation – who treated them badly and traded on racial stereotypes to justify Nana’s dependence on drugs. The most heartbreaking being when Gifty overhears a conversation where one of the women in church says – “these people have always had a taste for drugs”. Everything is tinged in racial bias, from the praises heaped on Nana for his brilliance in sports to the insults after his fall from grace.

“They are skeptical of the rhetoric of addiction as disease, something akin to high blood pressure or diabetes, and I get that. What they’re really saying is that they may have partied in high school and college but look at them now. Look how strong-willed they are, how many good choices they’ve made. They want reassurances. They want to believe that they have been loved enough and have raised their children well enough that the things that I research will never, ever touch their own lives.”

I genuinely enjoyed this book and pondered so many of the questions Gifty raises as she straddles the fence between christianity and science. Ultimately, I felt that this book was too short. I wish she had talked more about her mother’s recovery or non recovery. The book ends rather abruptly, the last chapter a wrap up of her and her mother’s life but I was curious. Did she ever get help? Did she ever get out of her depressive episode? What led Gifty to the place her life ended up? How has she reconciled her faith with her career?

I feel like Gyasi left so many questions unanswered. This book is less than 300 pages. I think 267 to be exact so it’s not like she ran out of pages. I still highly recommend this book. This is nothing like her first book but I think she escapes the sophomore slump by drilling down instead of writing yet another sprawling book that can be compared to her fantastic debut novel. I gave this one 4 stars on Goodreads.

Leggy

Chick-Lit, Fiction, literary fiction, romance

Popular Books I Couldn’t Get Through

I’ve mentioned many times how Leggy taught me that if I don’t like a book, I don’t have to make it to the end. It’s okay to drop it and find something else that brings me joy. The lesson didn’t sink in until sometime last year and it was hard but it was so freeing anytime I dropped a book I felt trapped in.

Going into books blind means that there is a high chance of being stuck with books I might not enjoy. I am also a shiny, new book person. What that means is, I always want to read the new books that everyone is talking about. You see them everywhere and you see all the high praise and I feel like something is wrong with me when I just can’t get into it. I am sure this happens to a lot of people where you wonder what it is everyone sees in a book that you just can’t see. I decided to share with you guys some popular books I read but just couldn’t make it to the last page.

Educated by Tara Westover

I almost didn’t include this book on the list because it’s a real popular one with the masses and I got really far. I only had about two chapters left before it returned to the library. I didn’t bother renewing it because I figured I had the gist of it and ultimately the story had me so angry. Reading the abuse she endured while her parents did nothing had me fuming. I didn’t think it was healthy to be that angry at characters I did not know so I just let it be. You can read our review on the book here.

The Unhoneymooners by Lauren Fox

I went into this because it was everywhere, the cover was pretty and I liked the title. Deep down, I am sure I knew this was a boy meets girl book but I overlooked it and kept reading. By the time I got to where they hate each other but have to pretend like they are a couple as the protagonist posed as her twin sister, I knew I had to free myself. I never made it to the inevitable “realize we love each other” part because I had tapped out.

A Place For Us by Fatima Farheen Mirza

You guys don’t know how badly I wanted to like this book. I still have no idea why this book didn’t work for me. It has all the elements I love in a book. It has immigration, family, poignant writing. This was Leggy’s favorite book in 2018 and as soon as she read it, she recommended it to me. I tried to read it twice and couldn’t make it through. I even got the audio to see if it would make it better and still nothing happened. I think I made it to about a quarter. It’s one of those books that nothing really happens so its more enjoying the journey. I’m not good with back list titles but I still have some hope deep down that I will get back to it someday. But, who knows? You can Leggy’s review of the book here.

Things You Save In A Fire by Kathreen Center

Another fomo moment for me. I picked this one up and my heart sank when I realized it was basically a romance novel. I did like that the heroine was a bad ass firefighter kicking boys asses but by the 100th description of the heroine overreacting to the future love interests actions, I quickly exited. This book in particular, I know I didn’t give a chance but I don’t think I missed out on much.

That’s it folks! I do want to caveat that just because I did not finish these books does not mean I think they were bad books. I do think they were well written but for various reasons such as timing, head space, preference some times books just don’t work for people and that’s okay. I’d love to hear in the comments what popular books you couldn’t get yourself to finish.

Taynement

Book Related Topics, Fantasy, Fiction

4 Kick Arse Female Fantasy Books!

I loveee fantasy. It’s my favorite genre and gives me so much escape from reality especially in these very, very strange times we live in. This is a very male dominated genre and the types of characters I enjoy in fantasy don’t help matters. I adore ruthless characters in fantasy. I want them to be single minded about their goals and to cut their way through their enemies.

The problem is that I read a lot of male heroes because there isn’t that many female characters written that way. I do not enjoy romance in my fantasy. I can stomach a little bit of it, but I do not want it to be the main plot. I just want a lot of world building and violence (Yikes!). Yes, there may be something wrong with me.

I decided to make a list of 4 fantasy books that I think have my version of a kick arse female character in fantasy.

The Poppy War by R. F. Kuang:

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“Nothing is written. You humans always think you’re destined for things, for tragedy or for greatness. Destiny is a myth. Destiny is the only myth. The gods choose nothing. You chose. At every critical juncture you were given an option; you were given a way out. Yet you picked precisely the roads that led you here. You are at this temple, kneeling before me, only because you wanted to be.”

Rin aces the Keju—the Empire-wide test to find the most talented youth to learn at the Academies—and finds herself at Sineguard, the most prestigious military school in Nikan. Being a dark-skinned peasant girl, she is targeted immediately by her classmates and bullied by teachers who don’t believe she should be there. Rin with the help of a seemingly insane teacher realises that she possesses a lethal power everyone else at Sineguard believes is a myth. War breaks out in Nikan and her set graduates into a political mayhem and an all out war.

Why I love this character – Rin is absolutely ruthless and very focused on her goals. She is very single minded when she decides on a destination. She doesn’t get into any romantic entanglement even though I feel like there were some makings of one. She is a complex and complicated character who absolutely smashes all expectations. She is involved in some absolutely terrible deeds, but you rarely ever see women written like that so I was absolutely pulled in from beginning to end. I can’t wait to read the rest of the series.

Red Sister by Mark Lawrence:

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Your death has not been waiting for your arrival at the appointed hour: it has, for all the years of your life, been racing towards you with the fierce velocity of time’s arrow. It cannot be evaded, it cannot be bargained with, deflected or placated. All that is given to you is the choice: meet it with open eyes and peace in your heart, go gentle to your reward. Or burn bright, take up arms, and fight the bitch.”

At the Convent of Sweet Mercy, young girls are raised to be killers. Nona Grey is rescued from being hanged by one of the convent’s sisters after being accused of murder (and being guilty of much worse). She is just 8 but has made powerful enemies by the time she enters the convent. We see the young girls get trained in every art of killing imaginable. It takes about 10 years to be considered a sister.

Why I love this character – This is a convent so there are basically no men around. You get to have a book that is based solely on female characters interacting with each other for the most part. I love training schools a la Harry Potter, but this time for assassins. I love seeing how our characters develop from this absolute clueless person, to the end of the book where they are powerful and strong. This is a trilogy and I’ve read the first two books.

The Bear and the Nightingale by Katherine Arden:

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“I am told how I will live, and I am told how I must die. I must be a man’s servant and a mare for his pleasure, or I must hide myself behind walls and surrender my flesh to a cold, silent god. I would walk into the jaws of hell itself, if it were a path of my own choosing. I would rather die tomorrow in the forest than live a hundred years of the life appointed me”

Vasilisa is growing up in the Russian wilderness totally inhibited. She spends her days exploring her environment, listening to her old nanny tell her stories of the various gods and spirits with her older siblings and honoring the spirits. After an incident, Vasilisa’s father decides that she needs a mother figure and marries a new wife who is a deeply devout christian and bans them from honoring the Russian gods and spirits with devastating consequences.

Why I love this character – Vasilisa is independent and strong and everything you hope your girl child will be but she is severely punished for it and called a witch. She never lets anything stop her from her goal of liberating her village even if it meant honoring the spirits with her own blood. She rejects the fear and holds on to bravery. She was just a kick arse character and you will enjoy rooting for her.

Best Served Cold by Joe Abercrombie:

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“You were a hero round these parts. That’s what they call you when you kill so many people the word murderer falls short.”

Monza Murcatto, the Snake of Talins, is the most feared and famous mercenary in Duke Orso’s employ. Her victories have made her popular but too popular for her employer’s taste so he betrays her, throws her off a mountain and leaves her for dead. This is a simple revenge story. After she is nursed back to health and is now half the woman she was, she vows to kill the 7 men present when she was betrayed at whatever cost. Even though this is the 4th book in an already established world, this is still a standalone that I think you can read whether you read the first three or not. So, yes, you can just jump into this book and it’ll still be an amazing read.

Why I like this character – I think my description says it all for me. She’s a woman with a one track mind bent on revenge – think Kill Bill on acid. There’s a bit of a romantic partner here but it’s barely there and doesn’t really affect the plot too much.

Let me know if any of these titles catch your fancy. I hope you enjoy this post, 4 for the price of one. Have a great week!

Leggy

Chick-Lit, Fiction, romance

Book Review: The Happy Ever After Playlist by Abby Jimenez

The Happy Ever After Playlist by Abby Jimenez

Sloan Monroe is still mourning the loss of her fiance, two years after his death. She has lost her zeal to do the things that used to make her happy like her cooking blog and her art. On the anniversary of his death, she gets an unexpected gift in the form of Tucker, a puppy that literally hopped into her life. As she gets attached to Tucker, she finds out that he has an owner. Enter, Jason Larsen. A rising musician who is currently on tour in Australia.

The two get in contact to discuss ownership of Tucker starting with texts and moving on to calls. The two form a connection and begin to catch feelings. While Jason is all in and is willing to do all he can to be with Sloan, Sloan is wary for many reasons. Is she ready? Can she fit in?

As you may have guessed this book is a literary rom com and you may be wondering how I read this, given my thoughts on this genre. I actually don’t know how or why this was on my wait list but it checked out to me and I read it and found myself sucked in and actually liking it. So yep, I liked a romance novel. I liked it because it didn’t have all the things I dislike about romance novels in that, it wasn’t corny. It was an adult romance novel that didn’t tip toe around being PG.

Jimenez does a good job of writing out the characters and the plot and I did not even realize till afterwards that it was a pseudo sequel to a novel about her best friend in the book titled The Friend Zone. There is a cliche story line that involves the standard break up required in a romance novel but while expected, it did not turn me off on the book. I knew how it would end but the journey was interesting enough to keep me on.

You’d enjoy the makings of Sloan and Jason’s relationship which explores grief, self doubt, lust and troubled exes for the dramatic effect. For anyone triggered by the death of a loved one, while it varies for everyone, it is not heavy on the grief and it isn’t a center focus. If anything, the emotions she grapples with might be familiar and relatable. Jimenez was able to not define her by her grief and I liked how she made Sloan a woman who had a full life with her own interests before she met Jason.

In these chaotic times we live in, I recommend this book for a fun and light-hearted read. For the readers who are also music fans, Jimenez adds a nice touch with each chapter being titled after a song to make your own playlist (get it?). I gave this book 3 stars which is pretty much the equivalent of 5 stars for me given that it is a romance novel. Let us know if you have read this or have it on your TBR list.

Taynement

literary fiction, Mystery, romance, thriller, Uncategorized

Book Review : The Night Swim by Megan Goldin

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“When school kids are shot by a random shooter, nobody asks whether the victims should have taken more precautions. Nobody suggests that maybe the victims should have skipped school that day. Nobody ever blames the victims. So why is it that when women are attacked, the onus is on them?”

Rachel Krall has become an overnight sensation and household name after her true crime podcast freed a man accused of killing his wife on honeymoon from prison. She is determined to keep topping herself so she chooses a rape case as her next subject. She knows rape is a very divisive topic where everybody sees a shade of gray and is determined to exploit it. Even if she doesn’t free anybody from jail this time at least her show is going to trend.

The small town of Neapolis is being torn apart by a devastating rape trial. The town’s golden boy, a swimmer destined for Olympic greatness, has been accused of raping a high school student. Rachel moves to Neapolis for the case and throws herself into investigating and prepping for the trial, until notes start showing up in strange places for her.

“Yes, I have been a victim of a sexual assault. Well, probably several really. Funny how we were conditioned to accept these situations as unpleasant instead of outrageous.”

By all accounts, Jenny Stills died by drowning in Neapolis 25 years ago but the notes insist that she was murdered. Rachel Krall might be a household name but her face isn’t. She is scared when the notes start to turn up in even more private places including her hotel room. But, she is intrigued by how much people do not want to talk about Jenny. Against her producer’s advice, Krall starts digging into Jenny Stills’ murder and starts finding connections between her case 25 years ago and the rape case currently in court in Neapolis. Everybody might be all grown up and 25 years older but they’re all still holding on to the same secrets and lies that seem to be manifesting in the younger generation.

I enjoyed this book. I thought it was very well written and a fast read. I read this book in one sit down session for 4 hours because I just wanted to know how it would end. I found the characters compelling and I also liked how the author made Krall’s motivations for investigating this case as simply to get her podcast to trend. There was no airs to make it seem like she was trying to help people. On the flip, the way the court case was being handled really annoyed me. Hearing the rape victim being cross examined in court and humiliated utterly made my blood boil.

What I had a problem with is the marketing of this book. I expected it to be more plot twist-y and mind blowing than it was. I kept waiting for the plot twist because all the people who I thought were guilty at the beginning were really guilty. I figured out everything way too early and finished it in a hurry to confirm my suspicions. While I personally don’t have a problem with straight to the point mystery books, the marketing made me feel like I was going to be reading a very different book than I ended up reading.

All in all, I would recommend this book. It’s such a fast paced book and you’ll be done in no time. If you’re a sensitive reader, you might want to skip this one especially those who are triggered by rape. I gave this book 3 stars on Goodreads.

 

Leggy

 

Chick-Lit, Fiction, literary fiction, romance, Uncategorized

Book Review: Sex and Vanity by Kevin Kwan

Sex and Vanity: A Novel - Kindle edition by Kwan, Kevin ...

Sex and Vanity begins 5 years earlier than the main story of the book. We are introduced to the protagonist, Lucie Churchill who is the daughter of an American- Chinese mom and an American white father of Churchill fame, so she is considered a blue blood. She is 19 and at a society wedding in Capri, Italy. She is being chaperoned by her cousin on her dad’s side, Charlotte, to make sure she is on her best behavior and represents the family well.

Lucie meets George Zao, who is also from a prominent family. She finds him and his mom annoying but can’t deny her growing feelings for him. They get caught in a compromising position and Lucie never sees George again till 5 years later. This time she is older and engaged to a wealthy man who is all about society and image. The story progresses as we watch Lucie fight the past she thought she had left behind.

When I saw Kevin Kwan, author of the widely popular Crazy Rich Asians trilogy, had a new book out, I immediately put myself on the wait list of my library. I was a huge fan of Book 1 of the trilogy.  Unfortunately, my excitement was for naught as this book did not meet any of my expectations.

For one, I found the title grossly misleading. There was barely any sex and yes there was vanity but it was not even from the main character. I had no idea till I was done with the book that this was a retelling of A Room With A View, so my review has no comparison and is strictly based on the book alone.

If you have been a reader of the blog then you already know my thoughts on romance novels. It’s just not my thing and that is exactly what the book reads like – boy meets girl, girl finds boy annoying, boy and girl start having feelings…and you know the rest. Nothing about the story line was compelling. If you read the CRA trilogy then you know by the third book, the story had been told too many times and you had the “been there, done that” feeling. This extended into this book because it also reads as an extension of the trilogy with some characters from there making cameos here.

Like most authors these days, Kwan felt he had to include a social conscious message with Lucie’s biracial heritage. She was caught between pleasing her white WASPy family and fiance and recognizing her Chinese heritage and the way it read seemed like Lucie was trying her best to be white passing even though she knew some of the comments from her family weren’t okay. For example, when Charlotte realizes that Lucie might have feelings for George Zao, she makes this comment – “Your mother is Chinese so it’s no surprise you’d be attracted to someone like him”. I didn’t even want to bother with figuring out why Kwan would decide to go this route but it brought me to another reason I didn’t like this book, the writing was amateurish.

I suspect a lot of people will pick this one up for nostalgia sake but I don’t think it will be satisfying. To be honest, Lucie was not interesting enough and seemed juvenile. The book was campy but not in a good way and there was not enough likeable characters. Not all predictable books are bad but I don’t know if I’d even recommend this as a fluff read.

Taynement