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Book Related Topics, Chick-Lit, Fiction, literary fiction

Book Review: Nine Perfect Strangers by Liane Moriarty

Nine Perfect Strangers - By Liane Moriarty (paperback) : Target

“I don’t get the obsession with strangers, her first husband, Sol, once said to her, and Frances had struggled to explain that strangers were by definition interesting. It was their strangeness. The not-knowing. Once you knew everything there was to know about someone, you were generally ready to divorce them.”

One day, 9 people come together at a health resort and spa named Tranquillum House. Tranquillum promises that whatever the reason for being there, they are able to transform your life in 10 days. The resort comes with unconventional methods such as no speaking, strict diets and lots of meditation, but they believe in the methods so much and let the guests know that it will require a lot of work on their end.

The guests consist of a fading romance author, a couple at their wits end, a family trying to get over a tragic loss, a stay at home obsessed with her weight, a former football player and a divorce lawyer. Also in the story is the head of Tranquillum House, Masha. We get to see her back story and learn what led her from high powered exec to slightly obsessive life coach.

“Sometimes your life changes so slowly and imperceptibly that you don’t notice it at all until one day you wake up and think, ‘How did I get here?’ But other times, life changes in an instant with a lightning stroke of good or bad luck with glorious or tragic consequences.”

I would not call myself a Lianne Moriarty fan. I liked her first book enough and the more I read of her, I found out that she had a format – group of people, some mystery that she builds up through the entire book and then just building around the whodunnit and then a weak let down but here I am, reading yet another title.

I am here because Moriarty (with the help of Nicole Kidman) has convinced America that she is a great author through the TV show adaptations. Big Little Lies was a phenomenon and my motivation for reading this is the upcoming Hulu adaptation of this (FOMO is real guys!). As much as I am not a fan, it was a case of right timing because it was just what I needed at the time.

“Relax and enjoy the journey. The stream will carry you this way and that, but will carry you forward to where you need to go.”

I think Moriarty did a good job of providing a back story to all characters. 9 characters seems like a lot, well 11 when you add Masha and Yao, her protege but I did not feel overwhelmed but I was able to follow easily. Frances, the romance novelist seemed to be the central character as we heard from her voice the most and Moriarty did a good job of making her real. She was the perfect mix of human – flawed and annoying and her thoughts sounded like the average human’s thoughts that they just never said out loud.

Moriarty did a good job of infusing life’s different complexities and issues that we encounter in different ways and at different stages in life, through these characters. She explores topics like death, self loathing, losing one’s self, family relationships.

“Don’t let your heart be a casualty of your head.”

The book was going swimmingly well and then somewhere along the way, it took a turn and became ridiculous. I don’t know if Moriarty just had nothing else to give but where she managed to make Frances human, she missed the mark with Masha. At the point where we delve into Masha’s life which she had been feeding us in bits and pieces, it just didn’t make any sense. Coming back to what was transpiring in the present time, it was so off the rails that I could not believe what was happening. I am willing to accept that this could have been on purpose to be in tandem with Masha’s spiraling but that might be a reach.

The end notwithstanding, if you are looking for a fluffy read where you enjoy the journey and not the destination, I actually would still recommend it. It served as a nice distraction and definitely scored high points in intrigue and keeping you interested in what was coming next,

Taynement

Fiction, literary fiction, Mystery, thriller

Book Review: Pretty Little Wife by Darby Kane

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“People thought silence meant the absence of noise, and sometimes it did, but other times it screamed so loudly she had to fight not to cover her ears.”

In the middle of an investigation for a missing girl, Lila’s husband, Aaron vanishes. The police are desperate to start looking for him even before 24 hours passes. The town is in an uproar. Aaron is a beloved school teacher who has never missed school. Everyone knows he doesn’t need the money because of a payout he received when his mum died. He is teaching because he loves kids and loves the job.

No one is more worried about Aaron’s whereabouts than Lila because, the last time she saw him, he was dead. Killed by her. And now, the body she set up perfectly to be found and ruled as a suicide, has vanished.

Pretty Little Wife is a domestic thriller and like most domestic thrillers you know exactly what you’re getting. This book wasn’t ground breaking or different. You’re not getting anything new but it was still a fun read. It was a fast read with every new information seeming even more outrageous than the last. Kane takes us through the days leading up to the disappearance. Going through Aaron’s belongings, Lila comes across a cell phone with videos that show her husband in a very compromising position. This is when the illusion of her marriage shatters. All the excuses she had made for her husband’s demands and behaviours over the years now seemed stupid.

This book started off really strong. We’re told upfront that Lila is guilty of murder or at the very least attempted murder since now that the body has disappeared she’s unsure if she was actually successful in her attempt. The first 100 pages flew by, and then half way it veered into very unrealistic territory. I wish the author had taken the time to craft a smarter thriller and not just tried to fit every horrible crime she can think of into one person’s portfolio. It felt like Kane was trying to create the most outrageous and gross villain she could think of.

Overall, there really isn’t much to say about this one without spoiling it. Even though I thought it was just an okay book, I still enjoyed reading it. It’s a very fast paced book and I finished it in one sitting. It was also super predictable, as I figured out who the real villain was very early on in the book. I recommend this one if you’re looking for something quick to get through pretty quickly and I gave this 3 stars on Goodreads.

Have you read this one? If you have let me know what you think in the comments!

Leggy

Fiction, literary fiction, romance, Young Adult

Book Review: Breathtaking by Courtney Turcotte Bond

“We all have a story – our reason to breathe. We don’t get to choose how it begins, the people who enter, or the pain that comes along the way.”

The book starts with 8 year old Cara and Adam. They’re next door neighbors and best friends. Cara’s life on the outside looks like she has it all. Her family seems like a perfect one but behind closed doors it’s a different story as her dad is an alcoholic and her mother deals with their problems by obsessively cleaning every corner of house. Adam being her next door neighbor is a blessing because talking to him through their bedroom windows and her writings, are the things that are able to keep her sane.

Fast forward to Adam and Cara being 16 years old, they are in high school now and things have changed a bit, as Adam is now a popular football player and Cara devotes her time to writing in Journalism club. Their friendship has taken on a different dynamic especially as they date other people. As they work to get their friendship back on track to what it used to be, a catastrophic event happens that changes everything for both of them.

You all know, I mostly go into books blind so I had no idea what the book was about when we were offered a free copy by the author. I am so glad I read this book because I thoroughly enjoyed it. The book handles a number of difficult issues but the book is never heavy and I think that was my favorite thing about the book, how digestible it was. I am one who enjoys books that are true to life with all of its ups and downs and I felt like the book depicted this very well.

It’s told from the perspective of Cara and I really felt like I was there with her in every step of her journey. The book was written so well because I felt every sadness and triumph that Cara felt. The characters felt real to me. Due to the chaos in Cara’s home, she spent a lot of time in Adam’s home and I really appreciated how Adam’s parents provided a safe space for her and always made her feel welcome. This might seem like a little detail but as mentioned earlier, is one of the things I was referring to as real life experiences. It was its own reminder that sometimes, family isn’t always blood.

One last thing that I really liked was the relationship between Cara and Reid. Bond did a great job of building the friendship first and it was refreshing reading about a relationship that was not over sexualized (not that there is anything wrong with that!) but I think the choice of keeping it chaste was in line with the vibe of the book.

The one thing that I didn’t care for, which isn’t really a knock and more of a personal taste, was how much poetry was included in the book. As mentioned, Cara is a writer so a lot of her writing is incorporated into the book. I have never been a poetry person, it’s just never been my thing so I am ashamed to say that for the most part, I skipped through the places where there is poetry. There were a number of twists and I’d say only two were unpredictable for me. The rest you could kind of see coming. I thought one of the twists was a tad convenient but I was okay with it because it helped wrap the story up.

In case you couldn’t tell by now, I would totally recommend this book. As if the story alone wasn’t good enough, reading the author’s notes and finding out that the characters were based on real life characters made me like it even more. Bond found a way to make a book with heavy topics seem effortless and also inspiring. The pacing and the writing was enjoyable and I found myself looking forward to seeing how the story played out, which is all I ask for in a book. Support indie writers and go buy this book, it would be worth your time.

Taynement

african author, african stories, Book Related Topics, Fantasy, Fiction, literary fiction, race, romance, Uncategorized, Young Adult

Book Review: The Gilded Ones (Deathless #1) by Namina Forna

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“Like all the rest, giving us impossibilities and calling them choices.”

Deka is finally 16 and is ready to go through the blood oath ceremony that she hopes will declare her pure and make her one of the other girls. She has been othered all her life by her dark skin and tight curls but Deka is convinced that the blood oath ceremony will finally prove her worth and fetch her a husband.

What is the blood oath ceremony, you ask? Well, this deeply patriarchal society believes that on a woman’s 16th birthday, in preparation for her life as a man’s faceless and silent companion, she has to be tested for purity right before she is fitted with the mask she must wear for the rest of her life. You step into the temple, the priest cuts you. If your blood runs red, you’re pure. If it runs gold, you’re impure and the consequence is death. If you’re extremely lucky your first death will be your last. But on the day of Deka’s ceremony, her blood runs gold and changes her life forever.

As Deka struggles with her fate, a mysterious woman pops up and offers her a way out – come to the capital, be trained as a warrior and get absolution after her service or submit to her death. Of course, this is no choice at all. The Emperor is building an army filled with people like Deka (Alaka, as they’re called in the book) to fight against the Deathshrieks – monsters that attack the city and whose screams can blow out a human’s ear drums.

“Every girl knows it by heart. We recite it whenever we enter a temple – a constant reminder that women were created to be helpmeets to men, subservient to their desires and commands.”

This book starts with a bang. Forna apparently does not believe in easing her readers into the world and letting them settle. Within the first 10 pages of this book, the blood oath happened and it never let up after that. Hearing about the tenets of the religion practiced in Deka’s world made me think we were being set up for some priest conspiracy but when Deka’s blood actually ran gold I was like oh wow! I didn’t expect that to be literal at all.

The world building in this YA fantasy is very unique. I enjoyed seeing how the various villages and fractions interpreted the religion. Racism and colorism is also rampant in this world. Forna does a great job of establishing a baseline for what this world is supposed to be and its norms and rules.

“Are we girls or are we demons?”

I love a training fantasy book. Any fantasy book where a school or a training facility is involved has my heart. Once Deka gets to the Capital and the training commences, seeing her struggle to discard all that she had heard about women being second class citizens (a concept that was driven primarily by her religion) was interesting. Women aren’t allowed to run or even walk in a hurry, a woman must be demure and quiet at all times. Hearing that every day of her life, accepting that as a truth and then being forced to train as a warrior must have been quite the challenge.

The life ordinary women in Deka’s village were forced to live was simply insane. Every time the author dropped another detail, it made me get so mad at a world that isn’t even real!

“Never forget: the same gift they praise you for now, they will kill you for later.”

I think it’s common knowledge by now that I hate romance in my fantasy. It completely takes me out of the story. The romance in this book was not different. I think it added nothing to the plot and could have been completely left out. Also, this book is very obviously a debut novel. The writing is really great in some areas and extremely clunky in others. It needed to be tightened up a little. I hope this installment does well so she can get a better editor.

All in all, I quite enjoyed this one. If you liked Children of Blood and Bone, you’ll like this one. Even if you didn’t like it but are looking for a good YA fantasy book, this one is so much better and the author has great potential to be even better. I gave this 3 stars on Goodreads and I’m looking forward to the next two books which promises to be even better. I tried really hard not to drop any obvious spoilers about the ending.

Have you read this one? Let me know in the comments!

Leggy

Chick-Lit, Fiction, literary fiction, romance

Book Review: It Ends With Us by Colleen Hoover

It Ends with Us by Colleen Hoover

“I feel like everyone fakes who they really are, when deep down we’re all equal amounts of screwed up. Some of us are just better at hiding it than others.”

TRIGGER WARNING: Domestic Violence

Lily is a 23 year old who lives in Boston and we are introduced to her at her father’s funeral where she says nothing during what was supposed to be a eulogy. That same night she meets Ryle Kincaid, a neurosurgeon and a whirlwind romance ensues even when he says he is not a relationship type of guy. We get to know Lily better as she flashes back to her childhood via her journals. We see how Ellen (the celebrity and talk show host) was a focal point in her life and the important part it played when she meets the first love of her life, Atlas Corrigan at age 16.

Flash forward to present day and life is good for Lily. She starts a lifelong dream of owning a flower shop and her new employee, Alyssa who also happens to be Ryle’s sister becomes her best friend and things are good with Ryle – until the first incident happens and we enter into a journey with Lily as she asks questions about her present and explores her past to determine what her future will be.

“Just because someone hurts you doesn’t mean you can simply stop loving them. It’s not a person’s actions that hurt the most. It’s the love. If there was no love attached to the action, the pain would be a little easier to bear.”

I have actually never read a Colleen Hoover novel and to my knowledge, this was a change of pace and I am glad this was my first venture into her world. This was a story that was about the complexities of life with a sensitive topic as its focal point and it was written and depicted very well. I think the book summary doesn’t do it justice as it portrays it more like a romance novel with a love triangle involved which is not the case at all. What I liked most about this book were the many layers. Yes, it had domestic violence but it was not the only focal point. This is also a story about friendship, PTSD, family problems, homelessness and that made it rich.

“All humans make mistakes. What determines a person’s character aren’t the mistakes we make. It’s how we take those mistakes and turn them into lessons rather than excuses.”

I like that this book gave me perspective. We always think domestic violence is cut and dry and it’s this mean and evil person but Hoover paints a picture and makes you ask what happens when the person isn’t this mean ogre and is by all accounts a “great” guy. The fact that Hoover was able to make me feel conflicted even though it was clear as day is a testament to how well the book was written.

That’s what fifteen minutes can do to a person. It can destroy them. It can save them

At times, I felt Lily sounded juvenile but then I had to remember that she was 23. But that was me nit picking because another thing Hoover made me realize is, strength comes in different forms and in so many ways, Lily was strong. I enjoyed seeing the friendship develop between Lily and Alyssa because most romance novels focus so much on developing the relationship with the man but not nearly enough on the friendship, so seeing this support was refreshing. This book was not perfect. I gave it 3 stars because it did still have elements of the romance genre that I am not particularly a fan of. It gave me a glimpse to how other Hoover books might be. The elements I speak of are scenarios that aren’t necessarily always realistic. Where things just happen to work out easily that would otherwise in the real world be a headache.

“It stops here. With me and you. It ends with us.”

Overall, I do recommend this book because you get a combination of things and it was an easy book to get through in terms of writing. It wasn’t tedious which is still a mystery to me how it still maintained a fluffy vibe. One of my favorite things about the book was the author’s note, so if you get a chance make sure you read that. It gave context to why she wrote this book and how it was based on her personal experience. I liked seeing how it gave her a different view of her own mother and a different appreciation.

A lot of people have mentioned how it made them cry, I am personally not a book crier and I can’t say I felt that emotional rollercoaster that most felt but that’s personal. If you are the kind who looks to books for a good cry, this might do it for you.

Taynement

Book Related Topics, Chick-Lit, Fiction, literary fiction, romance

Book Review: People We Meet on Vacation by Emily Henry

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“It hurts to want it all, so many things that can’t coexist within the same life.”

Poppy and Alex are best friends who go on vacation every summer. They’re complete opposites. Poppy loves things, Alex hates things. Poppy is fun and loves to meet people and wild. Alex is reserved and wears khakis and only travels with Poppy. For most of the year they live apart, Alex in Ohio, Poppy in New York City. They communicate mostly on the phone until they see each other once a year every summer vacation. For a decade, they’ve taken this summer trip until two years ago when something happened during the trip and completely ruins their friendship. When the book begins, they haven’t spoken in two years. Poppy is unhappy and the job that used to bring her so much joy no longer does. She’s convinced that if she can get Alex to go on one more summer trip that it will save their friendship and take them back to exactly how they used to be.

“I’m on vacation. Vacations always end. It’s the very fact that it’s finite that makes traveling special. You could move to any one of those destinations you loved in small doses, and it wouldn’t be the spellbinding, life-altering seven days you spend there as a guest, letting a place into your heart fully, letting it change you.”

The trope of friends to lovers has been done to death but I still enjoyed it and this story felt fresh. I think the years they’ve been friends and the depth of their friendship was adequate enough to see how they could have fallen in love with each other. It didn’t feel overdone or stale. Their banter with each other was funny and had me smiling as I read. Even with the sexual tension simmering below, you could tell they were actual friends and that without the attraction they would have still been friends. Also, both the characters are loveable. Nothing kills a romance book more than characters who nobody wants to fall in love with in real life. Poppy is sweet but sassy and outgoing with a very vulnerable side that she only shows to the people super close to her. Alex is very straitlaced, having been forced to grow up so quickly after his mother died and his father fell apart.

This story is narrated by Poppy and is told in alternating timelines. She takes us through the last 10 years of summer vacation with Alex, while we read about their present day falling out and the pains she’s taking to repair it. I quite enjoyed the alternating timelines. The past Alex and Poppy were quite different and a lot more fun than what we found in the present. If you do not like alternating timelines, you might not like this book.

Towards the end, in a bid to force the last conflict that always comes up in romance novels, Henry misses the mark and the book loses its momentum a little bit. Poppy completely forgets how to use her words and instead avoids all manner of communication. A lot of the things she did and said towards the end didn’t make sense for her character. I felt that the final conflict of the book was contrived and not well written at all.

The reason for their fall out was also very obvious from the start but the author drew it out for so long and the characters kept referring to “what happened in Croatia”. The drag out added nothing to the story and I’m sure Henry wrote it to add a little tension. But it’s a romance book about two friends, of course we know what happened in Croatia to make their friendship completely awkward.

All in all, I quite enjoyed this book. It was an easy one to read and wasn’t completely fluffy and without depth. I gave this one 3 stars on Goodreads and I recommend it if you’re looking for something on the lighter spectrum.

Leggy

african author, african stories, Book Related Topics, Fiction, literary fiction

Book Review: How Beautiful We Were by Imbolu Mbue

Change of Publication Date: How Beautiful We Were by Imbolo Mbue

“We should have known the end was near.”

“How Beautiful We Were” is a story set in a small fictional village in Africa called Kosawa. We get introduced to how rich the people and village are, filled with their traditions, love and history. Then we find out that they are basically under siege and the children of the village are dying because they have been invaded by an American oil company called Pexton.

Their land and water have been poisoned by the numerous pipeline spills and there is no one to hold accountable despite the many complaints as the government is in cahoots with Pexton. Getting nowhere and tired of burying their children, the villagers decide to take matters in their own hands in a plan that goes awry. Little do they know that it was just the beginning of a long fight that spans decades. This book takes us along on this journey through the stories told by the various people involved – the people who were just children when the fight began and our protagonist, Thula and some of her family members.

“Our grandfathers, however, had no interest in losing ownership of their lives—every one of them had turned down Pexton’s offer and returned to the thrill of killing for food as trees were felled all over the valley to make room for the oil field and pipelines and Gardens.”

It’s widely known that it takes a lot for a book to blow me out the water. I have given very few books 5 stars. One of the very few books to get this honor was Imbolo Mbue’s first novel, Behold the Dreamers. I just absolutely loved it. I was excited to get to this one and was #1 on my waiting list for this at my library. When I cracked open the book and saw that it was set in a village, my heart sank. I usually prefer modern settings but I was ready to see how this goes. It took a minute for the book to get going then just when I was about to accept that this was it’s pace, it picked back up but then dropped again and I felt my excitement wane.

All that is to say that the book did not meet my expectations and that made me sad. Overall, this book was superbly written. Mbue painted a vivid picture that made you visualize Kosawa and made you understand their plight. She made you feel the love and community that was shared in the village. You understood who they were at their core. I also think Mbue did a good job of laying the foundation of introducing us to Thula and the events that happened in her family.

I definitely enjoyed the first half of the book to the second half which is when Thula goes to America and returns. The second half never quite found its groove and was uneven. The narration got a bit wonky and there were chapters that felt pointless. So, I guess I am saying that while the writing was beautiful, the plot and pacing suffered. Thula is supposed to come back being this activist and they look to her as a savior but I don’t think that was developed well and it felt disjointed.

I did enjoy the different view points from Thula’s family members – her brother, her uncle, her mother and her grandmother. They came at different points in the book and they were much welcomed when it felt like the book was in a lull. I appreciated the true depiction of the underrepresented in most African countries and the corrupt government and the choices people make just to survive. I think that was well done.

Overall, while I found the writing to be good, I still did find it a bit of chore to read and a bit boring. And while I know this was a disappointment for me, I can see how people could appreciate it so I won’t file it under a “would not recommend”, so if you are looking for a slow paced read, that is what you would get with this.

Taynement

african author, Book Related Topics, Fiction, Historical, literary fiction, Nigerian Author, We Chit Chat

We Chit Chat – Love in Colour: Mythical Tales From Around The World, Retold by Bolu Baboola

Amazon.com: Love in Colour: Mythical Tales from Around the World, Retold  (Audible Audio Edition): Bolu Babalola, Ajjaz Awad, Nneka Okoye, Bolu  Babalola, Olukemi Babalola, Headline: Audible Audiobooks

Taynement: Wow. It’s been a while since we did a chit chat. Shame on us!

Leggy: It’s just so hard to coordinate reading during a pandemic. I’m glad we’re finally getting to do one and a young Nigerian author at that!

Taynement: Why did we choose this book?

Leggy: We’ve seen it all over bookstagram and twitter, plus the cover is so striking.

Taynement: Yes, a lot of people I know who have read this, liked it a lot.

Leggy: So what were your overall thoughts on the book? Did you like it?

Taynement: Yes, I have to say I did. Or maybe I liked it more than I expected to. Going in, it had two strikes against it in that, it was a romance novel and short stories – two things I don’t care for.

Leggy: I didn’t hate it but I also didn’t like it. It was okay. Nothing stood out for me. To be frank. It was elemental writing. Nothing was compelling about these stories.

Taynement: Agreed, it was regular. I do think it was a good premise.

Leggy: I think it was a good premise too. I went into it without knowing what it was going to be so reading the first story of someone called “Osun” in school, I was like what’s going on here? Then “Sango”, that’s when I immediately got it.

Taynement: I thought it was overwritten in the way of typical African authors. The book just wasn’t allowed to be. I mean…”water was generous but mostly it wanted to be left alone”?

Leggy: There were so many lines like that It just tried too hard to have flowery language.

Taynement: I liked how inclusive the author tried to be. It had characters from various parts of Africa (the author is Nigerian for those who don’t know). There was an attempt with an Asian character that fell flat for me. The story of Zhinu (the pop star) was not one of my favorites. I couldn’t connect.

Leggy: It was my least favorite too. It was pointless to me. It just seemed to not fit.

Leggy: What was your favorite story?

Taynement: Thisbe and Naleli. What were yours?

Leggy: I really enjoyed the Naleli one. Read like a teenage romance movie. The head girl, Keeya said the meanest things to her.

Taynement: It reminded me a lot of the Netflix show – Blood and Water.

Leggy: I can’t imagine always covering up in the hot sun. I also appreciated that she highlighted the vitiligo condition, that was good. I liked the one where the girl was basically Kerry Washington in Scandal (Scheherazade). That was my favorite. Yaa was my second favorite because it was the story with the most modern realistically African plot to me.

Taynement: I really wanted to know how you felt about the book because I was wondering if I’d appreciate it more if I loved romance novels.

Leggy: I don’t think so. I appreciate the romance genre but I don’t consider this to be a good one to recommend. Especially to someone who typically doesn’t do romance books. I wish the stories had more depth and something to connect with. A lot of it seemed so frivolous that it diluted even the great love stories she was retelling.

Taynement: I think the most intriguing thing about this book is the concept. I also recognize that depth in short stories is something that is tough to accomplish.

Leggy: I’m currently reading “The Secret Lives of Church Ladies”, It’s fantastic and a short story collection and it manages to bring depth to every story it tells, no matter how short. Reading it alongside this book made me see how frivolous it was.

Taynement: Did you like the new tales?

Leggy: No, I preferred the retellings and even at that I do not prefer these modern retellings to the old stories. I think the modernity stripped a lot of the stories of its context and depth. In as much as I loved Scheherazade, the original is a fantastic story. I remember the first time I read the Arabian Night classic – a woman telling a king a story every night, trying to keep his attention till morning to stop him from killing her? I found it amazing!

Taynement: I guess we are in agreement that it was an okay book but commendable for a debut?

Leggy: Yes, it definitely read like a first book. I would appreciate a stand-alone novel from this author next, maybe to flesh out more of her romance writing and give the stories a little more depth and context? I don’t think romance has to be “deep”. Everyone knows I’m a connoisseur of romcom movies, but readers have to be able to buy into the romance you’re selling.

Taynement: Yes, it’ll be interesting to see what she does with a stand alone. I agree that romance novels don’t always have to be “deep” but I think that letting the stories breathe would make for a more relaxed romance novel that would be far easier to enjoy.

Leggy: I still can’t pick out any line that stood out to me even with the over the top flowery language. The lines just made me roll my eyes and you know how much I love a good quote.

Taynement: We both do! Well, based on social media, we are in the minority of people. A lot of people have loved it so far.

Leggy: That’s fine. Art is subjective plus this book sure has a very good social media PR. Was it worth the hype for me? Absolutely not. It was an okay book. I wonder if I’d have finished if we didn’t have to do this chitchat but we’ll never know now. Anyway, I’m looking forward to seeing what this author does next. I love supporting black authors and she’s Nigerian!

Taynement: Definitely!

Taynement & Leggy

Book Related Topics, Fantasy, Uncategorized

Reading Rut Woes – 5 Books That Made My DNF List

I haven’t read anything new in three weeks because nothing has been able to keep my attention. I’ve picked up a ton of books and dropped it after the first few chapters. I’m behind on my Goodreads reading challenge, something that has never happened to me since I started tracking my reading on that website. I always get one reading rut a year but it’s always in the fall so this is such a new feeling for me.

Anyway, this is a list of 5 books that I picked up during my reading rut that I will definitely go back to now that I’m out of it.

  • Rhythm of War by Brandon Sanderson: I’ve mentioned quite often on our Instagram page (@nightstands2, follow us!) that Sanderson is my all time favorite fantasy writer and I’ve been saving this book for the perfect time. I’ve read every one of his books and this one came out last December. I finally downloaded it but I just couldn’t get into it. I read the first chapter and gave up. This is the 4th book in the Stormlight Archive series. This is an amazing series and I wholeheartedly recommend it! I guess I’ll have to pick this one up another time.

  • Klara and the Sun by Kazuo Ishiguro: I actually read 70% of this one before I put it down. I didn’t hate it. I was actually enjoying it but I just put it down one day and never picked it back up again. Ishiguro is one author I really want to read everything he’s ever written because I think his writing is so versatile and intriguing. Will definitely finish this one before the month runs out.

  • Fires of Vengeance by Evan Winters: I raved about the first book in this series here. I really loved it and the second book finally came out late last year. I read two chapters, asked my friend to read it and tell me if it will be worth it and never picked it back up again!

  • The Secret Lives of Church Ladies by Deesha Philyaw: I got this one on audio because I decided that an audio book would be the exact thing to get me out of my funk but I never picked it up. I always go for podcasts when I work out instead of picking it up (I’m looking at you, Altarcall!) but I’ve heard so many good things about it and it’s also about to be turned into a TV show!

  • The Bone Shard Daughter by Andrea Stewart: This has been on my TBR list and I finally got it from the library. Will definitely be going back to this because this is the one that actually kept my attention for a while there! The world building is so fascinating and the type of magic practiced in this world is unlike any I’ve ever read about. The emperor requires every child to give him a piece of their bone in other to power the constructs that protect the kingdom. I will definitely write a full book review either on here or our Instagram whenever I’m done with it.

How did I get out of my reading rut? I re-read Harry Potter! I re-read Harry Potter every year anyway, but I moved it up to this month. Having a comforting and familiar read was what finally did the trick. I read the entire first book in the Harry Potter series in one day and when I was done, I immediately picked up Girl X by Abigail Dean. Really happy to go back to my regular reading schedule! How do you usually get out of a reading rut? Let me know in the comments!

I hope you all have an amazing reading week!

Leggy

Fiction, literary fiction

Book Review: Memorial by Bryan Washington

Amazon.com: Memorial: A Novel (9780593087275): Washington, Bryan: Books

“That loving a person means letting them change when they need to. And letting them go when they need to. And that doesn’t make them any less of a home. Just maybe not one for you. Or only for a season or two. But that doesn’t diminish the love. It just changes forms.”

Benson and Mike are a couple living together in Houston. Benson is a daycare teacher who is African American and Mike is a chef who is Japanese American. They’ve been together for a few years but they are in a rut and are now wondering if they are still a couple and if they are, why are they? Mike’s mom shows up suddenly at their apartment just as he finds out his dad, who left when he was young, is dying in Japan. Mike decides to drop everything and go be with his dad and leaves Ben alone with his mom.

This book was on a lot of year end “best of” lists last year, so I was curious and really wanted to read this. Unfortunately, this was yet another book that fell flat for me. I completely understand that it was meant to be a contemplative book since both characters were going through transformations in their lives. But like most character driven books, a lot happened while nothing happened.

“We take our memories wherever we go, and what’s left are the ones that stick around, and that’s how we make a life.”

I enjoyed Mike’s story better even if I didn’t understand why he dropped everything to be with his estranged dad. His flashback story (there was A LOT of this) was cohesive and I could see how his time in Japan left an impact on his life. Part of the book blurb seems to imply heavily that Ben and Mike’s mom, Mitsuko had this heavy impact on each other, but I didn’t get that. It just felt like two people living together who cooked a lot and had conversations but nothing major.

It was good to see a book that featured two minority queer leads and it was just a shame that the story felt as lackluster as their relationship. I didn’t particularly think the storytelling was great and having an ambiguous ending definitely didn’t help. As a former Houston native, recognizing some of the locations was fun but that was about it. Well, maybe a bit of Mike’s dad, Eiju’s prickly character intrigued me but not enough to cover the things I didn’t like about the book.

“How often do you get to learn that lesson? That sometimes you just lose?”

There was a lot of “fucking” in the book and I used that word because that’s exactly how it was mentioned. There’d be a fight or yet another boring conversation and from nowhere weird descriptions involving groping and squeezing and awkward body movements would pop up and one of them would narrate they were fucking. Have I mentioned it wasn’t particularly great story telling?

I’ll stop beating on the book but as you can tell, it isn’t one I’d recommend. I gave it two stars because I actually finished it. I did this on audio and it was narrated by the author, which I think was a mistake because he didn’t sound enthusiastic and sounded flat. I don’t know if reading the book would have been better since I heard there were no quotation marks. So, read at your own peril but I’d advise skipping this one and picking up another title.

Taynement