Blog

Non-Fiction, Memoirs, race

Book Review: Crying in H Mart by Michelle Zauner

54814676

“It felt like the world had divided into two different types of people, those who had felt pain and those who had yet to.”

I know Zauner’s book was all the rage last year but for some reason, I just never paid attention to the hype. I don’t even remember putting this book on hold at the library until it checked out to me first week of 2022. I didn’t have anything else to read so I decided to give it a go. Also, I never paid attention to what this book was actually about. I just assumed it was a collection of essays about being Asian in America but instead what I got was a heartbreaking memoir about grief, mother-daughter relationships and identity.

“I remember these things clearly because that was how my mother loved you, not through white lies and constant verbal affirmation, but in subtle observations of what brought you joy, pocketed away to make you feel comforted and cared for without even realizing it.”

Zauner writes about her complicated relationship with her Korean mother and her white father and losing her mother to advanced pancreatic cancer. She doesn’t shy away from the difficult times and what actually caring for a loved one is like. She also doesn’t paint her mother to be just one thing. That was my favorite part of this book. Her mother was never shoehorned into a stereotype, she let her mum be a full human being who had flaws. After a tumultuous relationship with her mother during high school, she runs away to college in the east coast and when she finally returns to care for her mother full time, she wants to heal her mother through Korean food and repair their relationship.

Food was how my mother expressed her love. No matter how critical or cruel she could seem—constantly pushing me to meet her intractable expectations—I could always feel her affection radiating from the lunches she packed and the meals she prepared for me just the way I liked them.

The way Zauner talks about her Korean identity through food and travel was really lovely to read. The author went to Korea every summer for 6 weeks with her mum until high school and talks about the cultural differences. She wasn’t a beauty in America but because she was mixed in Korea with white skin and had the coveted double eyelid, she was considered a great beauty there. She even got scouted to be an idol singer during one of her trips but her mum told her she would never be happy being an idol*. These anecdotes made her connection to her mother and her country very real. She was very immersed in her Korean identity despite having a white father. In fact, she was born in Korea but they moved back to the US when she turned 1.

The boy’s mom placed pieces of beef from her spoon onto his. He is quiet and looks tired and doesn’t talk to her much. I want to tell him how much I miss my mother. How he should be kind to his mom, remember that life is fragile and she could be gone at any moment.

Crying in H Mart was absolutely worth all the hype. It had me feeling so many different emotions and also had me bawling in my office while reading it. Seriously, fuck cancer. This is a thought provoking and emotional memoir that reminds us that our parents are human and are winging this parenting thing. Zauner wrote a very honest book that doesn’t shy away from difficult topics or gloss over who her parents were, but you come out of it feeling like you saw a full picture instead of one single perspective. You feel compassion for her mother even when her actions come off cruel.

“In fact, she was both my first and second words: Umma, then Mom. I called to her in two languages. Even then I must have known that no one would ever love me as much as she would.”

I would absolutely recommend this book to anyone looking for a nonfiction book to read with a trigger warning that this book is about loss and grief. I gave this book 4 stars on Goodreads.

*Idol – a Korean star who has been trained from birth to be a star usually scouted purely on looks.

Leggy

Uncategorized

Our 2022 Reading Goals

Leggy:

Happy new Year! I hope you had an amazing holiday because I did! I got to go back to Nigeria after 8 years and I had so much fun! Woah, lots of exclamation marks but that’s how I feel. How was your reading life in 2020? Mine struggled a lot, I usually hit my 70 books goal before December and then just coast for the rest of the year. But that was not the case for me, I had to read 6 books in 5 days to hit my goal. I did it though! 71 books in 2021. This is exactly why I set reading goals, I think anything worth doing is worth being intentional about plus I’m competitive – if I see that comment on Goodreads telling me “you’re behind!” I get the urge to catch up.

This year will be exactly the same for me reading goals wise. I’ve already set my Goodreads challenge to the usual 70 books number. I also want to be more consistent with the content for the blog because I slacked off majorly last year and I’m so grateful I’m doing this with Tayne because she’s the one who has kept me going. If I had attempted this on my own, I would not still be going. So, thanks Tayne!

Otherwise, I really like my reading life how it is. I already read diversely. so hopefully I find books I really enjoy this year.

Taynement:

Last year was yet another disappointing reading year for me. I read a lot of okay books but not a lot of great books. It truly has been a while since I read a book that gave me goosebumps. I still haven’t determined if it’s a me thing or the general state of writing but thankfully it hasn’t changed my love of reading, so continue to read I shall.

Like Leggy, I don’t change my number from year to year. It’s always at 35. Didn’t hit it last year (30) because I was so busy and disappointment after each book made me lose motivation. It wasn’t all bad because I kept my goal of reading back titles and finally read Silver Sparrow! My authors were diverse last year and 13 of my 30 reads were my black women authors and that made me happy.

This year, I would like to continue that. I don’t read across genres as much as Leggy does but I want my authors to be diverse. Reading Detransition, Baby by a trans author was an experience because it took me into a world I had no experience with at all and that’s a good thing. I really enjoy memoirs and didn’t read a lot of them last year, I hope to get back to that this year.

Above all else, I just want to enjoy my reads. We say this every year – the number goals are a guideline and not a hard fast rule. I hope I read books that make me tingle and who knows – is this the year I read 1 or 2 fantasy books and make Leggy’s day? Stay tuned.

Happy new [reading] year, everyone. Let us know what goals you have for your reading in the comments (We really do like hearing from you guys!!)

Taynement & Leggy

Book Related Topics, Fiction, literary fiction, romance, scifi

Our Best and Worst Books of 2021

We made it through another year. We can’t believe that we are about to enter our third year of COVID. Not much changed in our reading from last year. For Tayne, her reading was still unfocused and she didn’t get to read many books she considered great, which in turn led to not meeting her reading goal number. Leggy leaned into romance novels and read a ton of those to get by. None the less, we stick to tradition and let you know what our best and worst books of the year were.

Taynement’s Best:

Sometime in summer, I put out a PSA on twitter asking people for the best books they’d read this year and this was one of the books mentioned. It fit the bill as I read a lot of black women authors this year and bonus for being a Nigerian author. So glad I did because it was the only book that got a 5 star from me this year. It was so good and had my attention from start to finish. You can find my review on it here.

Other favorites:

  • Not All Diamonds and Rose by David Quinn (See review here)
  • Bamboozled By Jesus: How God Tricked Me into the Life of My Dreams by Yvonne Orji (See review here)
  • Malibu Rising by Taylor Jenkins Reid (See review here)
  • The Henna Artist by Alka Joshi (see review here)

Leggy’s Best:

52476830. sy475

“Marriages can float apart. Sometimes we don’t notice how far we’ve gone until all of a sudden, the water meets the horizon and it feels like we’ll never make it back.”

When I read this book in March, I told T;ayne that I think this would be my best book for the year. This year has been a very tough reading year for me especially with literary fiction. I’ve been reading a lot of fantasy and romance because it lets me escape from this Covid world so, it was just great to find this book and be completely immersed. You can find a full review for this book here.

Other favorites:

  • Hail Mary by Andy Weir (this book is so good! It doesn’t matter if you’ve never read any science fiction! Please read it!)
  • Sorrow and Bliss by Meg Manson (I gave this book 5 stars on Goodreads!)
  • A Wicked Kind of Husband by Mia Vincy (Best romance novel I read this year, it was so much fun! If you’re looking for something light, give this a shot! We have a mini review of this one here on the blog.)
  • Malice (The Faithful and the Fallen Series) by John Gwynne (This was a fun fantasy to read!)

Taynement’s Worst:

It didn’t help that I had high expectations but there really wasn’t much that I liked about this book. Not the story, not the writing style, not the characters. It took a while to get going and when it did get going, I did not care. Don’t get me started on the ending. A true wtf moment. See review here.

Leggy’s Worst:

56646958

You either adore a Sally Rooney book or you detest a Sally Rooney book. There is no in between. I really enjoyed Normal People by Sally Rooney, I even reviewed it here for the blog but I really didn’t like this one. Beautiful World, Where Are You comes off so pretentious that I’m almost convinced everyone who loves it is pretending (just kidding! Art is subjective). I read worse books this year but I chose this one because I expected so much from this author plus this is one of those books that I hated enough to talk about it, so it earns its spot. You can find a full review of this book here.

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

christmas, Fiction, literary fiction, romance

Christmas Romance books!

Once we hit thanksgiving, I’m no longer interested in anything work related at all. I get into this zone where I’m lazy about everything. I don’t know if it’s this ridiculous daylights savings thing we do where everywhere is dark by 6pm but it affects my reading life as well. After thanksgiving, I only read romance books and fantasy. I alternate between these two genres because I’m officially checked out for the year and do not want to do any serious thinking.

Anyway, here are four Christmas book recommendations to wrap up 52 weeks of book reviews on the blog!

The Holiday Swap by Maggie Knox:

54238730. sy475

This was my early December pick for Book of the Month. When Chef Charlie gets hit on the head on her reality baking show, she loses all sense of smell and taste rendering her useless in her career. Her identical twin, Cass, is trying to hold everything together in their hometown while running the family business. Charlie convinces Cass to switch lives with her for a little while till she gets her sense of taste and smell back. Cass needs a break from real life anyway so she jumps at the opportunity. But of course, everything is complicated once men get involved. Can they keep their identities secret while they’re falling in love?

The Christmas Bookshop by Jenny Colgan:

56816446. sy475

Last year, during our annual Christmas books recommendation, I argued that You Got Mail really is a Christmas movie. It starts around Christmas and everyone is wearing coats and it just gives you such a Christmas, cozy feeling. Anyway, this is all to say that I love Christmas stories centered around a bookshop!

When the departmental store Carmen works for closes for good right before Christmas, she has no choice than to move in with her sister Sofia who has the perfect life. Sofia isn’t too crazy about having her difficult, sarcastic sister stay either but with yet another baby on the way and her mother’s wish that they get along, she’s determined to give it a go. Sofia gives Carmen the opportunity to revamp a bookshop for her client just in time for Christmas shopping season with hopes that it’ll keep the ailing bookshop from closing. As Carmen dives into work at the store, she has to deal with choosing between two very different men and mending the rift between her sister and her and just in time for Christmas!

The Santa Suit by Mary kay Andrews:

56693416

Newly divorced Ivy Perkins buys a farm house called The Four Roses without ever seeing it. She’s just looking to be alone for a while while pouring all her labor into doing the house up. The house is way more than she bargained for as the previous family left so much junk behind and she has to sort everything out. In the rubble, she finds a well made Christmas suit with a note asking santa to bring her daddy back from the war. Dying of curiosity, Ivy decides to find out who the Rose family was and if the note writer ever got their wish. Her quest takes her into the community, opens up her lonely world and gives her a second chance at love.

The Christmas Wedding Guest by Susan Mallery:

56646711

The Somerville sisters have lost faith that love will ever happen for them. Reggie hasn’t been back home since her engagement with Tobi ended but her parents want a vow renewal and asks her to plan it for them. Reggie returns to town the same time Tobi does and the sparks are still very much alive. Dena on the other hand, is absolutely done waiting to be married before having a child, she’s pregnant by choice and running her inn herself. When a songwriter/rockstar checks into her inn and makes her want to fall in love, she wonders if she’ll ever be good enough for such a famous person.

This is a two in one romance book that you’ll love this Christmas season. Give it a go!

How are your holidays shaping up? What are you currently reading? Do you read differently during the holidays? Let us know in the comments!

Leggy

Memoirs, movie related topics, Non-Fiction

Book Review: Not All Diamonds and Rose by David Quinn

Not All Diamonds and Rose is the official Bravo/Andy Cohen approved memoir of sorts of the Real Housewives franchise. Spanning interviews from majority of the women from across franchises – from OG’s to one season’ers, execs and producers behind the scenes. People editor, David Quinn crafts a story from words straight from the horse’s mouth and provides us with behind the scenes insight into well known scenes and things we hadn’t heard about before.

I am a reality show junkie and a fan of the Housewives franchise. Translation – I have watched every single episode of every single franchise since inception. I was excited to read this because I can never get enough information on them. I had recently read a rival book, The Housewives: The Real Story Behind The Real Housewives by Brian Moylan. Besides thinking the writing was not the best, my biggest criticism was that as a non-casual fan, I didn’t think there was anything I didn’t know before, I learned nothing new. It was revealed that he was blacklisted and the past and former housewives were instructed not to speak to him. Now we know that it’s because this book was coming out.

It was different with this book, I learned new info or as the kids say, got some new tea and that was all I needed. Granted some people think it was edited and we don’t get the full story since it is being controlled by Bravo, that’s fair but I think even with that, they shared enough to titillate the fans’ senses. At the end of the day, it is still a brand and I expect them to protect it.

I enjoyed the format of the book. It was written interview style and you can tell when the same people were asked the same question or if rivals were confronted with the answer the other gave. It was very reminiscent of how the interviews are held on the shows themselves so you really feel like you were still in the Housewives world. You could tell the Housewives understood the assignment and didn’t hold themselves back. The way it was written, each franchise was in chronological order of when they debuted, with quotes from the cast and producers. Each chapter followed the same formula: origin of picking the city, casting, hitting big, a memorable fight, when things fell apart and I enjoyed it for each franchise especially for those I wondered how they got cast.

My favorite cities recounted were RHOC, RHOA and RHONJ and I enjoyed them for different reasons. RHOC was truly a trip down memory lane (so much so, I went back to watch some episodes with new eyes and new info), RHOA for how much behind the scenes info the producer Carlos King gave and RHONJ for the confirmation on how much Theresa hates her sister-in-law (lol) and the wild story on how the cast got arrested in Dominican Republic and have never been back since then.

A question I got asked a lot is if a casual viewer would enjoy this book and I really don’t know the answer because I read it as a full on fan so I could identify the major incidents mentioned. The book does a good enough job of summarizing whatever incident it might be but I’d be curious to know what it feels like as a casual or non viewer.

Overall, I recommend this book because it gave me a lot of enjoyment. I gave this book 4 stars because it was not consistent in letting us know how people were cast which was of interest to me. They’d do so for some and for people like Candiace or Wendy on RHOP, I was curious to know who recommended them or how they made the list and that was not included. It was disappointing that some big names weren’t included – Nene, Bethenny. It was unfortunate that this was written before the current Erika fiasco and RHOSLC was not included but regardless, if you are looking for mindless, fun reading, this was it for me.

Taynement

Book Related Topics, Chick-Lit, Fantasy, Fiction, Historical, romance, Uncategorized

What I’ve Been Reading Lately: 4 Quick Fire Reviews

Image result for what i've been reading lately

When I’m not reading the latest literary fiction books, I’m reading backlist titles that are fun and don’t require any thinking on my part. These are the sort of books that have kept my mental health in check this year. Enjoy 4 short reviews for the price of one!

1. The Hike by Drew Magary

27833803

“This future you live in . . . would I like it?” “Honestly, it’s probably not that different from the world you know. Some people are happy. Some people are angry. There are wars. I don’t know if time makes much of a difference. The world changes, but people act the way people always do.”

Ben takes a business trip to rural Pennsylvania and decides to take a hike while waiting for his meeting. He stumbles on a hiking path and starts down the road only to find himself in the middle of a nightmare. He is warned that if he gets off the path he will die. With no other choice but to move forward, Ben finds himself encountering monsters, and talking crabs, men from the 18th century and giants who are trying to kill him. He spends years on the path just trying to find his way home. He is told he just has to stay on the path and track down the “producer” – the creator of this bizarre world to get back to his family.

I picked up this book because it was recommended as a spooky read for halloween. They were wrong because this isn’t a spooky read at all. It reads more as fantasy or an adventure tale. There was nothing scary about it. Also, everyone mentions the last page being amazing. I didn’t think it was that great and I figured it out before I got to the end of the book, maybe because I was looking for it after reading all the reviews that were amazed at the ending.

I gave this one 3 stars on Goodreads. I really don’t know who would enjoy this book. It’s very bizarre but I guess if you liked Alice in Wonderland, you might like this one? It was a fun read to me.

2. Forge of Destiny by Yrsillar (Forge of Destiny #1)

56351235. sx318

Ling Qi is a girl who has had to survive in the slums for years but she has just been recruited for having the talent that might make her an immortal in the future if she works hard. Ling is from a world ruled by immortals and stalked by beasts and spirits. The immortals are the richest and most revered members of the empire. Sent to the prestigious Argent Peak Sect to harness her talent, Ling is determined to take advantage of every opportunity given to her at school. She must work hard to catch up with her peers who are from rich immortal families and have been training for this their entire life. The sect grants the students only three months truce, for three months they’re not allowed to kill or fight each other but after the three months all bets are off. Ling struggles to advance and be stronger in time for the end of the truce and also gather enough allies who’ll stand and fight with her when the time comes.

I quite enjoyed this book. It ticked off a lot of my fantasy loves – female protagonist who’s not here to fuck around, school/training a la Harry Potter, strong enemies and allies. If you love progression fantasy, this is the book for you. I really enjoyed this one but I must say it got slow at the end and I wanted to see more of the bigger picture, so I gave this 3 stars on Goodreads. Ill definitely be continuing the series.

3. Iron Prince by Bryce O’Connor and Luke Chmilenko (Warformed: Stormweaver #1)

55559974. sy475

Afflicted with a painful disease and abandoned by his parents because it, Reidon has been a ward of the state all of his life. He has had to fight all his life for a place at the academy where he has been training and getting beat up. His perseverance gets him noticed by the most powerful artificial intelligence in human history who grants him a CAD – a Combat Assistant Device- with awful specs but an infinite potential for growth. Reidon is at the bottom of his class at Galens Institute with everyone wondering why the reputable school admitted someone with such horrible specs. He becomes a target for everyone who thinks he shouldn’t be there. Reidon begins a slow but determined journey up the school rankings determined to be the greatest fighter the universe has ever seen.

Again, I love fantasy books set in school and this was such a fun read. I love main characters who are underdogs and you get to root for them as they defy the odds. I gave this one 4 stars on Goodreads. It’s nothing deep but if you’re looking for fantasy that you don’t have to think too hard about or keep up with a lot of characters then give this one a go.

4. A Wicked Kind of Husband by Mia Vincy (Longhope Abbey #3)

43473742

“Lucy picked up her skirts and danced down the hall to her own door. “I’m going to run away to Ireland!” she yelled. Cassandra followed after her. “Haven’t the Irish suffered enough?” “Maybe a pirate will kidnap me. If I’m lucky.” “If we’re all lucky.”

Cassandra has seen her husband only once – the day she married him. She’s perfectly fine with this arrangement because she only got married to secure her inheritance anyway. She doesn’t care that he has essentially banned her from going to London because she’s still going to go when he’s guaranteed to be out of town. Until he shows up in London too and gets into an argument with her where they don’t even recognize each other. Cassandra finds herself sharing a house with her husband for the first time while he’s trying everything to get her to go back to the country and leave him alone. Joshua has his life exactly how he likes it and doesn’t want something as inconvenient as a wife ruining all that. But can he resist falling in love with her?

I really enjoyed reading this one. I’ve had pandemic brain this entire year and reading romance and fantasy have been the only thing keeping me afloat. If you enjoy historical romance, this is the book for you. The characters are absolutely delightful and watching them fall in love was really cute. Definitely give this one a shot. I gave this 3 stars on Goodreads.

Have you read any of these books? Am I the only one whose reading patterns have completely changed this year? Let me know how your reading year has been so far!

Leggy

Fantasy, Fiction, literary fiction, race, thriller

Book Review: The Other Black Girl by Zakiya Dalila Harris

“With heightened awareness of cultural sensitivity comes great responsibility. If we’re not careful, ‘diversity’ might become an item people start checking off a list and nothing more—a shallow, shadowy thing with but one dimension”

Nella is an editorial assistant at a publishing house called Wagner Books. Despite her many efforts in diversity, she is the only black employee and has to deal with the microaggressions and loneliness that comes with it. One day, through the smell of hair grease Nella is ecstatic to find that a new black employee has been hired, Hazel. Nella helps Hazel navigate the company, giving her tips and the two start to form a friendship.

Everything is going well till Nella begins to notice that she is becoming sidelined in favor of Hazel. She is not sure if it’s all in her head until Hazel leaves her hanging in a company meeting and to make things worse, Nella starts receiving threatening notes telling her to leave Wagner. As Nella tries to find out what is going on, we are also given insight into people who worked at Wagner in the past and she finds out that there is more at stake than she realized.

“Even when you just subtly imply that a white person is racist—especially a white man—they think it’s the biggest slap in the face ever. They’d rather be called anything other than a racist. They’re ready to fight you on it, tooth and nail.”

I was quite excited to read this one, even more excited when the wait list at the library was so long because that would mean it’s so good, right? Well no, wrong. This book was not it at all for me. First of all, it was quite slow. It took a while to get to the point and honestly, it still doesn’t get to the point till maybe the last few chapters. It was written from Nella’s point of view and Nella seemed like someone who wasn’t fully comfortable in being black because she grew up privileged and is dating a white guy (which I don’t consider reasons one should be unsure) She sounded timid and like she second guessed herself a lot. There is nothing wrong with that but it doesn’t exactly make for a fun read. I think the title of the book is what made me suspicious from jump when we are introduced to Hazel.

“Jesse Watson’s words about being seen as an equal to white colleagues: “You may think they’re okay with you, and they’ll make you think that they are. But they really aren’t. They never will be. Your presence only makes them fear their own absence.”

The prologue for the book introduces us to Kendra who worked at Wagner in the past and this was so confusing to me. I didn’t think it necessarily added to the story and instead complicated it. It almost seemed disjointed. I have seen many comparisons of this book to the movie “Get Out” and I see why people say it but I don’t get it. Harris decided to add a psychological thriller element to this book that I found unnecessary and drew what the focus of the book was in different directions. What I mean is – is the focus what it is to be a black person in the publishing world where noone looks like you? or is the focus that you have to be a certain kind of “black” to make it in a corporation – the latter which I found insulting.

“With heightened awareness of cultural sensitivity comes great responsibility. If we’re not careful, ‘diversity’ might become an item people start checking off a list and nothing more—a shallow, shadowy thing with but one dimension.”

Overall, I did not like this book for many reasons. It was not engaging, the characters were not compelling. Maybe this was my fault but I was not expecting a book where the black girls were competing against each other and the big twist was weird because it ultimately came down to being compliant to white people makes your life easier? Once again, I did not like this book and I do not recommend it. If you have read it and liked it, I’d love to hear your thoughts on this in the comments!

Taynement

Book Related Topics, Fantasy, Fiction, LGBT, literary fiction, romance

Book Review: Under the Whispering Door by T. J. Klune

53588713. sy475

“Everyone loses their way at some point, and it’s not just because of their mistakes or the decisions they make. It’s because they’re horribly, wonderfully human. And the one thing I’ve learned about being human is that we can’t do this alone. When we’re lost, we need help to try to find our way again.”

Wallace is dead. He knows he’s dead because he is watching his own sparsely attended funeral and a reaper is telling him that he’s dead. Wallace cannot believe it though, he still has so many things to do. The reaper takes Wallace to a small village and to a little tea shop run by a man called Hugo. Hugo is a ferryman, he houses ghosts until they’re ready to make the crossing to the afterlife. He is basically a therapist for ghosts, helping them make peace and accept the fact that they’re dead before leading them to the door that takes them to whatever comes next after death.

With Hugo’s help, Wallace begins to rethink the way he lived his life, trying to make peace with the way he squandered his one chance at life and also starts to fall in love with Hugo. When the Manager, Hugo’s boss, comes and gives Wallace an ultimatum to cross over in 7 days, he tries to rewrite some wrongs and make peace with crossing over to whatever comes next.

“Life is senseless, and on the off chance we find something that does make sense, we hold onto it as tightly as we can.”

Last year, we talked about Klune’s The House in the Cerulean Sea on our instagram (follow us @nightstands2). I really enjoyed the book so much and recommended it to everyone. It was an absolutely delightful book and if you’re looking for a feel good book, you should definitely check it out. Anyway, I picked up this book just off of how much I enjoyed his previous book. Unfortunately, I didn’t enjoy this one as much as I did his last. Under the Whispering Door never became the book I feel like Klune promised us by having this intriguing premise. It said nothing profound or different about life and death.

I kept waiting for Klune to say something, anything at all of note but he never rose to the occasion. This book brings nothing new to the table and it really disappointed me. The world Klune imagines here isn’t even intriguing enough to bring comfort to its readers. The ghosts are not diverse enough in their experiences with life to give us a full picture of different people’s experiences with death. We only get people who didn’t get to live a full life. So many people die everyday who lived a full, interesting and long life and we couldn’t get one example of a satisfied and happy ghost who didn’t need therapizing?

“It’s never enough, is it? Time. We always think we have so much of it, but when it really counts, we don’t have enough at all.”

This book is 373 pages but honestly, it could have been half that because nothing happens. We don’t see Wallace actually confronting his life and the decisions he made while living it. Wallace’s transformation to suddenly being a good person felt ridiculous because nothing prompted it. A lot of the sentences were repetitive and cliche and Lord, that contrived romance Klune shoved in there was the most eye rolling thing in the whole book. Hugo and Wallace had nothing in common, their love for each other seemed forced and completely out of nowhere. One of the reasons I loved House in the Cerulean Sea so much is because the romance between the two main characters was slowly built up. You could see it coming and you wanted it for both of them.

In this book, the main characters go from not getting along to suddenly being soooo in love without any leadup for us. I think one of the problems with this book is that Klune was committed to telling us instead of showing us a lot of things. If a ghost and a ferryman are going to fall in love when the ferryman has seen lots of ghosts and helped them cross without any entanglement, you better let us see exactly what is so different about this particular ghost.

“He hoped wherever he was going that there’d still be the sun and the moon and the stars. He’d spent a majority of his life with his head turned down. It seemed only fair that eternity would allow him to raise his face toward the sky.”

I don’t want to give the impression that there was nothing good about this book. I just have such high standards for Klune that I was simply more disappointed than I’d be with other authors. Klune’s signature humor is still in this one especially the first 20% of the book while Wallace is still trying to accept the fact that he’s a ghost. I also appreciate how much the author is committed to telling gay stories. His characters are always LGB and he always makes them full and realized human beings where being gay isn’t ever their entire story arc, just one important part of who they are.

Ultimately, this book was too drawn out and never strayed past the shallow. It’s like a book filled with cliche platitudes about how amazing life is and how we should live life to the fullest without actually digging deep and offering anything interesting or different. I gave this one 2 stars on Goodreads.

Have you read any T. J. Klune? Are you going to read this one? I really recommend The House in the Cerulean Sea. It’s fantastic.

Leggy.

Memoirs, Non-Fiction, We Chit Chat

We Chit Chat – You Got Anything Stronger? by Gabrielle Union

57988367. sy475

Leggy: I really enjoyed Gabrielle Union’s first book. I even named it one of my favorite books of the year, the year it came out and I listened to it 5 times! So I was very excited to listen to this one.

Taynement: I honestly am still always shocked when you mention that you listen to books multiple times. Like how?? But yes, I was in the same boat as you. We’re Going to Need More Wine was so good, I immediately got on the waiting list for this one.

Leggy: I was disappointed. I did not think this book was a worthy sequel. I for sure did not need more wine.

Taynement: Ha ha. Or something stronger. They were quite different. Quite frankly, this one was unnecessary.

Leggy: So unnecessary and quite repetitive. Why did she have to revisit Bring it On? She already had an essay about this movie in her first book, which was perfect? Why are we rehashing it all over again? I guess it’s because it’s her only mainstream movie.

Taynement: It’s funny you say that because that was my favorite story. Not sure what that says about the book itself but I didn’t find a lot of the stories compelling. It just didn’t grab me.

Leggy: The only story I found compelling was about her surrogate journey, the rest of the book was just not needed.

Taynement: I enjoyed the surrogate story as well, which is what she started with but it went downhill from there.

Leggy: I’m sure as a celebrity and a black one at that, Gabrielle Union has multiple stories from her life to pull from, so I don’t understand the essays she chose to publish. They didn’t make any sense to me at all. Also this entire book reads very performative. It did not seem genuine. It’s almost like she’s writing for a particular crowd.

Taynement: She unfortunately did the thing where the best part of the book is what she used as promo, so even if you didn’t read the book, you already read the best part. I have always thought Gabrielle Union was performative but she could pull it off in We’re Going to Need More Wine because it was personal stories. In this book, she suffered greatly from a lack of direction. She wasn’t sure if she wanted it to be about race or personal and even with the personal it wasn’t completely her story. I learned more about her stepdaughter in this book than her.

Leggy: Yup. It’s as if she went about collecting all the twitter hot topics and then wrote very impersonal and contrived stories about them. I was so bored. I kept waiting for her to turn the book back towards her and it just never got there. Also, do you believe her when she said the woman she is now would have left Dwyane?

Taynement: It wasn’t more so I didn’t believe her. It was more so it didn’t make sense to me? If in fact that is true, the woman you are now, can still leave? From the book and interviews she has done, I did not get the sense that she is over that whole situation.

Leggy: Exactly. That’s how I felt. So what’s stopping you from leaving now? I think she thinks the audience this book is for, would hate that she stayed. But it’s your decision, it’s your marriage. You have to own the fact that you stayed and recognize that you don’t owe anybody any explanation.

Taynement: Yep. You chose to stay so screw everybody else.

Leggy: She sounded so angry with Dwyane in this book, I was a bit taken aback by it. All while trying to convince us that she’s done the work to make the relationship stronger and better.

Taynement: When she said that people have accused her of not talking about the break baby, I looked around cos I was definitely one of them and then she described it as a trauma. I am ashamed to say I never thought about the angle that he had a baby while they were going through conception struggles. That’s deep.

Leggy: Yeah that’s insane. I can’t imagine how she felt about that.

Taynement: In summary, I don’t think this book was as sincere as the first and the sincerity is what made the first so great.

Leggy: Yes, this book was extremely performative. I wish she hadn’t written it. I did not enjoy it and it sucks because Gabrielle really is a good writer.

Taynement: It definitely was a struggle to read and I have told people I don’t recommend it.

Leggy: I wish she had written something totally different and personal.

Taynement: Last thing, if you do decide to read the book I think we should let people know that it is very heavy on racial topics.

Leggy: Very heavy. Almost all the stories veered into a commentary on race.

Taynement: And I think we need to mention because if you are mood readers like us, sometimes you have to prepare your mind to read certain topics and it’s easy to think this would be a light hearted book because of We’re Going to Need More Wine.

Leggy:If you think this is going to be a fun and compelling book like her first one, just skip it. It’s nothing like it.

Taynement: What she said.

Leggy: Go read her twitter threads instead. It’s just that but in long form.

Taynement & Leggy

Fiction, literary fiction, Mystery

Book Review: Apples Never Fall by Liane Moriarty

56894456. sy475

“Every time she fell out of love with him, he saw it happen and waited it out. He never stopped loving her, even those times when he felt deeply hurt and betrayed by her, even in that bad year when they talked about separating, he’d just gone along with it, waiting for her to come back to him, thanking God and his dad up above each time she did.”

The Delaneys are a tennis fixture in their community. They ran a successful tennis academy for years. The parents, Stan and Joy, have such great chemistry and still beat all their friends in tennis even though they’re retired. After selling their academy, they’re bored and miserable. They’re not the type of couple to have fun doing nothing or to have fun traveling so they’re still trying to discover what getting old means for them.

Their adult children – Logan, Amy, Brooke and Troy, are also trying to figure out what life after tennis looks like for them as well, as they never quite made it to being professional. They’re all deeply affected in one way or another by their lives as tennis young stars and are trying to process their feelings towards the sport and having their parents as coaches.

“That was the secret of a happy marriage: step away from the rage.”

One night, a stranger who introduces herself as Savannah, comes knocking on their door completely bruised up and bleeding claiming her boyfriend hit her. Joy and Stan let her in and let her stay with them believing she is escaping a domestic violence situation to the complete dismay of their children.

Later, when Joy disappears out of the blue, and Savannah is nowhere to be found, the police question the only other person left in the house – Stan. His kids are divided on if he did it or not. Every single detail in their past is being called into question and reexamined in the light of their mother’s disappearance. Moriarty takes us through the history of this family, alternating between flashbacks and the present as we try to figure out what happened to Joy.

“Once you’ve hit a ball there’s no point watching to see where it’s going. You can’t change its flight path now. You have to think about your next move. Not what you should have done. What you do now.”

My first foray into Moriarty was What Alice Forgot – a book I absolutely loved and adored. Since then though, all her other insanely popular books have missed the mark for me, especially the last two. I wasn’t going to read anymore Moriarty because I was tired of chasing the high I got from What Alice Forgot and never finding it. But, I decided to pick this one up because the person who recommended it said they didn’t like her two previous books either. I think she was right. This book is funny, and even though it’s suspenseful it never feels heavy or overdone. It’s just plain good.

“There was nothing worse than having to feel sorry for people who had wronged you. You don’t want lottery wins for your enemies, but you don’t want tragedies for them either. Then they got the upper hand”

If you’re not a fan of alternating timelines then this book is not for you as Moriarty alternates the chapters between flashbacks and the present. I really enjoy stories about dysfunctional families where there’s no abuse or intent to do actual harm exists. I think sometimes just being a family filled with very different personalities and interpretations of your childhood, leads to dysfunction. It’s a fascinating premise to look back at your life and all the little events that shaped it, with a new eye because now you’re looking for if your father could have murdered your mother. Suddenly every single action or mistake they’ve ever made is suddenly seen in a sinister light.

Moriarty’s straightforward writing style serves this book well. The way she makes these astute observations about the Delaneys while peeling back the layers of their relationships to each other and injecting the right dose of humor is impeccable and sometimes makes you forget that you’re actually reading a murder suspense book.

I really enjoyed reading this book. I don’t know if I rated this highly because I was surprised that I was enjoying a Moriarty book after swearing off reading her, but I gave this book 4 stars on Goodreads.

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

Leggy