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Book Review: Beautiful World, Where Are You? by Sally Rooney

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“And we hate people for making mistakes so much more than we love them for doing good that the easiest way to live is to do nothing, say nothing, and love no one.”

This book revolves around Alice, Felix, Eileen and Simon – four people who are trying to make sense of their lives as adults. Alice is an author who meets Felix online and goes on a date with him. Eileen goes through a tough break up and goes back to flirting with her childhood friend, Simon. They’re four individuals trying to make sense of their love lives and their mental health.

While reading this book. I tweeted that Sally Rooney’s style of writing is basically “angst erotica”. I know Rooney has stans who think she can do no wrong but she has basically written the same book three times over, just with different characters. Rooney has a formula that works for her – she brings broken people who have bad mental health together to find love and have really great but slightly disturbing sex. Are these well written books? Yes. Are they the same books? Also yes.

Sometimes I feel like Rooney wants to write a purely romance novel but thinks her writing is too elevated for the genre. She forgoes so many things as she chases down romantic dynamics between characters that are not that interesting. She discards whole character development in pursuit of romantic love. Eileen had a very fraught and complicated relationship with her mother and sister which was never explored. Rooney doesn’t bother giving her characters any backstory to give them depth and make us invested in their story. Everything was barely scratched and kept surface and promptly moved on to the next.

Felix is an awful, self absorbed, emotionally abusive man who is normalized in this book and made to seem as a good match for Alice. He watches porn that shows women being degraded, is cruel to Alice for no reason and he propositions Simon while in a “situationship” with Alice, even though Simon had made it clear that he’s heterosexual.

And oh, 80% of this book is epistolary. Alice and Eileen keep up with each other’s lives via email correspondence. They write each other these ridiculous letters where they muse about everything from 18th century empires to the price of fame. Alice is an author in this book and I get a feeling that a lot of the things Rooney writes via Alice is pretty biographical. Just like Rooney, Alice has written two books with one about to be adapted for TV and she goes on and on about fame and writers wanting to be private. It got so boring reading these long, self indulgence, pseudo-deep musings.

If you’re planning to read this book because of Normal People, you’ll be disappointed because it’s more like her first book Conversation With Friends (the long pretentious conversations) than Normal People but with the angst of Normal People.

There are so many beautiful sentences and quotables that I would have put in this review but decided against it. This book is filled with so many beautiful sentences, Rooney has never been short of that but beautiful sentences does not a good book make. I found this book to be Rooney sounding off about her personal beliefs and thoughts through pretentious, navel gazing white characters that pretend to be deep. There is nothing about this book that is believable – not the characters, not the plot (which btw practically doesn’t exist), not the long email diatribes. How many millenials are emailing each other constantly about literature and philosophy and the fall of empires and the bronze age? Who are these people?!

I gave this book 2 stars on Goodreads. I’m sure I’m going to be in the minority with this review since this book is well over 4 stars on Goodreads and Bookstagram is raving about it. I do not recommend this book. I did not enjoy it. I think it is perfectly okay to write about sex, friendships and relationships but if Rooney is constantly going to write the same book over and over again with practically similar characters with similar backgrounds, then this is where I step back from her. And of course, this book has no quotation marks.

Leggy

african author, Nigerian Author, Non-Fiction, Self Help

We Chit Chat – Bamboozled by Jesus: How God Tricked Me into the Life of My Dreams by Yvonne Orji

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Leggy: How did we end up with this title?

Taynement: I recommended it.

Leggy: Oh right. You did. We both did it on audio too. What were your preconceived notions of the book and was it what you thought it would be?

Taynement: As usual, I had no knowledge of what the book was about. I just assumed it was a memoir. I remember wondering why anyone would care about an Yvonne Orji memoir.

Leggy: Lmaoooo. Taynement! I didn’t know what it would be about either. I wondered why someone so young in the industry was writing memoir.

Taynement: I’m not a fan of hers per se, so I honestly can’t tell you what compelled me to read this. My FOMO spirit is strong.

Leggy: I only read it because you told me too. Would never have. Also, it’s literally called “Bamboozled by Jesus” and I was still shocked when it turned out to be a religious book.

Taynement: I will say that this was a pleasant surprise for me.

Leggy: Oh really? You liked it? I’m shocked!

Taynement: Haha! I’m shocked myself.

Leggy: At first I was going to DNF it. I remember complaining that I would have never finished it if we weren’t doing a chit chat on it but then I just kinda got into it.

Taynement: Here’s the thing, I think the premise was a good one. It was a self help book wrapped in religion that was not preachy with sprinkles of hip hop culture. It worked for me.

Leggy: I didn’t love it but I certainly enjoyed following her journey. It’s quite interesting how dogged she is because there were a lot of times I feel like I would have given up. Also, she’s quite trusting in God, a lot of the things she believed in would have never worked for me. Like giving up her rent because God said so.

Taynement: So, in the beginning when she is laying the premise of the book, she said something like even if you don’t believe in the Word don’t think this book isn’t for you and I think she was wrong about that. It worked for me because I like to consider myself a person of faith, albeit a weak one, but she’s on a level of faith I aspire to be on. If you aren’t religious at all, this book will make you break out in hives because you will be ready to prove why it was something else and not God.

Leggy: Definitely. You should not read this one if you’re not religious. I believe in God but even I was turned off by the many Bible passages so I can’t imagine how this book could possibly work for someone who doesn’t believe.

Taynement: I wasn’t. I actually complained to my husband that I need to do better in reading my Bible. I really liked how she wove Bible passages into every day scenarios.

Leggy: This is how you know you’re a better Christian than me

Taynement: I should also add that sometimes a book works for you depending on your headspace and I read this book at a time where I need crazy faith like hers and it encouraged me.

Leggy: Also, I thought she must be very familiar with the Bible to be able to tell these stories in this way. It was very well done if you know the Bible and that’s why I fully consider this book a religious book. I also liked the Insecure parts of the book which is what I was actually looking forward to. I wanted to hear how she booked the role.

Taynement: I would kill to know who the actress was that peaked at audition 1. Now, my gripe with the Insecure parts – which is where she addresses what I have always wondered with her, which is her choice as a person of faith with highly sexualized scenes. Her explanation didn’t answer my questions, AT ALL. I still can’t reconcile that she had a conversation with God and He told her she’s being used to send a message? I think that’s when she used the analogy that Denzel wasn’t a murderer but played one.

Leggy: Did you read where she said she started looking forward to the sex scenes? and enjoying them? I was like what?! And God had to be like this isn’t a loophole.

Taynement: I appreciated her honesty. Ha ha. Body no be firewood.

Leggy: I really hope her faith in regards to finding a life partner comes through because I felt quite weird reading all of that. I’m hoping it all works out for her but what if God doesn’t want her to have romantic love in her life? Would it affect her faith?

Taynement: I hope her faith will carry her through if that’s not the case for her. There’s something I wondered – Based on her comedy special, I could have sworn I saw her mum and dad but in the book there was barely a mention of her dad.

Leggy: I have a feeling she didn’t want to discuss her family directly. It was obvious they just came around when she became successful. Her mum and dad are still together though.

Taynement: I just thought it was odd that she didn’t mention her dad except jointly as parents but she definitely had a lot of mom stories.

Leggy: Oh, I didn’t notice at all. Just noticed that she limited giving concrete details of her family and their reactions to her decision and just generally mentioned that they wanted her to go get a Masters and a regular job. I got the feeling she was trying to spare them the embarrassment but I can only imagine – they are Nigerian parents after all.

Taynement: I think that makes sense given it wasn’t necessarily a memoir – more like a collection of essays. She gave just enough regarding upbringing and how it contributed to her career path. Did you have a favorite story of hers?

Leggy: I really enjoyed her Insecure journey since that was what I really wanted to read about. Second best was when she was raising money to make a pilot for the first gen show she had been shopping around.

Taynement: My favorite story was the one about finding her dream house. It truly resonated with me because it was a metaphor. Overall, I’d describe this book as the book I didn’t think I needed but I did. Trust me, I’m still surprised myself. I gave it 4 stars.

Leggy: Wow. It really resonated with you. I didn’t feel that strongly about it. I gave it 2 stars.

Let us know if you have read this one or you’re planning to!

Taynement & Leggy

Book Related Topics, Uncategorized

These Are A Few Of My DNF Titles…

I recently shared on our Instagram how I was struggling with two titles that I was looking forward to. Animal by Lisa Taddeo and One Two Three by Laurie Frankel. They recently joined my DNF list. Leggy helped me in stopping hate-read habit. I recognize that sometimes your response to a book is dependent on your headspace at the time but honestly sometimes despite all the hype by everyone, some books just don’t work for you…and that’s okay.

We are closer to the end of the year and I am still not sure how I would define my 2021 reading year. I have read 0-1 great books, a lot good books, a few meh books and books that I did not bother finishing. Those are the books that I will be sharing with you today. I think a part of why I am sharing is that I am curious to see what other people think of the books – if they liked it and why they liked it.

As Leggy always says, art is subjective so please remember that by no means am I saying that these books are terrible books, they are just books that I wasn’t into when I read them and I may or may not go back to. You can also find Leggy’s DNF titles here.

The Office of Historical Corrections: A Novella and Stories - Kindle  edition by Evans, Danielle. Literature & Fiction Kindle eBooks @ Amazon.com.
  1. The Office of Historical Corrections by Danielle Evans: I know I don’t like short stories but every now and then I am surprised. I started this on audio and by the third or fourth story, I realized nothing was connecting with me. My friend tried to get me to keep reading but I tapped out.

2. The Best of Me by David Sedaris: Yes I know it’s another short story collection and you are probably wondering why I bother at all. Well David Sedaris is different. He has written a couple of memoirs in this format and I have enjoyed them in the past. They have been funny. I don’t know what it was but I couldn’t get into it and I didn’t chuckle two chapters in, so I let it go 😦

3. Pride, Prejudice and Other Flavors by Sonali Dev: This is a popular one and I have seen nothing but good things about it. There have been many Pride and Prejudice retellings and this caught my eye because it had a gender swap and an Indian infusion and I was curious to see how it would be. I’ll admit that I didn’t give this enough time to marinate. I have an idea of what the story will be but as soon as I started getting to the will they/won’t they parts my interest waned and I did not proceed with it. I will say that this is a book that I think I plan to revisit some day.

The Dragonfly Sea

4. The Dragonfly Sea by Yvonne Adhiambo Owuor: Honestly, I wasn’t sure if I had confused it with another premise but I hadn’t. I dropped the book because it was so tedious. I like to get lost in a book and enjoy it but I felt like I was having to concentrate really hard and do homework and I didn’t want that reading experience.

What do you think? Are there any of these books (including Animal and One Two Three) that you liked and think I should give another chance? Let me know in the comments.

Taynement

Book Related Topics, Chick-Lit, Fiction, romance

Book Review: The Heart Principle by Helen Hoang

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Violinist, Anna Sun explodes into fame when one of her performances goes viral on YouTube. She’s suddenly unable to play any piece from beginning to end because she’s crippled with anxiety and the need to make it perfect. Her boyfriend also picks this time to ask for a break in their relationship because he wants to explore what’s out there for him before he makes a formal commitment to her. Angry and hurt, Anna decides to have a series of one night stands to get back at him and the very first person she matches with? – tattooed, motorcycle-riding Quan Diep.

Quan has been out of the dating market for a few years while he was fighting cancer. His cousin and business partner convinces him to get back out there and try a few casual dates to get back in the swing of things. Anna is the perfect candidate for that, as she’s only interested in one night stands anyway. They meet up and have more than one unsuccessful one night stands that just leads to more and more dates.

They develop a relationship that has Anna questioning if she even wants her boyfriend back and has Quan hoping it turns into something serious. When tragedy strikes Anna’s family and has her thrust in a caregiver role to her father, she has to confront the role her family and especially her older sister has played in her mental health.

Helen Hoang writes romance that is both sweet and deep. I think we’ve reviewed all of Hoang’s books on this blog and I think we’re probably going to continue to read them. I got this book as my August Book of the Month pick and read it one day. Hoang writes about different facets of Asian culture in her books coupled with issues surrounding autism. The main character gets into therapy to help cope with her sudden inability to play a piece through and is given the diagnosis of being on the autistic spectrum.

Watching her deal with the diagnosis and make sense of so many things in her life was very enlightening. The book takes on more serious topics than her other books – caregiving of a terminally ill parent, autism, depression, family dynamics, death etc . Seeing the family dynamics Anna had to deal with was very infuriating but very real. This is Hoang’s strongest book with the most character development. It’s sexy and hot but also deeply sad.

Hoang revealed in the author’s note that this is a very personal story for her and it showed in the way it was written – it’s written in the first person instead of the third person. It’s also not a book that ties up in a pretty bow. They don’t fall in love and everything doesn’t get better like a typical romance novel. The emotions are raw and intense, I was completely immersed in the story and their chemistry was off the charts. Also, both characters are perfect and I think everyone can see why they would be attracted to each other. Quan is kind, vulnerable and everything a leading man should be. He committed from the start and stuck with it even when things got rough.

This is my favorite Hoang book, I genuinely hope you give this book a chance. I gave it 4 stars on Goodreads.

Leggy

african author, african stories, Book Related Topics, Fiction, LGBT, literary fiction, Nigerian Author

Book Review: Butter Honey Pig Bread by Francesca Ekwuyasi

Butter Honey Pig Bread by Francesca Ekwuyasi

Life is an ambivalent lover. One moment, you are everything and life wants to consume entirely. The next moment, you are an insignificant speck of nothing. Meaningless.

Kambirinachi is an ogbanje. She is a spirit that keeps getting born as a human, but she never lives long enough and always dies and returns to the spirit world. Then she makes the decision to live and lives in fear of a retaliation from the gods for not returning. She lives a full life and experiences love, loss and gets married. She has twin girls – Taiye and Kehinde. The three of them become estranged when Kehinde suffers a traumatic experience and the three end up in different countries. Kambirinachi remains in Nigeria, Taiye moves to the UK and Kehinde is in Canada.

A long time has passed and the three reunite in Lagos as Taiye has moved back and Kehinde is visiting with her husband. The three have to come together and relearn each other and the book tells us their life stories from each of their perspectives and how each, in their own way, dealt with the fallout from what happened to Kehinde.

I finally gave a book 5 stars y’all.

It’s so hard to believe that this is a debut effort because it was so beautifully written. It had all the elements of things I enjoy in a book – complex/flawed characters, family sagas that span generations and beautiful writing that draws you in. Over the years when the sisters were estranged, Taiye wrote letters to Kehinde that she never sent. Taiye’s ex sends the letters without her knowledge and Kehinde reads them when she is in Lagos. Ekwuyasi’s choice to narrate their stories and go back in time, through these letters was such a fantastic choice. We go through the past and the present so seamlessly.

“Our relationship has always struggled against our twinness.”

The friction between the twins were the focal point but Taiye read like the main character. And boy was she a fully fleshed out character. Queerness is still not embraced in the Nigerian culture and I enjoyed how Ekwusayi didn’t make it an issue or a big deal. It was just Taiye’s sexuality, nothing to make a big deal about. Taiye was hella flawed but I am so glad that it had nothing to do with her being gay. Oh and even as flawed as she was, Taiye was the character that you were rooting for.

Taiye loves food and cooking and wants to be a chef and this was made clear throughout the book. Ekwuyasi gave us recipes for every thing Taiye cooked. When I say we were given recipes, I don’t mean in the typical way of listing ingredients and steps. We were given those but I don’t know the magic Ekwuyasi performed but it was written so beautifully and woven into the story. She made it clear thatcooking was a love language of Taiye’s.

The one gripe I had is there seem to be an influx of Nigerian writers who are writing about ogbanjes. As a Nigerian, I am familiar with it and I know it is part of the culture but it now seems like a lazy trope that is being infused for a western audience that isn’t as familiar with it. I often wondered why the author chose to make Kambiri’s issue her ogbanje-ness vs. what seemed like a mental illness or depression.

I honestly could go on and on forever as I remember various parts of the book. Even though it details the unpacking of a trauma. It still goes through a lovely friendship, a loving marriage, a loving yet toxic relationship. I don’t think it matters what the topic was, the best thing about this book was the writing, you’d be willing to go on the journey. I highly recommend this book, if you couldn’t already tell!

Taynement

Uncategorized

We Chit Chat – The Wreckage of my Presence by Casey Wilson

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Taynement: Hi, Leggy. Why does it always take us this long to do this? We really should do this more often.

Leggy: I know! We’re just always reading different things.

Taynement: Our book of choice for this Chit Chat is different from our past choices. What made you read this?

Leggy: I really like Casey Wilson. I listen to her Bitch Sesh podcast, that’s why I read it. I didn’t know it was a collection of essays, thought it was a memoir.

Taynement: Same here. I’ve listened to her podcast for years now and for those who don’t know, it’s a podcast that talks about the Housewives franchise. She did heavy promo on there and my curiosity was piqued enough to want to read it. I thought it was a memoir too and the essays were an interesting way to talk about her life. What did you think of the book?

Leggy: I loved it. I’ve listened to it in its entirety, 4 times. I loved Casey’s narration. The first time I listened to it, I gave it 3 stars but upon subsequent listens, I upgraded it to 4 stars.

Taynement: Wow, 4 times? That’s impressive. I liked it enough but I don’t know that I loved it. Mostly because I don’t know that I learned many new things. It felt like listening to a collection of the intro stories from her podcast.

Leggy: I just really enjoyed her narration. I also quite enjoyed hearing a celebrity have a normal home life where they actually like their family. I can also see the intro stories part. I quite enjoy the intro stories so maybe this book was especially made for me.

Taynement: As a former SNL cast member, I fully expected her narration to be top notch. Also, I meant the intro stories she has shared before on her podcast.

Leggy: I didn’t know she used to be on SNL.

Taynement: Yep, she was. She talks a lot about her one season before getting fired. What were your favorite stories?

Leggy: The one about how she loves her husband more (My Husband’s Just Not that into Me; or, Afrin: A Love Story) and the one about her child’s gluten allergy (What Dis). You?

Taynement: Ah, I remember her child’s allergy issues – that was another story that I had followed via the podcast. I can’t think of one particular story but what I enjoyed the most was hearing about her mum when she was alive. To explain, she started the podcast after her mom passed so most of what we hear of her is as of her as a dead person. Hearing stories of her alive as a living breathing person was refreshing and I thought it was a pretty cool way to remember her mom. It will always be in print (or audio).

Leggy: That makes sense. I could still feel her pain that she lost her mom at the point where they were transitioning from mother-daughter to friends. Also, hearing all the things her mother fought for in regards to women’s rights was very inspiring.

Taynement: Yes, agreed. Another thing I enjoyed about the book were the transitions. For example, connecting her depression when her mom died to discovering the Housewives, which is now a huge part of her life. Was there anything you didn’t particularly enjoy?

Leggy: Yes, that was very well done. I didn’t enjoy all the white guilt. All the acknowledgement of white privilege was too much for me. I was like girl, please. That’s why I gave her 3 stars the first time. I couldn’t stop rolling my eyes but the second time I listened to it, I guess I knew they were coming so they just kind of rolled off me.

Taynement: I agree. It was very heavy handed. I feel like I’ve always known she was cooky or a little lost but this book confirmed it with all the things she spends her money on. Example – the flywheel stories and comparing it to a cult. But I will say, the stories of her parents provide context as to her kookiness.

Leggy: Lmaooo. All the things she believes in and spends money on, I was like girl, you’re a scammer’s dream.

Taynement: Absolutely. Even though I didn’t love it as much as you do, I think it was interesting enough but I do wonder if anyone who has no prior knowledge of Casey Wilson would be interested?

Leggy: I don’t know how they would be, to be honest. I do follow someone on bookstagram who loved the book even though she had never listened to her podcast, so who knows?

Taynement: To be fair, she does have a niche following especially if you loved Happy Endings or her current show Black Monday.

Leggy: Happy Endings was my introduction to her. You’re the one who introduced me to Bitch Sesh!

Taynement: I know!

Leggy: Would you recommend this to someone who knows Casey?

Taynement: I’m honestly not sure. I don’t think I found it riveting. I have a friend who knows her, listens to her podcast but has no interest in the book and she is an avid reader. Gun to my head, I’ll probably say no. There was nothing extraordinary about it.

Leggy: Oh wow. I feel like my enjoyment of this book is pretty personal. If I was asked why I loved it so much I think a big part would be the performance of it. It’s very well read. Would I have had the same experience if I had read this one on paper? I don’t know.

Taynement: If anyone who has no Casey Wilson background reads this or has read this let us know your thoughts on the book!

Leggy & Taynement.

Book Related Topics, christmas, Fiction, LGBT, romance

Book Review: The Guncle by Steven Rowley

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“Grief orbits the heart. Some days the circle is greater. Those are the good days. You have room to move and dance and breathe. Some days the circle is tighter. Those are the hard ones.”

Patrick’s sister-in-law and friend, Sara, dies and his brother has to go to rehab for addiction and convinces Patrick to take the children back with him from the funeral to Palm Springs for 3 months while he takes care of his addiction. At first Patrick is very hesitant. Yes, he loves his niece and nephew but in short bursts. He’s fine handling them for weekend long visits with their mother or when he flies back to Connecticut to see his family but being their primary guardian for 90 days alone seems nuts to him.

Patrick has no idea what to expect – he’s been dealing with the loss of the love of his life in a car accident for years and doesn’t think he’s the right person to guide his niece and nephew through their grief when he hasn’t even handled his yet. With humor and a lot of heart, Rowley leads his readers through a journey of grief and family.

I really enjoyed this one. I think most of the characters were very likeable (except Patrick’s sister, yeesh, talk about overreacting to things). I especially liked GUP (Gay Uncle Patrick). I like that they made Patrick a super likable person whose vices and excesses never came before his own niece and nephew. It was easy to find his shenanigans cute and funny because you knew he would never do anything purposely to endanger the kids’ lives. Patrick used to be a famous movie star who was in a popular TV show that made lots of money (a la Friends) and after it ended, he moved out of LA to Palm Springs and stopped socializing with anyone but his gay throuple neighbors.

Even though this book is light hearted and funny, it deals with grief and death in a very real way. Rowley does not at all shy away from the hard parts of losing someone you love. Patrick is very determined to make sure the kids mourn and are able to talk about their mother in an open way, without pressuring them to snap out of it. Patrick even hopes that their kid resilience will be a way for him to mourn Sara too but he soon finds out that he would have to be the adult in this situation and show them a way to grieve in a healthy way. To do that, Patrick is forced to deal with the loss of the love of his life in a tangible way instead of the avoidance game he’s been playing with himself for years.

At some point while reading this book, I had to google – “Is Steven Rowley gay?” because this character would seem super stereotypical and offensive if it wasn’t another gay man writing this. Thankfully, he is gay and all my apprehensions vanished. This is my first Rowley book and I definitely will be picking up his backlist titles especially when I am going through one+ of my reading slumps. This book was utterly delightful and funny and I recommend it. I gave this 3 stars on Goodreads.

Leggy

Fiction, literary fiction

2 For 1 Review: The Henna Artist & The Secret Keeper of Jaipur by Alka Joshi

ANovelPage reviews… – and in other news

THE HENNA ARTIST – Book 1

“There were three kinds of karma: the accumulated karma from all our past lives; the karma we created in this life; and the karma we stored to ripen in our future lives.”

It’s the 50’s in Jaipur, India, 17 year old Lakshmi has just escaped an abusive marriage and become a henna artist amongst many things. To make up for the shame she put on her family for leaving her marriage, Lakshmi is determined to have a better life. She is building a house to have her parents come live with her and be comfortable. Lakshmi’s clientele are the the wealthy, upper class and they sometimes confide in her. Playing the long game, Lakshmi keeps their secret as well as hers knowing that it would ruin everything she has built.

Everything comes crashing down when her ex-husband tracks her down and brings with him a surprise – Lakshmi has a younger sister named Radha. Lakshmi reorganizes her life to include her sister, who comes with a bunch of trouble and threatens to upend everything Lakshmi has worked for.

The book started out slow but once you get past the introductions, it quickly found its way and we begin to live in Lakshmi’s world. Joshi does a good job of portraying Lakshmi’s resilience and determination. Lakshmi quite simply does what needs to be done to survive. I was not a fan of her sister and found her quite unlikable but I had to keep reminding myself that she was just 13.

I enjoyed learning a lot about India and its history. I also appreciated how much research Joshi had to have put into this. One of Lakshmi’s many jobs including providing medical care with herbal and natural medicines. Joshi was very detailed in the many cures mentioned in the book and I was fascinated. I did this on audio and the narrator was FANTASTIC. Her voice was so soothing. Finding out the inspiration for this book was the author trying to reimagine what her mother’s life would have been like if she hadn’t been forced into an arranged marriage was a nice tid-bit to know. I highly recommend this book.

THE SECRET KEEPER OF JAIPUR – Book 2

He says you must be able to discern the intensity of a customer’s desire by looking into their eyes. That will tell you what to show, what to hold back, and how much the customer is willing to part with.”

The second book in this series continues 12 years later, Lakshmi is now married to one of the characters in Book 1 (I won’t spoil it for you), Radha is now living in France with her husband and two kids and Lakshmi’s protégé, Malik is now 20 years old and grown. Lakshmi and Malik now live in Shimla and she sends him back to Jaipur to learn the real estate trade and to keep him out of trouble on the streets. Before Malik leaves, he falls in love with Nimmie, a young tribal widow with two kids who is illiterate. Lakshmi isn’t exactly pleased about this and the two have some friction as they subconsciously compete for Malik’s time.

The book follows two stories. One in Shimla, when Nimmie discovers illegal gold being trafficked through the sheep in the mountains and in Jaipur when the newly constructed Royal Theater where Malik is doing his apprenticeship, collapses. We watch the two navigate their way out of trouble with the help of Lakshmi, of course.

While I enjoyed this sequel, I still preferred The Henna Artist. I think this is understandable as Book 2 wouldn’t have the same effect as being introduced to new characters. At the same time, it was nice revisiting characters that we have met and know. Joshi does a good job of writing this book in a way where it could be read as a stand alone and you’d still know what was going on. There was a brief summary and the only difference is Book 1 gives a lot of context.

Even though I found her unlikeable in Book 1, I was surprised to find that I was a tad disappointed that Radha was barely mentioned but I suspect that she will be in the final book of this trilogy. I know I swore off trilogies but I will be rounding this one out and looking forward to it. Not surprisingly, this has been optioned in Hollywood and will be starring Frieda Pinto.

Taynement

Book Related Topics, Fantasy, Fiction, literary fiction, scifi, Uncategorized

Book Review: Project Hail Mary by Andy Weir

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“I penetrated the outer cell membrane with a nanosyringe.”
“You poked it with a stick?”
“No!” I said. “Well. Yes. But it was a scientific poke with a very scientific stick.”

The Martian was one of my favorite books the year it was released. It was the only science fiction book that had ever made me cry until this one. Ryland Grace wakes up from a coma and realizes that he’s in a spaceship but he doesn’t know why or how he got on one. He’s in what looks like a hospital room with two other people who are dead. He doesn’t even remember his own name and doesn’t know what he does for a living. As his memories fuzzily return, he pieces together what he’s doing on a spaceship.

The sun is dying because an organism (astrophage) is feasting on its energy. On one hand, the scientific community is excited at the discovery of an actual live organism in space but on the other hand, if astrophage keeps up its activities, earth is going to go back into another ice age which will result in the immediate death of 50% of the population plus multiple wars for the earth’s remaining resources. Alone on this ship that has been built with the resources of every country on earth, by the best minds the earth has to offer and staffed with volunteers that know that they’re going on a suicide journey to save earth, Grace has to figure out why this organism is affecting the earth’s star but not affecting Venus’.

Project Hail Mary is ridiculously imaginative and funny with amazing emotional payoff that you wouldn’t expect to get from a science fiction book. I think the best thing about Weir’s writing is because he’s an actual scientist and was for years before he ever wrote The Martian, his science writing always sounds plausible. I’m not an astronaut and yes, a lot of things in this book obviously hasn’t been invented but I think he creates enough of a situation where this would be the ideal ecosystem for the ramping up of science inventions and discoveries. If humans were to actually make this journey, it’d have to be pretty close. Also, you don’t have to pay attention to the actual science. As long as you get the gist of the stakes, you can relax and enjoy your reading experience. All you need to know is the world would be doomed if Grace doesn’t figure out how to get rid of the organism and spare the world another ice age.

Even if you do not enjoy science fiction, I still implore you to pick up this book. It is so much more than imaginative science. It’s about hope, friendship, humanity and realising how much we’re capable of when we give ourselves a chance to be great. Grace learns so much about himself on this suicide mission to save earth even though he isn’t scheduled to live more than a couple months after he sends back information to earth on how to save 7 billion people. Weir makes an unexpected and unbelievable contact when he thinks he’s well and truly alone but i’m determined to keep this review spoiler free. We also grapple with the ethics of suicide missions, while Grace’s memories keep coming back in spurts throughout the book, we’re confronted with a looming question of how he actually came to be a member of this team – was it really his choice and is he really a brave volunteer?

Weir’s enthusiasm for science is very infectious and you’re going to get sucked into caring about what happens to these amazing characters. Please ignore the science fiction tag and give this book a chance. The author has created an amazing world in less than 500 pages which had me sobbing at the end. I gave this one 5 stars on Goodreads.

Have you read this one? Did you love it as much as I did?

Leggy

Book Related Topics, Fiction, literary fiction

Book Review: Malibu Rising by Taylor Jenkins Reid

“Our family histories are simply stories. They are myths we create about the people who came before us, in order to make sense of ourselves.”

Spanning multiple decades, Malibu Rising tells the story of the Riva family. The Riva family consists of the legendary singer, Mick Riva, their mom, June Riva and their 4 children – Nina, Jay, Hud and Kit. The story begins in 1983 on the day of the annual Riva end of summer party. This is the party that has no rules. No invites, no structure just word of mouth and people show up and let out all their inhibitions and have a good time. Every famous and non-famous person wants to be there.

By now, the Riva children are not in contact with their father anymore, their mother is dead and they are all famous in their own rights. They are all coming to the party with their own secrets. Nina’s famous tennis player husband has just publicly left her, Jay and Hud have secrets that they need to share with each other and Kit has her own private realization that she is trying to confirm. The book fills us in on all the backstory of each member of the Riva family while building up to the explosive end of the party.

“Alcoholism is a disease with many faces, and some of them look beautiful.”

I have written before, that Taylor Jenkins Reid is one of my favorite authors. I do think it’s really hard to miss with a TJR novel because the woman knows how to not only tell a story but create a world that feels so real. It’s very easy to read a TJR novel and forget that it is not a true story. Another thing about TJR is that she is so versatile that no two books of hers are quite exactly the same and she is not put in a corner when it comes to her writing style.

I was not disappointed by this book. I kept wanting to see what would happen and finished the book in three days, which is unusual for me. As mentioned earlier, this book spanned multiple decades and inevitably had to jump back and forth through the present (day of the party) and the past. In the present, it was heavy on the anticipation of what was to come and the culmination of the party and the secrets held by the Rivas. And in the past, TJR tells us in chronological order, how the Riva family came to be. Starting from how Mick and June met, his rise to fame, the struggles encountered and decisions made along the way.

“Maybe our parents’ lives are imprinted within us, maybe the only fate there is is the temptation of reliving their mistakes. Maybe, try as we might, we will never be able to outrun the blood that runs through our veins. Or. Or maybe we are free the moment we are born. Maybe everything we’ve even done is by our own hands.”

I marveled how this book was a balance of an easy fun read but was also a book that had you questioning the age old Nature vs. Nurture question as the Riva children despite good intentions find themselves making the same mistakes made by their parents and have them wondering if they were inevitably destined to make these mistakes because people tend to mimic what they grew up around or because it is their DNA? I also enjoyed the close relationship all the siblings had with each other.

While one of the things I liked was the crescendo approach that TJR built I’d be remiss not to mention that I thought the final culmination was kind of a let down and I thought it was all over the place. I don’t always need endings to be wrapped up in a bow but unless there is a plan for a sequel to this, I found it quite haphazard and it felt like loose threads galore. It all felt like the ending of a movie where the viewer could interpret their own ending. There was so much happening without enough context. Also, adding stories of brand new characters we had no attachment to previously seemed like frivolous fillers.

It wasn’t enough to stop my enjoyment of the book because the journey truly was a fun enough ride for me to forgive the destination. For those who have read another of TJR’s books, The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo (recommended read), you may recognize that Mick Riva was one of her seven husbands and that was a fun crossover to read. I gave this book 4 stars and would recommend this for your summer reading list.

Taynement