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Book Review: Monogamy by Sue Miller

Monogamy' by Sue Miller book review - The Washington Post

“Just, that we read fiction because it suggests that life has a shape, and we feel . . . consoled, I think he said, by that notion. Consoled to think that life isn’t just one damned thing after another. That it has sequence and consequence.” She smiled at Edith. “I think it was more or less the idea that fictional narrative made life seem to matter, that it pushed away the meaninglessness of death.”

A second marriage for both, Annie and Graham have been married for 30 years. Graham is an outgoing, charming big guy who owns a bookstore while Annie is the reserved one of the two and a photographer. They have a daughter, Sarah while Graham has a son, Lucas with his ex-wife, Frieda. Frieda and Graham are still on friendly terms and Annie, quite comfortable in her relationship with Graham, is also friends with Frieda.

When Graham dies suddenly, Annie’s world is rocked and she is plunged into deep grief. As she tries to adjust to her new life without Graham, she finds out that he had been unfaithful to her and she finds her grief journey derailed as she looks back on their years together and wonders how real it was.

This book was boring.

I am not opposed to character-driven books, which this book was, but this was just not compelling. I absolutely got the idea of what this book was meant to be. It was supposed to be a character’s introspective look into their life as they go through the journey of life’s complicated experiences – love, loss, friendships etc. Annie has a full life or so it seems but after Graham’s death, she questions if her life was full or if it was full because of Graham’s life. I think the life experiences and journey Annie went through were authentic and relatable.

“Love isn’t just what two people have together, it’s what two people make together, so of course, it’s never the same.”

Now the problem was the author tried to pack in ALL of the experiences in this story and it just ended up jumbled. Starting from the repressed memory that was awakened by Graham’s death, the complicated relationship with her daughter, wondering about her career and many more. Granted, she was going through inventory of her life, it was hard to keep track of what was Annie’s bone of contention of the day.

The book was mostly from Annie’s perspective but every now and then it would take a detour and be told from other people’s perspectives like Sarah, Lucas and Frieda. This would have been great if their sections were fully fleshed out but it was like we were told a bit and that was it. I wasn’t quite sure what the purpose of that was. And also, we don’t figure out the time period of the book until much later.

I gradually lost interest as the book went on. As mentioned earlier, I think it was all over the place and I didn’t know where to put my focus on. I will say that this actually worked in helping the reader understand how complicated Annie must have been feeling. You could feel the shift when Annie moved from sadness to anger. The last minute addition of a person from Annie’s past was the final thing that made me sure that I did not like this book.

As you have probably guessed, I don’t think I would recommend this book. I am surprised that I even finished this book because it very much felt like a boring conversation I could not get out of. If you do take the chance to read this book, you can’t say you haven’t been warned.

Taynement

Book Related Topics, Fiction, literary fiction, Mystery, thriller, Uncategorized

Book Review: The Survivors by Jane Harper

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Kieran comes home to help his mother pack up his childhood home when his father’s dementia gets really bad. He returns home with his girlfriend and their new child, 12 years after an accident changed the community forever. He still has a lot of guilt around what occurred on the day his brother and his best friend died. During his visit, a body washes up on the beach and a can of worms is opened all over again. What connection could this have, to what happened 12 years ago?

Harper is known for her well written atmospheric mysteries. If you’ve read The Dry, then you’d know exactly what to expect. Survivors is set in a small coastal community that is losing its industries. The tourists aren’t coming as they used to, shops are closing up earlier and during the summer, more people are heading up for greener pastures. When Harper describes the caves in the book and how they behave at high tide, it’s incredibly eerie to imagine.

Ultimately though, this book fell completely flat to me. The mystery was not gripping at all because, the only person the book made me care about was Kieran and I knew it was also not him who committed the murder so I was not at all invested in the mystery. It took me a long time to get into this book, there was a lot of padding and a lot of insinuations before the author finally revealed what happened 12 years ago and it was underwhelming. Also, the more the author tried to plant red herrings to lead us away from the actual murderer, the more I didn’t care. I’m usually really on the alert when reading mystery books and always trying to guess who did it but I just didn’t care with this book.

Harper is usually great with slow burns but this one just seemed so repetitive. I don’t think this book is an accurate representation of how good her mysteries usually are. The end fell flat for me. The murderer is revealed and then the book just abruptly ends. We don’t get an epilogue talking about the community’s reaction to who it was. The book just ends! In fact, it really just fizzled out like the author suddenly got tired of the characters and just couldn’t bear to write another word about these people ever again.

Anyway, even though this review doesn’t sound like it, I read this book in one sitting and thought it was okay. I think you should give her other books a try (The Dry, The Lost Man) though before you get to this one because this is definitely not her best work. Maybe if you read it with a lower expectation than I did, then you’d like it better. Also, I recognize that I’m in the minority with how I felt about this book but that’s okay. I gave this book 3 stars on Goodreads mainly because it is well written even if the story fell flat.

Leggy

Non-Fiction, Self Help

Book Review: Maybe You Should Talk To Someone by Lori Gottlieb

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“But part of getting to know yourself is to unknow yourself—to let go of the limiting stories you’ve told yourself about who you are so that you aren’t trapped by them, so you can live your life and not the story you’ve been telling yourself about your life.”

Lori Gottlieb is a therapist in LA. She starts the book by giving us a brief history of her career which did not start out in medicine. She seems to have lucky breaks aiming to be a journalist but finds herself being a TV writer most notably on Friends and ER. For those who don’t know, ER is a medical show and Gottlieb who was already feeling discontent with her job, finds herself intrigued by medicine and goes to medical school to become a therapist.

Gottlieb goes through a bad breakup that throws her for a loop and she starts seeing a therapist, Wendell who lets her view her life through a different lens. Gottlieb introduces us to four different patients of hers – an obnoxious Hollywood TV producer, a young newlywed woman with terminal cancer, a pessimistic senior citizen who has threatened suicide and a young woman who makes bad dating choices. With these four patients, Gottlieb manages to tell a story about her, us, them and life in general.

“Relationships in life don’t really end, even if you never see the person again. Every person you’ve been close to lives on somewhere inside you. Your past lovers, your parents, your friends, people both alive and dead (symbolically or literally)–all of them evoke memories, conscious or not.”

This book started out slow but I had heard so many good things about it and since I am trying to increase my non fiction reads, I was going to stick it through. Sticking it through was worth it because it was so good. I am so fascinated by the human psyche and this book fed every human psyche appetite I did. I am most in awe of how Gottlieb managed to pick the right four stories with which to tell a story, while also, in some ways wrote a memoir while giving us life nuggets along the way and giving us a window into what life as a therapist is like.

“Peace. it does not mean to be in a place where there is no noise, trouble, or hard work. it means to be in the midst of those things and still be calm in your heart.”

I mentioned memoir because while the book seems like it could be about her patients, she does a good job in talking about herself – flaws and all and we get a good sense of who she is. By no means do I think she tried to make herself look like a saint or a therapist that has it all figured out. I don’t think we got it all (I have read that in her previous books, she has written about how hard it was for her to find a partner – which may give context to why she took the break up so hard) but I do think because the focus was on the patients, she gave enough and didn’t want to make herself the focal point.

“Don’t judge your feelings; notice them. Use them as your map. Don’t be afraid of the truth.”

Now what killed me the entire book was trying to figure out who the Hollywood producer, John was. I was thinking of all the clues dropped and finally gave up which led me to the other thing. If names were changed, I am sure other things were changed so they couldn’t be identified and it makes you wonder, so how much alteration was made to the stories? I also kept wondering how she was able to get permission to tell the stories. Even though this wasn’t the original story she was going to write, it still made me wonder if in some way knowing it would be for a novel, did that impact how she went through the process?

“Above all, I didn’t want to fall into the trap that Buddhists call idiot compassion – an apt phrase, given John’s worldview. In idiot compassion, you avoid rocking the boat to spare people’s feelings, even though the boat needs rocking and your compassion ends up being more harmful than your honesty. People do this with teenagers, spouses, addicts, even themselves. Its opposite is wise compassion, which means caring about the person but also giving him or her a loving truth bomb when needed.”

Overall, I enjoyed this book. I did it on audio and the narration was fantastic. It was very compelling and I felt invested in most of the characters. I took away some nuggets and life lessons from this book. I am not entirely sold on Gottlieb, given her experience in Hollywood and what I mean by that is I don’t know if we know her fully as a person. I think she knows the machine and how to engineer it and I am okay with it. If this was a true proper memoir, then maybe it would bother me. Not surprisingly, the book has been optioned for TV by Eva Longoria. If you are looking for part memoir, part self help, part sounds like fiction with good storytelling – pick this one up.

Taynement

Book Related Topics, Chick-Lit, literary fiction, movie related topics, romance, Uncategorized

So, It’s Valentine’s Week And You Just Watched Bridgerton – 5 Romance Read Recommendations

Bridgerton hasn’t left Netflix’s Top 10 since it debuted in December, and it proves once again that I’m right when I say, they need to make more romantic comedies/dramas! This made me long for my secondary school days when I used to consume romance novels that were highly inappropriate for me. It’s also Valentine’s week so no better time to revel in love than this.

Below, I have 5 romance book recommendations for you and I hope you enjoy them. I also hope that you love and are loved forever. Happy Valentine’s day, everybody!

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  1. A League of Extraordinary Women series by Evie Dunmore

The desire to be free is an instinct deeply ingrained in every living thing. Trap any wild animal, and it will bite off its own paw to be free again. Capture a man, and breaking free will become his sole mission. The only way to dissuade a creature from striving for its freedom is to break it … I, for my part, am not prepared to break half the population of Britain.

There are two books already out in this series and one expected to be published this year. The author is on a one book a year schedule for now. This series follows the lives of the suffrages in the 1800s as they navigate the politics of equality and of course, fall in love! The first book (Bringing Down the Duke), which I’ve read, follows Annabelle Archer who in exchange for a chance to study at the University of Oxford must support the women’s rights movement. Her task is to recruit men of influence to champion their cause, so she sets her sights on Sebastian Devereux. Sebastian has to find a wife of equal footing, not a commoner who he could never make his Duchess but they both can’t resist the consuming attraction they feel for each other!

2. Daddy-Long-Legs by Jean Webster

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“Also—But what’s the use of arguing with a man? You belong, Mr. Smith, to a sex devoid of a sense of logic. To bring a man into line, there are just two methods: one must either coax or be disagreeable. I scorn to coax men for what I wish. Therefore, I must be disagreeable.”

This book I’m about to introduce you to was published in 1912 but reads like it could have been published today. It talks about women’s rights and religion and ideas about life that are just so amazing and incredible. It’s really fascinating to me that women have been fighting these battles for hundreds of years and we’re still not there yet.

Anyway, this is an epistolary novel. It’s written completely in the form of letters between Jerusha Abott and an unknown benefactor. Jerusha has spent her entire life at an orphanage and is given a chance by an unknown millionaire benefactor to go to college, completely paid for and with an allowance, with the only catch being that she write to him. She writes to him throughout college and of course, romance ensues. This book is free on Kindle so take advantage of that. I thoroughly enjoyed this book! Don’t let the year it was published keep you from giving this amazing book a chance. It has so many amazing quotes, I wish I could post them all!

3. The Boyfriend Project by Farrah Rochon

Samiah Brooks just discovered with the rest of the world via twitter that her boyfriend has been cheating on her with two other women. Even though she is humiliated, she and the other girls get together and make a pact to focus on themselves for 6 months – no men, no dates, no romance. Samiah decides to use this much needed break to focus on her career and launch the app she’s been wanting to, when in comes Daniel Collins. Samiah is torn between upholding her part of the bargain or just giving Collins a chance. Collins is also not who he claims to be, is he a great guy or pretending to be? This book has a black female protagonist so check it out if that’s something you’re interested in!

4. The Ex Talk by Rachel Lynn Solomon

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Shay Goldstein has been working at her Seattle public radio station for the past 10 years. When the struggling station needs a new concept, Shay comes up with a show about two exes talking about love and giving out relationship advice. Her boss is ecstatic about the idea and asks her to do it with her least favorite coworker Dominic. They already clash like exes so why not make some money off of it? Their show is an immediate hit and as these two opposites pretend to be exes to save their jobs, will they fall in love? (Yes, of course they will!)

5. The Bridgerton Series by Julia Quinn:

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Immediately I finished the first series on Netflix, I immediately went to my library to request the second book – The Viscount Who Loved Me. It was a delight to read. I love that this series focuses on women who are as strong as they could possibly be, in the time period its set. They’re smart, witty and trying to create as good a world as they can possibly get. If you’re in a Bridgerton slump, just remember that there are plenty of heroes in this series waiting for your reading pleasure.

Hope you find something to read from these selections. Once again, Happy Valentine’s day!

Leggy

Fiction, literary fiction, scifi

Book Review: Followers by Megan Angelo

Followers by Megan Angelo

“I’m going to tell you the same thing I’ve been telling you since you were ten years old, Orla,” she said quietly, like she was trying not to embarrass her. “It’s not good to be a follower.”

This book shuttles across two time periods – 2015 and 2051.

In 2015, we are introduced to two friends, Orla and Floss in New York. Orla is a blogger who writes about celebrities but what she really wants to be is a book author. Her roommate, Floss simply wants to be a celebrity. Orla comes up with a plan that works and she orchestrates Floss being a celebrity including managing Floss’s social media accounts. All is well, except Orla and Floss’s methods are not exactly kosher and some people get hurt along the way.

In 2051, we are in a new world post “The Spill” – when everyone’s secrets online were revealed. The internet is no more and the Government controls a lot of things including government appointed celebrities. We meet Marlow in California. She is one of the popular government appointed celebrities in this new world, with 12 million followers. Being a government appointed celeb means you have a sponsorship, a camera on you 24/7, your partner is chosen, your eggs are harvested and you are told when you can have kids – everything is planned for you and you have no say in your life.

Marlow finds out a kink in her family history and goes on a quest to break free and find out the truth. Followers is the story of how the lives of the mentioned characters cross paths. Each living different lives but fueled by fulfilling their strong heart’s desire.

I loved this book. I think it was written very well and it was hard to believe that it was a debut novel. The premise was a stand out and although it was fiction (with some dystopian sci-fi sprinkled into it), it hit really close to home because I could very easily see it being a reality. Angelo explores a world where being famous at all costs, no matter who it hurts, is the goal. She explored how important social media/followers were on this quest. (Sound familiar?)

The Spill is something I have always feared will happen someday when it comes to messaging systems like Whatsapp,imessage etc. Imagine the government spilling your secrets by sending out the worst things you have ever said or done. I don’t think we ever got a full explanation on what caused “The Spill”, we were given an overload on the power grid but I wasn’t fully satisfied with it.

I felt like all the characters were very well and fully developed – we do get to know about Orla’s family and childhood – and Angelo kept them consistent. For every action made by each character, you were not surprised because it was on brand with what we knew of them. Angelo did a fantastic job of creating this futuristic world that I felt like I could imagine it and actually see it.

Overall, I think the book made you stop and think about the dark realities of social media and all that it comes with. I think towards the end it dragged a bit and you could tell she was trying to wrap things up as neatly as possible. It’s really hard to have a perfect ending to a book these days, so I didn’t begrudge her the ending. If you are looking for an escapist, easy novel, this probably isn’t it but for a well written, well thought out and slightly dark novel – this is it.

Taynement

Chick-Lit, literary fiction, romance

Book Review: One To Watch by Kate Stayman-London

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“Everyone wanted so many things from her—to believe in herself and see her own true beauty, but not to be conceited, to know her place. Be more than your looks, but never speak out of turn. Don’t be defined by love, but remember, you’re nothing without it. Be a princess. Find your prince. You don’t need a man to complete you. Stand on your own two feet.”

Bea Schumacher is a plus size fashion blogger with a moderate following. She has amazing friends and a loyal family but still thinks she’s not good enough for romantic love. One day, while watching Main Squeeze – a hit reality bachelor-esque type show, with her best friend, she writes a blog about how there are no diverse body types or races on the show. Her post goes viral and the show ends up having the worst finale rating in its history.

After the season, she gets a call from newly promoted Main Squeeze producer, Lauren, asking her to be the next star of the show. Lauren assures her that she can either actually use the show to find love or just have fun. Bea goes on a journey of self discovery and love as she embarks on this once in a lifetime opportunity to date 25 guys on national television.

“To have been that hurt, to feel that afraid, and to know that the only way you can be really, fully happy is to risk going through it all again? It’s a terrifying choice to make.”

The year before Bea is launched into national fame, she finally got to spend time with her best friend, Ray, who she had been in love with since forever. When Ray flies into California, they have sex, he seemed so into her and then he ghosted her. Bea is still reeling from the effects of that happening to her so when she goes on the TV show, she goes in with low self esteem and still believing she is in love with Ray.

The journey Bea undergoes on national television is quite remarkable. She must try to love herself and believe that the men on the show actually want to be with her. She has used her fatness all her life to make excuses for why her love life isn’t great but now given the choice of actually falling in love with 25 men hand picked just for her, she is forced to take a closer look at herself as a person.

“You can live a long life never being hurt—and never quite being happy. If that’s what you want.”

Reading this book’s blurb, it’s being marketed as a body positivity book with a kick arse heroine but I have to put a disclaimer for anyone wanting to read this book because of that. The heroine is very insecure about her size and people’s reaction to it. So, if you’re intending to read this book to see a very confident plus size person, this was not it. Bea puts up a good facade on her blog where she pretends to have it all together but deep down she is riddled with insecurities and it even took her awhile to believe that the men on the show really liked her. So consider that a heads up.

“I want this more than you could possibly imagine. But the idea of saying that out loud felt terrifying. Like giving voice to this secret piece of herself would allow everyone in the world to tell her just how foolish she was for wanting something so laughably out of reach.”

Overall, I enjoyed reading One To Watch. This was a well written debut novel and I can’t wait to read what the author writes next. I thought this book wasn’t talked about enough last year and wanted to draw attention to it. The reality show part of the book was very well written. I actually couldn’t wait to find out who she’d end up with.

I gave this book 3 stars on Goodreads. I was going to give it 4 stars but I did not like the guy she ended up with. Can’t talk about that though because I don’t want to spoil the book for you guys! If you do read it, come back and talk to me on twitter (@2nightstands) or leave me a comment below! Have you already read it? Let me know what you thought below. Have a great reading week everybody!

Leggy

Fiction, literary fiction

Book Review: Anxious People by Frederick Backman

Anxious People | Book by Fredrik Backman | Official Publisher Page | Simon  & Schuster

“This story is about a lot of things, but mostly about idiots. So it needs saying from the outset that it’s always very easy to declare that other people are idiots, but only if you forget how idiotically difficult being human is.”

It’s an open house and 8 people are at the apartment viewing when a bank robber bursts in and takes them hostage…or so it seems. While the cops – which consists of a father and son duo – are figuring out how to free them, the strangers pass the time by starting up conversations, learning about each other and figuring out that ultimately, they are all the same – anxious human beings who are just trying to figure life out and make it work.

“Some people accept that they will never be free of their anxiety, they just learn to carry it. She tried to be one of them. She told herself that was why you should always be nice to other people, even idiots, because you never know how heavy their burden is.”

I recently declared Backman my favorite author after being knocked out (in a good way) by Beartown and Us Against Them. He has such a way with words that it’s easy to forget that it’s a translation from Swedish. His writing is so poignant to me that I was excited to read this and it pained me that this was my first Backman novel that didn’t blow me away and honestly that is not to say that it still wasn’t good, it just did not blow me away.

“We need to be allowed to convince ourselves that we’re more than the mistakes we made yesterday. That we are all of our next choices, too, all of our tomorrows.”

It’s difficult to navigate and find focus in a book when there are a large number of characters involved but Backman handled it well. I felt like I got a good understanding of the characters, their background and the anxieties they carried. As always, there were lots of quotables that any adult who is adulting would appreciate. I do think he did a good job of conveying a wide array of anxieties that could be felt by different groups of people (old, young, married, gay etc) via his characters. I like how he made them vulnerable and it felt like the reader was privy to their innermost thoughts and made them relatable.

All that being said, one of the things I enjoy about his books are how I get so sucked in and invested in the characters and I did not get that with this book and this could be because there were so many of them. The closest was the cop-son but even then it felt like a storyline that was never finished. Why mention his sister if it was not leading anywhere?

Our lives are bars of soap that we keep losing hold of; the moment we relax, they drift off and fall in love and get broken, all in the wink of an eye.

It took me some time to get into the book. I started out reading and then I switched to audio (the narrator is fantastic!). I do think the book starts slow and the “bank robbery” sneaks up on you like a surprise. I don’t enjoy works of art that try to be too smart for their own good and at some point in the book, I felt that way. I don’t read Backman for twists and turns and gotcha moments, I am mostly there for the humanity.

In summary, I am glad I pushed through and made it to the end. All the elements of a good book were in this, it just didn’t quite come together perfectly and sometimes lost its way and seemed a bit disjointed. One minute, you could be laughing and the next wondering where the story is going. I acknowledge that I am grading Backman on a higher curve – compared to his other books, it doesn’t measure up but as a stand alone, it is a decent book. If you have ever wanted to read a Backman book, I would suggest not starting with this and starting instead with Beartown.

Taynement

Book Related Topics, Uncategorized

Our 2021 Reading Goals + Giveaway Winner!

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Leggy

Happy New Year! I know 2020 was a year like no other and plain horrible for a lot of people but I hope the holidays brought you some reprieve from real life. Last year my Goodreads challenge was set at 70, like it always is and I read 73 books. Not bad, even though I thought I was going to read waaay more. But after Thanksgiving I could barely get myself to sit down and read. I enjoy setting book challenges because it pushes me to turn to reading instead of the TV during my down times. I know the pandemic affected so many people’s reading lives but I hope any reading you managed to do last year brought you some happiness in the middle of this utter shit show.

I’m still setting my Goodreads challenge to 70 books but I do not have any specific goals for myself besides that. I really like my reading life, I read diversely and enjoy every genre so I think i’m just going to relax and go with the flow this year.

Taynement

As I said a 100 times last year, it just wasn’t a good reading year for me. There was so much stress and real life things going on and I could never really get myself to focus. I started out really well, enjoying the books I read and even gave a 5 star rating during that time till the world turned upside down.

I have the same book goal every year – 35. I am not tied to any number of books to read because there are no rules but like Leggy said, I set a goal number because it pushes me to read. So times where I went to watch a show or read my magazines, I’ll make the choice to read. Reading overall enhances my life, so it’s something I want to keep doing. Doesn’t hurt that I enjoy it, so its not a chore.

Last year, I said I wanted to read a classic or two and didn’t. This year I am going to lean into enjoying my love for new fiction and read as many as I can. I do want to try incorporating backlists into my TBR pile (I’ve been wanting to read Silver Sparrow for so long!). I give up on diversifying my genres to include fantasy and sci fi. I will try though on the non fiction front.

Overall, I hope I read many books that give me joy and I wish the same for you. Happy New (Reading) Year!!

GIVEAWAY WINNERS

Now for the exciting part.

*Drumroll please*

The winner is:

Pasha!!!!!! 

Congratulations!! You win a $50 Amazon gift card and you can buy as many books as you like! Please DM us your email address to receive your gift. Thank you all for entering. We appreciate all the love and support. Till the next giveaway!

Taynement & Leggy

Book Related Topics, christmas

Our Best and Worst Books of 2020 + Holiday Giveaway!

We can’t believe the year has come to an end. Everyone dealt with the year differently and the way it affected our reading lives was also varied. For some, it was a coping mechanism and they buried themselves between the pages of books. For some (like Taynement), they couldn’t focus enough and their reading suffered and for some (like Leggy), nothing changed and their reading was the same. At the end of the day, reading isn’t about numbers and is about whatever you get out of it as long as it’s a positive experience and we hope reading (and our blog) was a positive space for you this year.

As always, we share with you our best and worst reads of the year and hope to share good tidings by doing our annual giveaway. Rules of the giveaway will be at the end of this post. Be sure to read and enter and good luck!!!

Taynement’s Best:

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This was one of the first books I read this year and I thoroughly enjoyed it. Who knew that the Black Lives Matter movement would make a dent in the summer but the book dealt with race through the lens of a black girl in her twenties, trying to figure out her life and enjoying her youth and an obsessive white woman living in her privilegde bubble. It was a pretty good debut book and I am glad Reid got to get some shine before the world started burning. It has already been optioned as a movie by Lena Waithe and I fully expect Reese Witherspoon to play the white woman, Alix – hehe. You can read my review on it here.

Other favorites:

  • Open Book by Jessica Simpson (It was a close tie for my favorite read. Review here)
  • The Most Fun We Ever Had by Claire Lombardo (Review here)
  • Transcendent Kingdom by Yaa Gyasi
  • Black Sunday by Tola Rotimi Abraham (Review here)

Leggy’s Best:

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When I reviewed this book back in June, I said this would definitely make my top 5 of the year. Well, it landed at the very top. I absolutely adored this book, I thought it was well written and every single word belonged there. I’m sad that it came out during such a terrible year because I would have loved to hear this author speak about this one at my local bookstore. My review is here if you want to take a look!

Other favorites:

  • Transcendent Kingdom by Yaa Gyasi (review here)
  • Troubled Blood by Robert Galbraith (aka, J. K . Rowling, I absolutely loved this one. It’s a tad bit too long but it’s my favorite of the Strike books so far)
  • Maybe You Should Talk to Someone: A Therapist, Her Therapist, and Our Lives Revealed by Lori Gottlieb (I was bawling at the gym as I listened to the end of this book)
  • Hidden Valley Road: Inside the Mind of an American Family by Robert Kolker (review here)
  • The Cradle series by Will Wight (This is my go-to series every time life gets tough, they’re so good which is why I leave them for my reading slumps. I talked about them here)

Taynement’s worst:

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It was a chore to read. It was trying to outsmart itself. I derived no pleasure from it and it had a twist at the end that had no effect on me – which means, I had checked out. We both read this book and you can read our thoughts here!

Leggy’s Worst:

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This is apparently the only book I gave 1 star this year so I’m going to go with this. I think this book had the propensity to be fun (which is why we picked it for one of our chitchats this year) but it was absolutely terrible. I found so much of it so problematic – the way sexual assault was handled, the way forgiveness was wielded as a crime canceler, I just found it ridiculous. Also, it was so badly written. I remember reading the first 10% on my kindle, putting it down and texting Taynement to see if this was an actual real book. You can read our thoughts on it here.

GIVEAWAY RULES

Okay guys our rules are simple – Leave a comment on here, letting us know your favorite and worst book of the year AND interact with us on Twitter (@2nightstands) or Instagram (@nightstands2). It could be a like, retweet, comment, repost – your choice. We will announce the winner when we return next year and the winner gets a $50 Amazon gift card. That’s enough to purchase a couple of books of your choice!

This is our last post for the year so – Merry Christmas! Happy Holidays! and wishing an amazing New Year to all our readers! Here’s to a better reading year in 2021! Thank you for all your support!

Taynement & Leggy

Book Related Topics, christmas, Fiction, literary fiction, Non-Fiction, Self Help

‘Tis The Season – Gift Ideas For The Book Lovers In Your Life

Wow! We can’t believe that Christmas is round the corner. The world is still burning all around us but the fact that we survived this hellish year, only means we deserve an actual Merry Christmas for real. In a bid to make the holiday as close to normal as possible, most of us are still planning to give gifts. Good thing gifts are socially distant conducive. As we do every year, we have curated a list to make gift giving easier for the book lover in your life.

Cookbooks

Cookbooks are great to gift because everyone loves a good cookbook even if they have no plans of cooking from it. Pictured above are some of the cookbooks we loved this year. A lot of the recipes are easy to make with ingredients you can get from your local grocery store so anyone can cook through these or just admire the pictures and dream about cooking through them!

Here are some cookbooks we recommend:

  • The Full Plate by Ayesha Curry (this is very basic and the recipes are all under 1 hour but utterly delicious!)
  • Jubilee: Recipes from Two Centuries of African American Cooking by Toni Tipton-Martin
  • Modern Comfort Food by Ina Garten (she’s a household name and she knows good food!)
  • Home Style Cookery by Matty Matheson
  • The Rise: Black Cooks and the Soul of American Food: A Cookbook by Marcus Samuelsson

Coffee Table Books:

Noone is visiting but because we are spending so much time at home, it’s always good to have aesthetically pleasing, conversation starters ready for when people do start coming over: There were so many coffee table books we loved this year apart from the two pictured above! Some of them are listed below:

Celebrating Blackness

With the kind of year we’ve had, this would be a great time to gift books that’ll help people learn a little more about their neighbors, and it doesn’t have to be very heavy books about race. Support and gift them books from their favorite black authors:

Fiction

Non-Fiction

  • I Don’t Want to Die Poor by Michael Arceneaux
  • Wow, No Thank You by Samantha Irby
  • Any Black Classic like anything from Maya Angelou, James Baldwin, Langston Hughes. Support black art!

Reading Related Knick Knacks

  • Reading Rests
  • Reading Lights
  • Holiday Lettering Artist Pens
  • Or this amazing reading journal from Etsy! (Also, there’s always collectibles in your loved ones’ favorite books that are widely available on sites like Etsy!)
  • They love Harry Potter? Get them this amazing collectible quidditch set!
  • Love Game of Thrones? Get them this miniature Game of Thrones iron throne!
  • From stickers, to bookmarks to stationeries. Visit The Seasonal Pages and you are sure to find something at such affordable prices (Support Small Businesses!)

Good Ol’ Fiction and Non-Fiction Books

The first step to choosing a book for a loved one is finding out what they actually enjoy reading. Find out the genre they’re most comfortable in, the last thing they read from that genre that they actually loved then try to find them something in the vein. There are so many blogs (LIKE OURS!) that are great resources for reading different reviews and making a suggestion. There’s always nonfiction books on topics they’d enjoy like TV shows, books from their favorite personalities (podcasters, reality show characters, athletes etc.) and if all else fails, get a gift card to their favorite book store (Shop locally if possible!)

Self Help

As we’re getting into the new year, a lot of people might be interested in reading books that might help them achieve whatever goals they’re currently setting for the next year. Self help is always a safe go to as a gift. Just be careful what titles you gift them! LOL.

Here are some of our favorite self help books from 2020:

  • Buy Yourself the F*cking Lilies: And Other Rituals to Fix Your Life, from Someone Who’s Been There by Tara Schuster
  • Wisdom from a Humble Jellyfish: And Other Self-Care Rituals from Nature by Rani Shah (considering we’re currently living through a pandemic and are looking for different ways to protect our mental health and develop a self care routine, I highly recommend this one!)
  • Joy at Work: Organizing Your Professional Life by Mary Kondo and Scott Sonenshein
  • Untamed by Glennon Doyle

For The Nostalgic (and possibly older reader in your life)

Book Sets of Old Favorites like Tom Clancy, Ken Follet, Mary Higgins Clark etc.

Don’t Forget Yourself!

While you are shopping for everyone else, don’t forget to get yourself something. We are all hoping for a better year and whatever you need to help you plan, read better or remind yourself of the bad ass you are, here are some journals, notebooks (if you would like to take notes/quotes from the many books on your TBR list) and inspirational cards that are great gift ideas.

Hope this was helpful and you find some great ideas on here. Let us know if you have any questions or got some inspiration from the list. Happy Holidays!!

Taynement & Leggy