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Memoirs, Uncategorized

Book Review: Inside Out by Demi Moore

Inside Out by Demi Moore

“Unfortunately, even as we try to submerge our pain deep down inside, it finds a way to bubble up: Through addiction. Through anxiety. Through eating disorders. Through insomnia. Through all the different PTSD symptoms and self-destructive behaviors that assault survivors experience for years on end. These incidents may last minutes or hours, but their impact lasts a lifetime.”

My love for celebrity memoirs continue, this time with Demi Moore’s Inside Out. Moore is famously known for being an actress who at some point was the highest paid actress in Hollywood. She is also known for her high profile marriages to both Bruce Moore and Ashton Kutcher. These days, she is living a lower key life and the last thing I saw her in was as a guest actor on Empire (alongside her daughter). This is after a publicized entry into rehab and the news that her daughters were not speaking to her. We all know there are two sides to every story so I was curious to know what her take on everything was.

“Taking responsibility for your own reaction is the gateway to freedom”

To begin, Moore gave us all the ingredients that is required for a memoir. She came raw and was quite fair when saying all sides of the story. But I think what elevated her book was you could tell that despite her struggles and hard childhood due to terrible parents, she took responsibility for her actions. You could tell that she had learned a lot from everything she had been through and done some work on herself and for herself, including forgiveness and letting go – which in her case after you read her story, you will admit was a hard feat.

“What if everything hadn’t happened to me but had happened for me? What I learned is that how we hold our experiences is everything.”

I have mentioned before that I usually do not like the childhood stories in memoirs but I didn’t mind it here. I think it’s because honestly, her parents were horrible. Particularly, her mom. I don’t want to give any spoilers but there is a chapter that details a horrific thing her mother did and it reminded me that it’s unfortunate that anyone can be a parent. Moore started early in acting and it was probably a dangerous combination, having all that dysfunction coupled with fame. She talks about her issues with her body and never feeling good enough. Throughout the book it seemed like she traded one addiction for another.

“I have since come to understand that there is no such thing as someone “loving you enough” to be better. People can only be as good as they are, no matter how much they love you.”

I hate to admit that when a celebrity has a high profile romance, that is usually what I look forward to in their memoir. I like to know what the behind the scenes was like and what was true or not. Moore did not skimp out on this with us. From her first marriage to her first husband, Freddy Moore, at age 18 (she mentions how she cheated on him the night before their wedding). To her whirlwind romance with Bruce and how it degenerated into ships in passing, even though their third child was conceived even after Bruce had asked for a divorce. Though she mentioned a lot about their union, I still think she kept some things from us, probably as respect for him and the good relationship they have.

Her story with Ashton really sounded great in the beginning stages but in hindsight, I think she probably liked how he made her feel vs. the realities of who he was. Not a good combination when you consider the deep insecurity and trauma she’d carried around. She went against her morals and did things with Ashton she didn’t want to. Including a threesome and forgiving him for cheating. Her obsession to have a baby was also so heartbreaking.

“They divorce and years later the dad mellow as men tend to when they get older. You know the kind. They’re assholes when their young then they get sweet when they age. It’s the mother who seems bitter and unpleasant by comparison but, he’s the one who made her”

I liked how Demi wrapped up her story and how she managed to clear some stories up about her perception and that infamous nude pregnant picture (there is a whole backstory to that). I hope the internal peace she seems to have found is genuine because it took a lot to get there. She sure has seen some things in life. As always, I recommend this in audio (read by Demi herself), just as I recommend this book. A good story on overcoming struggles – both man made and life lottery given – and getting out the other side. I gave this 4 stars on Goodreads.

Taynement

Book Related Topics, Chick-Lit, Fiction, We Chit Chat

We Chit Chat: The Blessed Girl by Angela Makholwa

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Plot: Bontle Tau is living a luxurious and largely fake life in Johannesburg, South Africa. She has a gang of admiring older boyfriends who pay her rent, send her on vacations and even secure her high level construction contracts even though she doesn’t have a construction company. She narrates what life is like living the life of a “blessee”

 

Taynement: So, The Blessed Girl…lol

Leggy: Is this an actual book?

Taynement: I don’t want to be harsh but it could have been a PDF fan fiction, but let’s go back to how we ended up with this book. Given everything going on in the world, we wanted to read a fun book by a black author. We’ve been intentional with our chit chats. They’ve mostly been either black or female authors. Enter Blessed Girl.

Leggy: I think we took the fun read waaay to the left. I was actually excited to read this one, but once I downloaded it from my library and read the first 10% I put it down. It was so badly written.

Taynement: Same. It was such a fun cover till I read the first page.

Leggy: I actually would have never finished this book if we didn’t have to do this chit chat.

Taynement: I still don’t honestly know how to categorize this book because it was badly written but I do think there was fun in it? I could see the vision and the format was like it was her writing in her journal and we were the journal? Or it was a video journal and we were the viewers?

Leggy: I didn’t find fun in it. I actually found it very problematic and it ended exactly how I thought it would end. Because obviously we have to punish the “prostitute” by giving her HIV. There was nothing fun in this book for me. I’m also not going to recommend this book to anyone so there’s going to be a lot of spoilers in this chit chat. Can I talk about the author’s treatment of a full blown rapist in this book? He raped a whole 14 year old and they spent the entire time talking about letting him see the son that resulted from this rape instead of discussing the fact that he is an actual rapist!

Taynement: You’re right, I think I’m just reaching. Listen from the moment she said Donald Trump was her idol, I immediately went to search when this book was published and it was 2017.

Leggy: They just threw in the rape part to “explain” why she was the way she was? Fun would be just a materialistic woman who likes money and fascinated us by her exploits. This just turned in a Tyler Perry movie.

Taynement: I think she was wayy too easy on her mother also.

Leggy: Her mother was TRASH!

Taynement: I couldn’t decide if the author wanted us to be mad or sympathetic towards her because I would never speak to that kind of mother again.

Leggy: You handed your 14 year old daughter to a grown man! And then made a case for why this grown man can come back 13 years later and be a great arse dad. What the fuck?! Who approved this crap?! I kept getting really angry reading this book.

Taynement: And his wife supported it. Ewww

Leggy: Also, the main character was crap. I sympathized with everything she had to go through but I didn’t like her. Honestly nobody in this book was likable and I think to pull off a book like this you need a likable protagonist.

Taynement: I think her best friend was – the one with the steady boyfriend but she got no development in the book.

Leggy: Honestly, that girl just came off as a stereotype to juxtapose her “good” character with the main character’s “reckless” life.

Taynement: And of course, trust the abusive man to be Nigerian in a book set in South Africa

Leggy: So many Nigerian oil barons sprinkled in this book, Nigerian artist, even the salon the girl frequented was owned by a Chimamanda. Anyway, I knew she’d get HIV. I mean how can a badly written book get worse than to introduce HIV? The ultimate punishment of wayward women? *rolls eyes*

Taynement: I honestly didn’t see any twist coming. I was too engrossed in how bad this book was and how it got published.

Leggy: Immediately Mr. Emmanuel asked to not wear a condom, I knew it. They didn’t mention through the entire book if she was having protected sex or not so for that to be mentioned specifically, I knew he had HIV.

Taynement: Also, what was the point of telling us about the cheating with her aunt’s husband if nothing came of that plot line?

Leggy: I kept waiting for her aunty to catch her and nothing happened. She even ended up starting a business with her aunty. It was like once they punished her with HIV, her sins were forgiven and she became a whole new person.

Taynement: And her ex-husband never stopped loving her and was fine with everything. I didn’t understand why or how he was still mad at her mother but not her. How do you forget that she is materialistic and only now open to returning to you now that you are successful.

Leggy: Even HIV. The protagonist cheated on him while they were married, lied to him and deceived him but still, love conquered all!

I wonder what the publisher saw in this book and thought it was worth publishing. Honestly, I can list so many Nollywood movies that are better than this book and they didn’t even end with the girls getting HIV.

Taynement: Probably wanted to explore the idea of the blesser/blessee culture but needless to say, this book was a fail. Don’t get caught up by the cover, skip this one people!

Leggy: We didn’t even talk about her brother/son’s drug problems. For a short book, this book sure had a lot of story lines.

Taynement: Someone who got rehabbed in 30 days.

Leggy: And suddenly was a drug free, happy child chilling with his rapist father and his family. We have to export this fantastic rehab to the world. Anyway, like Tayne said, skip this one. I wouldn’t recommend it. Gave it 1 star on Goodreads.

 

Leggy & Taynement

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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

Book Review: Big Summer by Jennifer Weiner

Big Summer | Book by Jennifer Weiner | Official Publisher Page ...

 

“The trick of the internet, I had learned, was not being unapologetically yourself or completely unfiltered; it was mastering the trick of appearing that way. It was spiking your posts with just the right amount of real… which meant, of course, that you were never being real at all.”

Six years after the night that ended their friendship and inspired Daphne to start her blog, Drue Cavanaugh walks back into Daphne’s life and asks her to be her maid of honor. Drue was always the one who had everything – money, beauty, brains- but has finally alienated every friend she’s ever had with her horrible attitude and entitlement. Daphne is no longer the shy kid from high school who did anything for Drue’s friendship, she has built a plus-size blog from the ground up with a very good following and is about to land the biggest contract of her life.

Daphne recognizes that Drue’s wedding guest list is going to be filled with the best of the best and will be taking place in the most beautiful mansion in Cape Cod, so she decides to take that opportunity to boost her career. When a murder happens right before the wedding that throws everyone for a loop and lands Daphne on the suspect list, she’s forced to reevaluate her history with Drue and the reason she was invited in the first place.

“I was going to eat to nourish myself, I was going to exercise to feel strong and healthy, I was going to let go of the idea of ever being thin, once and for all, and live my life in the body that I had.”

Weiner’s writing style is great in this book. She tackles female friendships really well. Some are complex and toxic, while others are complex and yet very healthy. The high school friendship between Daphne and Drue was very intriguing to read about, it was almost like reading about an emotionally abusive relationship. Drue made Daphne feel disposable so she worked even harder to please Drue and maintain her place in Drue’s life. She would do Drue’s home works, take her verbal stings and subject herself to so many different diets just trying to fit into Drue’s squad in high school.

I loved reading about Daphne’s road to accepting her body for what it was, trying to be strong and healthy and discarding the idea that she had to be thin to be worthy of love. I love that Weiner showed that loving yourself is never a straight trending upward line. There are dips and days when we just don’t feel that love and loving oneself is a continuous and never stopping active exercise.

“When you’re a hammer, everything looks like a nail. When you’re angry, everything looks like a target. There are a lot of angry people in the world. And these days, they’re all online.”

The mystery in this book absolutely sucks. Yes, this book is part thriller/mystery but it was so unnecessary, not well executed and just felt a bit ridiculous. I think this book should have just been straight contemporary female fiction. Big Summer had so much going for it until the murder happened and then everything completely fell apart for me. The murder happened so late in the book that it just felt like an after thought and then the entire book is overtaken by an investigation and our protagonist is suddenly being questioned for murder.

Also, this book absolutely didn’t need a romantic angle. It just felt like it was trying to be everything at once – contemporary, romance, mystery, thriller, social commentary. We don’t need to validate or prove that the fat protagonist is worthy by giving her a man and that is exactly what the whole thing felt like. It was literally instalove, they fell in love in a day and he suddenly moves across states to be with her within a week. It was just ridiculous and unbelievable.

“It’s almost religious, that belief, that faith that a piece of silk or denim or cotton jersey could disguise your flaws and amplify your assets and make you both invisible and seen, just another normal woman in the world; a woman who deserves to get what she wants.”

I really wanted to love this one because I picked it up after hearing the author speak about this book and loving everything she had to say about social media and body acceptance. I enjoyed the first 50% of this book and thought it was well written, the last 50% didn’t work for me. I ended up giving this book 2 stars on Goodreads.

 

Leggy

Fiction

Book Review: It’s Not All Downhill From Here by Terry McMillan

 

It's Not All Downhill From Here by Terry McMillan: 9781984823748 |  PenguinRandomHouse.com: Books

“That it is still important to keep improving our lives, even at our age, and we should treat ourselves better and stop acting like our best years are behind us”

Loretha is about to be 68 and by all accounts, has a great life. She is in a happy marriage, has a group of friends she can count on and is financially stable thanks to her businesses and joint property she owns with her husband. While her life is great, it is not perfect as she has a strained relationship with her daughter who is an alcoholic and with her twin sister who sees her as competition.

When Lo, as her friends and family call her, suffers a huge loss, her life is turned upside down and she finds herself having to re-calibrate and realize that her life isn’t over and she would have to make the best out of the rest of her years.

I have this loyalty to Terry McMillan. I have fond memories of her earlier books. They were unapologetically black and dealt with adult issues. But lately, her recent books just haven’t hit my literary spot and this includes this book.

I appreciate McMillan writing about an older generation because society tends to treat them as invisible. But besides that there was not much that I liked about the book. While I kept turning the pages, I kept trying to pin point what was not working about this book and it came to me that it was outdated. McMillan writes exactly how you would imagine she talks to her friends in person.

For example, she uses the term “hussy” a lot (slang term like hoe or bitch used in a friendly way). For a seasoned writer it’s surprising that she sounds amateurish on this. Another example was an African hairdresser who she described as “could be Lupita Nyong’o’s twin, had a shaved head, always wore African beads and went barefoot”. I mean…could we be any more cliche?

I didn’t particularly like any of the characters but Lo made me want to pull my hair out. She seemed like one of those people whose worth is tied to being able to provide for people. Through out the entire book, I can’t count how much she gave to a lot of the characters that popped up along the way. And not just a few dollars here and there. Things like cars, houses, free rental apartments in her buildings. It really annoyed me because I couldn’t tell if she couldn’t tell she was being used or she just enjoyed it.

On the flip side, I am trying to remember books I have read that had older subject matters to make sure what I am calling outdated isn’t just a generational disconnect, where I am not the audience. I will say though, that the issues that were tackled in the book where real life issues such as health, death, abuse, mental illness.

Once again, I am always here for content that recognizes older people because just because they are old doesn’t mean that they should be treated as dead. A lot of older people still lead full lives and want to make the best of their time especially with the lice experiences acquired, so I have no issues with the characters being older.

This book got 2 stars from me. It was just not well written and not the most compelling. If you are looking to have a mindless read just as a filler, it may work but if you would like a fulfilled reading experience, I am not sure this will meet that need.

Taynement

 

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

Book Review : The Vanishing Half by Brit Bennett

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“You can escape a town, but you cannot escape blood. Somehow, the Vignes twins believed themselves capable of both.”

The Vignes twin sisters – Stella and Desiree were born in a small town in Louisiana called Mallard filled with very light skinned black people. At age 16, they run away to New Orleans to escape their small town and live bigger lives. After a year in new Orleans, their lives completely diverge. They both go on to live completely different lives – one passing as white, while the other marries the darkest black man she can find. Bennett takes us through the years, weaving together multiple strands and generations of these women, from Louisiana to Boston to California, she tells a remarkable story of trying to survive while black in America.

“There were many ways to be alienated from someone, few to actually belong”

Bennett describes the town of Mallard so well that it is almost a character in this book (I googled “is Mallard a real town?” even though the logical part of my brain knew it wasn’t). This town is a black community with a very unusual beginning:

The idea arrived to Alphonse Decuir in 1848, as he stood in the sugarcane fields he’d inherited from the father who’d once owned him. The father now dead, the now-freed son wished to build something on those acres of land that would last for centuries to come. A town for men like him, who would never be accepted as white but refused to be treated like Negroes. A third place.

So they strived to create a better negro with each generation breeding specifically for white features – skin lighter, hair wavier, eyes colored but this still didn’t inoculate them from the hands of racism. The twins’ father was still dragged out of bed in the middle of the day and lynched while his little girls watched when they were only 7 and it didn’t stop race from shaping everything about their lives for the 40 years the book spans.

10 years after she leaves, Desiree comes back to Mallard while trying to escape an abusive husband with the darkest baby the town had ever seen. Desiree’s daughter, Jude, is the darkest person in a town filled with light skinned black people. The way Mallard treats and talks about dark skinned people is quite riveting to read. The cognitive dissonance is fascinating. They throw out all the dark skinned insults – dark baby, black you’re almost blue, tar baby, if you swim with us i’m sure the water would be filled with crude oil and on and on. They never see the irony in the way they treat Jude and the way white people treat them.

“But the passe blanc were a mystery. You could never meet one who’d passed over undetected, the same way you’d never know someone who successfully faked her own death; the act could only be successful if no one ever discovered it was a ruse.”

Reading about Stella’s passing as white and being immersed in a world that absolutely hated her was fantastic to read. Bennett paints such a vivid picture of fear and hiding in plain sight in a world that wants nothing to do with you and actively participating in that world and in the prejudice that comes with finally being the oppressor. Stella marries a white man and gives birth to a blonde, blue eyed daughter who had no idea that she was anything but white.

The way little micro aggressions are laid out and “good people” are shown to think their prejudices are for everyone’s good and even the feminist movement’s exclusion of black women is explored. At first, you judge Stella for her choices but as you read more about her story you can’t help but ache for her – the loneliness, the lies her entire life is built on, the struggle of not being able to belong to your people and the surety that the people who claim to love you now would absolutely hate you if they knew who you really were.

“She hadn’t realized how long it takes to become somebody else, or how lonely it can be living in a world not meant for you.”

Bennett’s debut novel “The Mothers” was very good but this book is FANTASTIC. I loved every second of this book. This story is so well written, emotional, and is one that stays with you long after you’ve stopped reading. I truly enjoyed every character and setting used by the author. Every single line belonged here. I think everyone should read this one. I gave this book 5 stars on Goodreads and I would give it more if I could. This will definitely make my top 5 books of the year. Absolutely recommend. You should read this one and come talk to me on twitter about it.

 

Leggy

Fiction, Mystery, Uncategorized

Book Review: Saint X by Alexis Schaitkin

Amazon.com: Saint X: A Novel (9781250219596): Schaitkin, Alexis: Books

7 year old Claire is on an annual family vacation at a resort on the fictional Caribbean island of Saint X. A day before they are set to return home to the U.S, her 18 year old sister, Alison’s body washes up ashore. The local police start an investigation and two employees (who happen to be black) at the resort are arrested. With not enough evidence, the men are released. The investigation continues even after the family returns home but it yields nothing and it is closed.

Fast forward years later, Claire is an adult, living and working in New York. One day, she enters a cab and recognizes the driver as Clive Richardson, one of the men arrested for the death of her sister. Claire becomes obsessed with finding out the truth. She abandons her life and infiltrates Clive’s life in search of this truth that she has convinced herself of. Schaitkin then takes us back and shows us the back story of both Claire and Clive’s lives.

I heard a very compelling description of this book that made me add it to my TBR list immediately, so I knew what I was getting into. I would say that the book started out very strong. Schaitkin is very good at description. The way Saint X is written, right down to giving it history and folklore, you could easily forget that it is fictional.

Somewhere down the line, the book started going downhill for me as we got to know Claire. The more I got to know her, the more I found her unlikable and a victim of white privilege and grief. I found her obsession with Clive annoying but also understood it was a side effect of her never really mourning her sister. Her parents closed that chapter and never really spoke about Alison.

I did enjoy Claire getting to know her sister through her journals especially when perspective was involved. Claire idolized her sister but was forced to see her sister in a different light as she saw life through her sister’s lens and realizing her sister had her flaws, remembered events in life differently from her and had to process the way Alison viewed and felt sorry for her.

Clive on the other hand, I enjoyed his story because there was depth to it. There were many layers through his story – poverty, young fatherhood, friendship, sexuality, being an immigrant, racism and I have to give props to Schaitkin for writing the perspective of a black immigrant pretty well.

Overall, it was an enjoyable book but it did drag towards the end. It probably should have ended earlier because it began to go all over the place and it felt like filler. It has a great premise and is a good exploration of many topics as mentioned earlier. This book got 3 stars from me.

Taynement

 

 

Chick-Lit, Fiction, literary fiction, Nigerian Author, Uncategorized, We Chit Chat

We Chit Chat : Girl, Woman, Other by Bernardine Evaristo

Girl, Woman, Other

 

“… ageing is nothing to be ashamed of
especially when the entire human race is in it together”

Plot: Girl, Woman, Other follows the lives and struggles of twelve black (save for one), British women. It tells the story of their joys and struggles in navigating the cards dealt to them as they journey through life.

 

Taynement: I started this book right at the start of the pandemic and I became so overwhelmed that I kept starting and stopping before I finally finished it. I’m glad I did.

Leggy: I only read this book for the blog. I had absolutely no interest in it and didn’t even know what it was about till I had to read it at the last minute for this chit chat.

Taynement: I recommended it for the blog because it made Obama’s best books list and it won a Booker prize. I also (as usual) did not know what it was about. I went in blind. It was a pleasant surprise for me that it was about different people. I enjoy stories like that.

Leggy: I think it was super easy for me to get through it because of the structure. I could read about one person, step away and pick it right back up. It’s a very easy book to read in sections.

Taynement: Yeah, it’s not a hard book to read even if it didn’t have punctuation and capitalization for each paragraph.

Leggy: I totally forgot you had warned me about the punctuation before hand so when I downloaded it on my kindle, I thought my library had sent me a badly formatted book. Anyway, what was your favorite and least favorite story?

Taynement: My favorite story was the one with Winsome, the one whose mother was sleeping with her husband and yet she felt smug that she was in a perfect marriage. Other standouts were the story of Bummi (can I just say her spelling this Nigerian women’s name this way kills me) and Dominique in the abusive lesbian relationship.

Leggy: I loved the mother one! That was my absolute favorite because we get her daughter’s story first and she talks about how her mum goes off with her kids and husband on some weekends to give her a break and how amazing her husband is. Then BAM! we get hit by the mother’s story. It was fantastic. I enjoyed it.

Taynement: I was like WHOA because she tells us so casually. It was a one sided crush at first.

Leggy: Really enjoyed Bummi’s story too. I’m super glad she found peace and accepted her daughter’s choices at the end. Also glad her white son-in-law actually turned out to be a good person.

Taynement: But she didn’t herself find peace. Nigerian guilt goes deep. I liked that the author went there with the story.

Leggy: I actually think she did. She seemed quite content at the end. The Morgan/Meghan story was my least favorite. I confess that I skimmed it, it gave me nothing.

Taynement: Yes, I was going to mention that story as my least favorite. It didn’t capture me and I get it was a set up for GG’s story. I will say what I liked about this book is how it was so many things. Many different kinds of women were captured and it explored many themes. I’m not sure how she managed to do it but it worked.

Leggy: Do you think it did too much or just enough?

Taynement: Hmmm, that’s tough because on one hand I liked the freedom having many stories gave, but on the other hand, I will say I’d get confused due to many characters and found myself trying to see how the characters related to each other vs. enjoying the story.

Leggy: I thought it did too much. I think there could have been fewer characters. I think she tried hard to cover a variety of black women and their experience. It got super hard to keep track of who was who and how it all connected. I don’t expect one piece of literature to cover the total experience of a group of very diverse people and I think she tried to do that and it got exhausting after a while. The first 50% of this book was a breeze to read but as I got to the end, I struggled to even care anymore.

Taynement: I did a deep dive on the author and was surprised she is half Nigerian, probably why there were so many Nigerian mentions. Anyway, what was the point of Yazz?

Leggy: She was irritating but she’s also a good representation of a lot of young people growing up in this social media age. They’re sponges. She went to Morgan’s lecture and suddenly started calling herself “non-binary”. She wants to seem enlightened without actually doing any work to support that.

Taynement: Makes sense. Can I just add that there was something I liked about Mrs. King and Carole? Perspective. She legit hated this woman for so many years and it took a chance encounter to realize that Mrs. King saved her life.

Leggy: Carole was so ungrateful and I just don’t understand how she got to that conclusion.

Taynement: You have to remember she had a very traumatic experience and I think it’s so common in life to be so fixated on a story in your head so much you don’t even see the reality.

Leggy: I’m glad she finally met Mrs. King and realized she didn’t have to do all the things she did for her to get her to Oxford.

Taynement: I liked this book but I actually don’t think it’s for everyone. If someone said they didn’t care for it, I could see how. I liked how boldly unapologetic and modern it was and I think Evaristo’s dedication sums it up:

“For the sisters & the sistas & the sistahs & the sistren & the women & the womxn & the wimmin & the womyn & our brethren & our bredrin & our brothers & our bruvs & our men & our mandem & the LGBTQI+ members of the human family.”

Leggy: I agree. I liked it and I think there’s a story for everyone but ultimately, I don’t know who I’d recommend the entire book to. I gave this book 3 stars on Goodreads.

Taynement: I agree but overall, worth adding to your TBR list and checking out to see if it would be something you’d like.

 

Leggy & Taynement

 

 

 

Book Related Topics, Fiction, Mystery, thriller

Book Review : A Good Marriage by Kimberly McCreight

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“And in the end, wasn’t that the key to marriage? Learning to pretend that a few unspoiled things could make up for all the broken ones.”

Lizzie Kitsakis just started working at the prestigious Young and Crane law firm when she gets a call from an old friend, Zach Grayson, from Rikers prison desperately asking for her help. His wife, Amanda, has just been found dead on the floor of their Brooklyn brownstone and he’s the primary suspect. Until recently Lizzie had been a happily underpaid prosecutor with a devoted husband but everything has come crashing down around her. She delves into investigating who could have murdered Amanda, the close knit group that surrounds the couple in Brooklyn who all seem to be hiding secrets of their own and she has to figure out which of these secrets is worth committing murder for.

“Forgiveness is a side effect of love,” he said finally. And sadly, almost. “If you are going to be married, share the ups and downs of life. What other choice is there?”

This is an impressive slow burn of a book. The author starts off building her characters’ backstories and letting us into their lives. We get two different points of view – one from Lizzie as she gets Zach’s call and starts investigating the murder and secondly, from Amanda as we get a countdown of the events that lead up to the murder. The chapters alternate between these two characters so if you don’t like that plot narrative device in a book, this one might not be for you. Even though the book started out slow and built to a crescendo, I never thought for a second it was boring. It was intriguing from the very first page.

“That’s the hardest part about marriage, isn’t it?” Zach went on. “Somebody else’s problems become your own. It doesn’t always feel fair.”

This book was full of twists and turns and none of it was silly but none of it was mind blowing either. It is sprinkled with a lot of deceit, false starts and dead ends but you never feel like the author is toying with your sense of believe. Even though I didn’t see a lot of the twists coming, they just made me go – “oh, ok, I can see that being true”, there wasn’t a huge Gone Girl twist which I loved. I’m tired of every thriller on earth trying to have a huge twist at the end just to cash in on that Gone Girl popularity. Also, I could not guess the killer which is very important to me and this is the fact that kept me reading, I just needed to know who killed Amanda. I read this book all in one day and didn’t go to bed till I was finished.

“I’d been so foolish to think love could change the essential nature of anything.”

After every few chapters, the book presents you with a transcript of a grand jury testimony containing several interviews between witnesses and the prosecutor building the case against Zach. I found these transcripts to be unnecessary and stopped reading them after the first couple installments, just started skipping them. They added nothing to the plot. Also, honestly, the ending was lackluster. Even though I didn’t guess the killer, I still felt oddly unsatisfied. I wanted someone more instrumental to the plot. Anyway, this book is very readable and even though it starts off slow, it still managed to be a big page turner. Gave this 4 stars on Goodreads.

 

Leggy

Fiction, Nigerian Author

Book Review – Black Sunday by Tola Rotimi Abraham

Review: 'Black Sunday,' By Tola Rotimi Abraham : NPR

“I like the idea of a god who knows what it’s like to be a twin. To have no memory of ever being alone.”

The year is 1996 and we are introduced to twins, Bibike and Ariyike, who live with their mother and father and two younger brothers, Andrew and Peter in Lagos, Nigeria. Their house is not exactly a happy home as their parents are constantly at odds. Their mother is the sole bread winner as their dad continuously loses money in hare brained schemes and investments. The girls have different personalities – Ariyike is the friendlier one while Bibike is the more cynical one.

After their mom loses her job, the family joins a Pentecostal church where their dad meets men like him who are “loud, noisy dreamers”. He takes a huge gamble with the money they have that eventually breaks the family apart. The kids are shuttled off to their grandmother’s house and are forced to grow up and face their pain individually. The girls are forced to lean into their individuality and begin their separate and different paths to life for the next two decades.

“I did not believe in love, in marital love, in righteous men or justice”

The quote above captures the tone of this book which I would say was cynical. Black Sunday is the complete opposite of a fairy tale and can be described as gritty but don’t let that scare you because I still enjoyed this book. While the focus was on the twins, we do get the perspectives of the younger brothers at some point. I think Abraham’s goal was to have a jarring, true to life description of how it goes when lives get disrupted and the sole goal is to survive.

“Every girl who hears it is shamed for all the things she otherwise feels no shame for. Shame is female just as merit is male”

When speaking about survival from a female perspective in a patriarchal society, it is inevitable that the difficult topic of sexual assault and also using sex as a weapon to get ahead, will come up. This is woven into the story but not as a lesson or as a sad story but was written rather matter-of-factedly. My guess is so the reader digests it like the girls did – things happen, you get hardened and just do what you have to do without much emotion tied to it. While both sisters chose different paths, Ariyike early on had a clear resolve what she wanted her life to be and made it that way regardless of the cost.

“I learned when I was a little girl that people always lie. I am not sure that everyone means to lie. It is just that they have in their hearts ideas of who they should be, and they are trying to convince themselves that they are who they insist on being. It is tiring”

There were several different thought provoking story lines in this book that could easily have been confusing but Abraham did a good job of weaving all the stories together and you were captivated by each character’s narration of their story. I wish we had more insight into their mother’s side of the story and there was a part of Bibike’s story that had me confused a little bit, because till now I don’t know if it was real or not.

“There were many easy ways to be a stupid girl in Lagos. We were not stupid girls. We were bright with borrowed wisdom”

As mentioned earlier, this isn’t a book with a neatly tied bow on it. What it is, is a well written thought provoking book that wasn’t afraid to be messy and complex and all the while you know that this is a cumulative representation of many a Nigerian girl’s story. I highly recommend this one.

Taynement

Fantasy, Fiction, Young Adult

Book Review – Arc of a Scythe by Neal Shusterman

Arc of a Scythe is a young adult dystopian trilogy – Scythe, Thunderhead and The Toll. I read the final book last week and decided to review all three books on the blog this week.

Scythe:

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“My greatest wish for humanity is not for peace or comfort or joy. It is that we all still die a little inside every time we witness the death of another. For only the pain of empathy will keep us human. There’s no version of God that can help us if we ever lose that.”

Humanity has finally conquered death, nobody can die completely except by fire. Humans are living for hundreds of years while still having the ability to remain as young as they please. There are no governments, the entire world is controlled and catered to by an AI called The Thunderhead. To curtail the world’s population, a group of people called the Scythes are appointed. These are people who are legally mandated to permanently end life. Citra and Rowan are chosen by Scythe Faraday to apprentice under him, an opportunity neither of them wants but must learn to take life efficiently or risk losing theirs. I gave this 3 stars on good reads.

 

Thunderhead:

Thunderhead (Arc of a Scythe, #2)

“How ironic, then, and how poetic, that humankind may have created the Creator out of want for one. Man creates God, who then creates man. Is that not the perfect circle of life? But then, if that turns out to be the case, who is created in whose image?”

The Scythedom has finally made a decision between Rowan and Citra and one of them has gone rogue, determined to put the scythedom through a trial of fire. The old guards -who see being a scythe as a great calling, to be treated with respect and dignity and the new guards – who actually enjoy killing and see being scythes as being above the entire human population are at an impasse. The thunderhead is forced to watch as things come to a head in the scythedom while being banned from interfering with scythe business. I gave this 3 stars on Goodreads.

 

The Toll:

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“We never know what choices will lead to defining moments in our lives. A glance to the left instead of right could define who we meet and who passes us by. Our life path can be determined by a single phone call we make, or neglect to make.”

Rowan and Citra have disappeared for three years, the new guard is completely in charge and rules against bias killings and killing quotas have been abolished. The scythes are now legally allowed to kill as many people as they please. An old guard scythe searches the world for the plan B option to the scythedom that the original scythes made just in case their scythedom experience failed. The World is at a loss and in fear, the thunderhead races against time to save humanity from itself. I gave this 2 stars on good reads.

 

I think this series has a brilliant concept but very poor execution. I also think it was dragged out too long to be completely enjoyable. The romance between the main characters was completely forced as there was literally no atom of chemistry between them. I do appreciate that a lot of the romance was kept to a minimum so we didn’t have to suffer through a significant amount of it.

I found the world building to be very fascinating but full of holes. There are so many things the author just neglected because it wasn’t convenient for him. For example – people can still die, it’s just that people aren’t allowed to permanently die. If you’re not killed by a scythe or by fire, you are immediately rushed to a center to be revived. If this is the case why are scythes even needed? Why not just let people die?!

Also, the morality in this book is very black and white. I really would have loved to see some moral grays because I think that’s exactly what most of life is made up of. The main villain in this book Scythe Goddard is so one dimensionally evil, he’s almost a caricature. I think this book brings up some very interesting philosophical questions but then fails to explore them.

I still finished this series so obviously there was always something that kept me wanting to find out more (plus my library just kept pushing out books so I had to!). I do recommend these books if you’re looking for something more young adult and easy to get through. Overall, I give this series 3 stars!

Have you read these books? Did you enjoy them? Let us know in the comments!

 

Leggy