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celebrity memoir, Memoirs, Non-Fiction

Book Review: You Should Sit Down For This by Tamera Mowry-Housley

Tamera Mowry-Housley is best known as half of the identical twin duo that starred in “Sister, Sister” and as one of the talk show hosts on “The Real”. Because everyone gets to write a memoir these days, Mowry-Housley has written one at age 44. The book title says it’s about life, wine and cookies which I assume is supposed to be about her personal life, her career and I guess life advice as she sprinkles across the book, something she calls “Tamera-isms”.

I won’t mince any words and just flat out say that I thought this was a terrible book. In fact, it was an insult to the word memoir. I picked up this book because Mowry-Housley has the reputation of being the “boring” twin and is often misunderstood, I figured I’d pick this one up to hear from her point of view and see if I could gain a different perspective of her and unfortunately, this did not help her case at all. It was awful.

As always for a celebrity memoir, I did this on audio and I wanted to end my suffering as soon as I started. I am not sure who signed off on this because the tempo was not it at all. It was almost like she was putting on a forced positivity and the cheeriness came off as fake. It was just over the top. But it was just 5 hours long so I figured I could bear it. The book had soooo many metaphors and euphemisms that were over the top and was distracting from whatever surface story she was telling us.

When you read a memoir, you should feel like you learned things about them that you didn’t know before reading and this was not the case here. In fact, you would know more about Tamera looking up her old interviews and watching The Real than reading this book. For example, in a story talking about her breakup with her now-husband, Adam she says “I don’t want to talk about it, even just thinking about it now brings a tear to my eye”. No memoir should have the phrase “I don’t want to talk about it” that is a signal that you do not need to be writing a memoir.

As mentioned above, she is best known for “Sister, Sister”. I had settled in to listen to the behind the scenes of the show and couldn’t believe that it was a blink and you miss it situation. One minute she mentioned they booked the show and the next she is saying when the show ended. For someone who is partly famous because she is an identical twin, she barely if at all talks about their relationship. We don’t learn more about her family and that’s because most of the stories were surface. I didn’t understand the choice to not talk about being biracial instead she refers to herself as a black girls with curls. She never referenced the reality show she had with her twin sister, never referenced the depression she went through in college.

I can give a little credit to her getting a little more authentic when talking about being on The Real and how much anxiety it gave her but she over compensated by telling us every 5 seconds how much she loved her coworkers and she spent most of it defending her husband. The chapter where she talks about the death of her niece due to gun violence was the other story she was authentic about. She tries to be down with people by talking about sex and how people consider her a prude to which she boldly tells us that they are wrong and she is infact “a freak in the sheets” (cringe). She proceeds to share her sex goals which are places she wants to have sex that include a lavender field and on top of a car in the rain (gosh) and then follows it up with it’s none of our business which ones she has checked off. Sigh.

Overall, I just got the impression that Tamera is the kind of person who likes for everything to look nice. She mentions how she is proud of her positivity but it almost sounded like a detriment in this book. I think the idea of the book was a cross between Yvonne Orji’s “Bamboozled by Jesus” and Gabrielle Union’s “We’re going to need more wine” except she failed on both ends. Orji found a fun way to give fun, personalized advice while Tamera told us things that everyone already knows and wasn’t able to capture Union’s realness. In case you couldn’t tell, I do not recommend this book. I gave it 1 star and immediately told Leggy that it is in the running for my worst read of the year.

If you have read this and think otherwise, I’d really like to hear your thoughts. Let me know in the comments!

Taynement

Chick-Lit, Fiction, literary fiction, race, romance, Uncategorized, women's fiction

Book Review: Mika in Real Life by Emiko Jean

“It seems the tighter I try to hold on, the more things slip through my fingers. It is a reminder to me of how impermanent life is.”

Mika Suzuki’s life is a mess. She’s 35 and has just been laid off from her paralegal job. She’s living with her best friend but still can’t make ends meet. She is an absolute disappointment to her traditional Japanese parents. Her last relationship ended in flames. Mika is at her lowest when she gets a call from her daughter Penny – the daughter she gave up for adoption 16 years ago. Penny wants to get to know her birth mother and Mika is determined to be a woman who daughter would be proud of. Mika spends the entire month talking to her daughter and making up the perfect life for herself – the perfect career, the perfect romantic relationship, and even the perfect house. As the lies snowball into a fully fledged fake life and Penny decides to come visit Mika in Portland with her adoptive widower dad, Thomas Calvin, Mika must figure out a way to keep up with her lies while forming a relationship with her daughter.

I really liked all the family dynamics portrayed in this story especially the one between Mika and her mother. Mika and her parents have a very difficult relationship where she has never felt understood. Her parents being immigrants has shaped a lot of their experiences and has made it hard for them to understand each other. Their relationship involves church, her parents trying to introduce her to eligible Japanese men and Mika asking them for loans which she always promises to pay back but never does. I like how the author portrayed Mika’s mother as complex instead of demonizing her as an absolutely bad mother. She was just a woman who was limited in her world view and moved to a country she didn’t want to be in in the first place and then was saddled with a daughter who didn’t want the traditional path to success her parents had set out for her to follow. I enjoyed reading about her experiences and what made her into the person she was today.

I didn’t expect this book to grab me as much as it did. Sure, there’s romance in it and a few spicy scenes but that is not all this book is about. The romance lends a certain layer of lightness to this story that would have otherwise been depressing. The relationship between Mika and Penny’s adoptive father, Thomas comes across very organic and believable. The relationship Penny and Mika build throughout the book was so well done to me. Seeing Penny being accepted into Mika’s family and beginning to explore her Asian identity was very touching. This book explores interracial adoptions and some of the pitfalls. Even though Penny’s adoptive parents tried to expose her to Asian culture, their whiteness still gave them a lot of racial blind spots.

I really enjoyed this book. Are there some aspects that felt predictable? Sure. But it explores so many topics and does them in a nuanced way. I really recommend this book. I gave it 4 stars on Goodreads.

Leggy

celebrity memoir, Memoirs, movie related topics, Non-Fiction

Book Review: I’m Glad My Mom Died by Jeanette McCurdy

“Why do we romanticize the dead? Why can’t we be honest about them? Especially moms, they’re the most romanticized of anyone. Moms are saints, angels by merely existing. No one could possibly understand what it’s like to be a mom. Men will never understand, women with no children will never understand. No one buts moms know the hardship of motherhood and we non-moms must heap nothing but praise upon mom because we lowly, pitiful, non-moms are mere peasants compared to the goddesses we call mothers.”

I know. What a title. If this is your first time hearing about this book then congratulations to you because the marketing team for Simon & Schuster definitely went all out on this one. There was no way I was skipping out on this book, especially after Leggy read it first and told me about it.

Jeanette McCurdy is a former child actor, best known for her role on iCarly. Her memoir mostly recounts her life getting into the business and navigating it while managing the emotions of a narcissistic, emotionally abusive mother. She shares how her mother controlled her life and emotions including her weight which eventually led to an eating disorder. She speaks about how her life was still controlled by her mother’s voice even after she passed away from cancer in 2013.

Like most people, I know McCurdy from her days on Nickelodeon but I didn’t know anything about her personal life till I read a People magazine article on her in 2021 that talked about her one woman play with the same name as her book. I remember being taken aback by the title but much like the quote excerpt above from her book, I remember thinking back then that if her mom did do horrible things to her, why do we in fact romanticize the dead?

McCurdy is very blunt and matter of fact about how she recounts her life story especially how she walked on egg shells around her mom and spent most of her life trying to keep her mom happy including fulfilling her mom’s dream of being an actor. She does mention her dad in the book but he doesn’t seem to have had an active role in her life. I wondered if she harbored any resentment towards him but that is something she did not go into detail about. The other thing I wondered about was that McCurdy recounts things so well, to a time period as far back as when she was 6 years old that it made me wonder how she was able to remember everything verbatim and when I say that I mean generall. It was impressive.

I have seen this book described as humorous but I have to be honest, I did not encounter any humorous moments. I was more wrapped up in how in so many words, she was her mom’s emotional support human and through the pages I felt claustrophobic for her. The second half of the book follows her life beyond her mom’s control and how she tried to live life and manage her eating disorder. I confess I did not find the latter half as interesting and instead found her Nickelodeon years more interesting especially her description of Ariana Grande, the resentment she had for her back then definitely came through the pages.

Overall, while I did not think it was an exceptional book, it was entertaining enough and I do think it was brave of her to push past the norm and recognize that she was not treated well by her mother. The book never addressed if her mom suffered from a mental illness but probably there was no chance to, given her cancer. As always, I did this on audio and McCurdy reads it herself but be warned that it does sound like she is rushing through, so don’t worry your audio speed is just fine 🙂

Taynement

literary fiction, Mystery, romance, Uncategorized

Book Review: Some Of It Was Real by Nan Fischer

“It’s important you understand that I don’t have a clear definition for what I do. Psychics use their intuition or spiritual guides to gain information about the past, present, or future. Mediums are channels that deliver messages from those who have passed over. I’ve been called a psychic-medium, and that’s as good a definition as any. But the truth is that I’m not sure why I hear voices, see images, sing at times, or scribble notes—it just happens and I can’t tell you how because I truly don’t understand it.”

Psychic medium, Sylvie Young, starts every show talking about how she discovered her powers but she leaves out a lot. Like the fact that she isn’t actually sure that she’s a psychic, she’s estranged from her birth parents who think she’s a scammer and her publicist insists that she research some of her guests before every show. Journalist, Thomas Holmes, has it out for people he sees as “grief predators”. After a catastrophic reporting error, he’s anxious to get a great story and prove himself to his editor. So he pitches a story about psychics, he’s determined to prove that Sylvie is a crook. He plants some decoys in the audience and Sylvie falls for it having researched them beforehand. He approaches her and asks her to let him shadow her for the full week before her next big show, make sure she doesn’t research anyone, so that he can either expose her as fake or tell his LA Times audience that her powers are real. He insists that if she is indeed real then she should have no problem with his request.

This book is not your typical rom-com. You can feel them connecting but the romance takes a backstage for most of this book. Sylvie and Thomas play a game of cat and mouse trying to out maneuver each other. I personally found myself rooting for Sylvie even though a part of me wasn’t sure if she was actually a scammer or not. Sylvie takes Thomas through a journey to her past to get him to understand the origin of her powers. She goes back to her adoptive parents’ house and tries to trace who her biological parents were and why her adoptive parents lied to her for so long about where she’s from. All the stories about her parents’ death is starting to sound fake to Sylvie and she decides to trust Thomas to figure it out with her. Thomas thinks this is another fact that proves she’s a liar because if she really has the power to speak to the dead, why has she never spoken to her mother?

Thomas is also hiding a lot of family secrets. Grief vampires feel very personal to him because after his father and brother died, his mother completely lost herself to psychics. Spending all her money trying to contact her late husband and son, trying to find closure and neglecting her actual living son. Both Thomas and Sylvie are struggling with their past and there was something so wholesome about watching two broken but very good people try to fix themselves. They spend so much time together in the book that you can actually see them slowly liking each other. There’s a twist near the end of the book that the author didn’t make a big deal of. She dropped it like the readers weren’t going to go “DANG!” but I actually think that is the beauty of this book. It grabs you in a really surprising way and the plot keeps moving at an alarming pace and doesn’t stop till the very end.

Thomas forces Sylvie to reexamine the way she makes a living while she encourages him to confront his demons and let go of the past. Thomas also struggles with the ethics of writing an expose about someone he is now attracted to. This book is told in alternating point of view chapters, both in first person. It allows you to get into the head of what each character is thinking as they play this game with each other. I will say that if you really are primarily looking for romance with this one, then skip it. I would never recommend this book as a rom com. Even though I bought the fact that Thomas and Sylvie would fall in love after spending so much time together, I didn’t quite buy how it was presented on the page.

I think this is one of the most surprisingly good books I’ve read this year. It really took me unawares. I started it and couldn’t put it down till the very end. I absolutely recommend it. I gave this 3 stars on Goodreads.

Have you read this one? What did you think?

Leggy

Fiction, literary fiction, women's fiction

Book Review: Notes On Your Sudden Disappearance by Alison Espach

Sally is Kathy’s younger sister and she looks up to Kathy. She thinks Kathy is the coolest, smartest person and hangs on to her every word. They had a great summer going to the pool, taking family trips and obsessing over Billy Barnes who is a senior. Kathy has had a crush on him for a while and he eventually becomes her boyfriend. By the time school starts, Sally might also have a crush on Billy even if it seems like her sister only spends time with Billy.

One morning, Billy is driving them to school and they get into an accident that kills Kathy. Billy has severe injuries but Sally is unscathed. The book becomes Sally narrating her life to Kathy over the next fifteen years as she navigates life with her parents who are grieving differently and her interesting relationship with Billy.

I’d seen this book everywhere and hopped on it as soon as it checked out to me at the library. I liked it because it was an easy, straight forward read. The book was written in the voice of Sally and it was as if she was writing letters to Kathy. I liked that it was written progressively in time, so there were no worries about going back and forth in time.

I saw afterwards that this book was marketed as a thriller and I wonder why because I don’t think there was any element of thriller in it. This book explores grief, emotions and family dynamics. I didn’t have a problem with how the book was written but I didn’t quite like Sally. Now I know everyone grieves differently but I didn’t understand Sally’s grief. She actually seemed detached but that might have been her trauma. It was interesting that even though the accident wasn’t technically her fault, in some way I still blamed her and I was a little surprised she never seemed to blame herself or feel any guilt. All those emotions seemed to have been written into Billy’s character and I understood his complicated emotions. Sally’s parents truly were something else. Very quirky.

Overall, even though it’s nothing really extraordinary, I would still recommend the book. The author lost a brother when she was young as well so I can imagine that this might have been cathartic for her. Even though grief/death is the topmost theme, this is not a dark book. In fact, there is a weird romance thrown in for good measure.

Taynement

Fiction, literary fiction, Mystery, thriller, Uncategorized

Book Review: Wrong Place Wrong Time by Gillian McAllister

“Banter can hide the worst sins. Some people laugh to hide their shame, they laugh instead of saying I feel embarrassed and small.”

One late October, Jen is waiting up for her son, Todd, to come home after midnight when she witnesses a murder. As she watches from a window, Todd approaches but he’s not alone, he’s walking towards a man, armed. As Jen watches in horror, her son stabs the man fatally for no apparent reason and refuses to talk about why he did it. Todd is now in custody and the police won’t let his parents see him or talk to him plus he’s refusing a lawyer. Jen goes home and falls asleep in deep despair only to wake up in the morning and it’s the day before the murder. Jen keeps sleeping and waking up days before the murder with another chance to try and stop it. Somewhere in the past is the trigger for this murder and Jen has to spot it, catch it in time, to avoid her son’s future being ruined.

“How sinister it is to relive your life backward. To see things you hadn’t at the time. To realize the horrible significance of events you had no idea were playing out around you.”

I’m a fan of people being stuck in a time warp. Living your life backwards? Living an alternative reality? Sign me up. This book was very well written and the time warp very well plotted with the main character actually doing things that I would have done from the start. I enjoyed how fast she understood the predicament she was in and started acting fast. I knew from the start the main person she should be taking a look at so I wasn’t that surprised by the twists and turns the author came up with. But I enjoyed the ride even though I knew where the author was taking us. It did not at all diminish my enjoyment of this book.

This book makes you consider if you really know anything about the life you’re living. There’s something about reliving your life and looking at past scenes with a critical eye as you search your son for the period he became a murderer. Your sweet, funny, nerdy son who cried when his first girlfriend dumped him. What did you miss about his behavior lately? Who is this girl he’s seeing who he doesn’t really let you get to know fully?

At the 75% mark of this book, I became exhausted reading about Jen waking up further and further into the past. The constant past loop of her life made me so tired even though I kept trudging through it. If I was that tired reading Jen’s constant turmoil of spending so long in the past, I can’t even imagine what it was like for her to live it. Even when she thinks, “Okay, I’ve solved it, this is it”- there’s still yet another revelation and even further into the past the thread leads. After a while, I just wanted it to end. I was rooting for Jen all through to save her boy.

I totally recommend this book. If you’re looking for a thriller that makes sense and isn’t trying to be the next Gone Girl, pick up this book. I’ve tried to avoid spoilers in this review and I would recommend just skipping the blurb and diving in. It’s really good writing and she really does make the pay off worth your while. I gave this book 4 stars on Goodreads.

Have you read this one? Let me know in the comments what you thought of it. If you haven’t read it, will you be picking this one up? Let me know as well!

Leggy

Fiction, literary fiction, race, romance, women's fiction

Book Review: Love Marriage by Monica Ali

“She was greatly moved by her mother’s love marriage, more than she had been in years. Love, Ma was telling her, not only in words but by example, conquers all.”

Yasmin is of Indian descent and lives in the UK with her family (mom, dad and brother). She is training to be a doctor like her dad and is engaged to Joe, who is white and also a doctor. He lives with his single mom, Harriet. The two families couldn’t be any different as Yasmin’s family is a typical immigrant family who puts their head down and does what is expected and the family never discusses anything and sweeps things under the rug while Harriet is a loud and proud well known feminist who is very open about her sexuality.

Wedding planning is underway and as the families get to know each other a bunch of things are uncovered along the way that threaten the wedding day ever happening. The book uncovers all the things they all have to face as everyone starts being honest with themselves and for better or worse, start living in their truth.

Whew! I am not going to tell you guys how long it took me to read this book but just know it was a long time! This was my first time reading Ali’s work, so I had no frame of reference. This book was the epitome of throwing everything but the kitchen sink and hoping something sticks because let me tell you that there were A LOT of stories flying everywhere.

It took a while to lay the ground for the characters and the minute you thought you had an idea of who they are, everything was unraveled as we begin to see the secrets unearthed and boy was there much to unearth. From sex addiction to rape to infidelity to racism, culture differences, ambition, corporate red tape and much more, there was so much that was covered.

I think Ali managed to do the social commentary better than some other topics but it just didn’t need everything. I wish there had been a singular focus on the central characters but there seemed to have been a desire to have even the side characters get their own shine but that could be because the main characters weren’t quite interesting per se. I found Yasmin to be unsure of who she was, which is realistic at age 26 but nevertheless, still annoyed me. Joe seemed a tad boring and at some point I wondered if he really did have a sex addiction?

What I enjoyed about the book where psychiatric nuggets that we get from Joe’s therapy sessions that seemed to be based on true life medical research and the introspection by the characters at the end, to help forge some better life living. I think Ali was trying to show how children judge their parents based on what they know but sometimes they have no idea.

That being said, I thought the ending was a bit vague and rushed and its ironic that its also when it kind of tongue in cheek addressed the title of the book and what a love marriage truly means. But I welcomed it because this book was way longer than it should have been and an editor should have earned their paycheck on this one.

Overall, this book has all the ingredients for an interesting read but failed to get us there because of writing and editing choices. I wouldn’t recommend this as I think there are better family with secrets books out there that would be worth your time.

Taynement

dystopian, Fantasy, scifi

Book Review: Upgrade by Blake Crouch

“We don’t have an intelligence problem. We have a compassion problem. That, more than any other single factor, is what’s driving us toward extinction.

There’s something different about Logan Ramsey. He’s physically stronger, processes information faster, better at multitasking, better at concentration. He’s just better at everything all of a sudden, after a raid gone wrong. After Ramsey has the doctor check his genome, he discovers that it’s been hacked and almost everything about him has been upgraded. There’s a reason he has been targeted for this upgrade, something that has to do with the darkest part of his history, why he went to prison and his dark family legacy. Worse still, what is happening to him is a sign of what’s to come. He’s a practice run in a more coordinated effort to upgrade humanity as a whole and only him has the ability now to stop this overreach from going forward.

“We were a monstrous, thoughtful, selfish, sensitive, fearful, ambitious, loving, hateful, hopeful species. We contained within us the potential for great evil, but also for great good. And we were capable of so much more than this.”

This is really a superhero story. If you like superhero stories and you enjoy science fiction, this is a perfect alloy. Blake Crouch writes really simple and accessible science fiction for everybody regardless of your genre preference. I always tell people, if they want science fiction lite, then Crouch is the best place to start. This book also made me think of what I would do if I was in the main character’s shoes. I think I was torn about this book because I genuinely don’t know who I would support in real life. I thought the supposed villain had a very good point about upgrading humanity and if not for the side effects of the upgrade, I would have been on her side. But I also understand why the main character thought – when will it be enough? Cool, radicate a few gene causing diseases in kids, change a few things but when will it ever be enough? It’s a little like plastic surgery, you get one, you want them all.

“What if this isn’t the solution? What if you end up killing a billion people for no reason? What if you just end up creating a world of Miriam Ramsays—all convinced they know what’s best, all capable of inflicting unimaginable harm if they’re wrong? What if you create a bunch of people who are just drastically better at what they already were. Soldiers. Criminals. Politicians. Capitalists.”

Crouch had really big questions in this book but I think this book pales in comparison to his other works. Upgrade was more straightforward when I usually love Crouch for the twists and turns his books bring. I do think the author presented us a possible solution to the problem that is humanity and I think he chose a good answer but ultimately I was disappointed as a whole. But I will say that I think this is a good entry into the Crouch world if this is something you’re interested in doing. It is easy to read, moves at a fast pace and doesn’t get bogged down in the science. This book ultimately read like a summer blockbuster, like it was written to be adapted. I suspect that’s why he made it so straightforward. We’ll see if it ever comes to the big screen. Anyway, I really recommend this book. We also have another Crouch book review that you should check out. I gave this one 3 stars on Goodreads.

Do you enjoy science fiction? Are you going to give this one a chance? Let me know in the comments.

Leggy

Non-Fiction

Book Review: The Anthropecene Reviewed by John Green

Official definition of “Anthropocene”: relating to or denoting the current geological age, viewed as the period during which human activity has been the dominant influence on climate and the environment.

I don’t think I can still explain what the word means but it is definitely a word I had never heard of till I saw this title. John Green got tired of his usual subject matters and decided to do something different and write about the different anthropocenes that humans have experienced over time. It seems so simple but then it’s so…brilliant. It’s brilliant because Green managed to find a way to give himself leeway to write about anything really.

This idea means, we are blessed with chapters and chapters of varying topics that would have no business being together but worked so well. One minute you are reading about Dr. Pepper and how it isn’t a natural flavor and the next it is about the yips and then about his state of residency, Indianapolis.

“We all know how loving ends. But I want to fall in love with the world anyway, to let it crack me open. I want to feel what there is to feel while I am here.”

I am having an uninspired reading year and Leggy recommended this book to me. I would like to add that my introduction to John Green was also by Leggy when she made me read “The Fault in Our Stars”. When I first started the book, I was all “meh” but as I kept going I felt myself getting drawin in by the stories. It’s impossible not to find anything of interest because the topics are so wide and varied.

I did not know a lot about Green so this book was a discovery for me. A discovery in that Green found a way to make this book a learning opportunity in multiple ways. I got to learn a lot of random facts about things I did not know previously; but I also got to learn a lot about him as a person such as he is a fellow soccer fan (Liverpool fan but we can forgive him for that!), I loved learning about his relationship with his brother and as a fellow anxiety sufferer I felt seen with Chapter 30’s story, “Mortification” as he described replaying a convo over and over in his head. I also didn’t know that this book is based on a podcast of the same name and are stories he has already covered (I think 6 new stories were added for the book)

This seems little but it felt refreshing to read a book that was caught up in times in that he referenced the pandemic. I know we all want an escape but I think as a non-fiction read, it would have been weird to talk about the anthropocene and skip that especially since it was basically his worst fear realized. I will say that I did think the book was looong but that’s not unusual for a collection of stories.

I enjoyed this book and it truly is a testament to how good of a writer Green is because this could have veered towards boring-town real quick. I think this would make a good bedtime read, where one reads a chapter every night and it gives you something to think about. You gotta love a book that makes you learn, think, introspect and hopefully grow. I did this on audio and would recommend that format. Thanks Leggy!

Taynement

african author, african stories, Fiction, literary fiction, Nigerian Author, romance, We Chit Chat

We Chit Chat: Honey & Spice by Bolu Babalola

Taynement: Hi, Leggy. It’s been a minute since we did one of these.

Leggy: Yup. I’m excited to discuss this one.

Taynement: We do a lot of chitchats on African authors because we’re excited to support their work but it also makes it more difficult to review. So what were your thoughts on this book?

Leggy: This book was the most exhausting slog of a book I’ve read this year. If we weren’t committed to this blog and to this ChitChat, and I was reading this just for pleasure, I would have DNF-ed it.

Taynement: Oh dear, it was a journey of a read for sure.

Leggy: I was actually quite excited to read this one. When we reviewed her previous book, I said that I was super excited to see what she would do with a long form romance book. So, I was going to pick this one up regardless of the blog.

Taynement: Everyone knows my stance on romance, so I can’t say that I was excited. More like I was preparing myself. You started before me and you told me you didn’t think I would make it.

Leggy: Once I started and it was hard for me, a rom com lover to get through it, I knew it would be even harder for you. First of all, this book read like a Dear White People fan fiction to me.

Taynement: Agreed. So here’s my thing, when I say it was a journey what I mean is the beginning was a struggle and then the book settled and then it became quite corny.

Leggy: The crux of the book is the fake dating trope and it should have started way earlier in the book. It started 35% into the book and I was already bored and restless when we got to the actual romance between them. If the editor had insisted that this book center the actual romance 100%, it would have worked better. Too much was going on in this book for me, story-wise.

Taynement: My problem with this book was the writing style. I say this a lot about African authors but they never let their words breathe. Instead, they wield them like heavy chains. I think Babalola overwrote a lot of the stories/scenes. So, it felt like playing dress up and imagining what people would say while also jam packing it full of clap backs/quips that are supposed to be clever, chockful of current slang but it fell flat. I’ll give an example: “My heart had never been compelled into competitive sports by boys and yet here it was acting like an Olympian, beating like its name was Serena.” Sheesh!

Leggy: Oh God, don’t get me started on how verbose this book is. I see your example and I raise you an even more overwritten passage: “The smile he gave her was mainstream, pop, radio-friendly. The smile he’d given me was the single released after an artist had established themselves, found their voice, could speak directly to their target audience. The smile he’d given me had more R&B to it.”

Taynement: Lord!

Leggy: I think the best lines are those that are profoundly quite and simple. It felt like the author wanted to show us she could write but these over written passages made me roll my eyes so much.

Taynement: Another thing, which I can’t really knock her for, is that she’s clearly proud to be African. So this book was very clearly African – more Nigerian/Yoruba but I couldn’t stop wondering how every black person on campus seemed to be African?

Leggy: Did this book read very American to you despite the number of British slang thrown in there?

Taynement: I was just about to bring that up! I don’t live in the UK but a lot of the language and events seemed…American? For one, not to be stereotypical but there was a lot of coffee drinking when I was expecting tea, lots of “ain’t”, even the Malakai police story read American.

Leggy: The debating All Lives Matter vs. Black Lives Matter storyline seemed very American. Also, wasn’t this literally a storyline on Dear White People?

Taynement: These events didn’t help with the feeling that this book was trying to pack in relevant pop culture tropes to make it current. I spoke with my sister-in-law who lives and went to school in the UK and she said the school experience in the book definitely felt more American, so I was glad I wasn’t being too critical.

Leggy: This book was written for twitter.

Taynement: Yes!!

Leggy: That’s all I kept thinking. This is such a twitter inspired book.

Taynement: That being said, she tied in the honey and spice theme well and I did enjoy when Malakai and Kiki fell in love, I think she allowed the book to breathe then. It felt organic.

Leggy: I wish this book could have been purely about Malakai and Kiki falling in love. Take out the race issues, take out the guy she was sleeping with, have the high school best friend expose her as a “fraud” feminist. Then they break up, get back together and live happily ever after. I think the mistake a lot of authors of rom coms make is trying so hard to make their book deep. Your book is just as worthy as just a love story! Love stories are amazing!

Taynement: I did like the friendship stories. Aminah and Kofi being in love but working for it.

Leggy: Yes! Classic sidekicks which every good rom com needs! This book could have been great. If I was her editor, I would have told her to strip it. Stop over writing. You already have a book deal, we know you can write. Just tell us a good story!

Taynement: I think an observation I’ve made lately is authors seem to be writing for a book to screen adaptation.

Leggy: I thought the same thing about this book. It was really giving American high school movie. Everyone in this book read super young to me even though they were adults in college.

Taynement: I felt like it veered between YA and romance which was a mind trip because I know they’re in college. As a romance reader, was the climax of the book – them professing their love on par with other romance books? Because that felt like a lot! I found it super corny.

Leggy: Yes! It’s always corny but I think what makes it good corny in a well written romance book is that the rest of the book is so good and has made you so invested in the couple that you’re left smiling at the corniness of it all. The one in this book just made me roll my eyes and leap for joy that at last, the trial that was this book was over!

Taynement: Overall, we’d never say not to support a fellow Nigerian but bias aside, this was not a well written book.

Leggy: I would not recommend this book. I did not enjoy it. But if you’re interested, knock yourself out!

Have you read this one? What did you think? Let us know in the comments

Taynement & Leggy