african author, Book Related Topics, Fiction, Historical, literary fiction, Nigerian Author, We Chit Chat

We Chit Chat – Love in Colour: Mythical Tales From Around The World, Retold by Bolu Baboola

Amazon.com: Love in Colour: Mythical Tales from Around the World, Retold  (Audible Audio Edition): Bolu Babalola, Ajjaz Awad, Nneka Okoye, Bolu  Babalola, Olukemi Babalola, Headline: Audible Audiobooks

Taynement: Wow. It’s been a while since we did a chit chat. Shame on us!

Leggy: It’s just so hard to coordinate reading during a pandemic. I’m glad we’re finally getting to do one and a young Nigerian author at that!

Taynement: Why did we choose this book?

Leggy: We’ve seen it all over bookstagram and twitter, plus the cover is so striking.

Taynement: Yes, a lot of people I know who have read this, liked it a lot.

Leggy: So what were your overall thoughts on the book? Did you like it?

Taynement: Yes, I have to say I did. Or maybe I liked it more than I expected to. Going in, it had two strikes against it in that, it was a romance novel and short stories – two things I don’t care for.

Leggy: I didn’t hate it but I also didn’t like it. It was okay. Nothing stood out for me. To be frank. It was elemental writing. Nothing was compelling about these stories.

Taynement: Agreed, it was regular. I do think it was a good premise.

Leggy: I think it was a good premise too. I went into it without knowing what it was going to be so reading the first story of someone called “Osun” in school, I was like what’s going on here? Then “Sango”, that’s when I immediately got it.

Taynement: I thought it was overwritten in the way of typical African authors. The book just wasn’t allowed to be. I mean…”water was generous but mostly it wanted to be left alone”?

Leggy: There were so many lines like that It just tried too hard to have flowery language.

Taynement: I liked how inclusive the author tried to be. It had characters from various parts of Africa (the author is Nigerian for those who don’t know). There was an attempt with an Asian character that fell flat for me. The story of Zhinu (the pop star) was not one of my favorites. I couldn’t connect.

Leggy: It was my least favorite too. It was pointless to me. It just seemed to not fit.

Leggy: What was your favorite story?

Taynement: Thisbe and Naleli. What were yours?

Leggy: I really enjoyed the Naleli one. Read like a teenage romance movie. The head girl, Keeya said the meanest things to her.

Taynement: It reminded me a lot of the Netflix show – Blood and Water.

Leggy: I can’t imagine always covering up in the hot sun. I also appreciated that she highlighted the vitiligo condition, that was good. I liked the one where the girl was basically Kerry Washington in Scandal (Scheherazade). That was my favorite. Yaa was my second favorite because it was the story with the most modern realistically African plot to me.

Taynement: I really wanted to know how you felt about the book because I was wondering if I’d appreciate it more if I loved romance novels.

Leggy: I don’t think so. I appreciate the romance genre but I don’t consider this to be a good one to recommend. Especially to someone who typically doesn’t do romance books. I wish the stories had more depth and something to connect with. A lot of it seemed so frivolous that it diluted even the great love stories she was retelling.

Taynement: I think the most intriguing thing about this book is the concept. I also recognize that depth in short stories is something that is tough to accomplish.

Leggy: I’m currently reading “The Secret Lives of Church Ladies”, It’s fantastic and a short story collection and it manages to bring depth to every story it tells, no matter how short. Reading it alongside this book made me see how frivolous it was.

Taynement: Did you like the new tales?

Leggy: No, I preferred the retellings and even at that I do not prefer these modern retellings to the old stories. I think the modernity stripped a lot of the stories of its context and depth. In as much as I loved Scheherazade, the original is a fantastic story. I remember the first time I read the Arabian Night classic – a woman telling a king a story every night, trying to keep his attention till morning to stop him from killing her? I found it amazing!

Taynement: I guess we are in agreement that it was an okay book but commendable for a debut?

Leggy: Yes, it definitely read like a first book. I would appreciate a stand-alone novel from this author next, maybe to flesh out more of her romance writing and give the stories a little more depth and context? I don’t think romance has to be “deep”. Everyone knows I’m a connoisseur of romcom movies, but readers have to be able to buy into the romance you’re selling.

Taynement: Yes, it’ll be interesting to see what she does with a stand alone. I agree that romance novels don’t always have to be “deep” but I think that letting the stories breathe would make for a more relaxed romance novel that would be far easier to enjoy.

Leggy: I still can’t pick out any line that stood out to me even with the over the top flowery language. The lines just made me roll my eyes and you know how much I love a good quote.

Taynement: We both do! Well, based on social media, we are in the minority of people. A lot of people have loved it so far.

Leggy: That’s fine. Art is subjective plus this book sure has a very good social media PR. Was it worth the hype for me? Absolutely not. It was an okay book. I wonder if I’d have finished if we didn’t have to do this chitchat but we’ll never know now. Anyway, I’m looking forward to seeing what this author does next. I love supporting black authors and she’s Nigerian!

Taynement: Definitely!

Taynement & Leggy

Book Related Topics, Fantasy, Uncategorized

Reading Rut Woes – 5 Books That Made My DNF List

I haven’t read anything new in three weeks because nothing has been able to keep my attention. I’ve picked up a ton of books and dropped it after the first few chapters. I’m behind on my Goodreads reading challenge, something that has never happened to me since I started tracking my reading on that website. I always get one reading rut a year but it’s always in the fall so this is such a new feeling for me.

Anyway, this is a list of 5 books that I picked up during my reading rut that I will definitely go back to now that I’m out of it.

  • Rhythm of War by Brandon Sanderson: I’ve mentioned quite often on our Instagram page (@nightstands2, follow us!) that Sanderson is my all time favorite fantasy writer and I’ve been saving this book for the perfect time. I’ve read every one of his books and this one came out last December. I finally downloaded it but I just couldn’t get into it. I read the first chapter and gave up. This is the 4th book in the Stormlight Archive series. This is an amazing series and I wholeheartedly recommend it! I guess I’ll have to pick this one up another time.

  • Klara and the Sun by Kazuo Ishiguro: I actually read 70% of this one before I put it down. I didn’t hate it. I was actually enjoying it but I just put it down one day and never picked it back up again. Ishiguro is one author I really want to read everything he’s ever written because I think his writing is so versatile and intriguing. Will definitely finish this one before the month runs out.

  • Fires of Vengeance by Evan Winters: I raved about the first book in this series here. I really loved it and the second book finally came out late last year. I read two chapters, asked my friend to read it and tell me if it will be worth it and never picked it back up again!

  • The Secret Lives of Church Ladies by Deesha Philyaw: I got this one on audio because I decided that an audio book would be the exact thing to get me out of my funk but I never picked it up. I always go for podcasts when I work out instead of picking it up (I’m looking at you, Altarcall!) but I’ve heard so many good things about it and it’s also about to be turned into a TV show!

  • The Bone Shard Daughter by Andrea Stewart: This has been on my TBR list and I finally got it from the library. Will definitely be going back to this because this is the one that actually kept my attention for a while there! The world building is so fascinating and the type of magic practiced in this world is unlike any I’ve ever read about. The emperor requires every child to give him a piece of their bone in other to power the constructs that protect the kingdom. I will definitely write a full book review either on here or our Instagram whenever I’m done with it.

How did I get out of my reading rut? I re-read Harry Potter! I re-read Harry Potter every year anyway, but I moved it up to this month. Having a comforting and familiar read was what finally did the trick. I read the entire first book in the Harry Potter series in one day and when I was done, I immediately picked up Girl X by Abigail Dean. Really happy to go back to my regular reading schedule! How do you usually get out of a reading rut? Let me know in the comments!

I hope you all have an amazing reading week!

Leggy

Book Related Topics, Chick-Lit, Fantasy, Fiction, Historical, literary fiction, Mystery, Uncategorized

Book Review: The Lost Apothecary by Sarah Penner

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“Healing by way of vengeance … no such thing existed; it never had. Hurting others had only injured me further.”

A female Apothecary, Nella, dispenses poisons in secret, to women who have been wronged by men. She only has two rules – none of her poisons can ever be used to harm a woman and she must record the name of the procurer and the person they intend to kill in her book, for safekeeping and insurance. On a cold February evening, a young 12 year old, Eliza comes to Nella to procure a poison to kill her master courtesy of her beloved mistress. The relationship between Eliza and Nella sets them on a dangerous path. In present day London, Caroline finds a vial near the Thames river as she tries to forget the recent reveal of her husband’s infidelity. This ancient vial leads her down a path of discovery and investigation into the lives of these women that lived 200 years before her.

Sounds like an amazing and intriguing premise for a book right? So why was a book about an apothecary killer so freaking dull?! This book started out with such great promise. I was instantly grabbed by the blurb. This was my Book of the Month pick for March and because of the number of people who picked this particular book there was a delay in delivery as they tried to procure more. I chose this book on the first of March and it only just arrived this week which even made me more excited to crack it open. To say that this story is slow is an understatement. I kept waiting for something to happen but nothing really happens. This book is written in dual timelines. One in the 1700s and the other in present day London. None of these stories intrigued me and frankly, the connection between the women in different timelines was forced at best.

Caroline comes to London to escape, after finding out her husband had an affair. She stumbles across a group of people mud larking and decides to participate. She finds an apothecary bottle inscribed with a picture of a bear and decides to investigate the bottle and I just didn’t understand why she even had the urge to do it. It just seemed so ridiculous. All the ‘conflicts’ in this book were tenuous at best and were always those conflicts arising from misunderstandings and which could have been fixed with a single sentence and I just found that to be lazy writing. I found Caroline’s story entirely pointless and would have preferred if this book focused entirely on Eliza and Nella. Caroline was entirely a caricature of a one dimensional character who put all her dreams on hold in order to get married and cater to a cheating, manipulative husband.

I expected magical realism and a deep look into the lives of women in the 1700s but this book offers nothing of the sort. I also expected mystery and more of a plot and I am so tired of all women’s back stories being about men. The author never even explored the moral ambiguity of making a career out of murdering men just because a man betrayed you in the past. There wasn’t enough character development in this book for me to even justify the lack of a juicy plot by saying it was character driven. The women in this book were all bland and one dimensional. I found it hard to like anyone even when given their back story.

I did not enjoy this book. It was filled with implausible situations, unrealistic emotions and characters that were contrived. The author did a terrible job connecting the present to the past, probably because there was literally nothing connecting the women and her trying to create a connection was unsuccessful. Caroline was boring, one dimensional and frankly, I don’t see how she could have had even a prayer of getting into Cambridge. What kind of history major does not know how to search a library’s historical archives?

Anyways, I gave this 2 stars on Goodreads because I really do think the premise is fantastic. The cover art is gorgeous and it had so much potential. I’m off to apply to Cambridge since everyone can apparently get in!

Leggy

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

Book Review: The Push by Ashley Audrain

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“You used to care about me as a person—my happiness, the things that made me thrive. Now I was a service provider. You didn’t see me as a woman. I was just the mother of your child.”

Blythe is determined to be a better mother than her own mother was to her and her grandmother was to her mother. Her and her husband, Fox, have had a fairytale romance from college to real life, gotten married and are now ready to start their family. But when baby Violet comes Blythe is convinced that there is something wrong with her but only her can see it. She finds it very hard to bond with Violet and doesn’t think she is as sweet as everyone seems to think she is. Her husband thinks she’s imagining things and the unspoken thought in his head is that she doesn’t have a maternal instinct because of her situation with her mother. Is it all in Blythe’s head? Are the women in her family just not cut out for motherhood?

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

This book is written in the first person narrative. This is Blythe’s version of the story. This story she’s telling us is tense and mysterious and had me at the edge of my seat. Is she a reliable narrative? Are we supposed to believe this insane story she’s telling us? Why is she the only person who feels this way? Even though we’re fully prepped for the tragedy that unfolds in the book, waiting for it felt like torture and when it finally happened my heart absolutely broke for this family. Blythe’s version of events sounds outrageous and insane and after awhile just like her audience, she too starts doubting her memories too.

“Before we were conceived, we existed in part as an egg in our mother’s ovary. All the eggs a woman will ever carry form in her ovaries while she is a four-month-old fetus in the womb of her mother. This means our cellular life as an egg begins in the womb of our grandmother. “

Even though this is a psychological thriller, at its core, this book is about motherhood and all the stress that comes with it but don’t go gifting this book to your friends who are mothers! It’s a raw look at how our society views mothers and how mothers come to see themselves. The way we view women’s bodies as vessels to bring forth life, the way women are rendered invisible still by this amazing and dangerous process and then the way we expect them to perform motherhood for us.

This book is also a multigenerational story. We read about Blythe’s mother, Cecilia and her grandmother, Etta. We read about the different women who have brought her to this point. At some point in the book, Blythe’s mother, Cecilia, tells her that the women in their family aren’t cut out for motherhood but Blythe is determined to forge her own path. This is a very complex portrait of a woman presented to us in her own words and we are asked over and over to judge her sanity. Is she just a product of her childhood, unable to bond with her child? Is she so deep in postpartum depression that she becomes an unreliable narrator in the relationship between her and her daughter? Or are we dismissing her as hysterical because she’s a woman and we don’t trust women in our society?

“we had both morphed into a version of ourselves that didn’t feel as good as had been advertised.”

This book is amazing because it doesn’t matter if you figure out which question is correct. It doesn’t matter if you can decide who to believe. Every possible path available to us is heartbreaking and devastating and the end will knock your wind out regardless. This book is so well written, the author writes with such a clarity that a lot of people will not expect from a thriller. Every character is well explored and never a caricature. Even though the entire book is in first person we see a full picture of everybody involved and somehow know exactly who they are. Audrain writes a riveting and tense drama that documents the terrors of a family disintegrating in the most horrific way possible and this story is going to stay with me for a very long time. There are so many trigger worthy issues in this book, so be warned! I gave it 5 stars on Goodreads. Please read this one and talk to me about it! I’d love to hear your thoughts!

Leggy

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

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

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

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

Book Review: Aunt Ivy’s Cottage by Kristin Harper

Zoey moves back to Dune Island after being laid off from her job and then finding out her ex boyfriend has spent her savings on borderline illegal investments. She goes back to live in her family house with her aunties, Sylvia and Ivy. Aunty Sylvia dies shortly after Zoey arrives on the Island, setting off a fascinating chain of events that uncover family secrets and calls into question the line of inheritance for the Island house.

Zoey’s cousin, Mark is the apparent heir of the house whenever Aunty Ivy dies. He wants to get a headstart and move her to a home for the elderly and hurry up the inheritance. He also wants to lease the house as soon as possible for the summer as the inheritance states that it cannot be sold and must be inherited by someone related to the family by blood. A throwaway comment by an old man at Aunt Sylvia’s funeral calls into question Mark’s paternity and if he is indeed qualified to inherit.

With the cousins clashing over what to do with Aunty Ivy’s cottage and fighting over renovations at the house, Zoey unexpectedly finds an ally in the local carpenter, Nick. Nick left the rat race in New York City to come and start all over again in Dune’s Island after an ugly divorce. When they meet, sparks fly and it makes Zoey wonder if she’ll ever make it off the Island ever.

I enjoyed reading this book. First of all, the cover is gorgeous. It’s a very cozy read and exactly the type of read you need during winter snuggled up in bed under the covers. I enjoyed the descriptions of the small island and the residents in it, the rumors about the older houses and the different real life situations every character in this book had to go through. Aunty Ivy was such a charming character and I just wanted her to be alright and safe. I was pleasantly surprised by this one as I had never heard of the author and she succeeded in creating a charming family. If you’re a fan of Debbie Macomber books, you’d probably enjoy this one.

As much as I enjoyed this story, I found the pacing to be very slow in some parts and rushed in others. There was far too much going on with all the characters (and I mean all of them!). Everyone had a secret or an alcoholic father/stepfather, struggling with a dead spouse, a dead sister, lost jobs, lost homes, lost savings. It all felt a little too much and caused the author not to completely focus on the main storyline.

The resolution of the paternity conflict was so rushed that I wondered if I missed some pages on my kindle. Even the response by Mark at the end felt so in contrast to the character we had seen exhibited throughout the book. It felt so untrue to his character and inauthentic. The romance between Zoey and Nick was almost non existent, I thought the author should have spiced up their relationship a little more. Just when you thought it was about to happen, she’d pull the plug on it and make them have a conflict so I never actually got to see any chemistry between them but suddenly they end up together at the end even though they never actually dated.

Overall, I thought this was a really sweet book with a charming setting especially the parts involving the aunties and their life stories. The ending felt unbelievable and seemed like the author was in a hurry to wrap everything up in a bow and give everybody their own happy ending. I gave this book 3 stars on Goodreads.

Thanks to Netgalley, Bookouture and the publisher for providing a free copy in exchange for an honest review.

You can purchase a copy of Aunt Ivy’s Cottage by Kristin Harper on Amazon .

Leggy