Book Related Topics, Chick-Lit, Fiction, LGBT, literary fiction, romance

Book Review: The Mutual Friend by Carter Bays

“Being staunch anything is pretty much interchangeable with being an asshole.”

It’s the summer of 2015 and Alice Quick needs to start living up to her potential. She’s publicly announced on Facebook that she’s going to be a doctor, so now she actually has to do it. She’s 28 years old, grieving her mother, barely scraping by as a nanny and now kicked out of her apartment. She has to get her shit together and make a plan to study for the MCAT but in this age of social media and online dating, everything is a distraction.

Her millionaire brother is having a religious awakening. Her sister-in-law has just been diagnosed with Crohn’s and is struggling with all that comes with it. Her new roommate is cosplaying still being in her 20s and loves chaos. Bays writes about one summer in New York encompassing so many different cities and characters tied together by threads unseen.

This book is about 500 pages and if I had gone to Goodreads before picking it up, I don’t think I would have read it. It’s currently 3.85 stars on there and a lot of people report being confused and not “getting” it. I would have missed out on a great book if I hadn’t just picked it up and started reading. I did not realise this book was long until I went to rate it on Goodreads and saw the page count. It read so fast and the pace never slowed for one second.

The first thing you should know about this book: it has a weird narration technique. The narration in the book is choppy and unlike anything I’ve ever read before. Bays goes from one character to another without explicitly stating whose point of view we are now hearing from and just expects you to figure it out. If you usually do your books on audio, I don’t know how this one would work, so maybe stick to the pages with this one. After a while, I got so used to it that I stopped noticing it. It was fun for me because I never got the chance to get bored with one character’s story. It made the pace of the book feel so fast and non stop. That said, stick with it. The threads holding all the characters together will be revealed at the end. Even the little things that seem to be just anecdotes from the characters all help to connect everybody in the end.

If you liked How I Met Your Mother, you’re going to like this book. If you think the journey of a story is what makes the ending worth it, then this book is for you. Bays takes such a circuitous path in telling you how to get from point A to point B. Unlike How I Met Your Mother though, this ending is actually super worth it. It fills you with so much warmth that you didn’t expect. I find that a lot of literary writers write about the internet, social media and online dating with such a judgmental, get off your phones tone but there is none of that here. Bays chronicles how we live our lives on and off social media without injecting his personal beliefs into the narrative. The facts are the facts. He’s not trying to get you to do anything other than listen to his story and pay attention to these characters he has created.

I finished this book at 11pm at night and I had to absolutely tweet about it. I mentioned on Twitter that this is a book that is not for everybody but it was definitely for me. It’s like Bays combined everything I love in a book and put it into this one. After I read the end, I was filled with such regret about it ending. I don’t usually re-read books but I think I’m going to re-read this one now that I know all the threads of the story and see if there are any easter eggs I missed. I think you should give this one a chance and stick to it even if you don’t quite get it, I say give it 100 pages and if it’s not for you then it’s not for you. But if it is for you, come talk to me on IG or twitter about it. I gave this one 5 stars on Goodreads and I know it’s going to make my top 5 of the year.

Have you heard of this one? Will you consider picking it up? Let me know in the comments.

Leggy

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

Book Review: Nora Goes Off Script by Annabel Monaghan

Nora Hamilton is a romance channel screenwriter. She knows the formula for a corny romance novel – two people have a meet cute, fall in love, 90% into the movie they fight and the man leaves, then 99% into the movie the man comes back and they live happily ever after. She’s been churning these out her entire career and taking care of her children plus free loading husband. When Nora’s marriage falls apart, she turns the story of the breakup into a screenplay that gets picked up by a big Hollywood director complete with a star studded Hollywood cast including former Sexiest Man Alive, Leo Vance who plays her ex-husband. Her tea house is a huge character in the story so the director asks to film in her house.

The morning after shooting wraps and the crew leaves, Nora finds Leo on her porch with a half-empty bottle of tequila and a proposition. He’ll pay a thousand dollars a day to stay for a week. The $7000 would give Nora enough cushion till she goes back to writing her generic romance movies for the romance channel (which honestly is so clear that the author is referring to the Hallmark channel), so she says yes. 7 days might be just enough time for them to get to know each, enough time for them to fall in love or enough time for him to never want to leave but love never adheads to a formula.

This is one of my favorite romance books of the year. I absolutely loved it. The characters are older and more mature so their relationship wasn’t bugged down by superfluous things. Nora’s kids were great additions to this book, they were charming and felt like kids. I absolutely believed the progression of Nora and Leo’s relationship. Nora was smart and intelligent and yet still felt human and relatable. Her fears and insecurities made sense to me. Also, the way Nora handled the end of her previous relationship and her attitude towards it was really well written. I understood all her choices. I also loved how all the supporting cast were extremely different and yet were still very likable people.

I gave this book 4 stars on Goodreads because I don’t think Nora protected her children enough from her new relationship. I felt like she was very selfish in the way she let Leo get embroidered into her family so quickly without giving a thought to how her kids would feel if they’re left by yet another man. It seemed so out of character for Nora to not think explicitly of how being with Leo while he was basically living with her would affect her kids.

All in all, I really loved this book. If you’ve read Book Lovers then give this one a shot. Apparently the secret to writing Ephron-esque rom coms is to just name your female protagonist Nora? Pick up this one y’all, it was absolutely delightful!

Have you read this one? Let me know in the comments. Also, if you have any book dups for this, let me know! I think I’ve found my romance sweet spot.

Leggy

Book Related Topics, Chick-Lit, Fiction, literary fiction, romance

Book Review: Book Lovers by Emily Henry

“That’s the thing about women. There’s no good way to be one. Wear your emotions on your sleeve and you’re hysterical. Keep them tucked away where your boyfriend doesn’t have to tend to them and you’re a heartless bitch.”

Nora Stephens is an amazing book agent. She gets her clients the best deals and is called “The Shark” behind her back for her ruthlessness. The only person who matters to Nora is Libby, her little sister and her family. Nora has been taking care of Libby since their mother died and is determined to make sure that Libby keeps living a stress free life even though Libby is now married with two kids and another one on the way.

This is why Nora agrees to visit Sunshine Falls, North Carolina with her sister in order to destress before the baby comes. Small towns are not her thing but she has promised Libby two weeks of uninterrupted sister bonding time including completing a list of small town romance cliches while they’re there.

“That’s life. You’re always making decisions, taking paths that lead you away from the rest before you can see where they end. Maybe that’s why we as a species love stories so much. All those chances for do-overs, opportunities to live the lives we’ll never have.”

Instead of bumping into a smart and funny but totally hot farmer while living in the small town, Nora keeps bumping into Charlie Lastra, an editor from the city who is in Sunshine Falls to take care of his aging parents and whip their affairs into shape. Charlie and Nora have met many times before but always on days when they both weren’t bringing their best to the world, so this presents a chance for them to start over and get to know each other as people not as an editor and agent.

“Maybe love shouldn’t be built on a foundation of compromises, but maybe it can’t exist without them either. Not the kind that forces two people into shapes they don’t fit in, but the kind that loosens their grips, always leaves room to grow. Compromises that say, there will be a you-shaped space in my heart, and if your shape changes, I will adapt.”

I have unwittingly become an Emily Henry completist and every book of hers just keeps getting better. I’m actually scared to read her next book because I don’t see how she can keep this momentum forever. Henry reminds me of Nora Ephron so much. Her characters have depth and interact in ways that you can see why they would fall in love. Nora and Charlie are my favorite characters of hers till date. They are smart, older and know exactly what they want in life. They both know they don’t want to have kids and there is no grand announcement about why. It’s stated as a matter of fact and moved on from.

The banter between the two characters is smart and just snappy. It is the banter I have in my head when I picture the perfect relationship back and forth between two smart and well read people. I also like that Henry didn’t lean into the enemies to lovers trope. In my opinion, they were never enemies. They just had a bad work meeting that they both put behind them, so it was so easy to see how they’d meet in another context and get along very well.

“Not every decision a woman makes is some grand indictment on other women’s lives.”

As much as this is a romance book, the best thing about Emily Henry’s books is that it’s never just about the romance. At the core of this book is a sister relationship. Nora and Libby have a very codependent relationship with Nora thinking she can shield her sister from all the hurt in the world. At first, I was very annoyed by this relationship and every time they would come up, I just wanted to go back to the amazing banter between the two main characters. But as the book unraveled and I got the backstory of their relationship and how young they both were when their mother died and the circumstances surrounding their mother’s death, I understood why Nora felt so responsible for an actual adult with a thriving family of her own now. The resolution to the sister relationship was very organic and satisfying.

“Can’t think of a greater symbol of hope than a person who’s willing to drag themselves out of bed and sing at the top of their lungs to a group of strangers trapped on a train. That tenacity should be rewarded.”

You know how at the 85-90% mark of every romance book, the main characters have some unresolved conflict then they break up before finally coming back together to give us the happily ever after we lovers of romance read these books for? This is the first time that I actually thought the conflict reflected real life. The circumstances surrounding their conflict was very mature and I could see why that would come up because they had already talked about it before they began their “relationship” so when it came up, I wasn’t surprised. Just grateful that Henry thinks very highly of her readers to sell us some silly conflict that doesn’t even make sense with the characters she has created.

“The last-page ache. The deep breath in after you’ve set the book aside.”

That quote is exactly how I felt when I completed this book. If you’ve read People We Meet on Vacation and loved it, I promise you that this book is even better. Anyway, I really liked this one. I gave this 4 stars on Goodreads.

Leggy

Book Related Topics

Hyped Books That I Found…Just Okay

Like Leggy always says, art is subjective. And books fall under that umbrella. Every avid reader has a never ending TBR list that is made even longer by the books of the moment that are getting all the buzz and being talked about everywhere. Sometimes, it’s tough reading a book after hearing all the hype but I have never thought that should be a factor in determining how one feels about a book. Regardless of what the masses say, every read is personal and every opinion will be unique to the reader.

All that being said, I wanted to share some titles that most people loved and when I read it – while not bad – just didn’t give me that book giddiness. I wanted to caveat that I have been hesistant to do this post because majority of my reads are by black women authors so naturally my list will have them in the mix and I didn’t want to feel like I was bringing them down. Again, a book on this list doesn’t mean it was a bad book!

Okay here we go:

The Vanishing Half by Brit Bennett

I can hear the gasps already. I always say this. I liked the writing on this but I thought the storyline was lacking a little bit. On the flip, I liked the story on her debut, The Mothers but the writing was weaker. I think for me, not fully understanding why she did what she did left me unsatisfied. I didn’t feel like I had closure

Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman

I have spoken so much about this book but I still put it on for the newcomers that don’t know about how I feel LOL. Anyways, my issue with this was I didn’t quite enjoy the main character and while I know it’s possible to like a book with unlikeable characters, I have realized that Iiking my characters goes a long way in me loving a book.

Black Cake by Charmaine Wilkerson

Another book that was rich with story and history but it was a lot of story that just didn’t make my book nerves tingle.

Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell

I read this back before I discovered the YA genre is not for me. I couldn’t connect with this story. In fact, at the end I think I said “that’s it?”

A Place For Us by Fatima Farheen Mirza

This was Leggy’s favorite book in 2018. Leggy reads all the good things, so I wanted to be a part of it. Guys, I tried and tried. I read it, I audio’d it and it just wasn’t hitting the mark for me. I felt so sad but I had to admit that it just wasn’t working for me.

I’ll stop here but these are just a few of the books that I have read that I felt didn’t hit the mark for me. What are some of those books for you?

Taynement

african author, african stories, Book Related Topics, Fiction, Nigerian Author, short story, We Chit Chat

We Chit Chat: Nearly All the Men in Lagos are Mad by Damilare Kuku

Leggy: The title of this book makes me laugh every time I say it. “Nearly all the Men in Lagos are Mad”. It’s such an eye catching title.

Taynement: Ha ha ha, why? Because it’s true? 🙃

Leggy: I mean…This book wasn’t in my library, so I was just going to skip it but you convinced me to get it so we can read it as a part of our Chit Chat series and I must say I don’t regret it.

Taynement: It was on every Nigerian bookstagram and a friend of mine got it for me. I’m glad you didn’t regret it. I enjoyed this book, which is saying a lot given my stance on short stories.

Leggy: I enjoyed it too. I thought it was super entertaining but I also went in with very low expectations. I just thought it was one of those books where everyone jumps on a bandwagon and it wasn’t going to give what it was supposed to give.

Taynement: Besides the compelling stories and compelling writing, what made this book a good read was knowing that all of the stories were realistic.

Leggy: I have a very different opinion.

Taynement: Let’s hear it!

Leggy: I did not find a lot of the stories realistic.

Taynement: ooooh, really?

Leggy: Sometimes I wondered what society she was writing about. Don’t get me wrong, Nigerian men are mad and the encompassing stories are realistic but some of the little details give American society.

Taynement: Oh ok, I see what you mean.

Leggy: Like in “The Anointed Wife”, the mistress gets a book deal and goes on an interview tour. That would NEVER happen in Nigeria. Ever. Especially when the man being accused of adultery is a pastor? She would be branded a harlot through and through. People would talk about it on twitter for a day, nobody will remember the pastor the next day but best believe they’ll always remember the woman to call her – ashawo.

Taynement: I think that’s where you have to suspend all belief to keep the story moving.

Leggy: Yeah, so little details like that made me roll my eyes because it was giving America not Nigeria but overall, I found the main threads of the stories true to form.

Taynement: Did you have any favorite stories?

Leggy: I really enjoyed “Ode-Pus Complex” because I found it realistic. That exact scenario has happened to someone I know.

Taynement: What a clever title. If you’re not Nigerian, “Ode” means fool.

Leggy: Yup. Such a clever title. And honestly, I didn’t hate the mother. She was direct and honest instead of doing that passive aggressive thing Nigerian mothers do.

Taynement: She was just being realistic and quite frankly, saving the girl.

Leggy: And the girl saw it for herself like woman, you can keep your son.

Taynement: One of my favorite stories was “Beard Gang” – the group of women married to closet gay men.

Leggy: I really liked that one too.

Taynement: I also liked “I knew You“, one of the few stories from the male perspective and acknowledging that he ain’t shit.

Leggy: He really wasn’t shit. I’m glad the girl was like – I’m out!

Taynement: I didn’t read reviews for the book but a friend let me know that Nigerians were up in arms about the sex scenes which were graphic. What did you think about it?

Leggy: I don’t remember any of the sex scenes to be honest, so it can’t possibly have been that graphic.

Taynement: Oh wow. Ose bad gyal! 😂😂😂😂 Well, I didn’t think it was inappropriate or too much but I know Nigerians are gonna Nigerian. In fact, I applaud a Nigerian author for not shying away from sex.

Leggy: Also, considering how much Nigerians have sex, it’s intriguing how much they don’t want that fact acknowledged. Which was your least favorite?

Taynement: Cuck up was up there. It was the story that most embodied what I hate about short stories. It felt incomplete and I didn’t get the point.

Leggy: Aww really? I didn’t mind that one. He convinced her to have sex with her rich customer and then started punishing her for it after the fact. Then had the guts to call a family meeting for her, in a house her “prostitution” got them. So she waited for the meeting, told them the full story and then asked him to leave her house for her. I quite enjoyed it.

Taynement: To be honest, I didn’t hate any story. It was a really good collection.

Leggy: I didn’t like Catfish.

Taynement: Ha ha, I didn’t mind it.

Leggy: Also was iffy about The Gigolo from Isale eko.

Taynement: I agree.

Leggy:mAlso, First Times had the cringiest sentences – “Hi, I’m Belinda but Idris calls me baby.” What? I thought the story had potential but she just couldn’t make the plot move forward in a grounded and realistic way.

Taynement: The two stories where the ladies weren’t so smart rank low for me – Sidelined and First Times.

Leggy: You know the one that made me laugh? International Relations. Honestly, this was a really good collection and very easy to read. Did you read her acknowledgment where she thanked Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie? She said she went to a reading at 16 and Chimamanda told her to take all the time she needs to write her first book and she hopes she reads this and It makes her proud. That was really sweet.

Taynement: Yes! There was also a shout out to a We Chit Chat alum author – Chiemeka Garricks.

Leggy: I’m glad older and more accomplished Nigerian authors are providing much needed mentorship for the young upcoming ones. Anyway, I definitely recommend this book. It’s very entertaining and it would make for plenty of fun discussions if you read it in a Nigerian book club.

Taynement: A nonjudgmental Nigerian book club.

Leggy: LOL. Apparently.

Taynement: Actually, I think it’ll be fun for any book club. I’d find it interesting explaining things to a non Nigerian. Anyways, what we’re trying to say is – go read the book!

Taynement & Leggy

african author, african stories, Book Related Topics, Chick-Lit, Fiction, Nigerian Author, romance, Uncategorized

Because it’s valentine’s day!

Since it’s the week of love, we have a 4 in one recommendation for you! What better way to celebrate Valentine as a book lover than to immerse yourself in the romance world of books?

  1. Yinka, Where is your Huzband? by Lizzie Damilola Blackburn
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Yinka is a 30-something, oxford educated, British Nigerian woman whose mother keeps harping on her about getting married. Yinka is still nursing a broken heart from her last relationship which ended abruptly after he moved to New York and broke up with her. When her cousin gets engaged, she is suddenly determined to have a boyfriend by her wedding in 6 months. Yinka signs up on dating apps, meets whichever church men her mum recommends she meets and completely loses herself in the search for a man. Yinka, Where is your Huzband? explores the pressure young women face to get married. This book is funny and fast paced. Even though, Yinka makes a lot of wrong decisions, you really can’t help rooting for her.

2. The Wedding Ringer by Kerry Rea

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Willa Callister used to be a successful blogger with a fantastic fiance and even more fantastic best friend until she walked in on them having sex in the apartment she shared with her fiance, 6 weeks to the wedding. Willa cancels her wedding, stops returning her phone calls and gets fired because she stopped coming into work. She moves in with her sister and her family in the suburbs to nurse her heartbreak. All she wants is to move out of columbus, to a place nobody knows her.

Maisie Mitchell needs a bridesmaid for her wedding and a chance encounter in a coffee shop with Willa, leads her to offer Willa $5000, if she would agree to be her bridesmaid and lie to everyone that they’ve known each other since childhood. Willa needs to money to get the her life back together so she agrees. As she throws herself into Maisie’s world and meets the best man, Liam Rafferty, she is suddenly rethinking her stance on love and friendship. I really enjoyed how this book was as much about friendship as it is about romantic love.

3. The Favor by Suzanne Wright

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Vienna is the longest executive assistant Dane has had, everyone calls her the Dane whisperer. She has never been able to figure out why Dane hired her but she is very grateful for the opportunity. Until Dane asks her to marry him for a year so that he can get his inheritance. His uncle left money for him and his brothers and they only inherit if they get married before 35. Dane is running out of time unless he marries and convinces everyone that the marriage is real. I loveeeee marriage of convenience tropes in romance.

I absolutely loved this book because they really stuck together no matter what. They actually talked to each other every time there was a misunderstanding instead of just turning on each other. The author kept the plot moving forward without resorting to miscommunications that can be resolved if the characters just talked to each other.

4. While We Were Dating by Jasmine Guillory

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Jasmine Guillory is my go to every time I want to read about black people falling in love and being human. Ben Stephens lands a huge advertisement ad that features movie star Anna Gardiner and finds it really hard to be professional. Anna is not only gorgeous and sexy but also very down to earth and kind. Ben has never been one for serious relationships but Anna has him rethinking his stance. Their light hearted banter and flirtation takes a deeper turn when Anna has a family emergency and Ben drives her hours so she can be with her family but can Ben handle the hollywood spotlight that comes with dating a movie star?

Have a wonderful Valentine’s day everybody! We hope you love and are loved forever!

Leggy

Book Related Topics, dystopian, literary fiction, race

Book Review: The School for Good Mothers by Jessamine Chan

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“By staying calm, they’re showing their child that a mother can handle anything. A mother is always patient. A mother is always kind. A mother is always giving. A mother never falls apart. A mother is the buffer between her child and the cruel world.”

Frida Liu has one very bad day as a mother and has her child taken away by child services. She lives in a world where CPS is now very strict and any strike will have you losing your parental rights. She’s just gone through a divorce because her husband, Gust, refused to give up his young mistress. Frida didn’t ask for any alimony and is therefore having to work part time to afford the upheaval in her life. She can’t sleep because she’s a mother and that’s why she had this very bad day, you see. After her child gets taken away, Frida has to do a government program for one full year to determine if she’ll ever have access to her child again or completely lose her parental rights.

”Now, repeat after me: I am a bad mother, but I am learning to be good.”

The very bad day Frida has that led to her child being taken away from her is not mentioned in the book’s blurb so I will avoid mentioning what actually happened for protective services to be called on her. I think it was very bold of the author to pick this particular premise because it does not win Frida any favors at all. You come away struggling with the feeling that she deserved to have her child taken away, even though I get the feeling the author wanted us to sympathize with her? There were so many other mothers in the school that didn’t do anything bad that, had they been the protagonist, it would have been easier to root for. I know people criticized the author for this choice but I actually think it was a bold decision that I did not expect from a debut author.

This book is a dystopian novel and the one year school for good mothers is the main crux of this book. It is one of the creepiest things I’ve ever read and I think it’s because it could happen. There is nothing so over the top about the concept. The women are given very lifelike, actual talking, almost human dolls (this might be the most outrageous concept in this book) that represent their kids. They’re supposed to mother them for one year and at the end of the year, they get an assessment on whether they should get their kid back or not.

The one year Frida is at the school is told by the author in a very unemotional, monotonous way. I know a lot of people might be put off by this but I found that it worked for the kind of book this is. No matter how creepy the readers might find the whole process, the author’s matter of fact way of telling the story makes it even more intriguing at how the concept of this school was ever conceived and approved.

I did not enjoy the ending of this book. I kept feeling the book building up to something and ultimately the ending wasn’t very climatic. Chan finally got me on the side of the protagonist by the end but there was no pay off for that. I felt betrayed by the author. I also found the protagonist to be a very weak woman. Her husband cheats on her while pregnant but she agrees to a no fault divorce and doesn’t ask for alimony while whining constantly about it to the readers.

Chan also can’t decide what this book is actually an allegory for. Is this book about interracial couples? Sexism? Racism? The way the system preys on black and brown bodies? How the “bad” fathers were treated in comparison to the “bad” mothers? Is the author just pointing out the general unfairness of the CPS? We’re instead subjected to lines and lines pointing out the ills of this society that very much mirrors our own without any of these issues ever really landing for the reader.

This is Jessamine Chan’s debut novel and I can’t wait to read what else she’s going to write in the future. I gave this book 3 stars on Goodreads. Have you heard of this one? Have you read it? What did you think?

Leggy

Book Related Topics, Fiction, literary fiction, romance, scifi

Our Best and Worst Books of 2021

We made it through another year. We can’t believe that we are about to enter our third year of COVID. Not much changed in our reading from last year. For Tayne, her reading was still unfocused and she didn’t get to read many books she considered great, which in turn led to not meeting her reading goal number. Leggy leaned into romance novels and read a ton of those to get by. None the less, we stick to tradition and let you know what our best and worst books of the year were.

Taynement’s Best:

Sometime in summer, I put out a PSA on twitter asking people for the best books they’d read this year and this was one of the books mentioned. It fit the bill as I read a lot of black women authors this year and bonus for being a Nigerian author. So glad I did because it was the only book that got a 5 star from me this year. It was so good and had my attention from start to finish. You can find my review on it here.

Other favorites:

  • Not All Diamonds and Rose by David Quinn (See review here)
  • Bamboozled By Jesus: How God Tricked Me into the Life of My Dreams by Yvonne Orji (See review here)
  • Malibu Rising by Taylor Jenkins Reid (See review here)
  • The Henna Artist by Alka Joshi (see review here)

Leggy’s Best:

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“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.”

When I read this book in March, I told T;ayne that I think this would be my best book for the year. This year has been a very tough reading year for me especially with literary fiction. I’ve been reading a lot of fantasy and romance because it lets me escape from this Covid world so, it was just great to find this book and be completely immersed. You can find a full review for this book here.

Other favorites:

  • Hail Mary by Andy Weir (this book is so good! It doesn’t matter if you’ve never read any science fiction! Please read it!)
  • Sorrow and Bliss by Meg Manson (I gave this book 5 stars on Goodreads!)
  • A Wicked Kind of Husband by Mia Vincy (Best romance novel I read this year, it was so much fun! If you’re looking for something light, give this a shot! We have a mini review of this one here on the blog.)
  • Malice (The Faithful and the Fallen Series) by John Gwynne (This was a fun fantasy to read!)

Taynement’s Worst:

It didn’t help that I had high expectations but there really wasn’t much that I liked about this book. Not the story, not the writing style, not the characters. It took a while to get going and when it did get going, I did not care. Don’t get me started on the ending. A true wtf moment. See review here.

Leggy’s Worst:

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You either adore a Sally Rooney book or you detest a Sally Rooney book. There is no in between. I really enjoyed Normal People by Sally Rooney, I even reviewed it here for the blog but I really didn’t like this one. Beautiful World, Where Are You comes off so pretentious that I’m almost convinced everyone who loves it is pretending (just kidding! Art is subjective). I read worse books this year but I chose this one because I expected so much from this author plus this is one of those books that I hated enough to talk about it, so it earns its spot. You can find a full review of this book here.

We hope you have enjoyed talking books with us this year. We’d love to know what your best and worsts were so let us know in the comments. Have an amazing Christmas and we’ll see you in the New Year. Happy reading everybody!

Leggy & Taynement

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

What I’ve Been Reading Lately: 4 Quick Fire Reviews

Image result for what i've been reading lately

When I’m not reading the latest literary fiction books, I’m reading backlist titles that are fun and don’t require any thinking on my part. These are the sort of books that have kept my mental health in check this year. Enjoy 4 short reviews for the price of one!

1. The Hike by Drew Magary

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“This future you live in . . . would I like it?” “Honestly, it’s probably not that different from the world you know. Some people are happy. Some people are angry. There are wars. I don’t know if time makes much of a difference. The world changes, but people act the way people always do.”

Ben takes a business trip to rural Pennsylvania and decides to take a hike while waiting for his meeting. He stumbles on a hiking path and starts down the road only to find himself in the middle of a nightmare. He is warned that if he gets off the path he will die. With no other choice but to move forward, Ben finds himself encountering monsters, and talking crabs, men from the 18th century and giants who are trying to kill him. He spends years on the path just trying to find his way home. He is told he just has to stay on the path and track down the “producer” – the creator of this bizarre world to get back to his family.

I picked up this book because it was recommended as a spooky read for halloween. They were wrong because this isn’t a spooky read at all. It reads more as fantasy or an adventure tale. There was nothing scary about it. Also, everyone mentions the last page being amazing. I didn’t think it was that great and I figured it out before I got to the end of the book, maybe because I was looking for it after reading all the reviews that were amazed at the ending.

I gave this one 3 stars on Goodreads. I really don’t know who would enjoy this book. It’s very bizarre but I guess if you liked Alice in Wonderland, you might like this one? It was a fun read to me.

2. Forge of Destiny by Yrsillar (Forge of Destiny #1)

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Ling Qi is a girl who has had to survive in the slums for years but she has just been recruited for having the talent that might make her an immortal in the future if she works hard. Ling is from a world ruled by immortals and stalked by beasts and spirits. The immortals are the richest and most revered members of the empire. Sent to the prestigious Argent Peak Sect to harness her talent, Ling is determined to take advantage of every opportunity given to her at school. She must work hard to catch up with her peers who are from rich immortal families and have been training for this their entire life. The sect grants the students only three months truce, for three months they’re not allowed to kill or fight each other but after the three months all bets are off. Ling struggles to advance and be stronger in time for the end of the truce and also gather enough allies who’ll stand and fight with her when the time comes.

I quite enjoyed this book. It ticked off a lot of my fantasy loves – female protagonist who’s not here to fuck around, school/training a la Harry Potter, strong enemies and allies. If you love progression fantasy, this is the book for you. I really enjoyed this one but I must say it got slow at the end and I wanted to see more of the bigger picture, so I gave this 3 stars on Goodreads. Ill definitely be continuing the series.

3. Iron Prince by Bryce O’Connor and Luke Chmilenko (Warformed: Stormweaver #1)

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Afflicted with a painful disease and abandoned by his parents because it, Reidon has been a ward of the state all of his life. He has had to fight all his life for a place at the academy where he has been training and getting beat up. His perseverance gets him noticed by the most powerful artificial intelligence in human history who grants him a CAD – a Combat Assistant Device- with awful specs but an infinite potential for growth. Reidon is at the bottom of his class at Galens Institute with everyone wondering why the reputable school admitted someone with such horrible specs. He becomes a target for everyone who thinks he shouldn’t be there. Reidon begins a slow but determined journey up the school rankings determined to be the greatest fighter the universe has ever seen.

Again, I love fantasy books set in school and this was such a fun read. I love main characters who are underdogs and you get to root for them as they defy the odds. I gave this one 4 stars on Goodreads. It’s nothing deep but if you’re looking for fantasy that you don’t have to think too hard about or keep up with a lot of characters then give this one a go.

4. A Wicked Kind of Husband by Mia Vincy (Longhope Abbey #3)

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“Lucy picked up her skirts and danced down the hall to her own door. “I’m going to run away to Ireland!” she yelled. Cassandra followed after her. “Haven’t the Irish suffered enough?” “Maybe a pirate will kidnap me. If I’m lucky.” “If we’re all lucky.”

Cassandra has seen her husband only once – the day she married him. She’s perfectly fine with this arrangement because she only got married to secure her inheritance anyway. She doesn’t care that he has essentially banned her from going to London because she’s still going to go when he’s guaranteed to be out of town. Until he shows up in London too and gets into an argument with her where they don’t even recognize each other. Cassandra finds herself sharing a house with her husband for the first time while he’s trying everything to get her to go back to the country and leave him alone. Joshua has his life exactly how he likes it and doesn’t want something as inconvenient as a wife ruining all that. But can he resist falling in love with her?

I really enjoyed reading this one. I’ve had pandemic brain this entire year and reading romance and fantasy have been the only thing keeping me afloat. If you enjoy historical romance, this is the book for you. The characters are absolutely delightful and watching them fall in love was really cute. Definitely give this one a shot. I gave this 3 stars on Goodreads.

Have you read any of these books? Am I the only one whose reading patterns have completely changed this year? Let me know how your reading year has been so far!

Leggy

Book Related Topics, Fantasy, Fiction, LGBT, literary fiction, romance

Book Review: Under the Whispering Door by T. J. Klune

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“Everyone loses their way at some point, and it’s not just because of their mistakes or the decisions they make. It’s because they’re horribly, wonderfully human. And the one thing I’ve learned about being human is that we can’t do this alone. When we’re lost, we need help to try to find our way again.”

Wallace is dead. He knows he’s dead because he is watching his own sparsely attended funeral and a reaper is telling him that he’s dead. Wallace cannot believe it though, he still has so many things to do. The reaper takes Wallace to a small village and to a little tea shop run by a man called Hugo. Hugo is a ferryman, he houses ghosts until they’re ready to make the crossing to the afterlife. He is basically a therapist for ghosts, helping them make peace and accept the fact that they’re dead before leading them to the door that takes them to whatever comes next after death.

With Hugo’s help, Wallace begins to rethink the way he lived his life, trying to make peace with the way he squandered his one chance at life and also starts to fall in love with Hugo. When the Manager, Hugo’s boss, comes and gives Wallace an ultimatum to cross over in 7 days, he tries to rewrite some wrongs and make peace with crossing over to whatever comes next.

“Life is senseless, and on the off chance we find something that does make sense, we hold onto it as tightly as we can.”

Last year, we talked about Klune’s The House in the Cerulean Sea on our instagram (follow us @nightstands2). I really enjoyed the book so much and recommended it to everyone. It was an absolutely delightful book and if you’re looking for a feel good book, you should definitely check it out. Anyway, I picked up this book just off of how much I enjoyed his previous book. Unfortunately, I didn’t enjoy this one as much as I did his last. Under the Whispering Door never became the book I feel like Klune promised us by having this intriguing premise. It said nothing profound or different about life and death.

I kept waiting for Klune to say something, anything at all of note but he never rose to the occasion. This book brings nothing new to the table and it really disappointed me. The world Klune imagines here isn’t even intriguing enough to bring comfort to its readers. The ghosts are not diverse enough in their experiences with life to give us a full picture of different people’s experiences with death. We only get people who didn’t get to live a full life. So many people die everyday who lived a full, interesting and long life and we couldn’t get one example of a satisfied and happy ghost who didn’t need therapizing?

“It’s never enough, is it? Time. We always think we have so much of it, but when it really counts, we don’t have enough at all.”

This book is 373 pages but honestly, it could have been half that because nothing happens. We don’t see Wallace actually confronting his life and the decisions he made while living it. Wallace’s transformation to suddenly being a good person felt ridiculous because nothing prompted it. A lot of the sentences were repetitive and cliche and Lord, that contrived romance Klune shoved in there was the most eye rolling thing in the whole book. Hugo and Wallace had nothing in common, their love for each other seemed forced and completely out of nowhere. One of the reasons I loved House in the Cerulean Sea so much is because the romance between the two main characters was slowly built up. You could see it coming and you wanted it for both of them.

In this book, the main characters go from not getting along to suddenly being soooo in love without any leadup for us. I think one of the problems with this book is that Klune was committed to telling us instead of showing us a lot of things. If a ghost and a ferryman are going to fall in love when the ferryman has seen lots of ghosts and helped them cross without any entanglement, you better let us see exactly what is so different about this particular ghost.

“He hoped wherever he was going that there’d still be the sun and the moon and the stars. He’d spent a majority of his life with his head turned down. It seemed only fair that eternity would allow him to raise his face toward the sky.”

I don’t want to give the impression that there was nothing good about this book. I just have such high standards for Klune that I was simply more disappointed than I’d be with other authors. Klune’s signature humor is still in this one especially the first 20% of the book while Wallace is still trying to accept the fact that he’s a ghost. I also appreciate how much the author is committed to telling gay stories. His characters are always LGB and he always makes them full and realized human beings where being gay isn’t ever their entire story arc, just one important part of who they are.

Ultimately, this book was too drawn out and never strayed past the shallow. It’s like a book filled with cliche platitudes about how amazing life is and how we should live life to the fullest without actually digging deep and offering anything interesting or different. I gave this one 2 stars on Goodreads.

Have you read any T. J. Klune? Are you going to read this one? I really recommend The House in the Cerulean Sea. It’s fantastic.

Leggy.