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

Fiction, literary fiction

Book Review: Memorial by Bryan Washington

Amazon.com: Memorial: A Novel (9780593087275): Washington, Bryan: Books

“That loving a person means letting them change when they need to. And letting them go when they need to. And that doesn’t make them any less of a home. Just maybe not one for you. Or only for a season or two. But that doesn’t diminish the love. It just changes forms.”

Benson and Mike are a couple living together in Houston. Benson is a daycare teacher who is African American and Mike is a chef who is Japanese American. They’ve been together for a few years but they are in a rut and are now wondering if they are still a couple and if they are, why are they? Mike’s mom shows up suddenly at their apartment just as he finds out his dad, who left when he was young, is dying in Japan. Mike decides to drop everything and go be with his dad and leaves Ben alone with his mom.

This book was on a lot of year end “best of” lists last year, so I was curious and really wanted to read this. Unfortunately, this was yet another book that fell flat for me. I completely understand that it was meant to be a contemplative book since both characters were going through transformations in their lives. But like most character driven books, a lot happened while nothing happened.

“We take our memories wherever we go, and what’s left are the ones that stick around, and that’s how we make a life.”

I enjoyed Mike’s story better even if I didn’t understand why he dropped everything to be with his estranged dad. His flashback story (there was A LOT of this) was cohesive and I could see how his time in Japan left an impact on his life. Part of the book blurb seems to imply heavily that Ben and Mike’s mom, Mitsuko had this heavy impact on each other, but I didn’t get that. It just felt like two people living together who cooked a lot and had conversations but nothing major.

It was good to see a book that featured two minority queer leads and it was just a shame that the story felt as lackluster as their relationship. I didn’t particularly think the storytelling was great and having an ambiguous ending definitely didn’t help. As a former Houston native, recognizing some of the locations was fun but that was about it. Well, maybe a bit of Mike’s dad, Eiju’s prickly character intrigued me but not enough to cover the things I didn’t like about the book.

“How often do you get to learn that lesson? That sometimes you just lose?”

There was a lot of “fucking” in the book and I used that word because that’s exactly how it was mentioned. There’d be a fight or yet another boring conversation and from nowhere weird descriptions involving groping and squeezing and awkward body movements would pop up and one of them would narrate they were fucking. Have I mentioned it wasn’t particularly great story telling?

I’ll stop beating on the book but as you can tell, it isn’t one I’d recommend. I gave it two stars because I actually finished it. I did this on audio and it was narrated by the author, which I think was a mistake because he didn’t sound enthusiastic and sounded flat. I don’t know if reading the book would have been better since I heard there were no quotation marks. So, read at your own peril but I’d advise skipping this one and picking up another title.

Taynement

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

Fiction, literary fiction, scifi

Book Review: Followers by Megan Angelo

Followers by Megan Angelo

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Taynement

Chick-Lit, literary fiction, romance

Book Review: One To Watch by Kate Stayman-London

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Leggy

Fiction, literary fiction

Book Review: Anxious People by Frederick Backman

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Taynement

Book Related Topics, 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