Book Related Topics, christmas, Fiction, LGBT, romance

Book Review: The Guncle by Steven Rowley

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“Grief orbits the heart. Some days the circle is greater. Those are the good days. You have room to move and dance and breathe. Some days the circle is tighter. Those are the hard ones.”

Patrick’s sister-in-law and friend, Sara, dies and his brother has to go to rehab for addiction and convinces Patrick to take the children back with him from the funeral to Palm Springs for 3 months while he takes care of his addiction. At first Patrick is very hesitant. Yes, he loves his niece and nephew but in short bursts. He’s fine handling them for weekend long visits with their mother or when he flies back to Connecticut to see his family but being their primary guardian for 90 days alone seems nuts to him.

Patrick has no idea what to expect – he’s been dealing with the loss of the love of his life in a car accident for years and doesn’t think he’s the right person to guide his niece and nephew through their grief when he hasn’t even handled his yet. With humor and a lot of heart, Rowley leads his readers through a journey of grief and family.

I really enjoyed this one. I think most of the characters were very likeable (except Patrick’s sister, yeesh, talk about overreacting to things). I especially liked GUP (Gay Uncle Patrick). I like that they made Patrick a super likable person whose vices and excesses never came before his own niece and nephew. It was easy to find his shenanigans cute and funny because you knew he would never do anything purposely to endanger the kids’ lives. Patrick used to be a famous movie star who was in a popular TV show that made lots of money (a la Friends) and after it ended, he moved out of LA to Palm Springs and stopped socializing with anyone but his gay throuple neighbors.

Even though this book is light hearted and funny, it deals with grief and death in a very real way. Rowley does not at all shy away from the hard parts of losing someone you love. Patrick is very determined to make sure the kids mourn and are able to talk about their mother in an open way, without pressuring them to snap out of it. Patrick even hopes that their kid resilience will be a way for him to mourn Sara too but he soon finds out that he would have to be the adult in this situation and show them a way to grieve in a healthy way. To do that, Patrick is forced to deal with the loss of the love of his life in a tangible way instead of the avoidance game he’s been playing with himself for years.

At some point while reading this book, I had to google – “Is Steven Rowley gay?” because this character would seem super stereotypical and offensive if it wasn’t another gay man writing this. Thankfully, he is gay and all my apprehensions vanished. This is my first Rowley book and I definitely will be picking up his backlist titles especially when I am going through one+ of my reading slumps. This book was utterly delightful and funny and I recommend it. I gave this 3 stars on Goodreads.

Leggy

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

Book Review: The Soulmate Equation by Christina Lauren

“Destiny could also be a choice, she realized. To believe or not, to be vulnerable or not, to go all in or not.”

Jess Davis is a freelance data scientist and a single mother who is juggling a lot of financial responsibilities while trying to be the perfect granddaughter and mother. Raised by her grandparents and raising her own daughter alone, she knows too much about being left by people she loves and is hesistant to venture back into the dating world. Her recent brushes with dating apps has left her even more convinced that dating is not for her in anyway but she is lonely and tired of being alone. Jess hears about Genetically – a company that claims to be able to match people based on a spit test. They claim to be able to determine who people are compatible with just by certain genetic markers and on a whim one day, she sends in her sample.

Jess understands numbers and believes that Genetically has the right objectivity needed, to find her soulmate. But tables turn when she is matched with Genetically’s founder, Dr. River Pena with a 98% match, something that has never happened in the history of Genetically. Jess has met Pena before and it was not a positive meeting. She sees him at the coffee shop she goes to every morning and he never tips, never smiles and is just grumpy.

Jess does not believe that he is her soulmate and refuses to go along with the process of getting to know him until the board of directors offer her $10, 000 to get to know Pena and bring publicity to their company ahead of the looming IPO. Despite her skepticism, Jess needs the money so she agrees to get to know him and go on a few interviews to help the company out, but she finds that she has signed up for way more than she bargained for.

This is hands down my favorite Christina Lauren book. I’ve read a couple and they always fall short of my expectations but this one was so much fun and heartwarming. The characters were completely loveable and made choices that even when I didn’t agree with them, I completely understood why. It was charming, funny and completely predictable but I didn’t care because it was srill fun to read. I finished this book in one seating. I love fake dating tropes and even though this is technically not one, it read that way and was delightful to read them fall in love and get to know each other while navigating the publicity that came with being such a high never before seen match percentage.

The usual end conflict in every romance book did not work for me. I thought the resolution was great but how it was handled was a bit wonky for me which is why this book only got 3 stars from me. I still really liked it and I definitely recommend it. I’ve been on a romance kick lately in a bid to get away from the real life problems and this one definitely pulled me in and kept my attention. I’ve heard people say this one had a slow beginning. I didn’t think so but just a heads up to stick with it if you fall in that category.

Have you guys read this one? Did you like it? Let me know in the comment section!

Leggy

Fiction, literary fiction, romance, Young Adult

Book Review: Breathtaking by Courtney Turcotte Bond

“We all have a story – our reason to breathe. We don’t get to choose how it begins, the people who enter, or the pain that comes along the way.”

The book starts with 8 year old Cara and Adam. They’re next door neighbors and best friends. Cara’s life on the outside looks like she has it all. Her family seems like a perfect one but behind closed doors it’s a different story as her dad is an alcoholic and her mother deals with their problems by obsessively cleaning every corner of house. Adam being her next door neighbor is a blessing because talking to him through their bedroom windows and her writings, are the things that are able to keep her sane.

Fast forward to Adam and Cara being 16 years old, they are in high school now and things have changed a bit, as Adam is now a popular football player and Cara devotes her time to writing in Journalism club. Their friendship has taken on a different dynamic especially as they date other people. As they work to get their friendship back on track to what it used to be, a catastrophic event happens that changes everything for both of them.

You all know, I mostly go into books blind so I had no idea what the book was about when we were offered a free copy by the author. I am so glad I read this book because I thoroughly enjoyed it. The book handles a number of difficult issues but the book is never heavy and I think that was my favorite thing about the book, how digestible it was. I am one who enjoys books that are true to life with all of its ups and downs and I felt like the book depicted this very well.

It’s told from the perspective of Cara and I really felt like I was there with her in every step of her journey. The book was written so well because I felt every sadness and triumph that Cara felt. The characters felt real to me. Due to the chaos in Cara’s home, she spent a lot of time in Adam’s home and I really appreciated how Adam’s parents provided a safe space for her and always made her feel welcome. This might seem like a little detail but as mentioned earlier, is one of the things I was referring to as real life experiences. It was its own reminder that sometimes, family isn’t always blood.

One last thing that I really liked was the relationship between Cara and Reid. Bond did a great job of building the friendship first and it was refreshing reading about a relationship that was not over sexualized (not that there is anything wrong with that!) but I think the choice of keeping it chaste was in line with the vibe of the book.

The one thing that I didn’t care for, which isn’t really a knock and more of a personal taste, was how much poetry was included in the book. As mentioned, Cara is a writer so a lot of her writing is incorporated into the book. I have never been a poetry person, it’s just never been my thing so I am ashamed to say that for the most part, I skipped through the places where there is poetry. There were a number of twists and I’d say only two were unpredictable for me. The rest you could kind of see coming. I thought one of the twists was a tad convenient but I was okay with it because it helped wrap the story up.

In case you couldn’t tell by now, I would totally recommend this book. As if the story alone wasn’t good enough, reading the author’s notes and finding out that the characters were based on real life characters made me like it even more. Bond found a way to make a book with heavy topics seem effortless and also inspiring. The pacing and the writing was enjoyable and I found myself looking forward to seeing how the story played out, which is all I ask for in a book. Support indie writers and go buy this book, it would be worth your time.

Taynement

african author, african stories, Book Related Topics, Fantasy, Fiction, literary fiction, race, romance, Uncategorized, Young Adult

Book Review: The Gilded Ones (Deathless #1) by Namina Forna

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“Like all the rest, giving us impossibilities and calling them choices.”

Deka is finally 16 and is ready to go through the blood oath ceremony that she hopes will declare her pure and make her one of the other girls. She has been othered all her life by her dark skin and tight curls but Deka is convinced that the blood oath ceremony will finally prove her worth and fetch her a husband.

What is the blood oath ceremony, you ask? Well, this deeply patriarchal society believes that on a woman’s 16th birthday, in preparation for her life as a man’s faceless and silent companion, she has to be tested for purity right before she is fitted with the mask she must wear for the rest of her life. You step into the temple, the priest cuts you. If your blood runs red, you’re pure. If it runs gold, you’re impure and the consequence is death. If you’re extremely lucky your first death will be your last. But on the day of Deka’s ceremony, her blood runs gold and changes her life forever.

As Deka struggles with her fate, a mysterious woman pops up and offers her a way out – come to the capital, be trained as a warrior and get absolution after her service or submit to her death. Of course, this is no choice at all. The Emperor is building an army filled with people like Deka (Alaka, as they’re called in the book) to fight against the Deathshrieks – monsters that attack the city and whose screams can blow out a human’s ear drums.

“Every girl knows it by heart. We recite it whenever we enter a temple – a constant reminder that women were created to be helpmeets to men, subservient to their desires and commands.”

This book starts with a bang. Forna apparently does not believe in easing her readers into the world and letting them settle. Within the first 10 pages of this book, the blood oath happened and it never let up after that. Hearing about the tenets of the religion practiced in Deka’s world made me think we were being set up for some priest conspiracy but when Deka’s blood actually ran gold I was like oh wow! I didn’t expect that to be literal at all.

The world building in this YA fantasy is very unique. I enjoyed seeing how the various villages and fractions interpreted the religion. Racism and colorism is also rampant in this world. Forna does a great job of establishing a baseline for what this world is supposed to be and its norms and rules.

“Are we girls or are we demons?”

I love a training fantasy book. Any fantasy book where a school or a training facility is involved has my heart. Once Deka gets to the Capital and the training commences, seeing her struggle to discard all that she had heard about women being second class citizens (a concept that was driven primarily by her religion) was interesting. Women aren’t allowed to run or even walk in a hurry, a woman must be demure and quiet at all times. Hearing that every day of her life, accepting that as a truth and then being forced to train as a warrior must have been quite the challenge.

The life ordinary women in Deka’s village were forced to live was simply insane. Every time the author dropped another detail, it made me get so mad at a world that isn’t even real!

“Never forget: the same gift they praise you for now, they will kill you for later.”

I think it’s common knowledge by now that I hate romance in my fantasy. It completely takes me out of the story. The romance in this book was not different. I think it added nothing to the plot and could have been completely left out. Also, this book is very obviously a debut novel. The writing is really great in some areas and extremely clunky in others. It needed to be tightened up a little. I hope this installment does well so she can get a better editor.

All in all, I quite enjoyed this one. If you liked Children of Blood and Bone, you’ll like this one. Even if you didn’t like it but are looking for a good YA fantasy book, this one is so much better and the author has great potential to be even better. I gave this 3 stars on Goodreads and I’m looking forward to the next two books which promises to be even better. I tried really hard not to drop any obvious spoilers about the ending.

Have you read this one? Let me know in the comments!

Leggy

Chick-Lit, Fiction, literary fiction, romance

Book Review: It Ends With Us by Colleen Hoover

It Ends with Us by Colleen Hoover

“I feel like everyone fakes who they really are, when deep down we’re all equal amounts of screwed up. Some of us are just better at hiding it than others.”

TRIGGER WARNING: Domestic Violence

Lily is a 23 year old who lives in Boston and we are introduced to her at her father’s funeral where she says nothing during what was supposed to be a eulogy. That same night she meets Ryle Kincaid, a neurosurgeon and a whirlwind romance ensues even when he says he is not a relationship type of guy. We get to know Lily better as she flashes back to her childhood via her journals. We see how Ellen (the celebrity and talk show host) was a focal point in her life and the important part it played when she meets the first love of her life, Atlas Corrigan at age 16.

Flash forward to present day and life is good for Lily. She starts a lifelong dream of owning a flower shop and her new employee, Alyssa who also happens to be Ryle’s sister becomes her best friend and things are good with Ryle – until the first incident happens and we enter into a journey with Lily as she asks questions about her present and explores her past to determine what her future will be.

“Just because someone hurts you doesn’t mean you can simply stop loving them. It’s not a person’s actions that hurt the most. It’s the love. If there was no love attached to the action, the pain would be a little easier to bear.”

I have actually never read a Colleen Hoover novel and to my knowledge, this was a change of pace and I am glad this was my first venture into her world. This was a story that was about the complexities of life with a sensitive topic as its focal point and it was written and depicted very well. I think the book summary doesn’t do it justice as it portrays it more like a romance novel with a love triangle involved which is not the case at all. What I liked most about this book were the many layers. Yes, it had domestic violence but it was not the only focal point. This is also a story about friendship, PTSD, family problems, homelessness and that made it rich.

“All humans make mistakes. What determines a person’s character aren’t the mistakes we make. It’s how we take those mistakes and turn them into lessons rather than excuses.”

I like that this book gave me perspective. We always think domestic violence is cut and dry and it’s this mean and evil person but Hoover paints a picture and makes you ask what happens when the person isn’t this mean ogre and is by all accounts a “great” guy. The fact that Hoover was able to make me feel conflicted even though it was clear as day is a testament to how well the book was written.

That’s what fifteen minutes can do to a person. It can destroy them. It can save them

At times, I felt Lily sounded juvenile but then I had to remember that she was 23. But that was me nit picking because another thing Hoover made me realize is, strength comes in different forms and in so many ways, Lily was strong. I enjoyed seeing the friendship develop between Lily and Alyssa because most romance novels focus so much on developing the relationship with the man but not nearly enough on the friendship, so seeing this support was refreshing. This book was not perfect. I gave it 3 stars because it did still have elements of the romance genre that I am not particularly a fan of. It gave me a glimpse to how other Hoover books might be. The elements I speak of are scenarios that aren’t necessarily always realistic. Where things just happen to work out easily that would otherwise in the real world be a headache.

“It stops here. With me and you. It ends with us.”

Overall, I do recommend this book because you get a combination of things and it was an easy book to get through in terms of writing. It wasn’t tedious which is still a mystery to me how it still maintained a fluffy vibe. One of my favorite things about the book was the author’s note, so if you get a chance make sure you read that. It gave context to why she wrote this book and how it was based on her personal experience. I liked seeing how it gave her a different view of her own mother and a different appreciation.

A lot of people have mentioned how it made them cry, I am personally not a book crier and I can’t say I felt that emotional rollercoaster that most felt but that’s personal. If you are the kind who looks to books for a good cry, this might do it for you.

Taynement

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

Book Review: People We Meet on Vacation by Emily Henry

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“It hurts to want it all, so many things that can’t coexist within the same life.”

Poppy and Alex are best friends who go on vacation every summer. They’re complete opposites. Poppy loves things, Alex hates things. Poppy is fun and loves to meet people and wild. Alex is reserved and wears khakis and only travels with Poppy. For most of the year they live apart, Alex in Ohio, Poppy in New York City. They communicate mostly on the phone until they see each other once a year every summer vacation. For a decade, they’ve taken this summer trip until two years ago when something happened during the trip and completely ruins their friendship. When the book begins, they haven’t spoken in two years. Poppy is unhappy and the job that used to bring her so much joy no longer does. She’s convinced that if she can get Alex to go on one more summer trip that it will save their friendship and take them back to exactly how they used to be.

“I’m on vacation. Vacations always end. It’s the very fact that it’s finite that makes traveling special. You could move to any one of those destinations you loved in small doses, and it wouldn’t be the spellbinding, life-altering seven days you spend there as a guest, letting a place into your heart fully, letting it change you.”

The trope of friends to lovers has been done to death but I still enjoyed it and this story felt fresh. I think the years they’ve been friends and the depth of their friendship was adequate enough to see how they could have fallen in love with each other. It didn’t feel overdone or stale. Their banter with each other was funny and had me smiling as I read. Even with the sexual tension simmering below, you could tell they were actual friends and that without the attraction they would have still been friends. Also, both the characters are loveable. Nothing kills a romance book more than characters who nobody wants to fall in love with in real life. Poppy is sweet but sassy and outgoing with a very vulnerable side that she only shows to the people super close to her. Alex is very straitlaced, having been forced to grow up so quickly after his mother died and his father fell apart.

This story is narrated by Poppy and is told in alternating timelines. She takes us through the last 10 years of summer vacation with Alex, while we read about their present day falling out and the pains she’s taking to repair it. I quite enjoyed the alternating timelines. The past Alex and Poppy were quite different and a lot more fun than what we found in the present. If you do not like alternating timelines, you might not like this book.

Towards the end, in a bid to force the last conflict that always comes up in romance novels, Henry misses the mark and the book loses its momentum a little bit. Poppy completely forgets how to use her words and instead avoids all manner of communication. A lot of the things she did and said towards the end didn’t make sense for her character. I felt that the final conflict of the book was contrived and not well written at all.

The reason for their fall out was also very obvious from the start but the author drew it out for so long and the characters kept referring to “what happened in Croatia”. The drag out added nothing to the story and I’m sure Henry wrote it to add a little tension. But it’s a romance book about two friends, of course we know what happened in Croatia to make their friendship completely awkward.

All in all, I quite enjoyed this book. It was an easy one to read and wasn’t completely fluffy and without depth. I gave this one 3 stars on Goodreads and I recommend it if you’re looking for something on the lighter spectrum.

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

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

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

african author, Book Related Topics, Chick-Lit, Fiction, literary fiction, Nigerian Author, race, romance, Uncategorized

Book Review: Ties That Tether by Jane Igharo

Ties that Tether - The Stripe

“How much more of yourself, of your culture will you lose to accommodate him in your life?” 

As you may have heard me say a million times this year, it’s been a struggle reading year and I have been doing all I can just to read anything my attention can focus on. I have no recollection of being on a waitlist for this book but once it popped up as available and I saw a Nigerian author, I decided to go for it. Also, is the cover gorgeous or what?

Azere is a 25 year old Nigerian woman who lives in Canada. Before moving to Canada from Nigeria when she was 12 years old, she makes a promise to her dying father to preserve the culture and marry a Nigerian man. Her mother takes this promise to heart and is always on her case to get married and is always matchmaking and setting Azere up on dates. Azere always obliges her mom and goes on these dates and confines her dating pool to just Nigerian men.

Yet another date goes awry and Azere goes to the bar to decompress, meets Rafael and ends up in a one night stand with him. The relationship goes beyond the one night stand and Azere is torn between pleasing her mom and a chance at happiness.

It didn’t take long for me to realize I’d landed on a romance novel but I decided to stick through it to support a Nigerian author. I liked this book enough. Any Nigerian/immigrant can relate to the story and realize it is not far fetched. This book was very heavy on pop culture references but was a good balance of both Western and Nigerian pop culture. A bit on the nose at times but I think it symbolized Azere’s internal struggle of growing up Nigerian and Canadian and identifying as both.

I liked that the book provided insight into the Nigerian culture. Even as a Nigerian, I learned a bit more as Azere is from Edo state. For example, I didn’t know Ogbono soup was from that region. I liked the Edo names mentioned and their full meaning and Azere explains some traditions and their origin. I picked up some names that I thought were just beautiful. I liked the overall message of choosing your happiness and not being tethered due to unhealthy obligations.

The flip side of the book is that you can tell that it is a debut book. It has a slight amateurish feel to it and suffers from the verboseness most Nigerians have. Azere’s character came off as almost childlike/immature. The way she kept wanting to please her mom and keep a promise to her dying father annoyed me. I almost couldn’t believe she had the one night stand given the strong hold her mom seemed to have on her. To be quite honest, her mom came off as a bully to me.

Some storylines felt disjointed in a bid to create anticipation and further the story. It sometimes read like dress up where the story being told was like a recreation of all the various movie and book plot lines we’ve read so some conversations came off clunky. A big blowout between Rafael and Azere and their reaction to it had me scratching my head.

Overall, flaws withstanding, I think it worked. It goes by quickly and is an easy read. It’s one of those where you have to overlook things and just take it for what it is. I gave this 3stars on Goodreads.

Taynement