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

Book Review: The Most Likely Club by Elyssa Friedland

“The thing about problems is that they will be there tomorrow.”

It’s 1977 in Belfort, California, 4 high school senior friends are ready to take on the world. Melissa Levin, Priya Chowdury, Tara Taylor, and Suki Hammer have weathered high school together and even their yearbook superlatives confirm their dreams: Most Likely to Win the White House, Cure Cancer, Open a Michelin-Starred Restaurant, and Join the Forbes 400. Fast forward 25 years and only Suki has made her dreams come true while the rest of the girls are struggling to figure out life. As they gather at their high school reunion and look at the ones who did turn themselves into something, they dream of what life could have been if they had stuck to their goals or if life hadn’t decide to screw them over. There and then, they make each other a promise to strive more and finally achieve at least a version of their high school superlatives.

I love a second chance story, which is why I picked this one as my Book of the Month Pick. Unfortunately, this book fell flat for me because it was trying to do too much. I enjoyed learning about these women’s friendship dynamics because I quite like reading about complicated female friendships. Ultimately, I didn’t think they had a good enough friendship for the bad parts of the friendship to be overlooked or read as just complex human nature. When Melissa finds out something about Priya’s daughter on social media, instead of going to her friend with it (it’s a child for crying out loud), she uses it to feel better about her own life and her own child. She then uses it to comment snidely to her friend whenever she felt like Priya was being holier than thou. I just felt, this is not friendship. Once it involves children, you cut the shit and make sure your friend’s child isn’t putting herself in dangerous situations.

There are so many issues that the author would just throw at us and then none of it even mattered at the end of the book in her hurry to try to pull together all the threads she tried to force into the book. Tara, the bisexual character in this book told us so much about her crush on Suki. Her every high school memory is tied to Suki and the author doesn’t fail to tell us this, every chance she got. But when we finally meet Suki, which for some reason doesn’t happen till the last 15% of the book, nothing is even explored with that. It’s like the storyline just died? Suki seemed like the one with the most interesting life among the friends but we never get her actual full story and when we meet her, she’s in crisis and we can’t even follow what exactly is wrong with her husband. Melissa just happened to meet a millionaire at the high school reunion who just proceeded to fund her campaign for Mayor which I found so eye roll inducing.

The only character I liked in this book was Priya. I think her problems were real life grown woman problems that I could identify with. She was a doctor who was turning down opportunities because she couldn’t get her husband to be an actual full participant in their family. Her evolution in this book was honestly the only one worth reading. Her, standing up for herself and insisting her husband actually parent the children he helped bring into this world, was the only reason I didn’t give this book one star. I wish every character had been written as honestly as Priya was. Her struggles trying to balance being a doctor, a wife, a mother and a daughter in law was so hard for me to read. I was exhausted just reading what her day was like.

I gave this book 2 stars on Goodreads. I think you should check it out if you’re looking for something easy to get through and hopefully, this review has made your expectations realistic so you’d probably enjoy it more than I did.

Leggy

Book Related Topics, celebrity memoir, Chick-Lit, Fiction, literary fiction, Memoirs, Non-Fiction, romance

Our Best and Worst Books of 2022

Leggy’s Best:

“My point is, there’s always something. I think, as a species, we have a desire to believe that we’re living at the climax of the story. It’s a kind of narcissism. We want to believe that we’re uniquely important, that we’re living at the end of history, that now, after all these millennia of false alarms, now is finally the worst that it’s ever been, that finally we have reached the end of the world.”

Emily St. John Mandel has become such a must read author for me. I have enjoyed every book of hers I’ve ever read. I absolutely adored this book and gave it 5 stars. You can read my full review of this book here. This year has been a fantastic reading year for me in all genres so I thought it would be hard for me to pick a favorite but this was such a clear answer for me.

Other favorites:

  • Book Lovers by Emily Henry (favorite romance book this year for sure! Full review on the blog here.)
  • Dreadgod by Will Wight (The 11th book in the Cradle series by Will Wight. Please read these series if you haven’t yet. These books are so much fun. The 12th and final book comes out next year. favorite fantasy book of the year for sure!)
  • Our Wives Under the Sea by Julia Armfield (This was my favorite weird book I read this year. Goodreads marks this as horror? Didn’t get that at all but it was so strange and such amazing writing)

Taynement’s Best:

This was one of the first books I read this year and nothing else captured my attention like it. This memoir of sorts has Faith Jones recounting her time in a cult and how she got out of it. I could not believe a lot of the things I read and the fact that it was someone’s real life was really jarring. As mentioned in my full review, loads of trigger warning for this one. Any book that had me go down a rabbit hole of wikipedia and documentaries just to get more information after I was done, was bound to be top of my list.

A lot of the books I enjoyed were niche favorites (books about reality show bts) but some other favorites were:

  • Verity by Colleen Hoover (This book was an acid trip but I probably read this the fastest. Full review here)
  • The Anthropocene Reviewed by John Green (I guess I had my number of non fiction reads. Perfect blend of smart and interesting. Full review here)
  • The Good Sister by Sally Hepworth (This was a random read that I ended up liking a lot. Full review here)
  • Carrie Soto Is Back by Taylor Jenkins Reid (TJR rarely misses with me and this was not an exception)

Taynement’s Worst:

This was a recent review of mine so it should be no surprise that it is my worst. Up until writing this, I didn’t realize how much non-fiction I read this year. Well, my worst book is also in this genre. Every Tom, Dick and Harry has a memoir now whether they deserve it or not. This memoir had so many missing gaps, way too much toxic positivity and just overall missed the mark. Extra negative points for the terrible voice cadence that was used in the audio book. I just really hated this book y’all! (Full review here)

Leggy’s Worst:

Instagram loves this book. I have a mini rant about this book on our Instagram page (@nightstands2, follow us!). I picked up this book because of the hype and because I saw a trailer of the movie adaptation on Youtube and decided to just read the book instead, what a bad idea. There was nothing romantic about this book. The heroine is the exact type of character I hate in a romance – think Zooey Deschanel from New Girl, obviously hot girl who is “awkward” and has no idea she’s hot. I rolled my eyes so much reading this book it almost fell out of the sockets.

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

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

Book Review: Before I Let Go by Kennedy Ryan

“That,” she says, “is an irreversible outcome. Divorce may or may not be. Broken relationships may or may not be. You may never repair those completely, but you’re still here to try. Do you recognize what an amazing gift that is? To still be here to try?”

Yasmen and Josiah were what the kids would call “#couplegoals”. They liked and loved each other, the sex was great, they had two kids and shared a vision and a business together. Until they go through some tragedies and realize that their love was not enough to hold them together and they eventually divorce. Now, they are living in their new normal, still business partners but learning to co-parent. But spending that much time together jogs both their memories and they start to reminisce about the good times. The story takes us down memory lane to the beginning of their story, how they got here and if there is a chance for a future as a couple again.

“Depression,” she goes on, “is a liar. If it will tell you no one loves you, that you’re not good enough, that you’re a burden or, in the most extreme cases, better off dead, then it can certainly convince you that you’re better off without the man you love, and that, ultimately, he’s better off without you.”

Y’all know that I am not one for romance novels and I don’t think I quite knew it was a romance novel but it worked for me and I really liked it. I liked this because it was very realistic and definitely wasn’t a “boy meets girl” story. Ryan did a good job of giving us a clear picture of who Yasmen and Josiah were as a couple from the beginning to present day, so you feel like you know them. I liked how she introduced their traumas in just the right doses and didn’t try to shove it all down at the same time. And when I say traumas, this also serves as a trigger warning for pregnancy loss, depression and suicidal thoughts. Ryan found a way to weave these real life situations into the story while also incorporating the different reactions people have to therapy and the different ways people deal with grief.

“Do people remember the exact moment they fall in love? I’ve learned it’s not one moment, but a million of them”

I have mentioned earlier but I would reiterate that the best thing about the book was how realistic it felt and that is a testament to Ryan’s writing. From something as little as Yasmen acknowledging the versatility of black hair or being kind to her body or her rebellious teenager. As much as I mentioned the TWs earlier, there were fun moments in the book like the great friendship Yasmen develops as an adult, the passion for their restaurant and the healthy friendship between Josiah and his best friend that is open. I have said in previous reviews how I have noticed a lot of books lately seem to be incorporating food into their stories and this was no different

I can’t sing the praises of this book enough. If you are looking for a mature, happy ending having romance novel look no further. This was my first Ryan novel and I was not disappointed. It reminded me a bit of Seven Days in June. Oh , I forgot to add that there’s loads of sex in the book but that’s not why I am recommending 😀

Taynement

Chick-Lit, Fiction, romance

My Favorite Romance Books in 2022

I’ve really enjoyed reading romance this year. I find that a lot of the books I read this year were quite delightful and everything I wanted in a good book. I’m usually a fan of the romantic comedy genre. I’m not a fan of the angst in dramatic romanceo so, I’m sure my list is going to reflect that. Also, these are my favorite books that I read this year and not just books published in 2022, even though some of them are. Anyway, without any further ado, these are my 2022 favorite romance books!

  1. 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 and 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. When Vance comes to film in her house, the two connect in such a deep way and she starts experiencing life like never before. The full review of this book can be found here!

2. Funny You Should Ask by Elisa Sussman:

I’m genuinely shocked that I never reviewed this book on the blog or on our Instagram timeline, I think I just talked about it on Twitter and then thought I reviewed it? Wow. Okay here goes!

Chani Horowitz is stuck writing puff pieces which is not what she went to her MFA program for. All her former classmates are getting book deals but she’s stuck with no way to move forward. She gets hired to write a profile piece of movie star, Gabe Parker. The hottest Hollywood leading man, according to her, and currently her phone screen saver! Chani is so excited and terrified but she knows that if she keeps her cool and nails this piece, it could skyrocket her career. But what comes next proves to be life-changing in ways Chani never saw coming, as the interview turns into a whirlwind weekend that has the tabloids buzzing.

10 years later, she’s still getting asked about that profile piece. No matter what new book she’s promoting, it always came back to Gabe. The speculation of if she slept with him or not. So when Gabe’s PR reaches out and wants a recreation of that amazing profile piece and weekend, she really wants to say no because there is so much that happened during that weekend that she left out of her piece and is only known by the two of them. This book was inspired by an amazing profile piece that a journalist did on Chris Evans that I think you should read before going into this one. It makes the book even more amazing. Link HERE to the real life Chris Evans piece!

3. Book Lovers by Emily Henry:

Emily Henry has become such a reliable author for me. I’ve liked every book better than the last so I’m so excited for what she has coming next and also terrified that she’s reached her peak with this one!

Nora Stephens is an amazing book agent who loves her job and loves living in New York City. She comes to Sunshine Falls with her pregnant sister before the baby comes, to destress. Instead of running into a hot farmer and having a stereotypical Christmas romance (you know those ones!), 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 order. 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. I really loved this one. It was smart and funny and realistic. I love that Nora loves her job and makes no apologies for it. You can read my full review of this one here!

4. It Happened One Summer by Tessa Bailey:

I reviewed this one on our Instagram timeline where I review a book every Wednesday on the timeline, (follow us!- @nightstands2)

Piper Bellinger is an influencer. She just is. Think Paris Hilton at the height of her fame. She’s from a rich family, has multiple relationships that never last more than a month and she loves to party. After one of her massive parties goes awry and she lands in jail, her step father sends her to a small town in Washington to show some contrition and taxes her with running her dead father’s dive bar – a man who died when she was young and she has no connection to. Piper has not been in Westport, Washington for up to 5 minutes when she meets Brenda, a gruff fisherman, who thinks she won’t last a week outside of Beverly Hills, so she sets out to prove him wrong! Don’t be put off by the rich, spoilt girl trope here. Piper is smart, funny and kind but just happens to be spoilt and rich. I found her so likeable and it made it so easy for me to root for her. One of my favorite romance reads of the year for sure!

5. The Deal by Elle Kennedy:

This is another one I reviewed on Instagram (again, follow us! You’re missing out!)

Hannah Wells has a lot of baggage when it comes to sex and seduction but if she wants her crush’s attention, she’ll have to step out of her comfort zone and make him take notice. Even if it means tutoring the annoying, cocky captain of the hockey team in exchange for a pretend date to drive up her popularity and make her REAL crush notice her. Obviously, shenanigans ensue. I really enjoyed this book. It was such a fun read, and I hadn’t read anything in recent memory set on a college campus which I utterly enjoyed. Even though I felt this was a fun read, it’s important to note that there are trigger warnings – rape, emotional and physical abuse but all of this happens off the page and in the past, just events referred to.

Which romance books have been your favorite of the year so far? Let me know in the comments!

Leggy

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

Book Review: Mika in Real Life by Emiko Jean

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

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

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

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

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

Leggy

literary fiction, Mystery, romance, Uncategorized

Book Review: Some Of It Was Real by Nan Fischer

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

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

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

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

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

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

Have you read this one? What did you think?

Leggy

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

Book Review: Love Marriage by Monica Ali

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Taynement

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

We Chit Chat: Honey & Spice by Bolu Babalola

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Taynement: Lord!

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

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

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

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

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

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

Leggy: This book was written for twitter.

Taynement: Yes!!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Taynement & Leggy

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

Fiction, literary fiction, romance, women's fiction

Book Review: Flying Solo by Linda Holmes

“I find the way you approach this exhausting.”

Laurie Sassalyn returns to her Maine hometown of Calcasset to handle the estate of her great-aunt Dot who lived till she was in her nineties. Aunty Dot was a great adventurer who never married and whose life Laurie greatly admired. Still flustered by her canceled wedding and about to turn forty, Laurie dives into cleaning out her aunty’s house and settling her estate. When she finds a mysterious wooden duck at the bottom of a cedar chest, her curiosity is piqued because Dot isn’t a woman who hid beautiful things away. She’s even more intrigued when she comes across a love letter from one of Dot’s ex-boyfriends that ends with the line – “And anyway, if you’re ever desperate, there are always ducks, darling.”

Laurie is told that the duck is worthless so when it’s taken from her in a very unethical way, she wonders why anyone would want a worthless duck. Desperate to uncover the real reason Dot hid away the duck and its origins, Laurie embarks on an adventure that leads her to discover so much about her aunty, her family, her friends and challenges the rules she’s set for her life.

If Holmes’ name sounds familiar to you, it’s because she wrote Evvie Drake Starts Over but this book is nothing like that. Her first book was a purely romance novel but Flying Solo is more women’s fiction. If you ever wonder what the general consensus of what publishers consider women’s fiction, just read this book, it ticks every box.

Laurie has decided that she does not want to get married and she does not want kids. She likes living alone and coming back to her hometown in Maine gives her a chance to confront the choices she has made for herself. Cleaning out her aunt’s house gives her a chance to see her future clearly and helps her wonder who will be doing the clean out of her house when she dies childless. Also complicating her future is her ex boyfriend who is now twice as hot and is the librarian in their small town. He wants all the things Laurie doesn’t want – for her to move back to Maine and marry him.

This book was an easy read but the quote at the top of this post is how I felt about Laurie. She never got off her soap box. I found her exhausting, she reminded us every 3 minutes that she wants to live alone and never have kids. I really enjoyed how her best friend called her out on how judgmental she came off to people like her who had chosen the traditional path of getting married and having kids.

I liked the overall message that romance does not need to fit into any box to be legitimate and good but I still felt that the romance in this book felt very one sided with Laurie holding all the cards. But who knows? Maybe I’m so used to seeing women compromise for men that it just felt off to me to see a woman get everything she wanted without having to ever bend? This is one of those books you pick up if it’s available in your library or the paperback goes on sale. It’s an easy read that I doubt I’d remember by the end of the year.

Leggy