Memoirs, Uncategorized

Book Review: Inside Out by Demi Moore

Inside Out by Demi Moore

“Unfortunately, even as we try to submerge our pain deep down inside, it finds a way to bubble up: Through addiction. Through anxiety. Through eating disorders. Through insomnia. Through all the different PTSD symptoms and self-destructive behaviors that assault survivors experience for years on end. These incidents may last minutes or hours, but their impact lasts a lifetime.”

My love for celebrity memoirs continue, this time with Demi Moore’s Inside Out. Moore is famously known for being an actress who at some point was the highest paid actress in Hollywood. She is also known for her high profile marriages to both Bruce Moore and Ashton Kutcher. These days, she is living a lower key life and the last thing I saw her in was as a guest actor on Empire (alongside her daughter). This is after a publicized entry into rehab and the news that her daughters were not speaking to her. We all know there are two sides to every story so I was curious to know what her take on everything was.

“Taking responsibility for your own reaction is the gateway to freedom”

To begin, Moore gave us all the ingredients that is required for a memoir. She came raw and was quite fair when saying all sides of the story. But I think what elevated her book was you could tell that despite her struggles and hard childhood due to terrible parents, she took responsibility for her actions. You could tell that she had learned a lot from everything she had been through and done some work on herself and for herself, including forgiveness and letting go – which in her case after you read her story, you will admit was a hard feat.

“What if everything hadn’t happened to me but had happened for me? What I learned is that how we hold our experiences is everything.”

I have mentioned before that I usually do not like the childhood stories in memoirs but I didn’t mind it here. I think it’s because honestly, her parents were horrible. Particularly, her mom. I don’t want to give any spoilers but there is a chapter that details a horrific thing her mother did and it reminded me that it’s unfortunate that anyone can be a parent. Moore started early in acting and it was probably a dangerous combination, having all that dysfunction coupled with fame. She talks about her issues with her body and never feeling good enough. Throughout the book it seemed like she traded one addiction for another.

“I have since come to understand that there is no such thing as someone “loving you enough” to be better. People can only be as good as they are, no matter how much they love you.”

I hate to admit that when a celebrity has a high profile romance, that is usually what I look forward to in their memoir. I like to know what the behind the scenes was like and what was true or not. Moore did not skimp out on this with us. From her first marriage to her first husband, Freddy Moore, at age 18 (she mentions how she cheated on him the night before their wedding). To her whirlwind romance with Bruce and how it degenerated into ships in passing, even though their third child was conceived even after Bruce had asked for a divorce. Though she mentioned a lot about their union, I still think she kept some things from us, probably as respect for him and the good relationship they have.

Her story with Ashton really sounded great in the beginning stages but in hindsight, I think she probably liked how he made her feel vs. the realities of who he was. Not a good combination when you consider the deep insecurity and trauma she’d carried around. She went against her morals and did things with Ashton she didn’t want to. Including a threesome and forgiving him for cheating. Her obsession to have a baby was also so heartbreaking.

“They divorce and years later the dad mellow as men tend to when they get older. You know the kind. They’re assholes when their young then they get sweet when they age. It’s the mother who seems bitter and unpleasant by comparison but, he’s the one who made her”

I liked how Demi wrapped up her story and how she managed to clear some stories up about her perception and that infamous nude pregnant picture (there is a whole backstory to that). I hope the internal peace she seems to have found is genuine because it took a lot to get there. She sure has seen some things in life. As always, I recommend this in audio (read by Demi herself), just as I recommend this book. A good story on overcoming struggles – both man made and life lottery given – and getting out the other side. I gave this 4 stars on Goodreads.

Taynement

Chick-Lit, Fiction, literary fiction, Mystery, romance, Uncategorized

Book Review: Big Summer by Jennifer Weiner

Big Summer | Book by Jennifer Weiner | Official Publisher Page ...

 

“The trick of the internet, I had learned, was not being unapologetically yourself or completely unfiltered; it was mastering the trick of appearing that way. It was spiking your posts with just the right amount of real… which meant, of course, that you were never being real at all.”

Six years after the night that ended their friendship and inspired Daphne to start her blog, Drue Cavanaugh walks back into Daphne’s life and asks her to be her maid of honor. Drue was always the one who had everything – money, beauty, brains- but has finally alienated every friend she’s ever had with her horrible attitude and entitlement. Daphne is no longer the shy kid from high school who did anything for Drue’s friendship, she has built a plus-size blog from the ground up with a very good following and is about to land the biggest contract of her life.

Daphne recognizes that Drue’s wedding guest list is going to be filled with the best of the best and will be taking place in the most beautiful mansion in Cape Cod, so she decides to take that opportunity to boost her career. When a murder happens right before the wedding that throws everyone for a loop and lands Daphne on the suspect list, she’s forced to reevaluate her history with Drue and the reason she was invited in the first place.

“I was going to eat to nourish myself, I was going to exercise to feel strong and healthy, I was going to let go of the idea of ever being thin, once and for all, and live my life in the body that I had.”

Weiner’s writing style is great in this book. She tackles female friendships really well. Some are complex and toxic, while others are complex and yet very healthy. The high school friendship between Daphne and Drue was very intriguing to read about, it was almost like reading about an emotionally abusive relationship. Drue made Daphne feel disposable so she worked even harder to please Drue and maintain her place in Drue’s life. She would do Drue’s home works, take her verbal stings and subject herself to so many different diets just trying to fit into Drue’s squad in high school.

I loved reading about Daphne’s road to accepting her body for what it was, trying to be strong and healthy and discarding the idea that she had to be thin to be worthy of love. I love that Weiner showed that loving yourself is never a straight trending upward line. There are dips and days when we just don’t feel that love and loving oneself is a continuous and never stopping active exercise.

“When you’re a hammer, everything looks like a nail. When you’re angry, everything looks like a target. There are a lot of angry people in the world. And these days, they’re all online.”

The mystery in this book absolutely sucks. Yes, this book is part thriller/mystery but it was so unnecessary, not well executed and just felt a bit ridiculous. I think this book should have just been straight contemporary female fiction. Big Summer had so much going for it until the murder happened and then everything completely fell apart for me. The murder happened so late in the book that it just felt like an after thought and then the entire book is overtaken by an investigation and our protagonist is suddenly being questioned for murder.

Also, this book absolutely didn’t need a romantic angle. It just felt like it was trying to be everything at once – contemporary, romance, mystery, thriller, social commentary. We don’t need to validate or prove that the fat protagonist is worthy by giving her a man and that is exactly what the whole thing felt like. It was literally instalove, they fell in love in a day and he suddenly moves across states to be with her within a week. It was just ridiculous and unbelievable.

“It’s almost religious, that belief, that faith that a piece of silk or denim or cotton jersey could disguise your flaws and amplify your assets and make you both invisible and seen, just another normal woman in the world; a woman who deserves to get what she wants.”

I really wanted to love this one because I picked it up after hearing the author speak about this book and loving everything she had to say about social media and body acceptance. I enjoyed the first 50% of this book and thought it was well written, the last 50% didn’t work for me. I ended up giving this book 2 stars on Goodreads.

 

Leggy

Book Related Topics, Fiction, Historical, literary fiction, race, Uncategorized

Book Review : The Vanishing Half by Brit Bennett

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“You can escape a town, but you cannot escape blood. Somehow, the Vignes twins believed themselves capable of both.”

The Vignes twin sisters – Stella and Desiree were born in a small town in Louisiana called Mallard filled with very light skinned black people. At age 16, they run away to New Orleans to escape their small town and live bigger lives. After a year in new Orleans, their lives completely diverge. They both go on to live completely different lives – one passing as white, while the other marries the darkest black man she can find. Bennett takes us through the years, weaving together multiple strands and generations of these women, from Louisiana to Boston to California, she tells a remarkable story of trying to survive while black in America.

“There were many ways to be alienated from someone, few to actually belong”

Bennett describes the town of Mallard so well that it is almost a character in this book (I googled “is Mallard a real town?” even though the logical part of my brain knew it wasn’t). This town is a black community with a very unusual beginning:

The idea arrived to Alphonse Decuir in 1848, as he stood in the sugarcane fields he’d inherited from the father who’d once owned him. The father now dead, the now-freed son wished to build something on those acres of land that would last for centuries to come. A town for men like him, who would never be accepted as white but refused to be treated like Negroes. A third place.

So they strived to create a better negro with each generation breeding specifically for white features – skin lighter, hair wavier, eyes colored but this still didn’t inoculate them from the hands of racism. The twins’ father was still dragged out of bed in the middle of the day and lynched while his little girls watched when they were only 7 and it didn’t stop race from shaping everything about their lives for the 40 years the book spans.

10 years after she leaves, Desiree comes back to Mallard while trying to escape an abusive husband with the darkest baby the town had ever seen. Desiree’s daughter, Jude, is the darkest person in a town filled with light skinned black people. The way Mallard treats and talks about dark skinned people is quite riveting to read. The cognitive dissonance is fascinating. They throw out all the dark skinned insults – dark baby, black you’re almost blue, tar baby, if you swim with us i’m sure the water would be filled with crude oil and on and on. They never see the irony in the way they treat Jude and the way white people treat them.

“But the passe blanc were a mystery. You could never meet one who’d passed over undetected, the same way you’d never know someone who successfully faked her own death; the act could only be successful if no one ever discovered it was a ruse.”

Reading about Stella’s passing as white and being immersed in a world that absolutely hated her was fantastic to read. Bennett paints such a vivid picture of fear and hiding in plain sight in a world that wants nothing to do with you and actively participating in that world and in the prejudice that comes with finally being the oppressor. Stella marries a white man and gives birth to a blonde, blue eyed daughter who had no idea that she was anything but white.

The way little micro aggressions are laid out and “good people” are shown to think their prejudices are for everyone’s good and even the feminist movement’s exclusion of black women is explored. At first, you judge Stella for her choices but as you read more about her story you can’t help but ache for her – the loneliness, the lies her entire life is built on, the struggle of not being able to belong to your people and the surety that the people who claim to love you now would absolutely hate you if they knew who you really were.

“She hadn’t realized how long it takes to become somebody else, or how lonely it can be living in a world not meant for you.”

Bennett’s debut novel “The Mothers” was very good but this book is FANTASTIC. I loved every second of this book. This story is so well written, emotional, and is one that stays with you long after you’ve stopped reading. I truly enjoyed every character and setting used by the author. Every single line belonged here. I think everyone should read this one. I gave this book 5 stars on Goodreads and I would give it more if I could. This will definitely make my top 5 books of the year. Absolutely recommend. You should read this one and come talk to me on twitter about it.

 

Leggy

Fiction, Mystery, Uncategorized

Book Review: Saint X by Alexis Schaitkin

Amazon.com: Saint X: A Novel (9781250219596): Schaitkin, Alexis: Books

7 year old Claire is on an annual family vacation at a resort on the fictional Caribbean island of Saint X. A day before they are set to return home to the U.S, her 18 year old sister, Alison’s body washes up ashore. The local police start an investigation and two employees (who happen to be black) at the resort are arrested. With not enough evidence, the men are released. The investigation continues even after the family returns home but it yields nothing and it is closed.

Fast forward years later, Claire is an adult, living and working in New York. One day, she enters a cab and recognizes the driver as Clive Richardson, one of the men arrested for the death of her sister. Claire becomes obsessed with finding out the truth. She abandons her life and infiltrates Clive’s life in search of this truth that she has convinced herself of. Schaitkin then takes us back and shows us the back story of both Claire and Clive’s lives.

I heard a very compelling description of this book that made me add it to my TBR list immediately, so I knew what I was getting into. I would say that the book started out very strong. Schaitkin is very good at description. The way Saint X is written, right down to giving it history and folklore, you could easily forget that it is fictional.

Somewhere down the line, the book started going downhill for me as we got to know Claire. The more I got to know her, the more I found her unlikable and a victim of white privilege and grief. I found her obsession with Clive annoying but also understood it was a side effect of her never really mourning her sister. Her parents closed that chapter and never really spoke about Alison.

I did enjoy Claire getting to know her sister through her journals especially when perspective was involved. Claire idolized her sister but was forced to see her sister in a different light as she saw life through her sister’s lens and realizing her sister had her flaws, remembered events in life differently from her and had to process the way Alison viewed and felt sorry for her.

Clive on the other hand, I enjoyed his story because there was depth to it. There were many layers through his story – poverty, young fatherhood, friendship, sexuality, being an immigrant, racism and I have to give props to Schaitkin for writing the perspective of a black immigrant pretty well.

Overall, it was an enjoyable book but it did drag towards the end. It probably should have ended earlier because it began to go all over the place and it felt like filler. It has a great premise and is a good exploration of many topics as mentioned earlier. This book got 3 stars from me.

Taynement

 

 

Chick-Lit, Fiction, literary fiction, Nigerian Author, Uncategorized, We Chit Chat

We Chit Chat : Girl, Woman, Other by Bernardine Evaristo

Girl, Woman, Other

 

“… ageing is nothing to be ashamed of
especially when the entire human race is in it together”

Plot: Girl, Woman, Other follows the lives and struggles of twelve black (save for one), British women. It tells the story of their joys and struggles in navigating the cards dealt to them as they journey through life.

 

Taynement: I started this book right at the start of the pandemic and I became so overwhelmed that I kept starting and stopping before I finally finished it. I’m glad I did.

Leggy: I only read this book for the blog. I had absolutely no interest in it and didn’t even know what it was about till I had to read it at the last minute for this chit chat.

Taynement: I recommended it for the blog because it made Obama’s best books list and it won a Booker prize. I also (as usual) did not know what it was about. I went in blind. It was a pleasant surprise for me that it was about different people. I enjoy stories like that.

Leggy: I think it was super easy for me to get through it because of the structure. I could read about one person, step away and pick it right back up. It’s a very easy book to read in sections.

Taynement: Yeah, it’s not a hard book to read even if it didn’t have punctuation and capitalization for each paragraph.

Leggy: I totally forgot you had warned me about the punctuation before hand so when I downloaded it on my kindle, I thought my library had sent me a badly formatted book. Anyway, what was your favorite and least favorite story?

Taynement: My favorite story was the one with Winsome, the one whose mother was sleeping with her husband and yet she felt smug that she was in a perfect marriage. Other standouts were the story of Bummi (can I just say her spelling this Nigerian women’s name this way kills me) and Dominique in the abusive lesbian relationship.

Leggy: I loved the mother one! That was my absolute favorite because we get her daughter’s story first and she talks about how her mum goes off with her kids and husband on some weekends to give her a break and how amazing her husband is. Then BAM! we get hit by the mother’s story. It was fantastic. I enjoyed it.

Taynement: I was like WHOA because she tells us so casually. It was a one sided crush at first.

Leggy: Really enjoyed Bummi’s story too. I’m super glad she found peace and accepted her daughter’s choices at the end. Also glad her white son-in-law actually turned out to be a good person.

Taynement: But she didn’t herself find peace. Nigerian guilt goes deep. I liked that the author went there with the story.

Leggy: I actually think she did. She seemed quite content at the end. The Morgan/Meghan story was my least favorite. I confess that I skimmed it, it gave me nothing.

Taynement: Yes, I was going to mention that story as my least favorite. It didn’t capture me and I get it was a set up for GG’s story. I will say what I liked about this book is how it was so many things. Many different kinds of women were captured and it explored many themes. I’m not sure how she managed to do it but it worked.

Leggy: Do you think it did too much or just enough?

Taynement: Hmmm, that’s tough because on one hand I liked the freedom having many stories gave, but on the other hand, I will say I’d get confused due to many characters and found myself trying to see how the characters related to each other vs. enjoying the story.

Leggy: I thought it did too much. I think there could have been fewer characters. I think she tried hard to cover a variety of black women and their experience. It got super hard to keep track of who was who and how it all connected. I don’t expect one piece of literature to cover the total experience of a group of very diverse people and I think she tried to do that and it got exhausting after a while. The first 50% of this book was a breeze to read but as I got to the end, I struggled to even care anymore.

Taynement: I did a deep dive on the author and was surprised she is half Nigerian, probably why there were so many Nigerian mentions. Anyway, what was the point of Yazz?

Leggy: She was irritating but she’s also a good representation of a lot of young people growing up in this social media age. They’re sponges. She went to Morgan’s lecture and suddenly started calling herself “non-binary”. She wants to seem enlightened without actually doing any work to support that.

Taynement: Makes sense. Can I just add that there was something I liked about Mrs. King and Carole? Perspective. She legit hated this woman for so many years and it took a chance encounter to realize that Mrs. King saved her life.

Leggy: Carole was so ungrateful and I just don’t understand how she got to that conclusion.

Taynement: You have to remember she had a very traumatic experience and I think it’s so common in life to be so fixated on a story in your head so much you don’t even see the reality.

Leggy: I’m glad she finally met Mrs. King and realized she didn’t have to do all the things she did for her to get her to Oxford.

Taynement: I liked this book but I actually don’t think it’s for everyone. If someone said they didn’t care for it, I could see how. I liked how boldly unapologetic and modern it was and I think Evaristo’s dedication sums it up:

“For the sisters & the sistas & the sistahs & the sistren & the women & the womxn & the wimmin & the womyn & our brethren & our bredrin & our brothers & our bruvs & our men & our mandem & the LGBTQI+ members of the human family.”

Leggy: I agree. I liked it and I think there’s a story for everyone but ultimately, I don’t know who I’d recommend the entire book to. I gave this book 3 stars on Goodreads.

Taynement: I agree but overall, worth adding to your TBR list and checking out to see if it would be something you’d like.

 

Leggy & Taynement

 

 

 

Uncategorized

Book Review: The Bride Test by Helen Hoang

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“How did you change your life when you were trapped like this? Her history didn’t define her. Her origins didn’t define her. At least, they shouldn’t. She could be more, if she had a chance.” 

This was my Book of the Month pick for May and I just hadn’t picked it up. But after a series of duds and needing something light filled with joy and love, I decided to pick this up. We have a review of the first book in this series – The Kiss Quotient– on the blog but I never read it. Taynement liked it and after I was assured I didn’t need to read the first book to get into the second one, I dove in.

Khai Diep is on the spectrum – he has to be touched a certain way, he doesn’t understand emotions and he is still struggling with the death of his best friend, Andy. When he avoids relationships with people besides his family, his mother takes matters into her hands and returns to Vietnam to find him a bride. When the opportunity arises for Esme Tran to go to America to meet a potential rich husband, it’s an opportunity she can’t turn down because this might be the break her family especially her little girl needs. She’s determined to seduce Khai and get him to marry her before the end of the summer so she can secure the green card she needs to stay in the country.

I picked up this book for the light and joy and even though it had all those things, it also had a whole lot of depth. It was amazing to see Esme trying to figure out the immigration system and a way to stay in America if her seduction doesn’t work. I think the author shined a light on America’s immigration system and the very few options people actually have, to migrate legally. I like that the author doesn’t lump every autistic character into one group and act like they all have the same experiences and all interact with the world in the same way. I also enjoyed all the background characters especially Khai’s brother, Quan, who I really hope gets the next book.

Overall, I quite enjoyed this book and highly recommend it. I gave this book 4 stars on Goodreads because it delivered exactly what I ordered and got me out of my reading rut. If you decide to pick up this one don’t forget to read the author’s note at the end, it was fantastic and made me love the book more. The author’s mother was also an immigrant from Vietnam who came to America and married the author’s autistic father. She considers this story her mother’s story. Have you read this one? What did you think?

 

Leggy

 

 

Uncategorized

Book Review: Well Read Black Girls by Glory Edim

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“You think your pain and your heartbreak are unprecedented in the history of the world, but then you read.” ~James Baldwin

Curated by the founder of the book club -Well Read Black Girls , this eponymous title is a collection of essays by black female writers who speak about their love of reading and discovering books with characters that look like them and they could identify with. I am not sure how I came across the title but I immediately went to my library to check it out. Some of the recognizable contributors involved in this are Jesmyn Ward, Tayari Jones, Gabourey Sidibe.

I quite enjoyed this book because of the passion for literature displayed by each contributor. While reading the stories, I felt like I was sitting in a room and they were speaking directly to me on how they embarked on their literary journey. I guess the word I am looking for is, personal. Every story felt personal and authentic.

It’s very easy to forget that not every black person had the privilege we have now of seeing black authors around. I can’t imagine what it was like back then when black people were recognized even less than we are now and picking up books that almost always exclude people who look like you. The stories of the first time these contributors encountered a character they could relate to made me happy and sad at the same time.

While there was the common thread of not finding characters that seem like them, I liked that every story was not the same, emphasizing the fact that there is not one way to be black. A story like Gabourey Sidibe’s who speaks about not being wanted by her parents seems like it doesn’t fit but somehow reading/books were tied to it and again this was what made the book personal. Some were looking for black characters but some still found the magic of reading even if the characters weren’t black. I loved the deference, respect and homage given to the black writers that came before them.

In reading the acknowledgements, I found out the curator was Nigerian, well her parents are,  and I think my first thought was a little disappointment in not having a story about immigrants, tradition and culture that are such a foothold with Nigerians. There is one story about being in the diaspora, in the terms of being American and not fully connected to her parents home country of Eritrea but I think it would have been good to have a story of someone not born and raised in America and capturing the magic of reading being black in a foreign country.

One last thing that I really liked is how after each chapter, there is a list of book recommendations called “Well-Read Black Girl Recommends”. It’s by genre and all are written by black women writers (The end of the book has all the books mentioned in one huge list. The genres mentioned are:

  • Classic Novels
  • Books on Black Feminism
  • Books about Black Girlhood and Friendship
  • Science Fiction and Fantasy Books
  • Plays
  • Poetry

I recommend this book. It’s a quick read and it helps remind us to never forget history and the people who helped us progress in life.

Taynement

 

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

Image result for what i've been reading lately

Instead of giving you one review this week, I want to do a quick run down of the last 4 books I read. I did this last year and if you guys like it I can probably do it every quarter or something. Just let me know in the comments. So without further ado, here are four books you’ll either want to add to your TBR immediately or decide to drop from your list!

  1. Maybe In Another Life by Taylor Jenkins Reid:

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“I know there may be universes out there where I made different choices and they led me somewhere else, led me to someone else. And my heart breaks for every single version of me that didn’t end up with you.” 

I loved “The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo” so I decided to give Reid’s backlist titles a try. At 29, Hannah Martin moves back to Los Angeles after moving around the country so many times to finally settle down and create a life. Shortly after moving back to town, Hannah goes out to a bar one night with her best friend, Gabby and meets up with her high school boyfriend, Ethan. Right after midnight, Ethan asks Hannah to stay with him instead of leaving with Gabby. What happens if she leaves with Gabby? What happens if she leaves with Ethan? In concurrent storylines, Hannah lives out the effects of each decision. This was just an okay book for me, I thought the premise was super interesting but I thought the execution was just okay. I didn’t find the storyline where she doesn’t stay with Ethan as compelling as the one where she stays. But this book brings up a lot of questions about the concept of soulmates and fate that I found super interesting. I gave this book 2 stars on goodreads.

   2. The Ember Blade (The Darkwater Legacy #1) by Chris Wooding 

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“Every day, a person should learn something, experience something, do something that left them changed, even in a small way.”

This is the first book in this series. I came across this book randomly on audible so I did this on audio. I absolutely loved this book. Such a solid start to a hopefully great series. Born into a land under occupation, Aren has lived by the rules all his life. He’s never questioned it; that’s just the way things are. But then his father is executed for treason, and he and his best friend Cade are thrown into a prison mine, doomed to work until they drop. They’re rescued by a man who hates Aren’s father but is bound by an oath he made in the past to protect him. Pursued across the country by human and inhumane forces, Aren starts realising that the rules were not made for his people, a revolution is brewing and he’s heading straight into the thick of it. This writer makes you fall in love with his characters and then kills them off. The last death that happens in this book absolutely broke my heart. Give this book a try if you’re into fantasy. I gave this one 4 stars on goodreads.

3.  Daddy-Long-Legs by Jean Webster

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“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.”

Anyone who follows us on twitter (follow us @2nightstands!) knows I raved about this book while I was reading it. This book is an epistolary novel which is usually hit or miss for me but this was such a hit! “Daddy-Long-Legs” was written in 1912 (yes, that wasn’t a mistake!) but it reads so modern. When Jerusha Abbott, an eighteen-year-old girl living in an orphan asylum, is offered a chance to go to college all expense paid by an anonymous millionaire she is incredible happy. The only catch being that she write him letters about her experience in college regularly. I adored this novel. It reminded me a little of “Mallory Towers” but there’s a romantic element to this book which I also found extremely cute and which I guessed way before the reveal. I gave this book 4 stars on goodreads and you can get the kindle version on amazon for just 99cents.

4. The Hollow of Fear by Sherry Thomas

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“Adversity didn’t improve everyone – or the world would be filled with men and women of flawless character and sublime insight.”

This is the third book in the Lady Sherlock series. Sherlock Holmes is reimagined in this series as a woman called Charlotte Holmes and just like the real Holmes, she has a powerful sense of deduction, very intelligent, lacks access to the full spectrum of human emotions and solves mysteries. The whole premise of this series is that Charlotte has disgraced herself in society, she moves out of her parents house and sets up a mystery solving agency under the name “Mr. Sherlock Holmes” pretending to be a man. In book 3, her love interest Lord Ingram’s wife – Lady Ingram- turns up dead in his estate and all signs point to him. With Scotland Yard closing in on him, would she be able to solve the mystery in time to save Lord Ingram from the gallows? I didn’t enjoy this particular installation like I did the previous ones. I gave this one 2 stars on goodreads but will continue to read the rest of the series because I usually enjoy them. It’s fascinating to read the roles women were relegated to in the society and time period these books are set in. Really recommend starting this series if you want a fun series to get into. Also, I recommend you start from the first one because even though they never end on cliffhangers and each book solves a complete and independent mystery, the author builds up the story from each book released.

 

I hope you enjoyed these quick fire reviews. Let me know if you’ve read or intend to read any of these books in the comments. Have a great reading week everyone!

 

Leggy

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Book Review: The Great Believers by Rebecca Makkai

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“This disease has magnified all our mistakes. Some stupid thing you did when you were nineteen, the one time you weren’t careful. And it turns out that was the most important day of your life.”

Our first introduction in the book, is to a group of friends, who are all gay attending the funeral of their friend, Nico. The AIDS epidemic has just started but it is at the point where no one had figured out what was going on yet besides just knowing that gay men were dying in droves not long after finding lesions on their bodies. The year is 1986 and the book alternates between 1986 to the early 90’s in Chicago and present day in Paris.

“It’s always a matter, isn’t it, of waiting for the world to come unraveled? When things hold together, it’s always only temporary.”

In the 1986/90’s part of the book, the story is being told from the point of view of Yale, a director for an art gallery,  who is in a relationship with Charlie. Yale is trying to juggle a lot of things in his life – his relationship with Charlie, who is quite insecure and constantly worries about Yale leaving him, watching his friends die one by one and swirling in a world of fear and morbidity and trying to get the coup of his career by securing a sought after painting from the 1920’s for his gallery.

“Fiona didn’t look satisfied with the answer. But then she hadn’t understood, either, why Yale had put up with Charlie so long. She’d figure it out herself, sooner or later—the way a person could change, and yet you couldn’t let go of your initial conception. How the man who was once perfect for you could become trapped inside a stranger”

The present day narrative is told from the point of view of Fiona, Nico’s younger sister. At the time of his death, Nico’s family had not fully embraced his being gay so Fiona, only 21 took on the responsibility of taking care of him and even gave up college. Being like a  baby sister to all the guys in the group, this also made her the point person as they each got sick. In the present day, Fiona is now in her 50’s, divorced and in Paris, searching for her daughter who she has never got along with and who has just left a cult. While searching for her daughter, she also faces her ghosts from the pasts that she has been carrying all these years.

“But when someone’s gone and you’re the primary keeper of his memory—letting go would be a kind of murder, wouldn’t it? I had so much love for him, even if it was a complicated love, and where is all that love supposed to go? He was gone, so it couldn’t change, it couldn’t turn to indifference. I was stuck with all that love.”

As morbid as this book sounds, I really enjoyed it. A part of why I enjoy reading is how it exposes you to a life and a world that you would probably never experience. I cannot imagine what it was like living during the AIDS crisis. I truly cannot. I don’t know what it would feel like to constantly being tested, being afraid to be intimate with someone, not knowing if you will catch a disease that no one knows about, being treated like a leper and not even getting the best of care, your leaders doing nothing and remember a lot of these people didn’t have supportive families.

“I’ve been down that road. The thing is, if you stop blaming people and everything’s still crap, the only thing left is to blame the world. And when you blame the whole world, when it seems like the planet doesn’t want you, and if there’s a God, he hates you—that’s worse than hating yourself. It is.”

A lot of the book was about facing demons, facing mortality, facing choices made in life and how your world can be changed in a second. All the different story plots did share the common theme of the importance of preserving a memory. At the end of the day, when we are all dead and gone, we are reduced to just a memory. Sometimes the memory haunts and sometimes it is a pleasant reminder.

“If you had to choose when, in the timeline of the earth, you got to live—wouldn’t you choose the end? You haven’t missed anything, then. You die in 1920, you miss rock and roll. You die in 1600, you miss Mozart. Right? I mean, the horrors pile up, too, but no one wants to die before the end of the story.”

Alternating between timelines can be a tricky thing but Makkai does a great job of handling the two time periods and their stories. I will admit that I really could have done without Yale’s pursuit of the art and Fiona looking for her daughter. I could never quite figure out why her daughter seemed to hate her.

“…even if the world wasn’t always a good place, he reminded himself that he could trust his perceptions now. Things were so often exactly what they seemed to be”

Once again, the premise of the book really makes it seem like a history lesson, but I think you should give it a chance if you can and think more about what could be learned. Like other past grievances that have happened in history, I think this is one that should be remembered. Also, there are many other parts of the book that are fun. Some of my favorite parts are the friendship and dynamics the guys had with each other. The passion they had for their careers. I enjoyed Yale’s introspection on his life given all that was going on around him. And Fiona thinking back on her choices in life. This is a book that had all the hype in 2018 and actually deserved it.

“He said, “Everyone knows how short life is. Fiona and I know it especially. But no one ever talks about how long it is.”

Taynement

Uncategorized

We Chit Chat – Ginger Bread by Helen Oyeyemi

Gingerbread by Helen Oyeyemi

Leggy: So, Ginger Bread.

Taynement: Umm…so like wtf?

Leggy: lmaoooooo

Taynement: It’s like I know this about Helen Oyeyemi and for some reason I keep thinking this time will be different.

Leggy: This is my first Helen Oyeyemi book and it was an…interesting experience.

Taynement: This is my third book of hers. I couldn’t finish “Boy Snow Bird” and even though I found “Icarius Girl” hella weird, I was still intrigued. But this…this is something else. How do you even pitch this to publishers?

Leggy: I just don’t understand. It was weird but not weird enough to make sense. I wasn’t intrigued. Honestly, I kept reading to see if something would click into place at the end but it was actually literal. There was no metaphor waiting to be revealed. I was confused and unsure what was happening like 70% of the time.

Taynement: It basically lacked focus. I didn’t get why gingerbread was the focus. In the beginning, you think it must have more meaning but you find out, nope, it’s just gingerbread.

Leggy: I actually thought this was going to be a retelling of Hansel and Gretel because of the gingerbread title. Like what Naomi Novik does with her books, where she takes a popular fairy tale and retells it from a very compelling point of view. But this was nothing like that. It didn’t have a point. It was just a rambling and a string of well written words.

Taynement: oooh, that makes sense. I’m actually struggling with what to say about this book. It was a jigsaw puzzle that didn’t fit. How would you classify this book? As in, what genre?

Leggy: Magical realism?

Taynement: Not fantasy?

Leggy: I don’t think so. it’s super high concept and abstract. Fantasy is in a different world but super grounded in reality still.

Taynement: I mean, I don’t think there’s much left to say except for me, this was not an enjoyable book. There were so many plot points that went through so many different routes. It took you all over the place where you couldn’t even enjoy the journey because you’re spending half the time trying to figure out what is going on. It wasn’t a super long book but it felt really long. I got nothing out of this book and this might just be it for me with this author.

Leggy: This was definitely not for me. I didn’t enjoy anything about this book. There were some glimpses of potential that kept me going but at the end, nothing was realised. I would not recommend. Gave this 1 star on goodreads.

 

Taynement & Leggy