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Book Review: Monogamy by Sue Miller

Monogamy' by Sue Miller book review - The Washington Post

“Just, that we read fiction because it suggests that life has a shape, and we feel . . . consoled, I think he said, by that notion. Consoled to think that life isn’t just one damned thing after another. That it has sequence and consequence.” She smiled at Edith. “I think it was more or less the idea that fictional narrative made life seem to matter, that it pushed away the meaninglessness of death.”

A second marriage for both, Annie and Graham have been married for 30 years. Graham is an outgoing, charming big guy who owns a bookstore while Annie is the reserved one of the two and a photographer. They have a daughter, Sarah while Graham has a son, Lucas with his ex-wife, Frieda. Frieda and Graham are still on friendly terms and Annie, quite comfortable in her relationship with Graham, is also friends with Frieda.

When Graham dies suddenly, Annie’s world is rocked and she is plunged into deep grief. As she tries to adjust to her new life without Graham, she finds out that he had been unfaithful to her and she finds her grief journey derailed as she looks back on their years together and wonders how real it was.

This book was boring.

I am not opposed to character-driven books, which this book was, but this was just not compelling. I absolutely got the idea of what this book was meant to be. It was supposed to be a character’s introspective look into their life as they go through the journey of life’s complicated experiences – love, loss, friendships etc. Annie has a full life or so it seems but after Graham’s death, she questions if her life was full or if it was full because of Graham’s life. I think the life experiences and journey Annie went through were authentic and relatable.

“Love isn’t just what two people have together, it’s what two people make together, so of course, it’s never the same.”

Now the problem was the author tried to pack in ALL of the experiences in this story and it just ended up jumbled. Starting from the repressed memory that was awakened by Graham’s death, the complicated relationship with her daughter, wondering about her career and many more. Granted, she was going through inventory of her life, it was hard to keep track of what was Annie’s bone of contention of the day.

The book was mostly from Annie’s perspective but every now and then it would take a detour and be told from other people’s perspectives like Sarah, Lucas and Frieda. This would have been great if their sections were fully fleshed out but it was like we were told a bit and that was it. I wasn’t quite sure what the purpose of that was. And also, we don’t figure out the time period of the book until much later.

I gradually lost interest as the book went on. As mentioned earlier, I think it was all over the place and I didn’t know where to put my focus on. I will say that this actually worked in helping the reader understand how complicated Annie must have been feeling. You could feel the shift when Annie moved from sadness to anger. The last minute addition of a person from Annie’s past was the final thing that made me sure that I did not like this book.

As you have probably guessed, I don’t think I would recommend this book. I am surprised that I even finished this book because it very much felt like a boring conversation I could not get out of. If you do take the chance to read this book, you can’t say you haven’t been warned.

Taynement

Book Related Topics, Fiction, literary fiction, Mystery, thriller, Uncategorized

Book Review: The Survivors by Jane Harper

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Kieran comes home to help his mother pack up his childhood home when his father’s dementia gets really bad. He returns home with his girlfriend and their new child, 12 years after an accident changed the community forever. He still has a lot of guilt around what occurred on the day his brother and his best friend died. During his visit, a body washes up on the beach and a can of worms is opened all over again. What connection could this have, to what happened 12 years ago?

Harper is known for her well written atmospheric mysteries. If you’ve read The Dry, then you’d know exactly what to expect. Survivors is set in a small coastal community that is losing its industries. The tourists aren’t coming as they used to, shops are closing up earlier and during the summer, more people are heading up for greener pastures. When Harper describes the caves in the book and how they behave at high tide, it’s incredibly eerie to imagine.

Ultimately though, this book fell completely flat to me. The mystery was not gripping at all because, the only person the book made me care about was Kieran and I knew it was also not him who committed the murder so I was not at all invested in the mystery. It took me a long time to get into this book, there was a lot of padding and a lot of insinuations before the author finally revealed what happened 12 years ago and it was underwhelming. Also, the more the author tried to plant red herrings to lead us away from the actual murderer, the more I didn’t care. I’m usually really on the alert when reading mystery books and always trying to guess who did it but I just didn’t care with this book.

Harper is usually great with slow burns but this one just seemed so repetitive. I don’t think this book is an accurate representation of how good her mysteries usually are. The end fell flat for me. The murderer is revealed and then the book just abruptly ends. We don’t get an epilogue talking about the community’s reaction to who it was. The book just ends! In fact, it really just fizzled out like the author suddenly got tired of the characters and just couldn’t bear to write another word about these people ever again.

Anyway, even though this review doesn’t sound like it, I read this book in one sitting and thought it was okay. I think you should give her other books a try (The Dry, The Lost Man) though before you get to this one because this is definitely not her best work. Maybe if you read it with a lower expectation than I did, then you’d like it better. Also, I recognize that I’m in the minority with how I felt about this book but that’s okay. I gave this book 3 stars on Goodreads mainly because it is well written even if the story fell flat.

Leggy

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

So, It’s Valentine’s Week And You Just Watched Bridgerton – 5 Romance Read Recommendations

Bridgerton hasn’t left Netflix’s Top 10 since it debuted in December, and it proves once again that I’m right when I say, they need to make more romantic comedies/dramas! This made me long for my secondary school days when I used to consume romance novels that were highly inappropriate for me. It’s also Valentine’s week so no better time to revel in love than this.

Below, I have 5 romance book recommendations for you and I hope you enjoy them. I also hope that you love and are loved forever. Happy Valentine’s day, everybody!

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  1. A League of Extraordinary Women series by Evie Dunmore

The desire to be free is an instinct deeply ingrained in every living thing. Trap any wild animal, and it will bite off its own paw to be free again. Capture a man, and breaking free will become his sole mission. The only way to dissuade a creature from striving for its freedom is to break it … I, for my part, am not prepared to break half the population of Britain.

There are two books already out in this series and one expected to be published this year. The author is on a one book a year schedule for now. This series follows the lives of the suffrages in the 1800s as they navigate the politics of equality and of course, fall in love! The first book (Bringing Down the Duke), which I’ve read, follows Annabelle Archer who in exchange for a chance to study at the University of Oxford must support the women’s rights movement. Her task is to recruit men of influence to champion their cause, so she sets her sights on Sebastian Devereux. Sebastian has to find a wife of equal footing, not a commoner who he could never make his Duchess but they both can’t resist the consuming attraction they feel for each other!

2. Daddy-Long-Legs by Jean Webster

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“Also—But what’s the use of arguing with a man? You belong, Mr. Smith, to a sex devoid of a sense of logic. To bring a man into line, there are just two methods: one must either coax or be disagreeable. I scorn to coax men for what I wish. Therefore, I must be disagreeable.”

This book I’m about to introduce you to was published in 1912 but reads like it could have been published today. It talks about women’s rights and religion and ideas about life that are just so amazing and incredible. It’s really fascinating to me that women have been fighting these battles for hundreds of years and we’re still not there yet.

Anyway, this is an epistolary novel. It’s written completely in the form of letters between Jerusha Abott and an unknown benefactor. Jerusha has spent her entire life at an orphanage and is given a chance by an unknown millionaire benefactor to go to college, completely paid for and with an allowance, with the only catch being that she write to him. She writes to him throughout college and of course, romance ensues. This book is free on Kindle so take advantage of that. I thoroughly enjoyed this book! Don’t let the year it was published keep you from giving this amazing book a chance. It has so many amazing quotes, I wish I could post them all!

3. The Boyfriend Project by Farrah Rochon

Samiah Brooks just discovered with the rest of the world via twitter that her boyfriend has been cheating on her with two other women. Even though she is humiliated, she and the other girls get together and make a pact to focus on themselves for 6 months – no men, no dates, no romance. Samiah decides to use this much needed break to focus on her career and launch the app she’s been wanting to, when in comes Daniel Collins. Samiah is torn between upholding her part of the bargain or just giving Collins a chance. Collins is also not who he claims to be, is he a great guy or pretending to be? This book has a black female protagonist so check it out if that’s something you’re interested in!

4. The Ex Talk by Rachel Lynn Solomon

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Shay Goldstein has been working at her Seattle public radio station for the past 10 years. When the struggling station needs a new concept, Shay comes up with a show about two exes talking about love and giving out relationship advice. Her boss is ecstatic about the idea and asks her to do it with her least favorite coworker Dominic. They already clash like exes so why not make some money off of it? Their show is an immediate hit and as these two opposites pretend to be exes to save their jobs, will they fall in love? (Yes, of course they will!)

5. The Bridgerton Series by Julia Quinn:

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Immediately I finished the first series on Netflix, I immediately went to my library to request the second book – The Viscount Who Loved Me. It was a delight to read. I love that this series focuses on women who are as strong as they could possibly be, in the time period its set. They’re smart, witty and trying to create as good a world as they can possibly get. If you’re in a Bridgerton slump, just remember that there are plenty of heroes in this series waiting for your reading pleasure.

Hope you find something to read from these selections. Once again, Happy Valentine’s day!

Leggy

Book Related Topics, Uncategorized

Our 2021 Reading Goals + Giveaway Winner!

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Leggy

Happy New Year! I know 2020 was a year like no other and plain horrible for a lot of people but I hope the holidays brought you some reprieve from real life. Last year my Goodreads challenge was set at 70, like it always is and I read 73 books. Not bad, even though I thought I was going to read waaay more. But after Thanksgiving I could barely get myself to sit down and read. I enjoy setting book challenges because it pushes me to turn to reading instead of the TV during my down times. I know the pandemic affected so many people’s reading lives but I hope any reading you managed to do last year brought you some happiness in the middle of this utter shit show.

I’m still setting my Goodreads challenge to 70 books but I do not have any specific goals for myself besides that. I really like my reading life, I read diversely and enjoy every genre so I think i’m just going to relax and go with the flow this year.

Taynement

As I said a 100 times last year, it just wasn’t a good reading year for me. There was so much stress and real life things going on and I could never really get myself to focus. I started out really well, enjoying the books I read and even gave a 5 star rating during that time till the world turned upside down.

I have the same book goal every year – 35. I am not tied to any number of books to read because there are no rules but like Leggy said, I set a goal number because it pushes me to read. So times where I went to watch a show or read my magazines, I’ll make the choice to read. Reading overall enhances my life, so it’s something I want to keep doing. Doesn’t hurt that I enjoy it, so its not a chore.

Last year, I said I wanted to read a classic or two and didn’t. This year I am going to lean into enjoying my love for new fiction and read as many as I can. I do want to try incorporating backlists into my TBR pile (I’ve been wanting to read Silver Sparrow for so long!). I give up on diversifying my genres to include fantasy and sci fi. I will try though on the non fiction front.

Overall, I hope I read many books that give me joy and I wish the same for you. Happy New (Reading) Year!!

GIVEAWAY WINNERS

Now for the exciting part.

*Drumroll please*

The winner is:

Pasha!!!!!! 

Congratulations!! You win a $50 Amazon gift card and you can buy as many books as you like! Please DM us your email address to receive your gift. Thank you all for entering. We appreciate all the love and support. Till the next giveaway!

Taynement & 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

Uncategorized

Audio Book Narrator Spotlight: Bahni Turpin

AudioFile Magazine Spotlight on Narrator Bahni Turpin

I never thought I’d see the day when audio books would be a big part of my life. When a friend first suggested it, I told her it was not for me that it felt awkward and I couldn’t concentrate. That was till I tried it and decided to listen to a book during my drive. Till today, that is pretty much the place I listen to my audio books the most. I have now fully embraced it and it has become a part of my “reading” life. I am always reading two books at a time. One with my eyes and one with my ears.

Recently I was listening to Tayari Jones’ recent audible original, “Half Light” and I am like this voice sounds really familiar and a quick google search confirmed that I was right. I now knew that being a huge audio book listener comes with coming across familiar voices from time to time. Turpin has a vast and impressive resume that spans all genres and to my delight, we’d read and reviewed a lot of the books that she has narrated. With a lot of awards under her belt for narrating, it was so great to see a black woman flourishing in this industry and it was only right that I shared some of her works with you guys.

  1. The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas
The Hate U Give – BookHippie.com

The popular book turned into a movie, you can see our review on it here.

2. Transcendent Kingdom by Yaa Gyasi

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The much expected follow up work after Homegoing. You can find our review here.

3. Children of Blood and Bone by Tomi Adeyemi

Children of blood and bone by Adeyemi, Tomi (9781509871353 ...

This was a much talked about book that was the debut of a trilogy. You can find our review here.

4. The Southern Book Club’s Guide to Slaying Vampires by Grady Hendrix

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The book with the out of this world premise. You can find our review on it here.

5. A Spark Of Light by Jodi Picoult

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She recorded this best selling author’s latest work. You can find our review on it here.

Other books you may recognize her from:

  • The Help by Kathryn Stockett
  • The Book of Lost Friends by Lisa Wingate
  • The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by: Rebecca Skloot
  • The Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead
  • The Sun Is Also a Star by Nicola Yoon
  • Bad Feminist by Roxane Gay
  • From the Desk of Zoe Washington by Janae Marks

These are just some of her works that you may recognize, trust me there is a long list of books that she has narrated. I’d love to know if you have listened (or read) any of her books. If you are an audio book listener, do you notice your narrator voices and do you have any faves?

Taynement

african author, Fiction, literary fiction, Nigerian Author, Uncategorized

Book Review : His Only Wife by Peace Adzo Medie

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“Elikem married me in absentia; he did not come to our wedding.”

Afi is a young seamstress who is offered a life changing opportunity. She is offered the position of the chosen wife of Elikem Ganyo – a man she doesn’t truly know. His family gives her a task – make him fall in love with you and leave his wife (the mysterious Liberian woman) who everyone seems to have terrible things to say about. He doesn’t even show up to their wedding, her only contact with him before the wedding day is a phone call acknowledging her presence in his life. After the wedding, she is whisked to Accra and installed in a luxury apartment, with a driver, a huge allowance and anything she can ever wish for except of course, the actual man she married.

“Please, put love aside and be practical. Love will not put food on the table; it won’t hold you at night.”

If you enjoyed Stay With Me by Ayobami Adebayo, you’d probably enjoy this book. I’ve heard white book people compare this book to Crazy, Rich Asians and that’s ridiculous, this book is nothing like that. It’s not frivolous or “fun”. This is a quick and easy read but it tackles a lot of familiar African issues.

What I enjoyed about this book is that it shows how the status of an African woman is always defined in relation to the men they are bound to. The women in this book are all different and it shows us the different ways women adapt to the society they find themselves in and the ways they decide to exist in it. Some women end up being the pillars of the patriarchal society that has oppressed them, some women discover that they can rise above it and define their own paths and some decide to just go with the flow and take the little wins wherever they can get them.

I loved the tension between Afi’s family and the Ganyos as Afi became more of herself and built a sense of self. She stopped being the grateful girl who was indebted to the Ganyos and became a woman demanding better for herself. I loved watching the power dynamic play out between this powerful and rich family and the young woman they empowered unknowingly.

“All men are the same, they only know how to love themselves and to sit on women.”

As much I enjoyed watching Afi grow, I still found Afi extremely naive. I’m Nigerian and this story is as old as time and everyone knows what the deal is. First of all, I couldn’t believe Afi believed all the things her in-laws told her about Elikem’s first wife – that she is ugly and rude and everything bad. I couldn’t believe how the entire story played out. I must admit that I was extremely irritated with Afi demanding more from the arrangement. I thought she should have been old enough to accept the perks and ignore the drawbacks. I found it hard to accept that a girl who grew up in Ghana was this naive when she walked into this arrangement knowing fully that there was another woman involved in the mix. So whenever she talked about loving Elikem, I couldn’t stop myself from rolling my eyes. Nothing about Afi’s behaviour rang true or realistic to me.

There were some plot threads that the author started but never took anywhere. In the beginning of the book, Yaya (Elikem’s sister) takes Afi to a party where she meets a young handsome young man. This meeting is told to us in great detail and she runs into the young man some other time but nothing happens. That character just disappears and the author does nothing with him for the rest of the book, so what was the purpose of those scenes? This is her debut book so I’m going to be looking out for what she writes next because I think this book had the potential to be great but just stopped short.

This book is very readable and the imagery the author conjures is so fantastic that you can see the book play out right in front of you. The descriptions of the various uncles and aunties who are there to suck your entire resources were spot on! The Uncle character in this book is so realistic and the descriptions of contemporary Ghanaian life were great. Even though I gave this book 3 stars, I hope you still give it a chance. I recommend it!

Leggy

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

Book Review: Transcendent Kingdom by Yaa Gyasi

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“My memories of him, though few, are mostly pleasant, but memories of people you hardly know are often permitted a kind of pleasantness in their absence. It’s those who stay who are judged the harshest, simply by virtue of being around to be judged.”

Gifty is a fifth-year candidate in neuroscience at Stanford School of Medicine studying reward-seeking behavior in mice and the neural circuits of depression and addiction. Her brother, Nana, was a gifted high school athlete who died of a heroin overdose after a knee injury left him hooked on OxyContin. Her mother’s pastor calls to let her know that her mother is going through a depressive episode and she asks him to send her to California.

While Gyasi’s outstanding debut novel, Homegoing, zooms out with its broad story spanning generations across Ghana and the United States, Transcendent Kingdom zooms in to a specific Ghanaian immigrant family in Huntsville, Alabama as the family explores grief, faith, racism in the evangelical church, addiction, science, and trying to develop a sense of belonging.

“You cannot go around claiming that an idea or an item was imported into a given society unless you could also conclude that to the best of your knowledge, there is not, and never was any word or phrase in that society’s indigenous language which describes that idea or item”

This book is written in a first person point of view. Gifty tells us the history of her family as best as she can remember it reading as a stream of thoughts. It’s not chronological in its retelling as it jumps between present day California and her family’s history in Alabama. We know from the very first page and the novel’s blurb that her brother, Nana, died from a drug overdose so every time she comes close to getting to his addiction you almost hold your breath, dreading it.

Reading the kind of child and kind older brother Nana was, made you dread his inevitable end that you know is coming. Nana was kind, smart and talented and had no history of previous misdemeanors. He was a star in whatever sport he decided he wanted to be a part of. Already attracting college scouts by the time he was 15, his future was so bright and promising. Gyasi paints a picture of Nana so heartbreaking that just like Gifty, even you are praying for his death to come and go already to spare us the anticipation distress.

“…We humans are reckless with our bodies, reckless with our lives, for no other reason than that we want to know what would happen, what it might feel like to brush up against death, to run right up to the edge of our lives, which is, in some ways, to live fully.”

Gifty’s family is the only black family in their congregation. Her mother, not knowing the politics of race in Alabama figured the God in Ghana was the same as the God in Alabama and did not have second thoughts about sending her family to a congregation that feared God but hated them. I liked the juxtaposition of the head pastor – who was so kind to Gifty’s family and the congregation – who treated them badly and traded on racial stereotypes to justify Nana’s dependence on drugs. The most heartbreaking being when Gifty overhears a conversation where one of the women in church says – “these people have always had a taste for drugs”. Everything is tinged in racial bias, from the praises heaped on Nana for his brilliance in sports to the insults after his fall from grace.

“They are skeptical of the rhetoric of addiction as disease, something akin to high blood pressure or diabetes, and I get that. What they’re really saying is that they may have partied in high school and college but look at them now. Look how strong-willed they are, how many good choices they’ve made. They want reassurances. They want to believe that they have been loved enough and have raised their children well enough that the things that I research will never, ever touch their own lives.”

I genuinely enjoyed this book and pondered so many of the questions Gifty raises as she straddles the fence between christianity and science. Ultimately, I felt that this book was too short. I wish she had talked more about her mother’s recovery or non recovery. The book ends rather abruptly, the last chapter a wrap up of her and her mother’s life but I was curious. Did she ever get help? Did she ever get out of her depressive episode? What led Gifty to the place her life ended up? How has she reconciled her faith with her career?

I feel like Gyasi left so many questions unanswered. This book is less than 300 pages. I think 267 to be exact so it’s not like she ran out of pages. I still highly recommend this book. This is nothing like her first book but I think she escapes the sophomore slump by drilling down instead of writing yet another sprawling book that can be compared to her fantastic debut novel. I gave this one 4 stars on Goodreads.

Leggy

literary fiction, Mystery, romance, thriller, Uncategorized

Book Review : The Night Swim by Megan Goldin

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“When school kids are shot by a random shooter, nobody asks whether the victims should have taken more precautions. Nobody suggests that maybe the victims should have skipped school that day. Nobody ever blames the victims. So why is it that when women are attacked, the onus is on them?”

Rachel Krall has become an overnight sensation and household name after her true crime podcast freed a man accused of killing his wife on honeymoon from prison. She is determined to keep topping herself so she chooses a rape case as her next subject. She knows rape is a very divisive topic where everybody sees a shade of gray and is determined to exploit it. Even if she doesn’t free anybody from jail this time at least her show is going to trend.

The small town of Neapolis is being torn apart by a devastating rape trial. The town’s golden boy, a swimmer destined for Olympic greatness, has been accused of raping a high school student. Rachel moves to Neapolis for the case and throws herself into investigating and prepping for the trial, until notes start showing up in strange places for her.

“Yes, I have been a victim of a sexual assault. Well, probably several really. Funny how we were conditioned to accept these situations as unpleasant instead of outrageous.”

By all accounts, Jenny Stills died by drowning in Neapolis 25 years ago but the notes insist that she was murdered. Rachel Krall might be a household name but her face isn’t. She is scared when the notes start to turn up in even more private places including her hotel room. But, she is intrigued by how much people do not want to talk about Jenny. Against her producer’s advice, Krall starts digging into Jenny Stills’ murder and starts finding connections between her case 25 years ago and the rape case currently in court in Neapolis. Everybody might be all grown up and 25 years older but they’re all still holding on to the same secrets and lies that seem to be manifesting in the younger generation.

I enjoyed this book. I thought it was very well written and a fast read. I read this book in one sit down session for 4 hours because I just wanted to know how it would end. I found the characters compelling and I also liked how the author made Krall’s motivations for investigating this case as simply to get her podcast to trend. There was no airs to make it seem like she was trying to help people. On the flip, the way the court case was being handled really annoyed me. Hearing the rape victim being cross examined in court and humiliated utterly made my blood boil.

What I had a problem with is the marketing of this book. I expected it to be more plot twist-y and mind blowing than it was. I kept waiting for the plot twist because all the people who I thought were guilty at the beginning were really guilty. I figured out everything way too early and finished it in a hurry to confirm my suspicions. While I personally don’t have a problem with straight to the point mystery books, the marketing made me feel like I was going to be reading a very different book than I ended up reading.

All in all, I would recommend this book. It’s such a fast paced book and you’ll be done in no time. If you’re a sensitive reader, you might want to skip this one especially those who are triggered by rape. I gave this book 3 stars on Goodreads.

 

Leggy

 

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

Book Review: Sex and Vanity by Kevin Kwan

Sex and Vanity: A Novel - Kindle edition by Kwan, Kevin ...

Sex and Vanity begins 5 years earlier than the main story of the book. We are introduced to the protagonist, Lucie Churchill who is the daughter of an American- Chinese mom and an American white father of Churchill fame, so she is considered a blue blood. She is 19 and at a society wedding in Capri, Italy. She is being chaperoned by her cousin on her dad’s side, Charlotte, to make sure she is on her best behavior and represents the family well.

Lucie meets George Zao, who is also from a prominent family. She finds him and his mom annoying but can’t deny her growing feelings for him. They get caught in a compromising position and Lucie never sees George again till 5 years later. This time she is older and engaged to a wealthy man who is all about society and image. The story progresses as we watch Lucie fight the past she thought she had left behind.

When I saw Kevin Kwan, author of the widely popular Crazy Rich Asians trilogy, had a new book out, I immediately put myself on the wait list of my library. I was a huge fan of Book 1 of the trilogy.  Unfortunately, my excitement was for naught as this book did not meet any of my expectations.

For one, I found the title grossly misleading. There was barely any sex and yes there was vanity but it was not even from the main character. I had no idea till I was done with the book that this was a retelling of A Room With A View, so my review has no comparison and is strictly based on the book alone.

If you have been a reader of the blog then you already know my thoughts on romance novels. It’s just not my thing and that is exactly what the book reads like – boy meets girl, girl finds boy annoying, boy and girl start having feelings…and you know the rest. Nothing about the story line was compelling. If you read the CRA trilogy then you know by the third book, the story had been told too many times and you had the “been there, done that” feeling. This extended into this book because it also reads as an extension of the trilogy with some characters from there making cameos here.

Like most authors these days, Kwan felt he had to include a social conscious message with Lucie’s biracial heritage. She was caught between pleasing her white WASPy family and fiance and recognizing her Chinese heritage and the way it read seemed like Lucie was trying her best to be white passing even though she knew some of the comments from her family weren’t okay. For example, when Charlotte realizes that Lucie might have feelings for George Zao, she makes this comment – “Your mother is Chinese so it’s no surprise you’d be attracted to someone like him”. I didn’t even want to bother with figuring out why Kwan would decide to go this route but it brought me to another reason I didn’t like this book, the writing was amateurish.

I suspect a lot of people will pick this one up for nostalgia sake but I don’t think it will be satisfying. To be honest, Lucie was not interesting enough and seemed juvenile. The book was campy but not in a good way and there was not enough likeable characters. Not all predictable books are bad but I don’t know if I’d even recommend this as a fluff read.

Taynement