The Big Sugarbush, by Ana B. Good

9 Jan
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4 of 5 stars

This is a light, happy, lesbian romcom, framed by the serious themes of addiction and rehab in a lesbian-only facility.

I fell in love on the first page when we were introduced to Nan, the successful middle-aged lesbian. My favorite couple though was Poppy and Storm, the popstar and war correspondent, respectively.

It does well as a zany lesbian romcom, but I have to admit my imagination couldn’t quite cover some of the very serious situations that were set to comedy and silliness. There were some serious addiction issues in the book, but the recovery was only touched on. There was a seriously dangerous situation that Storm deals with that I really couldn’t wrap my head around as comedy, even though it was obviously supposed to be silly and the antagonists were like cartoon characters. But I can’t put my uncomfortable feelings on the author, I think this is just one of the weaknesses that my very logical, serious brain experiences sometimes when reading books like this.

Overall it was the silly, light, fun little book I had wanted to read. It doesn’t pretend to be anything more, and in these serious times, it is what I needed.

Born a Crime, by Trevor Noah

7 Jan
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5 of 5 stars

This is one of those books you read when you think you have it bad and then you read this and decide you’ll just be grateful for what you have.

This book is solely about Trevor Noah’s childhood and young life in South Africa, nothing about his career rise in the US. Trevor Noah has lived ten lifetimes already, and at least that many nightmares. The book is not a comedy, there is absolutely nothing funny about any of his early life. The horrors he experienced daily are beyond what we can imagine, and the book ends on one of the worst real life events I can think of. It’s a dark story about a boy who grew up with unimaginable horrors just an expected part of daily life.

But throughout the book you can feel Trevor’s strength, which he got from his mother, and his ability to look on the bright side of life, which he also got from his mother.

It’s an extraordinary book about an extraordinary life.

The Food of Love, by Amanda Prowse

17 Nov
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3 of 5 stars

I honestly don’t think a lot of this book. It’s not terrible, but it’s nowhere near the best book about anorexia that I’ve ever read. It feels like someone did a lot of research on anorexia and then just wrote a story about what they think it’s like to have a suffering family member. I didn’t feel the characters were that fleshed out and there just wasn’t a lot of meat in the story.

I also had a lot of issues with the mother, who was much more interested in being a friend to her daughter than in being a mother. I don’t understand parents who firmly believe their teenagers would never ever lie to them, about anything, or who feel that they know better than any doctor.

The moment I find out my 5’6″ daughter weighs only 87 lbs is the moment that kid is admitted into the hospital. She doesn’t want a feeding tube inserted? Tough sh!t. Save the kid’s life first and then deal with the psychological reasons, but if you don’t get her fed then there won’t be anything to help. This mother is in denial until the girl is a moment away from dying in her arms.

And there’s an hour by hour countdown throughout the book, leading up to something… something really tense and scary…. Oh nevermind, that whole countdown thing is NOTHING. It’s absolutely nothing. It’s a fake-out to get you all worked up and concerned about things, and then PSYCH! It’s nothing.

The epilogue as well annoyed me. The book as a whole is a sort of serious story set as a light and fluffy read. I was never able to care whether the daughter lived or died, and I mostly just wanted to shake the mother. It’s not terrible, it’s just not a very good book.

Safe With Me, by K.L. Slater

3 Nov
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FOUR of Five stars

I loved this book, but let’s get one thing out of the way. I don’t really like the cover. It’s really not your average female-victim thriller, and it’s even a bit humorous at times (or maybe that’s just me). But this cover doesn’t make the book stand out in the way that it should.

The story is told mostly through Anna’s voice, after she views a road accident caused by a woman she believes is also responsible for the death of her brother. But it quickly becomes apparent that Anna is a very unreliable narrator, much in the realm of You‘s Joe Goldberg, and possibly just as bonkers. And just like Joe, Anna is often charming in her delusions of love.

But further into the book you realize Anna isn’t the only one with issues of psychology and/or outright deceit. Every single character in this book is hiding who they are in one way or another. And as all the layers are peeled away and we realize who is really who and what is exactly happening, the book becomes more and more difficult to put down.

The last ten percent however, falls a bit apart. It pains me to say that because I absolutely loved the other 90%, and it’s possible that others don’t have a problem with the ending. But for me the end was a little rushed, some logic was dropped, and some corners and character details were cut. It was not an unsatisfactory ending at all though, I just think the intense web of lies that the author created might have required a bit more time for her to arrange in a neater manner.

This is K.L. Slater’s first book, and while I felt the end lacked just a bit of organization, I 100% LOVED the rest, and absolutely look forward to what she puts out in the future. I am definitely a new fan!

Thanks to NetGalley for providing an early copy in exchange for a fair review.

Evelyn, After, by Victoria Helen Stone

16 Oct
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Five of Five stars

This book is so many things, and I loved them all.

It’s about a woman struggling to come to terms with her husband’s betrayal.

Or it’s about a woman’s descent into madness as she tries to make sense of a no-win situation.

Or it’s Fatal Attraction told from Alex Forrest’s point of view.

It’s a horrific tragedy as a woman loses everything after making endless mistakes in an attempt to fix things.

But no, it’s a story of a woman picking up the pieces of her life and Winning. The last pages of the book turned the whole thing around from a deliciously terrible story about a sort of awful woman, into, honestly, a kind of inspiring story.  I think it’s easy to blame Evelyn for all the terrible choices she makes – and yes, she makes some really awful ones – but let’s not forget what started her on this path, WHO started her on this path. Absolutely none of this would have happened if not for the one truly terrible character in this story. Each character in this story makes their own choices and they all pay for them, Evelyn included. But the really unexpected (to me) situation at the end brings a lot of hope and comfort and… well, hope. Unexpected positivity.

This story could only have been told this well by a female author.  We all have a bit of Evelyn in us. You can disagree with everything Evelyn does in this book, but don’t judge this woman until you’ve walked a mile in her shoes. There truly is a little Evelyn in us all.

Siracusa, by Delia Ephron

26 Aug
siracusa delia ephron

Five of Five stars

I pretty much loved this book, though I’m not going to lie, I wasn’t happy with the ending. In fact, I almost took off a star for it. However, I need to also admit that I’ve operated on very little sleep while reading this book, and finished it very late last night, so it’s entirely possible I just missed appreciating something in my haze. Regardless, not enjoying the last couple of pages doesn’t take away from the hundreds of pages that I absolutely loved.

I’ve been reading a lot of thrillers recently, and I like thrillers, but most are not great literature. Neither is this book, but the writing is still on a much higher level. I fell in love right away, it was a relief reading the stories of these four main characters and getting to know them in a way you don’t in an average thriller. However, though there is a sort of mystery/thriller aspect to the story, it’s much more like just a great piece of fiction.

The book reminds me of The Dinner, where you have two couples getting together (on vacation here) telling a story, and you know something has already happened, and it was a bad something, but you don’t know what. You have to just sit along for the story until you find out. Like The Dinner, these four characters are somewhat unlikable and very self-absorbed. Unlike The Dinner, this story is told alternately from all four points of view, and it is really fun reading the different view points, and noting the slight differences in stories, and wondering who was lying, who was exaggerating, and at what point the truth merged.

There are four very different people here, and though they may be unlikable, I found them fascinating – and not entirely bad. I especially loved the woman who was so obsessed with her young daughter that she did not really know a thing about her. I thought the growth, changes and disintegration of the marriages was told well and accurately. Sadly, it was the young daughter who has the most interesting side of the story, but we don’t get to hear her version. But that’s what brings the spookiness and utter creepiness to the story.

I highly recommend this book. I usually like to clear my brain of intense literature with a bit of fluff now and then. In this case I was clearing all the fluff out of my brain with the great story telling in this book.

So much thanks to NetGalley for the advance copy in exchange for a review.

The Summer That Melted Everything, by Tiffany McDaniel

21 Aug
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Four of Five stars

One of the greatest books I just cannot bring myself to finish.
It’s seriously amazing, and extremely tedious.
The writing is tremendous, the writing makes my head hurt.
There is a lot in this book, I mean there is a LOT in this book. It would be great to be forced to read this in college and then sent out to write a very very long essay after. I would have written the crap out of an essay on this book.
But I have graduated and no longer have to read books that are wonderful and have so much in them that they have too much in them and require my brain to work so hard to get every ounce of enjoyment out of it.

This is an amazing book. I hope you try it, I hope you finish it. But I cannot.

Thank you so much to NetGalley for the chance to read an advance copy in exchange for a review.