After evading COVID for the pandemic’s entirety, I ended up catching it towards the beginning of February. And it kicked my ass for six solid days, so even though I had high hopes about posting more regularly again, the universe once again foiled my plans. I don’t think I actually read a book while I had a fever, let alone wrote any book reviews while sick or even wrote anything for a couple of weeks after because I could barely think. So here’s some barely coherent book reviews. =)
The Misadventures of Awkward Black Girl by Issa Rae–published 2015–memoir–224 pages–audiobook–three stars: A decent audiobook and decent essays. Nothing particularly wow-worthy. I found myself zoning out in places.
The Siren of Sussex (Belles of London #1) by Mimi Matthews–published 2022–historical romance–400 pages–ebook–two stars: Wannabe Bridgerton but chaste and full of horses and sartorial argot. Without giving any spoilers, all I can say is I am disappointed in the overplaying of the Old Maid card. And unless I was a terrible reader, the whole titular “siren” part didn’t even get mentioned until the book’s end and shouted Mimi-Matthews-likes-alliteration-so-lets-make-siren-happen. Speaking of Bridgerton, doesn’t season two come out soon? Thank whatever Regency god I need to pray to because these historical romances aren’t doing it for me like Daphne and Simon do (hears classical arrangement of “Wildest Dreams”–Ah-ah-ahhhhhhhh.)
Other People’s Clothes by Calla Henkel–published 2022–thriller–320 pages–ebook–four stars: Have you ever had several library e-books that you’ve had on hold for weeks come in at the same time and thought you clicked on a YA fantasy novel but you actually clicked on a thriller instead, and you were 20 percent deep into what you that was the YA fantasy novel and you were like—-uhhhhh, when is this fantasy part going to kick in? And then you’d forgotten the name of the alleged YA fantasy book that you were reading so you clicked back into your Kindle library and realized that you’re actually reading a mystery instead? Yeah. So that’s what happened here. I digress. Scene: Berlin around the time of the Amanda Knox trial. Plot: Zoe and Hailey, study abroad roommates who develop an unhealthy friendship, discover that their landlady, an author, has been spying on them for her next novel’s storyline. The girls decide to up the ante by throwing elaborate house parties, gaining the notice of the papers in the process. If you’re looking for gorgeous sentences, this thriller, a thriller I tell you!!!!, has them. I found myself stopping frequently to highlight, in particular, character-descriptor gems like: No, she inhabited a stranger space–she had the smile of the debutante in dirty pictures, a Midwestern mall model, an actress whose lines were written on her hands and He was one year older than me, a cynical computer dork with an intense MacBook stare–whenever he’d launch into talking, his turtle-green eyes would get a dark zoom while he rummaged for words, like a hand silently dipping into a Scrabble bag, feeling for the next word. There were other sentences I highlighted too, but aren’t necessarily Mrs. Ram’s Jams blog-appropriate. I loved how the symbolism of the title was nuanced and layered throughout the narrative too. And the book’s last sentence still has me reeling.
Greenlights by Matthew McConaughey–published 2020–memoir–308 pages–audiobook–four stars: Con 1: obvious pontificating that’s softened by his charming southern drawl. Con 2: Was nobody else taken aback by the chapter where he describes his parents’ physically abusive relationship with something along the lines of “that’s just the way they loved each other” (that’s not an exact quote but a gist)? Con 3: The three separate wet dreams. Pro 1: HIS POEMS. Pro 2: HIS POEM ABOUT NEW ORLEANS.
Daughter of the Moon Goddess (The Celestial Kingdom Duology #1) by Sue Lynn Tan–published 2022–YA fantasy–512 pages–ebook–four stars: Hey, remember when I was reading a mystery that I thought was a YA fantasy and then discovered I was actually reading a mystery instead of a YA fantasy? This was the YA fantasy that I thought I was reading then. And it’s equally as good, but in a different way, as that thriller. Did I know a damn thing about the Chinese legend of the moon goddess before going into this novel? Hell no. Doesn’t matter. I’m hooked. THERE BE DRAGONS HERE. And cloud travel. And a love triangle. And a whole bunch of unanswered questions at the end. I also love that this is a duology, so I know I won’t lose interest in a series that’s only being drawn out to sell more books (which seems to be the going trend these days–i.e. I’ve always been sucked into a Sarah J. Maas series-hole like ACOTAR or Throne of Glass, but I’ve managed to escape the Maas-hole without completing the series because I got bored.)
The PIcture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde–published 1890–classics/horror–272 pages–ebook–four stars: I’m cringing at myself for reading a book on my phone that was written over 130 years ago, but I can’t help but ask myself, what would Oscar Wilde think of that? That Lord Henry can deliver a zinger, huh?
Fiona and Jane by Jean Chen Ho–published 2022–LGBTQ+ contemporary fiction–288 pages–ebook–three stars: Maybe closer to three and half stars? But I’m still feeling mostly lukewarm about this novel.
Black Cake by Charmaine Wilkerson–published 2022–contemporary fiction–400 pages–ebook–three stars: Unpopular opinion–A cool concept but it had too many perspectives and tried to be too many genres at once.
This Will Only Hurt a Little by Busy Philipps–published 2018–memoir–321 pages–audiobook–four stars: Loved Philipps on Freaks and Geeks and Cougar Town and loved this memoir.
The School for Good Mothers by Jessamine Chan–published 2022–dystopia/science fiction–ebook–336 pages–two stars: Frida, who has what she calls one very bad day, leaves her toddler home alone while she runs to work to grab a file. Of course, Frida gets caught, and instead of getting a slap on the wrist, she gets sent away for a year long program to be taught how to be a good mom. At the school, which is more like a correctional facility, Frida and bad mothers like her have to mother creepy robot dolls and are monitored over all aspects of parenting. I get the premise behind this book, but it read list-y in places and tried to hit too many social topics. At first I was drawn into Frida’s story but around the thirty percent mark I lost interest. The ending frustrated me.
Pretty Girls Dancing by Kylie Brant–published 2018–thriller–ebook–370 pages–three stars: A missing girl. A potential serial killer. A sleepy community up in arms desperately trying to find the girl before it’s too late. Side plots and the story of another girl who went missing years ago. I normally wouldn’t have even picked up this book, but it’s the March read for a book club that I’m joining. The tropes and the plot line are pedestrian, at least I didn’t quit it or hate it? At least it wasn’t written by Karin Slaughter?
Dawnshard (The Stormlight Archive #3.5) by Brandon Sanderson–published 2020–high fantasy–ebook–171 pages–three stars: This is the weakest book in the series. I know it’s only a novella, but the characterization is lackluster. Lopen wasn’t as funny as he normally is. The book’s focus character is Rysn, and I was disappointed by Sanderson’s flat portrayal of her when he really could have made her shine here. Even Chiri-Chiri couldn’t save this book. I’ve been putting off Rhythm of War because I felt like Oathbringer dragged, and this read is making me consider quitting the series.
Here are the books I DNF’d in February:
As always, any discussion is welcome!