• Book Reviews

    Meaty: a book review

    ✂️✂️✂️✂️/5

    We all have that friend. You know, the one that goes there and unapologetically says what needs to be said.

    Consider Samantha Irby that book friend.

    Meaty is a collection of essays ranging from dating, tacos, recipes, Crohn’s disease, diets, and unbelievable loss that Irby somehow manages to overcome. I laughed through the first few chapters and then it hit me – this woman has lived, lost, gained, and somehow came out on the other side as a beautiful person who is sharply funny and intelligent. She has a gift for taking even the worst and extracting the emotions and putting them into words.

    She is relatable even if she is shocking and raunchy at times. I had a few what?? moments while reading. But I believe that when someone endures tragedy, trauma, or another life changing event – they have earned the right to tell their story however they see fit. It’s not my job to censor their past or expression of their feelings about the event(s).

    Irby is a great writer even when she uses ALL CAPS TO MAKE A POINT. This is one of my writing annoyances but it didn’t bother me that much because at least she used them appropriately.

    Who would I recommend this book to? Well maybe I’m better off recommending who shouldn’t read this book – if you are easily offended, grossed out, or don’t like cursing – skip this one. If you enjoy acidic humor mixed with a steady dose of sarcasm to address some of life’s sad, funny, and unbelievable moments – this book is for you.

    If you enjoyed Shrill by Lindy West or My Year of Rest and Relaxation by Ottessa Moshfegh, you will love Meaty. An if you haven’t read these books, you should – after you read Meaty.

  • Book Club For Introverts,  Book Reviews

    Bitter Orange: a book review

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    The all-seeing eye. What has it seen? Nothing as interesting as the things I saw through the judas hole at Lyntons. But of course, the difference is privacy. The other women will complain and shout about being looked at without warning. But I think it is better to know when someone is watching rather than to live your life under an invisible gaze. Claire Fuller, Bitter Orange

    ✂️✂️✂️✂️✂️/5

    Is it possible to be reading and tread into psychological thriller waters without realizing such until you are immersed? Beautiful writing, rich imagery, a socially awkward woman, and a charismatic yet odd couple living in an old house with a history of its own make for an interesting plot. But the relationship dynamics of this trio were only the beginning.

    Told from Frances’ perspective as an old, dying woman with a failing memory, the reader is forced early on to decide if Frances is a reliable narrator. I decided she was because while her mind was fading, memories and the recounting of them are never 100% accurate. This turned out to be a common thread throughout the story.

    Frances is a 39-year-old woman who has little experience in the world. She spent most of her adult years isolated while caring for her ill mother. Throughout the book you get glimpses into their relationship and it does not appear to be a healthy one.

    Set in 1969, Frances’ mother has passed away and she takes a summer job at a crumbling British home. Her task: inventory the garden architecture and report back to the new owner, an American. Initially she believes she is alone in the house. And then she discovers Peter and Cara living below her.

    Peter has been hired to inventory the house belongings and Cara has traveled with him. Cara has a magnetic personality which often crosses into the outrageous. Frances begins to develop a friendship with the couple and appears to finally be experiencing the world.

    Remember the judas hole? Frances finds one in her floor that looks down into Peter and Cara’s bathroom. Between her stolen observations, afternoon picnics, and alcohol fueled dinners with the couple, she becomes obsessed.

    Cara has wild stories, Peter has contradictory versions, and Frances is haunted by her former life of isolation. The smartly dispersed psychological twists, sometimes only a sentence, make this book come to life. Multiple times I found myself stopping with a wait, what??

    •     •     •     •

    I enjoy unreliable narrators but rarely have I seen them written as well as Fuller does in this book. Combine that with the imagery, the detailed descriptions of the house and property, the character development, and the writing style – you have a unique and well crafted story. Fuller is a very talented writer and I’m looking forward to reading her other books soon.

    Because this plot shifts from present to past, there were a few times I missed the transition and had to reread to find my place in time. Or maybe that was the bourbon reading. This and a few loose ends were my only small annoyances with Bitter Orange.

    Who would I recommend this book to? Anyone who enjoys a well written book with unreliable narration and great plot twists. If you enjoyed Something in the Water, Where the Crawdads Sing, or Behind Her Eyes you will most likely enjoy Bitter Orange.

    •     •     •     •

    This book, about an introvert, was our Book Club for Introverts first pick. Our group is on Goodreads and is open to anyone. It was fun to read something shocking or surprising and then discuss it real-time in the chapter discussion threads. Almost like calling a friend but without the talking because, introverts.

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    Our book selection for December is Nine Perfect Strangers by Liane Moriarty and we would love to have you join us. Look for my Instagram post soon where I’m giving away a copy of the book to two lucky book club members!

  • Bookish,  Lists

    Top Ten Tuesday: favorite platonic relationships

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    Happy Top Ten Tuesday! After a week of cooking, cleaning, working, writing (NaNoWriMo), and event going, this list was a fun way to get back into the blogging routine.

    Today’s top ten is all about my favorite (platonic) book relationships. Here goes!

    1. The Owens siblings from Practical Magic – Franny, Jet, and Vincent had a unique bond because of their magical abilities. They, and their family, were avoided by most people who believed that the family would ensnare them in back luck and tragedy. As they grew up in the novel it was interesting to watch their relationship change and mature as it does with most siblings.
    2. Madeline, Celeste, and Jane from Big Little Lies – Female friendships are tricky and I thought this book did a great job of accurately portraying their lives as individuals with different backgrounds that become friends.
    3. Leigh and her mother from The Astonishing Color of After – This book handled such a tough subject (the suicide of her mother) with such grace and dignity. The way that Leigh sought out her mother and her family from Taiwan turned into a beautiful remembrance of her mother and her life.
    4. Willem, JB, Malcolm, and Jude from A Little Life – Following four college friends through their 20’s, 30’s, and 40’s – the author did a wonderful job of capturing the ups and downs of friendship in the midst of success, failure, tragedy, and love. Warning: this book will make you cry.
    5. Mia & Pearl from Little Fires Everywhere – I love a good mother/daughter plot that has tension, love, and secrets. This duo had all of these elements and watching them unfold slowly made this a great book.
    6. The Sedaris family portrayed in Calypso – Nonfiction relationships are allowed too, right? David Sedaris is known for writing about his family and his life experiences. But this newest book was different as he tackled some tough issues: aging parents, fractured sibling relationships, mental illness, drug use, etc. It was raw, honest, and makes you feel a little less alone.
    7. Hanna & her mom (Suzette) from Baby Teeth – If you want to read about a parent/child relationship that is creepy and downright frightening, this is your book. Little Hanna spends most of her time plotting to kill her mother while charming her father. Her mother goes to great lengths to love her daughter and get her the much needed help she needs all while trying to preserve her own sanity and safety.
    8. Mary B. Addison and her mother from Allegedly – Nine year old Mary was convicted of killing a baby who was in her mother’s care. Allegedly. Mary’s mother can be syrupy sweet and viscous all in the same visit when she sees her daughter in the group home. The book tackles tough issues and the relationship between Mary and her mother keeps you guessing until the end.
    9. Offred and Serena Joy from The Handmaid’s Tale – Classic tension in a female relationship with a dystopian spin. What could possibly go wrong?
    10. Scout & Atticus Finch from To Kill A Mockingbird – He is her father but she and her brother don’t call him anything other than his first name. He is a single father but unconventional. He teaches, rather than telling and demonstrates tolerance and reason through his actions. I loved reading how he and Scout interacted throughout the book – there was a mutual respect that wasn’t common in that time period.

     

    If you could be friends with any fictional character, who would it be?

  • Book Reviews,  Writing

    Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life – a book review

    ✂️✂️✂️✂️✂️/5

    Have you ever read a book and felt like you were reading a letter from a friend? Or listened to an audiobook and it seemed like a long conversation with a friend who moved away?

    That is what a book by Anne Lamott feels like. A letter from an old friend.

    I had been living under a rock because it took Amazon suggesting this book, after loading other books in my cart, for me to figure out who Anne was. Sure, I had seen some of her quotes floating around the interwebs but I didn’t realize she wrote books – really good books.

    November is probably my toughest month depression-wise. Everything is dying around me and even though fall comes every single year, it takes it’s bite out of me before winter comes. Couple that with some some other stressful situations completely out of my control and you get this super-fun November 2018.

    I try a lot of different things to feel better, most of them healthy, and I’m thankful that I started this blog a few months ago because writing for it has been one of the things to keep me afloat this month.

    I wrote last week about NaNoWriMo and that is going well so there’s another bright spot in the Month of Dead Leaves. In my preparation for it, I bought a few books on writing because let’s face it – I’m a numbers person with a degree in economics & finance. I sure sound super fun and interesting.

    Anne has very unique writing voice which is what made it feel conversational for me.

    Perfectionism is the voice of the oppressor, the enemy of the people. It will keep you cramped and insane your whole life, and it is the main obstacle between you and your shitty first draft. … Besides, perfectionism will ruin your writing, blocking inventiveness and playfulness and life force (these are words we are allowed to use in California). – Anne Lamott, Bird by Bird

    Girl, I know. About the the perfectionism and people from California (like my husband).

    See what I mean?

    This book was about the writing process but wove in life, hard lessons, family, friends, and even religion. I appreciated her take on writing because it felt like a manual on writing for people who have a million things going on besides waking up, making coffee, and sitting down for the day to write: see yesterday’s post as exhibit 562.

    Her methods of observing life and capturing those moments have become a part of my daily thoughts and it’s made these tough weeks a little more fun and interesting.

    The last chapter was my favorite and I had my husband pausing a football game so I could read to him. He really loved it. No really, he did.

    The basics were this: avoid libel by changing details in your writing with the last detail being a tiny appendage. No one is coming forward claiming it was written about them if they have to admit to that last little part.

    I enjoyed this book immensely and I have since read another one of her books, Stitches, which I’ll review soon. Who would I recommend this book to? Anyone who is interested in writing and would enjoy a perspective from an author who doesn’t take herself too seriously.

    And that tiny appendage part? Since I read it to him, my husband and I have laughed multiple times about that and who I could write about.

    See, I told you that he loved it.

  • Bookish,  Lists

    Top Ten: the backlist edition

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    Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

    Happy Friday! Today’s list is the top ten backlist books I want to read. I tend to read a decent amount of them already but here are the ten that are high on my list, a.k.a I should buy them.

    1. I’ll Give You the Sun by Jandy Nelson – I actually already own this one so I should probably add it to my TBR stack soon. I typically enjoy plots that have twins and this one looks really good.
    2. The Name of Rose by Umberto Eco – I don’t remember where I saw this book for the first time but the plot summary sounds like an early version of the Da Vinci Code.
    3. The Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead – I own this book and have started it and put it down a few times. I know it’s a great book; it’s just been a little hard to get into at first.
    4. Tell the Wolves I’m Home by Carol Rifka Brunt – The cover alone makes me want to read this one. I have a pretty good track record picking books based on their cover art so I should probably go ahead and “invest” in this one.
    5. A List of Cages by Robin Roe – This one has been on my list for awhile. The subject matter is supposed to be tough which is probably why I have been putting it off.
    6. Heavy: An American Memoir by Kiese Laymon – The cover alone is pretty awesome. The synopsis seems even better and also very important.
    7. Shrill: Notes From a Loud Woman by Lindy West – “Shrill provocatively dissects what it means to become self-aware the hard way, to go from wanting to be silent and invisible to earning a living defending the silenced in all caps.” I should probably read this one ASAP.
    8. A Month in the Country by J.L. Carr – I have had this little book forever. I was reminded of it when it popped up in an author’s interview as one of their favorite novellas.
    9. The Women of Brewster Place by Gloria Naylor – published in 1982 and currently lives on my Kindle.
    10. The Pillars of the Earth by Ken Follett – Listing this one is a bit of a cheat as I’m 25% of the way into this one. I put it down and need to pick it back up again.

    What backlist books are on your to-be-read list? Or what are a few of your favorite backlist books?

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