Wednesday, April 17, 2019

Boy Erased by Garrard Conley - Book Review

#60secondbookreview aka reviewing books as quickly yet thoroughly as I can. This week's review is for "Boy Erased" by Garrard Conley. This book is a memoir Garrard wrote about his experiences as a gay teenager and adult, growing up in the bible belt - his dad is actually a preacher at their church. In college, Garrard was outed to his parents by a man who sexually assaulted and raped him. After finding out, his parents insisted that Garrard receive counseling at an organization called Love in Action - it was conversion therapy and Garrard initially willfully attended it because after living a life being told that his attraction to men was sinful, he sought out the help he felt he needed, too. I had a really difficult time processing everything that happened to Garrard, and I truly appreciate the courage it took for him to share his story. The writing in this book is beautiful and he does such an amazing job really putting you into the story. The emotional toll this organization took on its attendees, it's quiet, and then it's loud, but it isn't necessarily the shock value some readers might expect - but still so harmful. It was hate, under the disguise of compassion and love. My favorite parts of the book were when Garrard discussed his relationship with his parents - one that was otherwise happy and healthy, and how hard it is to respect and acknowledge that love when their attitude towards his sexuality was- and is - so negative. Side note, Garrard is hilarious, which thoughtfully does not come across in this book, but you should definitely check out interviews of his because they are charming and inspiring.

Have you read "Boy Erased"? Comment down below with your thoughts!

Monday, April 8, 2019

Bookishly Unboxing - Little Women Theme

So many thank yous to the creative and brilliant ladies at Bookishly for sending this box to me in exchange for an honest review! Check out the video above for my thoughts on the items included, and then head over to their website for adorable bookish merchandise. I love that Bookishly has adorable book boxes, but also merchandise that can be ordered individually, as well!

Snapped a picture of the adorable tote bag included in the box in my IG post. *so cute* right!? Comment below and let me know - what quote would you love to have on a bookish tote bag?!

Tuesday, March 26, 2019

A Place for Us by Fatima Mirza - Book Review

Time for another - way longer than intended - I should probably change the name of this thing I do, but I am also committed to the project. help. #60secondbookreview of "A Place for Us" by Fatima Farheen Mirza - a book that felt like being wrapped up in a warm blanket - so cozy.

This debut novel ( which holy moly how is this her first novel!?) follows an Indian American Muslim family, and when the book begins it is set at the wedding of the eldest daughter, Hadia. Hadia has decided to invite her brother, Amar, even though he has been estranged from the family for the last three years.

Through the next 400 plus pages, you get a very close look at the interpersonal relationships of this family : how the parents met, how the siblings interact with each other, and also their individual lives, how the parents interact with the children - and after all of that, you get a very good sense of why Amar is estranged from his family.

I really enjoyed reading this book, and I think one of the reasons it works so well is the author's ability to make you feel like you are a part of this family - by the end of the novel you know all of their in's and out's - and because of that it is also does an excellent job of exploring identity. How family and religion can aide but also complicate that process. One you think you've found that, once you feel like you know yourself, your families fight against that image can be a misguided attempt at showing their love, but it can also be one of the most harmful things you experience. 

I did struggle a bit to get into this book, it's a common criticism of the book, so it's nice not to feel alone in that - the hurdle for me was that the book jumps around quite a bit in the timeline of this family, and also between different characters. But, once I was all in, I was all in, and also really want this book to be adapted to film, really rooting for this to happen!

Have you read "A Place for Us"?! What was your reading experience with this novel? Comment down below and let's chat about it!

Saturday, March 23, 2019

Tin Man by Sarah Winman - Book Review

#60secondbookreview time, and this is a good one, readers! "Tin Man" by Sarah Winman is the story of two boys, Michael and Ellis, who become the best of friends, fall in love - and then everything that happens after that. Sometimes a book hits you in one or two emotional soft spots - this book hit me in at least six. It's impossible for me to tell you what those are without just epic, novel ruining spoilers, but just know, lots of tissues, so many tissues. A huge part of that is Sarah Winman's writing, it is breath taking and haunting, and this entire book review could just be me listing off quotes from this book I loved, like -  

"there's something about first love, it's untouchable to those that played no part in it, but it is the measure of all that follows."

"he clung to every word as if they were hand holds up a cliff face."

This little book, it is under 200 pages, but it packs a disproportionately large emotional gut punch. If like me, you enjoyed "The Hearts Invisible Furies", you will likely love this book. My only struggle reading "Tin Man" was that there is no punctuation for dialogue. It made sense as an author choice considering the events in the book, but it definitely made the book harder for me to read and pulled me out of the story at times, which is pretty remarkable because this is definitely a story I did not want to be pulled out of. 

Have you read "Tin Man" by Sarah Winman? Comment down below and let me know what you thought of it!

Tuesday, March 12, 2019

The Dreamers by Karen Thompson Walker - Book Review

#60secondbookreview of "The Dreamers" by Karen Thompson Walker - a book it  felt like everyone read last month. A bit of an exaggeration, but it has super popular, for sure! This book follows an isolated college town in California, where one day a girl falls asleep in the dorms and she can not be woken up. This "sleeping sickness" ( try saying that five times fast) spreads and soon the town is caught up in a paranoia, and also legitimate fear, of an illness that no one understands, and also grappling with the realities of treating hundreds of sick patients. The things that scare us the most are also at times the most compelling to read about. If this scenario were playing out in real life, I'd be hiding in the fetal position somewhere. I gave "The Dreamers" three stars - I enjoyed big chunks of this book - but - the parts that I enjoyed were for the author's beautiful writing, not for plotting. And the further I got into the book, the less those poignant quotes were holding my attention. The book's depiction of what an illness like this would look like, what the experience would be, as well as the characters and feelings evoked by the book - now that I am two weeks out from finishing it, just haven't stuck with me.

Have you read "The Dreamers"? Comment down below and let me know what you thought of it!

Monday, March 4, 2019

Daisy Jones and the Six by Taylor Jenkins Reid - Book Review

#60secondbookreview of "Daisy Jones and The Six" by Youtube, Instagram, just general Internet and life winner - Taylor Jenkins Reid. 

This book is about a fictional band from the 1970's called "Daisy Jones and the Six", who broke up at the height of their fame. It is structured as a novelization of a rock documentary and looks like a script. The band members are being interviewed individually, but their answers bounce off of each other, and as you go through you get a sense of where things might've gone wrong. Even though it hasn't released yet ( many thanks to the publisher for allowing me to read it before publication, as well ; ) this book already has rave reviews on Goodreads - and I can completely see why! SUPER strong pacing, it sidestepped a lot of the tropes I expected going into the book. And the themes it focuses on instead are excellent - individuality, the struggle and joy of creating art, and what you have ( or are seen as ) sacrificing, particularly if you are a woman, in order to participate. And also how substance abuse, addiction, and depression, play a role, as well. This novel was important and more powerful than expected. I wouldn't recommend "Daisy Jones and the Six" to all adult fiction readers, but if you are looking for something lighter that also manages to have a lot of depth at the same time, I think this is a great one to pick up! 

Comment down below and let me know your thoughts about "Daisy Jones and the Six" or let me know your favorite Taylor Jenkins Reid novel, it's 'Evelyn Hugo", isn't it?!

Monday, February 25, 2019

The Fact of a Body by Alexandria Marzano-Lesnevich - Book Review

Happy Monday, everybdy! It's time for a new #60secondbookreview and this week we'll be discussing "The Fact of a Body" by Alexandria Mazano - Lesnevich. This book is *amazing*, part true crime, and part memoir. The true crime parts of the book explore the murder of Jeremy Guillory by Ricky Langley. In 1992, Ricky, a convicted pedophile who had been released from prison, he lived near Jeremy, and one day Jeremy went to Ricky's house looking for a friend. Ricky invited him inside, where he murdered and assaulted him. The perspective the author takes in exploring the day of the murder and everything leading up to it was so insightful and well-researched. What really sets this book apart for me was the way the author weaves her own life into that story - you find out that Alexandria's family has a lot in common with both the murderer's family and the victim's family. "The Fact of A Body" is hard to discuss without spoilers, and in fact, this book is just hard for me to discuss, generally. It is a must in my mind as a true crime book, but it is also one I don't think I could ever personally recommend to someone. Alexandria's writing is terrifying, gritty, and raw and does not shy away from any of the facts of the discussed cases - while also bearing witness to an immense amount of human suffering, to the point that you can't imagine asking someone else to experience what you did, even though I gave this book 5 stars. Have you read "The Fact of A Body"? Comment down below and let me know your thoughts on this one! I'd also love to hear about your favorite true crime novel!

Monday, February 18, 2019

Five Feet Apart by Rachel Lippincott - Book Review

#60secondbookreview time! okay, this one is way longer than 60 seconds..whoops! but also, sorry not sorry ; )

Today we are going to be discussing "Five Feet Apart" by Rachel Lippincott, also known as, the last book to make me cry despite my very best efforts not to. This YA book is a novelization of a screenplay for a film that is coming out in March and I am *so* excited. "Five Feet Apart" follows Will and Stella - two teenagers with cystic fibrosis who have very different approaches to dealing with their disease, both emotionally and practically. Stella is very regimented, she likes to do lists - I feel her in my soul. Will is more of a rebel, his condition in some ways is worse than Stella's and so he just doesn't see the point in fighting a death that feels so imminently inevitable. I gave "Five Feet Apart" 4/5 stars - it got me (emotionally) which was shocking to me( I'm not usually a fan of YA contemporary) - - BUT - - I will vouch for it with a pretty big caveat -- you're going to have to turn your brain off just a little bit for this one - teenagers had access to the NICU (no way) and prepared a meal for themselves in the hospital cafeteria ( what would surely be a highly sanitized and controlled kitchen space, again no way).

The emotional impact of this novel is worth any suspension of disbelief that I struggled with. I knew about some aspects of this disease, but reading this story and falling in love with these characters, and really internalizing the fact that Stella or anyone with cystic fibrosis - in order to protect their health- shouldn't hug, or hold hands, or be closer than six feet, away from the only people who truly understand what they are going through. Although this is just one aspect of CF, and an easily romanticized one at that, the book drove the complexities of that home so well, among other aspects of the disease. This book is worth reading for it, and the hope that it might convey even a tiny bit of the anxiety, isolation, fear, and pain of cystic fibrosis. 

I'm on the look out for #ownvoice reviews of this book, so please link them down below if you happen to find some. I have several linked to this video on YouTube! And also, if you read "Five Feet Apart", #ownvoices or not, please comment down below and let me know what you think of it! Thanks for reading! Have a great day!

Monday, February 11, 2019

Once Upon A River by Diane Setterfield - Book Review

Happy Monday, readers! Today we're chatting about the highly anticipated new release from Diane Setterfield, " Once Upon A River". Discussing this book in sixty seconds (ish) was tough because I loved this book, but the plot is complex and meandering, and just doesn't lend itself to quick explanations. Where to begin! The story is set along a river, one day a man wanders into a bar holding a young girl - the man collapses and the young girl is believed to be dead - she isn't breathing and has no pulse. As it turns out, she comes back to life, *but* she is mute. The plot really picks up when three different families come forward, believing this young girl to be their missing child. There is so much more to the plot, but that's a good start! "Once Upon A River" has these beautiful small doses of magical realism, they're pretty subtle, and they're used to explore how these families are grappling with the grief of losing their child. It's one of the few times where magical realism really worked for me in a book - and I love that. This novel is longer and it is a slower burn, but it is so well written, and so thought provoking, and so creative - if you're in the mood for a longer, whimsical novel this is definitely one I would recommend. 

Have you read "Once Upon A River"? Comment down below let me know what you thought of it! 

Many thanks to the publisher and the author for providing me with a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. 

Tuesday, November 6, 2018

Words on Bathroom Walls by Julia Walton - Book Review

"Words on Bathroom Walls" by Julia Walton is a YA fiction novel that follows main character Adam who was recently diagnosed with schizophrenia. The book is a collection of letters that Adam is writing to his therapist in the counseling sessions that he attends but refuses to speak in. This book is hard for me to review, because I think that there are readers out there that would really connect with Adam, because they have personal experiences that line up with the novel. That aside, as far as writing style and reading experience, this was a two star read for me. The book is written in letter form, so it is very casual but it also felt incredibly unnatural and a very unlikely premise. The main character while experiencing a complex illness, is not portrayed as being particularly complex, and after reading the author's end note I'm not entirely sure how accurate this portrayal of schizophrenia actually is. Have you read "Words on Bathroom Walls"? Comment down below and let me know what you thought of it!

Running With Scissors by Augusten Burroughs - Book Review

"Running with Scissors" by Augusten Burroughs is a memoir about Augusten's life - starting in middle school and going though high school, and those years for Augusten were *chaotic*. In middle school, Augusten's parents began seeing a therapist and what follows is one of the most bizarre Addam's family type situations I've ever read about. Augusten has processed everything in the book with wit and humor, and I loved it, and flew through this book. But the effect of that humor, is also this vacuum where you really get a sense of the hurt and confusion that Augusten must have felt because the situations described in the book are also terrible. For example, one of my favorite quotes from the book is Augusten describing his mother's most recent mental breakdown as "not crazy in a 'let's paint the kitchen bright red' sort of way but crazy in a gas oven, tooth paste sandwich, I am God, sort of way." Have you read "Running With Scissors"? Let me know what you thought of it below!