Blog Archives

REVIEW: Eight Perfect Hours by Lia Louis

Five Stars

Loved it! I really enjoy intriguing stories that "could" have happened (and who knows, maybe they did?) but are also so enjoyable that we don't have to bother ourselves with whether or not this is real. (Plus, I talked to my friend over Facebook Messenger for THREE DAYS while she was stranded in a freak blizzard... in ALABAMA, of all places!)

I identified with the "what if" factor of the story as it played out, too.

REVIEW: The Love Study by Kris Ripper

4 Stars

It’s hard to say that this book was fun (even though it was) because the main character, Declan, carries so much pain, self-doubt, and at times even self-loathing that I wanted more for them. This is one of those really great books that proves (gasp! horrors! what has the world come to?!) that gay people are literally human beings and experience exactly the same emotions and rollercoaster rides in romance that cis hetero people do (sorry haters).

The premise is something straight out of any mainstream (re: book that the traditional publishing industry has been pushing since the dawn of time) fiction: an up-and-coming video-documentarian asks Declan to be their interview subject on a series of dates. It’s meant to be a glimpse into the modern dating world, even though Declan has his doubts. After all, he’s left someone at the altar and still hasn’t forgiven himself for it, even though his love-victim has and is still close friends with him.

The book was endearing in all the right ways and shone a spotlight on a number of issues. Apart from the aforementioned “omg they’re just like us and by us I mean stereotypical status quo,” the author seamlessly uses correct pronouns without batting an eye. It’s a beautiful example of how this whole thing works when people put a microscopic smidgen of effort into it.

Fun, insightful, heart-wrenching at times, and yes, you want to cheer for the good guys! (Make that, good people!)

Euphoria by Lily King


3.5 Stars

First, I love historical fiction, even ones such as this one that are “filling in the gaps” of real people, real events, and very recent history. Euphoria is based on the story of Margaret Mead, well-known anthropologist, and two lesser well-known men in her life. I really enjoy books where we get to envision the actual conversations, settings, even attire of the people when key events took place, and this one was no different.

Unfortunately, readers will need to go into it with a lot more prior knowledge of Mead’s work and anthropology in general to appreciate the complex, clever story. Much of my later enjoyment of the book came from reading published industry reviews–something I do AFTER reading a book so that I don’t go into it with spoilers or preconceived judgments.

I had three key criticisms, though:

1. As so many works of fiction involving this topic already do, the aboriginal people that Mead/Nell were studying are secondary to the white people, white values, white culture of the main characters. It would have been nice to actually learn more about them instead of seeing them through the lens, so to speak.

2. The writing style was beautiful but chaotic. I would read entire passages, reach a pronoun, and realize the wrong person was speaking (or at least, not the person I’d thought had been speaking). The use of quotation marks wasn’t entirely conventional, but that’s my failing and not the author’s.

3. There was far too much inference/alluding for my tastes. Some readers love it, I do not. I do not like being left in the dark or lured into a scene by not realizing what has or is about to take place. The first time I remember this feeling in this book, for example, was when Nell is narrating the fact that she cannot see well because her husband has broken her glasses. It dimmed my view of him as a character, either intentionally or not.

This book is well-deserving of its advanced praise and accolades, but read it with the understanding that it is by far not a mainstream topic. It’s great to expand your horizons, though, and this book will certainly do that. The writing is superb and beautiful, and the vivid descriptions of the setting are perfect.

REVIEW: Pride Must Be a Place by Kevin Craig


As the young people say, “Oh, all the feels…” (Wait, do the young people still say that?) This book was incredible. Besides the stellar writing and spot on, distinctive voices–which honestly, I have a right to expect from an author–the depth with which Craig paints this whole story is incredible.

Tackling one of the most iconic concepts in sexuality (namely, being open about your preferences or choosing to keep your sexuality to yourself out of a sense of self-preservation), Craig handles the topic in an engaging but still unheavy way. It’s astounding that someone can write about something as terrifying as living a lie to protect oneself with the finesse that the author uses.

Anyone with even a shred of compassion for their fellow human beings can identify with the struggles Ezra, Alex, Nettie, and even Will face. This book paints the picture that not all circumstances are black and white, and not all prejudices are what we might believe. As a veteran secondary school teacher with a soft spot for those who face unique battles, it warms my heart to know that I can point readers to this book.

To find out more, click here.

REVIEW: The Curve by Jeremy Blachman and Cameron Stracher

Five stars

What’s better than a biting satire about a corrupt for-profit law school aimed at catering to those students who never had a chance (or the genetics, or the connections, or the silver spoon) of getting into Harvard Law? A book about this very subject written by two Harvard Law graduates.

Set in the fictitious Manhattan Law School–which sounds like it could be a serious institution of higher learning, doesn’t it?–the sad reality of the school mirrors its location along the banks of a polluted body of water adjacent to Brooklyn. Adam Wright, a one-time eternal optimist who leaves behind the pressures of a law firm  in order to give a professorship a try, quickly finds there’s nothing Ivy League-ish about his new position. From zombie-students who are just there taking up space to the understanding that sleeping with the students in exchange for a better grade is unacceptable unless the student is a third-year, everything that’s wrong with the legal profession is compressed into one sad law school.

So then, why is the book so darn funny? The authors have done a masterful job of creating a completely surreal environment that quickly draws you in and makes the bizarre seem acceptable. The writing is stellar, of course, but not just good, it’s masterful.

The real horror of the book? Well, let’s just hope works like this one remain firmly entrenched in satire, and don’t ever, ever cross over into plausible reality.


REVIEW: The Best Goodbye by Abbi Glines


Four Stars

I don’t know how Glines does it, but somehow she manages to keep all the various characters and love triangles and parenting relationships straight in the seaside town of Rosemary Beach! I’d have to have a map and a secret decoder ring handy just to keep everyone straight, and to make sure I wasn’t suddenly pairing off a biological brother and sister (although there are certain fetish genres for that…ewwwwww).

In The Best Goodbye, Glines is at it again when it comes to spinning a fun, sexy, yet completely implausible escape read. I know readers–even romance readers–who would turn up their noses at the highly unlikely stories coming out of this quaint yet dark little town, but that’s the whole point, isn’t it? If I wanted to read a book about a normal guy and a normal girl who do normal things and happen to fall in love in a normal way, those books are a dime a dozen.

Glines’ specialty is the “out there” style of romance, and this one doesn’t fail to deliver in that regard. In this instance, River Kipling meets Rose Henderson, and (no spoilers!) you’ll just have to see it for yourself to find out what makes this one so unrealistic but so entertaining at the same time!

REVIEW: More Than You Know by Jennifer Gracen

Five Stars

From the publisher…

“Hotel owner Dane Harrison, middle brother of a wealthy Long Island family, needs a lounge singer for his new luxury property. With her stunning voice and amazing curves, Julia Shay is perfect. She also seems to be the only woman in New York City who isn’t falling at Dane’s feet. And despite her feisty attitude and his rule against workplace affairs, he wants her—in his arms, in his bed, anywhere and everywhere.

“Julia loves her new job, and she knows better than to think she can keep it and Dane. Even if he wasn’t her boss, Julia’s painful history has given her ample reason to steer clear of rich, powerful charmers. Still, their chemistry is unlike anything she’s known, and when it becomes too much to resist, they agree to one no-strings night together. But instead of quenching the fire, the intense encounter only proves how much they have to lose—or win…”

As a steadfast non-romance reader (or at least someone who reads romance only once in a while, and even then I hide it inside the covers of a physics textbook or something), I have to admit that I wasn’t sure what to expect. And with so many 99cent books flooding the market with their identical covers of the same headless set of abs, it was refreshing to read something with this much plot development and character description. Is it still a romance? Undoubtedly. But it’s one of the more literary ones I’ve read in a long time. Gracen did a really good job setting the scene and building believable characters (re: no inhumanly endowed self-made billionaires who aren’t even old enough to run for President, let alone explain why they’re so rich), and I love how she played off one of her own talents to create her heroine.

More than You Know won’t disappoint!

Book Review: Shattered Palms by Toby Neal

Saying I hate mysteries might be a little strong, but I’m definitely not someone who seeks out these titles or films. It’s just not my genre. But I read all of Neal’s titles for the sheer fact that they read more like travel guides with a who-dunnit thrown in than your average, formulaic mystery thriller.

In this recent installment, Neal includes not only the envy-sparking depictions of some of the more beautiful and breathtaking aspects of wild Hawaii (in painstaking detail that only someone who has experienced it firsthand can pull off), but also incorporates a social theme of hunting and poaching on protected land.

I especially like her main character in this series, a no-nonsense woman who doesn’t feel the threat to her feminism that causes her to behave in an “in your face” way that so many writers resort to. She’s just a female, that’s all there is to it. She’s fully capable at her job and well-regarded, and I appreciate that. Books in which the woman constantly has to prove herself really are a disservice to women.

Shattered Palms is available now!

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