books and reading

What I Read this Week

These are the things I read this week:

34189556The Wife Between Us by Sarah Pekkanen & Greer Hendricks: Vanessa is the jilted ex-wife of the wildly successful, rich, and handsome Richard. He’s set to marry another woman, but Vanessa feels that she must warn his new fiance that he is not what he seems. Of course, Vanessa is not what she seems, either.

Billed as one twisty mind-trick, this was a very silly, ultimately pretty disappointing read. Part of that is the marketing doing it a disservice (don’t talk about all the twists in the blurb, right?) and part of it is that it’s just not very well done. Super savvy readers will figure out the twists long before they’re revealed. Also it’s just kind of ridiculous.

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Roomies by Christina Lauren: Holland Bakker is obsessed with an Irish busker named Calvin in the subway station she frequents. When he saves her life from a drunken attacker, she feels obligated to get him an audition with her musical director uncle. But then Calvin reveals that he’s in the country illegally, and Holland stupidly offers to marry him so he can remain and work with her uncle. The result is…a mess.

This was my first novel by the author duo who go by Christina Lauren, and it was pretty much what I expected. Went down easy, not much substance. But also, a totally ridiculous premise.

 

 

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pop culture

Internet Link Round-Up

These are the articles that got my attention this week. Without further ado:

From ‘Dawson’s Creek’ to ‘Buffy’ to ‘Frasier’ to ‘Seinfeld’ – What Happened to Those ‘Lone’ Token Black Actors? (The Undefeated)

A piece featuring interviews with eight different black actors who played “token” roles on television shows in the 90s, this is a must read:

Indeed, in the 1990s, the wealth of black representation on television could lull you into thinking (if you turned the channel from Rodney King taking more than 50 blows from Los Angeles Police Department batons) that black lives actually did matter. But almost all of these shows were, in varying ways, an extension of segregated America. It’s there in the memories of the stars below: There were “black shows” and there were “white shows.” If you were a black actor appearing on a white show, you were usually alone.

Thank You For Asking (NYT)

A really interesting look at Antioch College, the place where much of the consent movement relating to sexual assault started. It’s a really interesting piece and provides a lot of detail and history of how they developed their program and what it means in the #MeToo movement:

The college’s administration sees this all as a big selling point for the school. “Our students and our alumni have always been very involved with activism, and social justice is in our DNA,” said Mila Cooper, Antioch’s vice president for diversity and inclusion and the director of the Coretta Scott King Center. “There’s a heightened awareness of sexual violence and sexual assault right now with the MeToo movement, but I do think Antioch has been involved in these conversations long before. It’s not just a policy, you know, it’s part of the education and the culture here.”

Erik Killmonger is Not a Super Villain, He’s a Super Victim of Systemic Oppression (The Blavity)

So I saw Black Panther this weekend, and then I stumbled across this article. It’s really great, and worth a read, even if you haven’t seen the movie (but it probably resonates more if you have):

I refuse to see Killmonger as a super-villain. I see him as a super-victim of systemically oppressive forces, forces that forced him into a hyper-awareness of his dueled unwanted status in Wakanda and in America, due to having the blood of his mother, who was a descendant of black folks forced into the United States via the Trans Atlantic Slave Trade. This two-pronged othering serves as the source of his super-power. His super-power did not derive from radioactive spider bites like Spider Man, or mythological alien strength like that of Superman. Killmonger’s character harbors a super-power more potent than the fictive mineral Vibranium, housed exclusively in Wakanda: Killmonger is the possessor of un-tempered black rage.

books and reading

What I Read This Week

Back in the swing of things. Here’s what I read this week:

36595101Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House by Michael Wolff: Wolff spent much of the first year of Trump’s presidency inside the White House, privy to the “private” conversations the administration had as it fumbled throughout the first months and literally hemorrhaged people and classified information.

At times hilarious, infuriating, and terrifying, this sloppy book was a thrill ride of a read. It’s in desperate need of editing, but it’s also so timely and so fascinating it hardly matters. If even half of it is true (and it is), it’s worth reading. What a time to be alive.

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All the Dirty Parts by Daniel Handler:  Cole is in high school and obsessed with sex. Hooking up with girl after girl, he thinks about sex constantly, when he’s not watching or sharing clips with his best friend. But then he meets a girl that might actually be his match, and he starts to learn about consequences.

A one-sitting read, this experimental novel by the author also known as Lemony Snicket provides a very adult look at the teenage boy mind. I loved it: it was weird and sexy and disturbing and subversive. Definitely not for everyone: there’s a ton of explicit sex to be found in this slim little novel.

35099035Red Clocks by Leni Zumas: Abortion is illegal once again in America, and women who try to cross into Canada to seek abortion services are imprisoned. Four women living in this America try to do just that: live in it.

I wanted to love this one so much more than I did. It’s been called a modern take on The Handmaid’s Tale, but it isn’t, unless the only parallel readers are looking for is that women can’t have abortions. This is a much more stylized look at a theoretical future. It was hard to connect with the characters and some narratives were so much more compelling than the others that the plot as a whole suffered.

What did you read this week?

books and reading

What I Read this Week

These are the things I read this week. Without further ado:

28588390A Study in Scarlet Women by Sherry Thomas: Charlotte Holmes is smart and asks a lot of questions. She’s never quite fit in with the expectations of society, but it isn’t until she ends up a social pariah that she realizes she’ll have to use all her wits to survive. Then there’s a rash of murders, and Charlotte’s sister is one of the suspects. It’s up to Charlotte to clear her sister’s name.

A smart re-imagining of Sherlock Holmes, this first book in a series by Sherry Thomas is pretty delightful. While historical fiction (and cozy mysteries) is not my preferred genre, I liked this sneakily feminist, smart take on the classic detective.

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The Woman in the Window by A.J. Finn:  Anna Fox is an agoraphobic former child psychologist who hasn’t left her home in over ten months. She spends her days drinking wine, watching classic movies, and spying on her neighbors using her Nikon camera. When she witnesses something across the street–the apparent murder of her new neighbor–no one believes her. After all, she’s been mixing her medication and alcohol, and her memory isn’t what it once was. But she knows what she saw, and she might be in the killer’s crosshairs.

This is definitely another book written by a man using sneakily vague letters in his name in an attempt to cash in on the “grip-lit” phenomenon (his author bio in the back of the book lacks pronouns in a very conspicuous way), and that makes me feel weird about the book. That said, it’s certainly a fast-paced thrill ride, and it will find a readership. It’s way too long, clocking in at over 400 pages, and could have used a much stronger editing hand. But it was pretty fun, and it made me want to re-watch Rear Window.

books and reading

What I Read This Week

These are the books I finished this week:

31707102And We’re Off by Dana Schwartz: Nora is seventeen and an aspiring artist, about to take a trip to Europe on her grandfather’s dime. But at the last minute, her mom decides to tag along, throwing a huge wrench in all of her plans. Can the two get along and navigate Europe together?

Hailed as Gilmore Girls meets 13 Little Blue Envelopes, I really enjoyed this sweet story about mother-daughter relationships and traveling through Europe. It’s a totally enjoyable, if a bit forgettable YA novel that should appeal to a variety of teens.

 

Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince by J.K. Rowling: In Harry’s sixth year at1 Hogwarts, things are not good. Voldemort is returned to power, Dumbledore has special assignments for Harry, and a new Potions master means that Harry’s dealing with Snape as the Defense Against the Dark Arts teacher. And there’s something going on with Draco Malfoy, too.

I finished this on audio this week, which means I’m down to one more book (I haven’t decided if I’ll also re-read The Cursed Child, since there’s no audio for it). I’m excited/sad to finish listening to the series (my backlog of podcasts is getting ridiculous). Onward!

29010395I Am Not Your Perfect Mexican Daughter by Erika L. Sanchez: Julia is not the perfect Mexican daughter the way her sister Olga is. She has big dreams: college, New York, a writing career…but now that her sister Olga is dead, Julia wonders if she can have any of it. Struggling with her grief over the loss of her sister while also trying to figure out the mysteries of Olga’s life, Julia uncovers a lot about herself in the process.

Well-written and moving, but I had a really hard time getting into it. I felt like this was a book that came to me at the wrong time, and it says more about me than about the book. Definitely an outstanding read from the last year, though.

books and reading

What I Read This Week

These are the books I read this week. Without further ado:

26067909The Assistants by Camille Perri: Tina Fontana is an executive assistant to Robert Barlow, a multimedia billionaire CEO. She’s living paycheck to paycheck while he rakes in literal billions. When a technical error with an expense report offers Tina a chance to pay off her student loan debt, she hesitates and then actually does it. But then other assistants start cashing in favors about their debt, too, and before Tina knows it, she’s caught up in a scheme that is completely illegal.

It’s probably best not to think about this one too hard, because it’s pretty silly, but it’s also kind of fun to read a story about a bunch of women taking down a billionaire man. I wanted it to have more depth, and I wanted the characters to have more development, but it was a perfectly diverting read.

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Dear Martin by Nic Stone: Justyce is at the top of his class, on a scholarship to a prestigious prep school, and he’s definitely Ivy League bound. None of that matters when a police officer puts him in handcuffs. Another altercation with an off-duty cop puts Justyce in the midst of controversy he never wanted any part of. Turning to the teachings of Dr. King to try to find answers, Justyce has to find a way to grapple with the realities of his life.

I really liked this moving account of a black kid caught between two worlds. It’s a great readalike to The Hate U Give, which I thought had more nuance than this one, but both are definitely recommended reading. Nic Stone will be an author to watch.

333676Harry Potter & the Order of the Phoenix by J.K. Rowling: Harry keeps dreaming about a locked door at the end of a corridor. Dumbledore insists Harry should study occlumency lessons with Snape but won’t say why. An anti-Voldemort group called the Order of the Phoenix is hard at work but won’t let Harry know what they’re planning. A new Defense Against the Dark Arts teacher is making life hell at Hogwarts.

I’m still going strong on my re-listening to the Harry Potter series, and I enjoyed this one immensely. I can’t wait to get into the last two books, which I remember the least of all of them.

 

 

 

books and reading

What I Read This Week

Here’s what I read this week:

9461872Sisterhood Everlasting by Ann Brashares:

It’s been 10 years since the girls lost the Pants on a trip to Greece. Although they all have careers and men in their lives that they love, they feel like something is missing. When Tibby reaches out to them and plans a reunion trip in Greece, they all realize they need to see one another. But a tragic accident sends the girls reeling in another journey of self-discovery.

I read this when it came out and haven’t revisited it since. I remember really liking it, but I wonder now how much of that was fueled by my love for the series, because this was Not Great. The characters are totally stalled in terms of development, and they’re all kind of the worst, to be honest. There’s a lot of stalling in terms of the plot, too, which makes for a strangely bogged-down read. This is one that didn’t age well.

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Every Exquisite Thing by Matthew Quick:

Nanette O’Hare is a star soccer player and straight-A student. But she’s lonely, and when her beloved English teacher gives her his copy of The Bubblegum Reaper, she becomes obsessed with the piece of fiction. She befriends the author, falls in love with a troubled young poet, and discovers more about herself than she ever thought possible.

The first half of this novel feels like well-trodden ground, and then it veers off into something quite different. The result is a strong offering from Quick, who is a smart writer of prose and an even better writer of dialogue. A strong female protagonist also makes this one a standout. I really liked it.

28110139The City Baker’s Guide to Country Living by Louise Miller: 

Olivia Rawlings is a renowned pastry chef who literally sets the Boston dinner club she works at on fire with her flambeed dessert. Since her love life is also a fiery mess, she decides to hightail it up to rural Vermont to crash with her best friend. But then a job offer at the Sugar Maple Inn comes available, and Olivia finds herself settling down out of the city and forging connections she never thought possible.

I loved, loved, loved this one, devouring it in about two sittings. It might be a case of the book coming to me at the right time, but it hardly matters, because it was pure escapism. Something about this reminded me a little of Taylor Jenkins Reid’s books, although hers might delve deeper into her characters. Even so, this was a delight from start to finish and I hope Miller has more to offer in the future.

What did you read this week?