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oblue

Obsidian Blue

Government drone by day and book lover and geek girl by night!

Currently reading

Wonder Woman: Warbringer (DC Icons Series)
Leigh Bardugo
We Were Eight Years in Power: An American Tragedy
Ta-Nehisi Coates
Born a Crime: Stories from a South African Childhood
Trevor Noah
Colonel Roosevelt
Edmund Morris
Toil & Trouble: 16 Tales of Women & Witchcraft
Tehlor Kay Mejia, Tristina Wright, Emery Lord, Andrea Cremer, Tess Sharpe, Jessica Spotswood, Brandy Colbert, Robin Talley, Anna-Marie McLemore, Zoraida Córdova, Brenna Yovanoff, Nova Ren Suma, Shveta Thakrar, Kate Hart, Lindsay Smith

Like the Room With Romance: Missing Heart That Most Roberts Romance Books Have

Come Sundown - Nora Roberts

What a weird book. Someone commented yesterday that this was like a Nora Roberts book if JD Robb wrote it, and it's true. Switching back and forth between a woman who was abducted, raped, and forced to give birth multiple times over with the romance portion of the book did not gel well with me at all. I also think this book was overly long (we get way too many descriptions about how to run a ranch, about horses, etc.) and I thought that the ending wasn't very well thought out in my opinion. It made no sense and made me scratch my head for a bit. 

 

"Come Sundown" is about the Bodine/Longbow family. A highly successful family who all love each other and work at the family ranch/resort they are going about their day to day lives when an old family friend returns to the area. When he shows back up, women start turning up murdered. And in between wondering who is murdering these women, a long lost relative of the Bodine family's reappears. 

 

One of the main characters, Bodine Longbow (named Bodine for her mother's side of the family) runs her family's ranch and resort in Montana. She has two brothers (Chase and Rory). When one of her local horse guides ends up not being able to work, she decides to hire an old family friend, Callen Skinner. Of course Bodine and Callen (Cal) start to fall for each other. While that is all going on, Bodine's brothers start romances of their own. When women start showing up murdered though, a local deputy starts to circle in on Cal thinking he must have something to do with it. And when Bodine's Aunt Alice is found 25 years after she left home, her story about being abducted and raped repeatedly has the family doing what it can to keep her safe from a man that she rightfully fears. 

 

I liked the character of Bodine okay. She definitely knew how to do her job. I will say that it made no sense that she was put in charge of the family business though at her age. I don't think that Roberts tells us how old anyone is really in this book, but I hazarded a guess there. I discussed the age/timeline thing further down below.

 

I am also going to say that Bodine's romance with Cal didn't ring true at all. They had absolutely no chemistry with each other. If anything, it would have made more sense for these two to just be friends. Maybe a deputy or someone else could have been the one to romance Bodine. 

 

I didn't find the other romances that her brothers had in this book to be believable either. I just don't think Roberts had enough "room" so to speak to include all of these people and make you think that they all somehow found true love at the same time. It's typical Roberts though, she does love her 6 couples in most of her romance books, so I don't know why I was surprised at Bodine/Cal, Chase/Jessica, and Rory/Chelsea. Also I didn't need dialogue between Jessica and Bodine with Jessica telling Bodine how great her brother was in bed. I think that happened. I maybe went la, la, la at some point. The three women and men don't really make sense to me in a friendship type of way either. There is a terrible scene where they all show up to watch Cal fight someone (yes that happened) and at that point I wondered why I was reading this mess. 


There are other characters in this one. Alice and her story was heartbreaking. I really think that Roberts should have made this two separate books. Maybe the main reason that I couldn't get into the romance was reading about the things done to Alice in the past and then seeing her struggle so much in the future. And it was weird how Roberts showed her being selfish in the present and the two sisters fighting. I don't know, everyone acted like it was normal and I thought once again it was odd.


We hear about Sir (the man who abducted Alice) but you are able to put two and two together and realize who must have been behind abducting and killing the other women in this story. 

 

The writing was just okay in this one. I think the biggest issue is that the majority of the book is taken up about business and the day to day running of the ranch. You get that broken up with descriptions of what Alice had to endure. So you get present events mixed up with past events and I still have to wonder how old some of the characters were in this book since we find out that Alice was abducted 25 years ago. Does that mean that Bodine is somehow running a ranch and being a highly successful businesswoman in her early 20s? She's not the oldest member of the siblings so I had to hard pause at that point and do some math and then just gave up. After reading the JD Robb books for many years, I am just resigned to the face that Roberts doesn't pay much attention to dates/timelines. 

 

The flow was not good at all. The first 1/3 of this book drags. The 2/3 picks up a bit, but the final 1/3 of the book drags again until the very end when all is revealed in a ham-fisted way. 

 

The setting of Montana is one that Roberts has written about before. I was curious about this book, since I initially thought it may be a sequel to Montana Sky. Of course it's not a sequel, but the character of Willa in that book reminded me of Bodine a lot. 


The ending goes from murderous rampage and death to a happily ever after that still felt weird to me. I wonder if the book would have worked better if we had Chase/Jessica as the main romantic leads or what. 

Reading progress update: I've read 23%.

What To Say Next - Julie Buxbaum

Liking the two leads in this one: Kit and David.

 

Kit is dealing with the loss of her father a month before the events in this book. She feels separate from her two best friends at school and doesn't know how to be in a world without her father. She starts sitting with David at lunch because she figures he won't talk to her.


David is a highly functioning autistic 16 year old. There are only a few things that he likes in this world, and one of them is Kit. David is initially surprised that Kit sits with him at lunch, but now they seem to be starting a friendship of sorts. 

 

I think Buxbaum is doing a great thing with showcasing his language (my cousin's son is highly functioning too and speaks just like this) and I like how she has David slowly joining things at school.  

Reading progress update: I've read 100%.

Come Sundown - Nora Roberts

Hmmm this read as Nora Roberts version of “Room”.  It was okay, not great. The romance took a while to get going and reading about that in between passages of an abducted woman and the rapes and beatings she had to endure was a lot.

Reading progress update: I've read 100%.

One of Us Is Lying - Karen  M. McManus

Really good, I loved the final solution, but thought the ending with only showing one of the characters ending was a bit disappointing. I wish we got an epilogue with all of them.

TBR Thursday*: June 7, 2018

Reading (9 books):

 

What to Say NextThe Girl Who Knew Too MuchOne of Us Is LyingCome Sundown

Toil & Trouble: 15 Tales of Women & WitchcraftThe Case for Jamie (Charlotte Holmes #3)ItBorn a Crime: Stories from a South Afri…

Colonel Roosevelt

 

 

Going to Read (23):

 

 Cover image for We Were Eight Years in Power

As You WishAn American Marriage

Adulting: How to Become a Grown-up in 535 Easy(ish) StepsTheir Eyes Were Watching GodBeloved

 The Hollow ManWhy Didn't They Ask Evans?Devil in a Blue Dress (Easy Rawlins, #1)Strangers on a Train

Postern of Fate (Tommy and Tuppence #5)The Sittaford MysteryOrdeal by InnocenceN or M? (Tommy and Tuppence, #3)

Cover image for The Hazel WoodTitle details for Forbidden by Beverly Jenkins - Wait list Cover image for Aru Shah and the End of Time

 

Read (10 books):

 

 

 The Courtesan Duchess by Joanna ShupeJohn Henry Days by Colson WhiteheadI Am, I Am, I Am by Maggie O'FarrellThe Cafe by the Sea by Jenny Colgan

Furyborn by Claire LegrandThe Reunion by Roisin MeaneySlightly Single by Wendy MarkhamSlightly Settled by Wendy Markham

When Dimple Met Rishi by Sandhya MenonSo You Want to Talk About Race by Ijeoma Oluo

 

All the books read were pretty long this week. 

 

My TBR is 32 books. 

 

*TBR Thursday is the brainchild of my partner in crime, Moonlight Reader. 

So You Want to Talk About Race

So You Want to Talk About Race - Ijeoma Oluo

This book needs handed out in social studies courses in high school. Oluo packs so much in this book that I really do think is a good guide for people who have questions about race. She delves into all kinds of topics and I was here for them. Sometimes the writing gets a bit technical, but I think that a lot of pre-teens and above would do very well with reading this and having an honest conversation about race afterwards.

 

As one of my friend's laments, "The reason why the United States still has a huge problem with racism is that no one wants to be honest about it. Everyone wants to pretend that racism died when the North won the Civil War, and it didn't." Then she usually goes into a rant about how she almost got into a fight with someone who tried to explain to her how reverse racism is a thing (it freaking is not).

 

Oulo breaks this book into 17 sections after her introduction. In each section she goes into some personal history and I wanted to read even more about her family and her experiences. I do follow her on Twitter, but have managed to not come across like a crazy fan. I just love reading her stuff. If you have time, check out her articles. One of her articles on Rachel Dolezal or whatever name she is going by now was a very insightful read. 

 

I am going to list out the chapters that I loved the best, everything that is not mentioned does not mean that I didn't enjoy it, I just loved these topics the most while reading.

 

Chapter One: "Is it really about race?"-I love that Oluo breaks it down for people that seem to think that a Utopia United States that would fully embrace socialism will somehow make racism go away is not a thing. It drives me up the wall when people don't seem to get that.

 

We have a class system in the United States that Oluo points out which is oppressive and violent and harms a lot of people of all races and it should be addressed and torn down, but that class system getting torn down doesn't mean that everything will magically become better.

 

Oluo brings up labor movements and others which often pushed POC's issues to the back burner as something that would eventually get addressed. This is why I personally still keep struggling with the #metoo movement. It's not an intersectional movement. 

 

Chapter Three: "What if I talk about race wrong?"-I loved this one because Oluo brings up a conversation with her mother and I maybe sprayed water all over. I won't spoil it for you, but it's hilarious. But she does show a perfect example on how some allies out there need to listen a lot more instead of trying to tell people about their experiences.

 

I personally get annoyed when I go to a party and I have some random person ask me so what do you think about race in this country? I seriously have had that happen a lot to me. I am not the sole voice in the African American community. Also stop doing that to people.

 

Oluo goes into a lot of examples to show how to talk about race without forcing a POC to be on the defensive and or having to educate you while in the middle of a conversation.

 

Chapter Five: "What is intersectionality and why do I need it?"- Oluo goes into Hoteps (shaking my head) and the importance of intersectionality and how people can be more thoughtful in ensuring that if you are having discussions about race how to increase the intersectionality in any discussions that you hold. 

 

Chapter Six: "Is police brutality really about race?"-Oluo provides readers with a story about how she when she got pulled over in 2015, she Tweeted about it. I don't do that because I am honestly too scared to move if I get pulled over. I was taught to keep hands on the wheel, make sure that you ask for permission to move, when moving still explain what you are doing, and be respectful and keep your eyes lowered. It's like being around a rabid dog that you are afraid is going to bite you. And this is coming from a POC that is friends with a ton of police officers and others in law enforcement. I have a different reality from my friends who are white. I have been in the cars with them when they have mouthed off to cops and in one case flipped the guy off when he was walking back to his patrol car. My only thought was, please don't let me get killed cause of this idiot here!

 

Oluo breaks down the history behind police forces, and how they started off as Night Patrols who had the principal task of controlling black and Native American populations in England and Slave Patrols who had the principal task of catching escaped black slaves. She then segues into post-Reconstruction America and how the Jim Crow era morphed the police force into something else. 

 

Chapter Seven: "How Can I Talk About Affirmative Action?"-Such a good chapter. I loved it. My heart also break for Oluo and the coworker that she mentions. I think every POC has a story out there like these.

 

Chapter Nine: "Why Can't I say the N word?"-Cause you freaking cannot. Enough said. Seriously though Oluo provides again a personal story about being called the N word and how it made her feel. And also explaining why it's not okay to say the word if you are not black. 

 

And last, but not least.

 

"Chapter Eleven: "Why Can't I Touch Your Hair"-Please stop touching people without permission. Oluo goes into her own personal history about her hair and about people who think that just cause they saw Chris Rock's "Good Hair" they are now the end all be all of knowing what black men and women deal with with regards to their hair. I personally relax my hair because that's my choice. Shoot, I want to have natural hair, but my hair dresser has point blank said, girl your hair grows too fast and is too thick. Have at it and God bless. LOL. I just don't have the patience for it. I do love black women's hairstyles. I love it when it's natural, relaxed, braided, etc. Do you know how much I loved Black Panther for showcasing women with their hair in all kinds of ways? I loved it a lot. 

 

Dimple and Rishi: Cuteness for Days

When Dimple Met Rishi - Sandhya Menon

Not a lot to say here besides how much I enjoyed this one. It was so good. I thought the chemistry between the two leads was great. I loved the secondary characters. I definitely understood why Dimple was reluctant to tie herself to Rishi after being concerned she would have to give up what she wanted. I loved reading about two Indian Young Adults finding their way right before they set off for college. The only reason why I gave this four stars though is that Menon falls into the YA trap of having the two leads break up for nonsense reasons instead of just talking things through. 

 

Dimple has graduated high school and has gotten her family to agree that she can attend Stanford University. Though her parents (really her mother) wishes she would focus more on getting married and having babies, Dimple is focused on forging a path into the world of coding. She doesn't want to give up her dreams and be bound to anyone right now. When her parents agree that she can go to a prestigious coding camp for part of the summer, she wonders if her family are on the same page with her being able to follow what she wants.


Rishi is happy to be going to a coding camp in order to meet his future wife (guess who). Though he doesn't really care about coding, he thinks it will be a perfect opportunity to get to know her a bit better before they settle down. 

 

So yeah...you can see how this is going to work out. I did laugh at the first meet (it was not good) and I have to push back on the synopsis saying that Rishi is a hopeless romantic. He really isn't. He is for a traditional marriage since he wants to make things easier on his parents and is very respectful. I didn't get hearts and birds singing from him, it was weird to me that he was so gung ho on someone he had not meant. And I am not going to lie, I wasn't thrilled that Rishi didn't really seem to absorb Dimple's objections to a relationship that she kept saying she didn't really want. 

 

That said though, things between these two eventually smooth out and I maybe awwed through most of the book.

 

Both Dimple and Rishi have dreams, it's just that Rishi is more reluctant to share his. 

 

I loved the secondary characters too. Dimple's roommate Celia Ramirez is awesome. I loved how open she is. Though Dimple sees her as one of the popular people, she realizes that even so-called popular people get peer pressured into things they don't want.


I also really liked Rishi's brother Ashish too. At first I didn't care for him, but he grew on me so much. I would have loved a separate story with him, but honestly you don't need one since I think that Menon resolves his story-line very well.

 

Dimple's parents are more developed in this one than I found to be Rishi's parents though. And we also get some snooty rich kids who sound awful and also realistic. I think I went to school with one of these characters.

 

The writing was really good. Menon introduces some things that I was familiar with, but a lot I was not. I was having a really good time looking things up. Each chapter alternates between Dimple and Rishi. It would have been cute to have an epilogue with the parents talking in the end or something.

 

The flow was really good. No issues there for me.


The setting is San Francisco for most of the story. As someone who has been there, Menon did a good job with describing some parts of it. 

 

I thought the ending (big problem between the love interests) was a bit cliche though. 

Reading progress update: I've read 256 out of 256 pages.

So You Want to Talk About Race - Ijeoma Oluo

Wow. I took my time with this one because it was so good! I thought that Oluo's way of breaking down different topics about race (microagressions, touching people of color's hair, affirmative action, etc.) was done very well. Even though I am a WOC this still gave me food for thought and once again it's great reading a book showing I am not alone out there with regards to incidents that have happened to me in my personal and professional life.

 

Reading progress update: I've read 100%.

When Dimple Met Rishi - Sandhya Menon

I really adored the characters of Dimple and Rishi. They have slightly different backgrounds (his family is really wealthy and her family seems to be middle class) but both set of parents are hoping that they hit it off and marry. Getting past the idea that 18 year old teens should betroth themselves to each other, I thought the romance portion of things worked.

 

I loved the backdrop of Dimple going to a coding event that can set her up if she ends up winning. Rishi was merely there to meet his future wife. Not going to lie, I didn't like Rishi at first. He didn't really seem to hear Dimple's nos about not getting married and wanting more out of life than getting married and having children. I know that things worked out in a happily ever after, but I would not have been down for this relationship if he hadn't done a 180 about things. There is nothing wrong with being traditional, but he really did act like an 80 year old man in an 18 year old's body.


FYI there is a reference to sexual relationships in this one. You don't read about the "events" in question. I did wonder though at the characters moving so fast. The coding event only lasts I think 4 weeks, or was it 6 weeks? Either way, that part didn't ring true to me at all with them having sex and Rishi not assuming that would not mean they were not going to get married. He was the one who was super gung ho about tying himself to Dimple forever. 

 

It just cheered me to read a YA romance novel starring two teens of color whose background was not a Christian religion. 

Reading progress update: I've read 107 out of 256 pages.

So You Want to Talk About Race - Ijeoma Oluo

I am really liking this. Not going to lie, I thought this would mostly be Oluo's describing events that have happened to her. Instead she is breaking down how people can sit down and actually talk about race. 

 

With her providing a definition of racism (that I liked) racism is any prejudice against someone because of their race, when those views are reinforced by systems of power. Her telling you what it means to check your privilege and how many African Americans may not realize that they have certain privileges that they probably have not thought about it depending on if they grew up in a two parent family, moderately well off, and are straight. 

 

Right now I am in the section discussing affirmative action. I have my own story about that one. At my last job (I do not miss it) I had to share an office with two peers. It was a PITA and I never had any privacy. But, sharing an office allowed me to see that the one office mate was racist. Yeah, who knew. We grew up in the same state (PA) and he at first seemed like most of the guys I grew up with. But he got really nasty anytime I was complimented at work and hated the fact I was so well thought of. When he found out that I got to go to grad school (he only had a BA) for free he started screeching about how I only got to go to school due to affirmative action. Mind you, this asshat had no idea that I was on the honor roll from the time I was in middle school up. That I was on the dean's list every semester but one (yeah I partied during my first semester). He could not conceive of a world where I a black woman who was younger than him could have gone to grad school where he only had gone to undergrad. Mind you he went to undergrad on an athletic scholarship, but that was okay.

 

You may not know, but right now there is another lawsuit going around saying that Asian Americans are being discriminated against due to affirmative action (i.e. letting the blacks in) that every time I think about it, just pisses me off even more. 

 

"The leader of Students for Fair Admissions and the architect of the case against Harvard is Edward Blum, a longtime crusader against affirmative action who has recruited plaintiffs, hired sympathetic lawyers and raised millions of dollars from conservative groups to challenge voting rights laws and affirmative action policies, often successfully."

Yeah I think he's garbage. 

Tracey Learns No Lessons

Slightly Settled - Wendy Markham

Oh wow, this second book really just went downhill for me. Tracey is 100 percent scared to be single. I really wish besides some characters giving that some lip service here and there, it actually had been addressed. Tracey throws herself into a something with a guy she meets at her job called Jack while also still harboring feelings for her ex and sort of wanting to be with a long time guy friend. The ending made me roll my eyes. 

 

Tracey, without realizing it, is pretty much advocating taking pills (she takes them for anxiety) cause they are helping her to lose even more weight. She is still talking to her ex-boyfriend Will twice a week cause apparently she has no spine and cannot just ignore his freaking phone calls. When Tracey ends up meeting a guy at her job named Jack, she tells herself to just think of him as a transitional boy, but she of course starts thinking about weddings and being with him forever. She also still harbors a crush or something on her guy friend Buckley. 


This whole book felt exhausting to me. I just wanted Tracey to get her crap together. Instead she is sitting in judgement of mostly everyone she is close to and ping ponging between two guys. I say two since Will is mostly just a voice on the phone for this book. 

The First Book I Read from Red Dress Ink

Slightly Single - Wendy Markham

So back in the day I was obsessed with Red Dress Ink books. I have all of the "Slightly" books still on my Kindle along with Kindle and paperback copies of books by Sarah Mlynowski, Melissa Senate, Brenda Janowitz, Carole Matthews, and other writers. I was in love with all things chick lit back in the day and these writers and their books delighted me.

 

Now reading the first two books in the "Slightly" series by Markham this weekend has me realizing that the main character Tracey kind of sucks. Okay, no kind of, she really does suck. Self absorbed and nasty about her friends and family (mentally and not to their faces), I had a hard time rooting for her. I liked her okay in this first book, but found myself getting increasingly irritated by her in book #2.  You do have sympathy for Tracey, she is in a long time relationship (his name is Will) with a struggling actor who really doesn't care about her (just a few scenes with the guy should let you know that he is not in love with Tracy) and she is determined that while they spend the summer apart, she is going to work on improving herself for him.

 

Tracey is overweight and not really trying to do much about her apartment. She is just passing time until Will deigns to propose to her so she doesn't see much of a point in making her life better without him. When Will goes away during the summer to participate in Summer Stock, Tracey decides to focus on losing weight and reading books.

 

If Tracey was doing any of these things without Will being the main reason behind it, I would cheer her. Instead Tracey wrongly believes that if she was somehow perfect, Will will propose and they will live happily ever after.

 

Most of this book is just Tracey telling you how much weight she has lost and it seems barely eating any food. We also have her being highly judgmental about her two best friends (Raphael and Kate) who love Tracey as she is and keep telling her that Will really isn't the right one for her. Tracey also looks down her nose when it comes to her coworkers. 


Tracey ends up meeting a guy named Buckley who she starts to think about romantically, but really wants to keep him on the back burner cause there is still Will.

 

If that isn't enough, Tracey goes into her blue-collar family that lives in Brookside, New York, about 500 miles away from her current location of New York, New York. She also looks down on her family due to her mother and sister not doing anything but living for their spouses and both being overweight. She seems indifferent towards her brothers. 

 

I think if the book had shown Tracey really dealing with her relationship with Will and coming into her own I would have liked it better. The ending was such a non-starter for me when re-reading. It doesn't feel like Tracey learns anything since she still seems to hate being alone and doesn't get why her life didn't magically get better when she lost weight. 

 

The other characters don't feel very developed to me. Will is, but Raphael reads like a gay stereotype. Tracey pretty much calls Kate a gold-digger. Or at least she is referred to that in book #2. Tracey's work friends seem pretty awesome and have a better handle on their own lives. 

 

The writing is typical chick lit. The main premise of most of these stories is to tell a romance usually dealing with a single woman having semi-comedic situations happening to them. I guess for me while reading, there was not that much that made me laugh. 

 

The setting of New York is used very well here. Tracey makes New York sound hot, gross, and smelly most of the time. I could feel the heat and also felt slightly hampered by her describing her tiny apartment. 

 

The ending leaves Tracey on a different path than the one she envisioned. 

SPOILER ALERT!

Narrative Style Took Me Out of Story Also Book Wraps Things Up Too Neatly

The Reunion - Roisin Meaney

Trigger warning: Rape. 

 

I tend to not do spoiler reviews. However, I realized that I wouldn't be able to show what I didn't give this book over two stars without spoiling the book. 


Well good news is that this only cost me $.99. Bad news is that I didn't really think I got my money's worth. I have liked/loved most of Meaney's works, but this one just fell flat to me throughout the book. Ostensibly about two sisters (Caroline and Eleanor) going to their twenty year reunion in Ireland, the book jumps back and forth showing Caroline and Eleanor and their lives twenty years ago, and to the present day. I felt for both women's stories, but ended up liking Caroline's more, I just hated how her story-line got resolved. I also think that Eleanor's story-line just magically poof got better with no real repercussions for what happened to her family after she just opted out of things. 

 

"The Reunion" starts with sisters Caroline and Eleanor receiving an invitation to their 20 year reunion. Neither of them wants to go for different reasons. Receiving the invitation though has both of them remembering things that they rather not dwell about now in their late 30s. 


Meaney goes back and forth to show both women's POV throughout the book.

 

Caroline's story-line was shocking. She is raped by a family friend and falls pregnant. When she goes to her mother, her mother informs her that she will be sent to England for an abortion and even slaps her when Caroline realizes that her mother maybe harbored a secret fantasy about this family friend. I felt for Caroline and everything she went through. Her finding a real friend in her cousin Florence was welcome. Caroline is shown missing her son after giving him up for adoption. However, Meaney then throws a love interest in Caroline's story that didn't feel realistic at all. I was fine with her being a successful businesswoman. Having her in a romance that felt off to me (she meets this man when he is a young teen and they have a relationship about ten years later) and honestly it skeeved me out. 

 

Eleanor seemed to have a slightly charmed life. Dating the most handsome boy at her school who is also the son of a rich man, Eleanor sees her life with him going smoothly with them eventually marrying. He has other ideas and breaks up with her. For most of the story-line with Eleanor you know that she doesn't let this relationship go easily, and that she had a child that died. It takes a while for you to figure out who Eleanor marries. And I have to say, that romance had zero chemistry when Meaney finally shows it to us. I did feel sympathy for Eleanor for her loss, but we find out she refused to be a mother or wife to her family for 14 years after the accidental death of her child. I didn't want her to be left alone and mourning forever. But I thought how Meaney resolved things with no real repercussion to Eleanor was a freaking cop out. It seemed that for a bit there Meaney was going to reveal that Eleanor's husband sought out a relationship elsewhere, but that went nowhere fast.

 

I think the secondary characters were not developed that well. Eleanor's husband barely feels present, along with Caroline and Eleanor's parents. I thought the only character that was sketched reasonably well was cousin Florence. 


The writing was good. I was just more invested in Caroline's story. Eleanor's chapters felt bogged down to me while I was reading. Nothing much seems to happen to her until she goes off to work in a restaurant. The flow was up and down going back and forth. When Meaney goes back in time (so to speak) to show the women's lives twenty years back and then suddenly we are just in the present day it felt weird to me. Meaney does show the years/month so you know what timeline you are in. Thank goodness for that since a few times I was a bit lost. 

 

The ending didn't satisfy me at all. Eleanor's family is bailed out by a rich relation and she and her husband magically make things work. I wish we had them having more conversations with each other. Instead, we just hear how they are now sharing a bedroom again. I also wish that Caroline's mother had been made to face up to what she had done, but she wasn't.

Way Too Long to the Point I Didn't Care About Anyone

Furyborn - Claire Legrand

Please note that I received this book via NetGalley. This did not affect my rating or review.

 

I struggled to finish this. I had to keep reading this in between other books this weekend and finally finished this Sunday morning around 5 a.m. At that point, I was hell-bent on finishing this thing. I don't have a lot to say except skip over this book. It's not the worst book I read this year, but good grief towards the end I kept saying to myself who cares. 

 

When I requested this book from NetGalley, I thought the synopsis of this book sounded so good. Two young women, one thousand years apart from each other, hold powers that will either save the world or see its destruction. One of the young women is either the queen of light and salvation, or the queen of blood and destruction, otherwise known as the Sun Queen and the Blood Queen respectively.

 

The two women are known as Rielle Dardenne and Eliana Ferracora. 


In Rielle's story-line she has to deal with seven trials (always seven isn't it) in order to test her. Eliana's story-line a thousand years later shows her as a bounty hunter and assassin. 

 

I honestly didn't feel either way about Rielle or Eliana. I usually end up liking at least one POV more than the other when authors write their stories this way. This time, I was meh on both of them. I really wish that Legrand had split this book (yeah this is me who always complains when an author writes trilogies) since it made better sense than cramming two plot-lines with different characters into book #1. If she had, I think the characters would have been more developed. Even though this book is over 500 pages long, I didn't feel like Rielle or Eliana were that developed. You just have things happening to them and they react to it. 


Also a word of warning, don't start off the book showing how one of the characters is alive and then we jump back in time to show them going through some stuff. There is no tension then to me as a reader when I am supposed to care if they live or die. You already spoiled me on that. 

 

The love interests (I guess we can call them that) in this book sucked. Rielle's love interests are Audric and Corien (by the way, I had to go back and look up these people's names while writing this review, that just lets you know how little I cared about them). I don't want to have spoilers in this review, but let us just say one of these people wasn't even a real love interest. I just didn't care and wanted to kick something after a while. Also I hate love triangles. 


Eliana's love interest was Simon. Hard shrug about this dude. There was zero chemistry. I don't even get why YA novels always have to have a love interest. There is enough going on with both young women's story-lines that Legrand could have just had women and men there with no romantic entanglements. 

 

The writing was okay, I thought the world-building was lacking. I don't want to post spoilers, but I went huh a couple of times while reading. The flow was bad throughout this whole thing too. FYI, this is why it took me almost a week to finish this thing. Books should not put me to sleep, this one did a few times. 

 

One word of warning, I know this is marked as young adult, but this book has sex scenes. Which seems to be a new thing in young adult books. To me that alone would push this to the new adult genre. I only say this in case any parents out there were thinking about getting this for their teens. I would say ages 12 and up would be a good audience for this book. Back to the sex scenes, no thank you please. I don't know what was going on there. 

 

The book limps to an ending. Since this is already titled book #1, you can imagine a second and possibly third book happening. 

You Can Go Home Again

The Cafe by the Sea: A Novel - Jenny Colgan

Sorry, the main reason I cannot give this above three stars is that I can never cheer for a woman (fictional or not) being the reason that a man who is an asshole changes his ways. It never feels realistic and it just ends up making me annoyed the author writes a guy that you end up not liking and wish would just disappear from the book. I liked the character of Flora and her family (her three brothers and father are great) but thought she was self absorbed and sharp to people too much. I did love the book getting into the recipes her mother passed down and the author including some of them in the back of the book was much appreciated. That said, I found that there was a bit too much going on in this first book. We have a couple of plot-lines and though the selkie myth was intriguing, I wish that Colgan had leaned a bit more into that and had an air of magical realism in this book. 

 

After having a fight with her family, Flora resolves to never return home to the island of Mure (off the coast of Scotland). Flora is determined to have a life in London and though she has crushes here and there, is mostly fixated on her boss, Joel. When a client demands that Joel's firm handle a potential issue on Mure that will impact his hotel and livelihood, Flora is sent to Mure to deal with things. Being back home among her family and friends, Flora finally comes to grips with her past and present. 

 

Flora was an okay character, but I think another character her supposed childhood best friend Lorna who I think at one point pretty much tells Flora she needs to get over things. Lorna apparently has gone through similar things as Flora, but you don't see her being a jerk about it. Flora has two love interests in this book (I was only rooting for one) and is doing her best to have her firm look its best with her on hand on Mure to help.  


We have secondary characters in this, but the book mostly revolves around Flora. I did love Flora's brother Fintan a secret that he has been harboring for a long time. His resentment of Flora for getting away from Mure was a bit much to take after a while though. I was glad when that all got resolved. I did wish we got more conversations/dialogue with Lorna.

 

The writing was okay, but after a while the whole book started to feel a bit same-y to me. We have Flora realizing her family's farm isn't doing so well, we have her not really working, and then she cleans and cooks. Lather, rinse, repeat. It's not until Joel shows up in Mure does the story start moving forward a bit. 

 

The island of Mure sounds magical. I liked reading about selkies and we finally get Flora re-counting a story her mother told her about the mythical creatures at the end of the book. As I said above, I wish that Colgan had leaned in a bit more into the magical realism genre. 

 

The ending was not the least bit realistic. However, this is a romance, so everyone gets their happily ever after. 



Interesting Premise, but Essays Fell Short

I Am, I Am, I Am: Seventeen Brushes With Death - Maggie O'Farrell

I can honestly say this wasn't a bad book, but it just didn't grab me after the first essay I read by Maggie O'Farrell. I think my main problem was that the book flutters around and we don't stay on a chronological timeline for the author.

 

"I Am, I Am, I Am, Seventeen Brushes of Death" is a memoir by Maggie O'Farrell that goes into 17 separate occasions when she almost and at one point one of her children almost died. The first story really grabbed me, "Neck" 1990. O'Farrell relates a story about a man that she came across that she realized was laying in wait to sexually assault her. The story ends with her getting away from the man, but realizing that he did indeed lie in wait for another young woman and raped and murdered her. The whole story was sobering and definitely had me thinking back to the many times I was around a man that I realized in a split second meant to do me harm.


After that, O'Farrell's memoir jumps around a lot. We go into Lungs 1988, and then spine, legs, etc., then whole body, and back to neck again. O'Farrell links every near death experience she has with her body in some way which was an interesting idea. And I have to say that the chapter headings do make it easier to figure out what period of time we are in while she is describing the story. That said, I had a hard time just finishing this due to the timelines going back and forth and being confused about who certain people were. 

 

For example, she tells a story about her dealing with her first pregnancy that resulted in a C-Section and almost death, to her then almost drowning with a riptide took her out into the ocean, then back again to when she was a small girl and almost hit by a car. And I honestly was confused about O'Farrell's family's make-up. She talks about a couple of relationships, but then mentions her husband, and then we jump back in again to the other guy she was seeing depending on the story. I honestly needed a flow chart after a while. 


And I feel bad for saying this, but some of the stories were not that interesting to me. Sometimes it read like a stretch to me in order for her to allude to some larger point (that I was obviously missing). For example, she tells about a near death experience she doesn't even remember, that her mother tells her about and then that segues into her remembering a garage that she and her sister played into, that then goes into a cat that had kittens in the garage, to the cat finally being too sick for her sister (who is a vet) to heal this time. I felt like I needed to be very alert while reading this book to just even follow everything that was happening. 

 

I am glad I read this, but really happy I just borrowed it from the library.