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Obsidian Blue

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

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Suddenly Single
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Infinite Scream

...I got approved for a lot of books on NetGalley. I need to break my bad habit of requesting books. I used to not get approved, and all of a sudden I am about 75 percent more likely to get a book after I request it.

 

What have I done?

 

Image result for books gif

 

Obsidian Blue Game Board for Snakes & Ladders

Feel bad for not really focusing on this. I had other things on my mind lately so have mostly just been posting reviews or pictures here. I made myself take some time today to post updates and get back to playing this.

 

-Blue

 

1. Read a book that fits the description on the space number as listed below and you can roll two dice to move forward more quickly.

Read "Drawing of the Three" by Stephen King.

 

4. Published in 2019. 

Read "How Not to Die Alone" by Richard Roper.  

 

10. Author's last name begins with the letters L, M, N or O

Read "Two Can Keep a Secret" by Karen M. McManus

 

20. Set in a country that is not your country of residence

Read "The Paying Guests" by Sarah Waters 

  

60. Was published last year

Read "Shelter in Place" by Nora Roberts 


Rolled dice and got:

 

69. Something related to travel on the cover

 

 

Well that's weird. I can't read The Time Traveler's Wife (had to re-borrow it) and think I am going to go with this instead. 

 

When You're Rooting for the Grandmother and Hero to Get Together Something Has Gone Wrong...

Shelter in Place - Nora Roberts

Trigger warning: mass shooting depicted. 

 

This was such a weird romantic suspense book. Very little romance was to be seen/read about in this case. I ended up not really caring at all for the heroine (Simone) and fell in love with the hero (Reed) and thought that it made better sense for Reed to get together with the grandmother (Cici) in this one. I thought there wasn't much character development outside of Reed and his partner and friend Essie. Following the serial killer or spree killer I guess we would say reminded me too much of Robert's "The Search." There's even a similar subplot with the killer taking a reporter who had reported on the events hostage. Other than that, this is probably the first of her most recent standalone novels that I found to be good. 

 

"Shelter in Place" follows survivors of a terrible mass shooting at a mall in Portland, Maine. Three teenage boys end up killing almost a hundred people leaving lives changed. Roberts focuses on two of the survivors of this event, Reed Quartermaine and Simone Knox. Simone ends up losing one of her best friends and staying by the side of another. Reed sees a girl he had a crush on murdered in front of him. Both of them choose who and what they are going to be from that moment forward.


I loved Reed's development more than Simone. He ends up befriending a police officer named Essie who ended up taking down one of the shooters. From there he decides to go to the police academy. He wants to do some good. We follow him from being a rookie to eventually a detective and then police of chief. 

 

Simone kind of sucks. I felt for her at first, but as you read what she does through the years she is selfish and doesn't give her family any way to get close to her. She's very close to her grandmother CiCi but has shoved away her parents and her younger sister Natalie. Simone has also followed beside her best friend Mi (another survivor of the shooting) and realizes she is going to have to do some things apart from her. This takes her to Italy and then back to American again and has her becoming a famous artist. I get the character not wanting to be pigeon holed by what her family wants, but I definitely saw her acting like a brat a few times. 

 

We also follow a third person who was changed by the events at the mall, but in a different way. They are determined to finish what was started. Not going to lie, I started skipping over this POV after I got past the 60 percent point because it was not only repetitive but beyond ridiculous that this person was able to do what they did after a while. I don't want to say the real life FBI are more competent than this, but honestly it just pushed away any sort of realism when you read about what is going on. 

 

Besides these three, Roberts will shift from time to other characters. We get to follow a bit in CiCi's head, Simone's sister Natalie, Natalie's fiancee, and even Reed's former partner. 

 

The writing is typical Roberts, but the romance is scaled way back in this one. It felt a bit like she wanted to just focus on writing a mystery/thriller with very little romance. Which was fine with me. I honestly wish she had gone whole hog with it. I love mystery novels, you can have sex, but it's not the most important part of the book. It's the mystery and the lead character figuring out what is going on. Reed and Simone had no chemistry and he had chemistry for days with Simone's grandmother. I wondered at one point if Roberts toyed with the idea of them getting together. If they had, I would have given this book five stars.

 

The flow was up and down. After a while the book started to feel a bit draggy until we get to the "present day." I wasn't feeling Simone's story after we get past the shooting (she really was a brat) but loved Reed's the whole way through. 


The setting of this book is mostly Maine. I am honestly trying to remember if Roberts has set a romance book or romantic suspense book here before. I found myself wanting to visit again. I am a sucker for the beach and water.

The ending was moving and once again realistic again. I loved us going to a year later and seeing how things moved on.

Reading progress update: I've read 100%.

Shelter in Place - Nora Roberts

This book was so weird. 

Reading progress update: I've read 40%.

Shelter in Place - Nora Roberts

So this is a weird Roberts book. I don't think I have read one of her books that has followed characters from teenage years through college and to adulthood in a long time. Not complaining though. There's just a lot of backstory and so far not much romance. Reading about the people changed after a mass shooting event in Maine was a bit much right now which is why I put it off. I did skip over things here and there just because. That said, the core story following Simone and Reed is really good. You are reading about what the survivors are doing now with their lives.

 

I don't think that following a woman who apparently wanted to be part of the killing spree was good though. At this point I maybe went what in the world a few times. I started skimming over these parts because she is a straight psychopath (based on how she is shown in this book) and her sections are not doing a thing for me. 

Full Circle

The Last Place (Tess Monaghan #7) - Laura Lippman

Wow. This was really good. We have Tess pulled into an investigation that has her in the crosshairs of someone that wants to show Tess how good he would be for her. That without him, she wouldn't be who she is now. This whole book is a wonderful look at so many things I don't even know where to start. With a case that lands Tess into mandatory anger management. With her realizing how great her relationship with her boyfriend is mostly because he's not there to tell her what to do, but support her. Her making friends with a down and out former cop who has a lot of ideas about how "women" are supposed to act. The ending was thrilling and I can't wait to see what Tess gets up to next.

 

"The Last Place" starts with Tess and Whitney (often her partner in crime) following a man that they know tried to solicit a family member of Whitney's online. At one point there is actually an argument from someone that the guy wasn't a pedophile because he was trying to date teen girls, and I maybe dry heaved a bit. Tess and Whitney want to get the guy's name and blackmail him, but the evening takes a turn when Tess realizes he was planning on drugging and raping her and Tess and Whitney get a little payback. Cue Tess being arrested for assault and the judge wanting to make an example of her by giving her probation but ordering her into anger management because the guy who was trying to solicit young girls online is the real victim here. No words you guys.


From there Tess starts therapy and is haunted still by the loss of her ex from book #1. She knows why he died and who was behind it, but Tess has kept that secret for a long time. Things get a bit worse for Tess when Whitney pulls her into a case investigation five deaths that Whitney and other foundations want to take a closer look at to see if the police investigating the deaths did all they could. The cases take Tess down a winding path and have her realizing that the deaths may possibly be connected to a potential serial killer. 

 

Tess is great in this one. Feeling settled in her home with Crow and the dogs she is still working as an investigator. Though the anger management therapy is annoying, she has to do it for only 6 months. The therapist does pry some things loose from Tess, but honestly I didn't like the guy. Way too many men in this story seemed to think the case that involved Tess wasn't a miscarriage of justice. I am not saying a woman should Nair the hair off a potential rapist and draw on his terrible ass with a sharpie, but I am not saying you shouldn't do it either. I mean don't do it if you can get caught. 

 

Tess has great instincts and her realizing the cases that she initially thought weren't an issue and circling back to realizing that they are connected was great.

 

Lippman introduces a character called Harry in this one who investigates one of the deaths that Tess was called into review. Harry has a total backwards view of women and a few times he exploded at Tess while they were working together and I didn't like the guy. I could see though why Tess ends up feeling sorry for him though and realizing that he does have good instincts. Both Tess and Harry are trying to prove something in this one and I liked how Lippman eventually leads us back to the first case that Tess was involved in. 

 

The book also provides us with the killer's POV and then we switch back to Tess. I honestly don't think adding the killer's POV helped things and actually distracted from Tess figuring out what is going on. Also, even though I gave this five stars, it seems like in every mystery novel starring a strong female lead, we have a serial killer getting obsessed with the main character. 

 

The writing was good and Lippman gives a great description of areas around Maryland and Virginia. One of the reasons why I like these books is I get a kick out of reading about places I have been to in real life. 

 

The ending was a shocker and it does live Tess changed. I can't wait until the next book!

IOU

I Owe You One - Sophie Kinsella

The main reason why I didn't give this five stars is that Fixie bugged me up until almost the 50 percent mark of this book. She was a pushover and I noticed that both times she got swept up in a man, that's all that mattered. I also thought the ending was a bit weak with the mother not being informed about all that went on. I think that would have been better going forward for the family. Maybe there should have been an epilogue of six months later or something. 

 

"I Owe You One" follows Fixie Farr. Fixie works alongside her mother and her siblings (who show up some of the time) in their family business. We find out that Fixie has an overwhelming urge to fix things and can't sit still if she sees anything out of order. This ends up leading her to meeting a man named Seb who asks her to watch over his laptop while he steps outside to take a phone call. Fixie ends up seeing that Seb's laptop is about to be damaged and puts herself in the way to keep it safe. That act has Seb providing her a written IOU on a coffee sleeve asking her to please come to him if she ever needs anything. And suddenly one day Fixie has a need to call in the IOU.

 

All in all I thought this book was a great standalone. I do love to read Kinsella's older books from time to time, but her newest books are a lot of stronger in my opinion. That said, Fixie kind of sucks for a bit of this book. Fixie is obsessed with her late father's saying that "family comes first" so she has allowed herself to be a doormat to her siblings demands. Why her mother doesn't say anything baffled me and I ended up not feeling warm and fuzzy about her after a while either.


Fixie also harbors a longstanding crush on her childhood friend, Ryan. Though everyone and their mother sees that Ryan is just not that into Fixie, she decides to go all in with the guy when he returns from living in LA talking about how feckless Hollywood is. What surprised me though is that Fixie's recollection of Ryan is a golden boy, but her best friend and even her sister point out the guy dropped out of uni and was not that smart. When Fixie uses the IOU with Seb to help Ryan get a job I maybe shrieked. Things don't get any better when all of a sudden Fixie, her brother, her sister, and her uncle are left alone for a couple of months to run the family store. All of a sudden Fixie is a mess and obsessed about her whatevership with Ryan.

 

The other characters pale a bit though. Ryan should have someone following behind him at all times saying "douche."

 

Seb was okay, but honestly I don't like how the friendship/relationship progressed. And I don't know...he was definitely more developed than the character of Luke Brandon in the Shopaholic series. But there are a lot of things that happened with Seb that bugged me and I don't want to spoil for other readers. 

 

Fixie also has a longstanding fear of her brother Jake and honestly I didn't like him at all. The book's message about standing by people who do terrible things because of family made me cringe. Sometimes you have to not enable and or be a doormat to people and just move on from them. And the recollections of the things that Jake did had me disliking the character from beginning to end. His transformation felt phony to me. 

 

Fixie's relationship with her sister wasn't much better. Which made me wonder why her father was so adamant on family first when two out of three of her kids sucked.

 

Fixie's best friend and her marriage problems were interesting though. I cracked up about how that got resolved. 

 

The writing was very good and the flow worked too. 


The ending didn't ring very true to me though. We have everything all working out, but one wonders what happens the next day when the mom in this family finds out what has been going on. 

Too Many POVs that Added Nothing

What Happened to Us? - Faith Hogan

This looked interesting so I got it on my Kindle this past weekend. I think I may read more Faith Hogan in the future. She can definitely write and plot a story. I just think that adding two of the POVs did nothing for the book and actually caused it to drag. I started skipping over those POVs toward the end of the book since the POVs with Carrie and Kevin were more interesting to me. 

 

"What Happened to Us?" is about Carrie Nolan and her long term boyfriend Kevin Mulvey. They run a highly successful restaurant together and though the romance has cooled in their relationship, Carrie is happy with how things are for the most part. Then Kevin comes to her one day and tells her he has fallen in love with a waitress at their restaurant (Valentina). When Carrie realizes that her life is not going to be the same, she is determined to move on from Kevin. And Kevin slowly starts to realize that the grass is not always greener on the other side.


What can I say, I actually felt more for Kevin while reading this. Do not yell at me people! I felt sorry for him because he's a big fool. This character reminded me of the character in Sliding Doors who is torn between Gwyneth Paltrow and Jeanne Tripplehorn. Heck, Kevin even has a best friend (Jim) who pretty much laughs at him for being such an idiot to give up Carrie for Valentina. Kevin slowly wakes up to what his relationship with Valentina was like and how similar his life is heading like his father. 


Carrie at least acknowledges the things that she did wrong while dating Kevin. They both let the romance die in their relationship and she always took care of everything. Her realizing that she could be stronger without him and determined to keep their little house was great.

 

I have to say though I don't know how realistic it was that Kevin and Carrie kept working together for as long as they do in this book. I would have probably set some stuff on fire.


The other characters in this book, Jane and Luke were pretty blah to me. 

 

As I already said, I liked the writing and the overall plot. The story just dragged every single time that Hogan moved away from Carrie and Kevin to Jane and Luke. No offense, but Jane and Luke added nothing to the book. We could have gotten Carrie's impressions of Luke and left it at that. Considering that Carried had family and friends surrounding her I was more interested in that then in how Luke felt about his father or Jane felt about being alone. The flow wasn't great anytime it shifted away from Carrie and Kevin either.  

 

The ending was nice and I did love we got to see resolutions for all of the plot points. 

I think that I cannot preserve my health and spirits, unless I spend four hours a day at least - and it is commonly more than that - sauntering through the woods and over the hills and fields, absolutely free from all worldly engagements.

 

TBR Thursday Library Reads: March 14, 2019

I had a ton of NetGalley books to get through which is why I didn't move the needle much on my library books. 

-Blue

 

Borrowed: (10)

[More detail about this title is available]Cover image for Shelter in Place[More detail about this title is available]Cover image for The Time Traveler's Wife

[More detail about this title is available]Cover image for Beach House MemoriesCover image for Wicked Prey[More detail about this title is available]

Cover image for The Waste LandsFingersmith - ebook

 

  

Hold: (15)

Cover image for CIRCE[More detail about this title is available][More detail about this title is available][More detail about this title is available]

[More detail about this title is available]Maid - ebookThe Night Tiger - ebook[More detail about this title is available]

Cover image for An Anonymous Girl[More detail about this title is available]Cover image for Lisey's StoryCover image for A Question of HolmesCover image for Where the Crawdads SingCover image for I'm Thinking of Ending ThingsCover image for Dark of the Moon

 

Read: (1)

 [More detail about this title is available]

Days of Future Past

A People's Future of the United States - Lizz Huerta, John Joseph Adams, Charlie Jane Anders, Victor LaValle

Wow. What a great collection. I didn't give any story less than four stars. Some stories resonated with me very much because some of them read as things that could totally happen in a year or less with the ways things are going on in the United States right now. Other stories had a very strong fantasy element (which I liked) but didn't seem as if they could happen. One of the reasons why I loved "The Handmaid's Tale" so much is that you could see a future where the United States government decided to take over women's bodies and dictate births. Settle in and read this anthology about a people's future history of the United States.

 

The introduction by Victor LaValle sets the tone for this collection. He begins by telling us about his white father, his half brother, and how his father pushed his politics on them both, not understanding or caring that both of his sons mothers were minorities. His recollection of how he felt when he realized that Hillary Clinton was not going to become President, but that Donald Trump had won. And from there into a story about Howard Zinn and his book called "A People's History of the United States."

 

"The Bookstore at the End of America" by Charlie Jane Anders (5 stars)-I loved the idea of the United States splitting off from California and how both factions (California and the United States) are caricatures of what we hear people grousing about now. California seems super liberal and the United States reads as oppressed. The owner of the bookstore called The Last Page is Molly. Molly has her daughter Phoebe and through her you get to see that Phoebe and her friends may be able to rise up and come together unlike what their parents. 

 

"Our Aim Is Not to Die" by A. Merc Rustad (5 stars)-This story follows Sua who is in a horrible version of the future where everyone is expected to conform to being hetrosexual. The government watches social media interactions and expects you to do certain things around certain dates (get married, have children, interact with friends, etc.). Sua is in a fake relationship with a man who is gay and has a close friend named Maya. Don't want to spoil too much here, but Sua ends up deciding what they can do to make things better for those who come next and the story has a hopeful tone to it in the end.

 

"The Wall" by Lizz Huerta (4 stars)-This one confused me a bit here and there. It read as more fantasy to me than the first two. I was confused about how humans were birthed in this world, Huerta mentions that some children were born with jaws and others were not and my brain went, wait what? How could they eat or breathe? And then I decided to just continue with the story. We eventually get into a wall being built to keep people out and how eventually what to is referred to as the empire starts removing people's rights. Then things get even worse when the military appears to turn against their own family members.

 

"Read After Burning" by Maria Dahvana Headley (4.5 stars)-So parts of this read as fantasy and others parts did not. The parts dealing with the government apparently restricting books and then banning them and words I could see happening. This is all after apparently bombs were dropped and people ran around "misunderstanding" each other. I loved following the protagonist in this one and them telling us about the Librarians and how people ended up having words or stories written onto their bodies. 

 

"Chapter 5: Disruption and Continuity" by Malka Older (4 stars)-This was probably my least favorite in the collection and that's mainly because it read like a text book. There is no set-up for things mentioned in this story so I found myself struggling initially through this one. 


"It Was Saturday Night, I Guess That Makes It All Right" by Sam J Miller (5 stars)-

 

Image result for prince gif

 

A world in which the government spies on you and apparently has banned certain music and homosexuality. The protagonist in this story is a young gay men who works for the privatized police forces. The protagonist still can't stop himself for looking for comfort and sex as he travels around with a supervisor named Sid where they install phone cloners. Prince comes into play here because at one point in the story apparently all of his music gets banned. More fantasy comes into play though when the protagonist does go off and have a sexual encounter and something dark seems to be happening to him.

 

 "Attachment Disorder" by Tananarive Due (5 stars)-I was a bit confused with this one when it started out, but it all comes together later. Apparently in this future, people's DNA could be stolen and children could be born from that. Apparently a plague has harmed a lot of people but the government is still out threatening people.  Our protagonist in this one is an older woman named Nayima and she's doing what she can to protect someone named Lottie. Nayima has a choice in this one and she chooses freedom. The story in this one ends on a more dark note though IMHO. 

 

"By His Bootstraps" by Ashok K. Banker (5 stars)-Three words. Genetic Time bomb. And I laughed through this whole story. I doubt anything like this could come true because the current President loathes science. But I loved a story where the MAGA President and his followers get hoisted on their own petard when they try to use a genetic time bomb to wipe out POC and instead it resets America and then the rest of the world to one in which Native Americans ended up becoming the dominant racial group in the U.S. 

 

"Riverbed" by Omar El Akkad (5 stars)-This one was sad and I loved it. We follow a woman named Dr. Khadija Singh who as a young woman is rounded up with her family when the United States started rounding up Muslims and keeping them encamped. It's apparently been some time since these events and the country has moved on again and now where she and her family were rounded up and forced to stay has been turned into a museum with some BS sculpture to memorialize what happened. Khadija returns from Canada to Billings for something that belongs to her. 

 

"Does it feel different, the driver asked, all these years later?"

"No," Khadija replied. "It feels exactly the same."

"You think the midterms will change anything? My sons says now that the Social Democrats picked up a couple more seats in the House, they can try to reinstate the healthcare act, maybe cut a deal on tax reform."

Khadija broke into laughter.

"Tax reform, Jesus Christ," she said. She set her beer on the ground.

"You know what this country is?" she said.

"This country is a man trying to describe a burning building without using the word fire."

 

"What Maya Found There" by Daniel Jose Older (4 stars)-This one had more fantasy elements. Maya Lucia Aviles is looking at a future where science is being bent to make something faster, stronger, and deadlier to humans. I thought this was just an okay story after coming after "Riverbed."

 

"The Referendum" by Lesley Nneka Arimah (5 stars)- A future that has African refugees rounded up and forced to return back to their own countries. This story provides background into the fact that more and more draconian laws are able to pass the Senate by the slimmest margin making the United States terrible for black people until a final terrible act: a referendum to repeal the 13th amendment and to reinstate slavery goes through. The protagonist in this story stays with her husband in America and works alongside her sister in law Darla, as part of a resistance group called "Black Resistance." You get her sister in law's jealously about what she didn't just leave the United States when she had the chance. I also don't know if I would have stayed based on what I read in this story either. Anyone in this present starts talking about should be re-instituted I am rounding up my immediate family and getting the hell out.  

 

"Calendar Girls" by Justina Ireland (5 stars)- We follow a young woman named Alyssa who apparently is selling contraceptives which have become banned. Also in this new world abortion has been outlawed. Ireland throws an aside out there about the legal age to marry a girl has been lowered and my whole body shuddered. This story read like a Black Mirror episode (in a good way) and I loved the twists and the ending. 

 

"The Synapse Will Free Us From Ourselves by Violet Allen (5 stars)-We follow a young man named Daniel who apparently works for something called the Synapse as an Adjustment Engineer. Daniel's job is to make his client Dante into a heterosexual. This story was chilling and I loved the twists in it. 

 

"0.1" by Gabby Rivera (4 stars)-This one was a little confusing to me definitely read as pure fantasy. A couple manages to get pregnant though no children have been able to be born for a pretty lengthy period of time. POVs change throughout.

 

"The Blindfold" by Tobias S. Buckell (5 stars)-This was great. A future in which one can buy the technology in order to be viewed as a white male during a trial.....yeah this one was so freaking apt based on current events I didn't even know what to say while I was reading it. Very very good. And I loved the twist! Another one that would make a great Black Mirror episode since technology is an important piece of this one. As well as understanding mixed races. 

 

Judges give different sentences. The data is there. Undeniable. 

But the most important question became not whether human beings were flawed but what could we do about it?

Consider this: Analyzing the prison sentences judges handed down based on how long it had been since they had something to eat shows a pattern of longer sentences given the longer it has been since they ate. 

is it fair for one person who smoked some weed to get one sentence in the morning just after breakfast and for someone close to lunch to get a longer sentence just because Judge So-and-So's blood sugar is dropping?

 

"No Algorithms In the World" by Hugh Howey (4 stars). Ehh this was okay. A world in which universal basic income is a thing and the protagonist in this one has a terrible ass father who hates how the world has changed. This may have been one of the shortest stories in the collection. I can't recall off the top of my head.

 

"Esperanto" by Jamie Ford (4 stars)-Interesting idea about what makes someone beautiful and how technology can be used to alter that idea in people.

 

"Rome" by G. Willow Wilson (4 stars)-A group of people who apparently are trying to take a test (called the Building Language Proficiency) and also worrying about how a fire may impact their ability to take this test. Some throwaway lines about how Texas is underwater and some other parts of the country have been hit with stuff that sounds like from a disaster movie. 

 

"Give Me Cornbread or Give Me Death" by N. K. Jemisin (4 stars)- This was a weird one, not bad, but it involved dragons. Definitely more on the fantasy side.  This was also pretty short so I couldn't get into it that much.

 

"Good News Bad News" by Charles Yu (5 stars)-Just two words. Racist robots. And there are some other good news bad news stories we are treated to in this short story. I laughed about the news stories that involved Jeff Bezos version 3,  LLC, an incorporeal person organized under the laws of Delaware as the legal heir and cognitive descendant of the human known as Jeff Bezos. This Jeff Bezos is the CEO of AmazonGoogleFace and trying to acquire DisneyAppleSoft.  

 

"What You Sow" by Kai Cheng Thom (5 stars)-I really got a kick out of this story. We follow Yun who is a Celestial in a world that also has humans infected with something which in turn changes them into something called "Sleepless." I think this one picked up on some Greek mythology as well as Bible stories as well when you read about what a Celestial really is. I just wanted to read more about Yun after this.

 

"A History of Barbed Wire" by Daniel H. Wilson (4.5 stars)-A world in which the Cherokee Nation apparently takes over the state of Oklahoma. It appears that also something called the Sovereign Wall was built which led to many states going through some turmoil. This has caused many people to try to force their way into Cherokee Nation though there are strict rolls about who can actually be there. Though I really enjoyed this story, parts of it felt unfinished. 

 

"The Sun in Exile" by Catherynne M. Valente (4 stars)-This was a quirky story about a man forcing those who ruled over to ignore the fact that they were in fact hot and were instead cold. It reminded me a bit of someone who yells fake news all the time. At one point the sun is put on trial. 

 

"Harmony" by Seanan McGuire (5 stars)-What lies beneath a new future where apparently tolerance is the new law of the land. There is still preferential treatment for those who are heterosexual over those who are not and microaggressions still exist. We follow a lesbian couple who contemplate buying a town where they can stay along with others and define what makes a home. 

 

"Now Wait For This Week" by Alice Sola Kim (5 stars)-The story follows what happens to someone named Bonnie and we get to read how it appears that she is living the same week again and again along with others. Bonnie isn't the protagonist in this one though, the protagonist is just someone that knows her. This is a world where apparently rape, sexual harassment, abuse is rampant. There also seems to be breaking news stories about famous men doing some of the above. I think this was the author's take on the me too movement and how people felt reading the same story over and over again with the name changed. 

Sweet Lord, Being Single Is Better Than This...Zero Stars

The Perfect Date - Holly L Lorincz, Evelyn Lozada

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


Good lord. I have never read a book in recent memory that was pretty much panned by all of the readers who posted reviews for it. I wish I had looked at Goodreads before applying for this book via NetGalley. I wanted some romance reads and I was thrilled that this book was a romance read with two POC as the romantic leads. I also really loved the cover too. 

 

So pro, this is short, around 280 pages. So I was able to finish this pretty quickly between my screaming at the character of Angel and feeling appalled and repulsed by the character of Duke. 

 

Con, everything else. Let's get to it shall we?

 

So "The Perfect Date" should not even be in the same sentence with other romance reads like "The Wedding Date" and "The Kiss Quotient." Those books were fantastic, and this book just reads as a how many ways can a woman's life be terrible.


Angel Gomez is going through nursing school while bartending trying to provide for her son, Jose. Caleb "The Duke" Lewis, known as Duke throughout this story plays for the Yankees (he's a pitcher) who is still recovering from being shot in the ankle that left one of his team members dead and him dealing with a lot of angst and anger over the incident. These two have a "messed up cute" when Angel is at the clinic dealing with her son who is suffering from an asthma attack and Duke is there trying to keep it hidden that he is seeing a doctor about his ankle. There's some long winded explanations about why Duke doesn't want anyone to know that his ankle is still not doing that great. 


Angel and Duke meet again when she's bartending and he asks if she's a stripper and can he see her [redacted]. I maybe full body shuddered. Angel throws a drink, gets fired, and poor Duke feels bad. Though his agent and friend think she was asking for it due to how she was dressed.

 

Can I also bring up that before all that mess with Angel and Duke meeting again, that Angel walks in on her boss having sex with the hostess and it's graphically explained what is happening and I could feel my insides trying to climb into one another? 

 

There's no development to these characters by the way. The whole way we get to the "romance" portion of the evening made my head hurt. Angel is of course just attracted to Duke though he propositioned her and thought she was a stripper. 

 

I felt sorry for Angel, sorry for her son, and despised Duke and his terrible father. Duke at several points in this romance puts his hands on Angel and I started wishing that the book ended with his death. 

 

Duke's father and that whole plot point just made me sigh. Along with Duke and the plot point with his ex Regina that had me disgusted. 

 

I really wish that this could have just been a more rags to riches romance with a woman learning about being thrust into the celebrity sphere and maybe focusing on the lack of privacy, money, etc. This whole book read very soap operaish at times and not in the good way either. 

 

The writing was not great. 

 

"He was staring at her.

So, she stammered. You are the Duke.

And you are the nurse. Not a stripper.

Ha ha. Very funny."

 

"The music suddenly changed, became louder. His mood lightened.

He was ready to dance, let off some steam and watch Angel move those hips and shake that ass.

Looking at her glistening skin and alert eyes, he suddenly had a strong urge to unpin her hair and run his fingers through it, let her long curls fly around free.

She finer than every woman in here." 

 

"A couple of the women squeezed his popped muscles, oohing and aahing, but Angel simply hoisted her glass at him.

Impressive, she said, her eyebrow arched. 

Oh duke, you must be so excited. It's almost time for you to start playing again, isn't it? one of the younger women asked--the girlfriend of a rookie who was already at spring training.

He turned up the charm. I'm a playa all the time, am I right?

She giggled. I guess. For an old guy.

Ooh, ouch. Kicked me right in the nuts with that one. 

Well, a hot old guy...Does that make you feel better?

Almost as good as if you had that hot little ass pressed against me.

It was like out of a cartoon, the silence that followed. 

He could swear a needle screeched across a vinyl record and a circle of faces whipped from Duke to Angel and back."

 

The flow was not great either. I am assuming that when the final book is published we are going to have some page breaks or paragraph breaks between dialogue. A few times I realized that we had switched over to Duke and we were still not following Angel's POV. That said, the book doesn't move forward much at all. Took to more than the half way point for things to get revealed. 

 

I feel so dirty right now. I should have put up a gif of a thumbs down and been done with this review. 

How To Make a Husband

Husband Material - Emily Belden

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

 

I feel a bit sad. The potential with this book was pretty high, it's just that Belden ended up having a main character who wasn't that likable and also the romance felt forced.

 

"Husband Material" follows 29 year old Charlotte Rosen. A New York transplant, Charlotte initially worked in a different field than what she does now. Charlotte works for a social media influencer firm (yeah that's a thing now I guess) and relies on hits/hashtags/numbers to show her whether a client has a certified hit or not. After returning home early one evening, Charlotte is surprised to find her late husband's ashes (Decker) waiting for her. Receiving the ashes throws Charlotte into a tailspin. She hasn't really gotten over losing Decker 5 years ago and finds herself dealing with her ex-in law and also her husband's best friend, Brian. 

 

I loved the idea of Charlotte having the ability to figure out whether a guy was going to work with her or not based on her research into their online lives. And the first scene with the blind date at the wedding was hilarious. After that the book just swan dives into messiness and I ended up wanting to smother Charlotte. Belden does incorporate some scenes in this book so you can see how well Decker and Charlotte got along and how much they loved each other. I just think there should have been more. Decker literally haunts most of the book. When a secret is divulged I rolled my freaking eyes because it made zero sense to introduce this except as a way for poor Charlotte to overcome something else.

 

Charlotte's character bugged me mostly though because once she meets Brian again, she turns into needing his help every five minutes and she only wants help because she's hoping for it to turn into something romantic. I don't know. It just baffled me as I was reading. Though Charlotte pretends like she doesn't need help from her coworkers or her roommate. It just bugged the life out of me because most of the book is her being disappointed if he can't do something right away or her thinking she knows him. There is zero chemistry between these two and I think that Belden would have been better off just having Charlotte realize she wasn't ready to move on from her husband yet. 


The other characters don't have much to do. Belden introduces the ex in-law who is nasty, but I actually felt for this character and we have Charlotte's periodic phone calls home to her mother along with the long suffering roommate. Brian sucked full stop once readers are informed about something and I had a hard time even believing the HEA that the book pushes on us. 


The writing actually started off pretty good. The first scene at the wedding was hilarious, but after that the book seems to get into a pretty bad flow of Charlotte just sitting around waiting on Brian. I think the plot point of what to do with Decker's ashes wasn't enough to hold this book together. When a secret is revealed the book danced even further into absurdity. I think that the plot could have just been Charlotte coming to real terms with being a widow and going to grief groups and meeting other women out there in a similar situation, full stop. 


The ending was a letdown to me. I didn't buy the romance especially after what Charlotte found out. I honestly thought including the secret turned this book into a literary version of the movie, "Catch and Release" starring Jennifer Garner too. 

What happens to a dream deferred?

Dapper Dan: Made in Harlem: A Memoir - Mikael Awake, Daniel Defoe

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

 

What happens to a dream deferred?
 
      Does it dry up
      like a raisin in the sun?
      Or fester like a sore—
      And then run?
      Does it stink like rotten meat?
      Or crust and sugar over—
      like a syrupy sweet?
 
      Maybe it just sags
      like a heavy load.
 
Or does it explode?
Langston Hughes
 
Wow. So it's funny that I now know who made the clothes that the rappers that I grew up watching (Big Daddy Kane) on tv wore. I never heard of Dapper Dan before, but I found myself engrossed in his story as he recounts how his family left the south (Great Migration) and them settling into Harlem. We follow Dan as he starts playing dice and using that to make money. From there we follow him as he gets caught up in the drug world, going to jail, becoming addicted, and follows how Dan turns his life around and starts making clothes that will eventually have drug kingpins and rappers at his shop day and night in the late 80s and early 90s. 
 
Dan Day has a beauty with words. You can tell that this book was researched. Besides providing us with personal anecdotes, we also get some history while reading. I have read about the The Great Migration or the Black Migration that occurred between the early 1900s and late 1970s with African Americans moving out of the South up North and parts of the Midwest.  However, reading about how Dan's father and mother both moved up to New York and found themselves struggling there made it more real to me than just reading about it in a history book. 
 
Day shows you that for many African Americans, the decks were stacked high against them to even have enough food to put on the plates for their children. Many of the boys Day's age end up dropping out of high school and going to work selling and taking drugs. 
 
Day's fall into drugs, him seeing what it does to two of his brothers, eventually has him kicking the habit (after a stay in jail) and him embracing the tents of the Nation of Islam. He ends up not following them or the Black Panthers though due to some of the violent rhetoric they get into about drug dealers. However, he still exercises and stops eating meat. When Day travels to Africa, he eventually finds himself a tailor that makes him clothes that has all of the men in Harlem wanting to know where did he get that look. From there Day is able to start his own empire providing clothes to rappers, athletes (like Mike Tyson) and even meets a future Supreme Court Justice. 
 
When the book goes into Day's next downfall (dealing with Gucci and Fendi suing him for taking their trademark/luggage and working them into clothes) you wonder how is going to recover from this.

I thought this book was raw and honest. Day doesn't blink from the things he did and offers no apologies except when mentioning how he had multiple children and wishes he had been there more for them. Day's insights into people like Don King, Mike Tyson, and even Muhammad Ali just made the book feel like you get a front page seat watching history as it unfolds. I still don't get dice (yeah I have tried to follow that even when I was a girl) and it seems as if Day has the magic touch for dice. Him realizing that he is not going to be able to feed and clothe his family if he can't figure out another way to provide for them and his flair for designing clothes was great. 
 
I loved that the book included some pictures of Day's family growing up. Since this was an ARC there wasn't a description on the photos, but I still enjoyed seeing them. I do wish that we had gotten some pictures of the singers and rappers he mentions wearing his designs. I think that would have made the book pop even more. 
 
The Fat Boys were among the first of many rappers to make use of Dapper Dan's services.

The ending leaves things with a big question about what the future held for Day. I got nosy and found out that he ended up in a partnership with Gucci last year in a new Harlem atelier, a space for him to work his sartorial magic with a free hand and raw materials supplied by Gucci, see https://www.gq.com/story/dapper-dan-gucci-harlem-atelier-exclusive-interview

Dating is Exhausting!

How to Hack a Heartbreak - Kristin Rockaway

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


Well this was downright delightful. I really got a kick out of Rockway's book and the characters she introduced in this one. Besides the main character of Mel, she has some really awesome best friends (Whitney, Lia, and Dani) and a great roommate (Vanessa). I loved the book taking a look at women who are very good at coding (like Mel) and how hard it was to break into the tech world due to the douchebros that seem to inhabit it. The writing was very crisp and the flow was great. I loved the romance and the ending!

 

"How to Hack a Heartbreak" has 20 something year old Mel ready to hang up dating. She has used all of the dating apps, and the latest craze, Fluttr, is still not providing her with a guy that actually wants to date her. After being stood up and receiving one more "[redacted] pic" she has enough. After being egged on by her friends, she sets up a site called JerkAlert which women can anonymously post to about guys they have met or messaged on Fluttr. After JerkAlert goes viral, Mel also finds herself trying to start a relationship with her coworker Alex and wonders if she can trust him, or is he a jerk in sheep's clothing. 

 

God, I felt Mel. I still am on some dating apps, but don't even check in anymore. Once you have someone send you a picture of them in full black leather (with a mask on) with a message asking can they call you a slave, I pretty much decided that books and my cat were sufficient. I regret nothing.

 

Mel keeps getting her hopes up, but she either meets guys that are just looking for a one night stand, ghosted her after a while, and or she gets the before mentioned "[redacted] pics." She wishes she was more like her friend Whitney who is not looking for anything serious and relishes her one night stands. But after her friend Lia has seemingly met the one on Fluttr, Mel is wondering as all women do, what's wrong with her. Mel is also a pretty great coder. She is stuck working at the help desk at a company called Hatch and sits around and watches a lot of men trying to get their start-ups off the ground. She's verbally abused and if she tries to stand up for herself, her jerk of a boss acts like she's being a bit too "female".

 

Besides Mel, I loved her friends. Whitney was fearless and also scared me a bit. She's protective of her friends and tells it like she sees it. Lia is a romantic at heart and no spoilers, but I was shrieking while reading about her and Mr. Right. Dani was good, but we really don't get in depth with her that much in this book. Not a criticism, but definitely she didn't feel as present in the book as Whitney and Lia did. I will also say that the girls remind me of my friends and I at that age. Getting together at night, wondering why all the guys we went out with were such a PITA and holding out hope for a nice guy. 

 

The other characters we get, Vanessa (Mel's roommate) and Alex (her love interest) were written very well too. I get why Mel was apprehensive about Alex.


The writing was very good. I loved Mel's voice throughout. When her site goes viral you get her emotions about it (yeah she's great at coding and yikes what if someone finds out) and her realizing that parts of JerkAlert aren't that great. The flow was really good from beginning to end. I honestly couldn't put this book down once I started.


The setting of New York was pretty great. I loved how realistic it felt with Mel being stuck at her job at the help desk and she had to room with someone to afford to live in New York. I am always baffled at the romance reads I get into when some 20 year old is living in some sun lit two bedroom apartment somewhere. And there's no mention of the tininess of their apartment, commuting on the subway, and the insane rent. 


Really loved the ending and the message it was pushing!

DST should be illegal.