Tag Archives: book review

Book Review: Music from Another World by Robin Talley

Inkyard Press
TBP March 31, 2020
304 Pages

It’s summer 1977 and closeted lesbian Tammy Larson can’t be herself anywhere. Not at her strict Christian high school, not at her conservative Orange County church and certainly not at home, where her ultrareligious aunt relentlessly organizes antigay political campaigns. Tammy’s only outlet is writing secret letters in her diary to gay civil rights activist Harvey Milk…until she’s matched with a real-life pen pal who changes everything.

Sharon Hawkins bonds with Tammy over punk music and carefully shared secrets, and soon their letters become the one place she can be honest. The rest of her life in San Francisco is full of lies. The kind she tells for others—like helping her gay brother hide the truth from their mom—and the kind she tells herself. But as antigay fervor in America reaches a frightening new pitch, Sharon and Tammy must rely on their long-distance friendship to discover their deeply personal truths, what they’ll stand for…and who they’ll rise against.- Goodreads

I loved how this story was written. I have a thing for letters and for the most part I feel that there is much more honesty when a story is written through letters.

With that being said, this is an emotional read. Tammy and Sharon both have a lot going on and also (because this book is historical fiction) does discuss the Gay Rights movement in San Francisco.  Despite the history and the letter writing style of the novel it does start off a bit slow and for a moment I was wondering where the author was going with the story.  What I mean by this is I wasn’t sure if it was going to the route of these two being together (I mean yeah that is the obvious) or if it was going to be a self-discovery. Granted this is a self-discovery book but there was several different ways the book could have went as opposed to the relationship route (I’m not saying that this is an issue).

The book focuses on Tammy and Sharon but has some strong characters that pull some deep emotions and makes you sympathize with each of the girls. Given the fact that this is taking place in 1977 and it was during this movement, I would have liked to see more diverse characters. When you talk about San Francisco and you talk about the anti-gay movement, I feel like there should be diversity and not just diversity in sexual preference.

The flow of the novel is great and the author put a lot of heart into this. I liked Sharon and that is because she was a bit more sure of herself than Tammy but they worked really well together and I freaking love pen pals.

Overall, powerful story and good read.

3.5 Pickles

Book Review: A Cowboy to Remember by Rebekah Weatherspoon

With a headline spot on a hit morning show and truly mouth-watering culinary skills, chef Evie Buchanan is perched on the edge of stardom. But at an industry party, a fall lands Evie in the hospital—with no memory of who she is. Scrambling to help, Evie’s assistant contacts the only “family” Evie has left, close friends who run the luxury dude ranch in California where Evie grew up. Evie has no recollection of them—until former rodeo champion Zach Pleasant walks into her hospital room, and she realizes his handsome face has been haunting her dreams . . .

Zach hasn’t seen Evie in years—not since their families conducted a campaign to make sure their childhood friendship never turned into anything more. When the young cowboy refused to admit the feelings between them were real, Evie left California, making it clear she never wanted to see Zach again. Now he refuses to make the same mistake twice. Starting fresh is a risk when they have a history she can’t recall, but Zach can’t bear to let go of her now. Can he awaken the sleeping beauty inside her who might still love him?- Goodreads

I had read the excerpt for this book through Netgalley some months ago and was pissed because I got sucked into the book and didn’t realize that it was a excerpt. This book takes your attention instantly and you just want more.

I liked this book but I didn’t love it. I liked the fact that the author took her time to build up the characters not just Evie and Zach but everyone. It was such a relief to see that the author didn’t rush the overall story. But with that being said, this book is slow. A whole lot of nothing happens for a very long time and I am not talking about the romance. Nothing really happened and with that being said the romance wasn’t spectacular either. It was hard for me to believe Evie and Zach and that was disappointing.

However, with that being said, I loved Zach’s brother and I hope that book two is from his brother’s point of view and his love story.

Overall, not a bad beginning to a series but there needed a bigger spark and much more investment to keep things going and going as strong as the beginning of the book was.

3 Pickles

Book Review: When You Were Everything by Ashley Woodfolk

Delacorte Press
March 10th, 2020
400 Pages

It’s been twenty-seven days since Cleo and Layla’s friendship imploded.

Nearly a month since Cleo realized they’ll never be besties again.

Now, Cleo wants to erase every memory, good or bad, that tethers her to her ex–best friend. But pretending Layla doesn’t exist isn’t as easy as Cleo hoped, especially after she’s assigned to be Layla’s tutor. Despite budding new friendships with other classmates—and a raging crush on a gorgeous boy named Dom—Cleo’s turbulent past with Layla comes back to haunt them both.

Alternating between time lines of Then and Now, When You Were Everything blends past and present into an emotional story about the beauty of self-forgiveness, the promise of new beginnings, and the courage it takes to remain open to love.- Goodreads

This book was written fantastically. However, HOWEVER, it needs to be known that Cleo is not exactly the victim. Here is why.

She is a terrible friend. Layla meet new people (who weren’t that great but that is not the point) because Cleo left her alone at a party. When Layla begins connecting with these people Cleo gets extremely jealous and begins saying hurtful things to Layla, privately and publicly. She expected Layla to see that she was jealous despite these horrible things and act like nothing happen.

It didn’t work that way and through out the entire novel, Cleo repeatedly makes it seem as if it is Layla’s fault for wanting new friends. Cleo is selfish from the beginning to the novel to the end. The people that she surrounds herself with only encourage that mindset.

It is extremely possible that their friendship would have just faded out on good terms or Layla would have seen what type of friends her new friends were and just stayed isolated with Cleo but Cleo screwed up on multiple times and tried to ruin peoples’ lives.

This is not to say that Layla was the perfect angel. She didn’t give her friendship with Cleo the time it deserved and although she tried to include Cleo in her new friendship, Layla didn’t take Cleo’s word when she noticed certain things and that could be since she knew Cleo didn’t like her being with new people. Did Layla do something messed up? Yeah (ish) She did something out of her character, but I do not feel that it was THAT messed up.

As much as I hated the fact that this book glorified a selfish, entitled, vindictive girl and made her seem as if this break up was not her fault, I loved the fact that it pulled emotions from me and kept me reading. It took some time for the book to get going but once it did, it was great.

I would have loved or love to see Layla’s viewpoint. But then again, I don’t see that happening specifically if this book is based on some truth.

Overall,

4 Pickles

Book Review: Salty, Bitter, Sweet by Mayra Cuevas

Blink
TBP March 3rd, 2020
320 Pages

Seventeen-year-old aspiring chef Isabella Fields’ family life has fallen apart after the death of her Cuban abuela and the divorce of her parents. She moves in with her dad and his new wife in France, where Isabella feels like an outsider in her father’s new life, studiously avoiding the awkward, “Why did you cheat on Mom?” conversation.

The upside of Isabella’s world being turned upside down? Her father’s house is located only 30 minutes away from the restaurant of world-famous Chef Pascal Grattard, who runs a prestigious and competitive international kitchen apprenticeship. The prize job at Chef Grattard’s renowned restaurant also represents a transformative opportunity for Isabella, who is desperate to get her life back in order.

But how can Isabella expect to hold it together when she’s at the bottom of her class at the apprenticeship, her new stepmom is pregnant, she misses her abuela dearly, and a mysterious new guy and his albino dog fall into her life?- Goodreads

Trigger Warning: Death, Adultery, Mourning, Drugs (ish)

Despite the trigger warnings this book wasn’t that deep and I would peg it as adorable and touching read.

I loved the cooking within this novel and the author really should have included a chapter or a page with all the recipes that were highlighted within the novel. Cooking is very important to me. Its one of those things that take so much energy out of you but in a good way. A lot of love and heart goes into cooking if you do it right and the author, Cuevas, doesn’t just use that as a foundation but it is what the entire novel focuses on. I was soaking it up.

Isabella for the most part has a one track mind and for most of the book only sees one road to her dream. There is huge character development for as sometimes our dreams take different turns and for Isabella that take some huge turns. What I love about that point in the book is she isn’t doing it because of a boy. Is there romance in this novel? Yes. Does some things happen? Yes but it is a series of events, conversations about her career that she has with other people that brings things to light. I was so happy that the boy (although amazing) was not the reason for how things play out.

The pace of the novel was slow. It moved slow and at some points you just wonder why Isabella makes things so difficult for herself sometimes. There could have been more things fleshed out within the novel such as more details about her mother and her mother’s mother. I also wanted to see more of a relationship with her father. These were the areas that could have been developed and again . . . I really wanted to see those recipes.

Overall, this was a good novel. It was inspiring.

3 Pickles

Book Review: The Wrong Mr. Darcy by Evelyn Lozada and Holly Lörincz

St. Martin’s Griffin
TBP June 9th, 2020

This book is considered a modern spin on Pride and Prejudice.

Derick Darcy comes from a very wealthy family and decided to become a basketball player. This makes Hara feel as if he didn’t earn his spot on his team but used his influence to get there. Hara is a struggling sportswriter from a small town that has a secret of her own.

This book is better than The Perfect Date and that is saying a lot. However, before you even think about picking up this book, it has to be known that there are so many triggers in this book and they go as follows

  • Suicide
  • Miscarriage
  • Discussion of abortion
  • Violence
  • Abuse

I was surprised to see so much of that in there so a trigger warning would have been nice. But moving on. I thought the subtle references to Pride and Prejudice was great. It was very clear that this book used the theme of poor girl hating the rich, rich guy being skeptical of the poor, but they fall in love anyway and I was cool with it. The authors didn’t lay it on thick nor was it so blunt that it would make you roll your eyes.

What I liked about the book was the gross reality of being a woman in the basketball/sports industry. It was an insight into, what I believe is Evelyn’s world, and it was hard to read. The story has a better beginning, middle, and end. It made sense and the romance seemed very believable. There was more care in crafting this story. And I thought the sex scene was pretty good.

What I didn’t like about the book was Hara. Her dislike for Derick was unreasonable and she was rude like all the time. Derick had every right to be skeptical. He was a rich basketball player that was dealing with women who were only after his pockets. Was he rude? Sure was. However, not as rude as Hara.

I liked the book. I was surprised I liked the book. Other than me not liking Hara, I did feel that they through a lot in this book and a lot of it was left to hang dry. What I mean by this is there was no solution or ending to certain issues that Hara and Derick experienced. I had a lot of questions even reaching the end of the book. Speaking of ending, it was okay. I would have liked to see something more but it wasn’t a bad way to end the book.

Overall, it looks like the authors took their time with this one and that is showing growth as writers.

3 Pickles

Book Review: Given by Nandi Taylor

Wattpad Books
Published Jan 21st, 2020
449 Pages

Yenni has never been this far from home. With only her wits, her strength and her sacred runelore, the fierce Yirba warrior princess is alone in the Empire of Cresh. It’s a land filled with strange magics and even stranger people—many of whom mistrust anyone who’s different. But Yenni will prove herself, and find a cure for her father’s wasting illness. She will not fail.

No one warned her about the dragons. Especially not about him.

Yes, there is something powerful and compelling about the violet-black dragon known as Weysh. In human form he’s muscular, beautiful—and completely infuriating. What kind of arrogant creature claims a stranger as his Given; as his destined mate? Yenni is no man’s—or dragon’s—plaything. But other magics must be at work here, because Weysh might just be her best hope at finding the answers she seeks.

Only now Yenni can’t tell if she’s fighting her attraction to a dragon…or fighting fate itself. – Goodreads

The cover. We cannot have a conversation about this novel without discussing how amazing the cover is. Not only does it completely grab your attention but seeing a dark skin woman in the front looking not only fierce but feminine does wonders to me.

But as we all know you cannot judge a book by its cover and the book was okay. It didn’t do anything for me by any means but there were things that I love.

I loved the focus on Yenni, her home and her traditions. I liked the fact that she did not change herself, physically or mentally, to fit in with her new environment. She stayed true to herself while also allowing herself to learn.

I loved the imagery within this novel. Everything was clear and it felt as if it was living and breathing because of this it was why I finished the book.

Here is what I didn’t like. The romance was forced and there was no spark or even connection there. Weysh was such a good character but not for Yenni. There was just nothing there and when they did come together there was still nothing there. I didn’t feel real not the whole dragon and human in a magical world real but the love, the attraction, the chemistry was not there.

The book is focused a lot on that romance, but it is also focused on Yenni trying to find out the source and the cure for a sickness in her village. I wish there was more deep dive on the second part. Its not like Yenni was love struck or anything, it was just a case of a romance that actually didn’t need to happen.

But the other issue I had with this book was how slow it was. As much as I loved Yenni and the imagery, the book overall was not really engaging, and it was easy to put it down.

Overall, it was okay. I was expecting more from this book and it wasn’t SOLEY because of the cover. The summary promises a lot but more importantly a steamy chemistry that you can’t help but love.

This doesn’t appear to be a series, but I would actually love another book within this world.

Overall,

2 Pickles

Book Review: Riot Baby by Tochi Onyebuchi

Tor
TBP Jan. 21st 2020
176 Pages

Rooted in foundational loss and the hope that can live in anger, Riot Baby is both a global dystopian narrative an intimate family story with quietly devastating things to say about love, fury, and the black American experience.

Ella and Kev are brother and sister, both gifted with extraordinary power. Their childhoods are defined and destroyed by structural racism and brutality. Their futures might alter the world. When Kev is incarcerated for the crime of being a young black man in America, Ella—through visits both mundane and supernatural—tries to show him the way to a revolution that could burn it all down. – Goodreads

This is the first book I read by Onyebuchi. I know its horrible because he the author of War Girls and Beasts Made of Night. But I picked up this book because I love adult fantasy novels that incorporate real life issues.

The book is told in two perspectives, Ella and Kev. At first this was a little confusing not because of any transition but because of why. We start off with Ella as a child pre Kev and discover her power which is called The Thing. Instantly, I’m into it. When Kev comes around I am still into it because it comes at one of the turning points in American history.

But after the first five chapters, the book lost me and I couldn’t find the point/purpose of the story. Ella becomes a background and Kev is the focus for a while. Therefore, origins of her powers, any detailed information about her powers other than some things she can do isn’t mentioned at all. She becomes a shadow as well as her powers in 90% of the book and it was disappointing. There was no development of Ella and her powers and Kev wasn’t that like-able of a character. He became a product of environment even though he had a sister that literally could do anything. Again, disappointing.

The book focuses so much on environment that I could not find what was the point of the story? Was the point to show that even with super powers as a Black American your life will suck due to not only systematic racism but overall racism? But if that is the case, why not do anything with the super powers to show that?

The book had me lost. I was bored. There was no character development. Kev was a baby. Ella had no personality and was depressing and NEITHER of them tried to get to know their mother.

Overall, nah

1 Pickle