Mini Reviews: Seven Days in June, Open Water

I really want to make use of this feature a bit more in 2022, as I don’t think I can always provide a full length review, but there’s still books I like to talk about. This time, I want to focus on two very beautiful novels about Black joy, love and pain. In no way is this post meant to pitch the two against each other, but rather shine a light on both! Let’s dive in!

*links to Goodreads and Storygraph will be provided after the ratings!*

Seven Days in June by Tia Williams

book cover of the novel "Seven Days in June"

Publisher desrciption:
Brooklynite Eva Mercy is a single mom and bestselling erotica writer, who is feeling pressed from all sides. Shane Hall is a reclusive, enigmatic, award-winning literary author who, to everyone’s surprise, shows up in New York.
When Shane and Eva meet unexpectedly at a literary event, sparks fly, raising not only their past buried traumas, but the eyebrows of New York’s Black literati. What no one knows is that twenty years earlier, teenage Eva and Shane spent one crazy, torrid week madly in love. They may be pretending that everything is fine now, but they can’t deny their chemistry-or the fact that they’ve been secretly writing to each other in their books ever since.
Over the next seven days in the middle of a steamy Brooklyn summer, Eva and Shane reconnect, but Eva’s not sure how she can trust the man who broke her heart, and she needs to get him out of New York so that her life can return to normal. But before Shane disappears again, there are a few questions she needs answered …

My Thoughts:

Reese Whiterspoon really knows how to pick ’em, because this was also one of her book club picks (I’ve previously read Daisy Jones & The Six as well as Where the Crawdads Sing)! So, far I’ve enjoyed everything I’ve read that she has chosen, even if not everything has become a favorite of mine. That’s what I call good taste and a definitely a way to get me interested in future novels that she endorses.

From the get go, Tia Williams’ voice is engaging and reels you in. I can’t remember the last time I read a prologue that got me so hooked, while I can also really commend the epilogue (as well as the whole story in between, of course). Add the setting in the world of literature to the great writing style and you have my whole attention. I don’t know what’s up with that, but I’ve read two books about writers, who express their feelings about each other through their stories, in a row and I love it.

“One thing,” she whispered, her lips by his jaw. She didn’t want anyone to overhear. “Before I forget.”
“What’s that?”
“Stop writing about me.”
Only Eva could’ve noticed the change in his expression. She saw the flinch. The slow, satisfied curl of his lip. His bronzy-amber eyes flashing. It was like he’d been waiting years to hear those words. Like the girl whose pigtails he’d been yanking during recess all year had finally shoved him back. He looked gratified. In a voice both raspy and low, and so, so familiar, Shane said, “You first.”

Over the course of seven days, you will fall in love and get your heart broken by our leads, Eva and Shane. Somehow their story is tragic, they face so many struggles and while all of that hits you emotionally, the writing never gets too heavy. You feel their past weigh on their present, but there’s also plenty of humor and joy to offset it. At the same time, this is not just about romantic love, but generational trauma, self-realization and motherhood. Truly a beautiful balance of topics and emotions in my opinion. 

Definitely give this a go if you are into second-chance romances! 

CW: self harm, substance abuse, absent/dead parents, kids in foster system, chronic illness, sexual content, racism, domestic abuse

Fazit: 5/5 stars! Engaging, funny as well as emotional – it took out all the stops!

Goodreads | Storygraph

Open Water by Caleb Azumah Nelson

book cover of the novel "Open Water"Publisher description: 
Two young people meet at a pub in South East London. Both are Black British, both won scholarships to private schools where they struggled to belong, both are now artists – he a photographer, she a dancer – trying to make their mark in a city that by turns celebrates and rejects them. Tentatively, tenderly, they fall in love. But two people who seem destined to be together can still be torn apart by fear and violence. At once an achingly beautiful love story and a potent insight into race and masculinity, Open Water asks what it means to be a person in a world that sees you only as a Black body, to be vulnerable when you are only respected for strength, to find safety in love, only to lose it. With gorgeous, soulful intensity, Caleb Azumah Nelson has written the most essential British debut of recent years.

My Thoughts:

Meeting a person you just click with, someone you can be your most vulnerable self around (until you can’t) – it’s rare and it’s beautiful and it’s what we get to witness in this book.

“It’s one thing to be looked at, and it’s another to be seen.”

Written in a second person POV, the style of writing takes some getting used to. We never learn the names of our protagonists, but hash glimpses of their lives, growing connection and the inevitable limitations of unconditional love. Some things you just don’t want to unburden, ultimately closing you off from the person who only wants the best for you.
Despite it’s short length of 145 pages, this book took me several days to finish. In all its poetic beauty, Open Water is quite heavy as it illuminates some of the more terrifying aspects of the Black experience.

“You have always thought if you opened your mouth in open water you would drown, but if you didn’t open your mouth you would suffocate. So here you are, drowning.”

Everything about this novel feels deeply personal and will have your heart aching. There’s many great references to music, films and literature, making it feel relevant and timely. I can only say that the impact of the introspective writing will last and linger much longer than the size of the book might suggest.

CW: racial profiling, police brutality, death

Fazit: 4/5 stars! Beautiful heart and gut-wrenching, but possibly not for everyone.

Goodreads | Storygraph


Have you read either of those two books or do you plan to? Let’s talk! 

Mini Reviews: Daisy Jones & the Six, Taste: My Life through Food

I haven’t done one of these in a while, but there are two books I’d like to share some thoughts on, while I also believe that I don’t actually have enough to say to warrant separate full review posts. So, I’m bringing mini reviews back at the end of this year!

Click on the covers to get redirected to Goodreads!

Daisy Jones & the Six by Taylor Jenkins Reid (audiobook)

Daisy Jones & The SixYou all know I’m not a big audiobook person, in fact, I usually actively dislike them. I cannot focus on what is being said, I drift off and then loose the narrative thread entirely. Well, good thing full cast audiobooks that feel more like plays exist! Voiced by the likes of Jennifer Beals, Judy Greer, Pablo Schreiber and Benjamin Bratt, this story really had a life of its own as I listened to it and thankfully found myself enjoying it for the most part.

Taylor Jenkins Reid tried something new with this format and I think it worked really well. The reason I struggled with it though was entirely a me-problem. I, personally, don’t seek out and actively try to avoid stories that focus heavily on substance abuse and that was definitely a focus throughout Daisy Jones & the Six. Other than that, I could appreciate the different takes on love and like that it had a Mick Riva cameo (I’ve previously read Malibu Rising and am planing to read The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo next year, so I’m getting his story in reversed publishing order). However, while I don’t think characters have to be likable, I didn’t find myself connecting with anyone here. I was rather frustrated with a lot of them …

Fazit: 3/5 stars! Not my favorite TJR read so far.

Having said all of the above, I am so hyped for the limited run series that will release on Amazon Prime Video next year. In my humble opinion, Amazon is doing some really great work with adapting pre-existing properties, so I am quite optimistic. The set photos and BTS stuff from the cast does make it look like it will be hard to tell people apart at first (the guys all look alike), but I cannot wait what they’ll do for the songs. I expect some downright magic!

    

Taste: My Life through Food by Stanley Tucci

Taste: My Life through FoodEver since I can remember, I’ve been a huge Stanley Tucci fan. I knew some stuff about his personal life, but I didn’t go digging very deep. I just enjoy his work and the way he always makes his roles memorable, even if they aren’t always the biggest parts. I’m part of the Tucci Gang for sure (if you’ve never seen that SNL sketch, go remedy that right away here).

Some of you already know this, but I even own the Tucci Table cookbook, so it was a no-brainer that I wanted this mix of autobiography and formidable recipes in my life as well. It really was such a treat to find the book under my Christmas tree and then it was even more of a treat to devour it in the shortest amount of time.

In the words of Ruth Rogers, who is featured on the back cover: “This is a book I shall have in my kitchen, by the bed and in my suitcase.”

Stanley Tucci‘s love for food shines throughout this entire book, but I’ve also learned a lot about his life and more recent struggles. Things I personally had never heard of before, but that made my appreciation for him grow even fonder. Do not read this book hungry, but read it when you’re yearning for good food and conversation at a friend’s house or at a remarkable restaurant, which is so lacking these days, but something we all deserve.

Fazit: 4/5 stars! If you’r even remotely interested in Stanley Tucci and food, this book is for you.


So, are you interested in reading or listening to either of those? Let’s chat!

Are Pedro Pascal and I compatible (readers)?

Pedro Pascal and me

Disclaimer: I do NOT know Pedro Pascal. All the information is taken from various social media posts and interviews and could potentially be outdated.


Welcome back to a new installment of this very special reader compatibility feature or celeb book club, as I like to call it! In case you missed the previous ones, don’t hesitate to check out the following posts:
Are Tom Hiddleston and I compatible (readers)?
Are Chris Evans and I compatible (readers)?
Are Sebastian Stan and I compatible (readers)?

As I’ve mentioned many times before, in this series, I read the favorite books of actors and determine whether we would be a good match based on those results alone. All of this is done with the sole intention of it being fun and not taken too seriously.


Read More »

Are Sebastian Stan and I compatible (readers)?

Disclaimer: I do NOT know Sebastian Stan. All the information is taken from various social media posts and interviews and could potentially be outdated.


Welcome to the latest installment of this very special feature! In case you missed the previous ones, don’t hesitate to check out the following posts:
Are Tom Hiddleston and I compatible (readers)?
Are Chris Evans and I compatible (readers)?

In this series, I read the favorite books of actors and determine whether we would be a good match based on our reading tastes alone. All of this is done with the sole intention of it being fun and not taken too seriously. Enjoy!


Read More »

Juliet, Naked by Nick Hornby (Review + Movie Trailer)

Publisher: Penguin
Page Count
: 249

It’s been so long since I have done a regular review for a book and I know because I checked (for real, I haven’t written one since the end of July). I am not exactly ecstatic that the first book after all these months is Juliet, Naked by Nick Hornby now to be honest and it’s a little tough to explain the why of it all.

First, Juliet, Naked isn’t a bad book. It’s about people who feel they have wasted years of their lives, whole decades even, due to wrong decisions and a lack of action to change their less than ideal situations. Even as someone who isn’t in her 40s or 50s, I can relate to that topic. There are times I wonder what I am doing with my life and whether I have gotten into enough trouble, taken enough chances or simply whether I am on the right path for future me. This book chronicles how Annie, Duncan and Tucker have to live with their regrets and make the best of it, all packaged with a good measure of dry English humour, a deep fascination with 80s music, a spin on modern day online conversation/dating and unhealthy fandom culture.

Usually, all those aforementioned elements would draw me in immediately! Who am I kidding? The mere suggestion of them here was the reason I picked up the book and in the beginning it was all really funny. I could see myself in parts of each character, like in Duncan’s passion for something he loved (although I never was on his level of obsession for anything ever and I go deep sometimes), Tucker’s ability to share his deepest thoughts with a stranger on the internet but his inability to do so with his closest family and friends or Annie’s fear of having missed the opportunity to have a family of her own by getting comfortable in a situation because it was easy rather than the right one. I don’t mind having people be the main characters who aren’t perfect. In my eyes, it makes them more realistic and human to have various flaws and even flaws that you don’t have to forgive sometimes.  got all that and I felt that and even though it all sounds rather serious and gloomy, it also had some great humour sprinkled in.

But then there were also all these disjointed parts and characters that truly weren’t necessary. And worst of all the conclusion … it felt so open-ended and with a lack of, well, closure. I understand that not ever story needs to tie all ends together, but here it felt like we stopped a couple chapters short of where Juliet, Naked was supposed to end. I didn’t need for them to live happily ever after, but I did need a couple more infos on their fate. So, while I enjoyed the themes and characters (to some extent), the ultimate execution of the story just lacked something for me. I feel like there was a lot more in there we didn’t get to see.

Fazit: 2.5/5 stars! A rather average story that could have been more.

Now, as the title promised, I am also going to share the movie trailer here. I believe, and please don’t hold me accountable on this, the movie is currently in theaters (at least at the time of writing this post). I haven’t seen the movie yet, so no comment on that, but from what I gathered from the trailer, it looks like a faithful adaptation that expands on all the elements that were lacking or not quite right for me in the book. I am curious to see if I am right and whether they will change the end, but take a look for yourself:

Have you read or watched Juliet, Naked? Are there any other Nick Hornby books you’ve checked out? Let me know in the comments below!

The Guernsey Literary & Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer/Annie Barrows (Book Review + Movie Trailer)

Publisher: Bloomsbury
Page Count: 250

Okay, this must have been one of the longest titles to EVER exist on my blog. The Guernsey Literary & Potato Peel Pie Society is quite a mouthful, but don’t get intimidated by the title (which will from here on out just be Guernsey Lit or something for simplicity)! This was the second book that I chose as my giveaway prize from the one Ari @The Romance Corner Blog was amazing enough to host. So another shout out to her for making it possible for me to read that book!

Most of you who have followed my blog for a while now, know that I struggle with books set during or around the time of World War II (especially if you have read my review of Wolf by Wolf). Being from the country that I am from, we just seem to have a continued peculiar relationship with the topic and due to the way it was heavily treated at school, I was usually not very fond of spending even more thoughts on it in my free time. However, all of that doesn’t change that those books usually end up having quite the impact on me and it wasn’t much different this time either.

Guernsey Lit is completely told in letters between various parties. Some people may only appear once while others are visible main characters. It was easy to fall in love with them all, each having their own voice, wit and humour about them. I am not sure I could pick any favourites, however, I do love Dawsey Adams. He is the one who initiated contact with Juliet because he found a second-hand book that once belonged to her. It turns out he is quiet, kind and considerate but it is most of all that shared passion for literature that brought him and Juliet closer. Honestly, this must be the dream scenario for any bookworm looking for romance! I shipped it hard. But seriously, where is my Dawsey Adams??

I enjoyed reading how Juliet got closer and closer to the members of the society with time, yet through letters alone, because it reminded me so much of the 1940s version of our very own bookish online community. I have found so many dear friends that I wouldn’t want to miss from my life through blogging and reading, so whenever someone would suggest she didn’t even know these people for real, I felt offended on her behalf. Also, her meeting them for the first time was just brilliant as well and also reminded me of online friends meeting in real life!

As a whole, I wouldn’t describe Guernsey Lit as a heavy read at all, having marked several paragraphs that had me laughing out loud, but at the same time it does cover the topic of war and the feelings of grief, anger, loss, helplessness, frustration and fear that come with it. There was this one particular part told from someone who was sent to a concentration camp and it reminded me of my visit to one of those camps. They are usually done with school where I am from and by chance we met this elderly man while we were there and even though he only spoke French (me and some of my classmates translated for the rest of the class), he wanted to tell us his story. It was the first time he came to visit as some of his relatives had died in that very camp. It was heart-wrenching and sad, but to that man it was important to talk about what happened. He didn’t need us to reply, I am not sure we would have had the right words, he just needed someone to listen. I feel like that is very much the same thing with the people in that book and the story that they are all trying to tell, whether it was on purpose or not. WWII was one of the most atrocious times in human history and while I understand that some people rather wouldn’t be reminded of it, it is also necessary to acknowledge that it happened and to prevent it from ever happening again.

The last quarter of the book seemed to loose focus a little bit. I was a tad confused by the direction it took on and didn’t really see all of the storylines as necessary, because some of them were quite a bit whacky. However, that did not subtract from my enjoyment of the book as a whole.

And lastly, here is the trailer for the movie adaptation that will release mid to the end of April! I am in love with the cast, and not just because it is a sort of mini Downton Abbey reunion, but because I have followed the careers of most of those actors a while and loved their work. They obviously had to change quite a bit to get the characters together sooner though, since they couldn’t just rely on letters for the storytelling (I think that would not be very visually pleasing?). I am not too anxious, even though I can really see a lot of changes, but I am worried about one of my favourite storylines being cut – the adoption storyline! It’s another topic near and dear to my heart, but I  don’t want to say any more as to not spoil anything. It doesn’t look like that will be in the movie at all though, as well as another, in my opinion, important storyline. Let me know your thoughts in the comments below, especially if you have read the book as well!

 

Fazit: 5/5 stars! Did not expect to fall in love with it the way I did.

Are you going to read the book? Have you already? Do you want to watch the movie? Let’s chat!

 

Red Rising by Pierce Brown (Book Review)

redrisingThe Earth is dying. Darrow is a Red, a miner in the interior of Mars. His mission is to extract enough precious elements to one day tame the surface of the planet and allow humans to live on it. The Reds are humanity’s last hope.
Or so it appears, until the day Darrow discovers it’s all a lie. That Mars has been habitable – and inhabited – for generations, by a class of people calling themselves the Golds. A class of people who look down on Darrow and his fellows as slave labour, to be exploited and worked to death without a second thought.
Until the day that Darrow, with the help of a mysterious group of rebels, disguises himself as a Gold and infiltrates their command school, intent on taking down his oppressors from the inside. But the command school is a battlefield – and Darrow isn’t the only student with an agenda.

Publisher: Hodder Paperbacks
Page Count: 382

I started this book not knowing what to expect. Seen as Pierce Brown was crowned hottest YA author by Buzzfeed (Yes, this is for real! Check out the post here!), I guess I just assumed that Red Rising would be a Young Adult dystopian novel … well, I am not so sure now. Despite the main characters being teens, I think this is a very adult book.

You cannot imagine how “gorydamn” hard it is for me to write this review right now, because this book took me completely by surprise and swept me off my feet. I can’t say that it was love at first sight though. The book itself is separated into several parts and it starts out with a lot of information, just to negate everything we thought we knew in the second part. The world-building is really complex with it’s own unique vocabulary that needs some time getting used to. Like Districts in the Hunger Games and Factions in Divergent, we now have Colours that separate the people – Red being the lowest and Gold being the highest in the hierarchy. There were also tons of references to Greek and Roman mythology, which I really loved, which I thought gave the story a very distinct voice.

Right from the beginning everything is very dark, cruel and unjust. A lot of things are already considered given from the get go, but at the same time so many very emotional things happen that you aren’t yet ready for. I think that maybe there wasn’t enough time to get to know everyone properly for some of the tropes to really hit you with their full force. However, as I went on I found myself unable to put the book down. There was this raw rage, the sense of injustice, an incredible amount of scheming and the pure confusion about who to trust. My whole body tensed up at times, almost shaking from the intensity with which I had to know how the story continues.

I really have to give it to Pierce Brown for creating such complex characters, each of them having a unique motivation, likable and dislikable traits. Darrow is a strong hero, but he is also human and therefore makes mistakes. He is incredibly relatable in his struggle between getting vengeance and justice for his people, but he is far from being the only great character! I changed my mind about so many people several times throughout the book, feeling my heart crack every single time there was another betrayal or death. So many people die! I was emotionally exhausted by the end.

In the end, I can only give it 4.5 out of 5 stars because of it’s slow start. Other than that I utterly loved it and cannot wait to continue with the series!

Fazit: 4.5/5 stars! People who like dystopian novels in the slightest bit HAVE TO check it out!

5stars

Do you know what I am going to do now? I am going to order Golden Son, that’s what! Have you read Red Rising? What’s your take on it?