I read I’m Not Dying with You Tonight as part of The Big Library Read. This global book club ensures anyone who wants to read the book club titles can though the digital library for a certain period of time.
This novel is an interesting collaboration; the women , one black and one white, worked together to spin a narrative to encourage discussion about race, police action and our perception of the world.
It’s just another Friday night for Lena. She’ll hit the school football game and then meet up with her older boyfriend. For Campbell, this night is a terror already. She’s been in town six weeks and made no friends and is working at the football concession stand with a bunch of people who aren’t helping. When a fight breaks out, racial relations across the town spiral out of control and these two girls from very different backgrounds must manage to make it out together.
From a literature standpoint, the story seems highly contrived and nothing flows organically. That is because this is a statement book; putting the characters in this position is more important that how it flows. I was disappointed to not understand the town more and see the larger picture of the societal relations. Readers are left with just one perspective to understand why the whole town is on fire.
To be honest, this story is nothing unless you talk about it and that is the authors’ goal. The reader sees racism and stereotypes from both sides. Facing these head on, you see the main characters act on this and then see what ramifications their actions have. The authors, Gilly Segal and Kimberly Jones, leave it up to the reader to understand why these views are held by the characters; they lead no discussion themselves.
The book comes with book club questions. But I challenge readers to go beyond that. As a society we need this mass discussion because once the problems and issues are brought to light we can make changes. And we need change in our society. I hope this book can be one step towards true change.
As a literary tale, I’m Not Dying with You Tonight, isn’t that great. But as a force for change? If people take it seriously, then it can be a great tool.
The Deep is the result of work by many voices. The book written by Rivers Solomon is inspired by the work of clipping. which was inspired by yet someone else’s work. Because editor Navah Wolfe saw a beautiful vision, this multifaceted art project exists.
Yetu is the historian. She holds the memory of the Wajinru, merfolk who evolved from the African slave women who were thrown overboard pregnant. Once a year, Yetu shares these memories, the pain with her tribe; this is The Remembrance. Yet she doesn’t exist outside these memories and this year Yetu makes a choice that will change her own life and the lives of her people.
Click below to listen to The Deep by the clipping. Because this book is so entwined with the song, you cannot truly appreciate what has been done with this novella and how it has beautifully captured (mostly) the themes and moods from the song. This is art within itself.
The novella can easily be broken down into three parts. The first is a lyrical presentation to the characters, the location and their situation. There is beauty in the writing here; Solomon has written their own song. As a reader, go with the rhythm as the plot and story will be explained more in the second section.
The second portion takes Yetu away from the collective and here is where the reader truly understands what the Remembrance is, what it contains and why it is important. The third section wraps up the modern fable but doesn’t pack as much of a punch as the past two sections.
My only true negative issue is that it is too short. Not too short as in I needed more, too short as something huge was given and built and then-Snap!- resolved. The third section crescendos with a flat fall and everything is suddenly and simply fixed. There was no true fallout to the events beyond Yetu and the population, while remembering their past, seemed to forget their present. Maybe this was a way to say there is no simple answer for the real world parallels the book follows but it felt weak on a literary level.
Overall, The Deep is a lyrical, moving, and crosses culturally lines many other novels cannot. This is also multifaceted art. While this book starts from one song, clipping. has created new music based from this book that will be released simultaneously with the book. This brings this project full circle and will touch you emotionally whether you respond more to written or vocalized word.
Publication: November 5 I received a copy from the publisher for review; all opinions are my own.
After I finished the sequel to Widows, I swore I was done with the series. But Lynda La Plante pulled me with a great concept. Dolly has done her time in prison, done good for other and has plans to open a home for foster children. Meanwhile, Shirley Miller brother is plotting revenge for her death. Sadly, the story quickly changes. Dolly gets the raw end ad everything with the brother Mike falls apart. You end up with a heist story that makes no sense and is written poorly.
She’s Out is written like TV where short scenes can convey a lot of info and keep interest. But books can’t just be three lines about what’s going on in one area and then move on to another. We need something to sink our teeth in. This style runs the ending. The heist is sped through quickly and the reader doesn’t have time to soak in what’s going on. It loses any excitement or thrill. The ending is just sad and no way satisfying.
That being said, I enjoyed getting to know the characters. The women aren’t just cookie cutter stereotypes and the author pushes their boundaries. That works well. In fact, it’s the best part. I honesty wanted more for each character that they ever got in the ending.
She’s Out isn’t my style of heist stories but I can see how it good TV when the author originally created the content.
Published: Oct 29 I received an ARC through NetGalley; all opinions are my own.
Stronger than Death is the harrowing story of what real missionary work should be. There is more than just religion; there is action combined with care and love of the poor. Reading this book shows me this world has people who are truly good.
Annalena treated TB in places like Kenya and Somalia. She faces down violence every day but never stops caring for those in need. She knew that religion called for care and love for the needy. Unlike many of the biggest “missionary/pastors”, Annalena doesn’t live in opulence. She lives in the same poverty as those she assists pouring all her money into the saving of those with TB. If I say more, I’ll tell you the whole story.
Even though Annalena would never like the publication of this book, I agree with the author that this book should be written, her story must be told. By reaching just one person through this book, Annalena’s work continues.
The book itself is well written and researched. The background of the countries and wars are included in the tale are explored. The author spoke with as many people involved as she could giving many first account stories. There is just one negative here: the author inserts herself. These are odd moments that, instead of bolstering Annalena, make the author seem like she just wants to be connected to Annalena so she can feel better about herself. There is no need: Rachel Pieh Jones shares this story with dedication, love, and respect with a connection that never dies.
I would encourage everyone to read this book. To think about their calling. To challenge the idea of Christianity. I am blessed to have read this story.
Published: Oct 1
I received an ARC from the publisher; all opinions are my own.
Sophie Kinsella brings Becky Bloomwood (opps, Brandon) back into our lives with humor and heart just in time for Christmas!
Becky is still shopping way too much but she has evolved into the digital age: she is an online shopaholic. But she only purchases from discount site and charity sites! Not too bad right? But Becky is distracted by her online prizes by the Christmas Holiday. Her parents have asked her to host Christmas! Becky’s initial day dream is overwhelmed by the details that go into it. There is so much to do and so many people to please! It doesn’t help that her ex-boyfriend, now a rock idol, has sauntered into her life. Can Becky keep it together this Christmas Season or is she in over her head?
I love Becky but I am sad that she still hasn’t gotten past buying too much stuff and hiding it from her husband. The good news is that while that stays the same so does the heart that goes with Becky. Becky loves shopping for others and will go above and beyond for the perfect present. When that idea of care is magnified by the fact that she wants her family to have the perfect Christmas, she will do anything to get the right presents for the ones she loves. While there may be instances where she buys just to make herself happy, she shops to show how much she loves her family and friends.
Kinsella has always balanced her stories keeping them from being too frivolous while not dragging them down with the moral and that continues here. This novel, in particular, made me both laugh out loud and weep. I found myself so much in Becky this time and empathized with her more than ever. Even though I cried, the book didn’t get bogged down in tragedy and lack of hope. With Becky there is always heart.
With great fun and just as much heart, Christmas Shopaholic is Becky at her best.
Publication Date: October 15
I received an ARC through the publisher; all opinions are my own.
Watching you gives you a look into how neighbors keep an eye on each other and will spark gret gossip in your book club.
Tom Fitzwilliams is the head at the local school and helping it get back on its feet. Joey and her husband lives with her brother and his pregnant wife. Joey lives wither mother who suffered from paranoia. They will al intersect bringing passion, obsession and violence to their town.
Watching you has some similarities to Those People. The chapters are introduced with excerpts of characters speaking with the police setting up for an unseen crime. Most of the characters are all suspects. But unlike, Those People, Watching You gives you closure and you have sympathy for the majority of characters involved.
Lisa Jewell keeps you guess and at once you learn to see past the red herring but what are red herrings and what are truths? These blurs just as the purity or evilness of each character. The book moves quickly and you are hooked.
Watching You is a great entry into Shock Fiction; challenge your club to figure out the twist and keep the discourse going through the entire book. When you’re done, share your stories of neighborly nosiness.
Takes One to Know One is a basic mystery that is as boring as the main character’s suburban life.
Corie Keller used to chase terrorists for a living until she left the FBI to get married and be a mom to her stepdaughter. Cori works free-lance in publishing and meets with a lunch group that discusses their current freelance projects. At one of these lunches, Corie gets a bad feeling about one of the men. Is Peter really dangerous or is she inventing intrigued because she’s bored in Suburbia?
I had a hard time getting through this book. It was mundane in every aspect, not just in the detailed of the suburban life. The storyline is basic with no twists or turns. Everything is exactly as it seems.
I was hoping for an exciting showdown to take the book up a notch. But even the climax doesn’t give you a true sense of danger. The most interesting parts are told to the character afterward; you don’t even get to live through it for an adrenaline rush.
I was most disappointed because the book summary gives you the idea that there will be a delicious argument that the character may just be imagining things. It was this puzzle that called to me. While there is some discussion of if she was inventing the danger, there was no depth to the idea and it was quickly dismissed (as was my enjoyment in the book).
A basic story dragged down with suburban life, I would tell my friends to pass on this.
Publication Date: October 1 I received an ARC from the publisher; all opinions are my own
Bloodlust & Bonnets is the child of Emily McGovern best known for her web comic My Life as a Background Slytherin. McGovern blends Lord Byron, vampires and a brave female hero to create a hilarious and chaotic tale.
In the early 19th century, Lucy rejects her life as a debutante and finds herself catching the eye of Lady Travesty and her cult of vampires. Lucy partners with Lord Byron and a mysterious hunter to track Travesty and put an end the cult. During their journey they cross paths with psychic eagles, talking castles and high society balls.
Bloodlust & Bonnets shares the same charm from McGovern’s comic. The art is simple but effective and helps keep the gory bits from being too gory. In facts, it just makes the blood funny especially when paired with the character’s reactions.
I loved the chaos that ensured when this rag tag bunch comes upon adventure. This isn’t a fantasy novel where the characters are at least somewhat prepared. This is a Christopher Moore style tale where no one can keep anything straight and the most ridiculous things happen. It is refreshing and funny.
Amidst the drunken livery and death, there is also heart. Themes from the area still resonate today. Who am I? How do I handle the ideals society pushes upon me? Why can’t I just stay in my bed and read? (I’m with Byron on this).
The graphic novel meanders in the middle, throwing in chaos just to throw in more chaos but because the characters are lovable and the voice enchanting, Bloodlust & Bonnets is a must for anyone looking for a fun getaway from the real world.
Publication Date: September 17 I received an ARC from the publisher; all opinions are my own.
Mother Knows Best looks at the emotional side of huge ethical questions involving embryotic changes.
Claire has a rare mitochondrial disease that manifests in different ways. She herself can live a normal like but her son Colton died at age 8 due to complications of the defect. Devastated, Claire and her husband want to have another child, but Claire can’t stand the idea that they may be like her first child. Claire and her husband to agree to IVF, but what he doesn’t know is that Claire has a secret plan. They will be seeing a doctor whose specialty is illegal embryonic DNC modifications. But Claire is willing to try anything especially when she hears he can take away the mitochondrial issue.
Mother Knows Best is thrilling putting family drama front and center while blending in cutting edge science. The book never leans too heavily on the science, and the author describes everything in a way that the average reader can understand. Family drives the story, not the science.
The writing keeps you on your toes and the characters are relatable. Though I figured out all the twists but one, each one was written in a way that it wasn’t a cop out and was a perfect fit for the story and characters Kira Peikoff weaves characters to care about. I was engaged in the characters and what would become of the family they had created. With the exception of just one character, I agree with the choices they made even if I wouldn’t have myself I don’t know where I stand ethically on the idea of DNA modification, I was emotionally on Claire’s side. I never once wanted Claire’s family to fail no matter what the practical side of my brain said.
Mother Knows Best is thrilling and though provoking. What would you do for a healthy child?
Publication Date: September 10 I received an ARC through the publisher; all opinions are my own.
Lost You gets a 3.5 Stars for a fast-paced story that enjoyable but predictable.
Libby is vacationing when her son disappears after entering the elevator without her. In her anguish to find him, she realizes her horrible secret has come back to haunt her. A tale of terror, surrogacy and violence unveil itself through this tale of Libby’s life.
The abduction is just the framework to lure you in. The majority of the story is about Libby’s surrogacy. The book jumps between three perspectives, each character adding another layer to the story.
Unfortunately, these characters are all unlikeable. Haylen Beck adds complexity to the characters but doesn’t make me care; they are just that unlikable. I did almost feel for one character but the author made a choice that instantly took that away.
The book is enjoyable because the events move quickly building anticipation. You see what is going to happen and try to tell the characters to “stop!” But, never the less, they each make one bad decision after another. It is Beck’s ability to keep the story moving that makes this story interesting. You must know whether your predictions are correct or not.
An easy read, Lost You is a good read for people who like shock drama.
Publication Date: August 6 I received an ARC through the publisher; all opinions are my own.