What I Read This Week: January 30, 2022

I finished six books this week, putting my total for the month at 22 so far.

The Lady’s Guide to Petticoats and Piracy by Mackenzie Lee

Young adult/Historical fiction/Audiobook

Rating: 3 out of 5.

Book two in the Montague Siblings series. This was a fun adventure but I didn’t like it nearly as much as the first book. The story isn’t Felicity’s as much as it’s about someone else she tags along with. I love her fierceness and independence, her determination to study medicine. I also appreciated the overall “girl power” message as well. The writing is strong and funny. I listened to the audiobook which truly brings the story to life. It did feel a bit long overall. I’d recommend this one for readers of young adult historical fiction.  

Black Cake by Charmaine Wilkerson

Literary fiction

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Advanced copy from NetGalley, expected publication February 1, 2022 This is a gorgeous novel about family secrets and what some people must do to survive. When Benny and Byron’s mother dies, she leaves them with black cake in the freezer and an 8 hour long recording explaining that she’s not who they think she is. Their story in current day alternates with tales from the past that eventually being to weave together. The writing is strong, beautiful, and atmospheric. I got a genuine sense for what life was like in this unnamed small Caribbean island town in the 1950’s and ’60s. The characters are all well developed and relatable, even the side characters. The individual stories that unravel and the mother reveals her secrets are compelling and I couldn’t put the book down. I was desperate for resolution for these characters. I highly recommend this one for readers of literary and historical fiction as well as family dramas. If you read it, be prepared to be craving cake the entire time!

Dewey Belong Together by Ann Whynot

Contemporary romance

Rating: 4 out of 5.

This is a sweet romance that covers some heavy topics. Maxine has played online games for a decade and is finally goin to meet her friends in real life. The only issue is they all assume she’s a guy. There will be consequences of her coming out to everyone, a big one being the feelings she develops for the person she thought was her nemesis! Loved Max and Jonathan as individual characters and even more so together. Their chemistry was hot and their emotional journeys were fun to witness. There’s some great humor here and also content dealing with mental health, sexism, and harassment. I highly recommend this one for readers of romance, it’s part of a series but is a perfect standalone.

The Body is Not an Apology by Sonya Renee Taylor

Non-fiction/Audiobook

Rating: 4 out of 5.

This is a powerful, thought provoking book. I listened to the audiobook read by the author and was thoroughly engaged the entire time. This book is about bodies. It’s about how we treat people (including ourselves) based on their bodies. I was raised with a lot of body shame and it’s been hard to shake. This book helped me understand why I’m so hard on myself, and therefore on others, without even intending too. To get the most out of this book, I should read a physical copy and take notes, or at least listen to it again. There is a lot of information for a one time listen. I highly recommend this one for readers of personal development and social justice issues.

The Roughest Draft by E. Wibberly and A. Siegemund-Broska

Contemporary romance

Rating: 3 out of 5.

This wasn’t the romantic romp I was expecting based on the blurb. First of all, the book needs another round of editing. It’s too long and while the romance is supposed to be a slow burn, it drags on for too long. There are two timelines, present day and four years earlier, which we go back and forth between. The older timeline wasn’t necessary and could have been addressed in one chapter per character at the beginning. It’s like the authors were trying to create drama where there was very little. Second, I don’t love romance plots that involve cheating. And while technically it doesn’t happen here, it gets awfully close, and that seems to be “okay” with the characters, but I didn’t like it. I was definitely invested in the story and wanted to know what happened. Again, it’s not a terrible book but there are so many romance novels out there that are a million times better than this one, so I don’t recommend it.

Foreverland by Heather Havrilesky

Non-fiction

Rating: 3 out of 5.

Advanced from NetGalley, expected publication February 8, 2022 I went into this expecting a snarky commentary on modern marriage. Don’t get me wrong, the snark is there but this is a deeply personal memoir about one woman’s experiences with marriage and motherhood. The first 30% of the book was solid. I laughed a lot and was impressed with the writing. Then she had kids and I couldn’t relate to her as much. Then, the book started to feel repetitive. The final 10% was also solid, and I wish she could have made the rest of the book as engaging as the start and finish. This book is NOT for readers who think marriage is a joy and that they would never resent their spouse. This book is for people who understand that marriage is hard work, even when it’s going well. I highly recommend it for readers of memoir and relationship stories.

While I don’t agree with the author on everything to do with marriage, I respect the hell out of her for writing such an honest memoir. I think most of the people giving it poor reviews are uncomfortable with the fact that she says a lot of things someone “shouldn’t” say about their spouse. This book isn’t for those readers, it’s for the readers who will relate to the author’s journey and realize they aren’t alone.

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