What I Read This Week: March 13, 2022

Kissing Tolstoy by Penny Reid

New adult romance

Rating: 2.5 out of 5.

While this was a quick easy read with some sweet and funny moments, it was also pretty problematic. A professor who dates his student and bangs her in his office doesn’t sit well with me, regardless of the circumstances. Also we have a hero, Luca, who is a general alpha hole, who thinks he knows what’s best for Anna, even when she’s adamant about her wishes. The first scene where they meet is hilarious and adorable, if it wasn’t for that, I would have hated this book. I can’t say I recommend it.

Confessions of a Fan Girl by Kirsten Blacketer

Contemporary romance

Rating: 4 out of 5.

My favorite thing about this novel is how unexpected it is. It wasn’t what I thought I was getting when I chose it or even once I’d started. Often, unmet expectations leads to disappointment in a book but this case is the exact opposite. Jen has everything she could ask for, a great job, wonderful friends, supportive family, and a seemingly perfect boyfriend. So why is she getting sucked into a fandom and pining over a movie star? At first this seems like a light story and it’s definitely funny throughout, but Kirsten does a great job of exploring the darker side of being a fan. Sometimes we can’t help who or what we’re drawn to, and I certainly could relate to Jen. When she spirals, the people who love her rally around her and that was wonderful to witness. I highly recommend this one for readers of romance, especially those involving fan fiction dn other aspects of fandom. 

The Meaning of Mariah Carey by Mariah Carey

Memoir

Rating: 4 out of 5.

I was impressed overall by the quality of the writing and the storytelling. I realize she had a co-writer but often those books have a generic feel with weak writing. Here, I got Mariah’s voice loud and clear! Learning about her traumatic childhood and abusive marriage helped me understand her. So much about her makes sense now. She was honest without sharing too much dirt about other people (other than her family, and all of that felt appropriate.)My only complaint is that she glosses over some major events in her life. That’s her choice as a memoirist, but it did leave me with questions. Overall this was a compelling read. I was fascinated with her the whole way through. I highly recommend it for her fans, and readers of celebrity memoirs.

Love and Other Disasters by Anita Kelly

Contemporary romance/LGBTQ+

Rating: 4 out of 5.

This is the first romance novel I’ve read with a nonbinary charter and I was really curious about how it would compare to others. I found it had a similar vibe to m/f novels but was much deeper. I learned a lot about what it means to be nonbinary. London is a complex character, who despite being so different from me, was still relatable. They just want to be accepted for who they are. I loved Delilah and was rooting for her from the start. She’s a messy human, and she’s just doing her best. Also a relatable character! There were some great humorous moments, and I liked getting the feel for what it’s like to be on a cooking competition show. But despite its lightness, the book also is heavy at times and tackles serious subjects. I highly recommend this one for readers of romance, particularly queer stories.

On the Same Page by Penelope Janu

Contemporary romance

Rating: 2 out of 5.

I like reading about writers, and based on the blurb it sounded like a fun, sweet story. I liked the premise of a lawyer with a pseudonym secretly writing romance novels. Unfortunately, I didn’t like the author’s execution of the idea. First of all the book is quite repetitive. Yes we get it, Miles is actually Emma and she doesn’t want to tell anyone. Second, I like enemies to lovers but this went there too abruptly without time for the characters to actually spend time together and get to know each other. Sure they had attraction and chemistry from the start but suddenly he loves her and it’s like what? How did that happen? My biggest issue with this book is that our heroine, Miles, suffers from severe anxiety and it isn’t really addressed. She has panic attacks so severe that she passes out! Frequently! It’s practically a running joke. The people in her life are compassionate and take care of her when she has these episodes but no one is ever like, hey maybe there’s a medication that could help you or perhaps you should see an therapist. I almost quit reading at 50% but I wanted to give it a chance to get better but it never did. I can’t recommend this one.

Crying in H Mart by Michelle Zauner

Memoir/audiobook

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

I had trouble with this one at times because it’s SO HEAVY. It was hard to read and made me sad, but I recognize it’s a great example of memoir. The way food shows up is beautiful. It’s part of Michelle’s culture and bonds her with her family. The scenes where she describes food are visceral and I could almost taste it myself. This is a memoir about grief, and identity. Michelle struggles with who she is without her mother. It’s powerful to contemplate. I can’t say I “enjoyed” this book because of it’s heaviness but I’m glad I read it. I listened to the audiobook narrated by the author and was surprised she didn’t add much emotion to the narrative. I recommend this for readers of memoir.

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