Under One Roof by Ali Hazelwood Book Review

Book Description

A scientist should never cohabitate with her annoyingly hot nemesis – it leads to combustion.

Mara, Sadie, and Hannah are friends first, scientists always. Though their fields of study might take them to different corners of the world, they can all agree on this universal truth: when it comes to love and science, opposites attract and rivals make you burn….

As an environmental engineer, Mara knows all about the delicate nature of ecosystems. They require balance. And leaving the thermostat alone. And not stealing someone else’s food. And other rules Liam, her detestable big-oil lawyer of a roommate, knows nothing about. Okay, sure, technically she’s the interloper. Liam was already entrenched in his aunt’s house like some glowering grumpy giant when Mara moved in, with his big muscles and kissable mouth just sitting there on the couch tempting respectable scientists to the dark side…but Helena was her mentor and Mara’s not about to move out and give up her inheritance without a fight.

The problem is, living with someone means getting to know them. And the more Mara finds out about Liam, the harder it is to loathe him…and the easier it is to love him.

Review

Thoughts and Themes: I was a little hesitant to read this one because it is a novella and I was worried that I would want more of the book. I was also a little worried that this would read too much like The Love Hypothesis for me to enjoy it as a separate story. My library hold came in though sooner than I expected so I had to listen to it and I am glad that I did.

I am so glad that my hesitations were proven wrong and I was able to enjoy the book. While the snarky banter from The Love Hypothesis is in this story, I found that the characters were different and I also thought that their relationship with one another was different.

There is so much to love about this one from the forced proximity, enemies to lovers, witty banter, and more. I just loved the way the story begins and how it builds up throughout to give us the ending that we are waiting for.

Characters: There are two main characters in this book, Liam and Mara, but you also get to know Helena briefly. I loved all of the characters that you get to meet throughout this whole book. There is nothing to not love about any of these characters including Mara and Liam’s friends who you briefly get to learn about.

While you don’t ever get to meet Helena since she passed away before our story really begins I really loved her as a character. I loved the relationship that she had with both Liam and Mara and how you can see through them speaking of her how important they each were to her.

I really enjoyed the relationship between Liam and Mara and how this relationship begins because of Helena. I love how even from the grave she is trying to set them both up with a partner like she has been doing their whole life. I love that they are forced to have some sort of relationship because Mara has to live in that house as she has nowhere else to go. I also love how they become friends before anything happens between the two of them.

Writing Style: I thought it was interesting that this book was published as an audiobook before any other format. I actually really enjoy listening to romance books as audiobooks so I was quite pleased to know that this book was going to first be released as an audiobook. I can’t wait to read it as an e-book to see if the reading experience differs if the format is different.

Author Information

From Ali Hazelwood’s website

My favorite thing in the world is to explore traditional romance tropes—and to picture how they’ll play out in academic settings.

Rival scientists falling in love despite their better judgement?

There’s only one cot in the lab?

Fake dating during faculty meeting?

Sign me up!

I’m originally from Italy, lived in Japan and Germany, and eventually moved to the US to pursue a Ph.D. in Neuroscience. I recently became a professor, which absolutely terrifies me. Oh, the sheer dread of being entrusted with the care of young minds!

When I’m not at work you can find me binge-watching shows with my feline overlords (and my slightly less feline husband), running, or eating candy.

Oh, and I’m a New York Times Bestselling Author.

I’m represented by the amazing Thao Le of the Sandra Dijkstra Literary Agency.

An Ordinary Wonder by Buki Papillon

Book Description

An Ordinary Wonder is a story of the courage needed to be yourself.

Oto leaves for boarding school with one plan: excel and escape his cruel home. Falling in love with his roommate was certainly not on the agenda, but fear and shame force him to hide his love and true self.

Back home, weighed down by the expectations of their wealthy and powerful family, the love of Oto’s twin sister wavers and, as their world begins to crumble around them, Oto must make drastic choices that will alter the family’s lives for ever.

Richly imagined with art, proverbs and folk tales, this moving and modern novel follows Oto through life at home and at boarding school in Nigeria, through the heartbreak of living as a boy despite their profound belief they are a girl, and through a hunger for freedom that only a new life in the United States can offer.

An Ordinary Wonder is a powerful coming-of-age story that explores complex desires as well as challenges of family, identity, gender and culture, and what it means to feel whole.

Review

Thoughts and Themes: I had started reading this book last year but I put it down because I couldn’t really get into it. I tried it on audiobook and on e-book as well. This time I decided to grab the audiobook version of this book and couldn’t stop listening to it. There are so many things that this book touches on yet it does it in such a way that it doesn’t overwhelm you. I also made the mistake of reading reviews before going into the book which kind of painted my expectations of this book.

I can’t speak to the accuracy in a lot of this book and that is the issue I found most people speaking on. I found that most people took issue with the book having many negative things occur in Oto’s life due to them being intersex but I am not sure if this also has to do with the setting of the book. I understand that different cultures have different views on intersex people and the time and setting of this book could have played a role in the reactions of the people in Oto’s life before he goes to International Secondary School (ISS).

This book discusses relationships between siblings, the role of education, gender, sexuality, belonging, culture, folklore, and more. I thought that the way each of these topics was addressed was done in a good manner, and I really liked how it didn’t feel like things were skirted over.

Characters: In this book, you are introduced to a few characters through their interactions with the main character, Oto/Lori. You get to meet Oto’s mother, sister, and some of Oto’s friends at the school that he is staying at.

I loved Oto/Lori throughout the whole book and I really enjoyed them as the narrator. I loved how we get to see them grow into themself and also get to see the change that happens as they interact with others at ISS. I also really loved Derin and the friendship that Oto/Lori has with him. I loved that Derin just accepted Oto as he is and without any question. That was really nice to see especially for teenage boys of that age as the other boys bullied Oto because he is different.

The other relationship that I liked even though the complexities that it caused for Oto/Lori was his relationship with Wura. Wura is Oto’s sister and at first, she is the one person he feels that he can trust. It is as Oto/Lori learns more about being intersex and starts exploring femininity that his relationship with Wura falters. I thought it was interesting to see this happen because it was not far from the truth, this is what several queer people experience in their familial relationships.

Writing Style: This book goes back and forth between Now and Before, focusing primarily on Oto’s teenage years. In the before years we get to see Oto’s life before he moved to ISS (International Secondary School) and it is in those years that you see how Oto’s mother abused him emotionally and physically due to him being intersex and the views of the village they live in. In the Now section we get to see Oto’s life at ISS as he navigates trying to blend in with the boys but feeling more like a girl and still feeling like something is wrong with him. It is in the now section that Oto/Lori starts learns about being intersex in a neutral way and learns more about himself.

Author Information

Buki Papillon: Writer, Wife, Daughter, Sister, Friend, Massage Therapist, Bead Artist. She/her.* TWITTER: https://twitter.com/bukipapillon *

Buki Papillon was born in Nigeria, lived in the UK where she studied law at the University of Hull and is now settled in the US, where she has learned to find inspiration in the long winters. She has in the past been a travel adviser, events host, and chef.

Her debut novel, An Ordinary Wonder, was published by Pegasus Books in the US on September 7, 2021, and by Dialogue Books (Little, Brown UK) in March 2021. Her work has been published in Post Road Magazine and The Del Sol Review.

She graduated with an MFA in Creative Writing from Lesley University. She has received fellowships to The Key West Literary Seminars and Vermont Studio Center. She was awarded an Archie D. And Bertha. H. Walker Foundation Scholarship by the Fine Arts Work Center, and is an alumna of the VONA Voices Workshops.

In her downtime she loves taking long rambles in nature, making jewelry, cooking up a storm, and, of course, epic levels of reading.

Her Twitter account is @bukipapillon. Her website is http://bukipapillon.com.

How to Marry Keanu Reeves in 90 Days by K.M. Jackson Book Review

Book Description

Bethany Lu Carlisle is devastated when the tabloids report actor Keanu Reeves is about to tie the knot. What?! How could the world’s perfect boyfriend and forever bachelor, Keanu not realize that making a move like this could potentially be devastating to the equilibrium of…well…everything! Not to mention, he’s never come face to face with the person who could potentially be his true soulmate—her.
 
Desperate to convince Keanu to call off the wedding, Lu and her ride-or-die BFF Truman Erikson take a wild road trip to search for the elusive Keanu so that Lu can fulfill her dream of meeting her forever crush and confess her undying love. From New York to Los Angeles, Lu and True get into all sorts of sticky situations. Will Lu be able to find Keanu and convince him she’s the one for him? Or maybe she’ll discover true love has been by her side all along…

Review

Thoughts and Themes: After reading The Love Hypothesis all I wanted to do was read more romance book so I was happy to see this was a choice for BOTM. I also decided to put it on hold with audiobook since I know I prefer to read romance books in that format.

Throughout the whole story I didn’t really buy that there was anything between True and Bethany which made the romance portion strange for me. The only reason I knew that feelings were there was because of how often True would point out his feelings and then how Bethany began to question her feelings for him.

The portion of this book where Bethany is chasing after Keanu was a bit hilarious but also at times it was just too much. Her obsession with him felt a lot like reading a teenage girl obsessed with a celebrity and like Bethany just needed to grow up.

Characters: In this book you get to meet Bethany and True along with some side characters that you meet through their interactions with our main characters. I liked getting to know Bethany and found her obsession with Keanu really funny. I thought it was great to see

I really wished we got to know more about True than what we got from him. I wanted more of who he is and his backstory but we didn’t get much about him. I felt that the pieces that we got from him were just him being sexually attracted to Bethany and that was all. I didn’t get the sense that he loved her even if he kept saying that he did.

The problem with this one for me was the I wasn’t really invested in any of the characters. I was listening to both of their point of views but I wasn’t rooting for them. We know what will happen right from the start but at no point did I care for Bethany and True’s relationship. I didn’t really buy Bethany and True’s relationship throughout the book, I didn’t even see them as such close friends. I didn’t buy their friendship at all so it was hard to believe the friends to lovers plot line.

I was a lot more invested in Bethany and Dawn’s relationship than the love story in this book. I loved the parts where these two got together. I loved how supportive they are of each other and I loved how these two pick at each other when it is needed. I thought that their relationship was perfect and was just what they needed from each other.

Writing Style: This book is told in first person with dual point of view from Bethany and True. I loved having both of their perspectives in the story as we got to see how each of them were feeling about each other. I liked that we got to see how they felt about the things that were going on but I do wish that we got more chapters from True’s point of view.

Author Information

USA Today bestselling author and native New Yorker Kwana Jackson aka K.M Jackson spent her formative years on the A train where she had two dreams: (1) to be a fashion designer and (2) to be a writer. After spending more than ten years designing women’s sportswear for various fashion houses, Kwana took a leap of faith and decided to pursue her other dream of being a writer. A longtime advocate of equality and diversity in romance (#WeNeedDiverseRomance), Kwana is the mother of twins and currently lives in a suburb of New York with her husband. When not writing she can be found on Twitter @kwanawrites, on Facebook at facebook.com/KmJacksonAuthor, and on her website at www.kmjackson.com.

Luz At Midnight by Marisol Cortez Book Review

Book Description

Deeply embedded in the landscapes of South Texas, Luz at Midnight tells the story of an ill-timed love that unfolds in the time of climate change. Booksmart but naïve, Citlali Sanchez-O’Connor has just been hired to organize a San Antonio campaign against “gleaning,” a controversial new mining practice that promises a rapid transition away from fossil fuels. In the process, she soon encounters Joel Champlain, a journalist struggling to hide his manic-depression as he uncovers the corrupt politics that surround gleaning. During a chance trip together to Texas’s Gulf Coast, Lali is struck by a love as powerful and sudden as the electrical storm that birthed Luz, the unearthly canine trickster who has thrown them together. But Lali—married with a baby, poised to leave town for an academic job, and trained to think everything is explicable—finds she must decide what their connection means, if anything, for a path already set in motion.

A genre-hopping narrative that layers story with reporting, poetry, scholarship, and teatro, Luz questions the nature of desire and power, asking: What throws us into the path of those we love, and what pulls us apart? What agency powers the universe—and do we have any agency of our own to create a world different from the one powerful others have planned for us? Along the way of considering these questions, Luz is about the humorous (and not-so-humorous) inner workings of the nonprofit industrial complex; about Newtonian and Quantum theory; about birds, and about dogs. It is also about what we call mental illness, and the possibility that love may be pathology, while madness may open some important window into the nature of reality. 

Review

Thoughts and Themes: When I started reading this book I was thrilled to find that it was hoping through different genres and that it was touching on climate change, but unfortunately the thrill wore off rather quickly. Halfway through the book, the switching of genres was just confusing me and I wasn’t able to follow the storyline anymore. I thought this was going to be a love story and not just between a man and a woman but also between humans and the earth.

I did get to a point in the book in which I was just skimming my way through it as it couldn’t hold my attention any longer. I thought that the build up of the story took way too much time in the book and I was a bit over halway and the love interest still wasn’t in the picture. It felt a lot like world building which was strange because it was taking place in our world but at the same time it felt like it wasn’t our world.

Characters: One of the things that I really did like about this book was all of the characters that you are introduced to throughout the book. I really did enjoy getting to meet each character at the start of the book as the story is being introduced to us. I liked how they all have their unique traits, connections with each other and the many things that they added to the story.

Writing Style: This book switched between genres a lot and that really was confusing to me. I do believe that people who are a fan of multiple genres in a book, environmental books, magical realism, etc would really enjoy this book. Something else that kept throwing me off was the research notes that were included in the story, I found that those took a way from the story as I couldn’t really build the connection. At first I thought they were outside notes being brought into the story until I realized that these were notes the main character was taking.

Author Information

From Marisol’s Website:

As a mentally-intense, mixed-blood Xicana weirdo rooted in San Antonio but formally coming of age in rural Central Texas, poetry was the first form of political agency accessible to me and also the first theoretical work I produced. Even after I found communities for political resistance and critical inquiry—for a time I strayed into an academic career, then later worked as a community organizer—I could never really get away from creative writing either in my scholarship or my activism.

These days, I understand myself primarily as a writer and community-based scholar, albeit one who feels most comfortable writing in the spaces between artistic, activist, and academic worlds, as well as across creative genres (poetry, fiction, essay, theory, manifesto). Much of my writing bears out all these tensions: I write hybrid, cross-genre, mixed-blood Xicana texts that can’t quite (and ultimately don’t want to) extricate poetry and storytelling from historical analysis and cultural theory from direct, on-the-ground struggle. As a writer grounded in the collective work of movement building for environmental and social justice, I find myself most often gravitating toward questions of place, power, and the possibilities proliferating at the margins. I write to remember the land and its pluriverse of inhabitants; to make visible colonial logics of displacement; and above all to give voice to those longings that might call forth new relationships of ecosocial interdependence and solidarity. I write for all the other borderwalking weirdos out there.

A mama of two, I currently juggle writing, full-time parenting, and co-editing responsibilities for Deceleration, an online journal of environmental justice thought and praxis. In 2020 I published my debut novel Luz at Midnight (FlowerSong Press 2020), which in 2021 won the Texas Institute of Letter’s Sergio Troncoso Award for First Book of Fiction. I’m also the author of I Call on the Earth (Double Drop Press 2019), a chapbook of documentary poetry, and “Making Displacement Visible: A Case Study Analysis of the ‘Mission Trail of Tears,’” which together bear witness to the forced removal of Mission Trails Mobile Home Community. Other poems and prose have appeared in Mutha MagazineAbout Place JournalOrionVice CanadaCaigibiMetafore MagazineOutsider PoetryVoices de la Luna, and La Voz de Esperanza, among other anthologies and journals. For more information on projects and publications, click HERE. 

The Love Hypothesis by Ali Book Review

Book description

As a third-year Ph.D. candidate, Olive Smith doesn’t believe in lasting romantic relationships–but her best friend does, and that’s what got her into this situation. Convincing Anh that Olive is dating and well on her way to a happily ever after was always going to take more than hand-wavy Jedi mind tricks: Scientists require proof. So, like any self-respecting biologist, Olive panics and kisses the first man she sees.

That man is none other than Adam Carlsen, a young hotshot professor–and well-known ass. Which is why Olive is positively floored when Stanford’s reigning lab tyrant agrees to keep her charade a secret and be her fake boyfriend. But when a big science conference goes haywire, putting Olive’s career on the Bunsen burner, Adam surprises her again with his unyielding support and even more unyielding…six-pack abs.

Suddenly their little experiment feels dangerously close to combustion. And Olive discovers that the only thing more complicated than a hypothesis on love is putting her own heart under the microscope.

Review

Thoughts and Themes: I hardly will pick up a romance book just because I get all embarrassed and awkward when I am reading them. I kept seeing this all over Tik Tok and eventually I had to pick it up. This is one that I am going to want to listen to over and over again, and will need to get myself a physical copy of.

I honestly loved this one not just for all the tropes that this book covers but also for the nerdy science stuff that is included. The science plot was really what drew me into the book because I am a science nerd. There were so many moments that I was just squealing internally because of how cute the whole thing was.

I have so many feelings about this book that I just can’t articulate into coherent thoughts. This book had me laughing out loud, crying, and just grinning at so many things. I really loved the conversations that happen between Olive and Adam, and how witty all of his remarks are.

Characters: In this book you get to meet Olive and Adam who are the main characters of this story. You also get introduced to some of Olive’s friends, Adam’s friend, and other students at the school.

This is the first book with a main character that is hinted at being demisexual that I have read and that made a big difference for me. As soon as this was hinted at, I feel even more in love with Olive and the book because here was a part of me in a book that I never see.

I really love how different Adam is with Olive, and how he isn’t so much of an @$$ when he is with her. I liked how the whole fake dating thing between them started because they were both going to benefit from that arrangement.

Writing Style: This book is written in third person through Olive’s perspective which I really enjoyed. I was a bit worried when I first started listening to this book because I’m not always a fan of third person but this one works.

I really liked the narrator of this story as well because there was a clear difference when each character was speaking. It was easy to listen to and follow along as well which is so important for me when listening to an audiobook.

Author Information

From Ali Hazelwood’s website

My favorite thing in the world is to explore traditional romance tropes—and to picture how they’ll play out in academic settings.

Rival scientists falling in love despite their better judgement?

There’s only one cot in the lab?

Fake dating during faculty meeting?

Sign me up!

I’m originally from Italy, lived in Japan and Germany, and eventually moved to the US to pursue a Ph.D. in Neuroscience. I recently became a professor, which absolutely terrifies me. Oh, the sheer dread of being entrusted with the care of young minds!

When I’m not at work you can find me binge-watching shows with my feline overlords (and my slightly less feline husband), running, or eating candy.

Oh, and I’m a New York Times Bestselling Author.

I’m represented by the amazing Thao Le of the Sandra Dijkstra Literary Agency.

An Ordinary Wonder by Buki Papillon Book Review

Book Description

An Ordinary Wonder is a story of the courage needed to be yourself.

Oto leaves for boarding school with one plan: excel and escape his cruel home. Falling in love with his roommate was certainly not on the agenda, but fear and shame force him to hide his love and true self.

Back home, weighed down by the expectations of their wealthy and powerful family, the love of Oto’s twin sister wavers and, as their world begins to crumble around them, Oto must make drastic choices that will alter the family’s lives for ever.

Richly imagined with art, proverbs and folk tales, this moving and modern novel follows Oto through life at home and at boarding school in Nigeria, through the heartbreak of living as a boy despite their profound belief they are a girl, and through a hunger for freedom that only a new life in the United States can offer.

An Ordinary Wonder is a powerful coming-of-age story that explores complex desires as well as challenges of family, identity, gender and culture, and what it means to feel whole.

Review

I just received the finished copy of this book and got the ebook recently as well so I am about halfway through and will provide a complete review when I finish it. This review is up to the half way mark of this book as I wanted to make sure to spotlight it on my blog today.

I have yet to read any book that centers an intersex main character so that was something that this book did that I really loved. I liked that this book explores being intersex and how culture informs people’s responses to someone being born intersex.

I also really enjoy how this book explores familial love, education, gender, sexuality, belonging, culture, folklore, and more. I really like how this story goes back and forth between a few years back and the current time with Oto because we get to see what lead to the current circumstances for him.

I can’t wait to continue reading this and see what happens to our main character and what happens in his relationships with his family members. I think that was something that I really want to read more of to see if his mom and his sister change perspectives on how they feel about Oto.

Author Information

Buki Papillon was born in Nigeria, lived in the UK where she studied law at the University of Hull, and is now settled in the US, where she has learned to find inspiration in the long winters. She has in the past been a travel adviser, events host and chef.

Her debut novel, An Ordinary Wonder, is forthcoming from Pegasus Books in the US on September 7, 2021, and was published by Dialogue Books (Little, Brown UK) in March 2021. Her work has been published in Post Road Magazine and The Del Sol Review.

She graduated  with an MFA in Creative Writing from Lesley University. She has  received fellowships to The Key West Literary Seminars and Vermont Studio Center. She was awarded an Archie D. And Bertha. H. Walker Foundation Scholarship by the Fine Arts Work Center, and is an alumna of the VONA Voices Workshops.

In her downtime she loves taking long rambles in nature, making jewelry, cooking up a storm and, of course, epic levels of reading.

Her twitter account is @bukipapillon. Her website is http://bukipapillon.com.

Impacted by Benji Carr Book Review

Author Information

As a child growing up in the South with cerebral palsy, Benji Carr developed an eye for the bizarre and quirky, which provided all of the stories he told his friends and family with a bit of flavor. Working as a journalist, storyteller and playwright, his work – whether the stories be personal tales of struggle and survival or fiction about cannibal lunch ladies, puppet romances, drag queen funerals, and perverted killer circus clowns – has been featured in The Guardian, ArtsATL and Pembroke Magazine. Onstage, his pieces have been presented at the Center for Puppetry Arts, Alliance Theatre, and as part of the Samuel French Off-Off Broadway Short Play Festival in Manhattan. He lives in Atlanta and helps run the online literary magazine, Gutwrench Journal. Impacted is his first novel.

Book Description

With every trip he makes to the dentist, Wade’s pain only gets worse. His smile has faded. He’s clenching his jaw and grinding his teeth more, not because of bad oral hygiene or any mishaps in orthodontics. Wade’s teeth don’t need straightening out, but the rest of his life could use that kind of adjustment. Wade has fallen in love with handsome Dr. Emmett, and their office visits in the afternoon have become decidedly more personal than professional. And poor Wade is sure his girlfriend Jessa would punch him in the mouth if she found out.

After all, Jessa did just abandon her church and her family to be with him. And she did just have Wade’s baby. So their relationship has already caused enough gossip in the small Georgia town of Waverly.

When Wade tries to end the affair, the breakup takes a brutal turn, leaving Wade in a state of panic. His life is under threat. His secrets could be exposed, and his family may fall apart before he realizes what kind of person he wants to be.

Review

Thoughts and Themes: It took me a while to really get into this one and I made the mistake of looking at other people’s reviews in the middle of reading. I really didn’t see the humor in the story even if it was supposed to be dark humor. That being said, I did still enjoy the story that was told in this book.

I was a bit worried that the center would focus more on the relationship between Dr. Emett and Wade and I really didn’t want that. I was glad that we get to see more of Wade’s life with Jessa, Lydie, and his mom. I thought this was a good coming of age story as Wade figures out who he is and tries to cope with the mess he made, and then deal with being told he was abused.

Characters: In this book you get introduced to quite a few characters that all have different relationships with Wade. I really liked getting to know each of the characters that we meet and getting to see how their story comes together around Wade. There were some characters like the Reverand and Jessa which I was frustrated by and could’ve done with less of them.

I liked getting to see how much more of a mess Wade’s life gets with more people being introduced into the story. I thought it was great to see how these people play into his life and how they help him make sense of the things that have happened to him.

Writing Style: This story is told in third person with an knowing narrator as you read the story through jumping from one character to another. At first I really didn’t like that this book was going back and forth between characters and wished that we got more of Wade. As the book progressed, I understood the need to show us what was going on with the other characters to really tie them together and tie the loose pieces together.

The Maidens by Alex Michaelides Book Review

Author Information

Alex Michaelides was born and raised in Cyprus. He has an M.A. in English literature from Trinity College, Cambridge University, and an M.A. in screenwriting from the American Film Institute in Los Angeles. The Silent Patient was his first novel and was the biggest-selling debut in the world in 2019. It spent more than a year on the New York Times bestseller list and sold in a record-breaking forty-nine countries. Alex lives in London.

Book Description

Edward Fosca is a murderer. Of this Mariana is certain. But Fosca is untouchable. A handsome and charismatic Greek Tragedy professor at Cambridge University, Fosca is adored by staff and students alike—particularly by the members of a secret society of female students known as The Maidens.

Mariana Andros is a brilliant but troubled group therapist who becomes fixated on The Maidens when one member, a friend of Mariana’s niece Zoe, is found murdered in Cambridge.

Mariana, who was once herself a student at the university, quickly suspects that behind the idyllic beauty of the spires and turrets, and beneath the ancient traditions, lies something sinister. And she becomes convinced that, despite his alibi, Edward Fosca is guilty of the murder. But why would the professor target one of his students? And why does he keep returning to the rites of Persephone, the maiden, and her journey to the underworld?

When another body is found, Mariana’s obsession with proving Fosca’s guilt spirals out of control, threatening to destroy her credibility as well as her closest relationships. But Mariana is determined to stop this killer, even if it costs her everything—including her own life. 

Review

Thank you to Celadon Books, Netgalley and Macmillan Audio for the advanced reader and advanced listening copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.

Thoughts and Themes: I rarely read mystery books and I haven’t read many since I was a teenager. I used to love this type of book so I’ve been trying to get into them again. I listened to this one on audiobook and I believe that I would have enjoyed it a lot more if I had read the book.

I’m not a big fan of the way that the mystery unravels itself in the end of the book, I was really enjoying it until the last hour of listening. I found that this portion of the book sped up but it also was a little off to me. I found that the book kept speeding up while they were close to figuring things out only to slow back down with filler information. While I like twists and turns in the book, I would like the tension to remain in the story without it feeling like it was gone.

Something that I did enjoy about this book was the way that Greek Mythology was weaved into the murder mystery. While the beginning of this story was slow to start because it had to introduce the murder mystery and the Greek aspects, I found that the best part to read.

Characters: In this book you get to meet a few characters as they are interreacting with Mariana. I liked Mariana as a main character and found that she was easy to follow along with. I liked getting to learn a bit from her past and also see how that past informs the way she investigates this murder.

I also liked the short pieces that we get from the male perspective. I thought those pieces were just the right amount of creepy and the way they are written kind of deter you from figuring out who did it.

I wasn’t really invested in any of the characters throughout this book. I wanted to like Mariana but she was just the character we needed to tell the story to me. I did like Zoe though and really wanted to believe the best of her even as Mariana starts to doubt her. I like the relationship that Mariana has with Zoe and also the relationships we get to see that Mariana has with some of her patients.

Writing Style: This story is told in third person when it is about Mariana and then it switches to first person when it is the male perspective. I thought this was an interesting way to write this because it makes you feel like the male is our narrator for the rest of the story. I wondered if this was the case and someone was watching Mariana’s every move throughout the book. I really liked having the shift in point of view included because it throws you off and it also makes you question the reliability of our narrator.

I liked that the way this book is written makes you question who is believable. I was wondering the whole time if I should believe what Mariana thinks or what those around her are trying to tell her. I liked that Mariana is a therapist because that makes you think that she must be reliable. The way that the book sets up this story makes you believe that she is the only one who is reliable throughout this whole story. It really isn’t until the end of the book that you start to think about how reliable Mariana is.

What Mother’s Withhold by Elizabeth Kropf Book Tour Post

Thank You to Poetic Book Tours for allowing me to be on this book tour to let others know about this book published January 4, 2021.

Author Information

Elizabeth Kropf earned her Master of Arts in Creative Writing from Perelandra College. Kropf has had over twenty poems in publications including The Texas Poetry Calendar, the DEFY! Anthology by Robocup Press, and several editions of di-verse-city, the anthology of the Austin International Poetry Festival. A dream called her from California to Austin, where she now lives with her husband and daughters. The poems in what mothers withhold were written over a span of over ten years, bookending the birth and babyhood of her delightful daughters. Kropf’s next book might be about fruit, pavement, or volcanoes. She is currently working on an ekphrastic poetry collaboration with artist Tamryn Spruill, who created the cover art for what mothers withhold.

Book Description

The poems of “what mothers withhold” are songs of brokenness and hope in a mother’s voice, poems of the body in its fierceness and failings. Elizabeth Kropf’s poems revel in peeling back silence, and invite us to witness a complicated and traumatic world that is also filled with love.

–Cindy Huyser, poet and editor, author of “Burning Number Five: Power Plant Poems.”

With these visceral poems, poet and mother Elizabeth Kropf has composed a chant of the vocabulary of vulnerability. From fertility to conception to birth—or not—and into motherhood, Kropf’s recounting of her experiences compels the reader to enter and acknowledge the power of what mothers endure and withhold.

–Anne McCrady, author of Letting Myself In and Along Greathouse Road

Review

Thoughts and Themes: This is a short book of poetry that discusses motherhood from the beginning and through it all. I thought that it was good that it went back and forth with time so we saw before her children, during, and the process of having them.

Something that I really enjoyed about this set of poems was how it felt like this was a letter from a mother to her children. I love how this is something that very personal to the author that she is deciding to share with you as a reader. I thought that really made the emotions in each poem really stand out and seeing how she has mixed feelings about motherhood. I thought it was great that she included these mixed feelings but also made it a point to include love along with those feelings.

Characters: There is one central theme in this whole book and that is motherhood and because of the theme, there are several characters involved. Each poem is told through the perspective of the mother but it includes the daughters as characters and her mother.

Writing Style: I really enjoyed how short each of these poems are and how they are told as a story. As you read each poem, it is as if you are reading a short story that the author is telling you. I love how this book feels like the author is telling you about her life and as if you are listening to her speak. I think that this would be a great book to get a chance to hear live or even on an audiobook.

Black Buck by Mateo Askaripour Book Review

Thank you to HMH Books and Libro.Fm for an advanced copy of the book and audiobook of this story.

Author Information

MATEO ASKARIPOUR was a 2018 Rhode Island Writers Colony writer-in-residence, and his writing has appeared in EntrepreneurLit HubCatapultThe RumpusMedium, and elsewhere. He lives in Brooklyn, and his favorite pastimes include bingeing music videos and movie trailers, drinking yerba mate, and dancing in his apartment. BLACK BUCK is his debut novel. Follow him on Twitter and Instagram at @AskMateo. You can also subscribe to his monthly newsletter here. 

Book Description

For fans of Sorry to Bother You and The Wolf of Wall Street—a crackling, satirical debut novel about a young man given a shot at stardom as the lone Black salesman at a mysterious, cult-like, and wildly successful startup where nothing is as it seems.

There’s nothing like a Black salesman on a mission.

An unambitious twenty-two-year-old, Darren lives in a Bed-Stuy brownstone with his mother, who wants nothing more than to see him live up to his potential as the valedictorian of Bronx Science. But Darren is content working at Starbucks in the lobby of a Midtown office building, hanging out with his girlfriend, Soraya, and eating his mother’s home-cooked meals. All that changes when a chance encounter with Rhett Daniels, the silver-tongued CEO of Sumwun, NYC’s hottest tech startup, results in an exclusive invitation for Darren to join an elite sales team on the thirty-sixth floor.

After enduring a “hell week” of training, Darren, the only Black person in the company, reimagines himself as “Buck,” a ruthless salesman unrecognizable to his friends and family. But when things turn tragic at home and Buck feels he’s hit rock bottom, he begins to hatch a plan to help young people of color infiltrate America’s sales force, setting off a chain of events that forever changes the game.

Black Buck is a hilarious, razor-sharp skewering of America’s workforce; it is a propulsive, crackling debut that explores ambition and race, and makes way for a necessary new vision of the American dream.

Review

Thoughts and Themes: This book tells you the story of Darren through different portions of his life. When I first started this book there were several things that through me off and things that made me not want to continue reading this story. This book is much more than just a fictional story of a Black salesman who was successful in his job. While I hated the way that Clyde treated Darren at the start of the book and how the others treated him I also saw how this was indicative of what this environment is like for a Black man.

There were some moments that I really felt for Darren through the first half of the book as everyone pushed him to achieve more. I also felt bad for him as he achieved more but didn’t know how to stay connected with who he used to be. I really was hoping that Darren would be able to find himself after the tragic events that take part in the middle of the book but was glad to see that it took longer than that.

Through the third and fourth portion of this book Darren becomes one of these unbearable characters but I kept reading because I was hoping there would be some redemption for him. While a lot of the things that he did were things that made you dislike him as a character, I could also see the things that made him this way. I really did like what Darren did through the fourth portion of the book and what he built for himself and other people of color.

I really liked how this book closes out and the lessons that are thought throughout this whole story. I really did like the twist in this portion of the book as it was really something that I didn’t see coming. I think while it is heartbreaking to watch this part unfold it also taught Buck a lesson that he needed to learn. I don’t want to ruin the book so I won’t elaborate much on this portion. The lessons are going to be different for each person who reads this book but I think the main message is to remain true to yourself even through your success.

Characters: There are several characters that you get introduced to throughout the different portions of this story. There is one character that made it really hard for me to get into the story at first because of the way that he treated Buck. It was good to see the story come full circle though and to see that while this character didn’t develop at all, we did get to see Buck develop throughout this book.

I think that the relationships that Buck has with everyone are well developed and I really liked how he realized who the important people in his life are. I liked how Buck learns about himself through the relationships that he develops and destroys throughout this story.

Writing Style: This story is written in first person and it is told in five separate parts. I thought that the separation of each of this parts was done in a great way and the transitions between each section were done well. I liked that each section was a different stage in Buck’s life and how you see his relationships with others change.