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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
These are the books that I plan on reading throughout the month of January. Come back to my blog throughout this month to find reviews of each book. At the end of the month, you can see what I managed to read this month.
Glimpsed by G.G. Miller
Charity is a fairy godmother. She doesn’t wear a poofy dress or go around waving a wand, but she does make sure the deepest desires of the student population at Jack London High School come true. And she knows what they want even better than they do because she can glimpse their perfect futures.
But when Charity fulfills a glimpse that gets Vibha crowned homecoming queen, it ends in disaster. Suddenly, every wish Charity has ever granted is called into question. Has she really been helping people? Where do these glimpses come from, anyway? What if she’s not getting the whole picture?
Making this existential crisis way worse is Noah—the adorkable and (in Charity’s opinion) diabolical ex of one of her past clients—who blames her for sabotaging his prom plans and claims her interventions are doing more harm than good. He demands that she stop granting wishes and help him get his girl back. At first, Charity has no choice but to play along. But soon, Noah becomes an unexpected ally in getting to the bottom of the glimpses. Before long, Charity dares to call him her friend…and even starts to wish he were something more. But can the fairy godmother ever get the happily ever after?
Black Buck by Mateo Askaripour
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.
Last Night at the Telegraph Club by Malinda Lo
Acclaimed author of Ash Malinda Lo returns with her most personal and ambitious novel yet, a gripping story of love and duty set in San Francisco’s Chinatown during the Red Scare.
“That book. It was about two women, and they fell in love with each other.” And then Lily asked the question that had taken root in her, that was even now unfurling its leaves and demanding to be shown the sun: “Have you ever heard of such a thing?”
Seventeen-year-old Lily Hu can’t remember exactly when the question took root, but the answer was in full bloom the moment she and Kathleen Miller walked under the flashing neon sign of a lesbian bar called the Telegraph Club.
America in 1954 is not a safe place for two girls to fall in love, especially not in Chinatown. Red-Scare paranoia threatens everyone, including Chinese Americans like Lily. With deportation looming over her father—despite his hard-won citizenship—Lily and Kath risk everything to let their love see the light of day.
“Lo’s writing, restrained yet luscious, shimmers with the thrills of youthful desire. A lovely, memorable novel about listening to the whispers of a wayward heart and claiming a place in the world.”—Sarah Waters, bestselling and award winning author of Tipping the Velvet and The Night Watch
Summer of L.U.C.K. by Laura Segal Stegman
Stuttering Darby is never perfect enough for her mother. Justin’s been silent since his dad died. Naz is struggling to learn English. But after they meet at summer camp, mysterious calliope music from an abandoned warehouse grants them power to communicate without words. When they sneak inside, the dark, empty space bursts into a magical carnival. They’re greeted by the ghost of Leroy Usher, who asks for their help convincing his family to restore the carnival to its former glory. In return, he promises to teach the kids how to find their voices.
As Darby, Justin, and Naz are swept off on a series of midnight adventures via Mr. Usher’s carnival rides, they discover they’re capable of more than they ever imagined. With each challenge, their confidence in communicating – and in themselves – grows. Meanwhile, they scheme to persuade the Usher family to revive the carnival. But when Darby’s bunkmates trick her into starring in the camp talent show, her budding confidence falters. Can she risk being less than perfect by performing in the show and speaking up to Mr. Usher’s resistant son? If not, she’ll put the carnival in danger and sabotage her most important quest: to believe in herself, stutter and all.
A Neon Darknessby Lauren Shippen
Los Angeles, 2006. Eighteen-year-old Robert Gorham arrives in L.A. amid the desert heat and the soft buzz of neon. He came alone with one goal: he wants to see the ocean. And Robert always gets what he wants.
At a very young age, Robert discovered he had the unusual ability to make those close to him want whatever he wants. He wanted dessert instead of dinner? His mother served it. He wanted his Frisbee back? His father walked off the roof to bring it to him faster. He wanted to be alone? They both disappeared. Forever.
But things will be different in L.A. He meets a group of strange friends who could help him. Friends who can do things like produce flames without flint, conduct electricity with their hands, and see visions of the past. They call themselves Unusuals and finally, finally, Robert belongs.
When a tall figure, immune to their powers, discovers them, the first family that Robert has ever wanted is at risk of being destroyed. The only way to keep them all together is to get his powers under control.
But control is a sacrifice he might not be willing to make.
A Neon Darkness is the origin story of Damien and the second stand-alone story in the Bright Sessions Novels.
What Mothers Withold by Elizabeth Kropf
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
Summary: Jenny McLaine is an adult. Supposedly. At thirty-five she owns her own house, writes for a cool magazine and has hilarious friends just a message away.
But the thing is:
• She can’t actually afford her house since her criminally sexy ex-boyfriend Art left,
• her best friend Kelly is clearly trying to break up with her,
• she’s so frazzled trying to keep up with everything you can practically hear her nerves jangling,
• she spends all day online-stalking women with beautiful lives as her career goes down the drain.
And now her mother has appeared on her doorstep, unbidden, to save the day…
Is Jenny ready to grow up and save herself this time?
Deliciously candid and gloriously heartfelt, ADULTS is the story of one woman learning how to fall back in love with her life. It will remind you that when the world throws you a curve ball (or nine), it may take friendship, gin & tonics or even your mother to bring you back…
Thoughts: Thanks to scout press for the advanced copy of the book in exchange for my review.
The book starts off a bit slow and its just a woman’s daily life. Jenny is very immature and you can tell in the way she thinks and her actions. You also get a glimpse of how self-absorbed she is through her obsession with social media. Jenny wants her life to look a certain way to others and when she can no longer fake that ideal life, she starts breaking down.
It feels like your in her head with her and she’s a very nervous person so you feel all of her feelings. By giving you Jenny’s every thought with no filter, its as if you are there with her. This was something that I actually did enjoy. Reading through Jenny’s perspective made other characters stand out and I felt bad that they had to deal with her.
My favorite part of this book was the other characters that are introduced throughout. I love the way that Jenny paints each of the people in her life and how frustrated they all are with her. I like how they all try to please her but at one point they realize that she’s too much and she needs to grow up.
The way she treated others and the things she does and say really made me dislike Jenny as a character. She was very childish and way too self absorbed. I found that a lot of the things she did were just bothersome and her life was very mundane. The main reason as to why I didn’t like this book was because we got way too much of Jenny.
I think that people who enjoy reading books about social media, woman having mid life crisis, and books with no real plot would enjoy this book. You can get this book at Eso Won Books or look for it at your local library.
Goodreads Summary: Joshua Fields takes the same flights every week for work. His life is a series of departures and arrivals, hotels and airports. During yet another layover, Joshua meets Morgan, a beautiful stranger with whom he feels an immediate connection. When it’s time for their flights, Morgan gets up to leave, leans over and passionately kisses Joshua, lamenting that they’ll never see each other again.
As Morgan slips away, Joshua is left feeling confused by what just happened between them. That’s when he looks up and is shocked to see Morgan’s face flashing on a nearby TV screen. He’s even more shocked when he learns the reason why–Morgan is a missing person.
What follows is a whirlwind, fast-paced journey filled with lies, deceit, and secrets to discover the truth about why Morgan is on the run. But when he finally thinks every mystery is solved, another rears its head, and Joshua’s worst enemy may be his own assumptions about those around him…
Thoughts: This was another book that I followed along with the book while listening to on audio which I found was a great way to read this book. There were so many moving parts in this book that I found it great to pause the audio and re-read certain portions in the book.
Part One: In this section of the book you are introduced to all of the characters that are going to play a significant role in the search for this missing person. You get to meet Joshua, a guy in his mid twenties who typically keeps to himself and hates his life, Kimberly, a detective who is a single mother that works on missing people cases, and Morgan who has been claimed as a missing person. Joshua and Morgan meet at a random encounter at the airport and Joshua does something completely out of character and follows her onto her flight. It isn’t until later that he is concerned and obsesses over her case as he finds out that she has been reported as a missing person.
I like how the characters are introduced to you slowly and you get to see them interact with other people before they interact with each other. I like how you get to see Joshua interact with others and his thought process and how that differs drastically from the actions he takes with Morgan. I also really enjoy how you are hearing Morgan’s story through her interactions with Joshua and you can begin to guess why she has taken the actions that she has.
So far this book has just confused me and I am unsure of what is really going on. I am unsure if Morgan is a real person that Joshua is interacting with or if this is a figment of his imagination. Maybe Joshua creates Morgan so that his life is more interesting and everyone around him is just going along with him or ignoring his strange actions.
I really enjoy the parts that you learn more about Morgan and about why she is a missing person. I like the circumstances that lead to her actions and to her responses to Joshua. I think it is interesting to try and figure out what Joshua is thinking as he continues following the story of this woman.
Part two: In this section of the book another mystery is revealed and you start to find out that the mystery of Morgan being a missing person is a lot more complicated than you originally thought. This part makes the book really pick up and takes you through a roller coaster ride of feelings and thoughts.
I really enjoy the way things stack onto each other and how the mystery becomes more complicated before it gets anywhere near being solved. I love that you think that the book is almost done to only find out that you are just halfway through this book.
Part three: This portion of the book wraps up the story as everyone gets involved in the story of two missing people. I don’t want to put any spoilers so I won’t say how this ends. It does have a great closure and the story does come together quite well. I think they did a good job explaining the whole thing and I liked how characters explained their actions.
Overall: I like that the pace of this book is very slow and easy to follow along. The narrator was great to listen to and their voice was smooth and easy going. The way that characters were slowly introduced into the story was well done and smooth.
I like how each scene gets its own chapter and there is space to take each of these scenes in. I really enjoy how you can get through the chapters quickly and it makes you feel like you are reading this book quickly. I also like how it transitions smoothly between a chapter of Joshua and Morgan, Joshua on his own, and Kimberly.
I really like how the book goes back and forth between the story from Joshua’s perspective and Kimberly’s perspective. I like how you get to know not just their ties to the story of Morgan but also their lives beyond that. I really enjoy the moment that their two lives get wrapped up with each other because of the mystery. I liked how the two stories came together and the reasons why Kimberly was searching not just for Morgon but also for Joshua now.
You can get this book at Eso Won Books or look for it at your local library.
Goodreads Summary: With her acclaimed novels Harvest and Life Support, Tess Gerritsen has injected a powerful dose of adrenaline into the medical thriller. Now, in a new blockbuster, Gerritsen melds page-turning suspense with chilling realism as a small-town doctor races to unravel the roots of a violent outbreak — before it destroys everything she loves.
Lapped by he gentle waters of Locust Lake, the small resort town of Tranquility, Maine, seems like the perfect spot for Dr. Claire Elliot to shelter her adolescent son, Noah, from the distractions of the big city and the lingering memory of his father’s death. But with the first snap of winter comes shocking news that puts her practise on the line: a teenage boy under her care has committed an appalling act of violence. And as Claire and all of Tranquility soon discover, it is just the start of a chain of lethal outbursts among the town’s teenagers.
As the rash of disturbing behavior grows, Claire uncovers a horrifying secret: this is not the first time it has happened. Twice a century,the children of Tranquility lash out with deadly violence. Claire suspects that there is a biological cause for the epidemic, and she fears that the placid Locust Lake may conceal an insidious danger. As she races to save Tranquility — and her son — from harm, Claire discovers an even greater threat: a shocking conspiracy to manipulate nature, and turn innocents to slaughter
Thoughts: I asked my sister for a audiobook recommendation and she said to try one from Tess Gerritson if I was a fan of medical things. I decided why not give it a try and I’m so happy I did.
This is one of those books that keeps you on your toes and if I was reading it in physical form I’d have to hide it in the closet. Unfortunately the thriller part of the book only kept me entertained for the first portion of the book.
There came a point as I was listening to this book that I no longer cared to solve the mystery. Even when the solution was revealed I didnt really care for it. It all made sense but it just was a bit boring for my taste. I didnt care for the repetitiveness of some things that occurred. While I am glad to have read this book it just didn’t really meet my expectations.
I recommend this to those of you who enjoy market paperbacks and thrillers. You can get this at a Barnes and Noble or look for it at your local library.
Summary: In a Philadelphia neighborhood rocked by the opioid crisis, two once-inseparable sisters find themselves at odds. One, Kacey, lives on the streets in the vise of addiction. The other, Mickey, walks those same blocks on her police beat. They don’t speak anymore, but Mickey never stops worrying about her sibling.
Then Kacey disappears, suddenly, at the same time that a mysterious string of murders begins in Mickey’s district, and Mickey becomes dangerously obsessed with finding the culprit–and her sister–before it’s too late.
Alternating its present-day mystery with the story of the sisters’ childhood and adolescence, Long Bright River is at once heart-pounding and heart-wrenching: a gripping suspense novel that is also a moving story of sisters, addiction, and the formidable ties that persist between place, family, and fate.
Thoughts: I won this book in a giveaway by Riverhasd books and was a bit concerned I wouldn’t like it. The description on the back didn’t catch my attention but bookstagram was raving about it so I had to read it. I’m very glad that I did, there’s something about the writing style that I find beautiful.
I love how this story goes back and forth between then and now. It’s nice to watch as Kacey grows up and to see how she became the person she is now. Its interesting to see how people and events from her past impact her current life and I love seeing the mystery of Simon.
I like how the style of writing lends itself to the shorter chapters. The story flows well and the shorter chapters make you feel like the story is going quickly. While this is a longer book th re shoft chapters and the back and forth between then and now make it feel a lot shorter.
I really enjoyed getting to know each character throughout the novel even if it’s all through Kacey’s perspective. I think so much of the characters get vilanized through Kacey that its fascinating to watch as they each get introduced into the story.
The twists that occur throughout the book were unexpected and kept me interested. I loved the anticipation of what was going to happen next and trying to solve the mystery.
You can get this book at Barnes and Noble or look for it at your local library very soon. This book publishes on January 7th.