Tag: ARC Review

Book Review: Happy Go Lucky

The cover’s a lil creepy

Happy-Go-Lucky by David Sedaris

If you’re already a fan of David Sedaris then you know the drill with his books. He writes short story-type anecdotes that are any mix of hilarious, serious, allegorical, questionable, ridiculous, self-righteous, or tear-jerking. Happy Go Lucky is no different but now we get David’s take on the pandemic, his elderly father, political upheavals, and personal enlightenments as he goes through serious changes in his life.

Review

I found that this book hit different than other Sedaris reads. At least one story missed its mark and just didn’t do it for me. It ended up much sadder and darker than his usual work, which felt necessary given the situation that led to his introspection but changed the feeling we’re usually left with after finishing one of his books. I kind of get the sad/creepy clown on the cover now (though I’d still love to know the context of this photo).

If this is going to be your first David Sedaris work, then I highly recommend picking up a different one. Happy-Go-Lucky should come after growing with David through his other works. Overall, as a long-time reader I appreciated the honesty throughout and generally enjoyed the ride.

Thank you to the publisher Little, Brown, and Company for providing an eARC in exchange for my honest review.

Check out Happy-Go-Lucky on Bookshop.org!

 

ARC Review: Bad Fruit

Pub Date: 23 Aug 2022

Description

    Just graduated from high school and waiting to start college at Oxford, Lily lives under the scrutiny of her volatile Singaporean mother, May, and is unable to find kinship with her elusive British father, Charlie. When May suspects that Charlie is having an affair, there’s only one thing that calms May down: a glass of perfectly spoiled orange juice served by Lily, who must always taste it first to make sure it’s just right.

    As her mother becomes increasingly unhinged, Lily starts to have flashbacks that she knows aren’t her own. Over a sweltering London summer, all semblance of civility and propriety is lost, as Lily begins to unravel the harrowing history that has always cast a shadow on her mother. The horrifying secrets she uncovers will shake her family to its core, culminating in a shattering revelation that will finally set Lily free.

Review

Bad Fruit hit some really powerful chords. While I found this book in the “Thriller” section, it wasn’t exactly the type of thriller I’ve become familiar with. There was no boogie man murderer with a knife lurking around corners but something much deeper–a damning undertone that swelled throughout the story, something you knew was coming but couldn’t put your finger on. The family dynamic in this book is wrought with a palpable tension from the very beginning, and as we come to find, even further back than that. The author writes well, gripping you in a story you feel you have no business witnessing. Her ability to handle such extreme topics with grace is highly commendable and I’d love to read any future works by her.

Highly recommend if you enjoy dark family dramas and psychological works.

Big thank you to the publisher Astra Publishing House for providing an eARC for review!

Pre-Order Bad Fruit on Bookshop

Graphic Novel Review: Wash Day Diaries

By Jamila Rowser and Robyn Smith

Pub Date: 5 July 2022

Description

From writer Jamila Rowser and artist Robyn Smith comes a captivating graphic novel love letter to the beauty and endurance of Black women, their friendships, and their hair.

Wash Day Diaries tells the story of four best friends—Kim, Tanisha, Davene, and Cookie—through five connected short story comics that follow these young women through the ups and downs of their daily lives in the Bronx. The book takes its title from the wash day experience shared by Black women everywhere of setting aside all plans and responsibilities for a full day of washing, conditioning, and nourishing their hair. Each short story uses hair routines as a window into these four characters’ everyday lives and how they care for each other.

Jamila Rowser and Robyn Smith originally kickstarted their critically acclaimed, award-winning slice of life mini comic, Wash Day, inspired by Rowser’s own wash day ritual and their shared desire to see more comics featuring the daily lived experiences of young Black women. Wash Day Diaries includes an updated, full color version of this original comic—which follows Kim, a 26-year-old woman living in the Bronx—as the book’s first chapter and expands into a graphic novel with short stories about these vibrant and relatable new characters.

In expanding the story of Kim and her friends, the authors pay tribute to Black sisterhood through portraits of shared, yet deeply personal experiences of Black hair care. From self-care to spilling the tea at an hours-long salon appointment to healing family rifts, the stories are brought to life through beautifully drawn characters and different color palettes reflecting the mood in each story.

At times touching, quiet, triumphant, and laugh out loud funny, the stories of Wash Day Diaries pay a loving tribute to Black joy and the resilience of Black women.

Review

The worst thing about this book was that it ended! This slice of life graphic novel hit the absolute spot for indulgence: gorgeous artwork with moody colors, cute outfits and apartments, and cool-ass women you wanna be friends with. I loved how the creators showcased the steps in each girl’s hair routine with such detail: you get to follow the twist and turns of hair, the application of products, and every routine is as unique as their personalities.

I wanted more though. Not in a bad way but ugh, it was too short! More of these characters and their stories, more of this style of easy, relatable writing. Just MORE! It felt like there was a lot left unsaid and much more going on that we need to be a part of. Here’s hoping we get a whole series of these girls because I feel sad I was only a part of their lives for the one hour I read this.

Thank you to the publisher Chronicle Books for providing an eARC of this graphic novel for review!

🧼🧼🧼🧼/5 soaps!

ARC Review: 12 Notes

Pub Date: 5 April 2022

⭐⭐⭐⭐.5/5

12 Notes: On Creativity and Life by Quincy Jones

Wisdom and musings on creativity and life from one of the world’s most beloved musicians, producers, and mentors, Quincy Jones

12 Notes is a self-development guide that will affirm that creativity is a calling that can and should be answered, no matter your age or experience. Drawing from his own life, and those of his many creative collaborators past and present, Quincy Jones presents readers with lessons that are hardworking and accessible, yet speak to the passion of self-expression. He includes sections as deep as how to transform grief into power, and as practical as how to set goals and articulate intentions through daily affirmations. Weaving his story throughout, Jones lets readers in on his own creative process, as well as the importance of letting honesty, hard work, and good relationships drive your career.

Review

Quincy Jones is a monumental figure in the music world, and being the music lover I am I jumped at the opportunity to read this. First of all, The Weeknd’s foreword was like a red carpet being rolled out for royalty and felt like the perfect introduction. It made me excited for what came ahead. But what I loved most about this work was that it wasn’t a memoir or biography, and every story had a reason, a moral or lesson to be learned. Jones is writing this book at the age of 88 and the wisdom he has to impart comes from years of experience on the road, in the studio, and through the trying times of the civil rights era.

Not only has he worked with greats like Michael Jackson and Ray Charles, but Quincy Jones earned countless awards, many times as the first African American to do so. Despite the many doubters to his career, Q came out on top and writes this book from a place of power. His passion beams through the pages and you can’t help but take that with you after the last page has turned. It was a concise read, every word spoken with purpose, and I truly enjoyed it. Highly recommend for music lovers and creatives who speak from their soul.

Thank you to the publisher ABRAMS for providing a copy of review via Netgalley.

Find 12 Notes: On Creativity and Life on Bookshop.org

Graphic Novel Review: Alice in Kyoto Forest, Vol. 1

🐇🐇🐇/5 white rabbits

Description

After being orphaned at a young age, Alice lives with her aunt and abusive uncle. At 15 she finds her ticket to freedom: heading back to her hometown of Kyoto to train as a maiko and eventually becoming a geisha. Kyoto is nothing like she remembers and it soon begins to feel like she’s in a completely different world.

Review

An interesting take on the classic Alice in Wonderland, this wasn’t quite what I expected. I understand that the character was supposed to be confused so that created some confusion for the reader as well but it was kinda clunky and I felt like that could’ve been done better.

Her two companion creatures, the rabbit and frog, were cute until one of them starts making perverted remarks which was just unsettling. Other than that, the circumstances of the mysterious boy from another time was absolutely captivating and really snagged me to wanna read the next issue.

Thank you to TokyoPop for providing a copy for review.

Find Alice in Kyoto Forest, Vol. 1 on Bookshop.org

ARC Review: This Place of Wonder

More like This Place of Procrastination

⭐⭐⭐/5

This Place of Wonder by Barbara O’Neal

Description via the Publisher

When famed chef Augustus Beauvais dies, he leaves behind a celebrated reputation—and four women grappling with loss, anger, pain, and the question of how the world will turn without him…

Meadow, the ex-wife with whom Augustus built an empire—and a family—still holds a place for him in her heart, even as she continues to struggle with his infidelities, which ended their twenty-year marriage. More unforgiving is Maya, his estranged daughter, who’s recently out of rehab but finally ready to reclaim her life. Norah, his latest girlfriend, sidelined her own career for unexpected love and a life of luxury, both of which are now gone with Augustus. And then there’s Rory, Meadow’s daughter, the voice of calm and reason in a chorus of discontent.

As Meadow, Maya, Norah, and Rory are flung together by tragedy, grief, and secrets yet to be revealed, they must accept—or turn away from—the legacy of great intentions and bad decisions Augustus left them. And when the circumstances around his death are called into question, their conflicted feelings become even more complicated. But moving forward is the only choice they have, and to do so, they’ll need to rely on family, friendship, and inner strength.

Set on the stunning, rugged California coastline, This Place of Wonder is an emotional, lush, and empowering story of four women finding their way in a changed world—and what a wondrous journey it will be.

Review

Wow, I really wanted to love this book. In 2020 I read my first Barbara O’Neal book When We Believed in Mermaids and absolutely adored the twisting adventure of two sisters; the lush ocean scenery and mysterious characters; even the side romance was pleasant (and romance is not really my thing). I’d been craving to be taken there again, into that sweet oceanic unknown O’Neal created. So when I saw this book I jumped at the opportunity to read it. But it just fell short for me.

Thanks to the multiple character POVs there were a lot of inner thought ramblings that carried on forever and felt unnecessary, as well as repeated information between one character and the next. The characters all had sad backstories (which was supposed to endear them to us) but for some reason they never felt like real people. Since every voice sounded similar, I wasn’t able to hear each character’s voice. I just saw an author in her house freewriting as the thoughts occurred, eating up page count. It didn’t get interesting until about 60% and by that time it felt like it could have benefited from some heavy editing.

The characters had sad backstories (which was supposed to endear them to us) but they never felt like real people to me. Meadow’s story presents itself as uber *mysterious*, something that I should have felt desperate to know, but since the characters weren’t tangible it was difficult to care. There was very little to no action for the entire length of the novel, the inner thoughts just rambled on and on, but in the end I guess the pay off was worth it. The entire read just didn’t sweep me away how I’d hoped and that was a big let down. If it were whittled down to half the length then perhaps it would have shined brighter, but this one missed the mark.

2.5 stars rounded up to 3 for readability. The author does write beautifully and if you don’t mind sinking into a lethargic story about grief then this one could just be the one for you.

Thank you to the publisher for providing a copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.

ARC Review: Misrule

Pretty covers are my weakness

Misrule: Book 2 of Malice Duology by Heather Walter

Click here for link to Part 1 Malice Review

Pub Date: 10 May 2022

Thank you to the publisher Random House- Ballantine, Del Rey for providing an eARC of this book for review!

Description via the Publisher

Does true love break curses or begin them? The dark sorceress of “Sleeping Beauty” reclaims her story in this sequel to Malice.

The Dark Grace is dead.

Feared and despised for the sinister power in her veins, Alyce wreaks her revenge on the kingdom that made her an outcast. Once a realm of decadence and beauty, Briar is now wholly Alyce’s wicked domain. And no one will escape the consequences of her wrath. Not even the one person who holds her heart.

Princess Aurora saw through Alyce’s thorny facade, earning a love that promised the dawn of a new age. But it is a love that came with a heavy price: Aurora now sleeps under a curse that even Alyce’s vast power cannot seem to break. And the dream of the world they would have built together is nothing but ash.

Alyce vows to do anything to wake the woman she loves, even if it means turning into the monster Briar believes her to be. But could Aurora love the villain Alyce has become?

Or is true love only for fairy tales?

Review

Fantasy/Sci-Fi isn’t usually my thing but I do make an exception for fairy tale retellings! Getting back into the magical world of Briar was easy as a dip in a summer pool. Storyline aside, the author creates a world full of splendor and magic that isn’t too confusing in its rules. The addition of quirky kingdom characters like the goblins provided a fun, much needed comic relief. I enjoyed seeing Alyce fully embracing her dark powers because let’s be honest, it’s fun to root for the bad guys/girls sometimes.

However this time around Alyce had much more character dimension and thus, flaws that made her feel like a real human. This confused me a bit because she’s not a human? But I guess that’s all part of the fantasy aspect. She had a lot of self-doubt and would do certain things that made her a pretty unlikable character in this book for me, but in the end her character journey was well worth it. All in all, this was a great read that I breezed through and I recommend the Malice Duology for anyone who loves dark fairy tales, complicated love stories, and fantastical worlds.

I received a free copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Find Malice and Misrule on Bookshop.org!