Book Reviews, Bookworm Blogging

Girl, Woman, Other [review]

Girl, Woman, Other by Bernardine Evaristo
Published by Black Cat/Grove Atlantic on November 5, 2019
my rating: ★★★★
Goodreads avg:
4.43 (as of 2020-04-28)
Spoiler-free review

Goodreads IndieBound | Author Website

The twelve central characters of this multi-voiced novel lead vastly different lives: Amma is a newly acclaimed playwright whose work often explores her Black lesbian identity; her old friend Shirley is a teacher, jaded after decades of work in London’s funding-deprived schools; Carole, one of Shirley’s former students, is a successful investment banker; Carole’s mother Bummi works as a cleaner and worries about her daughter’s lack of rootedness despite her obvious achievements. From a nonbinary social media influencer to a 93-year-old woman living on a farm in Northern England, these unforgettable characters also intersect in shared aspects of their identities, from age to race to sexuality to class.

Sparklingly witty and filled with emotion, centering voices we often see othered, and written in an innovative fast-moving form that borrows technique from poetry, Girl, Woman, Other is a polyphonic and richly textured social novel that shows a side of Britain we rarely see, one that reminds us of all that connects us to our neighbors, even in times when we are encouraged to be split apart.


this was a really lovely exploration of black individuals in the UK. 11 of the characters followed are women and one is a non-binary person who uses they/them pronouns. it was really refreshing to read about such a variety of people; many of these characters are queer, and some are even non-monogamous. the term polyamory is also explicitly used! it was really lovely to see these kinds of relationships normalized.

Amma experienced commitment to one person as imprisonment, she hadn’t left home for a life of freedom and adventure to end up chained to another person’s desires

this is essentially a series of overlapping short stories, each focused on an individual character. these characters are all interconnected, in ways that become increasingly clear as the book moves forward. there was one real WOW moment at the end that got me right in the gut. i was impressed at how well Evaristo layered these stories and built such a rich, real story.

she wishes her mother was alive to enjoy her new life she me now, Mama, see me now

my only complaint is really that the breadth of characters makes it difficult to follow. by the time a character was mentioned again, i would sometimes forget them or important information about them. i also found the first half of the book a little difficult to connect with. it was highly readable, but not extraordinary compelling. luckily, that changed in the second half, which i read in one day, unable to put the book down.

sadly, there wasn’t a sapphic bone in her body

i think this is a really important book and i’m glad it’s gotten so much recognition! i’ll definitely be recommending it to others. additionally, feel free to link me any ownvoices reviews to share, as i may be queer and polyamorous, but i am also white and american and can only review through that lens.


My current 2020 Women’s Prize Squad Longlist rankings:

  1. The Body Lies
  2. Girl, Woman, Other
  3. My Dark Vanessa

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Movie Reviews, Not Books

Letterboxd Gems II

Hi everyone! I decided to try a new thing here: every so often I’ll post particularly funny or entertaining Letterboxd reviews from movies I’ve seen recently. If you’ve never heard of Letterboxd, it’s like Goodreads but for movies (feel free to add me if you’d like!) and there are plenty of interesting reviews. I’ll usually sift through them after seeing a film, which is how I got the idea to share them! A lot of these reviews will have spoilers, so feel free to skip through only to films you’ve already seen if you’d like to avoid being spoiled.


Coherence

Note to self: Do not make plans with anyone during celestial events

Letterboxed user russman

i understand that you’re supposed to be confused but half of the white people in this movie looking the same doesn’t really help either

letterboxd user lauren

???!!!!?????!?!?!?!?!?!????!?!!??!?!!?!?!!!!!!!!!!?!?!?!?!?!???

Letterboxd user Eli Hayes

Knives Out

a really great who donut film

letterboxd user sree

no one has ever had as much fun as daniel craig was having during the filming of this movie

letterboxd user ellie

i related to harlan thrombey on a spiritual level because ana de armas could murder me and i’d still give her instructions to create a false alibi so that she could get away with it

letterboxd user Roberto

We Need to Talk About Kevin

oh man they REALLY should’ve talked about kevin

letterboxd user fiona

as soon as this movie was over i made an appointment for tubal ligation

letterboxd user Lulu

i love this movie and tilda swinton and ezra miller in his near crop tops but most of all i love my barren uterus

letterboxd user fiona

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Bookworm Blogging, Readathons, TBRs

The 2020 Women’s Prize Squad Longlist

Last year I made an effort to read the entire Women’s Prize longlist, along with some friends. I ended up reading 10 of the 14 longlisted books and had a blast doing it! We’ve kept up our Women’s Prize Squad group chat and have added some members as the year has passed. This year I decided not to read the longlist along with the group (they kindly kept me in the chat, ha!), as I’ve been working through grad school and (my real reason) had little-to-no interest in the books longlisted. I chose well, as most everyone has found it a struggle to read through the longlist. Since we felt our thoughts on the best books of the year were not aligned with those of the judges, we thought why not make our own longlist!

Without further ado, I present to you the 2020 Women’s Prize Squad Longlist! Using a draft, each of us chose 2 books to come up with the 16 book longlist. We used the Women’s Prize rules so that our list would be somewhat comparable and plan to vote on both a shortlist and a winner. I’ll run through the list here and give you all my thoughts. I am planning on reading all of the books (ideally before we vote) and have already knocked out one since we made the list on Saturday (I’m writing this on Monday)! I’ll hopefully also be making a wrap-up post once I’ve finished most or all of these.

My full list with no commentary is here (and you can find my ratings and reviews there as they’re updated). Fellow Women’s Prize Squad members are (in no particular order):

Posts by the rest of the squad:

Books I’ve Already Read

These were both 5-star reads for me, which bodes well for the rest of the list (I hope!). My Dark Vanessa by Kate Elizabeth Russell was one of my most anticipated releases of 2020 and did not disappoint and The Body Lies by Jo Baker blew me away in January and will definitely be one of my favorite books of the year.

Already on my TBR

  • Ninth House by Leigh Bardugo. I really liked the SoC duology and already had a copy of this out from the library!
  • Girl, Woman, Other by Bernardine Evaristo. I already have a copy of this since it was the one WP book I wanted to read (give me the polyam rep!!) and tried it last month while on vacation. I couldn’t focus enough to get through it so I put it on pause, but plan to pick it up again soon!
  • The Mercies by Kiran Millwood Hargrave. Inspired by real events?? Queer?? Witch trials?? Sign me tf up.
  • Ducks, Newburyport by Lucy Ellman. Emily has been stanning this since she read it for the Booker prize (you’ll never guess whose pick this was) and I have been intending to read it but am… intimidated. Understandably. Still tentatively looking forward to it!
  • Disappearing Earth by Julia Phillips. Another book I put on my TBR because of Emily, I’m looking forward to this one as well.
  • Bunny by Mona Awad. I love dark New England books!
  • My Name is Monster by Katie Hale. Added this to my TBR because of Molly Elizabeth Marcelle’s review; I think I’ll either love it or hate it. Hopefully love it!
  • Call Down the Hawk by Maggie Stiefvater. Another book I put down during a slump with the intention of picking up again. Hopefully now is the time!
  • Frankissstein by Jeanette Winterson. I love Jeaneatte Winterson. The formatting of my eARC made this absolutely impossible to read and I wasn’t sure whether I’d give it another try, but… guess I will!

On My Radar

  • The Man Who Saw Everything by Deborah Levy. Most of my friends loved this, but I wasn’t sure it was my cup of tea. Guess I’ll find out!
  • The Fire Starters by Jan Carson. I’m not particularly into Irish lit, unlike someone I know, but I’m up to giving this a shot.
  • Actress by Anne Enright. This feels fairly well-liked by the WP Squad, so I’m okay with giving this a shot as well!

New to Me

Book Reviews, Bookworm Blogging

My Dark Vanessa [review]

My Dark Vanessa by Kate Elizabeth Russell
Published by William Morrow on March 10, 2020
my rating: ★★★★★
Goodreads avg:
4.15 (as of 2020-04-20)
Spoiler-free review

Goodreads IndieBound | Author Website

Alternating between Vanessa’s present and her past, My Dark Vanessa juxtaposes memory and trauma with the breathless excitement of a teenage girl discovering the power her own body can wield. Thought-provoking and impossible to put down, this is a masterful portrayal of troubled adolescence and its repercussions that raises vital questions about agency, consent, complicity, and victimhood. Written with the haunting intimacy of The Girls and the creeping intensity of RoomMy Dark Vanessa is an era-defining novel that brilliantly captures and reflects the shifting cultural mores transforming our relationships and society itself.


Wow. So, I read this almost entirely in one sitting and was absolutely blown away by it. Yet another book that tackles the intricacies of abuse and how things aren’t always black & white. While as a reader it is easy to condemn Strane and even to see where Vanessa went “wrong,” the novel also delves into the impact of grooming and how it can impact one’s thought processes for life. It faces head-on the idea of agency in young women and why some people may opt to see themselves as something other than a victim. This is unbelievably compelling and unbelievably important and in lieu of a full review (that would just be me gushing), I’ll leave you with some of the lines that struck me most while reading this.

It’s important that you never feel coerced. That’s the only way I’ll be able to live with myself.

“Haven’t you always felt like an outsider, a misfit?” he asks. “I’ll bet for as long as you can remember, you were called mature for your age. Weren’t you?” I think back to third grade, how it felt to bring home a report card with a teacher’s note scribbled on the bottom: Vanessa is very advanced, seems like she’s eight years old going on thirty. I’m not sure I was ever really a kid at all.

Slowly guided into the fire–why is everyone so scared to admit how good that can feel? To be groomed is to be loved and handled like a precious, delicate thing.

Because if it isn’t a love story, then what is it?


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Book Reviews, Bookworm Blogging

Laura Dean Keeps Breaking Up with Me [review]

Laura Dean Keeps Breaking Up with Me by Mariko Tamaki & Rosemary Valero-O’Connell
Published by First Second on May 7, 2019
my rating: ★★★★★
Goodreads avg:
4.13 (as of 2020-04-18)
Spoiler-free review

Goodreads IndieBound 


This was an amazing graphic novel that absolutely blew me away. Similar to but lighter than In the Dream House, this does an incredible job at demonstrating that queer relationships can also be toxic and abusive, which is imperative for lgbtq youth to be aware of. I really loved Freddy’s character and her friend group, which felt so real and relatable. I just wish we had seen some more of her friends! Laura Dean clearly has no idea what she’s doing wrong, which I think is unfortunately often the way of some abusers. The art itself is absolutely stunning and I was blown away by it from the start. This is a really incredible book that I’ll absolutely be trying to get others to read.


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Book Reviews, Bookworm Blogging

Rafe [review]

Rafe: A Buff Male Nanny (Loose Ends #1) by Rebekah Weatherspoon
Published on September 26, 2018
my rating: ★★.5
Goodreads avg:
3.81 (as of 2020-04-15)
Spoiler-free review

Goodreads IndieBound | Author Website


the heroine is absolutely great: a black woman who is a successful surgeon! the hero is great too: a tall, tattooed guy who loves kids! there is plenty of extremely nontoxic masculinity to be found and it’s really refreshing. the characters were also communicative adults who talked about their feelings and what they wanted! unfortunately, this book lacked a lot of what i look for in romance novels. namely, chemistry! i felt absolutely no chemistry between Rafe and Sloan, which meant i wasn’t super motivated with my reading. there also felt like there was a lot of filler that i found myself skimming over. the ending was so abrupt that i was taken aback by it. annnd a few places that could have used a bit more editing (but it’s really not too bad).

i’ll probably be recommending this book to others, but with the caveat that it’s not the best i’ve read.


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Book Reviews, Bookworm Blogging

The Dare [review]

The Dare by Lauren Landish
Published January 31, 2020
my rating: ★★★
Goodreads avg:
3.93 (as of 2020-04-15)
Spoiler-free review

Goodreads | Author Website


this started off SO fun and i thought it would be 4-5 stars for me. i tore through the first 2/3 in one sitting. unfortunately, it turned into family drama and i got so bored that it took me days to get around to finishing it. not to mention the fact that everything going on was so far-fetched — which i wouldn’t have even minded if i was still having a good time reading it. also, the MC gets so slut-shamey about another woman and i hated that! i’d probably still recommend this, but it’s not going to be a favorite.


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Book Reviews, Bookworm Blogging

Wrong [review]

Wrong (Wrong #1) by Jana Aston
Published by Rutherford Press on October 7, 2015
my rating: ★★★★
Goodreads avg:
3.92 (as of 2020-04-15)
Spoiler-free review

Goodreads |Author Website


there are a lot of… problematic elements to this, but if those don’t bother you then it’s a good read! super steamy, well-written, and the MC’s friends were a blast. i’d read the second book in the series but i think it’s a side relationship from this book that i had a loooot of issues with that i can’t personally overlook (namely, stalking! but haha don’t worry it’s cute). i’d read other works by Jana Aston, though!


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Bookworm Blogging, Monthly Wrap-Ups

March 2020 Wrap-Up

Hi everyone! Between work, school, and the current pandemic, I have been getting little-to-no reading done. The little reading I did do was primarily when I was on vacation (just before things got crazy). I’ve been posting some much shorter reviews over on GR, I’ll link to them individually below. I’m very lucky in that I am able to work from home, so even though things are extremely stressful, I’m thankful to have a secure job. I’m sending love to all of you and have been pretty active on Twitter (link in sidebar) if any of you would like to connect there. ❤

Books Read:

  • Face Off by PJ Trebelhorn. 2.5 stars, review.
  • Disappearance at Devil’s Rock by Paul Tremblay. 3.5 stars, review.
  • 3 by Hannah Moskowitz. 4 stars, review.

Books read: 3 books
Average rating: 3.33 stars

Other Media:

  • Movies:
  • TV Shows:
    • The Outsider, Season 1 Eps 1-2.
    • The Bachelor, Season 24 Eps 10-12
    • Rick & Morty, Season 1 Eps 5-6
    • Love is Blind, Season 1 Ep 11.
    • CSI: Crime Scene Investigation, Season 1 Eps 1-2.
    • The Great British Baking Show, Season 3 Eps 8-10, Season 4 Ep 1.
  • Video Games:
    • SO much Stardew Valley ❤ DM me on Twitter if we’re mutuals and you’d like to add me on Steam and/or Switch (I don’t have ACNH, sorry!)

Notable Posts by Others:

  • I have not really been blog hopping either, unfortunately 😦

My Month in Photos:

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Book Reviews, Bookworm Blogging

Disappearance at Devil’s Rock [review]

Disappearance at Devil’s Rock by Paul Tremblay
Published by William Morrow on March 14, 2017 (originally 2016)
my rating: ★★★.5
Goodreads avg:
3.58 (as of 2020-03-15)
Spoiler-free review

Goodreads IndieBound | Author Website

A family is shaken to its core after the mysterious disappearance of a teenage boy in this eerie tale, a blend of literary fiction, psychological suspense, and supernatural horror from the author of A Head Full of Ghosts.


Elizabeth sends her a list of groceries. As she types milk 1% and diet soda and 1 lb turkey and cheese and bread she wonders how it was she got here, to this particular moment; calmly texting an ordinary grocery list seconds after shutting off a national cable news show discussing the evils of her missing son.

This took me a bit to get into but ended up being quite thrilling. There were some very spooky bits and the “twist” (I suppose it could be called) was so disturbing it actually made me nauseous and I had to put down the book for a bit. This is an interesting combination of horror and thriller, and it’s hard to figure out which the book really is, so I’d classify it as both. I didn’t feel any of the characters besides Elizabeth were particularly compelling, but I did find the plot interesting and am glad I read it.


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