Posted in Reviews

Review: Dava Shastri’s Last Day by Kirthana Ramisetti

Dava Shastri’s Last Day by Kirthana Ramisetti

Recommended: yes!
For a look at fame and legacy, for some play on gender norm flipping, for characters who go from unlikable to at least understandable, for a really interesting effect in the storytelling style

Summary

Dava Shastri, one of the world’s wealthiest women, has always lived with her sterling reputation in mind. A brain cancer diagnosis at the age of seventy, however, changes everything, as she decides to take her death—like all matters of her life—into her own hands.

Summoning her four adult children to her private island, she discloses shocking news: in addition to having a terminal illness, she has arranged for the news of her death to break early, so she can read her obituaries.

As someone who dedicated her life to the arts and the empowerment of women, Dava expects to read articles lauding her philanthropic work. Instead, her “death” reveals two devastating secrets, truths she thought she had buried forever. And now the whole world knows, including her children.

In the time she has left, Dava must come to terms with the decisions that have led to this moment—and make peace with those closest to her before it’s too late.

Thoughts

I’m not sure what I expected but it wasn’t this. What a pleasant discovery. I started off disliking every character, from Dava herself down to her grandchildren. As I saw into the minds and motivations of each of them, my understanding and sympathy grew. While I might still not be friends with all of these people, I no longer harboured my disdain for them.

I loved the way the past happened in this book. That might sound strange, but let me explain. There weren’t such clear moments of “that was then, this is now,” but at no time was it confusing. Dava is slipping between memories and her current experience so often as she deteriorates that we just slip along with her naturally. The feeling was akin to that of when you let your mind wander and end up recalling something you haven’t thought of in many years. All parts of the story were interesting and compelling, so I never resented moving from one moment to another.

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Posted in Release Day!

Just Published: The School for Good Mothers by Jessamine Chan!

Hey y’all! Just a reminder that The School for Good Mothers by Jessamine Chan published today! Check out the full review here or grab a copy of your own!

Recommended: sure
For a slow character study, for a creepily realistic look at how things can suddenly yet subtly cross the line, for a book that’s like the opposite of The Farm

Summary

Frida Liu is struggling. She doesn’t have a career worthy of her Chinese immigrant parents’ sacrifices. She can’t persuade her husband, Gust, to give up his wellness-obsessed younger mistress. Only with Harriet, their cherubic daughter, does Frida finally attain the perfection expected of her. Harriet may be all she has, but she is just enough.

Until Frida has a very bad day.

The state has its eyes on mothers like Frida. The ones who check their phones, letting their children get injured on the playground; who let their children walk home alone. Because of one moment of poor judgment, a host of government officials will now determine if Frida is a candidate for a Big Brother-like institution that measures the success or failure of a mother’s devotion.

Faced with the possibility of losing Harriet, Frida must prove that a bad mother can be redeemed. That she can learn to be good.

Posted in Fast-Forward Friday

Fast Forward Friday: Dava Shastri’s Last Day (11/30)

Hey y’all! In contrast to Throwback Thursday, I like to use Fridays to look forward to an upcoming release that I’m excited about! Today’s is Dava Shastri’s Last Day by Kirthana Ramisetti.
Expected Release: November 30, 2021

Why wait on this one?

  • Secrets and drama are like tiny mysteries to me. So of course I want to know what exactly Dava Shastri has done in her life to have come back to haunt her, especially as she was quite a generous and encouraging person by (most) accounts!
  • I expect this to be at least a little bit funny. How could it not be, when the whole premise is that this super rich, super philanthropic woman is faking her death ahead of her prognosis in order to bask in what the world has to say about her? Now add the twist that what they have to say is…. not exactly what she had hoped… and I think that will lead to point #3
  • In a situation like this, it’s inevitable that there will be a ton of character growth. Sure, Dava might be seventy, and sure, she might be dying of brain cancer. But she can still learn and grow, dammit!

Summary

Dava Shastri, one of the world’s wealthiest women, has always lived with her sterling reputation in mind. A brain cancer diagnosis at the age of seventy, however, changes everything, as she decides to take her death—like all matters of her life—into her own hands.

Summoning her four adult children to her private island, she discloses shocking news: in addition to having a terminal illness, she has arranged for the news of her death to break early, so she can read her obituaries.

As someone who dedicated her life to the arts and the empowerment of women, Dava expects to read articles lauding her philanthropic work. Instead, her “death” reveals two devastating secrets, truths she thought she had buried forever.

And now the whole world knows, including her children.

In the time she has left, Dava must come to terms with the decisions that have led to this moment—and make peace with those closest to her before it’s too late.
 
Compassionately written and chock-full of humor and heart, this powerful novel examines public versus private legacy, the complexities of love, and the never-ending joys—and frustrations—of family.

Posted in Reviews

Review: How Lucky by Will Leitch

How Lucky by Will Leitch – Expected Publication: May 11, 2021
Verdict: eh, not for me but I’m confident others will really love this

Recommended: sure, for other people
For folks curious about life with SMA as a wheelchair-user, for a light mystery heavy on character introspection, for small laughs about dark things

Summary

Daniel leads a rich life in the university town of Athens, Georgia.  He’s got a couple close friends, a steady paycheck working for a regional airline, and of course, for a few glorious days each Fall, college football tailgates. He considers himself to be a mostly lucky guy—despite the fact that he’s suffered from a debilitating disease since he was a small child, one that has left him unable to speak or to move without a wheelchair. 

Largely confined to his home, Daniel spends the hours he’s not online communicating with irate air travelers observing his neighborhood from his front porch. One young woman passes by so frequently that spotting her out the window has almost become part of his daily routine. Until the day he’s almost sure he sees her being kidnapped. 

Thoughts:

I can’t really believe I’m rating this as “just ok” but that is indeed what’s happening. I can’t really pinpoint what missed for me with this book. Objectively I can look at it’s components and think it would probably be good, but ultimately I just wasn’t that into it. Reading it wasn’t a chore, but I guess I just never really connected with the characters nor the plot.

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Posted in Reviews

Review: Brunch and Other Obligations by Suzanne Nugent

Brunch and Other Obligations by Suzanne Nugent – ⭐⭐⭐⭐

Recommended: sure
For a slow start and hot finish, for a book about people, for explorations of connections and community, for enemies-to-friends kind of relationships :). It’s also seriously quotable. So many good lines!

Read for SRC2020!

Summary:
The only thing reclusive bookworm Nora, high-powered attorney Christina, and supermom-in-training Leanne ever had in common was their best friend, Molly. When Molly dies, she leaves mysterious gifts and cryptic notes for each of her grieving best friends, along with one final request: that these three mismatched frenemies have brunch together every month for a year. Filled with heartwrenching scenes and witty prose, Brunch and Other Obligations explores the intricate dynamics of girlhood acquaintances who are forced to reconnect as women. This upbeat novel reminds readers that there’s hope for getting through the hard times in life―with a lot of patience, humor, and a standing brunch date.

Thoughts:
To be honest, when I first started this book I was surprised by how rigid the characters seemed. Each was defined by a very specific characteristic that felt exaggerated and as though it was their whole identity. But as it continued, they were given more characteristics even if they were still a bit pigeonholed into their original cliche. But I ended the book with a smile and a tear in my eye, which is always a solid way to end.

Continue reading “Review: Brunch and Other Obligations by Suzanne Nugent”
Posted in Release Day!

Just Published: Big Lies in a Small Town by Diane Chamberlain!

Reminder that Big Lies in a Small Town by Diane Chamberlain (⭐⭐⭐⭐) released today! Check out the review here, and find a Barnes & Noble to pick up a copy!

Recommended: yup!
For fans of dual narrative, for fans of social-intrigue kind of mysteries, for a well-done blend of then-and-now story-lines that weave together. Must be able to suspend disbelief for one serious plot hole, and be aware the romance is weakly developed.

Then-and-now cover

Summary:
2018: Morgan Christopher is delivered a bizarre twist of fate when she’s offered an escape from her wrongful prison sentence. With her incomplete art degree, she must restore an old mural with a tight timeline. As she rushes to uncover the mural, she learns of the artist’s descent into madness.

1940: Anna Dale desperately accepts the job states away from her own hometown. With prejudices and secrets thriving under the glamour of Southern charm, more lines are crossed than just the Mason-Dixon. This mural will steal her peace, and possibly her life.

Posted in Reviews

The Handmaid’s Tale: The Graphic Novel by Renée Nault

The Handmaid’s Tale: The Graphic Novel by Renée Nault – ⭐⭐⭐⭐
Interesting, but mostly made me feel like I need to read the full novel to get now if the details that feel like they’d make the story have more impact. The creep factor of the control of the world was toned down by the shortened adaptation, but enhanced by the visuals that really hit you in the face with how WEIRD the situations were.

Recommended: For people who have already read the original
For a shorter adaptation with effective art that will enhance an already developed story for those who know it

Summary:
Offred is a Handmaid in the Republic of Gilead, where women are prohibited from holding jobs, reading, and forming friendships. She serves in the household of the Commander and his wife, and under the new social order she has only one purpose: once a month, she must lie on her back and pray that the Commander makes her pregnant, because in an age of declining births, Offred and the other Handmaids are valued only if they are fertile. But Offred remembers the years before Gilead, when she was an independent woman who had a job, a family, and a name of her own. Now, her memories and her will to survive are acts of rebellion.

Thoughts:
My overall impression is that I wasn’t able to get the details I would need about the world and the characters to truly appreciate this. In part due to the nature of a graphic novel, where text is limited, I felt like some of the reasoning of why these things had happened, how our MC got to be where she was, and so on, felt undeveloped. I know that’s partly intentional in the story itself, but it felt a little hollow from here.

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Posted in Reviews

The Farm by Joanne Ramos

The Farm by Joanne Ramos – ⭐⭐⭐⭐

Recommended: sure
For a 1984-ish, The Handmaid’s Tale-ish kind of story, for a read that will make you bounce back and forth between whether something is right or wrong until you’re tangled up in knots, for complex evaluations on ways of living and which is better (indignant pride and striving for what you deserve, or gratitude for everything that you have no matter how meager it may seem to others)

They’re pregnant bellies!

Summary:
Golden Oaks caters to women who need or want a surrogate for their pregnancy – provided they can pay the exorbitant price. In a facility with every amenity, secretively selected women can sign on to be monitored and controlled through their 9 months of pregnancy. The promise of Golden Oaks to its clients is to deliver a perfect baby, given every advantage starting from pre-conception; its promise to its Hosts is a pile of money, more than most could dream of. Jane, an immigrant from the Philippines and a struggling single mother, is thrilled to make it through the highly competitive Host selection process at the Farm. But now pregnant, fragile, consumed with worry for her own young daughter’s well-being, Jane grows desperate to reconnect with her life outside. Yet she cannot leave the Farm or she will lose the life-changing fee she’ll receive on delivery—or worse.

Thoughts:
The surface story within this didn’t compel me as much as the struggle to figure out who was correct in their view of Golden Oaks and their services. I don’t think I ever came up with a clear answer, but it made me consider some important questions and challenge some of my own beliefs, so that in itself made me keep reading.

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Posted in Reviews

Big Lies in a Small Town by Diane Chamberlain

Big Lies in a Small Town by Diane Chamberlain – ⭐⭐⭐⭐
Release Date: January 14, 2020

A+ mystery, F romance, and one huge plot hole that I’m willing to ignore because the rest was so good.

Recommended: yup!
For fans of dual narrative, for fans of social-intrigue kind of mysteries, for a well-done blend of then-and-now storylines that weave together. Must be able to suspend disbelief for one serious plot hole, and be aware the romance is weakly developed.

Then-and-now cover

Summary:
2018: Morgan Christopher is delivered a bizarre twist of fate when she’s offered an escape from her wrongful prison sentence. With her incomplete art degree, she must restore an old mural with a tight timeline. As she rushes to uncover the mural, she learns of the artist’s descent into madness.

1940: Anna Dale desperately accepts the job states away from her own hometown. With prejudices and secrets thriving under the glamour of Southern charm, more lines are crossed than just the Mason-Dixon. This mural will steal her peace, and possibly her life.

Thoughts:
The feeling of doom that hung over this was critical in its success. You don’t know what happened to Anna, but you have a feeling the answer is nothing good. Without that foreknowledge of her insanity, the first half of this book would read as though nothing was really happening. For some, that may still be the case, but trust me: once you’re about halfway, events start happening quite quickly and with significant urgency.

Continue reading “Big Lies in a Small Town by Diane Chamberlain”
Posted in Reviews

Manga Classics: Macbeth by Crystal S. Chan

Manga Classics: Macbeth by Crystal S. Chan – 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟

Let me put it this way: I got a free digital copy for review, and it was so good that before I’d even finished it I had bought the print version to finish it on. 😍😍😍 Just brought so much depth to the story, even I caught some new details! Absolutely loved this adaptation!

Recommended: Yes!!
For teachers looking for ways to make Macbeth clearer for students while still using the original language, for those who love a badass graphic novel, for an interesting and faithful illustrated interpretation of Macbeth.

All good things come with this cover ♥

Summary:
Welcome to the Manga Classics’ brilliant adaptation of Macbeth! In this dark tale by William Shakespeare, a brave Scottish general named Macbeth receives a prophecy from a trio of witches that one day he will become King of Scotland. Consumed by ambition and spurred to action by his wife, Macbeth murders King Duncan and takes the Scottish throne for himself. He is then wracked with guilt and paranoia. This manga adaptation brings a modern look to the classic language with the full original text alongside 300+ pages of stunning art.

Thoughts:
As an avid reader and someone who majored in English and English Education in college, I’ve read Macbeth a good number of times. I even did a thesis on it and created a website around it at one point! I have some pretty solid theories around the 3rd murderer and Hecate’s role in everything. And yet, despite my familiarity, there were still details I had never fully understood before that the manga version of Macbeth revealed to me.

Continue reading “Manga Classics: Macbeth by Crystal S. Chan”