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 Reviews

Review: This Is How You Vagina: All About Your Vajayjay and Why You Probably Shouldn’t Call It That by Nicole E. Williams

This Is How You Vagina: All About Your Vajayjay and Why You Probably Shouldn’t Call It That by Nicole E. Williams

Recommended: yes!
1. For people with vaginas
2. For people without vaginas (just be careful not to get too jealous)

Summary

In This Is How You Vagina, Dr. Nicole Williams presents readers with a much-needed education on the history, science, and attitudes of the most fascinating and misunderstood part of the female anatomy: the vagina. She covers valuable information about sexual function, childbirth, and physiology and provides answers to her patients’ (and probably your) most asked questions. She matter-of-factly dispels the most common myths and misinformation concerning female genitalia, including—

• No, your vagina doesn’t need steaming 
• Those panty liners are unnecessary—your vagina needs to breathe
• It’s actually perfectly normal for your vagina to have an odor—consider it your personal brand

This book is an easy-to-understand guide, complete with illustrations, for women to explore and understand their vaginas in a way they never have before. You will learn what’s normal and what’s not, including that, yes, yours is most certainly normal too.

This is How You Vagina is essential reading for anyone who is looking to better understand the form and function of this most majestic and fascinating organ.

Thoughts

Disclaimer: this is the weirdest review I’ve probably ever written. I’m also not sure it’s a review. Enjoy..?

I was excited to read this book because I know basically zero things about my vagina. How is it shaped? How does it WORK? How can I get it to feel great? What do I do when it feels terrible? And because I’m always a reader first, I of course sought out a book. Just call me Hermione.

I now have some answers to those questions, and damn if I don’t feel so great about that. I’m so happy to finally understand my body better! My current state and my future state! I’ve had SO many questions about menopause and was like, well it’s a while off I guess I’ll deal with it then. And yet, if I take care of myself now, I can make that transition a hell of a lot easier on myself. Basically I need to keep having lots of sex. Thanks Doc. 😏

Continue reading “Review: This Is How You Vagina: All About Your Vajayjay and Why You Probably Shouldn’t Call It That by Nicole E. Williams”

“Do you know how rife with toxic masculinity the phrase man up is?” I challenged, mirroring her pose. “It implies that to be courageous is to be a man.”

“Do you know how annoying it is when you change the subject?” Her tone was smug.

“I’m just saying, we don’t need to insert men into every aspect of our language.”

“Okay, ovary up. Fallopian forward. Vulva with a vengeance.”

How to Fail at Flirting by Denise Williams

Fallopian Forward

Posted in Reviews

ARC Review: Reasons for Avoiding Friends by Megan Leavell (9/14)

Reasons for Avoiding Friends by Megan Leavell
Verdict: fine for a diversion, nothing that blew me away on it’s own
Expected Release Date: September 14, 2021

Recommended: Sure
For a quick contemporary read, for a female-friendship story, for a look at alcoholism and falling into patterns even when they don’t make you happy and how to break out of it

Summary

Growing up, Gwen and Iris were the best of friends, even if they couldn’t have been more different. Now Gwen is living her hometown dream, or so she reminds herself while juggling endless parenting drama, an unemployed husband, and a neighborhood pyramid scheme. Never mind that at age thirty-nine, her social circle still resembles middle school. Her life is everything she ever wanted it to be, but nothing like she had planned.

Iris was never destined for the ordinary. When she moved to Manhattan, she shed her old life for a better one—but not without a cost. From a distance, Iris’s life couldn’t be more charmed, but no one knows about the cracks in the image she’s worked so hard to cultivate. No one knows the real Iris at all. Except for Gwen. But Iris and Gwen haven’t spoken for years. Until…

When Iris’s past catches up with her, she turns to the one person she could always count on—but she isn’t the only one keeping secrets, and as Gwen scrambles to preserve an illusion of domestic bliss, she finds herself wondering when they went from telling each other everything to sharing nothing. Now, a little wiser, and most certainly a little older, Gwen and Iris discover that the truest of friends accept you just as you are, and that loving yourself is sometimes the best way to find happiness.

Thoughts:

I went for this book because I had been reading a lot of heavy topics and depressing novels, and I wanted a bit of a break. I more or less got it with this, but it did have more serious issues than I expected. One of the main characters is DEFINITELY an alcoholic, and it’s painful to watch the many terrible decisions she makes. And somehow never admits or recognizes. DAMN, GIRL. It’s really not a whole lot easier to watch the other MC live in her sad rut of a life without galvanizing to do anything about it.

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Posted in Reviews

ARC Review: Half Sick of Shadows by Laura Sebastian

Half Sick of Shadows by Laura Sebastian
Expected Release Date: July 6, 2021

Recommended: yep
For a delve into Arthurian legend from the side of Elaine the seer, for a form-shifting read that excels at mirroring the readers’ experience with the characters’, for a dark yet hopeful spin

Summary

Everyone knows the legend. Of Arthur, destined to be a king. Of the beautiful Guinevere, who will betray him with his most loyal knight, Lancelot. Of the bitter sorceress, Morgana, who will turn against them all. But Elaine alone carries the burden of knowing what is to come–for Elaine of Shalott is cursed to see the future.

On the mystical isle of Avalon, Elaine runs free and learns of the ancient prophecies surrounding her and her friends–countless possibilities, almost all of them tragic.

When their future comes to claim them, Elaine, Guinevere, Lancelot, and Morgana accompany Arthur to take his throne in stifling Camelot, where magic is outlawed, the rules of society chain them, and enemies are everywhere. Yet the most dangerous threats may come from within their own circle.

As visions are fulfilled and an inevitable fate closes in, Elaine must decide how far she will go to change fate–and what she is willing to sacrifice along the way.

Thoughts

The first thing I’ll say is that I have NO IDEA who Elaine is outside of this story. I have no other context to compare her to, so I really can’t speak to that aspect of the experience. If you’re familiar with the lore already from other media, I have no idea how this might align with the way it’s been told elsewhere. That said, I think the way it was told here was quite compelling.

My absolute favorite aspect of this book (besides the plot itself) is the way my experience reading it mirrored Elaine’s experience as a seer so well. Past, present, and future all blend together with timeline and perspective shifting often, and not always with clear delineations. If this might drive you crazy, then be forewarned, but I promise it enhanced the book, not detracted. Elaine’s glimpses of the future bleed in to every action of the present and affect her memories of the past. How can you act on love when you literally KNOW it will lead to heartbreak of the most dire kind?

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Posted in Reviews

Review: To the Bright Edge of the World by Eowyn Ivey

To the Bright Edge of the World by Eowyn Ivey
Verdict: wow.

Recommended: yes indeed

For an exploration of Alaskan wilderness, for a story that feels real and immediate, for a journey with so many others that ties you into a larger part of history, for a fabulous example of how multimedia can create a powerful effect

Summary

The cover is as entrancing as the contents

Colonel Allen Forrester receives the commission of a lifetime when he is charged to navigate Alaska’s hitherto impassable Wolverine River, with only a small group of men. The Wolverine is the key to opening up Alaska and its huge reserves of gold to the outside world, but previous attempts have ended in tragedy.

For Forrester, the decision to accept this mission is even more difficult, as he is only recently married to Sophie, the wife he had perhaps never expected to find. Sophie is pregnant with their first child, and does not relish the prospect of a year in a military barracks while her husband embarks upon the journey of a lifetime. She has genuine cause to worry about her pregnancy, and it is with deep uncertainty about what their future holds that she and her husband part.

Thoughts

I bought a used copy of this book, because I like stories that have the stories of people on them as well as in them. The well-creased spine of my new-old copy made me think I had chosen well in this particular story, and I was not disappointed.

I was first surprised at how heavy the book is, physically. Despite it’s average length and being a paperback copy, it was significantly heavier than other books of similar style and size that I had. Now that I’ve finished the book, that feels strangely appropriate. I’m still in that world enough to feel that maybe the man who flies on black wings has something to do with it.

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Posted in Fast-Forward Friday

Fast Forward Friday: The Prison Healer, 4/13/21

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 The Prison Healer by Lynette Noni.
Expected Release: April 13, 2021

Why wait on this one?

  • A woman taking on some kind of to-the-death competition is pretty much the easiest way to get me to read a book. Add in the facts that they’re elemental based trials, there’s a prison involved, PLUS some kind of foreign-royal-rebellion-rescue mystery involved? Well, there’s pretty much no way I’m not reading this.
  • This sounds like it’s going to have strong Throne of Glass vibes, and that series was a game changer for me. I think this book has the potential to be really unoriginal and disappointing, BUT I also think that if it’s done well, it will be really really good. I hold out hope for the latter. ^.^
  • Creative challenges are fun to read about. I can’t wait to see what madness she has to face for a fire trial, or how her healing skills will inevitably come in handy somehow. There’s also just so much mystery packed into the blurb that I ALREADY am dying to know: who is this queen? Who is KIVA, really??

Summary

Seventeen-year-old Kiva Meridan has spent the last ten years fighting for survival in the notorious death prison, Zalindov, working as the prison healer.

When the Rebel Queen is captured, Kiva is charged with keeping the terminally ill woman alive long enough for her to undergo the Trial by Ordeal: a series of elemental challenges against the torments of air, fire, water, and earth, assigned to only the most dangerous of criminals.

Then a coded message from Kiva’s family arrives, containing a single order: “Don’t let her die. We are coming.” Aware that the Trials will kill the sickly queen, Kiva risks her own life to volunteer in her place. If she succeeds, both she and the queen will be granted their freedom.

But no one has ever survived.

With an incurable plague sweeping Zalindov, a mysterious new inmate fighting for Kiva’s heart, and a prison rebellion brewing, Kiva can’t escape the terrible feeling that her trials have only just begun.

Posted in Reviews

Review: The Gilded Ones by Namina Forna

The Gilded Ones by Namina Forna
Verdict: eh… underwhelming

Recommended: not really

If you read the blurb and are REALLY into it, give it a go. If you’re interested but not ravenous, probably don’t bother. Stay away if you want the dark moments to make you shiver, and stay away if you want characters who feel like people. Give it a shot if what you want is to learn about the world they live in.

Summary

Sixteen-year-old Deka lives in fear and anticipation of the blood ceremony that will determine whether she will become a member of her village. Already different from everyone else because of her unnatural intuition, Deka prays for red blood so she can finally feel like she belongs.

But on the day of the ceremony, her blood runs gold, the color of impurity–and Deka knows she will face a consequence worse than death.

Then a mysterious woman comes to her with a choice: stay in the village and submit to her fate, or leave to fight for the emperor in an army of girls just like her. They are called alaki–near-immortals with rare gifts. And they are the only ones who can stop the empire’s greatest threat.

Knowing the dangers that lie ahead yet yearning for acceptance, Deka decides to leave the only life she’s ever known. But as she journeys to the capital to train for the biggest battle of her life, she will discover that the great walled city holds many surprises. Nothing and no one are quite what they seem to be–not even Deka herself.

Thoughts

Ehh. I mean, it wasn’t bad. But it just never really sucked me in. I read the story with a bit of detachment the whole way. The ending picked it up a bit, but I probably won’t continue the series. Honestly it doesn’t feel like I need to. The end had a few interesting revelations, but ultimately it didn’t finish on a concrete “WHAT NOW” kind of moment. It didn’t keep me hooked and desperate for the next one.

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