Book Review – Let’s Talk About Love – Claire Kann

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

Love was intangible. Universal. It was whatever someone wanted it to be and should be respected as such.

Claire Kann

Goodreads Synopsis

Alice had her whole summer planned. Non-stop all-you-can-eat buffets while marathoning her favorite TV shows (best friends totally included) with the smallest dash of adulting–working at the library to pay her share of the rent. The only thing missing from her perfect plan? Her girlfriend (who ended things when Alice confessed she’s asexual). Alice is done with dating–no thank you, do not pass go, stick a fork in her, done.

But then Alice meets Takumi and she can’t stop thinking about him or the rom com-grade romance feels she did not ask for (uncertainty, butterflies, and swoons, oh my!).

When her blissful summer takes an unexpected turn, and Takumi becomes her knight with a shiny library employee badge (close enough), Alice has to decide if she’s willing to risk their friendship for a love that might not be reciprocated—or understood.

Review

I’ve been having a hard time focusing on reading much of anything lately, so I gave myself the freedom to choose something that wasn’t on my TBR for this month. I wanted to read something fun and cute, and Let’s Talk About Love didn’t disappoint. I had such a fun time reading this rom-com and escaping from the world for a little bit.

What stood out most to me in this book was the characters. I thought Alice was code-orange cute! I was constantly rooting for her and her relationships with Takumi, her best friends, and her family. I was incredibly invested and HAD to know that everything was going to be okay for her. I also really liked Takumi. He is incredibly caring and thoughtful throughout the book.

I am neither black nor asexual, so I cannot speak for the accuracy of the representation, but it was refreshing to read a book that isn’t just your cookie-cutter white hetero romance. It is also important that Kann focuses on Alice’s friendships and her family dynamic as well. So many YA romances fall into the plot where the protagonist is all-consumed by their romantic relationships, and I don’t think it’s healthy for teens (or anyone really) to read or see that narrative over and over again. There are other things that are important in life contrary to what a ton of popular media primarily targeted to women would have you believe. This book can be important to pick up at any age, but I think it especially has a lot to offer for teens or young adults.

This book is not exclusively fluff and does bring up more serious topics. Not only is Alice discovering more about what being asexual and biromantic looks like for her, but she also mentions past microaggressions related to race. Seeing the intersectionality of being black and LGBTQIA+ is something else I think this book does well.

I bought this book on sale, and this Twitter thread will link you not only to places to purchase the book but also to a form to fill out when you do buy it so that Claire Kann can donate all royalties to National Bail Out. This is happening all month, so please check it out if you can!

Review: The Guest List by Lucy Foley

Hey guys! Welcome to my first official review!

Rating: 5 out of 5.

I’ve been talking about this book over on my Instagram and with anyone else who has read it (or is thinking about reading it) and it’s Lucy Foley’s The Guest List. This is the first book I read this month and I had such a great time with it. I got so caught up in the mystery and wanting to know what would ultimately happen. Let’s just say, I was not prepared nor did I expect what happens. 

To start, this book takes place on an island off the coast of Ireland. It’s not exactly a fun island getaway type of place – more like bogs and rain and creepy vibes all around. Jules and Will are set to have this incredibly fancy, perfect wedding but the weather is not cooperating and neither are the guests. Whether they might have lingering feelings for someone they’re not married to, boarding school secrets, or have too much on their plate to care about something as frivolous as a wedding, things aren’t running smoothly. As secrets and lies are revealed, someone turns up dead by the end of the night but who is it? And who did it? And why?

I love books that are told from multiple points of view. I think it is a great way for an author to reveal a lot of information and it makes the story go much quicker. I didn’t want to put it down! Another aspect of this book that adds to the intrigue is the way Foley plants little hints in every short chapter. You will know a little more every few pages. Sometimes mysteries or thrillers have a tendency to drag through the middle and you’ll go ages without learning much but The Guest List continues to drop crumbs until it needs to give us whole loaves of bread – and exciting loaves they were!

Foley is also great at giving the reader strong characters. Every single character added value to the story and that can sometimes be difficult when working with such a large ensemble. I have seen some reviews of people not enjoying this book because so many of the characters are unlikable. I agree. Will and his school friends are particularly gross but I think this works in Foley’s favor. You aren’t sure who to suspect and there are weird vibes all around because so many of the characters are unlikable. There are so many people you could imagine having a hand in the murder. In fact, thinking about possible scenarios is almost half the fun! You don’t even know who’s been killed until the end. Overall, this book is such a wild time.

I’ve just recently been getting back into the mystery/thriller genre (and reading for fun in general if I’m being honest) and this was a fantastic start to my mission to make time for a hobby I love. I am excited to be back ❤

CW: self-harm, mention of suicide

May 2020 TBR

I’m only a week or so late, but to be fair, I’ve been finishing my last semester of my Master’s program 🙂

My TBRs are usually made up entirely of backlogged books but since renewing my Book of the Month subscription and having so many Libby holds, I’ve changed up my process a bit. If I’m expecting a hold to come in, of course, that takes priority and I try to read my BOTM selections either in that month or the next. I only like to put four or five books on my list each month so I don’t feel bad when I don’t make it through everything on my list.

That being said, here are my five selections for this month:

My first three books are from BOTM.

My April BOTM pick is The Guest List by Lucy Foley. This is a thriller about a wealthy couple having their wedding on an island off the coast of Ireland. Everything is perfect except for the weather and the guests. When someone winds up dead, we are left to figure out both who is dead and who killed them.

I’ve already read this and I’ll post my thoughts on it a little later but the reason I chose this book is because I’m a sucker for a murder mystery. I like the uncertainty, the misdirection, and the creepy vibes. I recently read The Line That Held Us by David Joy and was in the mood for another thrilling read.

I chose Lock Every Door as my May BOTM add-on. This is another thriller but instead of a creepy island, this one takes place at the Bartholomew apartments in Manhattan. Our main character, Jules, has a job as an apartment sitter in this mysterious, high-profile building. But there are a lot of rules – don’t talk to the residents, don’t have any visitors, and don’t spend the night away from the apartment. When apartment sitters begin to go missing, Jules has to solve the mystery.


I chose this book for some of the same reasons that I chose The Guest List; I love thrillers, but I have also read and enjoyed Riley Sager before. I read Final Girls quite a while ago loved the writing and general plot. I also own The Last Time I Lied but haven’t got to it yet. I *probably* should read that one first but *shrug.*

My last BOTM pick is Kimberly McCreight’s A Good Marriage. This is a thriller (are we sensing a theme?) about Lizzie, a woman who works at a law firm. She gets a call from an old friend asking for help. He is in prison but has discovered that his wife is dead. Lizzie is left to determine what happened and slowly discovers that the marriage might not be as good as it seemed.

I’m excited to read this book because I don’t usually read a lot of legal thrillers. I think this might be a good way to branch out within the genre. We’ll see how it goes!

Lights All Night Long by Lydia Fitzpatrick is a literary fiction novel about a Russian boy, Ilya, who comes to Louisiana for a student exchange program. He is leaving behind a chaotic life; his brother has been arrested for murder and Ilya is not convinced he did it. Now Ilya must try to put the pieces together while living in another country.

I am reading this book with a group of friends so I’m not really sure what to expect. It still has mystery/thriller vibes though and is sure to fit well with the rest of my TBR this month. This is a debut novel for Fitzpatrick and I am excited to see where this book will take me.

The last book I have on my list for this month comes from my TBR envelope. It’s called The True Story of Hansel and Gretel and is a historical fiction retelling of Hansel and Gretel set in the final months of WW2. Two children are left behind by their father and stepmother; they must assume the names Hansel and Gretel to disguise their Jewish heritage. They eventually stumble upon the house of an old, eccentric woman who takes in the kids. She must protect them from a new German soldier who moves into the nearby village.

I really enjoy reading historical fiction from nearly any time period. I think this book will offer an interesting perspective because it is a Hansel and Gretel retelling. Paring the fairy tale backdrop with such a devastating time in history might make an interesting dynamic but I do see room for some issues. We will see!

So, that’s all I’m officially planning to read for this month.I’m hoping I can get through this and maybe pick a few more from my TBR envelope at the end. Let me know what you’re reading this month or if you’ve read any of these before!

Book Blog Newbie Tag

Hey guys,

I just wanted to make a post to really introduce myself and, you guessed it, I’m going to adapt the Booktube Newbie Tag for a blogging format! I am certainly not the first to do this. Recently, I read Kayppuccino’s newbie tag post on her blog. Also, through some not so in-depth investigation, I found Brenda C’s Booktube Newbie tag, and it seems like she’s the one who started it (If I’m wrong, you can kindly let me know. I want to make sure I’m giving credit where I can). 

Before I start answering the questions, I want to just say a bit about who I am. My name is Sam. I’m 28, and at the time of writing this, I am two tasks away from finishing my MA in English and will be teaching college English in the fall semester. Of course, I love reading, but I also love playing Nintendo, journaling, and walking outside. My partner and I have been together for over ten years and enjoy living relatively close to the beach.

So now for the tag questions. 

  1. Why did you start this blog?

I’ve been consuming more bookish content online as I approach the end of my graduate program. I really just needed a way to get back into reading for fun since so much of my time was spent reading for classes and having slight anxiety attached. I NEEDED to mark my text and be prepared to either write or talk about it in a week. That’s not to say that I didn’t enjoy the reading for my program; there was just a lot of pressure involved. 

Now that I’m done with school for the foreseeable future, I feel like I have the time to start getting more involved in this bookish community in a few different ways. I want to talk about books and create content, so I’ve started a bookstagram and started being more active on Twitter. Of course, starting this blog is part of this new desire to talk about books and be more involved with reading in a low-pressure way. 

  1. What are some fun and unique things you can bring to book blogging?

I own a ton of unread books. Most of them are here in my apartment, and I’m slowly bringing more from my mom’s house each time I get to visit. I’m talking an embarrassing number – like 200+. I acquired many of them either during my last two years of undergrad or during grad school when I didn’t really have time to read them. It might be fun to watch me try to REALLY chip away at that number in some creative ways (fun for me at least). 

I also missed the fantasy phase of my reading career, and I feel like I’m missing out. I’d like to try out some YA fantasy favorites and record that process. I basically know nothing about that world, but my interest is growing.

  1. What are you most excited for about this blog?

Making connections with other people! I’m honestly pretty shy when it comes to talking about things I like with people I don’t know really well, and so this might be a good step. I want to hear other people’s thoughts and opinions about books, get and give book recommendations, and even if no one wants to read what I have to say, I’ll enjoy having a place to record my reading journey. 

  1. Why do you love reading?

I love reading because it gives me a glimpse of an endless variety of experiences. Will I ever live in a house with ghosts? Nope. Will I ever be on a journey to be king of the pirates? Nah. Will I ever have a fancy wedding where someone gets murdered? I surely hope not. 

But I can read about it. It’s not that I feel like I’m being transported to another world, but I do get to see how that situation might play out, and that’s really fun!

  1. What series got you into reading?

I enjoyed learning to read a variety of Golden Books when I was growing up. Still, if we’re talking about an actual series, I’m going to have to be cliche and say Harry Potter, The Chronicles of Narnia, and A Series of Unfortunate Events. It’s funny because two of those are fantasy and I don’t really read fantasy now *shrug.* At my elementary school, many teachers would read a chapter of something after lunch each day. I was introduced to Narnia, ASOUE, and The Hobbit in this way.

  1. What questions would you ask your favorite authors?

Mostly, I just want to ask Ian McEwan why he went *that* route in his Hamlet retelling, Nutshell.  

  1. What challenges do you think starting a blog will be the hardest to overcome?

Hello, my name is Sam and I’m insecure about everything! 

But really, I just think like with any creative pursuit, not finding an audience is a big fear. A lot of this is for me, but I don’t think I’ll be motivated to keep this up as much if people aren’t reading/interacting with my work.

Consistency is another big thing for me. I’m better now at holding myself accountable for getting things done, but when I start teaching again or just get busy with other things, it will be more difficult for me to find time for things I enjoy, such as reading and blogging.

  1. When did you start reading?

I literally don’t remember when I didn’t have books in my life. My family read A LOT to me, and then once I learned, I was always reading. There were times when I was reading less because of college or depression or whatever, but I’ve always come back to reading eventually.

  1. Where do you read?

I mostly read on my couch these days, but sometimes, if I don’t feel well, I’ll read in bed. Ideally, I’d be outside somewhere in the sun reading, but my apartment’s deck is infested with wasps, so that’s not an option.

  1. What kind of books do you like to read?

I read a reasonably wide variety of genres, but I have been reading a ton of thrillers and historical fiction recently. I’ve also had more interest in manga and graphic novels lately. 

Anyway, that’s the last question. Thanks if you’ve read this far! You can check out links to my other socials on my “Contact” page and follow me here if you’re interested!