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

Reviews

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!

Book Review: Lock Every Door – Riley Sager

Reviews

Rating: 4 out of 5.

“Because here’s the thing about being poor—most people don’t understand it unless they’ve been there themselves. They don’t know what a fragile balancing act it is to stay afloat and that if, God forbid, you momentarily slip underwater, how hard it is to resurface.”

Lock Every Door is about a young woman named Jules, who is asked to apartment sit at Manhattan’s most luxurious and mysterious apartment buildings – The Bartholomew. She’s offered an incredibly tempting sum of money to just to follow a few simple rules – don’t talk to the residents, spend every night in the apartment, and no guests. When another apartment sitter goes missing, Jules must solve the mystery of the Bartholomew.

I went into this book a little nervous. I’ve read Sager’s Final Girls and enjoyed it, but I knew people were divided on Lock Every Door’s ending. It didn’t take me long to become intrigued by the characters and the Bartholomew. Jules’ habits that surfaced and were attributed to her growing up and not having much money really felt realistic and resonated with me. Additionally, Sager creates an atmosphere where things feel almost normal. Still, there’s definitely a buzzing of danger that remains in your ear the entire time you’re reading. There’s a dumbwaiter in Jules’ apartment that made me uneasy from the beginning.

There were a couple of things that kept this from being a five-star read for me. I think the relationship between Jules and Ingrid could have had a little more time to develop. I would have liked to see them interact another time or two before the major drama takes off. I also think there were some major red flags about the job given very early on. The fact that Jules didn’t even think twice about some of the interview questions either right away or as things started to unfold was a little strange to me.

As far as the ending goes, I thought it was brilliant. I really want to talk about my thoughts, but of course, I can’t do that without spoiling anything, so from here on, a spoiler alert is in place.

Spoilers ahead!

When Jules was doing research at the library and thought everything going on in the Bartholomew was related to a cult, I was incredibly turned off. I like reading about cults, but I don’t think there was enough in the previous chapters to set that up adequately. Thankfully the truth was revealed shortly after (did we really need the cult suggestion in the first place?). I mentioned Jules’ habits before, but I remember thinking early on when she was talking about buying groceries and her relationship with money that I was so glad Sager went there. It was really relatable, and sometimes people write characters that come from poor backgrounds, and it feels so out of touch. I read part of that early passage to my partner because I was glad to see a character that thought like me.

I thought that would be the end of the class commentary, but oh boy, was I wrong. Everyone in the Bartholomew felt so self-important and entitled that they just preyed on working-class people and harvested their organs. A thriller that tackles the rich exploiting the working class to maintain their livelihoods? Sign me up. I was reminded of Carnegie’s “The Gospel of Wealth” in that both texts have an underlying “money makes me better than you” tone. 
Overall, Lock Every Door provided the social commentary I desire and am thinking about so much during this pandemic (and always, if I’m being honest). Not to mention, it played on one of my previous huge fears – getting my organs harvested. 😅

May 2020 TBR

TBRs

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!