Category: Fiction

Review: Other People’s Houses

Other People’s Houses

There were drifts of clutter in every corner, like sticks and leaves in the edges and eddies of a stream. Half-finished craft activities. Library books that had become so overdue it would have been cheaper to buy them in the first place.

I had to put that quote in this review because it could have been written by me. And people everywhere, let’s be honest. Other People’s Houses by Abbi Waxman is not only thought-provoking, it’s hilarious. I laughed out loud multiple times throughout this book, which is rare for me with books. Smile? Yes. Smirk? Yes. Actually laughing out loud? Rare. This book did it for me. If you’re looking for a gossipy, straightforward story about friends, neighbors, and family, I would definitely suggest this book.

Frances Bloom is the ultimate mom. She runs the carpool, is a member of all the committees, knows whose projects are due on what days, and always has snacks. She is the most trusted woman on the block, and knows everyone’s secrets. When she walks in on a close friend making love to a man NOT her husband . . . on the kitchen floor . . . she has to decide whether to break the news to her husband or keep quiet. Her decisions, and the guilt her friend feels, will impact the entire neighborhood and make her question every moral she has.

When I started reading this book, I wasn’t sure I was going to like it. Waxman uses a lot of curse words, which I don’t have a problem with, but a lot of them seemed just thrown in and not what the characters would actually say. I still think it’s excessive, but I can ignore that for what is so good about this book. The story is about neighbors and family and how well we really don’t know each other, but it’s really about relationships and marriage and what happens to those out in the real world. The book got under my skin very quickly: the author unapologetically gets right at the heart of marriage and parenting in a humorous way. I laughed out loud and cried while reading this book, and that is rare for me. She has taken serious situations (infidelity, lackluster marriage, a child running away) and turned them just a bit to show not only the serious side but the humorous side of life. Because isn’t life like that? There are terrible and hilarious things about a lot of situations, and this book will make you laugh at them all.

Other People’s Houses gives a hilariously honest view of all different marital relationships, and if you’re married, with or without kids, I guarantee you’ll find something to relate to. It’s really a perfect summer read, and a wonderful option if you’re looking for something light that still has some literary heft to it.


Review: An American Marriage

An American Marriage

Thank you to NetGalley and Algonquin Books for the free digital review copy of this book. All opinions are my own!

Sometimes when you like where you end up, you don’t care how you got there.

Sometimes when there is a lot of hype surrounding a book, I put off reading it because I’m afraid it won’t live up to what everyone is saying. That’s what happened with An American Marriage by Tayari Jones. I put it off for awhile, and finally started listening to the audio version. And then I was mad at myself for waiting for so long to start it! I started with the audio (which is very, very good) and when my library hold on that ran out, I finished up reading the digital copy I had because I couldn’t stand to wait any longer to finish it. This book lives up to the hype and is truly an amazing book.

Celestial and Roy are newlyweds, just starting out on their journey. They’re both figuring out what they want out of life and starting out their careers. When Roy is falsely accused of a crime, he is sentenced to 12 years in prison. Celestial and Roy’s relationship changes unequivocally as a result of their time apart. When Roy is released after five years, nothing is the same for either of them, and they have to figure out how to make a life out of what they have left. The book alternates chapters between Roy, Celestial, and their good friend Andre telling the story of what happens through those years.

In my opinion, this is one of the best books written this year, although certainly not the most uplifting. And that’s ok. The relationship between Roy and Celestial is so very real, and Jones does not take lightly how people’s feelings for each other change over the years, especially during an exacerbating situation. The way they speak to each other, the way they interact with each other and each other’s families, and the way they behave as strong individuals rang so true to me, and I was heartbroken for the decisions they had to make. This story is about marriage, and what happens when you put a marriage through the ringer.

As much as this is about marriage, I can’t fail to mention that it is also about race and justice in America. The story lends itself to an honest discussion about being black in America and what that means, and how biased the justice system truly is. I think it’s an important topic, and this book is a great starting point for some of those difficult discussions.

An American Marriage lived up to the hype for me, and I’m so glad it did. I absolutely love books that really delve into personal relationships and how people react to hard situations. This book does that and more, and I guarantee it will make you wonder what you would do in the same situation if nothing else.



This book is very reminiscent of One True Loves by Taylor Jenkins Reid (Check out my review of that book HERE.), and I think they would make great companion reads.


Review: Prince in Disguise

Prince in Disguise

If you’re like me and can’t get enough of the royals (and yes, I’m setting my alarm super early on May 19th . . . but I’m also setting my DVR in case I sleep through it), you’ve been trying to read everything in that genre possible lately. Ever since The Royal We, I’ve been looking for a book that gives me the same feelings and is in a similar vein. I finally think I’ve found it in Stephanie Kate Strohm’s Prince in Disguise. It’s funny, charming, and just quirky enough to separate it from other YA romance novels.

Dylan is a Mississippi teen trying to live privately and quietly. Which is impossible to do when her big sister, Dusty, wins a reality show called Prince in Disguise and the entire family has to go to Scotland for the filming of the royal wedding. Dylan spends her days trying to hide from the cameras and keep some family secrets secret . . . and spend as much time as possible with Jamie, the cute groomsman who has an impressive knowledge of bookish quotes. If she’s not careful, the cameras will turn on Dylan and make her the center of attention.

This book is just what my heart and mind needed. A sweet YA romance with a little royalty thrown in and quirky, believable characters. While the plot is predictable, it’s predictable in a completely satisfying way, and the characters are so well written that I cared about what happened to all of them. This is such a fun book, and if you’re wanting to get in the mood for the royal wedding on May 19th, this book is the perfect way to do it!

Prince in Disguise has everything-great characters, a ridiculous reality show, impossible situations, and a cute romance. I wouldn’t change a thing about any of it (except maybe to see more of Florence, the royal mother in law, who is a force not to be trifled with), and I was a little sad when the book ended because I wanted the story to continue. I absolutely loved this cute book! It’s a YA romance that I think appeals to all ages.



Review: Ready Player One

Ready Player One

 . . . I’d come to see my rig for what it was: an elaborate contraption for deceiving my senses, to allow me to live in a world that didn’t exist. Each component of my rig was a bar in the cell where I had willingly imprisoned myself.

Imagine a world in which human interaction is minimal, the country is falling apart, and people would rather disappear into a digital world rather than live in the real world. Well, maybe this scenario isn’t as hard to visualize as it might have once been. Ernest Cline, the author of Ready Player One, imagined just such a world, in 2044, and as I read this book I kept thinking that Cline’s reality isn’t as farfetched as we might think. This is a really fun, interesting science fiction novel that I think anyone, even if you don’t usually read science fiction, will enjoy.

Wade Watts is a teenager living in the disastrous time of 2044. The country has fallen apart, people live in RVs and mobile homes piled on top of each other, known as stacks, and the only way to escape is in the virtual world known as the OASIS. In the OASIS, people are known by their avatars and made-names-you can be anyone you want to be. Kids go to school there, if you have money you can explore different virtual planets, and, most importantly, everyone can ignore the mess of the real world. When the founder of the OASIS (who was obsessed with 80s culture-this is extremely prominent throughout the entire book) dies, instead of leaving his fortune to someone, he announces through a video that he has devised a game full of puzzles and clues. Whoever solves all of the clues will win his fortune. And so begins the massive treasure hunt, with people who are willing to kill in real life to get that treasure. Wade, an OASIS expert, has to confront difficulties in both the virtual and real worlds to win the treasure . . . and avoid destruction.

This was published in 2011, and I think it’s even more relevant today. Don’t we all live in our cell phones, to varying degrees? I mean, there are apps to track our phone usage so we can try and cut down. We lose ourselves in the Pinterest-perfect worlds we find online and have to remind ourselves to come up for air. And that it’s not real. Cline explores what our world might look like if we took that obsession a bit further and really inserted ourselves into a virtual world, including the positive aspects and major pitfalls. As I said, this book is so much fun-the 80s nostalgia, sarcastic characters, fantastic virtual battles, and the enduring theme of good vs evil (and what actually IS good and evil) all make this book a great combination of sci fi, adventure, and surprisingly thought-provoking moments. The only problem I had was at the very end. I wanted . . . more. It’ll spoil the book to say anything else, but it’s such a small problem, and I’m glad I read it!

Ready Player One was a surprising read for me-I like sci fi but I avoided this one for awhile. I am so, so glad I finally picked it up! I raced through it, and if you like any type of adventure story I think you’ll like it too.




Review: The Wedding Date

The Wedding Date

I do, however, think this is just more evidence that I’ve been cursed when it comes to this wedding.

Sometimes I want to read a big book that makes me think. Sometimes I want to read a fast-paced adventure that makes my heart race. Sometimes I want to read something happy that just makes me smile. The Wedding Date by Jasmine Guillory is one of those books. I don’t read a lot of romance novels, but this one had some things in it that are different from the usual, so I decided to give it a try. It wasn’t my favorite book, but I think there are some good reasons to read it.

Alexa Monroe is on the way to see her sister in her hotel room when the elevator gets stuck. With a very cute boy in it with her. Drew Nichols is getting ready to go a wedding. The wedding of his ex-girlfriend and best friend. Oh, and he’s a groomsman. When he laments that he doesn’t have a date to this disaster of a situation, Alexa agrees to go with him. From then on, they are inseparable. They hit it off, to say the least. After the wedding, Drew flies back to Los Angeles and his job as a pediatric surgeon, and Alexa goes back to Berkley and her job as the mayor’s chief of staff. They can’t stop thinking about each other, and each one has to confront their own feelings to figure out if they’re in lust or true love.

This is a really cute book, and I think it would make a good movie. It is obviously predictable, but I don’t think this is the kind of book anyone goes into for a surprise ending. It’s well written, the pace is fast, and the characters are likable. It is also very different from most romance novels in a few important ways. The plot itself falls in line with most romances, but the details are significant. Drew is a white, good-looking doctor who is incredibly thoughtful. But Alexa. Oh, Alexa. She is African American, short, curvy, and loves to eat. I LOVE HER. Guillory manages to write about the important topics of powerful working women, body positivity, and interracial relationships in a light manner. None of it gets too heavy, but she makes her point very clearly. Drew loves Alexa’s body, and while she is uncomfortable around tall, skinny girls sometimes, she doesn’t let that stop her from eating, and she never speaks about her body negatively. That is so important, and I really appreciate the author writing a book like this.

That being said, while I did like the main characters, I really wanted more from them. To be frank, all they did was have sex for most of the book, and when they finally started getting to know in each other in the small, less sexy moments of life, it was only briefly mentioned in a few throwaway lines. I would have loved to see more character development in those moments.

The Wedding Date is a nice palate-cleansing novel after having read a few heavier books, and a good choice if you want to try romance but don’t usually like this genre. I wanted it to be better, but it’s different enough that I’m glad I read it.