The Beautiful Novel of Mina Lee

The Last Story of Mina Lee by Nancy Jooyoun Kim

This book was a beautiful read! Nancy Jooyoun Kim crafted a gorgeous story about family, loss, language, and tragedy. I loved the dual timelines that told the story of Mina Lee and her daughter, Margot. With differences in culture, understanding, and desires, this mother-daughter relationship is complex but realistic, and I felt empathy for both characters. The book shares the immigrant experience in a vulnerable, often brutal way, while honoring the stories of each character. As her debut novel, Ms. Kim has set the bar high and I can’t wait to read more from her.

Broken: A (Funny) Tale of Mental Illness

Book Review: Broken (in the best possible way) by Jenny Lawson

Jenny Lawson writes with honesty, vulnerability, and power. She brings truth to the page as she explains what it’s like to be in the dark hole of depression and anxiety while you lose shards of your soul. She brings levity to the story as she shares her wild experiences at the dentist, in Puerto Rico, and in her backyard. Her love of taxidermy — including Allie McGraw the alligator and Daenerys Targaryen the prairie dog/squirrel — as well as her late night Twitter sessions and her insistence that her missing phone is in the floorboards (really in her pocket) are just a few of the laugh-out-loud instances from Broken.

But it’s so much more than that. Jenny is helping to end the stigma of mental illness. She is open about her dark days and shares what of feels like to walk into the light — to be unsettled when you have good days because you’re not sure when the dark will come again. There’s a reason I used up nearly all my sticky tabs and almost an entire highlighter while reading this book. Because it’s that good. And because it’s that real.

Finlay Donovan: Murderess for Hire

Book Review: Finlay Donovan is Killing It by Elle Cosimano

If you’re looking for a wild romp of a novel that puts a woman who’s life is falling apart against her ex-husband’s fiancé, then Finlay Donovan is Killing It should be your next read.

This book was funny and fresh with a touch of murder-for-hire thrown in. Finlay is a nuanced protagonist who makes a lot of bad decisions but remains plucky and endearing at the same time. I enjoyed this one at lot more than anticipated, so it was a pleasantly surprising read. My only complaint was I wanted more backstory for Vero, Finlay’s nanny /accountant / accomplice. I’m looking forward to reading the sequel – Finlay Donovan Knocks Em Dead – when it drops in February 2022.

The Final Revival of Opal & Nev

Book Review: The Final Revival of Opal & Nev by Dawnie Walton

I know there have been comparisons to Daisy Jones & the Six, but The Final Revival of Opal & Nev by Dawnie Walton goes so far beyond the story of a journalism-style review of a 1970s rock group. This book, oh my goodness.

Walton addresses racism and bigotry in the U.S., weaving a story that shows that we really haven’t done that far since the 1970s.

She illustrates how women’s voices – especially those voices of BIPOC women – were silenced then and now.

She brings together music and fashion to demonstrate how art can take so many forms for so many people.

The Final Revival of Opal & Nev that spans 40 years but is timely for this day. I highly recommend it!

The Death of Vivek Oji

Book Review: The Death of Vivek Oji by Akwaeke Emezi

The Death of Vivek Oji by Akwaeke Emezi is a beautiful novel about love, loss, and finding your true self. Set in Nigeria, the story focuses on Vivek, his life and mysterious death, and his family, especially his cousin Osita. While alive, Vivek struggles to express both his personhood and his love for others. While his mother, Kavita, and father, Chika, want Vivek to fit the mold of a young Nigerian man, that is not his destiny. The story takes us back and forth in time to weave together Vivek’s life with those around him.

I really enjoyed this book. It’s heartbreaking and the characters show a deep sense of vulnerability, which made them feel even more real. Akwaeke Emezi is a wonderful writer.

The Social Media Scaries: People Like Her

Book Review: People Like Her by Ellery Lloyd

People Like Her is promoted as “a razor-sharp, wickedly smart suspense debut,” and I wholeheartedly agree with that assessment. This book is a cautionary tale about social media, motherhood, and appearances not being what they seem. Told from three points of view, the story is fast-paced and nuanced. We get an inside look at the world of Instamums, their hangers-on, and what happens behind the little squares of our favorite social platform.

What interested me the most was the relationship between Emmy and Dan, the power couple of the story. They love each other, but also they want to pay their bills and achieve greatness. As their priorities conflict, their husband-and-wife relationship becomes more convoluted, ending in a climax that shocks you.

A solid 4⭐️ read that left me thinking about the power of social media

A Court of Silver Flames

Book Review (No Spoilers)

A Court of Silver Flames by Sarah J Maas

I know, I know. A Court of Silver Flames has probably been all over social media since its release in February. But there’s a reason for that.

This book is freaking good, y’all.

Like any Sarah J Maas fan, I could not wait to get my hands on this book. I even bought the Kindle version because I couldn’t wait for my delayed hard copy any more. Ms. Maas took the Prythian world to the next level with her novel of Nesta and Cassian. With new mythology, new creatures, and new heat, this book is jam-packed with a great story, fierce action, and all the things the Maasdom has come to expect.

But she went even further here. In taking us back to the Night Court and sharing Nesta and Cassian with us, Ms. Maas managed to build a fantasy that also addresses mental health, self worth, and the Me Too movement. The struggles and desire for empowerment may be cloaked in Fae magic here, but they’re relatable to us humans as well.

A 5⭐️ read with an added 🔥 for heat

Pop Stars and Broken Dreams

The Unraveling of Cassidy Holmes by Elissa R Sloan

An aspiring solo artist

A girl group that needs a fourth

Teenage girls with too much money, fame, and freedom

What could possibly go wrong?

We find out in The Unraveling of Cassidy Holmes. I’ve wanted to read this book since it’s 2020 release, and while I’m glad I finally read it, it left me slightly underwhelmed.

This book should have brought up all the emotions for me. Failed friendships, body image issues, mental health struggles, toxic relationships, and the Me Too movement all play significant roles in this book. Told in dual timelines of the girl group Gloss’s rise to fame and the death of Cassidy “Sassy Gloss” Holmes more than 10 years later, this book is packed with so much. But, that’s what keeps me from giving it 5⭐️s. It was just too much. If maybe one or two of the subplots weren’t included, I would have enjoyed it more. However, Ms. Sloan handled sensitive issues with care and Grace.

A 4⭐️ read for me.

You Should Read The Four Winds

The Four Winds by Kristin Hannah

I start any book by Kristin Hannah with the expectation that she’s going to devastate my emotions with her characters and plot lines. And, with that in mind, The Four Winds did not disappoint!

I could feel the despair and heartache that these characters experienced in the Dust Bowl of 1930s Texas and in the neverending circle of poverty when Elsa, our heroine, moves her children to California in search of a better life. From the touching relationships between Elsa, her in-laws, her children, and her friends, and the emotive descriptions of the landscape during the Great Depression, Ms. Hannah has created a book that will stay with me for a long time.

I can’t recommend this 5⭐️ book enough!

What 5⭐️ book do you think people should read?

A Gorgeous Concrete Rose

Book Review: Concrete Rose by Angie Thomas

A 5⭐️ Read

Angie Thomas does it again. She’s ripped my heart out and then patched it back together with her beautiful prose, vivid imagery, and glorious characters. I truly hope Ms. Thomas continues to tell stories about Garden Heights because each novel gets better and better.

Concrete Rose is the story of Maverick Carter. He’s 17 and dealing with a too much: his dad is in prison, he’s dealing drugs outside of his gang’s operation, and he just found out he’s a father. That’s just the start of the challenges that Maverick faces in Concrete Rose, and every bit of his journey brings all the emotions.

With plenty of Easter eggs from The Hate U Give and On the Come Up, this book takes us back to the Garden Heights in the 1990s. It’s a powerful, emotional book that deserves all the Sevens, all the roses, and all the stars.