Review of ‘The Speed of Falling Objects’, by Nancy Richardson
Unhealthy relationships with parents are never easy to address in normal, regular life. The pretty insane setting of The Speed of Falling Objects—the tropical forest in which Danny, her reality TV star father, and the filming crew crash landed—did make for a great background, in some ways, for an unfortunately all too real issue (the impossible to please parent). There is a lot to learn about how to heal from the sometimes extremely heavy burden of a parent who seems to be quite narcissistic. It was painful at times to see the ways that Cougar, her father, treated her (basically as a ratings booster). While the points made about the separation of the child from it’s parents self-absorbed expectations for their offspring could be helpful to readers, I’m not quite sure if they will be clear enough through the density of the adventure and drama of this book. But seen only as a thriller-type book in which the main character is fighting for survival, The Speed of Falling Objects will definitely keep you reading. Fast-paced and filled with some great information about the Peruvian rainforest, it will keep readers wondering who, if anyone, will make it out alive.
Review of ‘What You Wish For’, by Katherine Center
Choosing joy, especially in difficult times, seems to be the message that we all need to hear during the COVID-19 pandemic. Katherine Center does a great job sharing this message through the characters in her latest novel, What You Wish For. The dual, parallel, and opposite transformations of the two main characters—Samantha from quiet and worried to joyful and lighthearted, and vice-versa for Duncan—unfolds quite naturally throughout the book. The reasons for Duncan’s transformation are quite dramatic, as you will find out, and while I could smell this one from the first moments we are introduced to the character, the reveal is well developed, seamless, and still quite satisfying. The themes of loss, joy, self-respect, and love, be it platonic, familial, or romantic, are weaved throughout each character’s development, both main and secondary, as well as through the various sub-plots. Basically, Katherine Center has delivered another summer read that can be as light-hearted or heavy as you want it to be.
Review of ‘10 Things I Hate About Pinky’, by Sandhya Menon
I’m really enjoying the indirect, gentle introduction of Indian culture in books such as this one, which I think of as Bollywood in book format, all the more that the book doesn’t delve in long and convoluted or short and awkward explanations of what cultural thing is happening. I mean, who needs that in the age of Google? Either you know your thing, or you have the opportunity to pick up your phone and Google it. And if you are not interested, the cultural flavours in the book don’t distract from the story at the heart of the book. I mentioned this about a few other books by Indian authors featuring Indian protagonists living in North America: these are such great tools to widen the scope of the vision of my friends who have never left a relatively small area of their region and thus don’t have much exposure to the world. I mean, some of them were shocked, when they saw alfalfa in my sandwich, that I was eating grass. And this happened while I was enrolled at a popular programme in an internationally renown university! So keep these coming and I’ll definitely be both reading and gifting them.
Review of ‘Facing The Sun’, by Janice Lynn Mather
While at its heart, this is a coming of age story, I feel that the main focus of any book club reading Facing the Sun by Janice Lynn Mather should be the consequences of building fancy resorts on beaches formerly used by locals. I don’t think there is any easy answer to this question, quite honestly. But by delving into the consequences, both positive and negative, of these developments, perhaps as conscious consumers, we can make better decisions when it comes to planning our vacations (yes, there will be a post-pandemic world, at some point!)
It did remind me about the tactics described by Naomi Klein in ‘The Shock Doctrine’—in short, using the shock of post-tsunami times to move in, buy beach-side land (some formerly and fiercely protected), and build yet another resort on it. And keep in mind that most of the money doesn’t go back into the local population; the current model seems to always disproportionally benefit the (rich) investors.
There isn’t anything negative to say about this book; the writing is on point, the characters are engaging, and readers will be left caring way too much about them, all signs of a great book. Plus the cover is gorgeous, and makes me want to replace my NetGalley ecopy with a print copy. Someone please hide my credit card.
Review of ‘Today Tonight Tomorrow’, by Rachel Lynn Solomon
I have to admit that, as someone who didn’t want to have sex at a young age but was very curious about it, I got my first primer on the matter in romance books, and it did make me feel very empowered to make my decisions regarding what I wanted to do, with who, and when. So I particularly appreciated main character Rowan Roth’s love for the genre, and her opinion that romance novels are not the trash they are usually deemed to be. Being set at the end of high school, author Rachel Lynn Solomon spent some time to delve into the concept of endings and the related grief. I feel that the entire book was very well-written, lingered on important topics just long enough to make a point without belaboring it, and presented its antagonist in a multi-layered way that helped readers feel pretty much like Rowan did—at first annoyed and put off yet intrigued, until finally, cheering him on. A light-hearted yet surprisingly insightful read that will make any recent (and even not-so-recent ones such as myself) high school graduate feel nostalgic for the life they left behind.
Review of ‘Of Literature and Lattes’, by Katherine Reay
Although overall a pleasant read with lovely characters and a charming setting, I feel that ‘Of Literature and Lattes’ missed the mark a little. Perhaps because the author was trying to pack way too much into one book, delving a little bit into the psyche and pain of many characters in this book. And maybe because the action got somewhat lost in long monologues that seemed at times a little repetitious. And I feel like one of the plot points, regarding Jeremy’s daughter, came kind of diluted—there was a lot more that could have been explored more in-depth there, especially in light of the fact that Jeremy was working on building a new life. But I don’t regret reading this book, and if someone wants to or has picked it up, I know there is a lot in there that they will enjoy. For one, the characters are quite appealing and I grew attached to a few of them. There are also some great descriptions that make the town of Winsome quite, well, winsome. And it’s always nice to hear about something picking up the pieces and carrying on—especially when the pieces were thrown all over the place by a big company more intent on profit than anything else. Sounds painfully familiar, doesn’t it? It’s nice to read about someone going through this familiar pain and coming out on the other side stronger and better, especially during these pandemically-charged times.
Review of ‘Five Ways to Fall out of Love’, by Emily Martin
I was disappointed that the main character’s parents’ failing marriage—or rather, the effect of the failing marriage on Aubrey—wasn’t more thoroughly explored. I mean, I feel like I have read a lot of books about “my parents’ marriage is falling apart and it makes me not believe in love”, so I feel that if you are going to write yet another book about this, you might want to delve into this character’s specific issues to make your book worth exploring. That having been said, I really enjoyed Emily Martin’s ‘Five Ways to Fall Out of Love’, and would recommend it nonetheless. There is something so frustratingly relatable about the simple lack of communication that led to so much heartbreak and pain, and reinforced the importance for me to make sure to constantly and continuously work on my communication with those that I love the most, for fear of losing them to a simple misunderstanding. I also appreciated the unapologetic portrayal of teenage high school life. I mean I haven’t been in high school for a few **ahem** but I felt the conversations I have had with teenagers reflected in the pages of this book.
Review of ‘Hello, Summer’, by Mary Kay Andrews
I really appreciated the clash between the choices that two sisters made—one to prioritise their family’s business, and the other, to prioritise her dreams. I don’t think this is going to necessarily help dealing with siblings, quite honestly, but I do think that it might help with those pesky voices inside our heads that present everything as a dichotomy: either their family business, either their own dreams, for example. I mean sometimes the answer is very difficult to figure out, but there is something to be said about giving things time to develop and emerge, through consultation and action. We tend to forget about that, about giving things time to organically grow through systematic effort, and books like these help me remember that good things come in time. I know that Mary Kay Andrews is a pretty big name, but I haven’t been reading a lot of her; this one does whet my appetite for her other titles though. There is something to be said about an easy read like this one which also manages to dish out some pretty heavy advice. But even if you are not looking for a deep, meaningful read, ‘Hello, Summer’ makes for a fascinating read, with an ending that can be glimpsed pretty early on but still manages to confuse readers enough to keep us going.