2.07.2020

January Book Reviews

Just a little housekeeping note: you may have noticed from the photo above that I changed the title overlay. I recently decided to change my Instagram and Twitter handles to be less confusing about the fact that I don't live in Chicago anymore - and haven't for over 15 years, which is WILD. Anyhoo, it was getting a little confusing in social media land, and that's where I primarily talk books! The new IG is @EvergreensAndBookishThings and Twitter is @EvrgrnBookThing.

The Better Liar by Taneen Jones
This was a solid thriller! Full review here.

Displacement by Lucy Knisley
Another fantastic graphic memoir from an absolute go-to author. In Displacement, Knisley tells the story of chaperoning her very old and frail grandparents on a cruise. It's equal parts hilarious and bittersweet. She doesn't hold back on all the gritty details of life with the elderly. I especially loved her incorporating her grandfather's book about WWII into her writing. The complicated love she has for them and her family is beautifully evident through the pages.

Long Bright River by Liz Moore
I can already say that this book is going on my favorites for the year. I thought The Unseen World was great, but Moore's latest was phenomenal. This story of two sisters, one a cop and the other befallen by addiction and crime, kept me on the edge of my seat with each page. Suspenseful, yes, but also a visceral and emotional look at humanity in all of it’s frailty. I cannot recommend it enough.

Monsoon Mansion by Cinelle Barnes
This was a riveting and lushly told memoir of Cinelle's coming of age in her parent's opulent Manilla mansion, that goes from riches to terrible rags. It shed a light on the politics of the Philippines during the 90s that I had little knowledge about, while telling a captivating story of her resilience, strength and hope.

Hollow Kingdom by Kira Jane Buxton
“If you are alive - whether of blood or bark - you will be struck by pain, love, longing, fear, anger, and the particular ache of sadness. There will be joys that quiver your leaves and betrayals that will sever your roots, poisoning the water you pull. These are the varying notes in the music of living. Look up, to close your eyes is to stagnate. To rot and stop the song.”
I’ve seen Hollow Kingdom here and there on social media and it sounded so unique and intriguing. And this story of the apocalypse narrated by a domesticated crow was definitely that, hella hilarious (NSFW), and rather touching. I also appreciated that it felt like a love letter to the city of Seattle, and the inside jokes made me cackle even more.

Heavyby Kiese Laymon
This is probably the most apt title of a memoir ever written. It was indeed heavy reading, Laymon's personal essays written in a sort of epistolary way to his mother. Eye opening and heartbreaking with themes of racism, male feminism, addiction and family bonds, I found it profoundly moving and sad.

Evvie Drake Starts Over by Linda Holmes
“In the months without him, she’d forgotten and somehow not forgotten at the same time; it was like hearing the first lyrics of a song and realizing you can sing all the rest.”
I’m so glad I finally read Evvie! This book was full of so many excellent nuggets, like the quote above. It’s a compelling romance that seems wildly unrealistic (superstar baseball player finds love in a small town) but is grounded in very real relationships. It covers the gamut: emotional abuse, single parenting, friendships with the opposite sex, complicated parent dynamics and the relationship we have with our own head - and the importance of getting that sorted before anything else.

The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet by Becky Chambers
I am so glad that I finally made time for this back list title that has been on my radar for so long. It has also been a long time since I read sci-fi, which is not my go to genre. Yet, when it’s done in a more literary way, I really love it - definitely the case for The Long Way to a Small Angry Planet. It is not very plot driven, and kind of meanders a bit in the middle, it's more character driven - oh, the cast of characters captured my heart. I love that it is full of thought provoking scenarios on humanity and our place in the universe.