Monday, January 11, 2021

A long time ago, my maternal grandfather used to talk about the Japanese occupation of the Philippines. In so many words, he had described it as horrible three years. He was a newly-graduate Agricultural engineer then. And being educated, the Japanese officers forced him to teach school instead, where he eventually met my aboriginal grandmother. So, good things sometimes emerge from horrible times. While most people want to count off those three years of suffering, my grandfather cannot and will not because of love.

Why share this story? Well, we all experienced the Year 2020. Horrible things happened, and although we wanted to count them off, we can’t. Our frontline heroes deserve to be remembered and honored. We continue to thank those who provide us with relief from depression and worries each day. For me, it’s Twitter, friends, and family, and books. A colleague, who lives alone, brings in coffee for us on days we have to come for work. He said that still seeing us face to face allows him to hope despite the mask and the 6-feet gap. And I have to say that we’ve now perfected smiling with our eyes. Also, I was relieved that my students like my playlist during tests. Thanks, Tones and I, for Dance Monkey!


Don’t get me wrong, my fears are still here, but I have hope as my shield. For 2021, I have resolved to soldier on despite the odds. Overcome. Yes, I believe it is a fitting word for me this year. And that’s what I hope for everyone as well.

By the way, The Page Walker turned eight (8) this year, another reason to be thankful. And I am grateful for my readers, for the publishers, publicists, and authors who collaborated with me all these times. Godspeed!


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MY WORD FOR THE YEAR 2021

Saturday, January 2, 2021


Hi! By now, everyone must have jotted down their anticipated books for the year 2021. I am excited to share mine too, but I need to share my favorite reads from 2020 before all else.

My Best List is shorter this time, but it doesn’t necessarily mean that I disliked the rest. In fact, I gave sixteen 5-star ratings for 2020.

WHEN WE WERE VIKINGS by Andrew David MacDonald - This book managed to squeeze in huge topics –alcoholism, poverty, healthcare, abuse, and equal opportunity for everyone. MacDonald employed a witty and affecting narrative that engages the reader straightforwardly. He emphasizes the essentials for security, as well as human growth and development.

ANXIOUS PEOPLE by Fredrik Backman - This book fleshes out people’s inner turmoil. Backman carries us into a narrative that allows us to see human vulnerability, including ours. And cleverly sways us to look at the dreariest of circumstances in a different light and challenges us to flex kindness all the time.

BLACK SUN by Rebecca Roanhorse - This book is the first in the Between Earth and Sky trilogy. Every detail of this book reveals in-depth research and rumination –the worldbuilding, the plot, and the ensemble of characters. Rebecca Roanhorse wrote a powerful starter.

MISS BENSON'S BEETLE by Rachel Joyce - How can a search for a beetle also be a discovery of one’s self? Of determination? Of friendship? This book has incredibly managed to provide me with the answers. Rachel Joyce can unfold life in small details -her stories are funny, poignant, and hopeful. And I would recommend her anytime.

If you have read these books, please share your thoughts. And if you have not picked them up yet, I highly encourage you to do so. Stay well and safe, my friends, and happy reading!



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*This post is a part of the monthly linkups organized by Lovely Audiobooks! You can click here to check it out and be a part of it.



Circus Mirandus
Who Speaks for the Damned
Lalani of the Distant Sea
The 19th Christmas
The Secrets of Love Story Bridge
When We Were Vikings
The Love Story of Missy Carmichael
The 20th Victim
Djinn Patrol on the Purple Line
Chivalry
Dear Mrs. Bird
Of Literature and Lattes
Miss Iceland
Lost Autumn
Warren the 13th and the 13-Year Curse
Fox 8
Bells of Prosper Station
Writers & Lovers
Love Lettering
Piranesi



BEST READS FROM 2020

Monday, November 30, 2020

LORE by Alexandra Bracken
Publication: January 5, 2021
Publisher: Disney Hyperion
Genre: YA / Fantasy
Rating: ★★★★★

HER NAME WILL BE LEGEND.

Every seven years, the Agon begins. As punishment for a past rebellion, nine Greek gods are forced to walk the earth as mortals, hunted by the descendants of ancient bloodlines, all eager to kill a god and seize their divine power and immortality.

Long ago, Lore Perseous fled that brutal world in the wake of her family’s sadistic murder by a rival line, turning her back on the hunt’s promises of eternal glory. For years she’s pushed away any thought of revenge against the man–now a god–responsible for their deaths. Yet as the next hunt dawns over New York City, two participants seek out her help: Castor, a childhood friend of Lore believed long dead, and a gravely wounded Athena, among the last of the original gods. The goddess offers an alliance against their mutual enemy and, at last, a way for Lore to leave the Agon behind forever. But Lore’s decision to bind her fate to Athena’s and rejoin the hunt will come at a deadly cost–and still may not be enough to stop the rise of a new god with the power to bring humanity to its knees. -Publisher


LORE is a tale worth witnessing.

In New York, the hunters are converging to hunt the Greek gods of old. Thousands of years ago, nine have staged a failed revolution against Zeus. As punishment, Zeus created the Agon, a hunt. Every seven years, these gods will fight in their mortal vessels and hunted down as prey to any ancient hero’s descendant. The successful hunter will ascend to immortality, gaining the slain god’s power.

Lore, orphaned, and hurting, was sought out by a wounded Athena to face her destiny. She spent years trying to avoid the hunt. She wants out. But Lore also wants revenge.

Okay, it sounds like the Hunger Games for the gods. Yes and no. Winning the hunt and gaining power is not the end. There are more at stake. Alexandra Bracken cleverly created new mythology from the backbone of ancient Greek and carefully slipped in issues that affect the world today –capitalism, social injustices, and morality. I feel a current moving thru these pages, pivoting on a complex plot and intriguing characters. Readers will want answers, and I cannot wait to start my 2021 reading year witnessing this book’s ascent.


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About the Author:
Alexandra Bracken was born in Phoenix, Arizona. The daughter of a Star Wars collector, she grew up going to an endless string of Star Wars conventions and toy fairs, which helped spark her imagination and a deep love of reading. After graduating high school, she attended The College of William & Mary in Virginia, where she double majored in English and History. She sold her first book, Brightly Woven, as a senior in college, and later moved to New York City to work in children's book publishing, first as an editorial assistant, then in marketing. After six years, she took the plunge and decided to write full time. She now lives in Arizona with her tiny pup, Tennyson, in a house that's constantly overflowing with books.

Alex is a #1 New York Times bestselling and USA TODAY bestselling author. Her work is available across the world in over 15 languages.



*Thanks to Disney Hyperion for the advance book excerpt in exchange for this unbiased review.
*This post is a part of the monthly linkups organized by Lovely Audiobooks! You can click here to check it out and be a part of it.



Sample Review | LORE by Alexandra Bracken

Friday, November 13, 2020

  
SPARK AND THE LEAGUE OF URSUS by Robert Repino
Publication: April 21, 2020
Publisher: Quirk Books
Genre: Middle-Grade Fiction / Fantasy
Rating: ★★★½


Spark is not your average teddy bear. She’s soft and cuddly, sure, but she’s also a fierce warrior. At night she fulfills her sacred duty: to protect the household from monsters. But Spark’s owner Loretta is growing up and thinks she doesn’t need her old teddy anymore.

When a monster unlike any other descends on the quiet home, everything changes. Children are going missing, and the monster wants Loretta next. Only Spark can stop it. She must call upon the ancient League of Ursus—a secret alliance of teddy bears who are pledged to protect their human friends. Together with an Amazon-princess doll and a timid sock monkey, the bears are all that stands between our world and the one that lies beneath. It will be a heroic chapter in the history of the League . . . if the bears live to tell the tale. -Publisher




Through Sir Reginald, Spark learned all about the League of Ursus. And with her mentor to train her, she had the confidence and readiness any protector should have. But the monster that appeared in Loretta’s bedroom is something different altogether. It comes in the night, while the kids are sleeping, crawling from the darkest corner of the room. It has a distinct power to open portals in different locations and cancel all the sounds in any place it occupies. And while most monsters only feed on their prey’s fear, this one drags them away where no one has gone before.

Robert Repino gave life to a story most kids hold on to -that their teddy bears are more than just toys -they are loyal companions. Bears serve. Bears watch. Bears Protect. Always and forever. Spark knows the oath by heart, and she means to do everything to protect Loretta, her dusa. The very premise raised plenty of questions. How did the teddy bears realize that they are protectors? Instead of addressing it, the story chose to focus on the deep love these bears have for their humans until their final light, on kids standing strong for their siblings, that friendship matter, that being afraid is not cowardice, and that compassion should still rule at the end of the day.

SPARK AND THE LEAGUE OF URSUS has enough scare and challenges to entertain its middle-grade audience. A perfect read for Friday the 13th. Spark is the kind of friend kids would like to have. Also, Matthew and Loretta’s motto is something everyone should hear – “Keep dreaming, and keep trying!”

Book #2, Spark and the Grand Sleuth, is out on March 23, 2021.


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About the Author:
Robert Repino is the author of Mort(e), Culdesac, and D’Arc, which make up the critically acclaimed War with No Name series (Soho Press). He holds an MFA in creative writing from Emerson College and teaches at the Gotham Writers’ Workshop. He lives in New York City where he works as an editor at an academic publisher. This is his middle-grade debut. Robert had two special teddy bears when he was growing up: Bear and Blue Bear.




*Thanks to Quirk Books for the printed copy in exchange for this unbiased review.
*This post is a part of the monthly linkups organized by Lovely Audiobooks! You can click here to check it out and be a part of it.


Book Review | SPARK AND THE LEAGUE OF URSUS by Robert Repino

Wednesday, October 21, 2020

  
PET THAT DOG!
by Gideon Kidd and Rachel Braunigan
Publication: October 20, 2020
Publisher: Quirk Books
Genre: Activity Book for Children
Rating: ★★★★★


From 11-year-old dog-loving Gideon Kidd of the viral Twitter account I've Pet That Dog comes a guide for young readers to befriend and care for dogs of all shapes, sizes, and personalities!
-Publisher


Want to know how many times a kid asked us if they could pet our dog, Rue? Many, many times. Sometimes it can get funny when they come at her running with their arms wide open and shouting “puppy, puppy, puppy.” Meanwhile, Rue thinks they want to play tag, then starts running around, hiding and peeking out of bushes, bright-eyed and bushy-tailed. And sometimes, she can get so excited it’s hard to get her settled enough again to get petted. This first-hand experience taught us that there are plenty of kids out there who love to pet dogs that are either too eager or too shy to ask.

Thanks to Gideon and his mom, Rachel, for sharing PET THAT DOG! It’s a handbook on how to befriend and care for dogs. It comes in an interactive format with fun facts, a dog tracker, and a checklist. The book also has some beautiful illustrations of interesting dogs Gideon met before.

Undoubtedly, plenty of kids and future dog owners will learn much from this book, and this could be a fun family activity too.

*The book is ON SALE NOW, purchase your copy and send your receipt to Quirk Books by October 27, 2020 to get a free sticker sheet and a bookplate signed by Gideon. For more details click here.



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About the Author:
Gideon Kidd is a 12-year-old boy from Iowa. He loves dogs and hopes to meet and pet as many as he can. He asked his Mom if he could start a blog in 2016, when he was 8 years old, documenting each dog he petted. He began posting his pictures and stories on Twitter in April 2018, and now he has pet over 1,000 dogs and has over 300,000 Twitter followers. Rachel Braunigan is Gideon's mom. A social worker turned stay-at-home mom, she has four sons. Rachel assists Gideon with his project by taking pictures, and helping in the never-ending quest to pet more dogs.




*Thanks to Quirk Books for the printed copy in exchange for this unbiased review.
*This post is a part of the monthly linkups organized by Lovely Audiobooks! You can click here to check it out and be a part of it.


Book Review | PET THAT DOG! by Gideon Kidd & Rachel Braunigan

Monday, October 12, 2020

  
BLACK SUN by Rebecca Roanhorse
Publication: October 13, 2020
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Imprint: Gallery / Saga Press
Genre: Historical Fantasy / YA
Rating: ★★★★★

A god will return
When the earth and sky converge
Under the black sun

In the holy city of Tova, the winter solstice is usually a time for celebration and renewal, but this year it coincides with a solar eclipse, a rare celestial event proscribed by the Sun Priest as an unbalancing of the world.

Meanwhile, a ship launches from a distant city bound for Tova and set to arrive on the solstice. The captain of the ship, Xiala, is a disgraced Teek whose song can calm the waters around her as easily as it can warp a man’s mind. Her ship carries one passenger. Described as harmless, the passenger, Serapio, is a young man, blind, scarred, and cloaked in destiny. As Xiala well knows, when a man is described as harmless, he usually ends up being a villain.

Crafted with unforgettable characters, Rebecca Roanhorse has created an epic adventure exploring the decadence of power amidst the weight of history and the struggle of individuals swimming against the confines of society and their broken pasts in the most original series debut of the decade. -Goodreads




BLACK SUN is so immersive, I came up fully soaked in awe!

The worldbuilding is vast and vivid. This book is the first in the Between Earth and Sky trilogy, wherein the readers are introduced to Meridian, a continent so unique yet also very familiar -from the clothes down to cacao as currency. Although the book is Pre-Columbian Americas inspired, hints of Polynesian culture are present too. Since Polynesians share the same origins as the indigenous peoples of the Philippines, it’s fascinating to see familiar things –seafaring, knife and pole fighting, and the sun-eating bird.

The plot is taut and fast-paced. The storyline kept me engaged throughout, from the propulsive opening to the cliffhanger ending. Every scene awakens and builds emotional connections. And Roanhorse certainly knows her political maneuverings very well. They evoke the primal instinct to react for self-preservation and social justice.

The ensemble is very inclusive –race, gender, status, impairments. Intriguing, social stigma has no place in this book. Each character is fascinating, representing a strategic purpose. Like the plot, they are manifold, continually unfolding to give the reader a broader image of the premise. Here, romance can be abstract, but not unsatisfying, nor less heart-rending.

Every detail of this book reveals in-depth research and rumination. Rebecca Roanhorse wrote a very powerful starter and the best book I have read this year. Kudos to John Picacio for this lovely cover I am shamelessly coveting for my bookshelf. Lastly, I want to point out that this is not “a little closer to great.” THIS IS GREAT, Ms. Rebecca. Congratulations! 




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About the Author:
Rebecca Roanhorse is a NYTimes bestselling and Nebula, Hugo and Locus Award-winning speculative fiction writer and the recipient of the 2018 Astounding (Campbell) Award for Best New Writer.

Her novel Trail of Lightning (Book 1 in the Sixth World Series) won the Locus Award for Best First Novel and was a Nebula, Hugo and World Fantasy Finalist. It was also selected as an Amazon, B&N, Library Journal, and NPR Best Books of 2018, among others. Storm of Locusts (Book 2 in the Sixth World Series) was a Locus Award Finalist and was longlisted for the Hugo Award. It also received starred reviews from Publisher’s Weekly and Booklist, and was named an Amazon, Powell’s, and Audible Best of 2019. Her novel, Resistance Reborn, is part of Star Wars: Journey to The Rise of Skywalker and a USA Today and NYTimes bestseller. Her middle grade novel Race to the Sun for the Rick Riordan Present’s imprint was a NYTimes Bestseller and received a starred review from Kirkus. 

She lives in Northern New Mexico with her husband, daughter, and pup. She drinks a lot of black coffee. Find more on Twitter at @RoanhorseBex.


*Thanks to Simon & Schuster for the uncorrected proof in exchange for this unbiased review.
*This post is a part of the monthly linkups organized by Lovely Audiobook! You can click here to check it out and be a part of it.


Book Review | BLACK SUN by Rebecca Roanhorse

Monday, October 5, 2020

  
THE MIDNIGHT BARGAIN by C.L. Polk
Publication: October 13, 2020
Publisher: Erewhon
Genre: Historical Fantasy / YA
Rating: ★★★★

From the beloved World Fantasy Award-winning author of Witchmark comes The Midnight Bargain, a sweeping, romantic new fantasy set in a world reminiscent of Regency England, where women’s magic is taken from them when they marry. A sorceress must balance her desire to become the first great female magician against her duty to her family.

Beatrice Clayborn is a sorceress who practices magic in secret, terrified of the day she will be locked into a marital collar that will cut off her powers to protect her unborn children. She dreams of becoming a full-fledged Magus and pursuing magic as her calling as men do, but her family has staked everything to equip her for Bargaining Season, when young men and women of means descend upon the city to negotiate the best marriages. The Clayborns are in severe debt, and only she can save them, by securing an advantageous match before their creditors comes calling.

In a stroke of luck, Beatrice finds a grimoire that contains the key to becoming a Magus, but before she can purchase it, a rival sorceress swindles the book right out of her hands. Beatrice summons a spirit to help her get it back, but her new ally exacts a price: Beatrice’s first kiss . . . with her adversary’s brother, the handsome, compassionate, and fabulously wealthy Ianthe Lavan.

The more Beatrice is entangled with the Lavan siblings, the harder her decision becomes: If she casts the spell to become a Magus, she will devastate her family and lose the only man to ever see her for who she is; but if she marries—even for love—she will sacrifice her magic, her identity, and her dreams. But how can she choose just one, knowing she will forever regret the path not taken? -Publisher


In THE MIDNIGHT BARGAIN, C. L. Polk takes us into a patriarchal society that doesn’t encourage women to practice magic, let alone seek learning, and be a magus. Beatrice Clayborn is bent on pursuing higher education by secretly gathering and learning all the grimoire she could find. Even with everything at stake, including her family’s estate and livelihood, Beatrice cannot abide by giving up her magic for marriage.

A society of women fighting for gender equality has number and influence behind them, but it’s quite different when you are alone, and the world seems to be closing up on you. Beatrice’s confidences were few, and her choices even fewer. Her merger with Nadi completes her character. It made her more curious and incipient. In truth, all the characters are varyingly curious. Every woman in this book has a role to play. Each felt the brunt of societal repression and chose to react in different manners.

This new idea of women subjugated because magic risks the unborn child inside their mother’s womb is ingenious. And adding the complications of first love / true love into the mix made this an even sharper read. These hefty subjects handled impressively-well with a blend of magic, sacrifices, and pivotal choices. Even more impressive are authors, like C.L. Polk, ushering the fight for gender equality into fiction.

Keen and imaginative, THE MIDNIGHT BARGAIN is a very engaging read.


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About the Author:
C.L. Polk is the World Fantasy Award-winning author of the critically acclaimed debut novel Witchmark, which was also nominated for the Nebula, Locus, Aurora, and Lambda Literary Awards. It was named one of the best books of 2018 according to NPR, Publishers Weekly, BuzzFeed, the Chicago Review, BookPage, and the B&N Sci-Fi and Fantasy Blog. She lives in Alberta, Canada.






*Thanks to Erewhon Books for the uncorrected proof in exchange for this unbiased review.
*This post is a part of the monthly linkups organized by Lovely Audiobooks! You can click here to check it out and be a part of it.


Book Review | THE MIDNIGHT BARGAIN by C.L. Polk

Monday, September 28, 2020

  
IN A HOLIDAZE by Christina Lauren
Publication: October 6, 2020
Publisher: Gallery Books / Simon & Schuster
Genre: Romance / Women’s Fiction
Rating: ★★★★


It’s the most wonderful time of the year…but not for Maelyn Jones. She’s living with her parents, hates her going-nowhere job, and has just made a romantic error of epic proportions.

But perhaps worst of all, this is the last Christmas Mae will be at her favorite place in the world—the snowy Utah cabin where she and her family have spent every holiday since she was born, along with two other beloved families. Mentally melting down as she drives away from the cabin for the final time, Mae throws out what she thinks is a simple plea to the universe: Please. Show me what will make me happy.

The next thing she knows, tires screech and metal collide, everything goes black. But when Mae gasps awake…she’s on an airplane bound for Utah, where she begins the same holiday all over again. With one hilarious disaster after another sending her back to the plane, Mae must figure out how to break free of the strange time loop—and finally get her true love under the mistletoe.

Jam-packed with yuletide cheer, an unforgettable cast of characters, and Christina Lauren’s trademark “downright hilarious” (Helen Hoang, author of The Bride Test) hijinks, this swoon-worthy romantic read will make you believe in the power of wishes and the magic of the holidays. - Publisher



Waking up a day after Christmas, Maelyn Jones realized that she kissed the wrong brother. Eggnog-drunk, she and Theo made out in the mudroom the previous night. And it made everything awkward between them afterward. Mostly for Mae, because she had pinned her heart for Andrew (Theo’s older brother) since she was 13-years-old. To make everything more miserable, The Hollises announced that they are giving up their Park City cabin, and this year may be their last Christmas holiday there. On the way to the airport, wrecked and sad, Maelyn Jones pleaded the universe to show her what will make her happy.  So to humor her, the universe sent her back in time.

Time travel is such a messy affair. So, after a few tries, Mae threw caution to the wind and went for what her heart truly desires. I like that part -knowing one’s self and daring to be true. Forgiving one’s mistakes is vital too. The story’s narration all came from Mae’s perspective. She‘s a well-rounded character, and I cannot help cheering for her. Although I hoped that Andrew was developed in such a way too, I’m satisfied that both authors kept their focus on Mae. Since this story is more about girl empowerment – taking control of your happiness, no matter how humorous the universe can be.

I also like the family setups introduced in the story. Although not everyone gets the same community of people, I marvel at how diverse and open these people are. It gives the readers a possibility and understanding. I’m sure every reader will wish to have an Uncle Benny too.

IN A HOLIDAZE is a sweet and honest read. There is no cozier than a lovely rom-com like this. Be sure to preorder this for your next read.


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About the Author:
Christina Lauren is the combined pen name of longtime writing partners and best friends Christina Hobbs and Lauren Billings, the New York Times, USA TODAY, and #1 internationally bestselling authors of the Beautiful and Wild Seasons series, Dating You / Hating You, Autoboyography, Love and Other Words, Roomies, Josh and Hazel’s Guide to Not Dating, My Favorite Half-Night Stand, and The Unhoneymooners. You can find them online at ChristinaLaurenBooks.com, @ChristinaLauren on Instagram, or @ChristinaLauren on Twitter.




*Thanks to Simon & Schuster for the uncorrected proof in exchange for this unbiased review. *This post is a part of the monthly linkups organized by Lovely Audiobooks! You can click here to check it out and be a part of it.


Book Review | IN A HOLIDAZE by Christina Lauren

Monday, September 21, 2020

   
MEMORIAL by Bryan Washington
Publication: October 6, 2020
Publisher: Riverhead
Genre: Contemporary Fiction / LGBTQ
Rating: ★★★★

A funny and profound story about a family in all its strange forms, joyful and hard-won vulnerability, becoming who you're supposed to be, and the limits of love.

Benson and Mike are two young guys who live together in Houston. Mike is a Japanese American chef at a Mexican restaurant and Benson's a Black daycare teacher, and they've been together for a few years -- good years -- but now they're not sure why they're still a couple. There's the sex, sure, and the meals Mike cooks for Benson, and, well, they love each other.

But when Mike finds out his estranged father is dying in Osaka just as his acerbic Japanese mother, Mitsuko, arrives in Texas for a visit, Mike picks up and flies across the world to say goodbye. In Japan he undergoes an extraordinary transformation, discovering the truth about his family and his past. Back home, Mitsuko and Benson are stuck living together as unconventional roommates, an absurd domestic situation that ends up meaning more to each of them than they ever could have predicted. Without Mike's immediate pull, Benson begins to push outwards, realizing he might just know what he wants out of life and have the goods to get it.

Both men will change in ways that will either make them stronger together or fracture everything they've ever known. And just maybe they'll all be okay in the end. - Publisher



Reading this reminds me of Hayao Miyazake’s films. Studio Ghibli prides itself by effectively utilizing quiet moments in their films to give certain scenes or scene sequences a louder voice. They do not necessarily overshadow smaller parts, since there is no such thing. Those notable moments of peace in a frame highlights the striking ones. And they don’t necessarily move the plot forward either. Yet, it allows the viewer a window to discern the characters and circumstances more deeply. And to read the same here, in MEMORIAL, is astonishing.

I have to admit I don’t get the point of not using quote or speech marks because I think the conversations here are brilliant and needs to be emphasized (especially those Ahmad moments). However, the premise intrigues me on the outset. Who leaves his mother with the boyfriend for an unforeseeable time while he traipses across the globe looking for his estranged father? Mike did. And I want to know how Benson coped.

This story is multi-layered. At the center of it is a mixed-race couple who are struggling to salvage their relationship. Between the sex, the fights, and the compromises, so much were left unspoken through the years. Are they really in love? Is their affection for each other enough to give up one’s home or family? Around them are their broken families, trying hard to be part of both their lives. The characters are flawed, yet I found myself invested in them. There is an ache here everyone felt before, one way or another. Washington pivots the attention while Benson and Mike were apart to search their present, appreciate their past, and observe those quiet moments in between. 

MEMORIAL is not a representation of an unconventional romance. Instead, it is a convincing exploration of typical love, family, and life struggles. 


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About the Author:
Bryan Washington is a National Book Award 5 Under 35 honoree, and winner of the Dylan Thomas Prize and the Ernest J. Gaines Award for Literary Excellence. His first book, the story collection Lot, was a finalist for the NBCC’s John Leonard Prize, the PEN/Robert W. Bingham Prize, the Aspen Words Literary Prize, and the New York Public Library Young Lions Fiction Award. Lot was a New York Times Notable Book, one of Dwight Garner’s top ten books of the year, and on best-of-the-year lists from Time, NPR, Vanity Fair, BuzzFeed, and many more. He has written for The New Yorker, The New York Times, The New York Times Magazine, BuzzFeed, Vulture, The Paris Review, McSweeney’s Quarterly, Tin House, One Story, Bon Appétit, GQ, The Awl, and Catapult. He lives in Houston.



*Thanks to Riverhead Books for the uncorrected galley in exchange for this unbiased review.
*This post is a part of the monthly linkups organized by Lovely Audiobooks! You can click here to check it out and be a part of it.

Book Review | MEMORIAL by Bryan Washington

Monday, September 14, 2020

  
JUST LIKE YOU by Nick Hornby
Publication: September 29, 2020
Publisher: Riverhead
Genre: Women’s Fiction/ Romance
Rating: ★★★½


This warm, wise, highly entertaining twenty-first-century love story is about what happens when the person who makes you happiest is someone you never expected.

Lucy used to handle her adult romantic life according to the script she'd been handed. She met a guy just like herself: same age, same background, same hopes, and dreams; they got married and started a family. Too bad he made her miserable. Now, two decades later, she's a nearly-divorced, forty-one-year-old schoolteacher with two school-aged sons, and there is no script anymore. So when she meets Joseph, she isn't exactly looking for love--she's more in the market for a babysitter. Joseph is twenty-two, living at home with his mother, and working several jobs, including the butcher counter where he and Lucy meet. It's not a match anyone one could have predicted. He's of a different class, a different culture, and a different generation. But sometimes it turns out that the person who can make you happiest is the one you least expect, though it can take some maneuvering to see it through.


Just Like You is a brilliantly observed, tender, but also a brutally funny new novel that gets to the heart of what it means to fall surprisingly and headlong in love with the best possible person--someone you didn't see coming. -Publisher




I appreciate Nick Hornby's novels because he attempts to capture the typical, yet liberal, affairs ordinary people find themselves in. In his latest, an interracial, intergenerational relationship happens between a 42-year-old white English teacher and a 22-year-old black babysitter, with the Brexit as its backdrop. Lucy, recently divorced from her alcoholic husband, braved dating once again. Joseph gladly took up babysitting Lucy's two young sons while she dines and wines out. The boys hit it off instantly with their love for soccer. The fact is, almost as promptly as Lucy and Joseph fell for each other. Yet, no matter how easy it is to exist in the bubble of their newly found love, outside influences persist –race, age, Brexit.


Society is obsessed and critical with the age gap in relationships. Certain studies found that partners with more than a ten-year gap in age usually experience public censure. With humor, Hornby managed to explore the challenges and difficulties that Lucy and Joseph’s relationship undertook. Although their arguments at times felt mundane or contrived, it is interesting to see how these characters comprehended themselves through their interaction with each other and with the outside world. And as complications occur, Lucy and Joseph’s relationship starts to fizzle out at the edges. So is my interest in the narrative. I find myself seeking more from this romance.


Then again, JUST LIKE YOU may not be simply about the excitement of romance. Maybe, it is more about partners (lovers) with opposing opinions (on love, family, or politics), based on their racial identity, class, and stage of development. If whether people are willing to keep or break a relationship based on those opinions. Also, will people allow (or not) society to dictate their definition of a relationship?


JUST LIKE YOU is coming on September 29. You can preorder your copies now.



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About the Author:

   
Photo by Parisa Taghizadeh
Nick Hornby is the author of several internationally bestselling novels including High Fidelity, About a Boy, and A Long Way Down, as well as several works of nonfiction, including Fever Pitch, Songbook, and Ten Years in the Tub. He has written screenplay adaptions of Lynn Barber’s An Education, which was nominated for an Academy Award, Cheryl Strayed's Wild, and Colm Tóibín’s Brooklyn. He lives in London.






*Thanks to Riverhead Books for the uncorrected galley in exchange for this unbiased review. *This post is a part of the monthly linkups organized by Lovely Audiobooks! You can click here to check it out and be a part of it.


Book Review | JUST LIKE YOU by Nick Hornby