Mini Book Reviews – Part One
Since my main interest consists of books, I think it’s appropriate to dedicate some posts to reviewing the books I read. I will not review every single one, but the ones that I enjoyed, at least to some extent.
So, for my first mini-reviews, these are the books I will talk about:
- Me Talk Pretty One Day by David Sedaris,
- Malibu Rising by Taylor Jenkins Reid,
- Who is Maud Dixon by Alexandra Andrews,
- An American Marriage by Tayari Jones.
Let’s see now what I thought about each of the following four books.
Me Talk Pretty One Day, by David Sedaris
This is the first Sedaris book I’ve read, and I must say I liked it okay. Although more of a 3.7 star for this one, I did give it four stars on Goodreads.
It is a collection of essays in which Sedaris talks about his various adventures with his family growing up, and then his life as an adult.
His father was a frugal man, and he always had weird ideas about what he wanted his children to do, be it theater, guitar playing, piano, and so on. The stories he shares with us are witty and different from what I’m used to reading about.
He also chronicles his time spent in Paris with funny stories about learning French that had me in stitches. Thank goodness I was home most of the time while reading this book because there were times I was in tears from laughing so hard.
He has quite a vivid imagination that knows no bounds, and a very specific sense of humor that you either love or hate. I, for one, love his interesting way of looking at things.
There are many topics and stuff most of us might think about but never dare talk about it out loud. Sedaris seems to have no restraint. He examines the ridiculousness of some people and situations with a very keen eye.
In my opinion, his curiosity knows no limits. He deserves at least one chance before you decide if his writing style is for you or not.
I will definitely read him again in the near future.
Malibu Rising, by Taylor Jenkins Reid
A quick, light summer read that was okay. Not bad, but not great either. If you want some “fluff” to read while you’re sitting on the beach, or at least think about sitting on the beach, it is a good enough option.
In the first part of the book, Jenkin introduces the characters on which the book is based. It is about the Riva family, and it has two storylines. The book is split up into two parts. Between 7 am to 7 pm the day of the party, and from 7 pm to 7 am the next day focuses on the actual party and the people that were present.
In part one of the book, you get to see the family dynamics and how everything got started. First, she introduces the parents, who met in 1956 in Malibu. She takes us through the promises Mick, the family patriarch makes to their mother, June, and the heartbreak he causes his family throughout the years.
Then the four kids, Nina, Jay, Hud, and Kit, are super close and would do anything for each other. Nina is a famous model and surfer, Jay is also getting serious about surfing, Hud is a professional photographer, and Kit is still in school.
Their famous end of summer party ends in disaster, but they all come to some personal realization. In hindsight, the dramatic end might be a blessing in disguise.
As the book progresses, especially in the second part where the party of the summer takes place, there’s a jumble of new people that don’t really have much relevance to the storyline.
It felt to me as if the author was trying to fill pages in order to make the book a bit longer. In my opinion, she could’ve cut it a bit shorter and kept it more “in the family”.
All in all, it was an okay read. I rounded it off to four stars on Goodreads, although it was more of a 3.6.
Who Is Maud Dixon, by Alexandra Andrews
I don’t know if any of you read this one, but it was a mixed bag for me. I didn’t hate it but didn’t love it either.
The characters of this book were in general very annoying and self-centered, and very unlikeable. I didn’t particularly like any of them, and they all seemed as if their moral compass was way off.
Florence Darrow, an aspiring writer, has a job at a publishing house. After an affair with a married superior ends badly, she thinks her luck finally changes once she gets an opportunity that seems too good to be true.
Famous novelist Maud Dixon takes her on as her personal assistant, and she discovers the identity of secretive Helen. Helen and her publisher swear her to secrecy in the contract they agree on.
The storyline takes an unexpected turn when Helen decides they should take a trip to Morocco. The trip is meant to inspire her second novel.
While vacationing there they have a car accident in which Helen dies. Florence discovers the secrets Helen was running from and preposterous ideas sprout into her mind.
The book ends on an okay note, but the whole storyline is so far-fetched that I just wanted it to end.
I won’t say anymore because I don’t want to spoil the ending of the book for those of you who still want to read it. Everything about this novel was so unbelievable and out there, it was too much even for me. I know it’s fiction, but come on!
Honestly, I don’t recommend it if you think this is supposed to be a thriller of some kind. Unless you’re looking for a ridiculous and absurd storyline with characters that would do anything to achieve their goals, I’m not sure you will enjoy it.
On Goodreads, I give it a three-star, mostly because the author’s writing was sharp and engaging.
An American Marriage, by Tayari Jones
This was my first audiobook in a very long time. For the first twenty minutes or so, I almost abandoned it. Maybe it was the narration that I didn’t care for at first, but eventually, I did end up getting absorbed in the story.
This is the story of Roy and Celestial, two African American newlyweds that have a great future ahead of them. Roy is a young executive working for a good company in Atlanta, Georgia, and Celestial is a talented artist on the uprise. They both narrate their version of events from their perspectives.
For their first wedding anniversary, they take a trip to his parent’s place but decide to stay in a hotel. Some unexpected circumstances turn their lives upside down while on this trip. They are faced with life-altering, unjust decisions they have to make, and it takes them completely by surprise.
Falsely accused of a crime he did not commit, Roy is sentenced to twelve years in prison. Their marriage is put to the test, to say the least.
Although Roy gets out early thanks to his lawyer, Celestial takes comfort in her best friend and childhood next-door neighbor, Andre.
What once was a strong bond between two people gets broken by life’s tragic circumstances. The three main characters tell their own version of the story. They all see things through their personal lens. No one is wrong or right, but they all experience things differently. The choices they make are motivated by their own values and personalities and reflect their state of mind at the time.
The parallel comparison to the contemporary societal problems the US faces was really heart-wrenching. At times I got so mad at the unfairness of it all.
Unfortunately, we see this type of false accusations black people face every day in the US. It wasn’t easier to digest even from a work of fiction.
This book is beautifully written, although the subject matter was very real. I gave it a four-star on Goodreads, but it was more of a 4.3.
This concludes my first post of some mini book reviews. I hope you enjoyed reading it as much as I did putting it together. Let me know if you read any of those books, and if you did, how did you rate them?
Till next time, my fellow bookworms.
Keep reading, Anca.