Tuesday, February 4, 2020

Book Reviews, Feels, "Meh" and the Moon

What a round of reads y'all! Two of these had me way up in my feels, another one was an interesting premise, and one was just not what I thought it'd be. Read on, and see what was what.

And Then We Grew Up: On Creativity, Potential, and the Imperfect Art of Adulthood by Rachel Friedman is a book that hit me with a wave of nostalgia and emotion I wasn't unexpecting. That wave was also something I didn't know I needed. The author was once a dedicated violinist. She spent her summer at a fine arts camp, and she had aspirations of doing something big with her talent. Then, plans changed. Now on another road, she is reflecting on what might have been. She also decides to reconnect with other campers who had similar talent and aspirations way back when. Each of their stories is so fascinating as they describe their own paths, and the author also parses out her own lessons and reflections from where they are. As someone who played violin through college, this was a book made for me. I miss playing in an orchestra so much, and this book was affirmation I need to pick my old friend back up even if just for me. This book was just a wonderful reflection that our creativity and art can (and should) evolve. This energy never goes away, and there is power and purpose in finding new ways to channel this in our life. This was so much a book for me. It spoke to the past and present version of me, and I just loved there was something so intentionally dedicated to a world I knew and still know. At times I was teary, other times I smiled, and overall, I left this one with a wave of nostalgia and inspiration I so needed.

File this under: Feels, Nostalgia, For all the kids/adults/humans who have loved theatre, orchestra, band and/or some kind of fine arts in life, Memoir

The Dilemma by B.A. Paris is a book I have a bit of a dilemma (#seewhatIdidthere) about as I write my review. Part of that was my own expectations. Y'all, this was full of hard to digest emotions. The intensity of those were almost too much to manage. Not only that, I really struggled with the choices some of the characters made. It was all very unsettling which also aligned with the suspense of the story, so maybe that was intentional? Anyway, let me give you some plot to work with to help you understand my musings. Livia is having a 40th birthday party. She's dreamed of this party for years, and she's excited the day is finally here. Her daughter won't be able to attend, but this is actually okay with her for reasons that aren't immediately shared, but are slowly unwound. Livia's husband Adam also has a secret to start the story. However, then something happens, and what that secret is and might involve changes in a big way. The story is Livia and Adam each wrestling with these secrets individually and never having a conversation as a coupe. It was so aggravating. Having never read this author, maybe that's how things always are? Regardless, this is an extreme communication breakdown and a thriller built on the danger of secrets. This is one that's going to make you feel a certain kind of way throughout, and if getting frustrated with characters is your jam, this is for you. Thanks to NetGalley for the advanced copy in exchange for my honest review.

File this under: Drama, Secrets, Lies, Communication Probs

Something Like Happy by Eva Woods was a book that made me feel all the feels. I read this as I was traveling, and I was publicly and privately a mess of laughs and tears as I read. This book was absolutely wonderful. The story focuses on Annie who is 35 and struggling with life in so many ways. She's in the hospital visiting her mother who has dementia when she meets Polly. Polly has been diagnosed with a terminal brain tumor. With this, she's decided that she's going to soak up all she can from the life she has left. She also decides Annie is going to come along for the ride. Polly has decided to commit to 100 happy days, and she convinces Annie she needs to do this, too. The story then treks through each day. Polly's positivity is powerful as is Annie's pain, and that's what makes this story so beautiful. Polly refuses to give up on Annie, and as she goes she keeps pushing her friend to live a life that makes her authentically happy. This book was just so beautifully done. Faced with a terrible diagnosis, Polly makes a choice to live. Each day shows how she does this. With this, the story still shows the struggles of her diagnosis which makes it all the more real. This was such a wonderful reflection on the curveballs life can throw us, how we find connection, and what it means to take control of where we're going. I loved this one so very much, and it was just the burst of energy and joy I needed.

File this under: Relationships, Friendship, Reflection, All the Feels, Laughter, Tears

Artemis by Andy Weir was such an intriguing tale. The story focuses on Jazz who is part of a settlement on the moon. She does what she needs to do to get by. Then, she's presented with a high stakes opportunity that would also be a huge reward. In agreeing to do this, Jazz is exposed to all the secrets and corruption and wild, wild underworld of the moon settlement. What I dig about this author is the way he builds settings you've never considered before. The level of detail he puts into this is truly incredible. That said, I almost needed pictures to go along with all that was happening. Because he creates this immersive and totally new experience, it's hard to imagine. Again, it's so well done in that regard, so it's a weird compliment that is a critique. This was never going to be The Martian, and I went in knowing that wasn't going to be the case. This was an interesting enough tale and a good commentary of how new society's and endeavors could bring on a whole new set of challenges and conflicts.

File this under: Space, Scandal, Science Fiction.

Onto the next ones!