Amanda Wakes Up by Alisyn Camerota // Book Review

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Amanda has finally made it when a potential flop on air for her local news station propels her to viral meme status. This certainly attracts the interest of Benji Diggs who’s rich enough to start his own 24 hour news channel with Amanda as the front runner for the morning show. The concept? FAIR News that’s interested in presenting both sides especially if the subject matter is definitely not bi-partisan. 

It’s just so happens there is a heated presidential campaign featuring an ex-Hollywood actor representing the GOP. Amanda see this as her chance to responsibly inform her audience about the upcoming election. She doesn’t take this role lightly unlike her co-host Rob who can’t be bothered to engage seriously during any of the interviews. Everyone else on staff seems to disregard research and understands that this is television where views are the only thing mattering. If anyone says something incorrect to defend their political viewpoint on air, there’s hardly and repercussions. This is FAIR News where any opinion is equally given a microphone to shout from despite their lack of evidence. As any woman in the workplace can attest to, the stress of meeting superficial expectations is getting to Amanda. Her friends and family treat her as a pariah for associating with the Right. It doesn’t matter that she has no control over what’s airing or how the show is edited. This is simply bad for her image as a reputable journalist to be reduced to a talking head on TV. 

While the book does offer both sides, I found that Amanda was extremely pragmatic. She managed to keep the core part of herself through it all at the same time expanding her views and growing as a person. It’s a different matter when you are a news network personality because you’re able to gain access to people that you never thought you could have common ground. There are also instances when you realize that the person you’re talking to has no interest in what they’re saying and is simply using you to make money. 

I recommend this book as an off beat adventure of a working woman with slight romance in the mix. It may be offensive to people who haven’t had the best experience with conservatives. That’s understandable to feel fed up with a side that seems like they have a lack of empathy. So this book aims to offer different perspectives that hit the middle ground better than the summary leads you to believe. The plus side is that I didn’t detect any attempts to humanize the alt-right. However, there are still plenty of strong opinions in between to get anyone riled up.  

Modern Lovers by Emma Straub // Book Review

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Okay, you got me. I love to read about “first world problems“. Going by the negative reviews on Goodreads, it’s as if poor, non-formally educated, people of color don’t experience complicated emotions and moments of contemplation concerning our mortality. I guess we’re too overworked and uneducated to understand the mechanisms that have resulted in our current state of living. Sure we can’t put that philosophy degree to use but that doesn’t mean happiness is a guarantee in life for those with a degree. Maybe we should stop finding comfort in the fact that others are suffering more and do what we can to help those that we are not considering suffering enough. Oh, just so we’re clear, you can care about first and third world problems simultaneously. Seriously, can we stop romanticizing “third world problems” as more valid? It’s almost condescending to assume that mental illness and romantic comedies don’t exist in third worlds. So, keep an open mind that sooner or later in life, we all question the meaning of it.

Love in this age isn’t simply the exchange in economic value that families have to offer. Same sex marriage wasn’t constitutionally legal until 2015 in the United State but I guess people are forgetting that it was illegal to marry people with the same sexual genitalia. Oh how quickly we like to complain about complainers. It’s not as if it took years to convince that homophobia is indeed bigotry by complaining. And so Zoe, resident sapphic, starts to wonder if what was the big deal heterosexuals were clamoring to protect. 

Andrew and Elizabeth are currently married with a introverted son they have a difficult time communicating. The two still keep in touch with Zoe as they were all part of a band together in college. It isn’t until the fourth member who continued the band with renown success dies of an overdose that the rest of the members are confronted with the future they didn’t believe in when they were young. 

The writing is lyrical and while there’s not much that happens in terms of scandal, I liked how it was a boring book. Yep, really. No secret double life. No murders and turning into a detective overnight. Just adults having adult issues and teenagers failing at adulting. It was a comfortable book I was certainly in the mood for so I wouldn’t recommend this to anyone who don’t find middle aged, upper-middle class to be interesting. Honestly, you’re just going to think it’s pretentious drivel about has-been hipster millennials.  

The City Baker’s Guide to Country Living by Louise Miller // Book Review

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Olivia, like most artisans of baked goods, is in a predicament of existential proportions. She wonders if she’s burned out. Is this her last flambé? In comes Hannah, who’s living the adult lifestyle of mortgages and motherhood to ask Livvy, “Maybe you need a break.” Livvy who’s all about trying to make ends meet to hold down her apartment rent says “Okay, but I won’t like it.”

Surprise! She does like the quiet life and manages to get a taste of that country hotdog on a stick. It’s almost as if she was written to be too wild and needed to be reigned in. No proper lady has purple hair and no wedding ring! Did I mention there’s a baking competition that’s supposed to help Livvy regain her confidence as a baker. Hahaha, doesn’t matter because the cantankerous Margret, owner of the Sugar Maple Inn, is on a mission to destroy another old lady. Yes, old people are more charming when they are openly rude because underneath they lived through the Civil Rights Movement and didn’t learn a thing.

That’s neither here or there since most of the book is dedicated to the rooommmancee. Ah yes, the art of seduction as Martin squirms his way into your heart. I can’t remember a single good thing about him. He cuts down trees? The main conflict arises when Martin confesses his love. Will Livvy stay and finally settle down? Let’s just say that Livvy should dye her hair back to it’s natural color before the locals start to harass her for being a special snowflake and wanting to pee in the “wrong” restroom.

Wonderful photography, I love the setting and the character design. The type is not working in terms of placement. Props to doing something different though. 

Sometimes I Lie by Alice Feeney // Book Review

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I am easy to please. When someone says “middle-aged woman trying to keep it together but her ominous secret life is catching up”, I will bite. Of course, when it comes to stories involving some degree of mental illness and complicated schemes there is sure to be a level of disbelief suspended. I’d like to think that truth is stranger than fiction so maybe it’s possible to live your whole life built around a lie. A lie so carefully crafted that you can’t distinguish reality.

Amber wakes up from a hospital bed realizing she cannot move but she can hear everything. As she pieces together the various voices speaking in her presence, she comes to understand that she’s in a coma. Time slips from its logical sequences as events play out over the span of three different timelines interweaving. It seems that there are more people than initially presented at play. That means Amber has to uncover who’s responsible…or else. *Cue the suspenseful music!

So, it may come as no surprise to readers who are familiar with this genre that there are unreliable narrators. Maybe that’s a bit spoiler-ish but the fun comes from attempting to parse out how deep the lies goes. In comes, Detective Amber to figure out the case! 

The few criticisms I have is how the story repeatedly does the switch-a-roo act. Obviously, the more information is revealed, a larger picture is presented to gage a character. In my opinion, the impact is lessen the more time it happens so there’s a lack of this final revelation. There’s less satisfaction when everything comes to a head. I wish there was more editing to get rid of the unnecessary red herrings.

Overall, this is pretty enjoyable and I actually like Amber. She’s paranoid, messes around with the truth, and is quick to judge people poorly. That makes her the perfect protagonist because why would I want to read about a morally uncompromised person unjustly suffering? I’m not a sadist. 

Girls Burn Brighter by Shobha Rao // Book Review

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C O N T E N T   W A R N I N G :   S E X U A L   A S S A U L T ,  
G R A P H I C   V I O L E N C E

I know this is a Goodreads finalist but that doesn’t mean anything to me anymore. You can definitely say that by making it on the list, this book got a boost of exposure. So, I thought naively, “Wow, this must be something special!” To be fair, I liked the main characters, Poornima and Savitha. These girls sacrifice so much to live one more day. It can be disheartening to read. At a certain point I wondered if this is tragedy porn because they never get a break. Happiness exists in the folds of their constant suffering as their bodies are picked apart and their spirit is slowly eaten away. It really do be like that in this book. I am not exaggerating.

The two meet when Poornima’s father hires Savitha to work at the family loom business. They soon become close friends as meaningful conversations take place involving experiences of girlhood. The concerns surrounding marriage turn to precious moments of pleasure within the mundane. I like their friendships despite of society usually pitting girls against each other. They find a way to live within and outside of expectations to redefine what they want out of their lives.

Due to a myriad of unfortunate acts of violence, Poornima and Savitha are separated. It isn’t until they turn to their memories that they begin on a journey to return to each other. This plot setups as a series of missed connections as they find each other at the wrong time or at the wrong place. In addition, it seems like men in this book are natural born storytellers and love to emotionally unburden themselves on girls. It was both sweet and like why the fuck. In trying to interpret this dynamic I guess it’s trying to describe the brokenness of this world. It’s not just girls who are in pain when we deny them of basic human rights

I honestly thought this book was going to be a story of *girl power* and overt hopefulness. However I don’t dislike the different direction it took. Maybe that is what’s nuanced about girls who become women before they are ready. Poornima still sees herself as too much of a girl to learn “knowledge produced by men” but too much of a woman to unknow how people can use her body. Savitha faces the dilemma of transitioning to womanhood outside of her own terms or even beginning to understand what it may mean (this is a euphemism).

So, when their journey nears its end, I am conflicted in the ambiguousness of it all. It clearly upset me and yet is it an act of defiance to live how you want no matter the circumstances? The whole, go out with a bang comes into mind. All I know is that my fiction is someone else’s nonfiction. I am freaking out and left in a void of despair. What does it mean?