Home Feed
Home
Search
Search
Add Review, Blurb, Quote
Add
Activity
Activity
Profile
Profile
balletbookworm

balletbookworm

Joined February 2016

Books and cats! balletbookworm.wordpress.com
review
balletbookworm
Rebel | Beverly Jenkins
post image
Pickpick

Sometimes you pick up a book thinking you‘re going to get just a good romance but then you‘re presented with a book that transcends genre. Ms. Bev‘s new book does just that in a romance set in Reconstruction-era New Orleans between a NYC teacher and a man from a prominent Free Black family working to help those recently freed rebuild their lives. The romance between Val and Drake is sweet and sexy but this doesn‘t make the book easy.

balletbookworm Nothing was easy for free and freed people of color after the Civil War, from getting a job, to an education, to a fair wage, to even being able to seek justice because the systems were all still rigged in favor of Whites. Jenkins lays that all out on the page and includes names and dates of real (shitty) legislation passed by Congress and states and real activists working in the era. An absolutely outstanding novel to kick off the summer. 3w
balletbookworm For those who have read other historicals from Jenkins, Raimond and Sable make an extended appearance here and you may also recognize a few names mentioned in passing. 3w
22 likes2 stack adds2 comments
review
balletbookworm
Ayesha at Last | Uzma Jalaluddin
post image
Pickpick

The first twenty pages aside (read at lunch before grocery shopping) I INHALED this Pride and Prejudice retelling set I a Toronto Muslim community. Jalaluddin very cleverly kept the bones of Austen‘s masterpiece, and a few well-placed near-quotes, and used it to tell a fresh story about appearances, religious intolerance, and how a culture changes over time.

balletbookworm There‘s even Ayesha‘s Shakespeare-quoting, ex-professor Nana and sharp-eyed Nani (who gives an amazing cooking lesson) to stand-in for our beloved Uncle and Aunt Gardiner. A must-read this summer. (And the US cover is GORGEOUS) 3w
26 likes6 stack adds1 comment
review
balletbookworm
The Austen Playbook | Lucy Parker
post image
Pickpick

Super-cute contemporary romance between a frosty, Jason Isaacs look-alike theatre critic and a bubbly, musical-theatre actress at a career crossroads. I really liked how Griff and Freddy worked out the mystery and that what looked vaguely like a love-triangle in the making did NOT go there. However, the resolution of the novel is a bit overstuffed with extra side-plots, especially the one about the sister and her hideous boyfriend.

balletbookworm Now, I had been hoping that we would see more of this actual “Jane Austen characters smashed together in a Choose-Your-Own-Adventure whodunnit” but wound up disappointed (although I‘d fire the casting director of that fictional TV production bc holy cats was that some bad choices). 3w
18 likes1 stack add1 comment
review
balletbookworm
post image
Pickpick

I had a little trouble getting into this, which annoyed me as an Austen fan. I think it‘s because Dev introduces SO MANY characters at once, so we‘re trying to sort out who‘s who and who has history, etc because it‘s very expansive instead of insular. But once I got past the first 40 pages I was able to sink right in. I loved how Dev did a “remix” of the characters so that (Wickham aside) none of them are direct analogues to their originals.

balletbookworm Also, this book will make you VERY hungry bc DJ is an amazing chef. All food described in this book is drool-inducing. 3w
21 likes2 stack adds1 comment
review
balletbookworm
The Wedding Party | Jasmine Guillory
post image
Pickpick

4 stars overall: the beginning felt rushed but I liked how Theo and Maddie found themselves caught in the trap of “we said this was a fling but how do we admit this is more”. Also, Maddie‘s idea of creating a way to help low income women with style tips was aces.
5 great big stars for Alexa, who as Maddie and Theo‘s bestie makes a big appearance here and I ❤️ her.

review
balletbookworm
The Game Plan | Kristen Callihan
post image
Pickpick

Purchased and read immediately upon hearing the rec from Sarah MacLean. Well-plotted and very steamy. I liked the sports star/virgin + experienced woman/friend‘s younger sister combo really fun. Really good work on the toxic nature of celebrity media. I didn‘t quite buy how spectacular he was in the sack from the word go.

review
balletbookworm
post image
Pickpick

Hello, yes, new Tessa Dare book, with SO MUCH banter. I love it - banter between Penny and Gabe and, my favorite, banter between Gabe, Ash, and Chase in one scene that made me laugh so hard I almost fell out of my chair (there‘s also a dirty-mouthed parrot in this book and a clear homage to Mrs Danvers). There‘s also a darker side to this book, one where both Penny and Gabe have old wounds and scars that have to come to light. Penny is wonderful.

balletbookworm And there‘s a tiny hook for Nicola‘s book which, drat it all, I need it now! 4w
22 likes2 stack adds1 comment
review
balletbookworm
post image
Pickpick

I didn‘t think it would be possible to make a better hero and heroine couple than Pippa and Cross but omg Hattie and Beast. The climax of this book was amazing. I also really appreciate how Sarah has seeded in some more of Ewan and Grace‘s history - enough to understand some of what happened - but left the complete tale for the third book.

balletbookworm Things I require post-haste:
1. Sesily‘s story. OMG she‘s been waiting forever.
2. Nik and Nora need their own damn book (spoiler, sorrrrryyyyy). Also, Nora is such a great bestie.
1mo
24 likes4 stack adds1 comment
review
balletbookworm
post image
Pickpick

Lady scientists and artists taking down the patriarchy!!! It was amazing!!

(Which is all I have right now bc I‘m waiting on an Amtrak train that was supposed to arrive at 830pm and now won‘t get here until almost 11pm and I‘ve been stuck in this crappy train station since about 5:30pm. This book kept me from murdering people.)

TrishB Books serve many purposes! 1mo
16 likes1 comment
review
balletbookworm
post image
Pickpick

A really cute cozy mystery set in a Chinese-American shopping center with a nosy protagonist (Lana) who works at her family‘s Chinese restaurant and inadvertently ends up delivering the murder weapon: shrimp dumplings. There‘s also a spunky roommate, a pushy mom, a lovable dad, way too many plausible suspects (I do love me a good Murder She Wrote or Midsomer Murders episode), and a cute pug named Kikko. And a cute detective.

balletbookworm A little predictable and some of the characterizations were thin but a really fun read. 1mo
26 likes1 stack add1 comment
review
balletbookworm
post image
Pickpick

I‘m not much of a television watcher these days - for some reason multi-episode stuff isn‘t doing it for me - but I do love criticism. I‘d read ~1/3 of Nussbaum‘s essays previously so I knew I would enjoy this book immensely. Some are reviews of a show‘s season or finale, some are more of a critical look back. Two essays are completely new - in my opinion, too few. I would have loved a better balance of older pieces and new cross-topic pieces.

15 likes1 stack add
review
balletbookworm
Lost Roses | Martha Hall Kelly
post image
Mehso-so

I liked much of the story in Lost Roses and it was compelling - the violence of the Russian Revolution, how the emigres were treated like vermin abroad even though they would have been catered to as rich, white women, the comparative time period in the US, etc.

However, the actual construction of the book left me cold. The author uses a rotating cast of three narrators, ordinarily fine, but in this case each narrative has a different pace...

balletbookworm ...broken up by unnecessary cliff-hangers and the other narratives. Two chapters from Sofya‘s POV that should flow directly from one to the other are broken up by a different narrator at what feels like a different time with a cheap cliff-hanger thrown in for good measure; this was more of a problem at the beginning of the book than at the end when the three POV characters‘ timelines had converged. 1mo
balletbookworm Some of the plotting was revealed to be overly convoluted in the climax of the plot.
Read for the BN Book Club.
1mo
19 likes2 comments
review
balletbookworm
Becoming | Michelle Obama
post image
Pickpick

I don‘t know what I can say. It has truly been an honor to listen to Michelle Obama read her memoir. The story of a woman who came from a family that didn‘t have much, but they had each other and jumped on every opportunity to let a bright, driven child get a good education with good mentors who one day became the FLOTUS and used her position to lift up others.

balletbookworm So many parts of this book made me teary - her father‘s fight with MS, her struggle with fertility, learning to become the most-watched woman in the world, her mistakes, her love for Barack and how to keep their relationship working even when she had to share him with the world. Michelle, thank you. 1mo
19 likes1 comment
quote
balletbookworm
post image

I have *died* (from Emily Nussbaum‘s upcoming collection of TV criticism out in June, this essay is about The Good Wife). The quote says: “Recently, I had lunch with an entirely charming TV-maker, who was educated and intelligent about many forms of television but had never watched The Good Wife, because, he admitted with a shrug, he perceived it as being “for women.” Although he was a fantastic lunch companion, he‘s dead now.” 💀

review
balletbookworm
The Golden Goblet: Selected Poems of Goethe | Johann Wolfgang Von Goethe
post image
Panpan

The notes on the translators' work and the introduction explaining how Goethe's language changed over time and influenced art and literature were very interesting.

The poems? Eh, maybe not. The translators were very careful to preserve the rhyme scheme and meter of the poems, but they felt very cold. Not inspiring or passionate, which is one of the first thing one thinks of with Goethe.

balletbookworm It may have been better had the publishers chose to do a facing-page style presentation, with the original German on one page and the new English translation facing the other. Because it was hard to judge how much Goethe was changing since he didn't write in English. Since I read German, that would have been fun. 2mo
15 likes1 comment
review
balletbookworm
The Proposal | Jasmine Guillory
post image
Pickpick

I loved The Wedding Date, so was entirely ready to be charmed by Carlos and his love of food. Nik was a great introduction to the series as the heroine - who is also into good food, prepare to be hungry most of this book. (Minor spoiler) I felt that the late-book “conflict” between Nik and Carlos needed a bit more teeth, it felt kind of juvenile with some of the lines, but I got where Nik was coming from.

balletbookworm I had a galley but it expired early (booo technology) and didn‘t get back to until now. (Weekend of finishing half-read books, yay!) 2mo
21 likes1 stack add1 comment
review
balletbookworm
The Kiss Quotient | Helen Hoang
post image
Pickpick

I started this last year and managed to misplace the book. Well, I found it again and restarted it and finished today. Yay!

This was fun. Reverse Pretty Woman plot = yes! I particularly loved Michael‘s interactions with his mom and sisters. Stella was an interesting character, I really liked how she decided to attack her “relationship problem” with logic.

balletbookworm (Also, tiny spoiler: Michael‘s rotten dad NEVER shows up so if returning Prodigal parents are not a thing you like then you are spared.) 2mo
24 likes1 comment
review
balletbookworm
post image
Mehso-so

I‘ve had this in my home library for a while (thanks B2G3F DC sale at the store) but hadn‘t got around to reading it yet. But I needed a book for an SRC task and this fit the bill. And here we are.

It‘s fine. A bit too A.A. Milne-meets-Harry Potter plus horror comic pastiche for my taste. The idea is interesting though. I‘ll probably read the second volume at some point (since I already have it) and then decide whether to seek out the rest.

review
balletbookworm
post image
Pickpick

A very thought-provoking examination of race in media and YA speculative fiction through the lens of the Dark Fantastic (spectacle, hesitation, violence, haunting, and emancipation). Thomas uses four key Black characters - Rue from The Hunger Games, Gwen from BBC‘s Merlin, Bonnie from CW‘s The Vampire Diaries, and Angelina Johnson from Harry Potter - to explore this cycle and how fanfiction/counter-storytelling are changing these characters.

balletbookworm This monograph sits between popular lit-crit and academic theory so be ready for a more formal argument. 2mo
16 likes3 stack adds1 comment
review
balletbookworm
Without Protection | Gala Mukomolova
post image
Mehso-so

Raw and spare, in some cases autobiographical (there are Notes, which I can‘t decide were necessary or not). I think this is a case where the arrangement of the poems in the collection did a disservice - it felt jumbled, confusing.

review
balletbookworm
post image
Pickpick

Nya and Johan provided us (via Alyssa‘s brain) with a lovely ending to the Reluctant Royals Trilogy. I very much liked that the “villain” of the book wasn‘t someone out to do physical harm, etc but instead our own human fears and prejudices - of having our softer bits exposed for others to see and perhaps ridicule. Could have done without the ongoing subplot of Nya‘s dating game (it got weird) but A+ plot with Johan‘s brother and step-dad.

balletbookworm Alyssa has also used her books in this series to hit back hard at racism, classism, ableism, and post-colonialism. So well-done.

For anyone wondering, yes, we get to see Portia+Tav and Likotski+Fab but no, not nearly enough ;) (but unfortunately, no Reggie+Gus on the page)
2mo
balletbookworm Also, that cover 😍 2mo
24 likes2 comments
review
balletbookworm
post image
Pickpick

Between🤘🏻and so-so, rounded to🤘🏻because I really like the premise - using the idea of divergent Earths and their histories to explore forced migration and Otherness, “belonging” to a group, grief, and mourning. Where I struggled was when the sections of the fictional book “The Pyronauts” from Hel and Vikram‘s world were included in the narrative - the technique was distracting and didn‘t work as well as it did in a book like Station Eleven.

review
balletbookworm
post image
Mehso-so

Goodman has clearly brought a lot of detail and minutiae of daily Tudor- and Stewart-era life (the title is a bit of a misnomer) and it‘s kind of interesting how mores have or haven‘t changed over the years. But wow, does this read like molasses. Slow, really slow.

I haven‘t read her earlier Tudor book, but I did read her Victorian book and that was laid out really well.

Morinen Agreed. Tudor and Victorian are both really good and have stayed on my shelf. This one was interesting enough but got sold in my last cull. 2mo
17 likes1 stack add1 comment
review
balletbookworm
post image
Pickpick

A meandering novel that charts the life of an extraordinary (fictional) woman spanning the majority of the 19th century and the major developments in science and biology. I liked that it was twisting and slow, with no more plottiness apparent that starting with Alma‘s birth and ending with her death. There was a lot of rumination about faith, conviction, morality, belief, communication, knowledge, self-sacrifice that gave me a lot to think about.

balletbookworm What I found most fascinating was Alma‘s position as the main character - she is not “likeable”, she makes some cringe-worthy assumptions about others because she presumed to know too much (particularly about other people) without directly communicating with that person, but she is so compelling.

I highly recommend the audiobook version - Juliet Stevenson is an extraordinary narrator.
2mo
balletbookworm Also, idk what‘s up with Litsy, sorry for the double post 2mo
15 likes2 stack adds2 comments
review
balletbookworm
post image
Pickpick

A meandering novel that charts the life of an extraordinary (fictional) woman spanning the majority of the 19th century and the major developments in science and biology. I liked that it was twisting and slow, with no more plottiness apparent that starting with Alma‘s birth and ending with her death. There was a lot of rumination about faith, conviction, morality, belief, communication, knowledge, self-sacrifice that gave me a lot to think about.

review
balletbookworm
Hallowe’en Party (Poirot) | Agatha Christie
post image
Pickpick

A very plotty one-sitting read. Poirot‘s sum-up is rather interesting, with his friend Mrs. Oliver who was the one who brought him into the case.

Of course, after reading Hallowe‘en Party (which copy my boss found in the local charity shop, read, and then passed to me - it‘s in unbelievably bad condition, with the pages falling out) I had to go watch some old Midsomer Murders episodes - it‘s the exact type of murder Barnaby would have solved.

catiewithac I love Mrs. Oliver in this one 🍎 2mo
Jaimelire Love Agatha:Christie books and Midsomer Murders is the best! (edited) 2mo
Freespirit 2 of my favourites too...Agatha Christie and Midsummer murders❤️ 2mo
27 likes1 stack add3 comments
review
balletbookworm
post image
Pickpick

A thoughtful book about different types of narrative patterns (waves, cells, fractals, meanders, spirals, explosions, etc) rather than the linear plot. It was a really fun way to challenge how we look at non-linear plots but a number of the examples she cited were pieces I had not read and had an emphasis on short works (short stories, novellas, short novels) with the longest book cited (Cloud Atlas) being used only once as an example of tsunami.

review
balletbookworm
post image
Pickpick

A readable and very well researched look at some of the most memorable films from 1999 - including The Matrix, Fight Club, American Beauty (and Pie), Election, Office Space, The Phantom Menace, to name only a few - and how the culture and media of the late 90s and the end of the 20th century spoke to these film and filmmakers. Raftery also contrasts 1999 with 1969 (the Raging Bulls, Easy Rider film year) and 2019. A fun read for film fans.

review
balletbookworm
Exit West: A Novel | Mohsin Hamid
post image
Pickpick

A short, quiet fable about fleeing one‘s home and the meaning of a relationship between two people. I enjoyed how Hamid gave as much weight to the stress and fear of revolution, of the unknown future Saeed and Nadia we‘re stepping into, and how the world was reacting to the doors that allowed such unprecedented migration as well as the full arc of Saeed‘s and Nadia‘s romance and the unspoken possibilities that did not happen.

review
balletbookworm
Bloom | Kevin Panetta
post image
Pickpick

A New Adult (bc I continue to believe that that tag should belong to more than just the adult romance market) m/m graphic romance novel with beautiful aqua-and-cream artwork and a storyline that involves trying to figure out who you want to be and what you want to do in life. And a reminder that teenagers can be assholes but still sweet and your friends can be total dicks to you. Hector made me think of my friend Brandon, a writer.

balletbookworm Read for the Graphic Novel Book Group at my store. 2mo
Susannah I‘ve got this from my library; really looking forward to it. 2mo
15 likes1 stack add2 comments
quote
balletbookworm
post image

Twenty years later, movie studios are still pumping out unwanted remakes and sequels. Just with bigger budgets. From Brian Raftery‘s Best. Movie. Year. Ever. about the movies that came out in 1999 - this chapter is about the Wachowskis and The Matrix. Out on Tuesday #amreading

review
balletbookworm
post image
Mehso-so

This is...fine. See has stuffed the book with research and the pacing of the novel is glacial. I also often stopped to wonder - was See the right person to write this story? A lot of the overstuffed feel stems from the fact that this is a historical novel written for an overwhelmingly American and white audience and the narrator does not trust the reader to follow. There was an instance where this worked...

balletbookworm (the contrast of the two women‘s weddings) but I don‘t need hanbok defined for me. I have google. 2mo
27 likes1 comment
review
balletbookworm
Norse Mythology | Neil Gaiman
post image
Pickpick

A fun re-write of the Norse myths. Re-write isn‘t perhaps the right word - Gaiman didn‘t shift settings or retell/transform the myths in any way since the book hews close to Crossley-Holland (which I‘ve read), but he updated some of the language, gave them a bit more narrative line, strengthened some characters (particularly Freya, who has more opinions about what people want to do with her). I did the audio - Gaiman is a fantastic storyteller.

Leftcoastzen I loved it on audio as well. He has such fun in the telling. 2mo
vumblereads I LOVE this book!!! 2mo
28 likes2 comments
review
balletbookworm
post image
Pickpick

An absolute banger, a one-sitting read. The subtitle for Jacob‘s memoir, “A Memoir in Conversations”, absolutely nails how we speak to one another - and it‘s accomplished in such a unique style of graphic art (almost collage-like). And she gets at the hard conversations about racism, colorism, having a mixed-race child/family, sexism, microaggressions, politics - which become even harder when the questions are being asked by her own young child.

18 likes1 stack add
review
balletbookworm
post image
Mehso-so

I really wanted to LIKE this. There‘s a lot of good information here - history that goes beyond white, wealthy women to feature girls/women from diverse eras of history and geographic locations. But the tone of the book kept putting me off. Normally, quippy and snappy would be a treat, but here I wondered who the intended audience was. It sounded more like middle grade/teen girls but oblique references made me think this was meant for adults.

review
balletbookworm
post image
Pickpick

A delightful romance that I picked up on Pi Day (of course). This is a delightfully fun (and hungry-making) contemporary between an app developer CEO and a pie shop owner/caterer. All props to Jackie Lau for having a hero who has zero qualms about being a good caregiver when his love interest has menstrual cramps from hell. Also, so much yummy-sounding pie.

balletbookworm (But it‘s written in alternating 1st person present tense POV and gah, why? It drives me so crazy. Lucky for this book its cuteness overcame the structure.) 2mo
13 likes1 comment
review
balletbookworm
Sabrina and Corina: Stories | Kali Fajardo-Anstine
post image
Pickpick

Sabrina & Corina is a beautiful collection of stories set among Latina Indigenous women and girls in Denver, Colorado. Several of the stories interlink via characters to create a web of female relationships, aunts, cousins, mothers, sisters, and grandmothers. These characters fight against racism, intimate partner violence, and misogyny to have jobs, keep their homes, raise children, and care for their elders.

EKonrad About halfway through this one right now. Loving it! 🌸 2mo
18 likes2 stack adds1 comment
review
balletbookworm
Mitochondrial Night | Ed Bok Lee
post image
Mehso-so

3.5 stars. This is a collection that I really, really want to love but I feel like the physical structure of some of the poems (lots of creative spacing, shapes, etc) gets in the way of the reading. The strongest poems were ones where Lee spoke of fatherhood or his daughter. The final poem, Water in Love, is gorgeous. A few poems (especially one written in Prince‘s voice) really didn‘t work for me.

balletbookworm But all the poems were very narrative, with sweeping story arcs, and I deeply appreciated Lee‘s work with those narrative shapes. 3mo
22 likes1 comment
review
balletbookworm
post image
Pickpick

Super fast-paced and steamy corporate espionage romance with a Punjabi desi couple (and their families, because these are family businesses, even at the corporate billionaire level). Lawyers abound in this book, extremely smart ones. The only thing that needled me was that Hem was really possessive of Mina and wasn‘t excellent at respecting all her boundaries, so ymmv there.

balletbookworm Nisha also recently tried to murder me by saying her physical model for Hem was Ranveer Singh (which, if you think about this novel/plot in Bollywood terms, YES ABSOLUTELY CORRECT). 3mo
mdemanatee Oohhhh *ordered* (will I throw my $$ at Avon to continue to diversify its catalog. Yup.) Also this author had a YA Bollywood romcom last year! 3mo
balletbookworm @mdemanatee yup. Avon‘s getting better but they need to leave the Impulse line to novellas/shorts and put Cat Sebastian, Nisha Sharma, etc full novels in the main imprint. Bc they aren‘t getting big enough pushes when they finally come to paper 2mo
21 likes1 stack add4 comments
review
balletbookworm
post image
Pickpick

Another solid work of science history by an old pro.

If you‘ve ever been curious about how and why engineers talk about “tolerance” and measurement, and how we are now measuring into the subatomic level, this book is for you. And, as all works of engineering history do, the most interesting parts are when precision breaks down and you have billion-dollar problems like the original issue with the Hubble telescope.

balletbookworm Read by Winchester too - which was OK, he‘s quite a slow narrator but bumping up the speed to 1.5x brought it up to at least conversational speeds and didn‘t distort his voice too much. 3mo
sk888888 I bumped up the speed also; love his voice, but it was a little too slow at normal speed. Love Winchester! Working my way through his books, slowly but surely. 3mo
18 likes2 comments
review
balletbookworm
Gideon the Ninth | Tamsyn Muir
post image
Pickpick

WHAAAAAAAATTTT IS THIS ENDING AND WHEEEEEEEEEERE CAN I FIND THE NEXT BOOK *cries in Why Are Trilogies*

Mark your calendars for September, fans of totally weird shit from Tor. Necromancers, magic (maybe?), science (also maybe?), politics, sword-fighting, queer ladies, weird morbid death cults, and animated skeletons all narrated by the snarkiest, most obnoxious teenage ginger ever. What‘s not to like? (CW for discussion of suicide)

IndyHannaJones I love Tor. 2mo
balletbookworm @IndyHannaJones they are KILLING it with their lineup right now 2mo
21 likes2 comments
review
balletbookworm
Reverb | Anna Zabo
post image
Pickpick

This is a lovely wrap-up to the Twisted Wishes series, with the band back on the road for a new tour and album. The dynamic between all the characters is great, a true “found family”, and one that David desperately wants to remain a part of but doesn‘t know how to accept (when you pride yourself on being able to handle “being alone” for so long it‘s really, REALLY hard to swallow and change). Mish is wonderfully fabulous, which we already knew.

balletbookworm There was a shade too much Instalust for my taste, in both sides, but that‘s definitely a YMMV situation. If you liked the Bodyguard but wanted a different (read: better/HEA ending) get Reverb when it drops in May. (edited) 3mo
balletbookworm Also: MUCH STEAMINESS, though a lot less kink than then previous two books (although not much could have been kinkier than rope+pie in Counterpoint 😉). 3mo
17 likes2 comments
review
balletbookworm
Girl-King | Brittany Cavallaro
post image
Pickpick

An exquisitely wrought group of poems, each very precisely tuned. I stumbled a little in several sections with references/metaphor - The Ressurectionists section is the most accessible - but was definitely rewarded by the “work” of reading. (I‘d advise revisiting Berryman‘s Dream Songs when reading the Mirror Songs section)

19 likes1 stack add
review
balletbookworm
post image
Pickpick

Young uses the form of the essay to both tell his own story of growing up black in Pittsburgh AND write about the culture around him. He has a sharp turn of phrase and a dry humor that I really enjoyed. There is a lot to think about here, from ripping culture, to masculinity, to use of the N word in black culture, to his lack of an driver‘s license and how that impacts employment, to his new identity as a parent.

balletbookworm I really appreciated how he constructed the chapter about his mother‘s illness and death then comments on how the white medical establishment views black women‘s pain and bodies; very well-crafted. 3mo
32 likes1 comment
review
balletbookworm
post image
Mehso-so

3.5 stars. A solid book recounting if the lives of the people of Janesville in the wake of the GM plant closing at the start of the recession, throwing thousands out of work. The tone of the book felt too chatty for me, and some the chapters absurdly short, but the author did a good job bringing across the frustration of people doing everything they can to stay afloat when barriers keep being thrown in their way.

balletbookworm it also highlights, though not explicitly, the problem with the conservative idea that generosity and charity will see people through when, clearly, that isn‘t enough 3mo
balletbookworm ETA: I do need to add a CW though. Late in the book one of the people Goldstein followed died by suicide. The chapter is not long, nor very graphic, but it does recount how she was found and the efforts to revive her. 3mo
22 likes2 comments
review
balletbookworm
post image
Pickpick

A very solid collection of essays from a diverse selection of writers about the things they don‘t talk to their mothers about: family history, abuse, love, protection, secrets, first husbands, expectations. Particularly poignant essays are from Alexander Chee and Brandon Taylor (the last few pages of Brandon‘s gutted me, not because it‘s graphic or horrible, but because it‘s a wish to have understood his mom and who he knew her to be).

25 likes2 stack adds
review
balletbookworm
post image
Pickpick

A delightful mashup of true crime and my favorite genre, books about books. It also gets at the class worries of upper class London with the grisly murder of a harmless old man (in the ways of British aristocracy, Lord William Russell was pretty innocuous) by his valet (GASP). In among this is the discussion of the unbelievably popular Newgate novels romanticizing criminals‘ exploits, particularly that of Jack Sheppard, ...

balletbookworm which has many echoes today in the fraught discussion of the effect of violent and/or radicalized media on consumers. Harman perhaps should have left off the “I shall try to suss out what really happened” epilogue since it‘s pretty thin and doesn‘t add much to the book. 3mo
22 likes1 comment
review
balletbookworm
"Muslim": A Novel | Zahia Rahmani
post image
Pickpick

This is a book that I found by accident while curating a selection of Muslim writers, which plays into the central tenet of the novel: "Muslim" is used as a monolith, a label that erases nuance. The narrator explores her childhood as an immigrant in France, losing then finding her childhood Berber language, ruminating on the development of Islam, and contemplating the bleakness of an unnamed camp where the narrator...

balletbookworm has been taken captive because she is a "Muslim" and therefore suspect of all manner of unnamable things.

The original French edition was published in 2005, so several later references in the book are very directly pointing to the US military in Afghanistan and Iraq at that time. I wonder how the book would be similar or different had Rahmani written the book in 2015.
3mo
20 likes2 stack adds1 comment
review
balletbookworm
Dead Now Of Course | Phyllida Law
post image
Pickpick

A delightful small volume of reminisces from Phyllida Law‘s early career in the theatre up to the beginning of her marriage to Eric Thompson. So many stingers at the ends of paragraphs.

For those who don‘t know, she‘s Emma Thompson‘s mum. You can tell where she gets the no-nonsense humor.

review
balletbookworm
Signs of Attraction | Laura Brown
post image
Mehso-so

I‘m really torn about the rating. On the one hand, this is an excellent #ownvoices romance between a Deaf man and a Hard of Hearing woman who each have a lot of emotional baggage they have to deal with to get to a happy ending. On the other, there are a few plot tropes unrelated to the above representation (an evil old girlfriend with a very complicated level of shittiness, perhaps not the best ways of describing race, etc) that I did not like.