BOOK REVIEW ROUND UP // VOLUME 2 ISSUE 15

A review and rating of the last 5 books I read and a look into my TBR list for books to come

Memorial
Author: Bryan Washington
Publication Date: October 2020
Genre: fiction, LGBT
Method: audiobook via TPL, hardcover BOTM

It was a strong start for me, but inevitably, it fell flat, but I’m fairly certain that was the point.

I might be in the minority who really enjoyed part 1 from Ben’s perspective and his stream of consciousness type storytelling and writing style. I liked how there was an obvious, chorological progression depicting Ben and Mike’s relationship, intermixed with almost vignettes or flashbacks to add context about Ben’s past and it’s influence on him present day in his relationship with Mike.

I went into part 2 really hating Ben and Mike’s relationship obviously built due to sheer convivence. But then started to warm up to Mike specifically as we learn about his relationship with his father while in Japan.

I was surprised how distinct Ben’s perspective and chapters were from Mike’s perspective and chapters. Given what I know and have read about Washington, it’s easy for me to read Ben’s perspective and inherently know Washington wrote those chapters. But what I found really impressive is how seamless and effortless Mike’s chapters felt given their heavy Japanese influence and references. If you would have told me a Japanese co-author wrote those chapters, I would have believed you because the attention to detail related to food, culture, music, etc was spectacular.

Overall, the character representation was exceptional and the commentary on generational trauma, parental relationships, and grief was excellent, but I’m just not wow’ed enough for anything over 3 stars. I believe Bryan Washington set out on a goal to write a story about love and grief, and he absolutely did achieve that, but I’m just left feeling meh. Which again, I think was the point.

A book that is recently on my radar to read in 2022 is Fates and Furies which based on the synopsis, seems similar to this story in that the book is divided into the two perspectives of a romantic (married?) couple. I don’t know much, but my BFF demanded I read it in 2022, so I will.

The Lost Ones
Author: Sheena Kamal
Publication Date: July 2017
Genre: mystery, thriller
Method: hardcover borrowed from TPL

This was a wild ride with an ending I really didn’t see coming. Definitely a mystery thriller out of my comfort zone with a political-type plot that personally, I found hard to keep interested in. I wasn’t the biggest fan of the main character but I rarely am when they are alcoholics or recovering alcoholics – it’s just not my thing, maybe that has something to do with my day job. I enjoyed the setting as I don’t think I’ve read a thriller set in Canada. Oddly enough, I was reading this hardcover book the same week I was listening to Seth Rogen’s memoir Yearbook which also has many references to Vancouver and Canada – so fun to read in tandem! Always happy to read from a BIPOC author, especially in the mystery thriller genre. This is the first book in a 3 part series, I won’t be continuing. Overall, it was fine, nothing really super stands out for me – 3 stars.
Buzzword Readathon: November selection

Yearbook
Author: Seth Rogen
Publication Date: May 2021
Genre: nonfiction, memoir, humor
Method: audiobook via TPL

I had exactly zero intention of reading this book given that I know next to nothing about Seth Rogen, but omg I think that made the experience all the more enjoyable. Honestly the only reason I picked this book up was because one of my 2021 goals was to read more from the humor/comedy genre, I saw that this book was up for a Goodreads Choice Award in the humor category, and the audiobook was a short 6 hours. A perfect storm.

Seth Rogen narrates the book perfectly, as expected, but what elevated the listening experience was the diversity in the cast of supporting voice actors. The attention to details was incredible – child actors voiced dialogue from Rogen’s childhood, there were spot on impressions for Hollywood stars like George Lucas and Nicolas Cage. I couldn’t stop smiling at the conclusion of the audiobook when crediting all of those who lent their voice to the production, including Seth’s wife, parents, siblings, in laws, friends, and colleagues.

Obviously I knew it was going to be funny, and I definitely laughed out loud, but Rogen also discusses at length his childhood and adolescence as a Jewish Canadian, two pieces of his identity I literally didn’t know existed (because I’m not really a huge fan of his film work, let’s be honest). His commentary on film, production, wealth, Hollywood, social media e.g. twitter, was also incredibly insightful and poignant.

The amount of people I’ve recommended this audiobook to is actually insane. When reflecting on what rating to give this book, I couldn’t justify anything less than a 5 given how many people (bookish or not) I encouraged to read or listen to this book. Like I really didn’t shut up about it for a week. Chef’s kiss, bravo, mazal tov.

Tuesdays with Morrie
Author: Mitch Albom
Publication Date: 1997
Genre: nonfiction, memoir
Method: audiobook via TPL

All I have to say is, book magic. I picked this book in December of 2020 to read in December 2021 as my #buzzword pick solely due to, what I feel, the iconic and familiar book title and cover. A year ago, I had no idea the emotional impact and significance this book would hold for me in this season of life.

By minute 5 of the audiobook, I was crying, nearly sobbing. You wouldn’t know from the synopsis that this is the story of a man faced with an ALS diagnosis, inching towards death chapter by chapter. I pressed play on this story less than a month after the ALS diagnosis of a close family member.

I recently picked up a used copy from a library book sale, another magical book moment. This is a story I hope to revisit time and time again, but is both hard and devastating to consume in this moment and also so comforting.

This book will forever be shelved alongside The Last Lecture, another lifelong favorite.
Buzzword Readathon: December selection

The Santa Suit
Author: Mary Kay Andrews
Publication Date: September 2021
Genre: holiday, romance, chick lit
Method: hardcover borrowed from TPL

Super quick read, very cute and festive. Enjoyed the cast of characters and the couple different plots we were following. Nothing ground breaking or revolutionary, but worth picking up to get ya in the holiday spirit! My only criticism is that it feels like while the author is 65+ her self, she’s trying to write a character in her mid 30s but the pop culture and social media references more so place her in her 20s. Just some odd references that felt misplaced. Like the manuscript edits needed to be in the hands of a late 20s, early 30s year old woman, as this is the assumed age of the main character. Chick lit isn’t my favorite genre, but it’s always easy, breezy to pick up this time of year.

What’s up next on my TBR

Until next time, Meryn


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