Category: Review

The Dilemma by B.A. Paris

The Dilemma
Author:  B.A. Paris
Published: June 30, 2020
Audiobook

Reviewed By: Jessica
Dates Read: August 31- September 10, 2020
Jessica’s Rating: 4 stars     

Book Description:

It’s Livia’s fortieth birthday and tonight she’s having a party, a party she’s been planning for a long time. The only person missing will be her daughter, Marnie.

But Livia has a secret, a secret she’s been keeping from Adam, her husband, until the party is over. Because how can she tell him that although she loves Marnie, she’s glad their daughter won’t be there to celebrate with her?

Adam is determined everything will be just right for Livia and the party is going to be perfect… until he learns something that will leave him facing an unbearable decision.

Jessica’s Review:

This one definitely receives 4 Frustrating Stars: But this is in a good way! 

Oh my word, this one is a departure from Paris’ other novels, as this one is not a thriller/ mystery but more of a domestic drama.  This novel deals with family dynamics/ history, consequences of past actions, communication (or I should say a lack of), love, grief, and good intentions that may not have the desired effect.

It is Livia’s big 40 and she is going to have the biggest party ever, especially since she never got the huge wedding she really wanted.  She has planned this since her early 20s.  But she is keeping a secret from her husband Adam, and likewise he is keeping a new secret from her.  In the long run, yes, Livia’s secret has big consequences, but Adam wins this ‘competition of secrets’ hands down.

This novel is a longer one that takes place just over a 24 hour period and we have both Livia and Adam as the narrators in dueling perspectives. The novel does become a bit weary; it is very repetitive as both narrators are constantly focused on the secret they are keeping from each other. I was more involved with Adam’s secret than Livia’s.  Adam’s secret is heart breaking on so many levels. He becomes very frustrating at times because to get a definitive answer to his dilemma, all he has to do is make one phone call. At times I wanted to slap him and yell “Just make that phone call!”  But then Adam still has a dilemma as once he knows the answer then there is no turning back.  Adam really is in a lose-lose situation with Livia’s party going on. 

Like Livia, I also turned 40 this year, so I identified with her on having a big birthday year.    This is a situation no couple would want to find themselves in.  There are ultimately no winners or losers in their situation.  The title of the novel is so apparent as you read through the novel.  The only thing that did not seem realistic was a woman who focused on having a huge 40th birthday party for half of her life. I mean, what about your 30th? That one is just as important! 

I really did enjoy this frustrating novel, despite the repetitiveness of it.  It does make you think “what would you do?” in Livia and Adam’s situations. And all I can say is: I am not sure.

Purchase Links:
Amazon US
Amazon UK

Angry Young Men

Angry Young Men
Author: Chris Lynch

Published: February 8, 2011
181 Pages

Reviewed By: Kim
Kim’s Rating: 3 stars

Book Description:

Alexander, who wants to be called Xan, is a misfit. He has never fit in—not in academics, sports, or social life. He’s an awkward loner who hasn’t been able to find his place in the world.

Robert is Xan’s half-brother, and unlike Xan, Robert seems to have his life together. At eighteen, he’s enrolled in community college with a decent job and a great girlfriend. Robert often teases his brother, but he’s also his biggest supporter. No matter what, he’s got Xan’s back.

When Robert starts to suspect that Xan is traveling down a dangerous path, he may be the only one who can save Xan from self-destructing—before it’s too late. But can Robert save himself?

This edgy exploration of what goes on in the mind of someone pushed to the brink examines the seeds of extremism that exist in everyone—and is sure to captivate readers of all kinds

Kim’s Review:

This is more about character development than anything else. Normally, I’m not so hot at those; this book, I got all involved in. I liked Xan and Robert. They seemed realistic and relatable. There’s not tons to say to such a simple story except I liked getting to know the boys, but the stakes weren’t high enough to make the ending as satisfying as it could have been. This is a short and simple story that’s high in moral conflict and emotions . . . I don’t want to say much more, cuz spoilers. I do recommend it, just with managed expectations.

Purchase Links:
Amazon US
Amazon UK

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The Vanishing Half

The Vanishing Half
Author: Brit Bennett
Published: June 2, 2020
Audiobook

Reviewed By: Jessica
Dates Read: August 11-24, 2020
Jessica’s Rating: 3 stars     

Book Description:

The Vignes twin sisters will always be identical. But after growing up together in a small, southern black community and running away at age sixteen, it’s not just the shape of their daily lives that is different as adults, it’s everything: their families, their communities, their racial identities. Ten years later, one sister lives with her black daughter in the same southern town she once tried to escape. The other secretly passes for white, and her white husband knows nothing of her past. Still, even separated by so many miles and just as many lies, the fates of the twins remain intertwined. What will happen to the next generation, when their own daughters’ storylines intersect?

Jessica’s Review:

**Unpopular opinion alert**

Everyone seems to be raving about The Vanishing Half, but this is one novel that did not really work for me and I am still not sure why almost a month later. It has an interesting premise: The novel starts out in the 1950s and we have twin girls (Desiree and Stella), both black, but one can pass as white, and she does.  But keeping this secret from everyone, including her husband seems to damage Stella.  The novel ends in the 1990s with their daughters and lives intersecting.

To see twins live totally different lives despite being the same race during a time of racial changes and the effects of their decisions change everything including their daughters’ lives. 

The storyline I was most interested is not even mentioned in the book description, so it came off as a surprise: It dealt with Jude (Desiree’s daughter) and her relationship with Reese, a transgender man. This relationship almost did not make sense with some of the activities they participated in, as the LGBTQ community has not always coincided well/ been inclusive together in the past especially during this time in the past that the novel is based.

Overall, this is one that had promise, but maybe I just listened to the audiobook at the wrong time. Maybe it was the fact that I listened to the audiobook. Some books don’t translate well to audio.  I know it has been optioned for TV/Film, so I would give that a try and see what I think.   

Purchase Links:
Amazon US
Amazon UK

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