Book Review: The Home For Unwanted Girls

Book Review: The Home for Unwanted Girls
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“In 1950s Quebec, French and English tolerate each other with precarious civility–much like Maggie Hughes’ parents. Maggie’s English-speaking father has ambitions for his daughter that don’t include marriage to the poor French boy the next farm over. But Maggie’s heart is captured by Gabriel Phénix. When she becomes pregnant at fifteen, her parents send the baby Elodie to an orphanage where she receives horrible treatment. Seventeen years later, Maggie, married to a businessman eager to start a family, cannot forget the daughter she was forced to abandon, and a chance reconnection with Gabriel spurs a wrenching choice. As time passes, the stories of Maggie and Elodie intertwine but never touch, until Maggie realizes she must take what she wants from life and go in search of her long-lost daughter, finally reclaiming the truth that has been denied them both.”

Throughout history in every country if you dig deep enough you will uncover some horrible atrocities. The Home for Unwanted Girls tells the story of what happened to the daughters of unwed mothers in Quebec. Some were sold to Jewish families who were unable to adopt in the US. Many more were given to orphanages run by nuns where they lived humble lives that revolved around school and church. Until a law was passed that offered more reimbursement for mentally ill patients than the orphanages were paid to take care of children. So almost over night the children were evaluated by physicians and diagnosed mentally ill. 

This story is told in alternating chapters from the perspective of Maggie, who spends her life searching for her daughter who was taken from her at birth and sent to an orphanage, and her daughter Elodie, who thinks that her mother is dead.

As Elodie and Maggie’s stories unfold we’re treated to a history listen on the the abuse and atrocitites of the orphaned children which continues for many years until a new law is passed denouncing the previous law. After the new law frees the older girls back into a society that they are not prepared to live in many of the younger girls remain in the orphanages. Confined back to a life of education, church, cleaning, and being reminded that they are there because of the sins of their mothers.

This is a vibrant story about family, a mother’s love, and a young girls unending fight for her life. I love fictional stories that educate me on true historical events and rated this book 5 Stars. 

Matchmaking for Beginners: Book Review

2 Stars

I wanted to love this book and while I loved things about this book in the beginning my love quickly went downhill.

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What did I love about this book: The plot setup was amazing. I LOVED Blix the entirety of her story. If the whole story was about Blix then this would have been a five star review. Enter in Marnie and the story goes sideways. Without spoiling the story I can tell you that Marnie’s primary goal in life is to get married and have a life so simple and boring it would make the average person’s head spin.

The story had so much promise. I would have loved to read more about Blix who was a fresh breath of air of a character and her magical spells that brought people together in life and love but unfortunately the story is really about Marnie. Blix sets the story up for Marnie to have an amazing life but she’d not interested in that.

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Even when Marnie is given the opportunity to explore and build an incredible life she only accepts the opportunity so that she can hurry up and get back to her hum drum of a life which wouldn’t be so horrible but she’s an unlikeable and boring character which makes the book a drag.

Read the story for Blix and the magic of matchmaking. Try and ignore how annoying and bland Marnie is.

The Girls at 17 Swan Street: Book Review

The Girls at 17 Swan Street by Yara Zgheib deserved every single one of the 5 stars that I gave it.

Anna Roux was a professional dancer who followed the man of her dreams from Paris to Missouri. There, alone with her biggest fears – imperfection, failure, loneliness – she spirals down anorexia and depression till she weighs a mere eighty-eight pounds. Forced to seek treatment, she is admitted as a patient at 17 Swann Street, a peach pink house where pale, fragile women with life-threatening eating disorders live. Women like Emm, the veteran; quiet Valerie; Julia, always hungry. Together, they must fight their diseases and face six meals a day.

The Girls at 17 Swan Street is an amazing read and should be read by everyone, those going through similar situations with eating disorders so that they can finally see themselves in a story and feel seen, and those who don’t suffer from eating disorders. I think the story would be especially helpful to the family members of eating disorder sufferers so that they can actually see what it’s like to feel like you have to force yourself to eat every bite to make others happy and to look in the mirror everyday and no matter how thin you are still feel fat.

Typical books about ED show one side of the story, either they show the eating disorder suffered perspective or the perspective of the family and friends who are forced to witness their loved one suffering from this horrible disease. The Girls at 17 Swan Street does have the lense on Anna for the entire story but we’re able to see clearly how her husband and family are effected as well and I really enjoyed that aspect of the book. Anna and Mathias’ love story had my clutching my chest in fear.

Yara did a fantastic job telling this story. It had me thoroughly invested from the moment I began to read up until the final page. I loved the different emotions that the story invokes by showing you different parts of the women’s lives. I rooted for everyone in this story and would love to read a follow up to find out if any of the women beat the disorders and to see what their lives would be like after treatment and returning home.

Obsession aka Teenage Girls Need To Chill; Little Monsters Book Review

Little Monsters Book Review

Obsession. The story little Monsters is told from the point of view of Bay and Casey. Bay’s story is told through her diary since she is missing or dead. While Casey tells us what’s happening now Bay’s diary tells us what happened leading up to her disappearance. 

Bay is clearly obsessed. With her best friend Jade who she calls her person and declares that she couldn’t lose or else she would die. 

With Casey who she seems to seriously hate even though she struggles to figure out how she really feels about the girl. She waffles back and forth admitting that she doesn’t know anything about her feelings regarding Casey except that she would like to punch the girl in the face. She’s only pretending to be friends with Casey because of her unrequited love of Casey’s stepbrother Andrew who is the true object of Bay’s obsession.  In addition to befriending Casey and hanging out with Andrew’s other sister who is only 13 years old, she does things like sit outside of his house at night watching him through his windows. 

While Bay tells us her story of what happened leading up to her disappearance Casey tells us the after and the lengths she goes through to find her friend. She continuously places herself at harm and makes herself look guilty while she searches desperately for Bay.  Even after someone tells her the truth about how Bay was never really her friend. 

I love a story with a strong plot twist and even though I figured out who done it pretty close to the end of the story the author did an amazing job of putting a new twist on this murder mystery and keeping the audience guessing about what really happened to Bay and who did it. 

I rated this book 5 Stars and recommend that you always know who your true friends are. Also, If you’re a teen, I know the person you think you love seems to be the most important thing in the world. I also guarantee that there are better things to be obsessed over like coffee, yoga, and loving yourself. It gets better. Just chill. 

The Rooster Bar a WHOLE ass SPOILER ALERT!

I finished reading John Grisham’s The Rooster Bar a week or so ago and honestly I don’t even know whether to give it one star or five or to throw it in to the corner or light it on fire. Whether to tell all of my friends to read it or to act like I never read it a day of my life.

Mark, Todd, and Zola came to law school to change the world, to make it a better place. But now, as third-year students, these close friends realize they have been duped. They all borrowed heavily to attend a third-tier, for-profit law school so mediocre that its graduates rarely pass the bar exam, let alone get good jobs. And when they learn that their school is one of a chain owned by a shady New York hedge-fund operator who also happens to own a bank specializing in student loans, the three know they have been caught up in The Great Law School Scam.

     But maybe there’s a way out. Maybe there’s a way to escape their crushing debt, expose the bank and the scam, and make a few bucks in the process. But to do so, they would first have to quit school. And leaving law school a few short months before graduation would be completely crazy, right?  Well, yes and no . . .
Pull up a stool, grab a cold one, and get ready to spend some time at The Rooster Bar.

That’s what Amazon had to say about this book and maybe that’s where I was lost I don’t love stools, at 34 they make my back hurt unless they have a good supportive back and arms and a cold one? A cold what? I think that beer whether it be cold or warm tastes like what pee smells like. *shrugs*

So probably at that last line I should’ve back away cued Randy Jackson, Not Micheal’s brother but this one:

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and backed away from the book. But I didn’t because no matter what people say about John Grisham and his formulated writing method I actually enjoy quite a few of his novels. But this one…

The premise of the book is that Zola, Mark and Todd’s friend Gordy  realizes that their law school is a scam. The owner of the law school is a shister who is also behind the banks that supply the loans and some of the law firm mills which pretend to hire some of the students of the school so that they can have a propped up hire rate. After a tragic event th duping them and others into borrowing thousands of dollars for law school of which they won’t likely be able to pay much of it back sense neither of them is likely to either pass the bar or get a job.

So, what do they do? They quit law school, go into hiding in the same city as their law school, and began to practice law. Ya’ll these fools quit law school  the last damn semester to practice law??? In the same city as their law school friends who could graduate in a semester and easily see them running around practicing law all Willy Neely.

And that’s where I got stuck. Even though the author keeps having the characters address the stupidity of quitting law school in your final semester and illegally practicing law, none of the excuses that they give make any sense to anyone with a brain.

I did sort of enjoy the close calls that the three illegal attorneys get themselves in and out of throughout the novel and how Grisham weaves a multitude of current events and issues including the serious look at immigration but overall I left the book feeling underwhelmed and confused.

If you came here to figure out whether to read The Rooster Bar or not I’m sorry I can’t help you. After all of these words I still think the best thing to do with this book is to throw it into the corner.

200w-4.gif  FYI: This is my face 95% of the story.

 

What We Not Finna Do

When I was approached about reviewing this book initially I took a pause. It’s a book written by a woman after her break up with a man and since I’m a married lesbian who hasn’t been on a date in years I thought that I wouldn’t be able to relate. I wasn’t. Had this book found me after my divorce when I was still hurting and hadn’t spent a zillion dollars on landmark, therapy, self help and self love books it would’ve been right up my angry alley. I still enjoyed it though so I gave it 5 stars. 

The writing is hilarious and full of my favorite words: PROFANITY. Erin’s no nonsense approach to teaching other women how to deal with horrible men is refreshing and timely. As I read the book I thought of all of the women who I would tell they needed to read this book. So if we’re friends in real life before you call me to vent about your latest failed Tinder escapade do us both a favor and read this book first.

I love listening to The Read Podcast where the hosts frequently tell people to “Break up with him,” and while reading this book I felt like it should be sold on their website right next to the Break Up With Him T-Shirts and shorts. If you love no-nonsense self help books that read like they were written from your favorite sophistiratchet big cousin then this book is for you.

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Mamas Love Your Daughters: My Review of Halsey Street

“Penelope Grand has scrapped her failed career as an artist in Pittsburgh and moved back to Brooklyn to keep an eye on her ailing father. She’s accepted that her future won’t be what she’d dreamed, but now, as gentrification has completely reshaped her old neighborhood, even her past is unrecognizable. Old haunts have been razed, and wealthy white strangers have replaced every familiar face in Bed-Stuy. Even her mother, Mirella, has abandoned the family to reclaim her roots in the Dominican Republic. That took courage. It’s also unforgivable.”

This book had me in my emotions the entire time. Probably because I’m really sensitive to the relationship between mothers and daughters. I hate the notion that bringing a child into the world and giving them food, clothing, and a safe place to sleep is something that should be lauded and praised. Children require care. They require mothering. And Penelope Grand’s mother is not a loving mother. Or at least that’s how Penelope feels.

Mirella feels like she is a provider. She wants so much for her daughter. So much that she couldn’t have for herself. Her daughter could be anything that she wants, a doctor, a lawyer anything if she would just stop playing around with her art. “It might be that only artists want their children to become artists.” 

Unsure of how to connect with her child Mirella provides. She dreams for, she tries to guide but she can’t connect with her daughter. Maybe, this is because she had a difficult childhood and her own young mother didn’t properly bond with her. Maybe, this is because her father died when she was so young. Maybe, it’s because she is a Dominican Immigrant married to an African American man living in Brooklyn and she doesn’t understand or agree with most of their American customs.

Mirella and Penelope’s disconnect causes Penelope to leave home and move to Pittsburgh where she lives an isolated life until her father gets hurt causing her to return to Brooklyn. Nothing about Brooklyn is the same, Mirella is gone, her family’s store is gone, her father has declined physically and the Gentrifying Landlord family that she rents a room from may seem to have it all together but they have a whole heap of issues of their own.

Back in Brooklyn Penelope is forced to deal with the change that comes along with the changing landscape of her neighborhood, her aging father, and the hurt that she’s been carrying from her childhood and her relationship with her mother.

As Penelope navigates her new life and faces her path we realize how much hurt can be passed down from generation to generation and what happens when the cycle isn’t stopped. Back in her home country of the Dominican Republic Mirella tries to find a way to connect with her daughter.  Now that she has built home of her own she realizes that all that is missing of her life is a connection with her daughter.

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Naima Coster Author of Halsey Street

I really enjoyed this book and give it 5 stars. I really disliked Penelope and her mother Mirella for most of the story but my reason for disliking them is because I know people like them. People who carry old slights around and ignore the love that is given to them because it’s not the love that they want. People who use these feelings and emotions to excuse their reckless behaviors and avoid true growth. In the end Penelope begins to acknowledge these things and begins to grow.

As a writer when you take your  readers through so many upsetting emotions they should be given some sort of reward and Penelope’s growth at the end was reward enough for me. I also appreciated how the writer subtly showed the effects of gentrification on the native Brooklynites. It wasn’t pushy or preachy just stating what was so and I loved that.

Images from Author’s website: naimacoster.com

ProTip: I simultaneously read this book on Audiobook and Kindle. I tend to do this whenever possible so that I can listen to the book while driving and such and physically read the book when I can.

Faultlines: Whoops I Didn’t See That Coming

One moment in Jordan Cline’s life tears his entire family apart. He and his cousin Travis have been in a tragic accident. All three of the car’s occupants were terribly injured but what happened? Jordan may go to prison for thirty years because although he says that he was not driving all of the witnesses and all of the evidence point directly towards Jordy. And no one believes him except for his mother. Of course, mother’s never want to believe that their children are capable of terrible things.

Faultlines takes us along for the wild ride that Jordan and his mother’s life are on after the accident. Was Jordan drinking and driving?  If he wasn’t then why is the town hero Officer Huck out to destroy Jordan’s life? Barbara Taylor Sissal has written a mystery that keeps the reader guessing the entire time.

I loved Faultlines, the way that it unfolds kept me engaged and rooting for Jordy and Sandy. I kept wanting him to be innocent even when all of the signs pointed to his guilt. Oh and the climax… I DID NOT see THAT climax coming. I was literally sitting there staring at the book with my mouth wide open.

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Also, That small town attitude that the story describes is XACTLY why I love living in the city. Ain’t nobody got time for that.

I gave this story 4 stars and would gladly read another book from this author.

 

Corner Dweller- The Buried Book

I haven’t thrown a book in the corner for quite a while but The Buried Book by D.M. Pulley is going straight into the corner. I would also like them to repay me my time and make my brain stop hurting.

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The story isn’t bad per se… but the characters just got on my last nerve. Uhhhh I guess I should tell you what the story is about before I discuss characters so here goes:

 

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Jasper’s mom Althea drops him off at her brother’s farm to live. She  leaves him there with nothing but a suitcase and a bible. She doesn’t give anyone a real reason for her abandoning Jasper. She’s apparently left him in the past but never for this many days so Jasper begins to worry. He overhears the adults talking about her and figures that she must be in trouble so  Jasper goes on a hunt for his mother putting himself in frequent danger. The entire story is one boringly outlandish incident after another as Jasper, a nine year old boy, hunts for his mother alone

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While on this hunt Jasper finds her childhood journal which he uses for clues to where she may be. He finds himself on Indian Reservations, at bars, and strip clubs during his hunt. The story is outlandish and Jasper’s frequent crying and injuries just add to the outlandishness of the story. You set fire to the barn and burned a house down and didn’t get your ass whooped once from your terrifying christian farmer uncle?- I think not.

I struggle to give this story 2 stars but I managed to eek them out since I completed the book and cared enough about the characters to make it to the end. I do like D.M. Pulley so I’m going to consider this story a fluke…

EDIT: I lied up above where I said that I like D.M. Pulley. When I went to add this title to The Book Corner I see that the last book that I added to that list was The Dead Key by D.M. Pulley. My bad. I shall now avoid D.M. Pulley like I avoid people with unvaccinated children. *Kayne Shrug*

Grist Mill Road: A Wild Ass Ride

Christoper Yates’ Grist Mill Road is a weirdly entertaining wild ass ride. Every time you think to yourself, “this story can’t get any crazier” or “these people can’t get any weirder” Yates unveils another level of hurt, betrayal, misunderstanding, violence and resentment.

In 1982 a group of friends suffer a traumatic ordeal where one of them is seriously injured by another one. In 2008 we meet this fractured group of friends again living their own lives under the shadow of what happened all  of those years ago. Why did it happen? What actually happened? Who was really there? And what’s next?

The story jumps back and forth from 1982 to 2008 giving us background and telling us their version of the story in the three character’s, Patrick, Hannah, and Matthew, voices. Sometimes this method of story telling can be a little dizzying but Yates weaves the story together magically.

I felt like I was on a rollercoaster ride the entire time and give the story 4 Stars.

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*I was given an advanced copy of this book in exchange for an honest review*