BLOG TOUR – Body Talk

Title: Body Talk

Editor: Kelly Jensen

Publisher: Algonquin Young Readers

Publication date: August 18th, 2020

256 pages

5/5 stars

Goodreads Synopsis

It’s time to bare it all about bodies!

We all experience the world in a body, but we don’t usually take the time to explore what it really means to have and live within one. Just as every person has a unique personality, every person has a unique body, and every body tells its own story.

In Body Talk, thirty-seven writers, models, actors, musicians, and artists share essays, lists, comics, and illustrations—about everything from size and shape to scoliosis, from eating disorders to cancer, from sexuality and gender identity to the use of makeup as armor. Together, they contribute a broad variety of perspectives on what it’s like to live in their particular bodies—and how their bodies have helped to inform who they are and how they move through the world.

Come on in, turn the pages, and join the celebration of our diverse, miraculous, beautiful bodies!

Review

Body Talk is a nonfiction, anthology with over 30 writers, of all diversities and backgrounds, sharing essays on the topic of the human body. Any topic you can expect is covered, sexuality, disability, race, mental illness, etc. All of these topics end up touching on the human body at some point. Tyra Banks is included, along with social media icons and authors in the YA community. It’s truly a wonderful collection of powerful stories. This type of broad perspective is exactly what people should be reading in order to grow and learn about the differences in humans.

This book is powerful. There’s no better word to describe it than powerful. For such short essays, the authors pack a lot of information, medical and personal, into them. I learned so much from this book, especially from the essays that I don’t personally relate to. For the essays that I did personally relate to, it evokes a feeling of validation. It’s wonderful to have your deeply felt thoughts written out in a way that is so much more clear and concise than I ever could.

Due to the sheer amount of authors, there are also a lot of variations in the tone and seriousness of the essays. Some authors take a more humorous tack to relay the information and concepts they want to get across, and some take a very serious note to impress upon the reader the severity of the situation or depth of the emotions. Together, it creates a very comprehensive picture of not only human bodies, but the REACTION each person has to their own body. Truly wonderful.

Thank you to Algonquin Young Readers and Netgalley for an early copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

Happy readings, folks!

BLOG TOUR – With or Without You

Title: With or Without You

Author: Caroline Leavitt

Publisher: Algonquin Books

Publication date: August 4th, 2020

288 pages

4/5 stars

Goodreads Synopsis

After almost twenty years together, Stella and Simon are starting to run into problems. An up-and-coming rock musician when they first met, Simon has been clinging to dreams of fame even as the possibility of it has grown dimmer, and now that his band might finally be on the brink again, he wants to go on the road, leaving Stella behind. But when she falls into a coma on the eve of his departure, he has to make a choice between stardom and his wife—and when she wakes a different person, with an incredible artistic talent of her own, the two of them must examine what it is that they really want.
 
Unapologetically honest and intimately written, With or Without You is a contemporary story of what happens to relationships as the people in them change, whether slowly or in one cataclysmic swoop.

Review

Stella and Simon have spent 20 years of their life together, even though they are very different. Stella is an organized nurse, Simon is a rocker whose band never quite hit the big time. She is buttoned up and professional, he is dressed down and casual. They love each other, even though the people in their life don’t exactly understand it. One night during a fight, Simon suggests they take drugs like they did in their younger day, except Stella ends up in a coma for a long time. When Stella wakes up, she and Simon are markedly different people, and now must learn to live together again – even though it seems their roles have reversed.

This story was absolutely fantastic. It’s told from three different perspectives: Stella, Simon, and Libby, one of Stella’s doctors and her friend. Each has a rich history and backstory that is revealed, with inner turmoil and stress. Together they create and odd group, but each needs the other in different ways. I LOVED Libby as a character, and was less invested in Stella after she woke up from the coma. She was so different, but it really shows how one event in your life can really derail and change you at a fundamental level. I thought the artist savant story line of Stella post coma was very intriguing and added depth to her character. The growth in each character, regardless of the end, was fascinating to read.

I read this book all in one night. I was so invested in each character separately, and as a group. I definitely felt there was some hypocrisy in Stella during the event that caused the main conflict, because she basically did the same thing too but never owned up to it. I feel like that thread was just dropped without much thought. I would’ve wanted that to be explored more. And I thought the amount of page time each perspective got was a bit unequal.

If you enjoy contemporary fiction, please read this book. It’s so insightful, and raw, about the experience of life and living with others. It also has theme of change, growth, and really figuring out who you are. The art plot line just adds to it. Absolutely stunning.

Thank you to Algonquin Books for an early copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

Happy reading, folks!

BLOG TOUR – Hieroglyphics

Title: Hieroglyphics

Author: Jill McCorkle

Publisher: Algonquin Books

Publication date: July 28th, 2020

320 pages

4/5 stars

Goodreads Synopsis

Lil and Frank married young, launched into courtship when they bonded over how they both—suddenly, tragically—lost a parent when they were children. Over time, their marriage grew and strengthened, with each still wishing for so much more understanding of the parents they’d lost prematurely.

Now, after many years in Boston, they have retired in North Carolina. There, Lil, determined to leave a history for their children, sifts through letters and notes and diary entries—perhaps revealing more secrets than Frank wants their children to know. Meanwhile, Frank has become obsessed with what might have been left behind at the house he lived in as a boy on the outskirts of town, where a young single mother, Shelley, is just trying to raise her son with some sense of normalcy. Frank’s repeated visits to Shelley’s house begin to trigger memories of her own family, memories that she’d rather forget. Because, after all, not all parents are ones you wish to remember.

Hieroglyphics reveals the difficulty of ever really knowing the intentions and dreams and secrets of the people who raised you. In her deeply layered and masterful novel, Jill McCorkle deconstructs and reconstructs what it means to be a father or a mother, and what it means to be a child piecing together the world all around us, a child learning to make sense of the hieroglyphics of history and memory.

Review

Hieroglyphics is told from three POVs, Lil, Frank (who are married), and Shelley. The timeline skips around a lot, so sometimes it’s the present and sometimes it’s the past. Lil’s story is told through journal entries, whereas Frank & Shelley’s are told through narration. Shelley lives in Frank’s childhood home, and this is the connecting factor between their stories. It’s a powerful story about their lives, childhood, growing & changing, and hiding from the past.

The ending of this book was fabulous. Some books are meant to have an ending that leaves you to draw your own conclusions, and that’s exactly what Hieroglyphics does. It’s not a true conclusion, but it didn’t leave you hanging. It ended just like life does, abruptly & without warning but with the overall sense that everything will be okay. And that was beautiful.

I had a hard time with the shifting timelines in this book, but if this is something you like & are used to then it shouldn’t stop you from reading this book. The writing, though amazing, rambles at times – but I believe it’s meant to be indicative of the person’s state of mind at the time. It does serve this purpose & give depth to the story but it also made it hard for me to focus on the plot.

At times each story was so heartbreaking and moving that it was even hard to read. It just showed how much people go through in life, and how often people hide from their past. But this book relives the past, celebrates it, because the journey to the end of the magical part even if it doesn’t go as planned. Reading the three characters growth over time was an experience that I’m not used to as Hieroglyphics is out of my normal genre. But at the end, you really see exactly what all the build up was for, and it was worth it.

Thank you to Algonquin Books for an early copy of this book in exchange for an honest review

Happy reading, folks!