3 stars · Book Reviews · non-fiction

Review | The Hidden Power of F*cking Up

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The Hidden Power of F*cking Up by The Try Guys
Dey Street Books, 2019
Non-Fiction
288 pages
3/5 Stars

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Trigger Warnings: Mention of racism, homophobia, childhood mental illness, diet culture.

GoodReads Synopsis:

The Try Guys deliver their first book—an inspirational self-improvement guide that teaches you that the path to success is littered with humiliating detours, embarrassing mistakes, and unexpected failures.

To be our best selves, we must become secure in our insecurities. In The Hidden Power of F*cking Up, The Try Guys – Keith, Ned, Zach, and Eugene – reveal their philosophy of trying: how to fully embrace fear, foolishness, and embarrassment in an effort to understand how we all get paralyzed by a fear of failure. They’ll share how four shy, nerdy kids have dealt with their most poignant life struggles by attacking them head-on and reveal their – ahem – sure-fail strategies for achieving success.

But they’re not just here to talk; they’re actually going to put their advice to work. To demonstrate their unique self-improvement formula, they’ll each personally confront their deepest insecurities. A die-hard meat-lover goes vegan for the first time. A straight-laced father transforms into a fashionista. A perpetually single sidekick becomes the romantic lead. A child of divorce finally grows more intimate with his family. Through their insightful, emotional journeys and surprising, hilarious anecdotes, they’ll help you overcome your own self-doubt to become the best, most f*cked up version of yourself you can be!

Review:

Let me start by saying that I’m a pretty big fan of the Try Guys. I’m not like, a die hard fan, nor can I say that I’ve seen every single one of their videos or anything like that… but I really like them, and I know all of their partners’ names, so I think that qualifies me as a ‘pretty big fan’.

That being said, I was really disappointed by this book. I listened to the audiobook, and I thought I would love it, because I enjoyed the few episodes of their podcast that I listened to, but I felt like the narrator changed too often without being identified, which confused me.

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There was also a lot of diet culture talk which I found extremely disappointing. For example, Keith was talking about how since eating less meat and exercising more frequently, he feels so much more healthy… and then immediately followed that with how he’s lost a pants size. He then goes on to say that it’s about health, not weight loss, which simply isn’t true if he found his weight loss meaningful enough to mention in his book.

I also was disappointed that the guys never seemed to acknowledge the privilege behind many of their suggestions and experiences. This was super disappointing to me, because I never get that vibe from their videos. In their videos, they seem to be very aware of their privileges and mention it when necessary, but they seemed just so out of touch in this book, and it made me really sad.

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Similarly, many of their suggestions and experiences don’t seem to take things like mental health or class into account. The only mention of mental illness and health is when Zach talks about his experience with major depression as a child, which don’t get me wrong, was very interesting. But none of the guys really talked about how they take care of their mental health as adults besides exercise and meditation (which are very good things, but many, many people need medication, therapy, or other treatments for their mental health). A lot of their suggestions simply don’t seem sustainable for those who struggle with their mental health more than they do.

I still like the Try Guys. I still plan on watching their videos, but this book didn’t seem to be written by the same men you see on YouTube.

Perfect for Try Guys fans who watch the videos and think “wow, I really wish these guys were less likable.”

Rating: 3 out of 5.
5 Stars · Book Reviews · literary fiction

Book Review: “The End of the Affair”

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The End of the Affair by Graham Greene
Audible Audio, 2012 (first published in 1951)
Literary Fiction
Audiobook (6.5 hours listening time)
5/5 Stars

Trigger Warnings: Infidelity, Character Illness and Death, Catholicism

GoodReads Synopsis:

Graham Greene’s evocative analysis of the love of self, the love of another, and the love of God is an English classic that has been translated for the stage, the screen, and even the opera house. Academy Award-winning actor Colin Firth (“The King’s Speech”, “A Single Man”) turns in an authentic and stirring performance for this distinguished audio release.

The End of the Affair, set in London during and just after World War II, is the story of a flourishing love affair between Maurice Bendrix and Sarah Miles. After a violent episode at Maurice’s apartment, Sarah suddenly and without explanation breaks off the affair. This very intimate story about what actually constitutes love is enhanced by Mr. Firth’s narration, who said “this book struck me very, very particularly at the time when I read it and I thought my familiarity with it would give the journey a personal slant.”

Review:

This was at least my third time reading it, the first time being in one of my English classes in college. I own the Audible audiobook that’s narrated by Colin Firth, so that makes it even better!

When I read the book in college, I was a devout Catholic, and I absolutely adored it. It became my favorite book overall, and when I decided to reread it recently, I wondered if it would live up to how I remembered it, even though I’m no longer a devout Catholic.

And ya’ll… it did. Even as a non-practicing Catholic, the book blew me away. The writing is incredible, the characters are all just unlikable enough, but not too unlikable, and the role that Catholicism plays in the story and lives of the main characters is more than just a advertisement for the religion. The story is filled with mess, and stickiness, and love, and hatred, and humanity.

Something that’s kind of cool about me is that I’ve had the same GoodReads account for over ten years, so I could see that my original rating for this book was five stars. I’m happy to report back that over five years after I initially read it… it still gets five stars from me. This book is flawless in my eyes, and further amplified by Colin Firth’s incredible narration.

Rating: 5 out of 5.

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4 stars · Book Reviews · literary fiction · Reading

Book Review: “Black Buck”

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Black Buck by Mateo Askaripour
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2021
Literary Fiction
400 pages
4/5 Stars

Trigger Warnings: Racism, the ‘R’ word, the ‘N’ word, violence, workplace related harassment and racism

Synopsis:

For fans of Sorry to Bother You and The Wolf of Wall Street—a crackling, satirical debut novel about a young man given a shot at stardom as the lone Black salesman at a mysterious, cult-like, and wildly successful startup where nothing is as it seems.

There’s nothing like a Black salesman on a mission.

An unambitious twenty-two-year-old, Darren lives in a Bed-Stuy brownstone with his mother, who wants nothing more than to see him live up to his potential as the valedictorian of Bronx Science. But Darren is content working at Starbucks in the lobby of a Midtown office building, hanging out with his girlfriend, Soraya, and eating his mother’s home-cooked meals. All that changes when a chance encounter with Rhett Daniels, the silver-tongued CEO of Sumwun, NYC’s hottest tech startup, results in an exclusive invitation for Darren to join an elite sales team on the thirty-sixth floor.

After enduring a “hell week” of training, Darren, the only Black person in the company, reimagines himself as “Buck,” a ruthless salesman unrecognizable to his friends and family. But when things turn tragic at home and Buck feels he’s hit rock bottom, he begins to hatch a plan to help young people of color infiltrate America’s sales force, setting off a chain of events that forever changes the game.

Black Buck is a hilarious, razor-sharp skewering of America’s workforce; it is a propulsive, crackling debut that explores ambition and race, and makes way for a necessary new vision of the American dream.

From GoodReads

Review:

Ya’ll. This BOOK! It was all over Instagram, and I initially bought it for a read-a-thon I participated in in January that required I read a book published in January 2021. Although I didn’t get to read it until February, I think it was the perfect book for Black History Month.

This book was incredibly well written. I immediately cared about Darren/Buck and his journey, and felt angry when he experienced the overt racism of his coworkers. I saw how the system was stacked against him, and how he was tokenized, and I was immediately mad about it.

Humor is an iffy thing for me. I have a very specific type of humor that can be summed up in two words: John Mulaney. I knew going in that this was satire, but I felt uncomfortable at many of the jokes while reading it, which is why I think it’s crucial that everyone reads this book, or at least more books that push them beyond their comfort zone.

But the shining moment was the ending. As I’ve said in previous reviews, endings can make or break a book for me. Give me an over the top proposal in a romance novel, and I’m yours. This was not a Happy Ending. It was a Enraging Ending. But my goodness, everything that happened in the last few chapters was absolutely incredibly well done. My mom tried to talk to me while I was reading the last few pages, and I yelled at her because I was so engrossed. It was heartbreaking, and unjust, and absolutely mind-blowing. I will never forget the roller coaster of emotions that the ending of this book sent me on.

Rating:

Rating: 4 out of 5.

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4 stars · Book Reviews · Lifestyle · literary fiction · Reading · romance

Book Review: “Crazy Rich Asians”

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Crazy Rich Asians by Kevin Kwan
Doubleday, 2013
Literary Fiction / Romance
403 pages
4/5 Stars

Trigger Warnings: Mentions of suicidality and infidelity, harassment.

GoodReads Synopsis:

Crazy Rich Asians is the outrageously funny debut novel about three super-rich, pedigreed Chinese families and the gossip, backbiting, and scheming that occurs when the heir to one of the most massive fortunes in Asia brings home his ABC (American-born Chinese) girlfriend to the wedding of the season.

When Rachel Chu agrees to spend the summer in Singapore with her boyfriend, Nicholas Young, she envisions a humble family home, long drives to explore the island, and quality time with the man she might one day marry. What she doesn’t know is that Nick’s family home happens to look like a palace, that she’ll ride in more private planes than cars, and that with one of Asia’s most eligible bachelors on her arm, Rachel might as well have a target on her back.

Initiated into a world of dynastic splendor beyond imagination, Rachel meets Astrid, the It Girl of Singapore society; Eddie, whose family practically lives in the pages of the Hong Kong socialite magazines; and Eleanor, Nick’s formidable mother, a woman who has very strong feelings about who her son should–and should not–marry. Uproarious, addictive, and filled with jaw-dropping opulence, Crazy Rich Asians is an insider’s look at the Asian JetSet; a perfect depiction of the clash between old money and new money; between Overseas Chinese and Mainland Chinese; and a fabulous novel about what it means to be young, in love, and gloriously, crazily rich

Review:

I actually received this book during my Cousins’ Secret Santa gift exchange in 2019 (thanks, Tina!) after seeing and loving the movie. I finally got around to reading it when I was doing a read-a-thon last month that required I read a book starting with a ‘C’ or a ‘G’, and I’m glad I did!

I really loved this book, and I loved how closely the movie followed the book! Obviously there were a few differences, but while reading the book, I could visualize the movie so well.

One thing I absolutely loved about the book was how supportive Nick was. One thing that bothers me in a lot of romance books is how the male lead can be possessive, or put his own interests before his partner. Nick was, quite frankly, the perfect partner. He put Rachel’s wellbeing before his own, did what was good for her, not what was good for him or their relationship. I absolutely fell hell over heels in love with the man.

Another thing I really appreciated was how much deeper Michael’s issues with Astrid and her family went. In the movie, it is shown that he is having an affair because of his insecurities and dissatisfaction with their marriage. In the book however, oh, it’s so much worse.

If you don’t want to be spoiled, I recommend you stop reading now.

Okay. So. Michael basically stages an affair to get out of his marriage. Like “the other woman” was actually his cousin and they set it up to make it look like they’re having an affair. Personally, I think that’s even worse than having an affair because of the effort he put in to hurting Astrid. Reading about it was absolutely wild.

One thing I liked better in the movie, though, was the ending. The movie ends with Nick and Rachel reuniting and celebrating their engagement with their families and friends with his mother’s blessing and ring The book, however, ended with some uncertainty, which I think is more realistic. After everything that his family had put her through, I can understand why Rachel wouldn’t want to jump right back into the relationship.

Overall, I really enjoyed the book! It made me want to travel to Asia, and find me a man like that Nick Young.

If you’d like to purchase this book for yourself, please consider purchasing from an independent bookstore, or if that isn’t possible for you, please consider using my Amazon Affiliate Link.

Rating:

Rating: 4 out of 5.

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Book Reviews · Entertainment · Feminism · Lifestyle · Reading

Book Review: “Bringing Down the Duke”

TRIGGER WARNING: Thoughts of non-consensual sex

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Genre: Historical, Romance

Summary:

Sebastian is appalled to find a suffragist squad has infiltrated his ducal home, but the real threat is his impossible feelings for green-eyed beauty Annabelle. He is looking for a wife of equal standing to secure the legacy he has worked so hard to rebuild, not an outspoken commoner who could never be his duchess.

(From Penguin Random House)

If you’ve followed this blog for literally any amount of time (even if you just got here), you probably have come to realize that strong, gutsy women are kind of my jam, especially in books. So when I saw that this book included suffragists, who are probably the strongest and gutsiest women ever, I knew I had to read it.

Annabelle is indeed strong and gutsy. Raised in a poor home, she is accepted to Oxford University on scholarship (ugh, living my dream) from a suffragist group. She moves to London and lobbies for the cause, where she meets the rich, handsome, and duke in the name: Sebastian Montgomery.

And that is where I begin to have issue with the book: I didn’t… love Montgomery for the first half-ish of a book. I get that it’s a romance book, so possessive, wild men are kind of a staple, but dang. Montgomery’s redeeming qualities were really far and few between for me. At one point, when he’s lusting after Annabelle, he pretty much thinks, “Well… I could force her to have sex with me… but I’m a good man and good men don’t do that, even though a lot of men do…” And I just… sir, excuse me?? Maybe it’s just me, but good men (or good people in general) don’t even have that thought? I understand that at the time that the story takes place, it wasn’t as widely accepted that non-consensual sex is bad, but it still left a bad taste in my mouth and made it difficult to like him as a character.

I finally started to warm up to him when he bailed Annabelle and a few other suffragists out of jail. And honestly, it took him and Annabelle sleeping together (consensually, thank God.) for me to finally actually like him. It literally took over half the book and him being good at sex with Annabelle for me to finally really see the appeal.

One thing I really did enjoy was the supporting characters. Annabelle’s suffragists were fierce and unapologetic. Though they are ostracized by society for being unladylike, they don’t let that deter them for fighting for women’s rights. I especially loved Hattie, Annabelle’s lovable, rich friend who fears what would happen if her family discovers her involvement in the suffragist movement.

Along with strong supporting characters, the sex scenes were also steamy. A lot of times when I read sex scenes, I find myself wanting to roll my eyes (Okay, oftentimes I do physically roll my eyes.) or failing to really feel the connection between the lovers. That wasn’t a problem with this book. The connection between Montgomery and Annabelle was obvious, and even the pillow talk was enjoyable.

Even though I had a hard time getting into this book, I am looking forward to reading the books that follow it. I was looking at the synopses on GoodReads (add me on there if you have one!) and I was thrilled to see that the sequel is about Lucie, the leader of the group, and the anticipated third book will be about my main girl Hattie!

If you’d like to purchase this book for yourself, please consider purchasing from an independent bookstore, or if that isn’t possible for you, using my Amazon Affiliate link.

Rating:

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.