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.
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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3.5 stars · Book Reviews · Entertainment · historical fiction · Lifestyle · Reading · young adult

Book Review: “Lovely War”

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Lovely War by Julie Berry
Viking Books for Young Readers, 2019
Young Adult / Historical Fiction
480 pages
3.5/5 Stars

Trigger Warnings: Violence, War, Death, Sexual Assault, Racism, Race Related Violence and Death, Depictions of PTSD

GoodReads Synopsis:

It’s 1917, and World War I is at its zenith when Hazel and James first catch sight of each other at a London party. She’s a shy and talented pianist; he’s a newly minted soldier with dreams of becoming an architect. When they fall in love, it’s immediate and deep–and cut short when James is shipped off to the killing fields.

Aubrey Edwards is also headed toward the trenches. A gifted musician who’s played Carnegie Hall, he’s a member of the 15th New York Infantry, an all-African-American regiment being sent to Europe to help end the Great War. Love is the last thing on his mind. But that’s before he meets Colette Fournier, a Belgian chanteuse who’s already survived unspeakable tragedy at the hands of the Germans.

Thirty years after these four lovers’ fates collide, the Greek goddess Aphrodite tells their stories to her husband, Hephaestus, and her lover, Ares, in a luxe Manhattan hotel room at the height of World War II. She seeks to answer the age-old question: Why are Love and War eternally drawn to one another? But her quest for a conclusion that will satisfy her jealous husband uncovers a multi-threaded tale of prejudice, trauma, and music and reveals that War is no match for the power of Love.

Review:

I believe this was one of those “BookTok” made me do it purchases I made at the height of quarantine this summer. Lovely War has sat on my bookshelf for months, and when I needed to read a book with a pink cover for a read-a-thon I participated in in January, I knew it was finally time to read it.

When I first started reading this book, I was absolutely amazed by the Greek mythology , beautiful love stories, and music references. It was absolutely incredible, and I decided only a few pages in that this was going to be a five star read.

Alas, it is not. Pretty quickly, some things I wasn’t a fan of began to happen. There was a sexual assault that I was not prepared for, and while it was not violent, it was described as almost identical to my own experience ten years ago. It was very triggering, and I only wish I had been prepared. There was also racism and a race-related murder that I wasn’t expecting that was difficult to read, especially in today’s day and age. Finally, the endings seemed to be very rushed, which is kind of funny, considering the book is over 400 pages. The amazing detail and imagery that I loved in the beginning seemed to vanish towards the end.

I liked this book. I did. But the sexual assault scene really, really rubbed me the wrong way. I think this goes to show why trigger warnings are important. When I was triggered, I froze. I read the same sentence over and over again as my own trauma replayed in my head. I’m grateful that with a lot of therapy, I’ve come a long way to being able to cope when I’ve been triggered. But it wasn’t always like that. In high school, I stayed away from books and movies with certain themes. I would ask my English teacher to give me a heads up, and had a plan in place with my resource counselor as what to do if I was assigned a book that could trigger me.

This isn’t a weakness. It’s self-awareness. I know myself very well, and I know what can trigger me. Trigger warnings allow me to prepare myself and cope ahead. Half of the power of my triggers is that they can blindside me. Trigger warnings take the power away from my trauma and put it back in my hands.

In all the hype I saw for this book, I don’t remember seeing one trigger warning for sexual assault. Granted, I bought the book around six months ago, so I could be wrong, and his could be my own error. But another reason that the sexual assault really bothered me is that it seemed so needless. I think the scene was only thrown in for shock value, and I really didn’t appreciate that.

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: 3.5 out of 5.

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