Book Posts

Boys Don't Dance

by Ivy Whitaker

There are so many expectations bound up in this book.

From a plot standpoint, our author heroine (Lyra, a name I absolutely love) flees sunny California for the rundown mid-Atlantic foothills of Pennsylvania when her sister falls victim to a stroke. Lyra tries to meet the expectations of being a devoted sister as best she can, while also trying to stave off what's expected of a multiple-time best-selling author after a flop (namely: Write more, better).

This, of course, is complicated when she runs into her childhood best friend/love, Alex. Alex has not only felt the weight of the expectations of others, she has flat-out surrendered to them. Her mother expected her to marry a man and live the life of a stay-at-home mom, and only upon reacquainting herself with the force that is Lyra does she start to realize the crushing burdens of those expectations.

This book felt challenging - In a good way, mind you! But by no means an easy or breezy read.

Part of that, I think, lay in the expectations on my part. Expectations affect everything we do, from consuming media to consuming food to how we relate to other people. If we have an expectation, even if we don't realize it ourselves, failing to have that expectation met can leave you feeling off-kilter, or disappointed.

To put it bluntly, I expected a simple sapphic romance. It's more than that! Better in many ways, with lyrical prose and extremely vivid depictions of emotions and connection. And certainly much deeper in terms of the difficult subject matter it deals with.

But in its (successful, in my eyes) aspirations to literary fiction, the novel's insistence on hitting some of the simplistic romance tropes felt forced. I think the book would have worked much better had it simply shed its romance-constrained plot points and just kept exploring and exposing its beating heart, which was otherwise mesmerizing.

Expectations are a double-edged sword. I've no doubt "sapphic romance" has some advantages for marketing purposes, and with that designation comes certain expectations. I just think this book is better than that, and I'm only sorry it seems to try shape itself to a form it has clearly outgrown.

All that said, this book is a lovely, wonderful piece of work. And I truly can't wait to see what the author will do next.

I bet you didn't expect a book review. Well, count us both slightly disappointed but eager to see what comes next (I hope)

Turning Back

by Katia Rose

It took me a long time to read this book. Not because of the quality (it was softly mesmerizing, to no surprise), but because it's the second in what I assume is to be a trilogy. I kept seeing it in my TBR pile and would go to read it, before remembering that, once I finished it, there would only be one more chance to enter this world for the first time. So I put it off.

It was worth the wait.

Katia Rose's remote Vancouver (BC) campground – where these stories take place – even makes me, an avowed inside-only kitty, want to drive out and pitch a tent in the wilderness. Though perhaps there was a touch too much romanticism in the wild's seduction of the main character city girl, it's described with such loving detail that it's impossible not to get swept away.

The characters, as is always the case with Rose, are painstakingly crafted with realistic backstories, baggage, fears and doubts. But even grounded in realism, the sparks between the two main characters (Kennedy and Trish) are more than enough to convince of the romance catching hold, sweeping them away.

I thoroughly enjoyed this book, and wait with some trepidation for the last entry. It can't come soon enough and yet, I know, I'll have to wait to read it.

Almost enough to make me want to visit Canada. Almost. (j/k I love British Columbia, and no other provinces.)

Canadian Boyfriend

by Jenny Holiday

The joke drew me in, but the clarity and earnestness of the writing kept me through the end. I had not actually heard about the Canadian girlfriend until the musical Avenue Q, but it's a well-trod trope: Oh, you see, I do have a significant other, they just live far away (in Canada, usually). It's a way of saving face in front of others without ever needing to produce said person, and it rarely works as well as those who deploy it might hope.

I don't even want to get into the specifics all that much, because I feel like the reveals and the plot advancements really go hand-in-hand. Suffice it to say, one of Rory's three jobs involves teaching at a local ballet school, and she has a minor crisis when her own Canadian Boyfriend unexpectedly shows up after an intervening decade-plus, mourning his deceased wife. Hilarity ensues.

There's a meet-cute, and some adorable stumbling and mixups, but the overwhelming feeling I took away from this novel is contentment. Which is odd, given the context and the fairly in-depth discussions of and visits to therapy we get from both the mains! But these characters are so lovingly and realistically presented, with flaws and hope and charm, that I couldn't help but be swept up. Even when issues and problems are confronted, the book doesn't shy away or seem to take the easy route. There's conflict and difficulty, but there's also an underlying layer of care (from both the author and the characters) holds the surges before they overwhelm.

A wonderful book you'll want to sit with and luxuriate in. I'm only upset the follow-up is still a year-plus away!

There's a particularly spirited dispute over the definition of "hosers" that I think gets close to the truth but doesn't quite nail it. Though, as someone who grew up in a state that only touched Canada, my opinion probably doesn't get me very far.

Changing Gears

by LA Wright

An engaging sapphic romance novel whose villains felt heartrendingly drawn from real life. Aussie protagonist Jen's relationship with her family, her faith and the accompanying judgment

made me uncomfortable for the first half of the book or so; I was mildly concerned it was going to take a swerve into late 90s lesbian fiction (spoiler alert: One or both of them always die, because queer relationships weren't allowed happily ever afters. Thankfully, not a concern here). I eventually realized my discomfort lay in how much it reminded me of the same thoughts and feeling I had when I was younger. So huge props to the author for making that aspect feel so realistic!

But I come not to damn this book with faint praise; the relationship between the two leads was lovely, a simultaneous instant attraction that builds slowly but surely. I sincerely hope the author got to expense a bike trip to France for all the details that were put in; I can't speak to their truth, but it certainly helped me feel like I was along for the ride.

The ending felt a bit "and everyone clapped!", but it was still satisfying.

Number Go Up

by Zeke Faux

A good deep-dive into the crypto world. Faux does a great job of explaining how crypto (doesn't) work, and the various frauds/scams. Definitely the best book-length treatment currently out there, and an excellent gateway drug to Web3 Is Going Just Great.

Give the Lewis book the widest possible berth. That man legitimately thinks that his simplified narrative version of SBF perfectly encompasses how SBF’s actual human brain works. He also seemed unable to comprehend that SBF was straight up lying to him at points while also lying by omission. Simply wild ironclad belief in one’s own power of perception. Hard pass.