Lily and the Octopus by Stephen Rowley

🌟🌟🌟🌟

This is a very sweet book.

This is about Ted, his dog Lily and her octopus. I figured out what the octopus was in the first few pages, but I will try not to ruin that for you.

Ted is a bit of a loner and Lily is his main social companion throughout the book. They even have specific days that they do different things. For example, Thursdays are reserved for discussing boys they think are cute and on Fridays they play Monopoly. Lily does talk to Ted in a halting way and there are magical realistic components to this book aside from that.

…I think of how dogs are witnesses. How they are present for our most private moments, how they are there when we think of ourselves as alone. They witness our quarrels, our tears, our struggles, our fears, and all our secret behaviors that we have to hide from our fellow humans. They witness without judgment.”

Read this book if you are a dog lover, someone who appreciates a bit of heartbreak mixed in with periods that make you laugh out loud, a bit of magical realism, read if you love seeing damaged characters grow. I would also say that this book had a bit of a feel similar to Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine.

“Dogs are always good and full of selfless love. They are undiluted vessels of joy who never, ever deserve anything bad that happens to them. Especially you. Since the day I met you, you have done nothing but make my life better in every possible way.”

Lucky Boy by Shanthi Sekaran

🌟🌟🌟🌟☄

This is a very rich book. I loved it. The author brings forth two very differing stories from two very different characters whose stories converge: Soli, a Mexican immigrant immigrating to the U.S., and Kavya, an Indian-American affluent woman who aches for a child of her own.

We get the privilege to live and breathe both perspectives and often our hearts break with each character. This is a story about what motherhood means to different women who have vastly different circumstances.

She began to really look at children for the first time. Babies. Her chest ached at the sight of them. Her hands grew restless, like a smoker’s. She wanted to press one to the best of her heart, feel the sweet, warm weight of a baby in her arms.”

What I really enjoyed about this book was that I intimately got to know Soli and Kavya. I feel as though I was sitting in a chair next to them in their homes, that I was there for the heartbreaking times and the blissful times. They became old friends to me throughout the story.

I recommend this novel to anyone who appreciates the nuances and strength of a mother-child bond, diverse perspectives and issues of immigration.

***The only reason I gave it 4.5 stars rather than 5 was because there was a sub-plot of Kavya’s husband Rishi’s workplace and projects that I found pretty boring. ***

Having a child was like turning inside out and exposing to the world the soft pul0 of her heart. If something happened to Ignacio- if illness took him or an accident, she would never recover. “

The Snow Child by Eowyn Ivey

🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟

This book actually helped me appreciate the winter, so you KNOW this has to be an excellent book.

In Alaska, circa 1920s, Jack and Mabel move to Alaska to start a homestead in the middle of the wilderness. The couple has struggled with infertility and are still haunted by the baby they lost years ago. One day they make a girl out of snow and the next day they see the snow girl is missing and they see flashes of a girl running around their homestead and in the woods.

“It was beautiful, Mabel knew, but it was a beauty that ripped you open and scoured you clean so that you were left helpless and exposed, if you lived at all.”

This book is so beautifully written. You can really feel the bitter cold, see the breathtaking landscape and feel the difficulties of getting by in a stark and minimally populated space.

Jack and Mabel get to know Faina, the mysterious girl over time and she becomes a regular fixture in their household. Mabel lives and dies by Faina’s appearances and you can’t help but ache along with her.

Mabel was no longer sure of the child’s age. She seemed both newly born and as old as the mountains, her eyes animated with unspoken thoughts, her face impassive. Here with the child in the trees, all things seemed possible and true.”

I highly recommend this book for anyone who loves lyrical prose, stories about trying to live off of the land, fairy tales for adults, fans of magical realism.

Woman Last Seen in Her Thirties by Camille Pagan

🌟🌟 DNF

Thank you to Lake Union Publishing, Netgalley and Camille Pagan for providing me with an ARC in exchange for an honest review. This did not impact my opinion or review in any way.

Oh, boy.

So, I don’t think I like Chick Lit. I know that’s not a fair thing to say, and I hate the phrasing of the genre, as it’s misleading and demeaning in a lot of ways. Most of the books I read and love are written and targeted toward women but have more literary depth, symbolism and style to them. But I felt this book fell into Chick Lit terrority, in the way that it subscribed to many stereotypes of women and pandered to those stereotypes.

Maggie Harris is a nervous woman, but has felt most secure in her marriage to her husband, Adam. That’s until he leaves her for (what she thinks is) another woman. She is left empty and lost and spends much of her time wondering how she could win him back.

Then she still goes on a trip to Rome, solo even though it was originally planned to be an anniversary trip for her and her husband. Immediately, she is brought to life by an Italian man flirting with her.

That’s the point where I decided to not finish this book. I can abide with a woman finding herself after a separation by discovering who she is as an individual after spending much of her life catering to others. But I can’t deal with a woman desperate for male attention as a means for revitalization. I am accustomed to books with strong, badass female protagonists and this one fell profoundly short in that regard.

So, as you see at the top, I gave it 2/5 stars and I did not finish it. I’ve found that I have so many books I am looking so forward to reading and life is too short to spend reading a book you don’t like.