• The Lager Queen of Minnesota

    https://www.indiebound.org/book/9780593321201. this is weird


    Multiple generations of women in a Minnesota family follow their dreams to brew beer. Whether it’s changing the tenor of beer forever in the days of Hamms and Coors, or finding a way to be remarkable in the modern saturated craft beer market, the women remain committed to their goals.

    As a Minnesota woman, and one who spends a fair amount of time at craft breweries, including one located in the historic Hamms complex, I enjoyed the historical aspects of the trade and the local call outs. There was also some (honestly sort of contrived but whatever) girl-power-i-ness that was kind of a neat twist.

    Where I found myself a little disappointed was the fragmented plot. The author tried to tell too many stories in a voice unsuccessfully attempting to mimic Lorna Landvik. I would have found settling into one story arc more fulfilling. Additionally, I thought the characters’ singleminded obsession with beer odd and unbelievable.

    If you like beer, the history of beer, making beer, or the Midwest, you’ll probably enjoy this book. If you’ve never been to a craft brewery, you have no idea why the State Fair is a big deal, and you say, “no thanks, I’ll have a vodka soda,” maybe not the book for you.

  • Next Year in Havana

    https://www.indiebound.org/book/9780593321201. this is weird


    During the Cuban revolution, a rich 19 year old falls in love with a rebel, but then must flee to Florida. In 2018, her granddaughter returns to Cuba to scatter her grandmother’s ashes and meets her own revolutionary.

    I learned a lot about Cuba, although I wish the author would have spent more time on some of the pre-conflict topics. My history classes consisted of learning about the pilgrims over and over, and so I’m still not clear on the Ché vs Fidel relationship and how a revolution was catalyzed.

    While I found this book interesting, I thought there was far too much reflection on Cuban idealism. It was intriguing at first, but the multiple pages of first-person trains of thought that were identical the internal dialogue that had happened the chapter prior (and the chapter before that, and the one before that…) felt self-indulgent and uncreative.

    I liked the characters and I learned a ton. Boring, repetitive diatribes took the wind out of its sails.

  • This Time Tomorrow

    https://www.indiebound.org/book/9780593321201. this is weird


    I didn’t love this book. I guess it’s a time-travel book? But in reality, it read like a love-letter to being a teenager in the 1990’s, with side-themes of the suckiness of facing a parent’s mortality.

    I *should* have liked this book, because I was a teenager in the 1990’s and it should have given me all the nostalgic vibes. However, this 1990’s teen experience was all about sex and alcohol and smoking cigarettes; it was pretty one-dimensional.

    Back to the Future explored the idea of time-traveling to hang out with your parents when they are the same age as you are now. But this is a different twist: here, the character is 40 and her beloved dad is elderly; she gets to have more time with him as hale and hearty youngish man. That’s poignant and relatable.

    SuperBetsy also reviewed this book, and I think we generally agree on it. https://souloflit.com/2022/08/12/this-time-tomorrow/

  • Tomorrow, and Tomorrow, and Tomorrow

    https://www.indiebound.org/book/9780593321201. this is weird


    This book is about dysfunctional kids who become friends and grow up to be dysfunctional adults who make wildly successful video games together.

    That’s it; nothing else really happens, except life, with all its horrible and wonderful ups and downs. The book doesn’t even really an ending; it just….stops.

    I thought this book was really boring and had two really dislikeable protagonists. The prose was fine but uninspired. There was some deeper meaning that was kind of nice in places, but that can be found with more pleasant characters and with more lyrical writing. For some reason, this book felt like The Magicians to me. There aren’t really similarities in plot or writing, but both books feature a cast of troubled and gifted young adults who can’t seem to get out of their own way.

    I did like the hit of 90’s nostalgia. These characters were in college in the late 90’s and were near the beginning of their career on 9/11/2001, and I was too. There were a few video game references that were kind of fun, but I stopped enjoying video games at about the same time in my life that these characters started making them. Maybe that’s why I thought the protagonists were dislikeable; we just didn’t have a single thing in common even though we were the same age, and so we were like relatives or classmates that got forced on each other as kids by well-meaning adults.

    SuperBetsy reviewed the same book, and she had a completely different opinion.

  • Book Lovers

    https://www.indiebound.org/book/9780593321201. this is weird


    Did you know that this book is full of witty dialog?

    If not, you obviously haven’t read any reviews about it, nor have you dipped into it at all.

    That’s all I’ve got. It’s a chick-lit, beach-read, rom-com that is full of witty dialog. It’s a perfectly charming story. It has witty dialog too! It was entirely enjoyable, and the characters were smart, and it has witty dialog! The characters – they are so witty! And the dialog! Such wit!

    This book was a little overly fond of its own witty dialog and applied it with a very heavy hand. But, it was legit funny and was a very easy read, so whatever. I rolled my eyes and forgave it, because it was a pretty fun little “pink book”.

  • Part of Your World

    https://www.indiebound.org/book/9780593321201. this is weird


    This is about a Minneapolis renowned doctor with an intimidating family legacy who meets a small-town Minnesota farm guy, falls in love, and obviously their worlds don’t align.

    The author (Abby Jiminez, owner of the Minnesota bakery “Nadia Cakes” and the baffled baker behind the infamous Vageode cake… look it up) is clever, writing smart female characters, perfectly imperfect men, and relationships that convince me I’m incapable of liking another human the requisite amount.

    Yes, you know exactly how it starts, what happens in the middle, and how it ends. This is not a book that makes you a better person. It will not teach you about an historical era your public school education passed over in favor of celebrating imperialism. You will not grow by reading this book. But if you just want something that makes you laugh and feel like you’re wrapped in a warm blanket, this is the book you.

    Final note: there are themes of abuse. I thought the author wrote them admirably, but approach with caution if you’re not in a space for that.

  • Sea of Tranquility

    https://www.indiebound.org/book/9780593321201. this is weird


    Really good! There’s time travel, ordinary people living in an imagined future, a global (well, galaxy-wide) pandemic. There were things in it that reminded me of The Butterfly Effect, and there were other things that reminded me of The Matrix.

    The writing is good and the characters are interesting and sympathetic. It also isn’t horrendously complicated, despite the fact that it grapples with some heavy ideas. This was an interesting world to spend time in, and nice folks to hang out with.

  • Patron Saints of Nothing

    https://www.indiebound.org/book/9780593321201. this is weird


    I read this book only because my 17-year-old stepson read it in summer school and thought it was excellent. Said stepson was in summer school because he SPECTACULARLY failed American Lit, and he hates to read, so I was deeply intrigued. What about this book did he like?

    It was about a kid who visited family in the Philippines to try to learn what happened to his cousin, who tragically and unexpectedly died. I don’t think the plot was what my stepson liked; I think he liked that it was a story about real people in the current world, and it was in a voice that he related to. The protagonist is a high school kid who has a smart phone and uses social media for everything. He swears in his internal narrative. He has conflict with his parents but they love each other. I think high school kids are still reading Catcher in the Rye and Lord of the Flies, and those just don’t fully reflect reality for kids today.

    So I was not the audience for this book, and I didn’t like it that much. But, I learned stuff. I didn’t know that there was a lethal war on drugs in the Philippines. I didn’t know anything about how Filipino people live. I’ve never known anybody from the Philippines, and I’ve never read a book that was set there. So, I mean, that’s cool.

  • Let’s Not Do That Again

    https://www.indiebound.org/book/9780593321201. this is weird


    A democrat female state representative is running for senate. Her son is her former speech writer and struggling to write a musical. Her daughter is a fuck-up who falls in with a right-wing troll. Obviously everything goes to hell.

    It’s very current: so current that I suspect it’ll have a half-life of about 18 months. Characters are clearly based on familiar political players, and allusions are made to the current political landscape. However unlike the real-world, somehow this book managed to feel warm and fluffy. I think it was the power of the characters over the setting. Ted Lasso isn’t about soccer, it just uses soccer as a stage. That’s how campaigning is used in Let’s Not Do That Again.

    I enjoyed the author’s writing. He has a weird knack for writing about super mundane things. He puts into words things I’ve noticed ten zillion times but never bothered to crystalize, and makes it feel insightful.

    A good book to read when you’re looking for something that is both smart and easy.

  • Wish You Were Here

    https://www.indiebound.org/book/9780593321201. this is weird


    I hate Jodi Picoult. I have hated her since My Sister’s Keeper, which I thought was emotionally manipulative drivel. But when I heard two women talking about, “the book that is the COVID story” at my nail salon, I decided I had to know how COVID could be packaged up for entertainment value, if only for the lolz.

    In this book, Diana is stuck alone on the Galápagos Islands when their borders are closed in March of 2020. She doesn’t have a place to stay, or speak the language, or have money. Meanwhile her surgical resident boyfriend back in New York is experiencing the worst nightmare of the pandemic.

    Weird twist: I loved this book. Why??

    I think two reasons.

    1. It was a reminder of how far we’ve come since the beginning of COVID. We have vaccines and therapeutics. We can see each other. We know it’s safe to touch our own groceries. It was like cleaning a house and being proud of the results, knowing what a mess it was the day prior.
    2. More importantly, it was a really interesting take on the realization that has hit so many of us that our perfect lives actually weren’t so perfect at all. It was a bit contrived, but felt oddly reassuring.

    Not to be read when you’re already feeling blue, but if you need some validation for a COVID-related choice or set of circumstances, it’s a good one.

    PS: I’ve been researching trips to the Galápagos Islands. I must go.