Book Review: The Authenticity Project

The Authenticity Project and green notebookThe Authenticity Project by Clare Pooley

The story of a solitary green notebook that brings together six strangers and leads to unexpected friendship, and even love

Julian Jessop, an eccentric, lonely artist and septuagenarian believes that most people aren’t really honest with each other. But what if they were? And so he writes–in a plain, green journal–the truth about his own life and leaves it in his local café. It’s run by the incredibly tidy and efficient Monica, who furtively adds her own entry and leaves the book in the wine bar across the street. Before long, the others who find the green notebook add the truths about their own deepest selves–and soon find each other In Real Life at Monica’s Café.

The Authenticity Project’s cast of characters–including Hazard, the charming addict who makes a vow to get sober; Alice, the fabulous mommy Instagrammer whose real life is a lot less perfect than it looks online; and their other new friends–is by turns quirky and funny, heartbreakingly sad and painfully true-to-life. It’s a story about being brave and putting your real self forward–and finding out that it’s not as scary as it seems. In fact, it looks a lot like happiness.


The Authenticity Project is just the tonic for our times that readers are clamoring for–and one they will take to their hearts and read with unabashed pleasure.
Review:
I loved the concept of this book, that of someone writing their authentic truth in a book and leaving it for others to find and do the same. In an age of social media and comparing our lives to what other people present, this idea is appealing.
And the book does a great job of delving into it!
I loved the cast of characters and how they were woven together all because of the little green notebook — which is almost a character itself — and how it made them want to connect and help and be authentic. The characters were fun and their stories were compelling. They make mistakes, they take chances, they help and look out for one another. I wanted to wander down the street and stop for tea at Monica’s coffee shop myself.
This really is a charming book about connection and the author did a great job exploring this theme. It’s easy to read and get lost in on a cozy weekend.
Thank you to Netgalley and the publisher for a review copy of this book.
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Book Review: No Exit

No Exit pictureNo Exit by Taylor Adams

On her way to Utah to see her dying mother, college student Darby Thorne gets caught in a fierce blizzard in the mountains of Colorado. With the roads impassable, she’s forced to wait out the storm at a remote highway rest stop. Inside, are some vending machines, a coffee maker, and four complete strangers.

Desperate to find a signal to call home, Darby goes back out into the storm . . . and makes a horrifying discovery. In the back of the van parked next to her car, a little girl is locked in an animal crate.

Who is the child? Why has she been taken? And how can Darby save her?

There is no cell phone reception, no telephone, and no way out. One of her fellow travelers is a kidnapper. But which one?

Trapped in an increasingly dangerous situation, with a child’s life and her own on the line, Darby must find a way to break the girl out of the van and escape.

But who can she trust?

Review:
I loved the premise of this book. Darby sees a girl trapped in the back of a van during a snowstorm. There are 4 other people trapped with her in a rest stop. She doesn’t know who to trust or what she should do. Will she put herself in danger to save this girl?
There are some typical tropes, such as a timeline, a dying cell phone, isolation, etc. Still, there are some great twists that keep Darby, and the reader, on our toes.
Darby was an interesting character. She’s got her guilt and her flaws — she’s trying to rush home to mend fences with her ill mother. She says herself how selfish she is. I enjoyed the way she talked to herself and decided what she would do. I also liked how smart and creative she was (though she did have moments of being not so smart too).
The counting down timeline and the tension made for a great read and had me racing through this book. If you are looking for a fun thriller, this is a good one.
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Book Review: The Girl with the Louding Voice

Book Review: The Girl with the Louding Voice

The Girl with the Louding VoiceThe Girl with the Louding Voice by Abi Dare

A powerful, emotional debut novel told in the unforgettable voice of a young Nigerian woman who is trapped in a life of servitude but determined to get an education so that she can escape and choose her own future.

Adunni is a fourteen-year-old Nigerian girl who knows what she wants: an education. This, her mother has told her, is the only way to get a “louding voice”–the ability to speak for herself and decide her own future. But instead, Adunni’s father sells her to be the third wife of a local man who is eager for her to bear him a son and heir.

When Adunni runs away to the city, hoping to make a better life, she finds that the only other option before her is servitude to a wealthy family. As a yielding daughter, a subservient wife, and a powerless slave, Adunni is told, by words and deeds, that she is nothing.

But while misfortunes might muffle her voice for a time, they cannot mute it. And when she realizes that she must stand up not only for herself, but for other girls, for the ones who came before her and were lost, and for the next girls, who will inevitably follow; she finds the resolve to speak, however she can–in a whisper, in song, in broken English–until she is heard.

Review:
Adunni has a great voice — she wants to get educated, become a teacher, and help others. She knows she has value and has an interesting, curious attitude toward life, believing that tomorrow will be a better day, despite what has happened today.
And horrible things do happen to Adunni. It is so difficult to read a book with so much abuse and mistreatment of others, especially when it is juxtaposed against affluence and prosperity. The author does an interesting job of explaining what it is like in Nigeria — the poverty, wealth, abuse, rich culture, the politics…
I liked Adunni, but, despite her louding voice, I found she was often pushed into standing up for herself and moving forward. It is a strange combination of ambition and circumstance. Other people really have to make her see opportunities, but perhaps that’s realistic.
Then there was the language in the book. Adunni is uneducated and the book is narrated in her broken English to highlight this fact. It was challenging to read because of this. I appreciate the author trying to show us something about Adunni but felt that because her thoughts wouldn’t have been in English but her native language in the first place, that this was strange. Just my opinion. Maybe we needed the language as a symbolic barrier?
Overall, though, this is a good book, full of inspiration and hope despite the often terrible events and subject matter.
Thank you to Netgalley and Dutton Books for the review copy.
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Book Review: Followers

FollowersFollowers by Megan Angelo

An electrifying story of two ambitious friends, the dark choices they make and the profound moment that changes the meaning of privacy forever.

Orla Cadden dreams of literary success, but she’s stuck writing about movie-star hookups and influencer yoga moves. Orla has no idea how to change her life until her new roommate, Floss―a striving, wannabe A-lister―comes up with a plan for launching them both into the high-profile lives they so desperately crave. But it’s only when Orla and Floss abandon all pretense of ethics that social media responds with the most terrifying feedback of all: overwhelming success.

Thirty-five years later, in a closed California village where government-appointed celebrities live every moment of the day on camera, a woman named Marlow discovers a shattering secret about her past. Despite her massive popularity―twelve million loyal followers―Marlow dreams of fleeing the corporate sponsors who would do anything, even horrible things, to keep her on-screen. When she learns that her whole family history is a lie, Marlow finally summons the courage to run in search of the truth, no matter the risks.

Followers traces the paths of Orla, Floss and Marlow as they wind through time toward each other, and toward a cataclysmic event that sends America into lasting upheaval. At turns wry and tender, bleak and hopeful, this darkly funny story reminds us that even if we obsess over famous people we’ll never meet, what we really crave is genuine human connection.

Review:
This is such a timely novel with a great premise — about how social media influencers are made and maintained, how social media could be in the future, and how it would be different if it were controlled by the government.
I love books that speculate on our future by making one change, and this book does that. What if the internet were hacked and the government took it over?
The book follows Orla, a blog type reporter, and her roommate Floss, who becomes a social media influencer in the present. It also follows Marlow in the near future who lives live-streamed in a constructed town in California.
I enjoyed the juxtaposition of the present and the future in this book and the exploration of the “what ifs”. I also liked how the story lines converged. However, something was a bit off for me. Perhaps it was because, although I found the characters fine, I had a hard time actually liking any of them. I’m not quite sure. Maybe it was the pacing of the book. However, I did find it thought provoking and find myself thinking about it still.
Thank you to Netgalley and Graydon House Books for the review copy.
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