Book Review: Tash Hearts Tolstoy by Kathryn Ormsbee

Book Review: Tash Hearts Tolstoy by Kathryn Ormsbee
Tash Hearts Tolstoy by Kathryn Ormsbee

Tash Hearts Tolstoy
by Kathryn Ormsbee
Goodreads | Amazon | Audible | Indiebound
Series: no
Published: June 6th 2017
Rating: Tara heart this book
Times read: 1
Recommended by: The great and powerful Gabrielle

My friend kept sending me photos of this book to me as she read it. I was swayed into buying it with passages about introverts (which I can never get enough of) and midwest food knowledge (impressive!)

I enjoyed the breezy tone. If you read and enjoyed Eliza and Her Monsters I would recommend this book.  If you found Eliza from Eliza and her Monsters insufferable, this book might be more what you are looking for.  Tash is significantly less emo (stealing my friend's word) than Eliza, and in general, this is a much more lighthearted book. Tash is healthier than Eliza.  Her relationships with her parents and friends are healthier. Tash is someone that you would want to know and hang out with. 

There was so much in this novel that I wanted to know more about:

  • Tash's relationships with Thom and Paul.

  • Tash's sister, Klaudie - What's her deal? Was there a whole subplot about her that was written out for space because it sure felt like it.

  • Tash's mother is from New Zealand, and the difficulties of living cross-continentally are only slightly touched upon. As someone who is living her life this way, I would have love to see more about that.

  • Jack. I have thoughts about Jack. I wish we had gotten more about Jack. My friend who was texting me about her read of the book totally related to Jack. "Jack is my homegirl." I had a harder time with her. There is so much implied backstory, but there was also this "air of mystery" and deliberate unknowableness around her. I kind of want a sequel from Jack's point of view because I want to get to know her better.

I know what I want and what I don’t want. I’ve never wanted sex. Never. I’ve never understood why it has to be in every book and movie and television show ever made. I never figured out why porn is such a huge thing. I’ll be fine if no guy ever takes his shirt off for me. I’m not scared, I just don’t want it.

All of the friendships in this book are were so realistic and heartwarming.  There is a lot to love in this book that the way that Tash and her friends interacted is right at the top of the list.

 I have been thinking about it  and looking back, and I believe that this is the first book that I have ever read with a cannon ace character.  This is kind of ridiculous given exactly how much I read.  It also means that I haven't given asexuality  much thought before now (heterosexual privilege, it is a thing). I think that the ace representation was pretty impressive (I could be wrong and if I am let me know). Tash was a bit confused about her sexuality, but that seems realistic.  If you don't fit into what society finds normal, it is probably disorientating as hell.  And if you feel like that it has to be such a relief to find a label that seems to fit you. Her friend's confusion and avoidance of the topic also seemed realistic. "Hey, we support and love you, but we also have no idea what this asexual thing means and if you don't bring it up because you are uncomfortable then we won't either because that seems to be what you want." There is a lot of subtext.

This book also gets the powerful pull and the potential pitfalls of internet fame as well the painful process that is showing something that you have worked hard on to a public audience. The author has experience with making a youtube adaption of a classic, and it shows in how authentically she writes about it. The love story was somewhat predictable. Like, I knew what was going to happen the first time the characters names were mentioned. Have I just read too many books?

Final verdict? MOAR OF THIS PLEASE!

From Goodreads:

After a shout-out from one of the Internet’s superstar vloggers, Natasha “Tash” Zelenka finds herself and her obscure, amateur web series, Unhappy Families, thrust into the limelight: She’s gone viral.

Her show is a modern adaptation of Anna Karenina—written by Tash’s literary love Count Lev Nikolayevich “Leo” Tolstoy. Tash is a fan of the forty thousand new subscribers, their gushing tweets, and flashy Tumblr GIFs. Not so much the pressure to deliver the best web series ever.

And when Unhappy Families is nominated for a Golden Tuba award, Tash’s cyber-flirtation with Thom Causer, a fellow award nominee, suddenly has the potential to become something IRL—if she can figure out how to tell said crush that she’s romantic asexual.

Tash wants to enjoy her newfound fame, but will she lose her friends in her rise to the top? What would Tolstoy do?

Book Review: Let's Talk About Love by Claire Kann

If this was America's Next Top Model this is the point where I would hand the crown over to this girl. LOOK AT her. Just... I cannot even. *gestures inarticulately

If this was America's Next Top Model this is the point where I would hand the crown over to this girl. LOOK AT her. Just... I cannot even. *gestures inarticulately

Let's Talk About Love
by Claire Kann
Goodreads | Amazon | Audible | Indiebound
Series: no
Published: January 23rd 2018
Rating: Acing it
Times read: 1
Recommended by: All of twitter

I’m sure it was the cold medicine, but you insisted it wasn’t and I was getting a vibe. Actually, I’m not a hundred percent on the concept of vibes, but if I had to put a name to it, I’d say vibe.

Real rating 3 1/2.  This is another book that I have had preordered for a few months and seriously built up in my head. 
Let's Talk About Love is the story of nineteen-year-old college sophomore Alice trying to figure out exactly which direction she wants her life to go in.  She is also black and asexual. Yes. You read that right. I almost sprained a finger I preordered so fast. I can't speak about the representation nor do I know if this book is #ownvoices. I can also say that it felt authentic and respectful.  I can't ignore the fact that this book has THE MOST AMAZING COVER EVER.  The joy and the freedom on the cover models face, the dress, her hair.  It is perfection. The book itself isn't as breezy and light as the cover would suggest.

Alice. Honestly, there are a whole lot of things about her that I related to. She writes academic essays about TV shows for God's sake. She overthinks. She occasionally makes things more than she should about herself. But she took me a long time to warm up to. I think that some of it has to do with the distance that a third person POV causes.  Would first have gotten me into her head earlier?  I don't know.  She does mention that she "isn't much of a reader" and is fairly extroverted so I am not sure that if we met in some alternative universe that we would be more than surface friends. But the more I got into the book, the more I feel like I understood and liked Alice. Eventually, ALL of Alice's foibles and weakness are addressed.  

It was a seriously smart move by Clain Kann to have the book take place during Alice's second year of college. High school YA is still very much about figuring out who you are.  Alice is passed all that and is now figuring out how who she fits in with the rest of the world. Alice is taking her first baby steps into adulthood.  It is sometimes messy, and she isn't always successful but reading about her figuring it out was refreshing.

I thought that the writing and the plotting were quite good and although the characterization wasn't as strong, it also held up.  I wish there was more about her family and Feenie and Ryan.  I could even have done more with Takumi (the rather dreamy love interest).  There are a bunch of genuinely funny lines particularly parts of Alices' inner dialogue. I came feeling that the plot, characterization, and the writing were all a bit separate and didn't enhance one another even though they were strong. Maybe it is me? Or maybe it is the fact that this is Claire Kann's debut novel.  I have a feeling that the slight roughness here will be smoothed out in her next book (#fatgirlmagic if you are interested. I am.) If you are looking for a fast-paced, warm-hearted book with a black girl main character (who happens to be asexual), this might just be right up your alley.

From Goodreads:

Alice had her whole summer planned. Non-stop all-you-can-eat buffets while marathoning her favorite TV shows (best friends totally included) with the smallest dash of adulting--working at the library to pay her share of the rent. The only thing missing from her perfect plan? Her girlfriend (who ended things when Alice confessed she's asexual). Alice is done with dating--no thank you, do not pass go, stick a fork in her, done.

But then Alice meets Takumi and she can’t stop thinking about him or the rom com-grade romance feels she did not ask for (uncertainty, butterflies, and swoons, oh my!).

When her blissful summer takes an unexpected turn, and Takumi becomes her knight with a shiny library employee badge (close enough), Alice has to decide if she’s willing to risk their friendship for a love that might not be reciprocated—or understood.