Welcome to Ivory Owl Reviews

Just browsing?
Click on any of the above photos to jump to one of my popular posts (on desktop version)

Want to see what's new?
Scroll down for my most recent posts (desktop and mobile versions)

Looking for something?
Use the search box in the right hand column (desktop) or at the bottom of the page (mobile)

Review: The One by John Marrs

The One by John Marrs releases February 20, 2018 from Hanover Square Press 
**I received an advanced copy of this release via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. I received no additional compensation.**

Netgalley Summary:
How far would you go to find The One? A simple DNA test is all it takes. Just a quick mouth swab and soon you’ll be matched with your perfect partner—the one you’re genetically made for. That’s the promise made by Match Your DNA. A decade ago, the company announced that they had found the gene that pairs each of us with our soul mate. Since then, millions of people around the world have been matched. But the discovery has its downsides: test results have led to the breakup of countless relationships and upended the traditional ideas of dating, romance and love. Now five very different people have received the notification that they’ve been “Matched.” They’re each about to meet their one true love. But “happily ever after” isn’t guaranteed for everyone. Because even soul mates have secrets. And some are more shocking than others…A word-of-mouth hit in the United Kingdom, The One is a fascinating novel that shows how even the simplest discoveries can have complicated consequences.

My Review:
This book will really get you thinking! I'm always intrigued by genetics and this book shines a light, albeit fictional, on the whole new world that DNA databases are opening. People are interested in their ancestry and their dispositions toward health risks but there are some aspects to this industry that are currently being overlooked. But, I digress...which is what my mind kept doing as I was reading this--in a good way! In John Marrs' The One you can find your true soul mate, the one other person in the world that matches with you. So what happens if you are already married to someone else, or your mate is decades older than you, or a myriad of other situations? Would you leave your spouse for the chance at a life with your one true love? This book follows a handful of people who have been matched and some crazy stuff happens. I really liked the Christopher and Ellie storylines, but the storylines were all so complex and fascinating. I'm definitely recommending this to anyone who loves reading about the dark and misunderstood aspects of human nature and in a strange, twisted way--love.

Review:: Without a Net: The Female Experience of Growing Up Working Class

Without a Net: The Female Experience of Growing Up Working Class released  February 6, 2004 from Seal Press

This book has been hanging out on my unread shelf for a VERY long time! After reading Barbara Ehrenreich's Nikel and Dimed and some other books exploring poverty and the working poor I picked this book up but it got shelved. I'm not sure why except to say I always have a huge queue of books and I have been focusing on frontlist titles for the last few years. Deciding to grab something from my backlist, I picked this off my shelf. While many books may explore the topic of the working class, too often we do not hear their stories firsthand--especially from women and girls. To dig even deeper, we don't hear the stories of LGBTQI woman-identifying people and women of color. Edited by indie icon Michelle Tea, Without a Net: The Female Experience of Growing Up Working Class contains raw and powerful first-hand accounts of working class experiences. The first essay alone will leave you with your jaw on the ground! While it was written in 2004, it is still relevant and provides insight into the daily sacrifices and struggles of an often disparaged demographic. I think an updated or additional volume of essays would be well received by the general public and anyone interested in America's economy and class systems.  

Review: The Queen of Hearts by Kimmery Martin

The Queen of Hearts by Kimmery Martin releases  2/13/18 from Berkley 
*I received a complementary copy of this release in exchange for an honest review. I received no additional compensation**

Goodreads Summary:
A debut novel that pulses with humor and empathy and explores the heart's capacity for forgiveness...
Zadie Anson and Emma Colley have been best friends since their early twenties, when they first began navigating serious romantic relationships amid the intensity of medical school. Now they're happily married wives and mothers with successful careers--Zadie as a pediatric cardiologist and Emma as a trauma surgeon. Their lives in Charlotte, North Carolina are chaotic but fulfilling, until the return of a former colleague unearths a secret one of them has been harboring for years.

As chief resident, Nick Xenokostas was the center of Zadie's life--both professionally and personally--throughout a tragic chain of events in her third year of medical school that she has long since put behind her. Nick's unexpected reappearance during a time of new professional crisis shocks both women into a deeper look at the difficult choices they made at the beginning of their careers. As it becomes evident that Emma must have known more than she revealed about circumstances that nearly derailed both their lives, Zadie starts to question everything she thought she knew about her closest friend.

My Review:
This cover is so gorgeous. It's no wonder it is all over Bookstagram! While it was definitely what caught my eye, I was intrigued to read a book where the focus is on the friendship of two women...and to take it up a notch, two women doctors. I loved the banter and interactions between the two of them. Their dialogue was modern and realistic. My problem was that I kept getting the two women confused! I had to constantly stop and think "which one is this?" "Is she the trauma surgeon or the heart specialist?" "Who are her kids and husband?" I couldn't keep them separated. 

Review: An American Marriage by Tayari Jones

An American Marriage by Tayari Jones releases 2/6/18 from Algonquin 

**I received a complimentary copy of this release from the publisher**

Goodreads Summary:
Newlyweds Celestial and Roy are the embodiment of both the American Dream and the New South. He is a young executive, and she is an artist on the brink of an exciting career. But as they settle into the routine of their life together, they are ripped apart by circumstances neither could have imagined. Roy is arrested and sentenced to twelve years for a crime Celestial knows he didn’t commit. Though fiercely independent, Celestial finds herself bereft and unmoored, taking comfort in Andre, her childhood friend, and best man at their wedding. As Roy’s time in prison passes, she is unable to hold on to the love that has been her center. After five years, Roy’s conviction is suddenly overturned, and he returns to Atlanta ready to resume their life together.

My Review:
When I received this book in the mail, I looked it over but thought I wouldn't enjoy it. As a matter of fact, it sat on my shelf for months and I was going to pass over it. I thought I wouldn't enjoy it since the story is about a Black married couple facing problems due to the husband's incarceration. I thought "how will I relate to this?" In the spirit of expanding my reading in 2018, I picked it up...and couldn't put it down. The low, rumbling thunder of the storyline absolutely gripped me. Celestial and Roy have many common marriage challenges (in-laws, discussions about starting a family, their careers) that make their marriage relatable and while Roy's incarceration the central axis around which the story revolves, this is not a story about prison. It is a story of all the people who are affected by Roy's incarceration. Tayari Jones captured so many layers of emotion in this book and I have no hesitation stating that it is one of the best novels I've ever read regarding humanity, identity, family structures, and marriage. A five star read that I am so so so glad I didn't pass over!

  • In 2014, African Americans constituted 2.3 million, or 34%, of the total 6.8 million correctional population.
  • African Americans are incarcerated at more than 5 times the rate of whites
  • In 2012 alone, the United States spent nearly $81 billion on corrections.
  • Spending on prisons and jails has increased at triple the rate of spending on Pre-K-12 public education in the last thirty years.

I will forever think of An American Marriage when faced with statistics like these or in discussions of white privilege.