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Thoughts on Buzz Books, Spring/Summer 2021, Part 2

Welcome to the second installment of my Buzz Books Spring/Summer 2021 analysis! This round includes the next five titles in the Buzz Books Spring/Summer 2021 sample, which is available free from Amazon.

To be honest, this was not my favorite round of five books.

When Stars Rain Down by Angela Jackson-Brown

This book is set in 1936 in Parsons, Georgia. I read this sample twice because I thought I might like it better the second time around. I’m not sure what it is, but I kept feeling my mind drifting off on both readings of this title. The writing is good, and I liked the character of Lucille. For me, there just isn’t much tension in the first two chapters. The first chapter is about Lucille’s family obligations. It sets up Lucille’s character as a caretaker who doesn’t worry so much about herself as she does about others. The second chapter is about a chance meeting and first kiss with the local preacher’s son (who is possibly a wolf in sheep’s clothing).

Two readings, but both times, I just didn’t really care much about the story. I know the KKK is supposed to come in at some point, so I’m sure it will get more interesting. But I’m not planning to continue.

  • GENRE(s): historical fiction
  • PUB DATE: April 13, 2021
  • PROTAGONIST: 18-year old African American girl living in the American South

Caul Baby by Morgan Jerkins

My only association with a caul comes from my reading of Stephen King’s The Shining in high school. My first order of business was to read up on cauls.

That done, I tried (and failed) twice to get into this title. It starts with Laila, a Harlem woman who, after multiple failed pregnancies, discovers she is pregnant. In the sample, the baby grows and is healthy. But in the blurb, it is apparent that the baby will be stillborn. Then, there is another baby–Laila’s niece gets pregnant and has a baby girl named Hallow.

From the blurb, it looks like the main character is Hallow, not Laila. Or maybe it’s both of them. I don’t know enough about this title to have an opinion about whether to continue to read. It’s a pass from me.

  • GENRE(s): magical realism, realistic fiction
  • PUB DATE: April 6, 2021
  • PROTAGONIST: not sure who the protagonist is–Laila or Hallow?

The Plot by Jean Hanff Korelitz

I did not get far in this at all! The author is soooo wordy! The first sentence has 57 words. The second sentence, 79 words. Third sentence, 56 words. The sentences were so long, with so many commas and parentheses, that I noticed it immediately. Skimming ahead, it looks like the wordiness is the author’s style. Pass.

Incidentally, I looked this title up on Goodreads. Lots of lower-rated reviews mention wordiness, repetition, slow-pace, and too many parentheses. I guess I’m not the only one…

  • GENRE(s): thriller
  • PUB DATE: May 11, 2021
  • PROTAGONIST: a male college professor and writer

After Francesco Brian Malloy

I LOVED this one! It’s my favorite sample so far, I think! Great writing, a sympathetic protagonist, gut-wrenching emotions…I loved everything about this one.

This is told from the perspective of Kevin, a gay man living in New York City in 1988. His lover, a gay man named Francesco, died two years ago due to complications from HIV/AIDS. The pain and grief are palpable in Kevin’s character. The story opens with homophobia at a friend’s funeral (the friend was gay and also died due to AIDS complications). The funeral scene is engaging, and I was so into it, I forgot I was reading a sample. The end of the sample came way too quickly, so this title is definitely on my TBR.

  • GENRE(s): realistic fiction, historical fiction
  • PUB DATE: May 25, 2021
  • PROTAGONIST: gay American man living in 1988

The Letter Keeper by Charles Martin

This is about two men who work to rescue trafficked teens. The first two chapters feature two different rescue situations.

I didn’t realize this was a sequel to The Water Keeper. Though I have not read The Water Keeper, I had no trouble getting into this action-packed chapter sampler. The action starts with the first line and does not stop throughout the sample. It reads like a summer blockbuster action film–and a good one at that! As with After Francesco, I forgot I was reading a sample and was disappointed for it to end. On the TBR!

  • GENRE(s): thriller
  • PUB DATE: June 8, 2021
  • PROTAGONIST: male, presumably white, has a “real-life superhero” kind of role



So I had a mixed bag of reading for this update. The first three were not my cup of tea, but the last two were among my favorites so far! I can also tell you that the next round of five books will be much more positive–I really liked four of the five!

Did you miss the first five Buzz Books for Spring/Summer 2021? Click here to read my thoughts!

Read the next five Buzz Books reviews here

Have you read any of these Buzz Books yet? Share your thoughts in the comments!

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