Image result for tender belinda mckeonMckeon’s Tender is a novel that progresses much like a bruise would: the writing, when it initially hits the page, is sharp and vibrant in its impact, filled with all the excitement of a new, all-engrossing friendship. But as the plot unfolds, the bruise of that initial impact becomes more and more apparent, blooming into increasingly worrying shades of purple and blue, the colours of something gone wrong, something that is so clearly not right happening.

“She laughed. There was a pleasure in hearing him use her name; it was so direct. It was somehow a higher level of attention than she usually got from people; almost cheekily personal. Intimate, that was what it was. And yet pulled clear of intimacy, at the last second, by the reins of irony which seemed to control everything he said, by his constant closeness to mockery. She found herself wanting more of it, and she found, too, that it held a chellenge: to edge him away from that mockery towards something warmer. To make him see that he was wrong in whatever decision he had made about her, about her silliness, about her childishness, about whatever it was he had, by now, set down for her in his mind.”

All of this is to say, McKeon is so good at depicting the gradual collapse of her protagonist, Catherine; the narrowing, over time, of Catherine’s psychological vision. The writing is honest and fluid, almost overflowing in its attempts to catch up with Catherine’s frantic thoughts. Form and content work in parallel, here, the writing becoming more fragmented and divided just as Catherine’s ever-increasing focus on her singular subject becomes more desperate.

(Trying to be vague here so as not to spoil the intrigue. 👀)

More than anything, though, what Tender does that I haven’t seen from a lot of novels is not just depict, but substantially delve into deeply uncomfortable and unpleasant emotions: jealousy, self-pity, possessiveness, clinginess, self-loathing. All of it done, too, in the context of a friendship and a toxic, unrequited love. But McKeon builds her novel’s central dynamic, the fraught friendship between Catherine and James, with such nuance and layers that come what may, I was ready to follow these characters into whatever circumstances they happened to find themselves in. Needless to say, I was not disappointed.


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HI EVERYONE!!! it’s been a while since i did a post that wasn’t a book review, but here i am, back with a slightly (very) belated list of my favourite books of last year!! i read so many amazing books last year and this probably goes without saying, but i HIGHLY recommend you read all of these books. they are all amazing in my humble opinion

i will be linking any reviews ive written of these books down below so that you can read my thoughts on them more specifically c:



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Normal People by Sally Rooney is my official best book of the year. This novel just had everything I wanted from a book. It made me think, it made me cry. I think about specific lines from it all the time. I loved it so much I read it twice. I also met Sally Rooney this year which !!!!!!! I still can’t believe that happened ???

my review of normal people


► Convenience Store Woman by Sayaka Murata: a very strange, slightly absurd kind of novel, but so enjoyable still. It’s strange, yes, but it’s never off-putting. Kiko’s wonderfully refreshing voice is not one you forget about, and it’s certainly not one I forgot about. —my book review

► Tender by Belinda McKeon: reading this novel felt like holding a person’s emotional state in my hands. The emotion is raw, searing, unbearably and sometimes oppressively present. –my book review

► Salt Slow by Julia Armfield: probably the best short-story collection I’ve ever read. Armfield’s writing is mesmerizing, her stories impossible to forget. A book filled with a bunch of stories about women being complicated and interesting + surrealist/magical realist elements? No wonder I liked this. –my book review

► This is How You Lose the Time War by Amal El-Mohtar & Max Gladstone: how do I even begin to explain this book. The most innovative, beautifully written love story about two star-crossed lovers working on opposite sides of a time war. I haven’t read anything like this book before. It’s an absolute marvel. –my book review

► The Archive of Alternate Endings by Lindsey Drager: by far my biggest surprise of 2019. I’ve never read a book that so masterfully wove stories, big and small in scope. It’s a tapestry of a book; singling out one of its threads would only belittle how intricately it’s constructed. This book is so underrated; PLEASE READ IT IT’S AMAZING TRUST ME. –my book review

► Conversations With Friends by Sally Rooney: lol is anyone surprised. I’m not exaggerating when I say that literally every single thing Sally Rooney has written has landed in my 2019 favourites list. I don’t know what else to say. –my book review

► Veins of the Ocean by Patricia Engel: I don’t think this novel is talked a lot about either, which is a shame because it’s such a tenderly drawn story about two people finding each other. Also it’s about water and family and Florida and living away from your home country.

► Wayward Son by Rainbow Rowell: I adore Simon and Baz with my whole heart. I’ve read Carry On 5 times, with more on the way, so the fact that this is on my favourites list is not a surprise lol. This wasn’t a 5-star read for me but I love Simon and Baz so much that their mere existence automatically means this book is one of my favs of the year.

► Color and Light by Sally Rooney: this is a 20-page short story Rooney wrote for The New Yorker. I have said this before and I will say it again: I love anything that Sally Rooney writes. –my book review



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Constellations by Sinéad Gleeson is by far my favourite non-fiction book of the year. I listened to the audiobook of this (narrated by Gleeson herself) and was absolutely transfixed by it. I just transcended my physical existence on the bus on my way to work and fully entered into Gleeson’s world. This book has some of the most beautiful, moving writing I’ve read this year.

my book review of constellations


► The Lonely City by Olivia Laing: this book just came to me at the right time. It’s a beautiful meditation on loneliness, told through the work of various artists. It’s sympathetic, and doesn’t shy away from the unpleasant, uncomfortable aspects of loneliness. I will read anything that Olivia Laing writes from now on.

► Catch and Kill by Ronan Farrow: omg if you have not read this you need to go listen to it on audiobook now. This is absolutely a story everyone needs to know about. Farrow is a brilliant writer, and the work he’s done is so important. It’s also a story we wouldn’t have without some of the incredibly brave sexual assault survivors who get a chance to tell their stories in this book. –my book review

► Little Weirds by Jenny Slate: the weirdest, most humane book you’ll read this year. I didn’t know Jenny Slate was such a talented writer??? Also highly recommend the audiobook, beautifully narrated by Slate herself.  –my book review

► In the Dream House by Carmen Mario Machado: I literally finished this on December 31, but wanted to include it anyway because I thought it was so powerfully written. Machado is a brilliant writer, and I’m glad this book exists for the people who need it.


and that’s all folks!!! i hope 2019 was a good reading year for you!! here’s to more amazing books in 2020.

let me knows in the comments what you thought of any of these books, and what your favourite book(s) of the year was

happy 2020 yall!!

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Image result for topics of conversation by miranda popkeyThank you to Random House for providing me with an eARC of this via Edelweiss! This novel comes out on January 7.

Topics of Conversation is another in a string of books I’ve come across lately that center on and explore what I’m going to call the problematic woman. The problematic woman is not problematic because she is Bad—whatever that means—but because she is “full of problems or difficulties.” By “problematic,” here, I mean women who feel too much or too little, are too passive or too foolhardy, judge their decisions too harshly or not enough. Women who, in one way or another, struggle to calibrate their actions, thoughts, and emotions to their environments. (This struggle isn’t necessarily pathological, though it sometimes is.)

Topics of Conversation follows in the wake of novels like Ottessa Moshfegh’s My Year of Rest and Relaxation or Julia Armfeld’s Salt Slow novels that find women experiencing a whole spectrum of unappealing/undesirable/uncomfortable emotional states. I think the synopsis of Popkey’s novel is exactly right; it is indeed a novel about “desire, disgust, motherhood, loneliness, art, pain, feminism, anger, envy, guilt.” It doesn’t make you root for its protagonist, exactly, but it does make you understand her.

And honestly, I’m glad that I’m seeing more and more novels like Popkey’s and Moshfegh’s and Armfeld’s. I love seeing women being hypocritical and selfish and callous. I love seeing authors write women who have the capacity to experience all these emotions, even the so-called “negative” ones.

Bring on the problematic women.


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