Book Review Time: The Flowers of Buffoonery


Greetings, my fellow book-lovers! 

It’s been a minute. March is usually a down-time for me. I lost both of my parents in the month of March (different years.) So, during this month, I tend to cut back a bit and take time to reflect on and celebrate the lives of two of the most important people in my life. The ones who gave me life. It’s a difficult process. Tears are shed. But I’m profoundly grateful for the wonderful memories they’ve left me with.

And one last thing. Though March may be a hard month for me, it never stops me from reading. Books carry me through even the toughest of times.

So, let’s talk about books, shall we?

The Flowers of Buffoonery by Osamu Dazai takes place in a seaside recovery facility in pre-war Japan. One of the patients, a struggling artist named Yozo, has been admitted after a failed double suicide attempt. The married woman who was Yozo’s partner in this pact, has not survived. This novella, described as “darkly humorous,” documents the days following Yozo’s attempt, as he comes to terms with the repercussions of his actions.

While recuperating, Yozo is entertained by his two closest friends, who are determined, in spite of the circumstances, to keep the mood light during their visits. Yozo also begins to develop a strange attachment to the nurse who is in charge of his care. These individuals act as a buffer between Yozo and the reality of what awaits him.

But when his older brother arrives to “straighten things out,” clarity sets in. Playing the role of the classic wet blanket, Yozo’s brother puts an end to his dreamy days of convalescence filled with card games, friendly teasing, and harmless flirtations.

Now Yozo must make some hard decisions about his life. About his future. But no one ever bothers to ask why he would attempt suicide in the first place.

A guava sparkler: guava, pineapple, a touch of citrus and seltzer.

The Flowers of Buffoonery is a strangely fascinating novel that skims around the surface of topics like depression, despair, and suicide, but never offers you anything concrete to hold onto. As odd as it sounds with this story you have to read between the lines, look beyond the haze of cigarette smoke and playful banter, and see what lies beneath. What you’ll find are characters deeply plagued by insecurities and self-doubt (which is mirrored by the writer-narrator in the form of asides that are interspersed throughout the novel.) 

And what of the deceased woman, Sono, whose death Yozo was directly involved in? Often Yozo appears completely detached from the event and Sono, as if he doesn’t care about what happened. But I think Yozo is envious. Sono managed to escape the pain whereas Yozo could not. It brought to mind, the characters of Gloria and Robert in They Shoot Horses, Don’t They? by Horace McCoy.

To carry that level of despair and desperation, to feel as though there are no other options, is lonely and isolating. So of course, one would gravitate towards another in a similar state of mind. I believe that to be the case for Yozo and Sono. But when it comes to what exactly happened after they decided to jump, that’s far more difficult to parse.

I’ve taken a more serious approach in my synopsis and review of this novella, which I believe to be warranted. But as I mentioned briefly at the beginning of my review, this work is considered a dark comedy. And the humor is there, if you’re inclined to indulge in it.

As for me, I found The Flowers of Buffoonery to be a strange read. One of those odd experiences that most definitely left an impression.


A Celebration Of Black Female Authors

Last month was a celebration of Black history. And this month, we recognize the contributions of women in the fight for equality. 

In a continuation of that spirit, this post is dedicated to 3 works of fiction written by Black female authors, which were previously reviewed on booksandbevs7.

Whatever Happened To Interracial Love? by Kathleen Collins

Each of the stories in the collection carries its own weight, drawing on various themes, such as, love, family, race, ambition, death, control, and perception. Although each story is unique, they are arranged beautifully in this book. One flows into the next seamlessly, presenting a robust depiction of the African-American experience. An experience that combines tragedy and humor, commonalities and idiosyncrasies. It truly is a gift that over 30 years after her death, Kathleen Collins’ amazing talent has been rediscovered.


Song For Anninho by Gayl Jones

Song For Anninho (written in free-verse) is a mesmerizing work that exhibits both the beauty and brutality of the character’s circumstances… [and] confirms my belief that Gayl Jones is one of the most underrated and underappreciated writers in the sphere of American Literature. I hope that won’t always be the case.


Wild Seed by Octavia Butler

Wild Seed is an epic fantasy love-hate story. Octavia Butler creates a world of interesting and complex superhumans. People with various capabilities: mind-reading, thought-manipulation, clairvoyance, super-strength, and regenerative as well as destructive powers. These powers come at a tremendous physical and psychological cost. And that creates much of the conflict within the story. (

I highly recommend all three of these titles. If you’ve read them, let me know your thoughts in the comment section. And if you like, join in the celebration by including your favorite titles from Black female writers.

Happy Reading!


Book Review Time: Seven Days in June

Looking for a heavy dose of romantic tension to heat up the winter season? Then might I suggest Seven Days In June, by Tia Williams…

Let me set the scene for you.

Eva Mercy is sitting on stage. Lights are blaring. She is fighting through the physical pain that is her constant companion.

Eva is on a panel alongside other black writers for a literary event. Despite being nervous, she quickly finds her stride. And though her celebrity is modest in comparison to the other panelists, her confidence rises as she spots loyal fans of her fantasy-erotica series in the audience. The event appears to be proceeding well, as the writers debate hot topics such as, “the state of the black author.” That is until an unexpected guest joins the panel, and really shakes things up. He is the rockstar/bad-boy of the literary world, Shane Hall. 

The subject of tabloid fodder, with a history of drug abuse and time behind bars, Shane is not the type of writer to attend literary events. Yet he’s chosen to make an appearance at this particular one. Everyone in the room is taken aback. But none so much as Eva Mercy. When she locks eyes with Shane, memories buried years ago rise to the surface. Those seven days in June…

With a crashing wave of emotion-love, desire, anger, and confusion- everyone else disappears, leaving just the two of them, Eva and Shane. But in order to move forward they will need to come to terms with their past and decide if their futures include each other.

I’m not a huge fan of romance novels. I always feel a little awkward during explicit scenes. Call me prudish but it is what it is. That being said, there was so much to appreciate about this novel.

Eva and Shane have carved out successful careers for themselves. Yet the trauma of their painful childhoods continues to inform their lives in myriad ways. Instead of depicting the collective experience of black trauma and its sources, Williams hones in on the personal and particular struggles each of these characters has had endured.

(Note: Williams isn’t afraid to address the blatant inequities and microaggressions that exist, particularly in the publishing world, where male writers with bad-boy personalities garner success and acclaim, all while indulging in behaviors their female counterparts would never get away with.

This novel in and of itself is a testament to the plight of the black female writer.)

Seven Days In June follows its characters back and forth in time, fleshing them out, while providing nuance and texture.

Growing up, Eva lived with a mother who wasn’t equipped to parent her properly. Added to her strife, is the chronic pain and migraines she has suffered from her whole life. Shane is the product of a foster care system gone terribly wrong. As a teenager, he would intentionally hurt himself as an act of rebellion and guilt. Feeling lost and alone, Shane learned to self-medicate with drugs, a practice he would carry with him into adulthood.

15 years ago, Eva and Shane were lost children, who only had each other. Now, as they reconnect, they have years of lived experience between them. They’re different people. Eva’s a divorced mother of a precocious tween who keeps her on her toes. Shane’s a recovering addict who teaches and mentors at-risk kids. They’re battle-scarred survivors. But is surviving all there is to life? 

With Seven Days In June, Tia Williams has created a narrative both entertaining and true. A story of enduring love and second chances. A story that does not shy away from difficult subject matter such as, self-harm, addiction, and parental neglect. 

A romantic drama with intelligence and wit, set within the captivating world of the black literary scene. 

I highly recommend this novel.


If you like Seven Days In June, you may also be interested in…

If you or someone you know is a self-harmer, contact the crisis text line.

Book Review Time: Verity 

The fervent and polarizing reaction to Colleen Hoover’s Verity on several bookish social media sites was my first warning. And then, later on, when I asked two friends who had already read the novel, what their opinion of it was, my query was met with wide-eyed silence and a noticeable wringing of hands. They didn’t know where to begin and clearly wanted to change the subject. That was my second warning. I didn’t wait around for a third. I’m hard-headed and entirely too curious. Plus, Target has a whole section of shelves devoted to the works of Colleen Hoover, so I figured why not? 

I need a drink after this read!

Verity tells the story of a struggling writer, Lowen Ashleigh. Reeling from the recent death of her mother, and beset with financial burdens, Lowen reluctantly accepts a job offer that could potentially change her fortunes. She has been hired to write the remaining books in a series created by famed author, Verity Crawford. A recent accident has left Mrs. Crawford incapacitated. But the show must go on, and Verity’s publishers are willing to pay handsomely for Lowen’s services. Though she has her reservations, Lowen concedes in part because she is drawn to Verity’s grief-stricken husband, Jeremy.

In order to prepare for the assignment, Lowen spends time in the Crawford home. And as she grows closer to Jeremy, she also discovers the dark side of Verity Crawford, by way of an unfinished autobiographical manuscript hidden in Verity’s office. The contents of this manuscript are disturbing to say the least; personal confessions that most wouldn’t dare put to paper. With such damning information literally in the palm of her hands, Lowen is conflicted on how to proceed. An argument can be made that some secrets should remain hidden. By keeping these particular secrets, Lowen would be protecting Jeremy and the memory of his beloved wife. But if Verity’s true nature were to be revealed, it would not only be painful for those involved, it could also be potentially dangerous.

Several years ago, after I read the novel Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn, I remember declaring I would never read another book by her. I try not to use the word “never.” It’s so inflexible. And if we’re being honest with ourselves, we can’t really know with certainty what we’ll “never” do. When I was younger I often said I’d never eat brussel sprouts as an adult. Now it’s one of my favorite vegetables. So you understand what I’m getting at? Gone Girl was so disturbing to me that I decided right then and there that I would never read another book by Gillian Flynn. It’s extreme. I admit it. But my Godfrey, have you read that book?

Anyway, just when I thought nothing could shock or disturb me more, I read Verity.

I find it very difficult to review this novel or add anything to the discussion that hasn’t already been said. Verity is not a book for everyone. It is unsettling. It is sexually explicit. There’s graphic language. There are scenes of child abuse and neglect. The plot is shaky. The ending’s infuriating. And the writing, quite frankly, isn’t good. But for whatever reason something draws you in and you begin to question your own sanity as you bear witness to the chaos. What’s the term for that? Fascination with the abomination? Whatever it may be, I know one thing for sure. I will NEVER venture into the imagination of Colleen Hoover again.


Book Review Time: Never Meant To Meet You

Here’s an excerpt from “What’s Ginny Reading Next?”

What’s Ginny Reading Next?

Never Meant To Meet You is co-authored by Alli Frank and Asha Youmans. It tells the story of next-door neighbors whose geographic proximity has not translated itself into close personal ties. Apart from the tiniest of civilities, any true connection is non-existent. 

Marjette Lewis, a divorced mother and kindergarten teacher, abides by the rules of social etiquette she was raised in. She’s a Preacher’s kid, after all. And if she can provide a helping hand for one in need, she’s more than willing to step up. However, when it comes to her neighbor, Noa Abrams, a woman who exudes icy perfection, Marjette’s friendly nature goes into hiding.

But a tragic event will unexpectedly bring these two women together. 

Life rarely goes to plan. There are twists and turns. Moments we can never prepare ourselves for. And as Marjette and Noa commiserate in their experiences of loss, they’ll find the strength to create something meaningful from the pain.

I absolutely enjoyed this novel, and would highly recommend it to any reader. Frank and Youmans uniquely present the multitude of human experience in Never Meant To Meet You. There’s marriage, divorce, death, single motherhood, relationship and work drama. There’s even weekly Weight Watchers meetings. It can all be found within the pages of this funny and heartwarming novel.

I very much appreciated how the subjects of race and religion were dealt with in Never Meant To Meet You. A moment that I particularly related to was the anxiety Marjette, a black woman, feels when a police officer drives up to her home. The officer’s demeanor is solemn. And as he approaches, Marjette (who is sitting with her neighbor, Noa) briefly assumes he is coming to talk to her. Before he can explain the reason for his visit, Marjette’s thoughts immediately turn to her teenage son and his safety. As a mother I understand her fear. And though I have respect for the police, their presence usually brings with it an unshakable sense of unease.

There are other scenes that present microaggressions, statements and actions that aren’t blatantly racist, but that are still rooted in ignorance. What I found so interesting about this novel is that Frank and Youmans present these moments in a way that acknowledges the behavior as problematic yet also manages to find humor in it. No small task.

Ultimately Never Meant To Meet You is a story of female friendship and empowerment. It’s a story of community. A black woman, still reeling from the aftermath of divorce, working full time, and struggling to come to terms with her son’s burgeoning independence. A Jewish woman, who’s suffered an unimaginable loss, balancing her grief with the need to be present for her six year-old daughter. These two women have more in common than they think. And through their unexpected friendship, they’ll find a way to move through the heartache. Because there is no other way around it. Luckily, they’ve left room for laughter as well.

When life doesn’t go according to plan it could be a traumatic experience but with a healthy amount of courage and support from your crew, hope can stem from the pain. 

So if you’re looking for a story that has emotional depth, laugh-out-loud humor, and a steamy subplot involving a handsome baker, definitely check this one out. You’ll also get some cool insight into the wonders and blunders of teaching early education at a private school. Kindergartners are comedy gold.

Bookstore/Library Shout-Out

booksandbevs7 has a shout-out to Sonoma County Public Libraries from an anonymous follower. “Thank you, Sonoma County Public Libraries, for extending your hours to include Sundays. It’s great for our community.”

How awesome is that? Increasing access to the library with Sunday hours. That deserves a round of applause.


YA Fiction Spotlight: Elizabeth Acevedo

There is such a breadth of talented writers making their mark in YA fiction. 

And in recognition of this genre, I’m devoting this post to one writer in particular.

Back in the summer of 2020, I read and reviewed three novels by the incredible authoress, Elizabeth Acevedo. Her work brings flavor, color, and depth to the world of literature. Acevedo immerses the reader in the complicated lives of her strong female characters, providing a unique perspective of the Afro-Latina experience in America.

Representation is important in literature, as well as in other facets of life. It allows individuals to feel that they are being seen, heard, and understood. Representation also has the ability to change minds and foster empathy. I truly believe Acevedo’s work rises to this level of impact.

Check out the links below to read my reviews of The Elizabeth Acevedo Collection: The Poet X, With The Fire On High, and Clap When You Land.


One of my favorite restaurants is Grossman’s Noshery and Bar in Santa Rosa, CA. Picture a New York-style delicatessen/restaurant situated in the heart of wine country. I’ve had dreams about their “Big Piece of Chicken” matzoh ball soup.

Anyway…Grossman’s bar offers a mocktail called The Why Tai (which I have featured in a previous post). This citrus-y, fruity, grenadine-y beverage is a delight, giving off summer vibes in the middle of a rather cold and rainy winter.

So, if you’re adhering to a dry (or like me, dryish) January, a Why Tai is a wonderful option. Here’s the link to a recipe:

Enjoy! And until next time…happy reading!


microfiction (episode 2-cracks)

The cracks are beginning to show. Just around the eyes. And slight furrows trace the sensitive skin between the lower forehead and the bridge of the nose. While examining her face in the bathroom mirror, several thoughts come to mind. Why do we always seem to be out of milk? What exactly is a NFT? Who was that one really good actor in that shitty Netflix series? Is Vitamin C serum all hype?

Ky gently touches the signs of age that now reside on her face, and she is reminded of a road map. So many directions. So many destinations. Once upon a time, she drove through the whole state of Kansas without stopping. The lack of topography was unnerving. Bladder full, she rushed to find the nearest rest stop, after crossing the border into Colorado. She wonders if she’ll ever do something like that again. 

Staring into the mirror, a distant sound can be heard coming from the kitchen. It’s the refrigerator door opening. Ky will definitely need to buy more milk in the morning. She then carefully removes a secret stash of Milano cookies from a drawer beneath the bathroom sink. As she quietly chews, she makes a mental note to also buy more Milano cookies.


Bev-Talk: Ehret 2017 Cabernet Sauvignon

This wine has quickly become one of my favorites. Here’s a little background information gathered from their website:

-This wine is produced at Bavarian Lion Vineyards in Calistoga, California  

-The vineyard is certified sustainable.

-Part of the estate is devoted to the vineyard, but the rest is preserved for natural wildlife

If tours are available, and you’re into bird watching as well wine tasting, you might want to visit. I sure do.

I’m excellent at pairing wines with books. But when it comes to wine and food pairings, I’m not as skillful nor as strategic. I’ve never been an adherent to the rule that red wine should accompany meat, white is best alongside chicken and fish, and champagne is only for celebratory events (one can always find something to celebrate.) I choose according to my own particular fancy, and I’ve had the Ehret Cab with a variety of foods. It’s rich, fruity, and flavorful. But keep in mind, its concentration is deceptive. So, proceed responsibly. Take your time and enjoy a glass. Concentrate and define its flavor profile. Create an experience. 

And while you’re creating an experience, how about bringing a book along for company?  My suggestion would be Kevin Wilson’s latest novel Now Is Not The Time To Panic.

Moving back and forth through time, Now Is Not The Time To Panic, tells the story of Frances Budge, a successful young adult fiction writer. Frances is happily married with a young daughter, who keeps her on her toes. But one day, she receives a call. It’s from a journalist on the hunt for a story. Before Frances can think to hang up, the journalist delivers a strange message: “The edge is a shantytown filled with gold seekers. We are fugitives, and the law is skinny with hunger for us.”

With those words, we are instantly transported along with Frances to her hometown of Coalfield, Tennessee. It’s 1996, and Frances (known as Frankie) is sixteen years old. She’s an aspiring author who prefers to walk it alone. Filled with all of the hormones and angst commonly associated with teenagers, Frankie carries the added burden of heartbreak. Her father abandoned the family, leaving her mother alone to take care of Frankie and her rabble-rousing older brothers. From either a fear of being misunderstood or a belief that relationships can only lead to disappointment, Frankie has become the classic teenage loner.

But one hot summer day, she meets the new boy in town. His name is Zeke, and their connection is immediate. Like Frankie, Zeke is a creative type – a talented visual artist. Also like Frankie, Zeke has suffered through his own family trauma.

Together these two misfits will create a work of art, a poster to be exact, and the message it delivers will in time send their small community into a frenzy. 

Art can so easily be misinterpreted, especially when viewed by an inflexible mind. Things we don’t understand, we tend to fear. And this leads us into dangerous territory.

But the interesting thing about art is its ability to reach far beyond its starting point. And for every inflexible mind it encounters there are a host of open-minds willing to take it in; willing to celebrate its beauty.

Kevin Wilson is a brilliant story-teller. Honest and humorous, he can break your heart and just as quickly have you in stitches. So, if you haven’t already, add this novel to your reading list.

A votre sante!

And lastly, here’s a library shout out from loyal booksandbevs7 follower, Pam:

“I have a general shout out to my local library: East Bonner County Library which we simply call The Library. Among their many appreciated qualities is that they often buy requested items instead of using inter-library loans. This is lovely since it makes me feel like I am contributing to the growth of the library’s collection.”

What a great idea! I wish more libraries had the funding to do this. Thank you so much, Pam. I’m sure East Bonner County Library appreciates you and your community’s support.

Remember you can send a message of thanks to your local bookstore/library, too. Just email me at with your message and I’ll include it in a future post.


A Very Special Book Review Time: The Book Haters’ Book Club

Sometimes when I’m writing, I’ll envision my target audience. In those moments, the image that comes to mind is of individuals who share my passion. People who love reading and discussing great (and sometimes, not so great) books. 

But I’m sure within my small following, there are those making their way to my blog whose love of the written word isn’t as fervent as mine. Perhaps, they are lapsed readers with busy schedules, looking to reacquaint themselves with the pastime. Or maybe, they’re a person who never enjoyed reading. In all likelihood, the high school experience of required reading left them with the belief that books are boring. Yet they’ve decided to visit my site with, what I hope is, open-mindedness and curiosity.

Therefore, part of my mission with booksandbevs7 is to confer onto my audience the enthusiasm I have for all things bookish. And if I’m responsible even in the smallest way for someone finding joy in reading, then mission accomplished. 

Gretchen Anthony’s The Book Haters’s Book Club truly drives home the message of “putting the right books in the right hands.”

A toast to independent bookstores and libraries. Simi, Saugvignon Blanc, 2021

Mourning the recent death of her business partner, Irma, co-owner of the Over the Rainbow Bookshop has decided to sell her business to condo developers with a history of shady dealings. The Over the Rainbow Bookshop is a community staple, and has been for decades. So when word gets out of its impending closure, sadness, confusion, and a call to action surface. Irma’s two adult daughters, Bree and Laney, along with Thom (the life partner of Elliot, who was Irma’s best friend and business partner) join forces to save the bookshop. But they’re met with resistance from an unlikely source. Irma. 

For years, Irma has poured her heart and soul into the Over the Rainbow Bookshop. Her unyielding dedication over that time, has created tension in her family, with lasting repercussions. So it’s no wonder her daughters are baffled by her now apparent indifference to the bookshop’s looming demise. Irma’s odd behavior also triggers resentment from Thom, who feels she is disrespecting Elliott’s legacy and many years of sacrifice.

But Irma has her reasons for wanting to sell, and in time all will be revealed.

The Book Haters’ Book Club is a fun read, and a celebration of the bookstores, libraries, and local businesses that bring communities together. This novel also has a lot of great book recommendations. And the reader is treated to appearances by Elliot, the deceased co-owner of the Over the Rainbow Bookshop, delighting us with wisdom and anecdotes from the great beyond.

If you are interested in books about bookshops and libraries, check out these other posts:

The Bookshop Of Second Chances, by Jackie Fraser

The Reading List, by Sara Nisha Adams

Paris Never Leaves You, by Ellen Feldman

A Novel Bookstore, by Laurence Cosse


In keeping with the theme of celebrating bookstores and libraries, booksandbevs7 will be introducing a new segment at the end of blog posts, called bookstore/library shout-outs. In this segment, I will post a message from a booksandbevs7 follower, spotlighting their favorite bookstore or library. You can even send a shout-out to a staff member or librarian who helped you find the perfect book. Send your personal messages to, with the subject line, “bookstore/library shout-out.” Let me know if you would like your first name included on the message, or if you’d prefer to remain anonymous. If you don’t specify, the message will default to anonymous.

I hope you all will participate and I look forward to relaying your messages in future posts. 

Until next time…happy reading!



Booksandbevs7 has opened an online shop!

A selection of 4 greeting cards for the bookishly-inclined are now on sale, with more to come in the very near future.

Funny and clever, you’ll get a kick out of these printable offerings.

So, check them out by clicking “bnb7 Printables Shop” on the top of the homepage. Or click this link,

Be well and happy reading!