Memoirs I want to Read

Here are a list of memoirs I have my eye on:

  • A girl walks into a book : what the Brontes taught me about life, love and woman’s work –  Miranda Pennington
  • How dare the sun rise : memoirs of a war child – Abigail Pesta and Sandra Uwiringiyimana
  • How to be Muslim: An American Story – Haroon Moghul
  • Daring to Drive: A Saudi woman’s awakening – Manal Al-Sharif
  • Hunger: A memoir of (my) body – Roxanne Gay
  • Surpassing Certainty: What my twenties taught me – Janet Mock
  • You don’t have to say you love me -Sherman Alexie
  • My glory was I had such friends – Amy Silverstein
  • In the days of rain: A daughter, a father, a cult – Rebecca Stott
  • A beautiful, terrible thing: A memoir of marriage and betrayal – Jen Waite
  • Fall down 7 times, get up 8: A young man’s voice from the silence of autism  – Naoki Higashida
  • Arsbotanica: A field guide – Tim Taranto
  • Morningstar: growing up with books – Ann Hood
  • Beyond the high blue air – Lu Spinney
  • Notes on a foreign country: An American abroad in a post-american world – Suzy Hansen
  • Letters to his neighbors – Marcel Proust
  • Rabbit: the autobiography of Ms. Pat – Patricia Williams
  • Cuz: the Life and Times of Michael A. – Danielle Allen
  • The One you Get: Portrait of a family organism – Jason Tougaw
  • What happened: Hillary Rodham Clinton
  • Hummingbird – Jude Angelini
  • Dear Fahrenheit 451: Love and Heartbreak in the Stacks – Annie Spence
  • Whitney Cummings: I’m Fine and Other Lies – Whitney Cummings
  • Nine Continents: A Memoir In and Out of China – Xiaolu Guo
  • Chasing Light: Michelle Obama through the lens of a white house photographer – Amanda Lucidon
  • The Letters of Sylvia Plath Volume 1: 1940-1956 – Sylvia Plath
  • Adult Fantasy: Searching for True Maturity in an age of mortgages, marriages and other adult milestones – Briohny Doyle
  • Mean – Myriam Gurba
  • The Last Black Unicorn – Tiffany Haddish
  • The Only Girl in the World – Maude Julien
  • Body full of Stars: Female Rage and my passage into motherhood – Molly Caro May
  • When they call you a Terrorist: a black lives matter memoir – Patrisse Khan-Cullors and Asha Bandele
  • This will be my undoing: Living at the intersection of black, female and feminist in (white) america – Morgan Jerkins
  • Americanized: Rebel without a green card – Sara Saedi
  • I AM I AM I AM: Seventeen brushes with Death – Maggie O’ Farrell
  • The Wife’s Tale: A personal history – Aida Edemariam
  • Betwixt and Between: Essays on the writing Life – Jenny Boully
  • The Neuroscientist who lost her mind: My Tale of madness and recovery – Barbara K. Lipska

Song of Blood and Stone

I received a copy of Song of Blood and Bone (Earthsinger Chronicles, Book 1)  by L. Penelope from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

If you take an epic fantasy novel, pepper it with gods and magic, add a lovely dose of love and sexiness and top it off with sibling drama you would have Song of Blood and Bone. I feel that finally, the fantasy genre, is creating worlds I would actually love to explore.

In this novel, Jasminda is a bi-racial girl trying to eek out a life in a land that constantly monitors and judges her. All she wants is to live a quiet peaceful existence, but her race makes that almost impossible. She has a little bit of magic but a world full of problems. One more problem gets added during a huge storm when she stumbles upon an injured solider trying to make it home himself. As their lives intersect, we learn secrets each of them hold and watch as they try to make their worlds a better place.

There is an evil king held at bay by a sometimes faltering barrier, called the Mantle, where his citizens make desperate escape attempts and it’s neighboring land where the population is filled with rising paranoia and xenophobia. These timely issues resonated deeply with me, and made this novel really stand apart from others in the genre.

I can’t wait for the next book in the series! I also heard on a podcast (linked below) that this book was previously independently published and catch the attention of St. Martin’s Press after winning the 2016 Self-Publishing Ebook Award for Best Fiction.

Links about the book:

https://bookriot.com/listen/new-releases-and-more-for-may-1-2018/

https://bookriot.com/2017/11/24/fantasy-romance-series/

http://lpenelope.com/book/song-of-blood-and-stone/

You think it, I’ll say it – Review

Hey all! I’m back with another book review – this one a collection of short stories by Curtis Sittenfeld, who wrote Eligible (a retelling of Pride and Prejudice) and Prep. I received an e-galley from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

This collection focuses on women who are faced with change and what that looks like in an era of cell phones, Facebook and high expectations. We see married women, career women, teens leaving home, mothers and divorcées, all questioning and re-examine the world.

In one story, Gender Studies, a woman is traveling for work, who has been recently betrayed by a cheating husband and is presented a chance for a brief romance. This story explores what it’s like when you have been with one person for a long time with what you think is compatibility and have to move on, what is dating like? How are cues presented and read?

In two stories, women are the ones reaching out to men who they thought they knew but in reality had created full sale fantasies and imaginings onto a shell of the person they desired. In The world has many butterflies, the married mother is tempted by another in the usual round of carpools, sporting events and school trips. When she hears of his pending divorce, she sees a chance for a change, for someone who understands her sense of humor and way of seeing the world. In the story Do-over, two people who haven’t seen each other since high school meet up for dinner. While of course confessions are told, the best part of the story isn’t the dinner but the phone call later – one that is honest and hurtful and real.

In so many instances, we create a fictionalization of our lives, bodies and thoughts. We are encouraged by others, by what we are taught in school and through interactions to believe certain things of others and of ourselves. In a very down to earth way, all these stories explore what happens when we are confronted with a new image of ourselves or others.

I think would be great for those reading or have read The Female Persuasion by Meg Wolitzer.

Independent Bookstore Day!

This year Independent Bookstore Day is April 28th. It’s a day for book lovers to party all day at indie bookstores and celebrate shopping/reading/community building locally.

Below is a list of bookstores in Brooklyn, Queens, Long Island, Manhattan, Yonkers, Westchester and parts of New Jersey participating (as much as been disclosed but not exclusively). Check with local stores for events but most will have exclusive bookish items for sale and lots of fun! Go support your local bookstore and spring weather.

The Strand is supporting a scavenger hunt: people who use social media to post their finds are entered to win bookish goodies from participating indies. Check the link and participating shops.

Lastly, if you live in Brooklyn, there is a Brooklyn Lit Crawl happening with its very own after-party! All you have to do is visit some participating bookstores in Brooklyn, make at least one purchase at any of them and post pictures on social media with the #bkbookcrawl hashtag. Link below for official rules, participating shops and after-party details.

I hope to see you all there!

Indie Bookstore Day : City Wide Scavenger Hunt

BK Book Crawl

New Jersey

Watchung Booksellers – Montclair

[ words] bookstore – Maplewood

WORD Bookstore – Jersey City

Westchester

The Village Bookstore – Pleasantville

Yonkers

The Voracious Reader – Larchmont

Manhattan

West Side

Word Up Community Bookshop/ Libereria Comuntaria

Sisters Uptown Bookstore and Cultural Center

Book Culture Broadway

Book Culture

Bank Street Bookstore

Book Culture Columbus

Downtown

Books of Wonder

McNally Jackson – Prince Street

The Strand

Brooklyn

Cobble Hill

Books are Magic

Downtown/Fort Greene

Greenlight Bookstore

Stories Bookshop

Park Slope

Community Bookstore

Prospect Lefferts Garden/Flatbush

Greenlight Bookstore

Greenpoint

WORD

Williamsburg

McNally Jackson – Williamsburg

Queens

Long Island City

Book Culture

Astoria

The Astoria Bookshop

Kew Gardens

Kew & Willow Books

Long Island

Rockville Center – Nassau County

Turn of the Corkscrew, Books and Wine

East Hampton – Suffolk County

BookHampton

March Wrap Up

Let’s not talk about how far we are into 2018 and I feel like we just got here….

Instead let’s celebrate my quasi serious goal of 10 books a month for the year and to focus on reading down my TBR 🙌🏾👏🏾🎉🎈🍾

The Last Black Unicorn by Tiffany Haddish

This was so good! It turns out I have very specific interest in women comedian memoirs/autobiographies. Even still, Tiffany’s book stands out from the rest because you really can’t tell truth from fiction in this book and that’s 100% ok. Her life story is a crazy and compelling one because for every bad experience she has, she turns around and reaches for the gold. Tiffany would make for a great motivational speaker and if she had a morning show I would watch it. Also she has good celebrity stories.

Adua by Igiaba Scego

This is the beautiful and haunting story of two people desperate to take control of their lives from their parents and the life that results is nothing they expect. I wish this was a bit longer or filled out – I felt that some connecting bits were left out and it could help develop the characters more. Overall, beautiful story of the expression and effects of colonialism, immigration, racism and love.

Hundred Thousand Kingdoms by N.K. Jemisin

Whew boy! When we talk about fantasy THIS is what we are talking about. Gods, old grudges, magic, war, despair….this book has it all. If you have ever wanted to visit a floating castle where gods walk the halls, where murder and intrigue lie around every corner and where magic and beauty co-exist with death and horror, this is the book for you. In this first novel of The Inheritance Trilogy, a woman is summoned from her home by her aging Grandfather, the ruler of the world. She has no idea why she has been summoned, or what ancient and complicated secrets will play out from her arrival, but she’s determine to understand her new life no matter what.

The Brothers Minster Series by Courtney Milan

I started reading this “boxed” (it was on my Kindle) set of romances last year but only just finished the last two novels recently. I loved this SO much – Courtney Milan knows to create a slow burn romance between the most unlikely characters and always has a wonderful secondary romance brewing in the background. This series deserves it’s own review but needless to say – I loved it!

An American Marriage by Tayari Jones

I mean let’s be honest – this is already one of my favorite books of 2018. Her characters are flawed, beautiful and compelling. The plot is well paced – developing back story and present day events with ease. Nothing is simplified, no one is overlooked or reduced to a stereotyped. There is no easy answers or satisfying moment, no tidy summations. It is a hopeful and gorgeous piece of art – which is to say, messy and glorious. GO READ IT!!!

Corregidora by Gayle Jones

If you are looking for a classic novel that will unnerve and hurt you, this is a great pick. On the surface, this is a book about a singer, trying to escape the darkness both within herself and the life around her. Beneath that, it is a unflinching depiction of the mess of slavery, both on the physical and mental level. It shows how deeply the pain and depair of slavery is etched into a person, often wearing their brains into pathways and stories we can’t begin to imagine.

Stay with Me by Ayobami Adebayo

I mean, if you know me, you know I love sad and depressing books. So, here is another book that is at once beautiful and lyrical yet haunting and hard to turn away from. In this story, a young man and woman come together in marriage. But when their marriage never resolves itself into parenthood, tradition bears down upon them. Set against the backdrop of a Nigeria in flux, the main characters in the book take turns telling their side of the story where it is easy to place blame but hard to pinpoint where everything fell apart.

Moon Girl and Devil Dinosaur by Amy Reeder and Brandon Montclare

Take one young girl with a big secret, enormous intelligence, limitless talent and burning desire to fit in, add in a dinosaur with a huge attitude and a bad temper, mix in a group of villains who oddly blend into lower Manhattan rather quickly for a group living in an ancient world and you’ll have this fun, roller coast of a comic. I never heard of the main characters before, but it makes me want to read more of the lesser known Marvel Universe characters.

Silver Silence by Nalini Singh

First things first – I have never read a paranormal romance before, so honestly I had no idea what to expect. I really enjoyed this first in a series (the Psy-Changeling Trinity) within a series (the Psy Changeling Series). I was able to quickly get into this new world but seeing the obvious previously told romances sprinkle the pages. made me want to go back to the beginning. This story focuses on a Psy named Silver who is a powerful and important person in the changing face of her world. When Silver is poisoned, her admirer (a bear changeling) Valentin rushes into action and sets off a chain of events that uncover long buried secrets and dangers for the both of them.

We are Legion (we are bob) by Dennis E Taylor

This is a cute and silly sci-fi that focuses on a man from twenty first century earth who dies in his prime and is reawakened in a world that is familiar but vastly changed centuries into the future. He is a consciousness without a body, but a mission – go into space and find someplace for future humans to live. That all sounds easy enough, but just getting into space is the first challenge in a long road to the rest of the galaxy.  The first in a series entitled Bobiverse.

Dreamland burning By Jennifer Latham

I had picked up this Netgalley read a while ago, but something in the first few pages turned me off. This time though, I pushed through and I am glad I did because I really enjoyed it. A bi-racial teen and her best friend explore the mystery of a dead body uncovered underneath her home in modern Tulsa. A bi-racial man a hundred years before enacts hatred, racism and jealousy with far reaching consequences. Their stories are told side by side, racing to a conclusion where their lives intersect and each questions the times they live in, their place in society and how society views those around them. This book is refreshing because both main characters are flawed and work to redeem themselves in ways you may not expect.

 

 

An American Marriage

So last summer I was lucky to attend the Well Read Black Girl festival in Fort Greene, Brooklyn. Among many other fantastic speakers, Tayari Jones was on stage to talk about authorship and writing. She read an excerpt from this novel and I knew then I had to read this book. Usually, I have to pick between amazing characters or a deep plot/idea or gorgeous writing. This book has all three.

I won’t go into too much detail – the best part about the story is learning about this couple, their friends and family. The marriage in question isn’t just the young couple but their parents and others around them. It examines love and how we each want to be loved and how love.

This is a novel that can be applied to anyone married in America but at the same time very specific to black men and women; how history, race, class, education, circumstances of birth and ambition play a part in how we view ourselves and others. It plays a part in how we are treated and thought of – whose story and truth gets told proudly and what gets kept secret.

This is a wonderful example of literary fiction that reads like real life but told in gorgeous prose.

The thing I hear the most often about this book is – Tayari Jones does an amazing job of making you feel for each and every character. The book is ambiguous in who is right – because often in life,  there is no easy answers – just the road in front of you and your next step.

TBR for 2018

Audiobook TBR

The Fireman – Joe Hill

A Gentleman in Moscow – Amor Towles

YA TBR

A Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue – Mackenzie Lee

Children of Blood and Bone – Tomi Adeyemi

The Cruel Prince – Holly Black

Let’s Talk About Love – Claire Kann

Love, Hate and other Filters – Samira Ahmed

Meet Cute: Some people are destined to meet – Jennifer L. Armentrout

The Heart Forger – Rin Chupeco

Queen of the Tearling – Erika Johnson

Six of Crows – Leigh Bardugo

Shadowhouse Fall – Daniel Jose Older

Strange the Dreamer – Laini Taylor

Romance TBR

Wrong to Need You – Alisha Rai

Want to Need You – Alisha Rai

A Princess in Theory – Alyssa Cole

A Hope Divided – Alyssa Cole

Let it Shine – Alyssa Cole

Signal Boost – Alyssa Cole

Mixed Signals – Alyssa Cole

Forbidden – Beverly Jenkins

Silver Silence – Nalini Singh

Science Fiction/Speculative Fiction TBR

Area X Trilogy- Jeff Vandermeer

24in48

One of my favorite read-a-thons is the 24in48. This readathon is super easy – read for 24 hours over a 48 hour period. That’s it! You can participate in the check ins but there’s no pressure and do it at your own pace – just read as much as you want – you don’t have to read 24 hours…

The first line from The Lathe of Heaven (the first book I finished) is:

“Current-borne, wave-flung, tugged hugely by the whole might of Ocean, the jelly-fish drifts in the tidal abyss.”

Below is my progress for first 15 hours…

A Week in Reading 8/28 – 9/3

Finished:

Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor (hardback): man, this is what I am looking for in YA fantasy. Totally felt immersed in the world the author created and the characters really felt like the kind fandoms are built around. However, I have seen some criticism of this book by the community, so I will read those and post a better review shortly. I don’t have the sequel but I hope to get it shortly so I can see what happens next.

Currently Reading:

The Hour of Daydreams by Renee Macalino Rutledge (Netgalley, Kindle)

The Fifth Season by N.K. Jemisin (paperback) This is a re-read for my Broken Earth read-along. You are welcome to join (https://www.goodreads.com/group/show/240226-broken-earth-readalong)

Obviously, not a great reading week – but I enjoyed what I read!

 

 

A Week in Reading 8/21-8/27

So this reading week was a bit uneven, between the rush of the bout of books read-a-thon and picking up a new fantasy novel and then the end of summer rush of parties and festivals.

Finished:

The Unseen World by Liz Moore (audiobook, Audible): This was a great read. The narrator was excellent, picking up and slipping into different accents with ease. In this novel, a young girl lives in a small world, between being home schooled with her genius father and working side by side with him at his lab at a Boston university. Once her father falls ill however, her world mergers with the larger one and with it, her identity is shaken. A lovely exploration of identity and the lure of AI, this is a great novel to read (or listen to) slowly and think about how different life was just a few years ago for so many of us.

Infomocracy by Malka Older (hardcover): In the future, the world has mostly converted into micro-democracies, with a background of the super fast and detailed Information Corporation. In this future, anything you ever want to know about anything, appears on your handheld. In this future, people can directly tie their political beliefs to the neighborhood they live and work in – if you care about the environment, you can vote for and live under a party that recycles everything and bans cars. As great as that may sound to many people, the threats of a political coup to overthrow this balance of the personal and political looms. I really enjoyed this fast paced, political thriller even though that is NOT my usual taste. This was actually a hopeful read for me, even with dark currents, because it shows how important it can be to stand for something and have integrity.

Currently reading:

The Hour of Daydreams by Rene M Rutledge (galley from Netgalley, Kindle)

Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor (paperback)

Book Count: 78/52