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

January Wrapup

After failing almost all my 2017 reading challenges, January was bit rough for me – but I still read some terrific books!

Rebecca by Daphne Du Maurier 

A classic I never read before (WHY??!!) that mixes mystery, slow growing tension and super British class structures. I loved it. I think this is a book I can reread every few years and find something new. My mom lent me the 50’s movie and it was also amazing. So cheesy and lovely and dramatic.  This book was my book round robin group as an underrated read, so I had to give it back but I will be on the lookout for a copy of my own soon.

Down and Across by Arven Ahmedi

This YA novel about a young man looking for grit, was sweet, hopeful and very relatable. I  also felt the book did a great job of bringing DC (a town I’ve only visited for touristy reasons) to life. I got this from First to Read (a galley site from Penguin Random House) as an epub.

The Belles by Dhonielle Clayton

Another YA but this one mixes magic, beauty, history and New Orleans into something gorgeous and exciting. I visited New Orleans when I was a teen and something about the heat, delicious food and constant festive mood made me feel like anything could happen. That mood is perfectly captured in this first installment. Warning: Don’t trust anyone! I received an epub from Netgalley.

Hate to Want You by Alisha Rai

I love a romance. Add in small town locale, throw in a slow burn between exes and a complicated family history and you have this sexy, sexy, deep romance which I loved! Seriously, it made me immediately want to buy the rest of the series. I got this as an epub from Kindle.

The Heart’s Invisible Furies by John Boyne

This was my Book of Month pick sometime in 2017 after the judge Liberty Hardy gave it a hearty recommendation. When I read it for myself, it was easy to see why. It combines, hilarity, coincidence (or fate), love, heartbreak, longing, dishonesty, intrigue and more than 50 years of European and American history. It was so beautiful and soul-baringly harsh it was hard to read sometimes. This is wonderful tome, best read with a warm drink and lots of time at hand.

Sex at Dawn: The Prehistoric Origins of Modern Sexuality by Christopher Ryan and Cacilda Jetha

My husband, mom and I decided last year to borrow the Icelandic idea of giving books at Christmas as a new holiday tradition and give each other a new book on Christmas Eve. My husband got me Sex at Dawn, probably because 1. it’s something he would read and 2. human sexuality is a topic we often discuss at home. While I didn’t find this book a great read, (mostly because nothing was new or fresh to me) I think others will find new, challenging ideas with lots of food for thought.

Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng

This was one of my most anticipated reads for 2017 and although it took me months to get to it – it didn’t disappoint! Ng is a skilled and gorgeous writer, who creates characters that on the surface seem so suburban and ordinary, until the curve in the road reveals the deeper heart and motivations that drive people to unthinkable actions. Definitely one of my favorite reads of 2018, I have two copies of this book and I want to keep both! But, it’s so good, I keep pushing one copy on friends to read.

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 andlove.

2017 Book Challenges

2017’s Book Challenges

Update: Sadly, although I met (and surpassed) my Goodreads challenge (108 out of 52)

It’s obvious that I love to read. But being avid reader isn’t enough for me. I want to not only read all the new books I can but also explore the world in a meaningful and personal way. When it’s just me and bookstore shelf, I tend to read the same type of literature, so trusting to my own devices isn’t going to cut it. As a result, I try to pick a few reading challenges, all with different intentions and authors to widen my reading selections. I’ll try any reading challenge I come across and check in each month on my progress.

For 2017 I am doing a few challenges:

  1. The Book Riot Read Harder Challenge (Link to editable PDF)
  2. The Pop Sugar 2017 Challenge (downloadable PDF)
  3. The Modern Miss Darcy Read Challenges (there are three options) (downloadable PDF )
  4. The Litsy Bingo Challenge
  5. The Litsy A-Z Challenge
  6. The GoodReads Challenge – which is simply to read 52 books this year (which I already hit)

While it seems like a lot, I am a cheater and use one book to meet multiple goals, so really, as long as I can keep up with the lists, I am sure to finish.

How to love a Jamaican

* I received a galley of this short story collection from Netgalley in exchange for a honest review.

** Then I loved it so much, I got a hard back copy at Greenlight PLG.

For the most part, most of us aren’t reading enough short stories! I know whenever I read one that captives me, I’m running out and reading whatever that author has written.

Alexis Arthurs has written a short story collection that observes with compassion, patience, hilarity and a sharp eye how Jamaicans move in the world, both on the island and off. We see Grandmas selling ware by the river and a young girl in Iowa dealing with the fear and horror that arise when someone you know is murdered. We see the very Jamaican name Glenroy and the very Jamaican nickname Ugly.

All this adds to stories that show how connected we are to the idea of home and how time and distance cannot erase all memory, all ties to the family that love and frustrate us, that whether we barely finish elementary school or have our PHD’s Jamaican humor and intelligence are always present.

Being a Jamaican outside of Jamaica isn’t a simple, straightforward immigration story because being Jamaican isn’t simple. Within Jamaican and no matter where we travel, Jamaicans are complicated: filled with longings and desires we cannot understand, histories hidden from us, and traditions we may observe but no longer serve us.

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

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