This is a recent Life’s Library pick that is a collection of poems. I have a small library of poetry, but it’s not the first place I look to for new things to read. That’s why I like this book club. It really has broaden the genres on my shelves.
This particular collection has some incredible lines. The entire book is worth it just for the line “I’m the vice president of panic and the president is missing.” Some of the poems went over my head or left me a little lost. And then another line would hit me hard like, “I move through life like I’m trying to avoid a stranger’s vacation photo,” or “I think about how hard it is for me to believe in the first Adam because if Adam had the power to name everything, everything would be named Adam.”
It’s full of clever observations, Biblical references, and changes perspectives from poem to poem (which was one of the reasons I could feel lost at times). But the whole book is a trip and one that leaves you thinking long after it is put back on the shelf.
It does have profanity, so be aware of that. The sexual or violent content is not explicit but there is some symbolism and innuendo in the text.
Whereas April was a great reading month, where I felt like I was devouring book after book, May sort of slowed down. I still managed to read four books, so I’m not in a slump. I just learned what I like and don’t like in my books, honing my tastes even more.
Here are the books.
How to Stop Losing Your Sh*t with Your Kids: A Practical Guide to Becoming a Calmer, Happier Parent.I read this right after “How to Talk so Little Kids Will Listen” and I think they work pretty well together. This book focused more on anger management in parenting, how normal it really is and ways to prevent it. Of course, it also talked about how to deal with the aftermath when you do lose it with your kids, because it’s going to happen, but it did it in a nonjudgmental way. Carla Naumburg has a social worker’s background, which really drives the book. Also, as you can probably guess in the title, this book has a bit of profanity. I think most of the chapter titles included some form of a cuss word. However, if language bothers you, I urge you to look past it because this book has so many great points and tips on how to interact pretty much in any relationship. I realize that this is technically a parenting book, but it felt more like an anger management book that used parenting in its examples. Definitely a recommendation.
Journey to the Center of the Earth. This was my first Jules Verne book, which was a book I read for the Life’s Library book club. And I did not like it one bit. I can see why Verne is such a lauded author. He seamlessly interweaves real science with fantasy. In this particular book, it’s geology and mineralogy that are highlighted, but it really goes into the details of these sciences. I just wasn’t interested in the long paragraphs about gems and rocks and the tools that are used. Also, the narrator (the nephew of the professor who goes on the journey with him) is really dramatic and whiny. While I think it is meant to actually create drama and intrigue, I found myself just rolling my eyes a lot. I see value in the book, see why others might like it, especially if they find those sciences fascinating, but it was not for me.
Lovely War. Julie Berry tricked me. This was the May book for the Modern Mrs. Darcy book club, so it wouldn’t have been I honestly would have sought on my own. And when I realized it started with a conversation between Greek gods which transforms into a story of four people during WW1, I thought it would be slightly interesting (because I am a fan of mythology). Hazel and James are the first couple introduced and their pining love story was really sugary sweet for me. Little did I know, I was being lulled into feeling safe, like this was one of those sweet historical fiction romances with a little drama and action on the side. And then, bam! After meeting the other couple (Aubrey and Collette), the story roller-coasters me into racial injustices and death and loss and pain and mental health issues when I least expected it. By this point, I’m invested in these characters to the point that I literally threw the book down towards the end, disbelieving where Berry was taking me. It is so good, worth every page, even the sweet romantic ones. Usually I award 5 stars if the author makes me cry, but this author managed to pull a plethora of emotions out of me. If I could give more stars, I would. Big recommendation!
The Gilded Wolves. I bought this book last year because I loved the cover. I’ve never really bought a book for that reason, but it also was hyped at the time by booktubers I followed, so I thought why not? Roshani Chokshi pulls from various beliefs and mythologies to create a world set in the 1800s where people have “Forged” powers, the ability to create things from other things, whether with matter or the mind. Basically, the plot is a heist. The main characters all come from different backgrounds with different abilities (some can forge, others do not), and they are a part of the heist for different reasons. It was very Oceans 11 in that respect. I’m not actually a fan of the heist plot, but the book has other merits. Each chapter comes from a different perspective and the book ends on major cliffhangers. I definitely want to read the next one but only because I am curious how relationships will be repaired or completely broken. If you like a good heist book, this is definitely one for you!
Those are all of the books I read in May. Of course, this next month I’m going to be reading different books and sharing book reviews a bit more like I used to share them, one at a time. But that’s a discussion for next month. Happy reading!
What books have you read lately, or what books should I have on my next TBR?
Due to the climate in our country, I don’t feel like I can do what I normally do on the first Wednesday of the month and talk about what I read last month. I will move that blog post to next week. There are so many really great resources being shared right now that help describe and explain that Black experience in America, white supremacy, and systemic racism. One link that was passed around on Facebook and other social media sites was this list of various articles, books, and documentaries which is a great start.
Last year, I read two of the books that are being suggested (one of which is on the above list). I’ve already shared my thoughts on these books, so I will link those reviews here.
Both of these books are excellent. There are also some really good Black Fiction writers that I would recommend if nonfiction isn’t your genre. Tomi Adeyemi has written two books in her series, the first being Children of Blood and Bone which is based on African mythology. There is also The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas and her second book (not a series but set in the same world), On The Come Up. And finally, If You Come Softly by Jacqueline Woodson, which I read with the Life’s Library book club. It’s not her most recent or most famous piece, but it is really good. Her backlist is definitely on my TBR list.
Whatever you decide, I hope you enjoy a fresh perspective on the world. Diversity brings creativity and beauty to the written word. It can help us grow in empathy and understanding, prodding us on to action.
So, the last two months, I’ve been reading 4 to 5 books a month on average, but this month, I barely read 3 books, and two of those books I started at the end of February.
I think that’s indicative of how much has changed in just four(ish) weeks. As I was trying to figure out why my reading amount had gone down, I realized some of the differences this social distancing due to COVID-19 has brought to my life.
Because my son no longer has outside activities, I no longer have that time to read, or really doing anything like write my blog, clean my house, plan meals, work out, etc. So, I have to pick and choose what I want to do during his nap times, or my early morning time or right before bed time.
All of the “free” time I just mentioned is subject to change. Sometimes my son sleeps longer, sometimes he doesn’t. So, I make a list as quickly as I can and chip away at it throughout the week. Reading tends to be pushed to the bottom of the list or left off completely.
And finally, the reason reading is such a low priority is that I simply don’t have the mental energy for it right now. There are bursts of time that I will read a lot, but the bursts are getting farther apart. It requires turning off the anxiety and the to-do lists that are constantly running in my head lately. Fiction seems to be a better fit for me at this time. Nonfiction can’t seem to keep my brain from wandering to a to-do list.
Now, overall, I’m doing okay, and I did manage to enjoy three books this month. Here they are:
All Systems Red by Martha Wells – This was the Life’s Library book club pick. I don’t usually read science fiction, especially set in space or dealing with half-human robots. The first half of the book (which was only 8 chapters) was a bit slow as it tried to build the world, history, and politics. But the second half of the book was amazing and well worth trudging through the first half. It follows a SecUnit who is assigned as security for a research team on an unknown planet. Several unexplained glitches happen and the team starts to realize that there may be someone or something trying to sabotage their mission. It was really good. I will definitely lend it to some of my science fiction friends who may not have read it yet.
The Hand on the Wall by Maureen Johnson – Excellent ending to this murder mystery trilogy. There were so many reveals, even at the beginning of the book. And so many plot twists. I got so invested with these characters that I was even mad at Stevie at one point because I just wanted to shake her for some of the assumptions and decisions based on those assumptions that she was making. Which, to me, indicates a good book. Highly recommend this trilogy.
Children of Virtue and Vengeance by Tomi Adeyemi – So, this is the second book in her series based on African mythology. As always, I don’t want to give any spoilers, but this book definitely gave me that typical second movie in a trilogy feel. It had a lot of war, a lot of politics, and a lot of information about the world. And it ended on an excellent cliffhanger. I did struggle in this book as well with a desire to throttle characters who made prideful decisions that could have avoided certain outcomes. Of course, pride does that, but it was done so well in this book. Looking forward to the next one!
I learned a lot about myself through my reading experience this month, or lack thereof. I think I will be focusing this next month on more of my preferred genre, since we are living in strange times. Thankfully, I have a few on my shelf I haven’t read yet. Here’s hoping to a better reading life in my new rhythm in April!
Have you noticed a change to your reading life in this social distancing world? What books have you read lately? Do you have a preferred genre?
So this was the stack of books I set out to read in the month of February. I actually read more than just these books, and I didn’t completely finish the stack. However, I knew I would be reading at least a few of these into March. Here’s how the reading month went.
Parable of the Sower by Octavia Butler. This was a Life’s Library book club pick, and I knew nothing about it going into it. I had never read anything by this author before, but I knew that she was very respected and lots of people enjoyed her writing. I liked this book, but it gave me nightmares. It’s a dystopian novel set in 2024 (the book was written in 1993). It felt like our society would only have to take a couple of steps in the wrong direction to end up on the pages of this book. It’s a heavy book, full of violence, sexual assault, promiscuity, and language. But it will stretch you in much needed ways.
Followers by Megan Angelo. I think I found out about this book either by Instagram or my local library’s website. I believe this is a debut novel. It is also a kind of dystopian future, but I didn’t feel as deep into this story as I did with the Parable of the Sower. It follows two characters, Orla and Floss, in present day who are roommates chasing after fame and all the promises of being famous and then jumps every other chapter about forty years into the future after a big event called The Spill suddenly made people distrust the government and putting any of their information online (this reveal didn’t feel realistic, which it doesn’t have to, but it took me out of the story a bit). In the future, we follow Marlow who lives in a town that is watched by millions of people (like a Truman Show type of town) and she begins to question the life that has been written for her by the powers that be. All of the book centers around this idea of fame and the cost it takes to get it.
Burnout: The Secret to Unlocking the Stress Cycle by Emily and Amelia Nagoski. I loved this book. I heard about it on a podcast, and I’m so glad I picked it up. It addresses stress, the science behind it, and how we can survive it. It is directed to women and the stressors that most women face (including the patriarchy and the bikini industrial complex). Everything was fascinating and challenging, and I felt like the authors really tried to take on this subject as clearly and with as much data as they could. It’s definitely one that I will re-read at some point.
The Ten Thousand Doors of January by Alix E Harrow. The book for the Modern Mrs Darcy Book Club. This was such a sweet story of fantasy and imagination. January Scaller lives with a rich bachelor while her father hunts for priceless treasures all over the world. One day, she manages to open a door into another world, but when she tells her guardian about this experience, she is locked away and convinced that she needs to put away such childish fantasies. But these doors keep coming back into her life, and with a door comes change, she just has to have the courage to step through them. Reminded me a bit of The Starless Sea by Erin Morgenstern.
Don’t Overthink It: Make Easier Decisions, Stop Second-Guessing, and Bring More Joy to Your Life by Anne Bogel. This is the third book I have read by this author, and I was able to be a part of the launch team for this book (which let me read the book before it came out). Anne is the kind of writer that makes you feel like you are chatting with a friend over coffee when you read her books. The kind of friend who does excellent research on a topic that she can’t wait to share with you. I made so many notes with this book, great points to remember and incorporate into my life. Highly recommend!
Rhythms of Renewal: Trading Stress and Anxiety for a Life of Peace and Purpose by Rebekah Lyons. This was a book recommended on Instagram by some other authors I follow. I had been wanting a book about stress coming from a Christian perspective. But I think I was expecting something a little different than what I read in this book. I thought I was going to get more of “when this happens, it’s good to remember this” kind of language, but the book seemed to be a list of self-care options that worked for the author throughout her life. Things that may help others. I think I preferred Burnout because there was more science of why things work which is what my brain really likes. It was still a good book, and the last couple of chapters raised my overall rating, but it wouldn’t be the first book I would recommend about stress or even Christian self-help.
Last year, I made a goal to read 44 books. I knew I would have an unpredictable year, so I gave myself a goal of reading 4 books a month with a month of margin. Apparently, I needed that margin because as the year ended, my life became very busy! I managed to just barely eek out the last two books in December (though both were wonderful!).
But this year, while predictability is never going to be a thing in my life again, I want to challenge myself by adding a few books to my goal. I also know that my schedule is going to shift a bit this year in favor of a little more space. One example is removing the phone from my bedside will free up the time I spend mindlessly scrolling first thing in the morning or last thing at night. I can replace that with more reading time.
So, this year, I’m going to try to read 48 books. That is about 4 books a month, which I think will be doable.
I also want to curb the book collecting binge that was 2019. I was receiving books from family, free books from the library, and all the new releases and occasional trips to Half Price Books. So, I have a lot of books waiting to be read on my shelves. That being said, there are still a few books that I will probably preorder this year. My favorite authors have books coming out this year, so I can’t say I won’t get another new book this year. But I will definitely be cultivating my personal library, purging some of the authors I no longer read to make room for the favorites I will read over and over again.
In addition to what is already on my shelves, I plan to continue with the two book clubs I joined last year. Life’s Library and the Modern Mrs. Darcy Book Club. Life’s Library sends a book and some bookish goodies every six weeks. There is a Discord conversation that you can participate in as you read the book, and the money goes to support combating maternal mortality in Sierra Leone. The MMD Book Club is a monthly subscription. They don’t send you the book each month, but I generally can find them in the library. It also includes a lot of discussions with the authors as well as little bookish “classes”. Both book clubs have expanded my reading tastes, helping me to hone what I love in literature (and sometimes what I don’t).
I’m really looking forward to where reading will take me this year. Even though I will definitely try my hardest, I may not reach that goal. Life tends to be erratic that way. Still, at least in this case, it really is about the journey, not the destination. And I’m going to enjoy this journey, one book at a time.
This month is Black History Month, and I thought it would be interesting to read only black authors this month. So, here is my line up.
For my nonfiction, I’m readingI’m Still Here: Black Dignity in a World Made for Whiteness by Austin Channing Brown. This has been on my TBR since last year, and a friend of mine read it and said it was a good read. Also, I follow her on Twitter, which is really where I find a lot of the authors I enjoy.
For my classic, I’m reading A Raisin in the Sun by Lorraine Hansberry. This is my classic pick for the month. I think I read this in high school, but I don’t remember it. I wanted to switch up my classics and read a play, so this was a good match.
For YA Fiction, I’m reading On the Come Up by Angie Thomas. I read her first book, The Hate U Give last year and really enjoyed it. This book takes place in the same neighborhood but follows the story of another girl who faces homelessness while trying to make a name for herself as a rapper. It isn’t pictured above because it comes out tomorrow.
And finally, my Adult Fiction will be Mycroft Holmes by Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Anna Waterhouse. This was a random but fascinating book. I like Sherlock Holmes, and I came across his second book, Mycroft and Sherlock, at the library. When I realized it was the second book, I stopped reading it and placed the first book on hold. And yes, this is the basketball player. Apparently, he is a huge Sherlock fan. I’ve already started this one and it’s already fascinating.
Hey Everyone! I hope you have had an amazing December. Our holiday was filled with family, fond memories, and many first experiences. In short, it was lovely.
I managed to complete three books this month (thanks long travel trips and sleepy babies!) which brings my grand total to 40 books this year. In truth, I started with a 24 book goal, so I am really pleased with 40!
So, below are the reviews for the last three books of 2018. Did you read any great books this year? I’m always up for adding to my TBR.
This is a continuation of a goal to complete this series that I started as a teenager. I hadn’t read this particular book in the series, but it seemed very different from the books before it. Up to this point, Morris has focused a lot of the plot on the evolution of politics and religion in England, including some historical people like the Oliver Cromwell and John Wesley. And as the series has continued, the Wakefield line has become more and more of a supporting plot than the main story.
Until this book.
Very little of the religious or political history is included in this book. There is mention of the war between the English and French in Canada, where one of our main characters goes, but he leaves the war to become a fur trapper. An entire chapter is devoted to the art of fur trapping.
And from this point on, the story becomes somewhat of a soap opera. There are duels, people who die that turn out not to be dead, unrequited love, men fighting over women, and women who are cheating on their men. There are heavy Christian overtones. Like in all of the books, the characters go on a journey to find themselves and God. But even one of the characters at some point makes a reference to the fact that their life is like a “something out of a very bad novel.”
There is no profanity, but there are a lot of sexual references in this one. Of course, nothing detailed but lots of references to “his desire” or “her womanliness”, even one of the characters is noted to have a lot of passion in the lovemaking department. It was pretty cheesy and not really what I remember in the other books. There are some mentions of violence – a slap, people dying in war, but again nothing detailed.
At least the other books had some interesting facts about history, but this seemed like a detour into a Cain and Abel allegory. Like someone complained that there wasn’t enough romance in the last few books so the author went into overdrive. I have one more book in the series to go. I hope it ends on a better note!
The final book in the series. Gilbert Morris has taken us from Henry the 8th to Napoleon in seven books that traveled from Wales to America to London, Spain, and France. The rise and fall of politics and religious sects throughout England. The series, for me, was a solid three stars overall, including this final book. Like the book before it, this story strays from the religious and political intrigues, leaning heavily towards a more soap opera romance. He pokes fun at himself in this book. One of the major characters is obsessed with romance novels, and through her own adventures finds that reality is much more interesting and important. The writing was, again, not really for me. It’s heavy on the descriptions of clothing and food. The plot took a while to pick up but it flowed really well towards the end. Everything was tied up nicely, and the ending was good.
Of course, no profanity, just like the other books. There was some kissing but now real sexual content. There was more violence in this book than others in the series. A majority of the book takes place on ships, and there is a good bit of naval warfare.
I would probably recommend this series to someone who really likes historical fiction and heavy descriptions in their stories. Overall, it’s not an amazing series, and I had some problems with a few of the books. But it’s not a bad series, and I did learn some things about the religious and political revolutions in England which were interesting.
I read this book as part of the Life’s Library book club because I wasn’t very familiar with this author. I had heard of her book Brown Girl Dreaming, but it never made it to my TBR list. It is on it now because I really enjoyed the way she writes (and there were a few poems in the back of this edition of the book). The story is about a white Jewish girl and a black boy who go to the same private school and fall in love. It’s about racial stereotypes, interracial couple stereotypes, family relationships, and how we become who we are. I don’t want to give away too much of the plot, but the book moves pretty fast. The chapters are short, but the writing is still able to pull you into this world and meet all the characters.
I don’t think there was any profanity in the book. As far as sexual content, it was mostly just kissing, holding hands. The story is about that first love so it is pretty innocent and sweet. There is some violence but it’s not graphic, and that’s all I will say so that it doesn’t ruin the book for others. Even though the book was written in 1998, it still is very much relevant for today. It isn’t dated at all. It could all happen today. And it’s a story that needs to be told, needs to be read, right now. Highly, highly recommend!