Wednesday, October 21, 2020

Mini Reviews: Diverse Nonfiction Reads --So You Want to Talk About Race and Between the World and Me

So You Want to Talk About Race
By Ijeoma Oluo
My Rating: 4 out of 5 Stars

Furthering my understanding and education is an important goal and it should be for all of us and this book breaks this important topic down into questions you might find yourself asking yourself when approaching race relations. Enough is enough and there is no excuse for you not to open yourself up and exam your own understanding and ask yourself to being willing to learn.

Between the World and Me
By Ta-Nehisi Coates
My Rating: 4.5 out of 5 Stars

Such a powerful book to read right now as we less than a month until one of the most pivotal elections in our country's history. Reading and listening to Coates speak his truth and the words he wrote to his son, that he blessed us with too, will stay with me long after I finished the audiobook and I put down the book.

Sunday, October 18, 2020

Review: The Guest List by Lucy Foley

The Guest List
By Lucy Foley
My Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

There is something about weddings that brings out the best and worst behavior in people, doubly so when it is on a secluded island, or so the premise of this story goes. Due to the wedding of an rising power couple, many people throughout their walks of life have been pulled together to attend their wedding. We know a murder has happened, we are told from the beginning and on the jacket flap. The story flashes back between now and time leading up to the wedding reception evening, also told through multiple points of view. 

The atmosphere of this island is fantastic--despite its sinister past and the ominous pretense, I wish I could visit it when we finally visit Ireland. To me, the characters are not meant to be likeable and the author does a good job at this. I could not find myself relating to any of them. If I had to pick one character, I would lean toward Hannah as she is the one I liked the most and could relate the most to throughout the story. 

I listened to this book and with the decision to use multiple narrators, it was easy to tell when the story jumped points-of-views or timelines, which I appreciated. Because it is set in Ireland and with cast of characters from throughout the United Kingdom, it was also nice to hear the narrators bring the character's dialects to fruition instead of having to imagine what they sounded like. If you enjoy audiobooks, I do recommend this one. As far as the story itself goes, I found this one well paced. I did not find my mind wondering or wishing that there was not as much build up to the big reveal. I liked the twists and while some were expected--though I think that was planned on the author's part--a few I did not pick up on while listening to it. 

I do recommend this book overall--whether reading it or experiencing it through the audiobook format as I did. Ironically, I am reading And Then There Were None by Agatha Christie at the moment too so if you are a fan of it, I think you would like this one too though I have not finished it yet. Reading it is giving me similar vibes with its isolated setting and unlikeable characters. 

What about you--have you read this one? What did you think of it? Are you inclined to want to read more thriller spooky reads this time of year?

Monday, September 7, 2020

#30Booksin3Months 2020 Summer Reading Challenge

If you follow me on Instagram, then you will have seen that I decided to participate in Jessica Brody's #30Booksin3Months Reading Challenge. From Memorial Day to Labor Day (so yes, technically slightly over 3 months), she has challenged her followers to read and try to complete 30 books. I am happy to say I succeeded. Here I am going to reflect on what I read and look at my stats for these 30 books. As I am writing this, I actually have no idea what the stats will shape up to be, but I am excited to find out.

In June, I finished the following books:
  • Little White Lies by Jennifer Lynn Barnes (mini review)
  • Meg, Jo, Beth, and Amy by Rey Terciero (review)
  • Hero on a Bicycle by Shirley Hughes (mini review)
  • Lair of Dreams by Libba Bray (audiobook review)
  • Four Days of You and Me by Miranda Kenneally (review)
  • The Tourist Attraction by Sarah Morgenthaler (Twitter review)
  • The Prince and the Dressmaker by Jen Wang (mini review)
  • The Wall of Winnipeg and Me by Marianna Zapata
  • A Taste of Sage by Yaffa S. Santos (mini review)
  • Nowhere But Here by Katie McGarry (series review)

Looking at these titles, they break down to the following:
  • Children's/Middle Grade: 1
  • Young Adult: 6
  • Adult: 3
  • Diverse Reads: 4

Sunday, September 6, 2020

Review: Dreamland Burning by Jennifer Latham

Dreamland Burning

By Jennifer Latham
My Rating 4 out of 5 stars

Present day Tulsa. Rowan wants to savor the last day of her summer vacation before she begins her summer internship. When the workers renovating the pool house suddenly leave, she discovers a buried body they uncovered. Readers are then flashed back to 1921, to Will and his story of navigating the racial tensions of Tulsa as the KKK moves into town and after the Osage Allotment Act was passed by Congress, mandating any person of half or more descendant Osage required a white guardian. Will's mother is full Osage. The weaving together of the dual timelines and dual perspectives leads readers (and listeners) to discovering who’s body Rowan finds buried under the floorboards. It is the story of blatant racism both present day and in 1921 leading up and the night of the Tulsa Race Riot. This is the story about learning who you are, what’s important, and standing up for those beliefs.

This book is harsh as Latham uses violence, horrendous terms no decent human should use and more to be as authentic as possible to the time period, which she addresses the decision to do this in her author’s note. There are many times throughout that I did not believe Will's treatment or lack of blatant racism that was not directed at him because of him being half Osage. 
I wish we could say that we have moved forward in the United States to where something like this could not happen and I truly hope that what happened in Tulsa would not be possible now however we know that Black Americans are dying a disproportional rate and victims of wrongly incarcerations or unfair sentencing terms at a much higher rate than white Americans.

I do recommend this book to anyone wishing to open up dialogue with the caveat of knowing that there is violence and harsh language as I stated above. It is a great read to begin difficult conversations on what you are doing to add or combat to being an anti-racist. 

Tuesday, August 11, 2020

Top Ten Tuesday: Books I Have Loved But Did Not Review

Top Ten Tuesday is hosted at Jana's blog That Artsy Reader Girl

This week we are discussing books we loved that did not review. Since I was ib a blogging hiatus while I was serving on my award committees, I have come across so many fantastic books. Here are the ones that immediately jump into my mind when I think about ones I have appreciated and adored, but did not write up here (or GoodReads). I also made notes on whether I read them as a physical book, an audiobook, or both in some cases. 


A Discovery of Witches (All Souls Trilogy) by Deborah Harkness
I have expressed a few times since I have come back from my blogging hiatus that I love this title--and really the whole series. It is one of my all time favorites. I enjoy reading as well as listening to the audiobooks of this series. I am not a huge re-reader, but these are ones that I turn to because I always find some other hidden Easter egg to explore. 

Lovely War by Julie Berry
I read this book during my time I served on Best Fiction for Young Adult committee through YALSA. (See our 2020 BFYA list here) I loved how Berry was able to incorporate so many layers to this story. It is set during World War I and I just love the incorporation of music and also the way she addresses the system and blatant racism our Black troops experienced even as they served our country--it has a lot of meat for discussion. I enjoyed this one as an audiobook, which I think really does a great job of bringing it to life and also read the physical book with my staff book discussion group at work this past February. 

Heroine by Mindy McGinnis
As a former athlete, I have a soft spot for sports fiction and I have always loved a great problem novel--I wrote a thesis on the subgenre during my master's degree program. I also know how much the opiate crisis has destroyed families in the area that I live (New England) as well as the country as a whole. This book does an amazing job of drawing you into Mickey's story and watching her get hooked on drugs. This one I devoured as a physical book. Trigger warning for blatant descriptions of drug use.