Pondering Stew: Motherhood in “Little Fires Everywhere” by Celeste Ng

Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng

To a parent, your child wasn’t just a person: your child was a place, a kind of Narnia, a vast eternal place where the present you were living and the past you remembered and the future you longed for all existed at once. You could see it every time you looked at her: layered in her face was the baby she’d been and the child she’d become and the adult she would grow up to be, and you saw them all simultaneously, like a 3-D image. It made your head spin. It was a place you could take refuge, if you knew how to get in. And each time you left it, each time your child passed out of your sight, you feared you might never be able to return to that place again.

Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng

Pondering Stew is a type of post on my blog that comes when books leave me thinking, pondering, and stewing about something, a phrase, a theme, a character, a situation. Usually I will connect it to my life, a current event, a random other thing, or simply an idea. Hopefully some ideas resonate with you even if you haven’t read the book that triggered this thinking for me. I hope you enjoy it!

Little Fires Everywhere is a book that explores motherhood from various perspectives. The people who had her kids just as they planned with everything according to a plan. The one who didn’t exactly plan to have a child but had one and so she became a mother. A couple who wished more than anything to be parents but just couldn’t give birth to a child. (Plus many others).

The bond that exists between a parent, but specifically a mother, and a child can be one of the strongest emotional bonds out there. I myself have a good relationship with my mom, we don’t necessarily tell each other everything or are best of friends all the time, but we have a bond that is unlike anything that I have with anyone else. At the same time, I grew up for a couple of years with my grandmother and, at that time, I didn’t differentiate in my head that my grandma was not my mom. I loved her like a mom and she treated me and loved me like her child. Did that make the relationship with my biological mom any weaker? I don’t think so, it might have obscured it for a while but it didn’t break or disappear.

I thought about this a lot while reading this book. The women in the book are all concerned with what makes a mother the one true mom. Is it biology? Is it nurture? Something completely different? What about those who donate their eggs to couples so that they can have children? Are they mothers of that child? What about those who can’t take care of their child for whatever reason and give them up for adoption? Are they no longer mothers? Some of these questions might be easier to answer than others but each situation can be very complex.

Mia is, throughout the book, someone who seems to be a great mother. She listens to her child, treats her like a person, and doesn’t get into the illusion that Pearl is still a baby, she knows that her child is growing up and away from her, and that that is completely natural. At the same time, some judge her because she hasn’t given Pearl a permanent home and she doesn’t have enough money to purchase proper furniture or other luxuries. They are moving every couple of months due to Mia’s process for her art and Pearl is fairly isolated because of that. From her point of view, Pearl is happy that she will finally be able to make some permanent friends and settle down in this new town. And she also seems pretty solid on her relationship with her mother even if there are things that Mia will not talk about regarding her past. Regardless of this, their mother-daughter relationship is rock solid, there is no question that they trust and love each other above anything else, which is what helps them survive and continue living the way they do.

Mrs Richardson, on the other hand, looks like the perfect mother, she planned exactly when she’d have her kids and raised them in a permanent home with all the things they could possibly need. Her four children, however, seem a bit more aloof in their relationship with her. They see her as the adult in the house but they don’t confide in her or tell her about their troubles. Izzy especially, doesn’t quite know how to talk to her mom. Throughout the book Izzy feels like her mom singles her out more than her siblings and doesn’t know why. Even her siblings see her as the weird one in their family.

It’s a completely different dynamic between the two parent-child relationships. So, when Pearl starts to spend more time at the Richardson’s place, it’s not necessarily because of Mrs. Richardson, it is because of the home, the sitting around the living room watching TV, the having these traditions and things that the siblings do as part of their family routine. Pearl is seeing this other way of being a family and having these roots, the excess money to buy whatever one wants, not necessarily the relationships of the siblings and their mother. On the other hand, Izzy sees the relationship between Pearl and Mia and immediately wants to be a part of that. She realizes that Mia is someone who truly sees her and doesn’t treat her like a child who doesn’t measure up. And so, Izzy starts spending more time with Mia, volunteering to help with her art in any way, no payment needed. For a while there, Izzy and Pearl seem to have switched places as they experience different ways that mothers interact with their families.

All that being said, in life outside of the book, there are many people who don’t necessarily have the “traditional” mother figure in their lives. People, like me, who were brought up by relatives or have been adopted by other people, still have mother figures who taught them how to live and who love them as a mother would, and some in addition to their biological mothers. Although the figure of a mother is idealized in a lot of fictional settings (and often removed in order to give the main character complexity…ugh…), mother figures are found in other places during our lives. I remember Mrs Freeman, a teacher I had in Chicago for 4th grade when I barely spoke any English and who took me under her wing and taught me all the things that she could to help me survive. She was a maternal figure in a sense, there was a feeling of safety that I felt with her and she provided knowledge and tools that my mother couldn’t give me at the time. In other fictional stories, such as Matilda, mother figures come up from unexpected places. Some are never said to explicitly be mother figures, but they certainly play that role.

Today it is Mother’s Day in the United States where I live (though in my Mexican family, we celebrate May 10) and it is a time when we can reflect on that relationship. It is also important to acknowledge that there are people who don’t have these relationships or that the relationship isn’t a good one for them. I can talk today only on the context of my own experience: I can say that I love my mom and that our relationship is one that is complicated but also very loving. I also have a bit of grief for my grandmother who passed away many years ago, when I couldn’t quite understand or articulate what our relationship really was. And, even if not traditional, I think of all the women in my life who have served as mother figures in some way or another, both real and fictional: teachers, aunts, neighbors, authors, heroines, etc.

Are there multiple maternal figures that you have encountered throughout your life? How have they influenced the way you live/think/dream?

Pondering Stew: Isolation and Loneliness in “Beloved” by Toni Morrison

Pondering Stew is a new kind of post for my blog. Basically books will leave me thinking sometimes, pondering and stewing about something, a phrase, a theme, a character, a situation. Usually I will connect it to my life, a current event, a random other thing, or simply an idea. Hopefully some ideas resonate with you even if you haven’t read the book that I triggered this thinking for me. I hope you enjoy it!

Denver’s imagination produced its own hunger and its own food, which she badly needed because loneliness wore her out. Wore her out. Veiled and protected by the live green walls, she felt ripe and clear, and salvation was as easy as a wish.

Beloved by Tony Morrison (italics in original text)

This month I read Beloved with one of my book clubs. I had previously read it in high school for a class and even wrote an essay about the use of the word “veil” in the book. Now I could talk about so many things regarding Beloved; however, some of the things that I’ve been pondering and stewing over while reading this book and many days after I finished it are the themes of loneliness and isolation as well as the consequences of feeling those things for too long.

Beloved really had me thinking…

Beloved was inspired by a real event that involved Margaret Garner, a woman who killed her daughter rather than see her be enslaved again. Here are the characters from Beloved that you can keep in mind as we go through some of the thoughts I had:

  • Sethe: A woman who is able to escape slavery with her children, three were sent ahead of her and then she gave birth to the last one as she was escaping. She is only able to spend 28 days with all her children in some semblance of happiness.
  • Denver: The child Sethe gave birth to as she escaped. Denver is 17 years old when the narration of the book starts.
  • Paul D: A man who lived in Sweet Home, the place Sethe ran away from. Paul D also escaped and has been traveling, trying to find the place where he belongs. He arrives the day that the book starts.

This book has each character carry their loneliness around them, like a blanket that they use for protection. Being lonely means that they don’t have to admit their feelings to other people, isolated they can almost sit next to each other and just be in that moment while shoving all other memories away. None of them make much of an effort to connect to other people either, and most people also leave them alone since they get that feeling that they don’t want to be bothered. In part it is that taboo about how Sethe killed her child and went to prison for it, so there is a reason why people stay away. Denver is also deeply affected by this and doesn’t even get to play with other kids her age, instead she imagines that she plays with her baby sister who was murdered and who now “haunts” her house. Her brothers are barely mentioned but what it does say in the book suggests that they were just waiting for the right moment to leave.

All the characters in Beloved had one or multiple traumatic events happen in their lives that they never really got to process or grieve. Paul D and Beloved both suffered incredible physical torture in the form of beatings, being chained in a box in the ground, and many other unmentionable things. All the characters have suffered mental traumas since they were born into slavery, being treated as objects sold and used however their masters wished, and overall suffered the lack of love and acknowledgement from others throughout their lives.

After more than a year of physical isolation that started in 2020 due to the Covid-19 pandemic, this book mirrored my own loneliness and isolation in some ways. Pre-pandemic I had a couple groups of people who I interacted with, coworkers, people I went to dance classes and events with, high school friends I saw from time to time. But now I don’t really see many of them at all or as often and I think, wow, I’ve lived in some form of isolation for a year (I’m not fully isolated since I do live with my parents and sister now, but my physical interactions with people face to face have decreased significantly) and this is nothing like what these characters are going through. Each of them were trapped in their own internal isolation and loneliness throughout their lives, it’s so heavy, so heartbreaking.

I imagine Denver, sitting in that space that the trees made and feeling that loneliness, that heaviness and not really knowing what to do with it. Mental health is not something that is prioritized for any of these characters, and of course, why would it be? They have other things to worry about! But nowadays, we can go to therapy, learn how to understand our emotions, learn the difference between being isolated vs being alone, increase our own self-awareness. Not that it’s easy! For me, it has taken me years to get to a point where I can recognize that “oh, I feel…. lonely” or “oh, I did that because I am afraid of what others think of me” and so on. I am still not great at it, but I am working on it. (Thanks to my therapist Ruth!). Thankfully, these characters were able to see through that blanket of loneliness and isolation and saw each other and themselves. Paul D saw a home in Sethe, Sethe saw a glimmer of hope as he extended a hand to her, and Denver saw herself and her own ability to learn and grow and be someone for herself.

Most of us go through these moments (short or long) feeling like we are alone and we’ll never feel anything else, but if anything, Beloved shows us that we can have hope if we turn to the person next to us, or the person within us, that self/soul/essence, that lights our fire and our passions. I encourage you to take a look in the mirror today for 60 seconds, a staring contest with yourself if you will, and see that fire within yourself. It is there, acknowledge it, love it, empower it, because it is what makes you unique and yourself and that is wonderful.

Those were some of the thoughts I’ve pondered and stewed over the past week or so. Beloved left me with many thoughts but these were the ones I went back to again and again. What if Sethe had had a therapist? What if Paul D had talked to someone about his traumas? They didn’t have the means or the access, and many other people still don’t have means or access to mental health help nowadays. But, what if we all did? All of us who need that help could all become self-aware and might be able to see where our true passions lie and that we are truly capable of doing it and achieving our dreams. What if…?

What do you think? Have you felt any of these things before? Also, did you do the mirror challenge? How did it go? Let me know in the comments!

Wyrd and Wonder 2021 — A month-long fantasy adventure

I was very excited when I found out about the Wyrd and Wonder challenge for May! This challenge is hosted by LisaJorie and Imyril and it basically entails consuming fantasy stories in any format. It looks super chill and right up my alley. I might do a couple of prompts here and there but overall I love this challenge because I haven’t read much fantasy in the past year or so and I’d love to get back into reading some of my favorite fantasy authors. I also hope to watch some movies and perhaps take some photos for my instagram.

Here’s my current list of books that I do plan on reading:

  • Eric by Terry Pratchett is part of the Discworld series. I have been reading the Discworld books for a few years now and I just take it suuuuper sloooooow. I just love savoring these books and taking my time with the series. (In fact, that might be the case with the books written by my favorite authors.
  • Empire of Ivory by Naomi Novik is the 4th installment in the Temeraire series. This series is so fun! Historical Fantasy with dragons and battles and amazing characters (both human and dragons), just a lot of fun.
  • Smoke and Mirrors by Neil Gaiman is a short story collection that I actually started in April but didn’t finish it. So far I was really enjoying it though so it will be good to get back into it.
  • Archenemies by Marissa Meyer is the second book in the Renegades series. I read Archenemies in March and it was a quick read and a lot of fun. I’ve really enjoyed all of Meyer’s fairy tale re-tellings and her take on superheroes is really unique and fun.
  • The Stand by Stephen King is not pictured because I haven’t picked it up yet but I will be starting that this month as well for a buddy read with a friend. We will be taking it super slow though so I don’t anticipate finishing it in May.

There are other books that I’ll also be reading but those are not in the fantasy realm so I am not mentioning those here. I will update as I read them though!

All in all I’m very excited for a May full of fantasy, magic, and fun reading!

IMAGE CREDIT: Banner by imyril; images by Svetlana Alyuk on 123RF.com

April 2021 Book Bites

April 2021. Last time I posted one of these posts it was 2018, that does not escape me. It is cliche but life happened and got in the way of me working on the blog like I wanted to. And then I didn’t feel like reading much during the pandemic so not a lot to write about. Then, finally, a couple of months ago I started reading and joining book clubs (virtually) and the urge to get back to blogging came back with that. So, I am here again, finishing up posts that I started back in 2018 and working on new ones. As we know that life can be complicated and full of twists and turns, all I can promise is that as long as I am having fun with the blog I’ll continue with it. So, let’s remember how it was that I rated books:

  1. Perspective Rating: Does this book show me different perspectives? This score is all about diverse points of view!
  2. Emotional Rating: Does this book tug at my heartstrings? Does it make me sad, angry, inspired, emotional in any way? Of course, emotions could go from me loving the book to completely hating it so this rating can be complex depending on the book.
  3. Bites Rating: This is all about annotation and language? Did I have to stop and savor certain lines or passages? Was it confusing? Simple? Complex? The more I highlight and have trouble picking one bite for the review/post the better the score.
  4. Overall Rating: Average of the above three ratings.

Let’s get started!

The first book I read this month was Such A Fun Age by Kiley Reid. I was supposed to read this last year but never got around to it. This book was very different from my normal reads, a contemporary book with a 20-some year old who works as a babysitter and doesn’t quite have a plan on what to do with her life (as many of her friends and family members are quick to tell her). There is a lot of social commentary on racial bias, the white hero complex, career expectations, and self judgement about pursuing a fulfilling career vs a profitable one.

Such a Fun Age by Kiley Reid
  • Favorite Bite:

But there was something about the actual work, the practice of caring for a small unstructured person, that left Emira feeling smart and in control. There was the gratifying reflex of being good at your job, and even better was the delightful good fortune of having a job you wanted to be good at.

Such a Fun Age by Kiley Reid
  • Perspective Rating: 8/10 This book did have a different perspective from my own from Emira’s point of view as well as the point of view of a nanny of color taking care of white children. It’s a difficult topic to breach and at times it did feel like we got more from the white savior’s point of view than from Emira’s. Especially the ending where things were wrapped up a bit too fast and focused more on Mrs Chamberlain than Emira.
  • Emotional Rating: 7/10 A lot of this book definitely made me feel angry. Angry at the way people treat nannies and caretakers. Nannies and caretakers tend to be mostly women of color and they don’t get healthcare or other benefits a lot of the time, mostly because it’s a system that is set up by each family. It left me with a lot of unanswered questions, which was probably the point but I also lacked some more depth at the end.
  • Bites Rating: 4/10 I highlighted exactly nothing of this book. It was easy to read, nothing complicated, but also nothing stood out for me.
  • Overall Rating: 6.33/10 It was a good book, I wanted to know more about the story but a lot of it was filled with microaggressions towards the main character. A lot of the time I found myself frustrated with all of the characters and rolling my eyes at the decisions they were making. The only character who was enjoyable in this book was Briar, the toddler. That being said, it did open my eyes to the world of nannies and the struggles that they face so that was definitely valuable for me.

The second book I read in April was a manga: Himouto! Umaru-chan Vol.1 by Sankaku Head. I got this book at Barnes and Noble where they had set up a blind date with a manga, which seemed like an exciting prospect. I am so glad that this was a fast read because I did not like it XD The book centers a brother and sister, the brother works a full time job while the sister (Umaru-chan) goes to high school, is practically perfect, beautiful girl, but then we find out that she basically makes zero effort, she’s just naturally gifted. She also just complains and emotionally manipulates her brother to get all the things she wants. I mostly felt bad for him and the way he enabled her all the time.

Himouto! Umaru-chan Vol.1 by Sankaku Head
  • Favorite Bite:

My sixteen-year-old sister is throwing a temper tantrum over a manga… this is…not good!!! She’s my responsibility…! Umaru’s been living in my apartment for a year now… and she just gets lazier and more spoiled by the day!! At this rate she’ll never be able to make it in the real world!!

Himouto! Umaru-chan Vol.1 by Sankaku Head
  • Perspective Rating: 3/10 It gets points for being set in Japan so you do get some cultural references. Other than that I can’t think of much else to give it points regarding perspective.
  • Emotional Rating: 3/10 If frustration counts then yeah I was very frustrated. The main character was so uninspiring. And I think this is supposed to be a comedic book, but I guess I do not like this type of comedy. Sigh…
  • Bites Rating: 2/10 Okay so it’s a manga so it might be a bit more difficult to find good lines and such. I also don’t read many manga so it’s hard to know how to annotate them. I mostly just read them straight through so perhaps an unfair rating here. Still, I was not impressed.
  • Overall Rating: 2.66 Yeah… not the best. Needless to say, I will not continue with the series. I did hear there was an anime series but can’t say that I’m inspired to watch it either.

Throughout the month I also read Beloved by Toni Morrison. What a change of pace! This is actually a book I read when I was in high school. Needless to say I have a different life perspective now and I think I got way more out of it. I’m working on a post just for Beloved so I’ll update this post once that is up. The book is about Sethe, a woman who escapes slavery while pregnant. She is able to get to her children who were sent ahead of her to safety and now live with her mother in law. Then, merely 28 days after she arrives with them, she sees that some white men have found her and want to take her back, which leads her to killing one of her children. The book switches perspectives between the characters and from the present time, years after she killed her child, to the time she was still enslaved, as well as her journey as she escaped. A very complex, beautiful, and heartbreaking book.

Beloved by Toni Morrison
  • Favorite Bite:

Their skirts flew like wings and their skin turned pewter in the cold and dying light.

Beloved by Toni Morrison
  • Perspective Rating: 10/10 This is a very unique perspective. Toni Morrison describes in the introduction that this book was inspired by a real event where a Sethe killed her child in order to keep her from slavery. She’s also able to immerse the reader in the memories of the characters. We get to go into Paul D, Denver, Sethe, and Beloved’s minds and memories, some of which are fuzzy and sometimes overwhelming.
  • Emotional Rating: 9/10 I was overwhelmed a lot of times with this book. It’s a very heavy book that doesn’t let one take a breath easily. One should take this book slooooooow. I read it at night before bed, just 20 pgs or so each time and that worked for me.
  • Bites Rating: 10/10 I mean this book is just beautifully written. Some sentences I just needed to stop and think about the passage or re-read the sentence in order to let the words sink in. Sometimes sentences would have deeper meanings and would reference things from the past in obscure ways so it definitely made the reader work (I enjoy that in books!).
  • Overall Rating: 9.66 Beloved is really a great book, the first in the Beloved Trilogy. I have also read the second book in the trilogy, Jazz and I enjoyed that one a tad more (perhaps it was because it’s a bit less violent and more psychological). I would like to re-read Jazz and then finish up the trilogy with Paradise (eventually).

The next three books I read during Dewey’s 24-hr Readathon, you can check out that post here. Either way, the ratings I gave there were only for Goodreads so let’s see how they stack up in terms of the Bites of Books ratings.

Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates
  • Favorite Bite:

I was a curious boy, but the schools were not concerned with curiosity. They were concerned with compliance. I loved a few of my teachers. But I cannot say that I truly believed any of them.

Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates
  • Perspective Rating: 10/10 Black voices have often been silenced and listening to a black man tell his life story and point of view via audiobook was incredibly powerful. I highly recommend you listen to this audiobook because it really adds to the experience.
  • Emotional Rating: 10/10 This book is a perfect balance of hard truths being put on the table while inviting for some hope and light at the end of the tunnel. Society has racist roots, there’s no way around it, we still live in a society that treats black people a less than. What we can do now is listen to black people, believe them, support them in every way we can.
  • Bites Rating: 10/10 I listened to this book so I couldn’t annotate it. However, I found myself listening hard, really taking in his words and pausing and thinking about a couple of passages. The book also sounds at times like spoken word, there’s a rhythm to his words that is really quite beautiful.

I also read The Duke and I by Julia Quinn. I don’t normally read romance but I watched the Netflix show Bridgerton and I got curious. NOTE: There should be trigger warnings for the show and the book for sexual assault. The book is about a 20-something lady, Daphne, who is in search of a husband but isn’t having a lot of good prospects. Meanwhile she meets a Duke, Simon, who is set on never wanting to marry. They come up with a plot to seem interested in each other in order to bring better prospects for Daphne and keep the mothers and young ladies away from Simon.

The Duke and I by Julia Quinn + Seiko
  • Favorite Bite:

There were always whispers. And whispers, if left unchecked, could quickly grow into roars.

The Duke and I by Julia Quinn
  • Perspective Rating: 2/10 I mean…. Regency romance… nothing new or unexpected for here for me.
  • Emotional Rating: 4/10 I will give this book that it was fun to read, minus the sexual assault, which is near the end of the book, everything after that was just …..sigh…..
  • Bites Rating: 4/10 The writing was easy to read, nothing too impressive or complicated. I did not annotate the book at all and there are no passages that stand out to me.
  • Overall Rating: 3.33/10 Yeah overall this book wasn’t amazing but it was entertaining. It’s junk food if you will. I didn’t suffer reading it, it was just not out of this world. I will continue reading the series since I bought them impulsively so I guess you’ll see updates about that eventually.

The last book I finished this month was The Rain God by Arturo Islas. This book was really wonderful and heartbreaking in so many ways. It is not often that I find books detailing what it is to be part of a Mexican family living in the US. Although my family’s situation is different, I did identify with a lot of the issues described in the book. It follows the Angel family, from the grandmother, Mama Chona, to her grandson Miguel Chico and their life (and death) experiences.

The Rain God by Arturo Islas
  • Favorite Bite:

As his hands reached for the pain in his chest, El Compa heard only the buzzing of a lone cicada sending out its love signal in the distance toward the poor people’s cemetery.

The Rain God by Arturo Islas
  • Perspective Rating: 10/10 It is rare that I see so much of myself, my family, my culture in a book. Unfortunately books with this point of view are not often popular or given a lot of publicity.
  • Emotional Rating: 10/10 This book hit me emotionally in so many ways! Not all of it was comfortable and not all of it was nice and happy feelings. In fact, most of it was uncomfortable and challenged a lot of customs and beliefs that permeate the Mexican culture.
  • Bites Rating: 10/10 I lucked out because this book was already heavily annotated when I purchased it from a thrift store. And I say that I lucked out because I found myself agreeing and disagreeing with a lot of the annotations the previous owner had made. Both in understanding of the text as well as in what was annotated. There were even some parts of the book that I read out loud to my family and that is something I can safely say I’ve never done before.
  • Overall Rating: 10/10 This book might be one of my favorites of the year.

Have you read any of the books that I mentioned here? What was your favorite book you read this month?

And that was April! I read 6 books in a month! I am on a roll right now with my reading and I’m looking forward to what will come next in May. Stay tuned for a TBR and other May plans 🙂

Bookish Memory Check

Hello everyone, happy Wednesday! As I was browsing blogs yesterday I found a post by Tanja of Where Stories Lie where she did a Bookish Memory Check. It looked like fun so I thought I’d try it. It works as follows:

  1. Go to your Goodreads ‘read’ shelf
  2. Sort by random
  3. Test your memory on the top five books

Tanja says:

Do you ever go through you ‘read’ shelf on GR and think “when did I read this? I don’t remember this one at all“? No? Well, maybe it’s just me. My memory isn’t exactly the best and most of the time I only remember the way I felt while reading a certain book, but not the details of the plot – and definitely not the character names. Of course, there are plenty of books that I adore and I can tell you exactly what happens in them, but that’s the exception and not the rule.

Tanja of Where Stories Lie

My memory is also not the best sometimes and I do wonder how this will translate to books I read a long time ago. I currently have 459 books in my Read shelf on Goodreads so let’s see how it goes!

Now this is an amazing list for my first try!
First Book Memories: The first book is It by Stephen King. WOW how can anyone forget having read this book!? What impresses me is that I read this in 2017! Almost four years ago while I lived in Mexico. It was amazing in so many ways. There are scenes that are still embedded in my brain and there’s nothing that can get them off. So this book is about a group of kids living in a town when all of a sudden strange things start happening to them. Some of them have apparitions of birds chasing them, basically the thing that most scares them in the world starts haunting them. Now I could very well be mixing up the book, the first movie that was released, and the more recent two movies. Each version had subtle but distinct differences. What I do know is that It was unsettling and gave me a couple of nightmares here and there. To this day I can’t see an old fridge out of place (like in the middle of the road, side of the street, in an alley) because I feel really queasy (if you know, you know).

After reading blurb/my own review: Okay so the irony is that this book is about how memories from childhood are fuzzy and sometimes gone altogether! I didn’t mention the clown, Pennywise up top because it is kind of a given and even in my review I don’t mention it. Pennywise came in many forms in the book while in the movies it was the main form of It so I can see why I didn’t think of the clown first. I even have an It poster in my office! This is not a book that I’d read again just because of how long it took to read. Also, having experienced the story in three different ways I feel like I’m okay.

Second Book Memories: My friend Cass recommended Emma by Francisco Hinojosa to me! She described it as Harry Potter but with a female protagonist and also by a Mexican author, I think? I do remember it was something like a satire where it did mirror a lot of the wizarding world but also made fun of it. I remember I didn’t like it as much as I wanted to like it. But that was 2014! I wonder what I would think now… I don’t actually have that book with me, it is probably in Mexico somewhere? Or did I just borrow it? XD No idea! I also don’t have any photos of it to show…

After reading blurb/my own review: ::dies laughing:: !!!!! Well I did NOT remember that at all! Apparently this book IS set at a magical school but they teach the main character Emma, who is a virgin (of course!) about sexual education, masturbation, pornography, aphrodisiac foods, and such. In my review I say that it has nothing to do with Harry Potter apart from the setting and a couple “interesting” references. My issue was that it wasn’t well written and that the book could have been written without trying to be a parody of Harry Potter. I’m still laughing because how could I NOT remember that?! Well, it has been 7 years wow. XD

Third Book Memories: The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt….I did NOT like this book, I remember that much. I think I read it with a book club? Can’t remember which one…. I remember that the first few chapters of the book where really impactful, a lot of interesting things happened there but after that the book just went super slow and had so many unnecessary deviations to the plot. I think I just don’t like that trope of “oh, we miscommunicated that’s why this whole mess happened” when it would have been super easy and obvious to communicate properly…. Granted, some are more successful at using that trope than others.

After reading blurb/my own review: Right! This book won the Pulitzer in 2014…. why? Yes, I remember now that it was unnecessarily long… 774 pages! The book is about Theo and his journey after surviving a very traumatic event that involves a painting of a goldfinch. Throughout the book Theo just makes a lot of bad decisions and the really interesting stories are sort of in the background. Overall, this book was triggering for my anxiety and overall mental health so I can see why I did not enjoy it much.

PS. I started Ulysses and about 10 pages into it I gave up XD

Fourth Book Memories: The Spark by David Drake. Okay, I got this book in an Owlcrate box! I remember it had all the annotations from the author as well. It was a cool world where traveling from town to town you had to go through these areas of mist or fog and so usually one would do the journey with someone. The plot was…. a young man had to travel to the see the king for…. something… ha! I think I enjoyed the book but it wasn’t that memorable, clearly.

After reading blurb/my own review: Ooookay not an Owlcrate box, a Page Habit box! XD Oooops. And apparently I enjoyed it a lot more than I remembered. Some of it is coming back though! Pal is a farmer who basically wants to become a Champion of the King. So he travels to the castle in order to go through the trials to become one. It’s a very rich and well-built world that didn’t just involve a normal guy becoming a knight magically, he has to actually grow and learn in order to become a Champion. It really was a well written book and an author that I wanted to read more, especially since it’s the type of science fiction I don’t normally read.

I don’t have a photo of the book but here’s how Jurassic Park is still a big thing in my life to this day. These are three Christmas tree decorations that I absolutely love ❤

Fifth Book Memories: !!!!!! Jurassic Park by Michael Crichton!!! I love this book so much. So I saw the movie when I was very young and I loved it. I remember my grandma telling me to not watch it because I’d get nightmares but I didn’t get nightmares hahaha I became obsessed with dinosaurs because of this book and also my uncle who also loved dinosaurs. Anyways, this book is NOT like the movie, it’s much more cruel and realistic in quite a few ways. I remember that a lot more people die in the book and the characters are a bit different than the movie. Ian Malcolm is one of the best characters ever, both in the book and in the movie(s). (Note to self: This might be a good blog post, re-read the Jurassic Park books, watch the movies, and compare!)

After reading blurb/my own review: So first of all…. I read it in Spanish! Of course, they were my uncle’s copies, that’s why. I definitely need to get my hands on copies for myself now. And I didn’t write a review for this book on Goodreads because I read it a very long time ago! I remember this one pretty well!

So, out of these 5 books that took me down memory lane, I really want to re-read Jurassic Park! I will never re-read It, it was just too long XD Instead I do feel like reading another Stephen King book. The Goldfinch is one I also don’t need to read again, didn’t like it, no need to go there again. The Spark does have some potential and I saw that there is a sequel so I could check that out if I want to read something else by the same author. Emma is one that is more interesting than I remembered but I don’t have any strong feelings about it either way.

What a great exercise! I might do one of these a couple times a year or so since I did have so much fun with this one. Thank you to Tanja for creating this and sharing her experience!

Dewey’s 24 hr Read-A-Thon — April 24, 2021

This weekend I took part in Dewey’s 24hr Readathon. I live on the West Coast so I got to start at 5am. Glorious! -_-‘ I am not normally one to get up early but I wanted to actually do this and get some reading done this Saturday so I set my alarm to get up at 4:30am. wow.

But first I needed to prep! The week before I put together the following TBR:

As you can see these are pretty varied books, from romance to fantasy! Overall a fun pile of books! I had already started The Duke and I and read one story from Smoke and Mirrors but that’s alright.

My day started at 4:30am with some Overnight Oats (Mint Chocolate Chip). This is not an ad but I loooooove Overnight Oats.

I started out in my office couch with kitty and The Duke and I by Julia Quinn.

And so I read for a good couple of hours on the couch! The Duke and I is rather steamy and spicy so it was very easy to just read and keep reading. The tension and the chemistry between Simon and Daphne were definitely tangible through the pages and, even after seeing the series on Netflix I did enjoy the way that the book focused more on the two of them instead of all the other characters.

At around 8am my sister brought me some caffeine in the form of an Orange Peel Mocha from the local coffee shop:

Once I had the caffeine in my system I just kept reading through the morning (I also had a jalapeño bagel for more fuel) and moved to a different couch (ha!). I finished The Duke and I at around noon and my thoughts on that were very mixed! On the one hand I definitely loved the more intimate look at the Bridgerton family and the discussion on childhood trauma and the effect on someone’s life. However, there was a sexual assault scene that I was very uncomfortable with soooooooo yeah that changed things. I ended up giving this book 3 stars because it was definitely very entertaining and fun to read but a key part of the book was just very uncomfortable for me so I couldn’t give it more than that.

For the next book I moved outside!

I started out The Rain of God by Arturo Islas and it was a difficult read for me. Not because it was badly written or anything but because it hit home! It is all about a Mexican American family plus their experience living in a small town near the border of the US and Mexico. There are so many parts of this book that are heavy and really quite painful. There is violence, emotional and physical abuse, cheating, hypocrisy, just a lot. Because of that, after a carne asada dinner with my family I took a bath and listened to an audiobook.

Between the World and Me was amazing and so so important!

So yes, I strayed from the TBR but is that news? XD I had already started listening to the audiobook for Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates and so I listened to the last 2 hours of the book. This was also my first ever audiobook and I absolutely loved it. This was a good break for my eyes aaaand I was able to open up a package that I got that day that was full of stationery and stickers, a mystery bag from Stickii while I listened to the audiobook.

After I finished unboxing I sat and listened to Between the World and Me. It was honestly a great experience to hear the author himself narrate the book. It’s a powerful story that he’s telling his son, about what it means to be a black man and carry the weight of always being on alert. Is he doing all the right things in order to preserve his body intact? The contrast of him going to France where he doesn’t have to do that is startling. As a woman I identified with some of the aspects of always being on guard, saying the right things, wearing the right clothes, etc. His perspective serves as a window into what it’s like to live as a black man in the United States and one that I would like to continue learning about in order to be a better ally for black people.

After finishing this book I took a bit of a break and then continued reading The Rain God. I came back into the office where I started my day, put on some music and finished the book in the next few hours. Each chapter in the book is about a different member of the family. One of the chapters is about Felix, a gay man who is beaten to death. Why is it that so many people, people of color, people who have different sexual orientations, people who practice different religions, always have to live as others say they should live? This readathon put these two books in parallel for me, characters in The Rain God have to assimilate into American culture, which means thinking less of people browner than them, people who don’t speak English “properly”, etc. We are all part of the obstacle that stands in front of people who simply want to live their lives as they are. If anything, these books taught me to listen and read more of these stories to be able to see from other perspectives, even if it is so so hard to do so. For it isn’t easy to learn about so many black people being murdered by police and it’s also not easy to read about Mexican people like me who are prejudiced of other Mexican people who are simply trying to survive.

And so I called it a night at around 11pm. Although the readathon was not over I was very much done for the day. I rated these last two books 5 stars each! They both gave me a lot to think about and have motivated me to learn more while still trying to enjoy my reading.

So, in the end I finished 3 books, read a total of ~13.5 hours and read 640 pages! I call that a WIN. I also got BINGO for the Bingo Challenge! I didn’t describe what each challenge was for but you can see it below:

Pink = The Duke and I
Blue = The Rain God
Purple = Between the World and Me

And that was my experience with Dewey’s 24 hr Readathon this weekend! I did have a good book hangover all Sunday ha! I slept in and just kept pondering about all the books. Also I had two book club meetings that day: one with my friends from Mexico, we are reading Obsidian Puma by Zoe Saadia, and the other with the Questbridge Alumni book club where we read Beloved by Toni Morrison. All in all a big reading weekend!

Did you participate in the Dewey’s 24 hr Readathon? Have you read any of the books I mentioned here?

Annotating books

There’s this question among the reading community: do you write in your books? Do you make notes, highlight, or otherwise mark the books in your library? If so, why?

You could say that my journey exploring these questions started in high school. At the time we had to read a book in class for which we would eventually have to write an essay or where we would have to remember specific facts for a future exam on said book. Our teacher would give us each a random copy of the book from the school library. Most would hope for a nice and clean book, a brand new one, but others wanted those that had been written on, those that had the answers that would be on the test clearly marked (one less thing to think about right?). I always wanted the clean book, and I would never write on the book because then other people could cheat if they got my book! The outrage! And what’s the point in that right? Our teachers allowed us to put post it notes on our assigned book and we would later have to remove said post its, so that’s what I would do. At this point I didn’t see writing on books as a good thing, which is definitely true as schools have few supplies and they need the books to last for as long as possible.

At that point the only books I owned were the first four Harry Potter books. I never wrote in them even though they were almost falling apart from the countless times I read them. I didn’t even think about writing in them because that would stain them, deface them, make them less valuable right?

Then I’m off to college, where I actually buy (very expensive) books for various classes and I just write left and right in them because that’s what is encouraged. If your book is blank you didn’t do the work, but careful on highlighting everything because then you are also not doing it right! That’s where I learned to highlight the important and crucial parts, writing key words on the margins. I read Frankenstein by Mary Shelley a couple of times, either the whole thing or specific parts of the book for various classes in college, it now looks like this:

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Ah yes, specific underlining, boxing keywords, quotations highlighted and passages marked with post its! The different colors also signify the different times I read this book. 

The annotations are concise and when I look back I see the themes that I would use in the essays I would write. I can see the quotations I picked to back my points. It’s a very useful and good way to keep thoughts straight for such projects, but they lacked something I had yet to discover.

After college I didn’t write in my books once again, I thought that non-academic reading didn’t need and shouldn’t have any annotations involved. It was for pleasure, I just wanted to know the story and move on. Which, after four years of essays and analysis, was totally justified. I didn’t go back to writing in my books and in fact, I felt a complete aversion to doing so until I read The Blind Assassin by Margaret Atwood. The Blind Assassin was filled with words I needed to look up and phrases that I loved! It took all I had and I grabbed the lightest colored pencil I could find and started writing in the margins and underlining some phrases. And then, I saw this video:

Yep, I agreed with (almost) all she had to say on the subject and my mind was forever changed! I want my library to be mine, I want my copy of Margaret Atwood’s The Blind Assassin to be unlike any other because it has my thoughts on it too. Then I also shared my copy with one of my best friends and she started annotating it too. So now it’s even more special because it will have both of our thoughts on it. No other copy in the world is the same.

Here are some examples of different ways that the books in my library are marked as well as some of the tools I use to mark them:

Now, how do you clearly mark a book as yours? Well, you put your name on it! ha! I learned about the use of ex libris many years ago but only in 2016 did I start adding my signature and some kind of mark to my books, signifying that they are from my library.

Another way that some books in my library are marked is with dedications. Some books are given to me by friends or family and I always insist that they write a dedication somewhere in there. This is partly because I want to remember that a book was given to me by someone and it changes the significance of that book, even before I read it. I have a few of those and although I don’t show those annotations here, believe me when I say that they are special.

Among the types of annotations I make now, most are simple highlighting of phrases that I like or that are especially powerful. Some are doodles and drawings, smiley faces, hearts, various emoji that show my reactions to a particular passage.

Yes yes, we can do this in an ebook (kinda), here are my annotations for The Goldfinch, which had plenty of them since it was a book club pick and I had strong opinions about it…

As you can see my highlights and notes are color coded and organized. But I don’t easily go to my Kindle app to go through these notes. (Unless I’m writing a blog about it XD)

Now, when I find books at thrift stores that are annotated I truly cherish them because they are unique. They are hours that an author spent on the book but also hours that someone spent reading and marking that book with their thoughts and emotions as they read.

Jazz by Toni Morrison. Annotated by what seems like two different people. Look at the different annotation styles, how it all fills the page margins. Unfortunately I lost this copy when my bookbag was stolen a couple of years ago. 😦

To end this post I’ll say this, love your books the way you like. If you want to keep them pristine so be it! If you want to write in them, doodle, make them works of art with paint, do so! I believe that everyone’s book collection is special as a whole already because each person dedicated time to put it together on their shelves.

Do you annotate your books? What are your opinions on this?

The Book Buying Ban Has Ended!

This is just a quick post to say that I made it!

I made it 6 months and I only bought 1 book that was for a book club. Can you imagine? A year ago I wouldn’t have believed it possible.

It officially ended yesterday but I had a ballroom event and I was too tired to go to the bookstore to do anything. Today I will go to Barnes and Noble and will buy three books!

I have to say though, I feel like a huge weight has been slowly lifted off my shoulders. I don’t feel that compulsion to buy a book anymore. We will see once I’m at the bookstore but I honestly feel like I changed my view on grabbing all the books that interested me just a little. Was the cover pretty? Did it have a keyword that made me want to read it?

Now I think about it more than before. I set this limit of only buying three books today because I wanted to not go out and buy 50 books on one go. However, that limit has now left me free of that pressure. I have a clear intention of which books I’ll buy and that’s incredibly liberating right now.

And so, the books I will buy are:

  1. Adjustment Day by Chuck Palahniuk
  2. Children of Blood and Bone by Tomi Adeyemi
  3. Gemina by Amie Kauffman and Jay Kristoff

I feel excited about these books and about going into the store today, with purpose, to buy them.

Thanks for reading!

PS. I’ll be trying to post a bit more here, I have a long post that I’ve been planning for a few weeks (book annotation woo!) that should come in the next week or so.

The Sunshine Blogger Award

I was nominated for the Sunshine Blogger Award! I didn’t even know about this but it’s a great way to get to know other bloggers, connect with them and form new friendships 🙂
sunshine-blogger-award
First of all, thank you to Whit Reads Lit for nominating me! I look forward to answering your questions 😀
Rules:
  • Thank the blogger who nominated you in a blog post and link back to their blog.
  • Answer the 11 questions the blogger asked you.
  • Nominate 11 new blogs to receive the award and ask them 11 new questions.
  • List the rules and display the sunshine blogger award logo in your post/or on your blog.
1. What is the genre that you gravitate to the most?
I think that would be women’s fiction. Any story where a woman’s story is told by a woman, and if that story is from the perspective of a person of color then I’m even more drawn to it.
2. How do you decide what to write your blog posts about?
I like to write about the books I’m reading, I also love to watch movies so I’ve written posts where I compare and contrast books and their respective film adaptations. So basically I read and then write about what I’m reading. There’s not that much planning that goes into my blog posts (for now) XD.
3. Where do you purchase the majority of your books?
Thrift stores! They are the best because you never know what you’ll find, and most of the time the books will be super cheap.
4. E-reader or physical books?
Physical books for sure, even though I’m not opposed to reading e-books, I enjoy it much more when it’s a physical book.
5. Who is your favorite literary couple?
Literary couple… hmmm… Molly and Arthur Weasley! They are so supportive of each other, loving, respectful, and they are each their own person while keeping their family all together. Love them!
6. Who is the author you have read the most books from?
According to Goodreads, they stand as follows:
Most Read Authors
That’s no real surprise! I love Atwood and I read everything that Rowling writes. I’d say they might be my favorite authors too, in no particular order (but Atwood at the top XD)
7. What color dominates your bookshelves?
 Apparently black or brown? Here are my shelves organized by color:
Bookshelf
8. Do you like to borrow or own your books? (library or purchase?)
I prefer to own my books because usually I’ll be writing in them, which might be frowned upon if I have to give it back to someone or a library XD
9. Do you ever write in your books?
Yes! I love to annotate my books, I use colored markers and lately I’ve been using Washi tape to aid in my annotations as well (the book looks so good when closed too!)
10. If you could meet any author and have lunch, who would you choose?
Margaret Atwood, I feel like I have so much to learn from her, she’s also incredibly funny and I think we’d have a great time!
11. What is your favorite part about blogging?
Connecting with other bloggers, I’m still new to this blogging world so I’m sure that I have many great people to discover. Let me know who I should be following down in the comments!
Here are my nominees!
And these are your questions!
1. What are some keywords in a book synopsis that make you want to read a book?
2. What was the first book you remember reading? (Either by yourself or that someone else read to you)
3. Many decades from now, you are old and have a huge library, you’ve written your will. What happens to your library once your will has to be implemented? (AKA, what happens to your books after you die?)
4. Which character from a book is most like you? How so?
5. Quick! Create a team from the main characters of 5 books in your library to battle alongside you in the zombie apocalypse! What would be their roles?
6. Who is an author that inspires you?
7. The last person you sent a text message to is trapped in the last book you read! Which book is it? What do you do next? How do they react?
8. Take your favorite author, they have just released a book in the genre you read the least, do you read the book?
9. How many books have you bought this year?
10. How long have you been book blogging? What’s the best advice you’ve gotten about blogging?
11. Do you have any bookish goals for the rest of the year?

Whitney, thank you so much for the nomination! It took me a while to do it but here it is, finally!

Thanks for reading!

March & April Book Bites

Gosh it’s been a month since I’ve written here, so, sorry about that! I simply didn’t get around to writing so now I’ll be combining March and April into one big update! Let’s go!

 

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March was a very interesting reading month. The first book I finished in March was The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt. This book is incredibly popular since it was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction in 2014. Sadly for me it was a huge letdown. The book is about Theo, a boy who loses his mother in a horrible explosion in a museum. It is a coming of age story in some ways, since we see the man he becomes, but also the way he developed (or not) after that tragic moment in his life. The best part for me was the role of the painting for which the novel is named: The Goldfinch. It is a small painting that Theo ends up connected to for the rest of his life. It is the thread that connects every part of the book, and also a beautiful metaphor for Theo’s life. Unfortunately, I felt like I didn’t gain much from this book, instead it made me feel hopeless and anguished, but with no actual lesson on how to make life better. I love books that give me perspective, but this one was a perspective that did not give me anything that I would want to hang on to. Simply disappointing…

  • Favorite Bite:

“Only occasionally did I notice the chain on the finch’s ankle, or think what a cruel life for a little living creature — fluttering briefly, forced always to land in the same hopeless place.”

  • Perspective Rating: 2/10 Yeah, didn’t gain much from the main perspectives provided…
  • Emotional Rating: 4/10 There were certainly very strong emotional moments that occurred mostly in the beginning of the book where Theo loses his mom and is completely lost that really got to me. But after that there was little connection to him or most of the characters.
  • Bites Rating: 6/10 Sure, I did highlight many phrases in the book because yes, the book is filled with beautiful imagery or interesting metaphors and symbols (mostly relating to the painting). But few of them were powerful (one of the few examples is mentioned above).
  • Overall Rating: 4/10. Yeah, not super impressed… It’s also a shame because the book is waaaaay too long! I feel like a few good editing sessions would have served that book well.

The Spark

Next I read The Spark by David Drake, which I reviewed here, and I really enjoyed it! It is about Pal, a young man who has lived his whole life in Beune and only dreams of going to Dun, the big city, to become a champion for the king. It is a take on an Arthurian legend, but with a very sci-fi world. I really enjoyed that the characters were complex, their intentions more than just power or love. The lack of cliches and stereotypes really took this book to another level for me as well! I will certainly look for more of Drake’s writing.

  • Favorite Bite:

“Since I’d come away from Beune, everything I’d seen was people in pyramids, somebody at the top and everybody else scrambling to get on top instead. Or at least to get off the bottom.”

  • Perspective Rating: 7/10 This book doesn’t give a very original perspective but it didn’t give me enough to warrant a higher rating.
  • Emotional Rating: 7/10 There were definitely some emotional moments, I was able to connect to the characters and care about them but not much more than that.
  • Bites Rating: 5/10 There weren’t many passages to highlight, but it was fast-paced and
  • Overall Rating: 6.33/10 I really enjoyed this book! It was entertaining and it was filled with really interesting characters!

March 22, 2018 at 10:08AM.jpgThe next book I finished was a re-read of Ready Player one in preparation for watching the movie that came out. I knew that it wouldn’t be anywhere near the same as the book but I still wanted to go back to that world before watching the film.

So this novel is about Wade, a high school student who is obsessed with the OASIS, a virtual reality world. There’s no surprise there seeing how the real world is completely messed up, most people living in poverty and only a few in riches. All he wants is to be wealthy enough to get away from the planet that is rotting away. Thankfully there’s a game inside the OASIS, and if he wins the game and finds the easter egg within it, he’ll own the OASIS and he’ll be able to do whatever he wants with his life from then on. Definitely a great novel with much insight into the world of people who choose to live in virtual worlds more than in this real one.

  • Favorite Bite:

“I quickly lost track of time. I forgot that my avatar was sitting in Halliday’s bedroom and that, in reality, I was sitting in my hideout, huddled near the electric heater, tapping at the empty air in front of me, entering commands on an imaginary keyboard. All of the intervening layers slipped away, and I lost myself in the game within the game.”

  • Perspective Rating: 8/10 Definitely great to see the perspective of someone who is nerdy, a gamer, a loner, someone who isn’t super confident in real life but has a different persona in the virtual world.
  • Emotional Rating: 7/10 I connected with Wade in many levels, from his loneliness in the real life to his bravery in the OASIS ❤
  • Bites Rating: 6/10 I didn’t annotate this book very much, it was another one of those books that you just want to keep reading and there’s no time to pick up the pen to underline things XD (Not necessarily a bad thing!)
  • Overall Rating: 7/10 I really enjoyed this book, I can imagine myself rereading it multiple times in the years to come.

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Next I read one of the most amazing books I’ve read this year so far, “Equiano, the African: Biography of a Self-Made Man” by Vincent Carretta. This is a non-fiction book for which I wrote the review here. Briefly, this book is about Equiano, a man who was a slave and was able to buy his own freedom and ultimately fought for the abolition of slavery in Britain. He was a man with incredible perspective, that of being a slave, a sailor in the British Navy, and a writer during a time when it was difficult to lead a life in any of these situations. It’s a beautifully researched book and one that gives one further appreciation of our lives today, and how far we still have to go.

  • Favorite Bite:

“The traditional definition of race as bloodline was increasingly replaced by the notion of race as species that became dominant in the nineteenth century. This “modern” concept of race, which was secondary during the early colonial American period, became primary.”

  • Perspective Rating: 10/10 Yes! So much perspective from this book, not just historical, also cultural, psychological, and social. The depth and breadth of this novel is extensive and it’s one you can definitely go back and dive deeper in various parts.
  • Emotional Rating: 8/10 Gosh so much of this book was hard to read, the difficulties of living as a slave, the hardships endured while trying to buy his freedom, and the discrimination he encountered in places, or that he saw others endure while he was free, it all was definitely an emotional journey that was hard but worthwhile.
  • Bites Rating: 9/10 I was annotating left and right here! There were just a few chapters where I didn’t annotate, but there were so many facts and stories that blew me away and that I made sure to mark and tell people about those passages (too long to quote here).
  • Overall Rating: 9/10 This book is just so good, I recommend it to everyone because it teaches not only the story of a man, not only about history, it teaches about life and the prices some people have to pay to live it.

On to April!

April 03, 2018 at 01:58PM.jpgIn April I read the first installment of The Dark Tower series by Stephen King and I really enjoyed it! I wasn’t sure if I’d love it and I don’t think I do but it certainly got me thinking.  The Gunslinger is about a man who is hunting another for some unknown reason. The trip is really strange and creepy (as all King things are), but it was also interesting and wondrous. As we follow the Gunslinger we meet a variety of people who are super interesting, but we only get a snapshot of their lives, nothing more.

  • Favorite Bite:

“The eyes were damned, the staring, glaring eyes of one who sees but does not see, eyes ever turned inward to the sterile hell of dreams beyond control, dreams unleashed, risen out of the stinking swamps of the unconscious”

  • Perspective Rating: 5/10 There are some very interesting ideas here, but there’s no clear picture yet we shall see what happens with the rest of the series. I might add another Rating section to account for this.
  • Emotional Rating: 7/10 Given how disjointed and confusing it was at some points, it’s impressive how connected I was to the Gunslinger, the boy, and their fate.
  • Bites Rating: 8/10 There were plenty of moments where I had to underline or comment on the margins in this book. Moments of beautiful writing but also very interesting ideas.
  • Overall rating: 6.66/10 There’s definitely room for growth here for me, perhaps the rest of the series will make it all make better sense for me.

img_20180506_192005115_ll.jpgIn April I was looking for a lighter read and I found it in Neil Patrick Harris’ “Choose Your Own Autobiography”, which is modeled after the “Choose Your Own Adventure” books. I never really read this books but I am a big fan of NPH’s work and I did need a lighter read so I picked this up from my bookcase. The book really is his autobiography, told with humor and filled with fun anecdotes about his life. As with other books of this style, it can be finished multiple times in different ways. I ended up finishing this book about 6 times but I think I haven’t read the whole book per se. I won’t try to do so now, instead I’ll be picking it up whenever I need a light and fun read, this book really is many in one.

  • Favorite Bite: Okay too hard to pick! Basically the chapter starting on page 107, where NPH describes meeting his future husband, David, and which was annotated by David. Simply romantic and hilarious! ❤
  • Perspective Rating: 6/10 Not much perspective here but it’s awesome to see NPH’s perspective as a child actor and see what his life has been like so far (magical!)
  • Emotional Rating: 8/10 There were some happy tears shed with NPH’s magical romantic relationship with David, so beautiful! ❤ ❤ ❤
  • Bites Rating: 6/10 Not lots of annotating here, but that’s because I was busy just flipping pages to the next part of the story XD
  • Overall Rating: 6.66 So it’s not a mind-blowing book, but it sure is one that gave my mind some rest after the complex and difficult reads I had previously gone through. 😉

April 24, 2018 at 07:23PM.jpgFinally, the book that I read both in March and April was Alias Grace by Margaret Atwood! It’s a fiction book based on the real life of Grace Marks, a woman convicted of murder in the 1800s in Canada. She was not given the death penalty because people thought that she was manipulated by a man (who was hung for the same murder). People thought she was innocent or crazy so she was treated differently. It’s an amazing work that shows much research and thought behind how the story is composed. If you like mysteries based on real life stories then you’ll definitely enjoy this, if you also like stories that tell a perspective not usually told, then you’ll find something worthwhile here as well.

  • Favorite Bite:

“Lying… A severe term, surely. Has she been lying to you, you ask? Let me put it this way– did Scheherazade lie? Not in her own eyes, indeed, the stories she told ought never to be subjected to the harsh categories of Truth and Falsehood. They belong in another realm altogether. Perhaps Grace Marks has merely been telling you what she needs to tell, in order to accomplish the desired end.”

  • Perspective Rating: 9/10 The perspective of multiple people of different ages in the 1800s in Canada is one I’ve not encountered before. It’s surprising to see how much of it still holds true today and how things were back then that could be unthinkable now!
  • Emotional Rating: 7/10 There were aspects of Grace’s life that I could connect with and others I couldn’t, I did not empathize with her too much because it’s hard to tell if she’s being truthful, but I guess that’s the point 😉
  • Bites Rating: 10/10 I started annotating from the first page! The imagery and also the mood evoked throughout the book is tangible. I simply love Atwood’s writing.
  • Overall Rating: 8.66 It really was just the emotional attachment that I missed from this book. But it is powerful and definitely worth re-reading in the future. I shall watch the Netflix adaptation next and report back 🙂

So there you have it! 7 books read in the past two months! I need to figure out better how to keep up with a posting schedule so that time doesn’t just pass by for me XD

Have you read any of these books?