WWW Wednesday

WWW Wednesday June 20, 2018

WWW

It’s Wednesday!!!! Which means it is time for WWW Wednesday. This has always been a helpful post for me because it keeps me organized but lately it has also become dangerous. As I check out all of the participants I keep adding to my to be read shelf. It’s brimming now! Still, it’s never a bad thing to have too many books. So, a big thanks to Sam at Taking on a World of Words for hosting – make sure and head over to her site to check out everyone’s WWW for today!


What Did I Just Finish Reading?

I had a big week (sort of). I finished A Problematic Paradox by Eliot Sappingfield and I have firmly placed Stiff by Mary Roach on the did not finish shelf. A Problematic Paradox is not a book that will get a review and Stiff, while well written and researched, has taken my brain to a worry-drenched state. This is the second time I have tried to read it and I think that the subject matter of cadavers just might not be for me. However, I am excited to read other books my Mary Roach because I do enjoy her style.

The book buying ban continues but the delightful OwlCrate came with From Twinkle with Love inside! Since I loved Sandhya Menon’s other book, When Dimple met Rishi, I wanted to read this book desperately. How happy was I when OwlCrate sent it to me?!? I consumed it in one sitting. Review coming soon!

L.H. Cosway & Penny Reid have written four books together and the most recent was just released this past week. The Varlet and the Voyeur is another contemporary romance and I have been looking forward to its release all summer. It did not disappoint! I also read this gem in one sitting.


What am I Currently Reading?

I just started Trollhunters yesterday and I have been sucked entirely into the story. I cannot wait to finish this post so I can get back to this book. I started Grit last week and I am almost halfway finished. It is a fascinating look at how passion and perseverance can change your life.


What Will I Read Next?

Ryan at Muse with Me has recently finished all three LOTR books and has inspired me to just get going on the series already. I hope to read Fellowship in June so that I can finish the trilogy by the end of summer. I also cannot wait read Circe.


Tell me, please!

How did your reading week go? What are your plans for next week?

WWW Wednesday

WWW Wednesday June 13, 2018

WWW

It is Wednesday! I have not participated in a WWW Wednesday for a while but it is always a great way to jump start my reading organization. And, as I head into the end of June and start thinking of my 2018 challenges, I know I need to be more organized! So, thanks as always goes to Sam at Taking on a World of Words for hosting this so I can have some semblance of organization. Here we go!


What did I just finish reading?

Well, since I haven’t participated in a WWW for a month I’m not sure what qualifies as “just” finished so I just update you all! Here are the books I read in the past month. I hit the jackpot in that almost every book I read I loved enough to review.

For non-fiction I started reading a chapter a day (at least) and that took me through Ask an Astronaut by Tim Peake, The Awkward Thoughts of W. Kamau Bell by W. Kamau Bell and The Book of Joy by The Dalai Lama, Desmond Tutu and Douglas Abrams. I finally finished The Book of Joy! It has been featured on my WWW list for far too long.

I also enjoyed a bunch of graphic novels including BrazenAmerican Born Chinese, The Prince and the Dressmaker and Be Prepared. I am loving the graphic novels and how incredibly diverse they are.

I also read Children of Blood and Bone by Tomi Adeyumi, Good in Bed by Jennifer Weiner and both Love books by Jenna Evans Welch. Whew!


What am I currently reading?

I am still using my one chapter a day tactic to work through non-fiction. I am currently really enjoying Grit by Angela Duckworth. It is a fascinating examination of a facet of our personality that I never really thought about before. I started Stiff by Mary Roach at least a year ago and never finished it so I am determined to get to the end of the interesting look at how we use human cadavers. Since I am also knee deep in iZombie on Netflix it feels like a natural connection. I just started A Problematic Paradox this week because I am determined to work through my physical TBR!


What do I plan to read next?

Speaking of that physical TBR….it is still in a shameful state. I have made a summer challenge for myself to help reinvigorate my 2018 beat the backlist challenge. Both Stiff and A Problematic Paradox are books I purchased and then stuck on my shelf. It is a bad habit. I do have a collection of Captain Marvel books from the library that I am working through but my next reads will definitely be off my home library shelf. If you want head on over to see my big (alphabetized) TBR list and let me know what you think I should crack into next!


Tell me, please!

What is on your WWW for this week / month / summer?


nonfiction

The Book of Joy by his Holiness the Dalai Lama, Archbishop Desmond Tutu and Douglas Abrams

thebookofjouyThis book has taken me quite some time to consume. It has been described as a three layer cake with the personal stories and teachings of joy from these two remarkable religious leaders, current studies on joy and the daily practices to root yourself in joy. But I found it to be more like a deliciously well rounded meal. There were parts I struggled to read – healthy bites I knew I needed but didn’t completely enjoy. Then there was the bulk of the book – the lovely meat and potatoes if you will. The background information about these two fascinating leaders and how they have continued to find peace and joy despite their personal difficulties and challenges is nothing short of remarkable. Finally, there was the decadant dessert. These two men may be some of the most well respected religious leaders in our world but they are naughty and hilariously engaging!

At times, I didn’t enjoy the application the author, Douglas Abrams, made of the teaching to his own life. However, there were moments when his astute explanations bolstered and clarified the messages. I also appreciated that, as a Jewish person, Abrams brought a fresh and neutral perspective to the discussions. At times, he made several comments which indicated that he was better acquainted with the Dalai Lama than the Archbishop and that may be why there was more information about Buddhism than Christianity woven into the book. Or, perhaps it was because the Archbishop had travelled to Dharamsala and therefore the meeting took place surrounded by Monks.

Regardless of the reasons, I was deeply humbled by the teachings of the Dalai Lama. While my religious background alines me more naturally with Archbishop Tutu, my fascination with other religions created a greater interest in the Buddhist teachings of this magnificently humble leader. The history of the Dalai Lama and his exile were vaguely in my brain but hearing of his isolation from family and country brought me greater understanding of the trials and tribulations of the Dalai Lama and his people.

Similarly, the Archbishop Desmond Tutu is a well known figure. However, his experiences in Africa during a tumultuous time coupled with his fascinating personal history made for such an interesting read.

Both men seem to almost casually mention death, fear, anxiety, depression and struggle only to use that experience to show the impact of choosing joy. Next to their experiences I felt unworthy of any unhappiness. Yet, just when I started to believe that perhaps this was a spiritual quest outside of my own abilities, the authors acknowledged that they have not always felt this deep sense of control over their joy. This allowed me to feel that I am still on my path.

I am a spiritual and religious person. There were parts of this book that seemed to be religious dogma and that did not bother me because religion is woven into my life. However, if you are searching for a message of hope without religious entanglement this book may not be for you. I believe that these amazing men are using their religion to explain how they choose joy. But, by comparing and contrasting their religious applications to life to support choosing joy they open the discussion to a more secular approach.

This book is full of solid advice, anecdotal stories and current scientific information about how joy can be found and held onto. The last section of the book includes options for daily practice to find joy in your own life should you want some specific direction. If you are struggling with finding joy I encourage you to read this book. It is far and beyond the best of all the books I have read regarding happiness, gratitude and finding joy.


Tell me, please!

Do you read self-help books? If so, what are you searching for in them?


Fantasy · YA

Children of Blood and Bone by Tomi Adeyemi

“We are all children of blood and bone.”

bloodandboneTomi Adeyemi’s debut novel Children of Blood and Bone came into my hands riding a tidal wave of hype. It has been fraught with comparisons bent on convincing readers that this book is similar to something else they enjoyed. Truthfully, you will see some themes that are familiar to other books in the fantasy realm. But, as a whole, this book is uniquely its own and as I closed the back cover the word that sprang to mind was “necessary.”

So many book lovers speak of Harry Potter with reverence. Some readers love the series because they were able to step outside of their lives and revel in the idea of magic. Others found kindred spirits in the fantastic set of characters. For me, Harry Potter, was and always will be essential because it created a whole generation of readers and launched an entire genre of books.

To be clear, Children of Blood and Bone may contain magic and a fascinatingly unique culture and history but it is absolutely not Harry Potter. It is very well written with just a small slump in the middle. It has characters that you will love, characters that will question your initial allegiance and ones you will abhor. There are struggles against tyranny, the rising to the promise of one’s fate, and personal sacrifice. But where Harry Potter inspired hope and allowed escapism, this book ignites questions and spurns investigation. We want to travel to Hogwarts to experience the magic. I want to go to Orisha to fight.

That is because Children of Blood and Bone is predicated on the notion that a whole class of people is less simply because of abilities obtained at birth. The King sees them as a threat and therefore they must be suppressed. At the onset of the story the suppression is in full swing. The older generation of magi has been killed en mass and the children are referred to as “maggots” and taxed heavily until they or their families end up in the stocks.

Many reviews have remarked on the representation in this book. Representation is essential. And this book is fantastic in that regard. However, I believe that to say this book is good or important solely because of representation is an overly simplistic viewpoint. Rather, this is an essential book on what happens when one group seeks to dominate another. How do you live your life when you are afraid everyday? And what happens when you have an opportunity to overcome that fear and fight back?

The Children of Blood and Bone is a well written multi-viewpoint fantasy story. I have characters that I have already let into my heart. And after the heart-stopping ending I can hardly wait to read more. But more than anything else, I cannot wait to talk about this book and the issues it confronts.


Tell me, please!

What are your thoughts? What issues do you see in representation in books?


Romantic · YA

Love & Gelato and Love & Luck by Jenna Evans Welch

 

Recently I read a review of Love & Luck by Jenna Evans Welch on Beauty and the Bean Boots. The book sounded too adorable to pass up so I requested it from my lovely library along with Welch’s first book Love & Gelato and quickly consumed them both. These sweet YA books are perfect for summer light reading!

Love & Gelato features Lina who finds herself in Florence following her mother’s dying wish that she get to know her father. All she wants to do is go back home to her best friend Addie and the world she used to know. After all, why should she want to get to know someone who has been absent for the past 16 years? But then she is given the journal her Mom kept during her year in Italy which opens with the words “I made the wrong choice.” What choice did Lina’s mother make?

Love & Luck is Addie’s story and we join her for her domineering aunt’s wedding in Ireland.  After the wedding Addie is supposed to join Lina in Italy but finds herself on a strange road trip with her brother Ian and his surprising friend Rowan. Guiding them through Emerald Isle is a book Addie found written as a Irish guidebook for the brokenhearted. But why is Addie brokenhearted? And how will she ever mend her relationship with her brother Ian?

I adored Lina. She is strong and kind and is clearly working through the unfathomable loss of her Mother. The Addie we meet in Gelato through Lina is very different from the Addie we see at the beginning of Luck. Something has happened to Addie.  Something she is hiding from everyone in her life that has caused the rift between herself and Ian. Both Lina and Addie are at that fragile stage of growing up when they must face the serious curveball life can throw your way.

In both books the author vividly takes the reader on a physical journey through Italy and Ireland while simultaneously having us accompany Lina and Addie on an emotional journey. I appreciated that there was a book in both stories that helped to guide and inspire both girls. And, any romantic intrigues were secondary to the main story of personal growth.

Between the two I would have said I preferred Gelato until I got to the last quarter of Love when we finally find out what happened to Addie and why Ian is being so closed off and judgmental towards her. In the end both books are uplifting, fun adventures and sweet YA stories that are just perfect for delightful summer reading.


Tell me, please!

Have you read these books? Or, do you have different kinds of books you read in the Summer?


nonfiction

Non-Fiction Friday: The Awkward Thoughts of W. Kamau Bell by W. Kamau Bell

theawkwardthoughtsNo one likes to admit to judging a book by its cover but I will freely admit that I picked this book up for two reasons (1) The word awkward in the title and (2) The front matter description on the cover: “Tales of a 6’4″, African-American, Heterosexual, Cisgender, Left-Leaning, Asthmatic, Black and Proud Blerd, Mama’s Boy, Dad, and Stand-Up Comedian.” How could I resist?

After reading Awkward, The Science of Why We’re Socially Awkward and Why That’s Awesome I have come to embrace my own awkwardness as a gift (and a curse) and find myself on the lookout for other awkward people. Truthfully, I had never heard of Mr. Bell until I read his book. This is certainly not a statement on his popularity, rather on my being approximately five years behind on television shows and without access to anything but basic cable and some instant gratification internet platforms. Except, now I have Hulu and therefore access to his fantastic CNN show United Shades of America.

Mr. Bell is extremely funny in my most favorite manner – smart funny. He observes, ponders, and pours over issues that the rest of society either doesn’t notice or spends no time reflecting upon. I wouldn’t call him awkward but I like that he used the word awkward to spark important conversations.

For example, “Awkward Thoughts about Superheroes and Doc McStuffins.” I remember wondering why there were so fewer black superheroes when I was a kid. Really, I was only into the female superheroes (early feminist) and so I only knew Storm. And when they came out with a Black Barbie I was so happy that kids would have a beautiful doll that looked like them. But, these little tiny burst of awareness didn’t extend to imagining what everyday life was like for a nerdy black kid (hello privilege!). I was surprised to find that Mr. Bell’s favorites were The Incredible Hulk and Spider-man because he could easily picture himself under their green skin or red and blue costume. He also points out that the world is changing and including more representation which is essential for his daughters to see. He credits Doc McStuffins, a Disney show I am aware of but have never seen, as one of the most important shows on television because his daughter’s reality includes a female Black doctor. I don’t love Disney but kudos to them for this show.

I volunteer at my neighborhood elementary school that has a high population of Black children. I love to read and they all know it. When I first started volunteering there years ago I would give book recommendations to the kids. And I was shocked (and then embarrassed again by my privilege) by the lack of representation in children’s literature. Have you ever tried to find a book for a Black kid that wasn’t about the Civil Rights Movement? The remaining books seem to only feature a child who lives in the wrong / dangerous / graffiti-ridden neighborhood and is being raised by their grandmother. Or books about sports heroes. In the past two years things have improved slightly in the publishing world. Kids (white ones too!) need to know about racism. But it is vital that all kids are able to imagine themselves as heroes, magicians, time travelers and powerful people. I do not think, as Mr. Bell put it, that white people are uncomfortable imagining themselves as Black heroes. Instead, we just never had to do it. Pick up a book. Oh, this features a child of color? Put down that book and peruse the one hundred next to it with kids that look just like you! We haven’t practiced it like Black children have had to for generations.

I do agree with him that many white people are uncomfortable with Black people playing a role previously held by a white person. He uses James Bond and Idris Elba as an example and he is right. Every time it comes up it becomes a stupid controversy. I vote that we just stop making Bond films altogether. Bond is boring.

The chapters “My Most Awkward Birthday Ever” and “My Awkward Joking Around with the KKK” really struck a chord with me because they directly confront the continuing and pervasive racism in America. Every chapter is woven with the theme of racism but these two in particular stand out in my mind.

In “My Most Awkward Birthday Ever” Mr. Bell is the center of a coffee shop controversy not unlike the one that just unfolded at Starbucks. He was literally shooed away from his wife and daughter in front of a group of her friends (new friends too), on his birthday after he had eaten there earlier in the day. The stand out part for me was how many of his so-called white friends said, “How do you know it was racism?…I mean that sucks, but how can you be sure?”

This statement has been said or thought by, I would guess, all white people at one time or another. We think it and say it because we don’t understand and, perhaps more importantly, we aren’t trying to understand or empathize. We just want it to not be racism. But, it is.

And that brings me to “My Awkward Joking Around with the KKK.” While filming, Mr. Bell was put in close proximity at night to a barbershop owned by a KKK member and proudly flying the Confederate flag. His show runner was telling him repeatedly to get closer without any comprehension of the fear that Mr. Bell must have felt.

When I read this chapter I wanted to punch his show runner. How anyone could be so unfeeling is beyond my comprehension. I find the KKK terrifying and they would never even give me and my bland Irish looks a second glance. In the first five minutes of the episode (which I watched after finishing the book) Mr. Bell walks along a dirt road to politely greet a man dressed in full klan gear with his voice disguised. The klansman is clearly a coward – show your face, let me hear your voice! But Mr. Bell had every right to be terrified and he still shook his hand. I had two hopes after viewing this exchange: I hope his Mother isn’t watching and I hope he washed his hands. But again, here is Mr. Bell putting into action something he has probably practiced over and over again throughout his life – being polite to a racist.

This book really showcases what I have come to learn is W. Kamau Bell doing what he does best: socio-political comedy. I am working my way through all of the United Shades of America backlogs and they are excellent. However, if you want to hear the more unfiltered awkward thoughts of W. Kamau Bell, pick up his book.


Tell me, please!

What non-fiction book jolted your awareness even a smidge?


not a review

Summer and Beating the Backlist.

It is May 31st and tomorrow is officially SUMMER in my book! I like to make summer goals. And, my main goal is to beat my backlist. I started out the New Year with this goal but I am floundering. That is actually a lie. Floundering is being kind to myself. I have read one book and purchased, um, thirtyish.

So, I sat down tonight and alphabetized and wrote down all of my beautiful books. I also pulled out at least ten that I knew I wasn’t really ever going to read. So, here is my backlist.

Drumroll please…..


Adeyemi, Tomi. Children of Blood and Bone

Albertalli, Becky. Simon Vs. The Homo Sapiens Agenda.

Alkon, Amy. Good Manners for Nice People Who Sometimes Say F*ck

Alexie, Sherman. The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian.

Andersen, Laura. The Darkling Bride

Atwood, Margaret. The Handmaid’s Tale

Austen, Jane. Pride and Prejudice

Avi. The End of the Beginning

Bach, Shelby. Of Witches and Wind, the Ever Afters

Baltazar, Armand. Timeless. Diego and the Rangers of the Vastlantic

Banks, Angelica. Finding Serendipity

Bardugo, Leigh. The Language of Thorns.

Barrie, J.M. Peter Pan

Bartok, Mira. The Wonderling

Beagle, Peter S. The Last Unicorn

Beddor, Frank. ArchEnemy

Beddor, Frank. The Looking Glass Wars

Bradley, Alan. The Dead in Their Vaulted Arches.

Broach, Elise. Shakespeare’s Secret

Brown, Peter. The Wild Robot Escapes

Carey, Edward. Heap House

Chainani, Soman. The School of Good and Evil, Book Two: A World Without Princes

Chevalier, Tracy. Remarkable Creatures

Clarke, Susanna. Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell

Cline, Ernest. Ready Player One

Coates, Ta-Nehisi. Between the World and Me.

Congdon, Lisa. A Glorious Freedom

Connolly, MarcyKate. Monstrous

Coulthurst, Audrey. Of Fire and Stars

Dashner, James. The 13th Reality, The Journal of Curious Letters

Disney. The Jungle Book, The Stregnth of the Wolf is in the Pack.

Disney. Before Tomorrowland

Doyle, Arthur Conan. The Hound of the Baskervilles

Draper, Sharon M. Out of My Mind

Duane, Diane. So You Want to be a Wizard

Ende, Michael. The Neverending Story

Enzensberger, Hans Magnus. The Number Devil, A Mathematical Adventure

Fforde, Jasper. The Eyre Affair

Foody, Amanda. Ace of Shades

Fowley-Doyle, Moira. The Accident Season.

Fowler, Christopher. Seventy-Seven Clocks

Funakoshi, Gichin. Karate-Do. My Way of Life

Gaiman, Neil. The Graveyard Book

Gaiman, Neil. Anansi Boys

Gaiman, Neil. Norse Mythology

Gaughen, A.C. Scarlet

Gerber, Stephanie. Caraval

George, Nina. The Little Paris Bookshop

Gold, Glen David. Carter Beats the Devil

Goodman, Alison. Eon

Gregory, Leland. Stupid History

Grey, Jacob. Ferals.

Gwynne, S.C. Empire of the Summer Moon

Haddix, Margaret Peterson. Just Ella

Hannigan, Kate. The Detective’s Assistant

Harris, Joanne. Gentlemen and Players

Hirananadani, Veera. The Night Diary

Howard, A.G. Roseblood

Jinks, Catherine. Evil Genius

Keenan, Cayla. Catching Stars

Kelly, Victoria. Mrs. Houdini

King, Stephen. The Gunslinger, The Dark Tower

Klise, Kate. Regarding the Fountain

LeGuin, Ursula K. Earthsea, A Wizard of Earthsea

Levenseller, Tricia. Daughter of the Pirate King

Lewis, Elizabeth Foreman. Young Fu of the Upper Yangtze

Lloyd, Natalie. The Problim Childred

Mack, Tracy and Citrin, Michael. Sherlock Homes and the Baker Street Irregulars

Matas, Carol and Nodelman, Perry. Of Two Minds

Mielville, China. Un Lun Dun

Miller, Madeline. Circe

Miller, Tom. The Philosopher’s Flight

Mills, Emma. Foolish Hearts

Mogi, Ken. Awakening Your Ikiai

Nielsen, Jennifer A. The Sourge

Nix, Garth. Frogkisser!

Pearce, Jackson and Stiefvater Maggie. Pip Bartlett’s Guide to Magical Creatures

Proud, Linda. Knights of the Grail

Ricca, Brad. Mrs. Sherlock Holmes

Riggs, Ransom. The Sherlock Holmes Handbook

Riordan, Rick. Magnus Chase and the Gods of Asgard

Riordan, Rick. Magnus Chase and the Gods of Asgard

Roach, Mary. The Curious Lives of Human Cadavers

Rowling, J.K. The Tales of Beedle the Bard

Rowling, J.K. Harry Potter and the Cursed Child

Rowling. J.K. Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them

Rubin, Gretchen. The Four Tendencies

Ryan, Pam Munoz. Esperanza Rising

Salinger, J.D. The Catcher in the Rye

Sappingfield, Eliot. A Problematic Paradox

Schwab, V.E. A Darker Shade of Magic

Shakespeare, William. No Fear Hamlet

Shakespear, William. Star Wars

Siegel, Daniel J. Brainstorm, The Power and Purpose of the Teenage Brain

Snicket, Lemony. Who Could That be at this Hour?

Snow, Alan. Here Be Monsters

Steer, Dugald A. Dragonology Chronicles, Volume One

Stiefvater, Maggie. Blue Lily, Lily Blue

Stiefvater, Maggie. The Raven King

Tolkien, J.R.R. The Fellowship of the Ring

Tolkien, J.R.R. The Two Towers

Tolkien, J.R.R. The Return of the King

Townsend, Jessica. Nevermoor, The Trials of Morrigan Crow.

Travers, P.L. Mary Poppins Comes Back

Tully, Daniela. Hotel on Shadow Lake

Walliams, David. Grandpa’s Great Escapes

Walton, Leslye. The Price Guide to the Occult

Yancey, Rick. The Extraordinary Adventures of Alfred Kropp

Young, Adrienne. Sky in the Deep

Zevin, Gabrielle. The Storied Life of A.J. Fikery

Ziegler, Sheryl. Mommy Burnout

A Treasury of Favorite Poems

And there they are – all of my beautiful books for summer! I am going to try to avoid adding more but I won’t succeed. I spend the majority of my free time during summer soaking up the library’s air conditioning.


Tell me, please!

What do you think of my backlist?

Do you make Summer Goals?