Speak No Evil by Uzodinma Iweala

Speak No Evil by Uzodinma Iweala

I haven’t read a book that made me mad in a really long time. I’m glad that this book was the break from that. When I get mad at a book that’s really good, it’s because of how it all played out and what the outcome of everyone’s actions led to. It’s been a really long time since I felt this way and honestly, I appreciate the anger.

Continue reading “Speak No Evil by Uzodinma Iweala”

Capsule Books Unboxing

Capsule Books Unboxing

This is my first time unboxing a Capsule Books box. I thought the idea was quite an interesting one and I definitely wanted to get my hands on one to see what it’s all about.

Capsule Book boxes take on reading in a different way. Instead of thinking of themes between books, you can pick your box by feelings. For the winter, the choices are Roar of the Fireplace, Alone at a Party, and Frozen Over.

I chose Roar of the Fireplace, because it’s the feeling of sitting at home with a big glass of wine and thinking about all those little things you might have messed up. It felt like this was right up my alley in terms of lifestyle. I love ruining a cozy moment with my crazy brain. You can read more about that box here.

Each box comes with three books, a little note going deeper into your box choice, and a few little extras. For this box, I also received a little bookmark as well. The box also includes a pre-stamped envelope for you to send the news about Capsule Books to a friend. It’s not even just a postcard, but a little notecard in a kraft envelope. So cute!

Here’s a little bit more on the books I received in my box:

The Girl in the Flammable Skirt by Aimee Bender

A grief-stricken librarian decides to have sex with every man who enters her library. A half-mad, unbearably beautiful heiress follows a strange man home, seeking total sexual abandon: He only wants to watch game shows. A woman falls in love with a hunchback; when his deformity turns out to be a prosthesis, she leaves him. A wife whose husband has just returned from the war struggles with the heartrending question: Can she still love a man who has no lips?

Aimee Bender’s stories portray a world twisted on its axis, a place of unconvention that resembles nothing so much as real life, in all its grotesque, beautiful glory. From the first line of each tale she lets us know she is telling a story, but the moral is never quite what we expect. Bender’s prose is glorious: musical and colloquial, inimitable and heartrending.

Here are stories of men and women whose lives are shaped–and sometimes twisted–by the power of extraordinary desires, erotic and otherwise. The Girl in the Flammable Skirt is the debut of a major American writer.

SPHINX by Anne Garreta

Sphinx is the remarkable debut novel, originally published in 1986, by the incredibly talented and inventive French author Anne Garréta, one of the few female members of Oulipo, the influential and exclusive French experimental literary group whose mission is to create literature based on mathematical and linguistic restraints, and whose ranks include Georges Perec and Italo Calvino, among others.

A beautiful and complex love story between two characters, the narrator, “I,” and their lover, A***, written without using any gender markers to refer to the main characters, Sphinx is a remarkable linguistic feat and paragon of experimental literature that has never been accomplished before or since in the strictly-gendered French language.

Sphinx is a landmark text in the feminist and LGBT literary canon appearing in English for the first time.

The Universe of Us by Lang Leav

Lang Leav presents a completely new collection of poetry with a celestial theme in The Universe of Us.

Planets, stars, and constellations feature prominently in this beautiful, original poetry collection from Lang Leav.  Inspired by the wonders of the universe, the best-selling poetess writes about love and loss, hope and hurt, being lost and found.  Lang’s poetry encompasses the breadth of emotions we all experience and evokes universal feelings with her skillfully crafted words.

So far, I’ve only read The Girl in the Flammable Skirt by Aimee Bender and I’m already blown away by how awesome this box is. This book, one of which I’ve never heard of in my life, is able to better encapsulate the feeling of being inadequate and insecure with yourself while trying to love someone else. It’s an incredible collection of short stories and I can’t wait to get into the two others. I’ll be sharing what those are below.

With these boxes, you only get three books every season, so it’s not too much of a burden on your TBR if you have a lot of  books to read. Also, you can take 15% off your first box  by using SIMONE15 at checkout.

Simone and Her Books is affiliated with Capsule Book boxes. This is an advertisement post, but the opinions and reviews of these books are completely honest and my own thoughts. Capsule Books doesn’t have any influence on the posts written about it.

Ceremony by Leslie Marmon Silko

Ceremony by Leslie Marmon Silko

I kind of went into this book blindly. Because a friend was doing a challenge to read books by Native American authors. With very little knowledge of what this book is about, I read it. I could write a whole dissertation on the different themes of this novel. It was surprisingly short and compact for what it was conveying and I loved it.

First, let’s talk about what this book is about

Tayo, a young Native American, has been a prisoner of the Japanese during World War II, and the horrors of captivity have almost eroded his will to survive. His return to the Laguna Pueblo reservation only increases his feeling of estrangement and alienation. While other returning soldiers find easy refuge in alcohol and senseless violence, Tayo searches for another kind of comfort and resolution. Tayo’s quest leads him back to the Indian past and its traditions, to beliefs about witchcraft and evil, and to the ancient stories of his people. The search itself becomes a ritual, a curative ceremony that defeats the most virulent of afflictions—despair.

I really regret not looking into this one some more because while it was really interesting to read, it was pretty dense writing. It was also stylized in a way that made it quite confusing in the beginning. Once I finally got a grasp of what was going on, I approached the book more cautiously.

The story is told in flashbacks, in present day events, and in the ceremony to help Tayo heal from the atrocities of his life and the war. There weren’t chapters in the book, but each section was determined by the crazy indentation the paragraph starts with. The one thing I loved from this method were the poems. Every few pages, Leslie Silko included some stories written in a poetic-style about a hummingbird and a fly trying to bring water to their draught-filled land. The lengths these animals were going was a direct reflection of Tayo and his struggle.

Despite some strange stylistic choices the author made, there were tons of themes going on in this book. I think the easiest way to explain them all would be to list them and cite how the book tackled it.

Being a war veteran

Of course there are the themes of being Native American and how that’s affected Tayo and the Laguna people, but something else I thought might be interesting to explore is being unaccepted by America, but fighting a foreign war for them. Don’t you find it a little hypocritical to fight a war for a country that doesn’t even acknowledge you as a citizen? Force you to live on land in the middle of the desert with nothing to grow or harvest. I digress.

For Tayo, the horrors of his time in the Marines were not only met with having to kill a soldier, but also watching your cousin die, being a captive of Japanese army, and facing a point of insanity. When he returned from WWII, he struggled with finding himself. Who was he when his cousin and his uncle were both dead? Who was he before the war took him? He would vomit and sleep and imagine his uncle and his cousin, Rocky, were somehow present after they had died. He was hallucinating and struggling to stay sane when the tribe’s medicine man suggested he visit another medicine man that lived high in the hills. There he performed the ceremony to help him rid the “witchery” holding him hostage.

The best part of this novel that I found intriguing was the “taste” of being American. Emo, another Laguna native who went to the war, found the experience to be enlightening. While he spent his days in the bar, he would talk about how great the war was, how people treated him for wearing his uniform, and how all of that disappeared the moment he returned to the reservation. For Emo, the American life was something to be desired, but difficult to grasp because of the color of his skin. He built resentment for being Native American and resented anyone who didn’t appreciate the American life. I think this also contributed to Tayo’s frustration with figuring out who he was.

Being bi-racial

There was a lot of discussion about Tayo’s background. His mother was Native American from the Laguna tribe he was born into, but he didn’t know who his father was. I think there was mention of him being part white and part Mexican as well as part Laguna. They do go into his mother’s background a little more in the book, but because of the choices his mother made, the family he lives with doesn’t accept him. He’s not accepted by the other Laguna people, and he’s considered a half-breed who’s mother sold herself out to please white men.

I don’t know what it’s like to be bi-racial, but I do know what it’s like to be both American and Asian. Being flung between two cultures and trying to be accepted by both is not an easy task. You want to be loyal to both sides, but when one tribe doesn’t like you and the other doesn’t accept you, where do you go? Not white enough to be white. Not Native American enough to be Laguna.

I think Tayo never talked about this with himself. He never explored what made up his background and this contributed to the feelings he had when he returned from the war. He fought a war for Americans, but then returned to that same reservation he grew up in. No one applauded him for being a veteran and everyone outside of the reservation just saw another “Indian.” I think this ultimately contributed to him going slightly insane.

Returning to your roots

There’s probably other themes that I’m missing here, but I don’t want this post to get too long. The final theme I wanted to chat about was returning to your roots. While be chastised for being born a numerous number of races, I always felt like there was one that will always call to you. You’ll gravitate towards it and you’ll find peace there amongst the people who love you for who you are.

For Tayo, this journey began when he returned from the war. He enlisted to fight in a war for a country that doesn’t even accept Laguna as citizens of the country. However, he and many other Native Americans enlisted for the opportunities. What they found was a place of respect. People loved him because he was a soldier, not a Native American. They received the best because of their uniform.

But what I think he lost was his own sense of self. He struggled with it his entire life by the ridicule of his family and his friends. He was never accepted and now he was about to fight in a war for a country that didn’t accept him. When he returned, it only took the power of the ceremony to help find who he is and dispel him of the frustration of being a fringe human being. He found love in a woman who also was half and she helped him find peace and growth through her love.

This book was an interesting story about a man who had no idea who he was, what he stood for, and what really made him the person he is. By returning to his roots, he was able to find pieces of himself again. He was able to contribute and help grow the land and the people around him. Of course he didn’t get rid of the people who didn’t accept him, but what he did find was a way to keep those thoughts away from who he truly is.

 

My 2017 Bookish Wrap Up

My 2017 Bookish Wrap Up

Wow, 2017 felt like a whirlwind. I hit a ton of different milestones, came to some interesting decisions, and will be starting my new year with a different career path. While the world was in shambles, 2017 treated me pretty well and I’m thankful to be starting off 2018 with some great plans.

It was a great year for books (well, every year is a great year for books) and I’m so excited to share with you what I’ve read, what I’ve learned, and a little on what I will be reading next year.

First, let’s get to the numbers.

  • # of books I wanted to read: 25
  • # of books read: 43
  • # of books that were diverse reads: 18

My favorite books of the year

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It was tough to dwindle this list down and I had a tough time to get it to these eleven. I restrained myself and thought about what really captivated me about them. Here’s my favorites:

  • Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng
  • Crazy Rich Asians by Kevin Kwan
  • Stay With Me by Ayobami Adebayo
  • A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle
  • Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman
  • Turtles All the Way Down by John Green
  • Artistotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe by Benjamin Alire Saez
  • Beasts of Extraordinary Circumstance by Ruth Emmie Lang
  • Sing, Unburied, Sing by Jesmyn Ward
  • Emma in the Night by Wendy Walker
  • Warcross by Marie Lu
  • Cinder by Marissa Meyer

Isn’t it kind of funny that by the end of the year, you remember most of the books you read during this half rather than the early half. I feel like the books I read in the early half of the year don’t really represent the repertoire of reading I picked up in the second half. I think I’m going to try and keep my reading pretty even across the months.

Some interesting insights

I read some really interesting books this year. Books I didn’t think I would read because it just wouldn’t be available to me in the methods that I chose. I also received so many books from various different publishing companies and I couldn’t be more grateful of that.

I think my favorite books will have to be the ones I ordered from Book of the Month Club. I don’t want to gush or advertise for them, but the judges have wonderful taste and I always found every book I read to be intriguing and interesting. I would strongly recommend especially if you’re a bestselling books reader. You’ll be the first to read the best sellers!

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I realized that thrillers and mystery aren’t my favorite thing. I think I have a few that I will try and read but mostly because I heard good things. I don’t think I’m going to actively search for any more thrillers, but maybe horror will be in there? I don’t want to poop my pants while I read.

I also revived my love for Science Fiction and Fantasy novels, which also ties into my love of Young Adult novels. I’m so excited to continue reading more of these stories in the future.

My future plans

I’ve accumulated a fairly large pile of books. While my book buying ban will continue to go through 2018, I want to focus on reading what I already have. Being surrounded by books all the time is quite comforting, but sometimes it can be a real eyesore and a nuisance. I can’t justify buying any more books not only because I’m trying to save money, but because there’s already enough for me to read.

I also haven’t read ANY non-fiction. I love non-fiction every once in a while and I somehow just skipped over all of that this year. I do have some non-fiction in my TBR so I hope to read those and get some more stories that aren’t just based in the mind of the author. I think I already know where to start.

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I’m also going to focus on reading more books written and about POC. While I did read 18 diverse reads this year, this was still less than half of my reading. I am pretty proud that the majority of my reads were from female authors, I still feel like there’s more diverse books to read and share with people. I especially want to read books by Middle Eastern/South Asian authors and characters. I also want to read way more Latinx and Hispanic authors and characters. I feel like both of these areas have been really neglected by me and other readers and they should also get some of the spotlight.

The final resolution (can we call these that?) is to really share more with you all. I’ve been pretty busy all this year with work and other obligations, but I want to double up my efforts with my blog and share a lot more with you all. You know where to find me on the social media universe, so I’ll be sharing on all those platforms.

Happy New Year, bookish peeps! I can definitely see 2018 as a big book year for all of us!

 

 

Bad Ass Book Babes: @nycbookgirl

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Photos from Morgan’s Instagram page

Here’s another addition to the #BadAssBookBabes interview series! In this series, I sit down with different book bloggers and bookstagrammers who are just bad ass book readers. Some of them are fighting for a cause. Others are just trying to escape the dole drums of the world.

Recently, I emailed Morgan from @nycbookgirl and asked if she would like to be featured. Of course she agreed! It was so great to read her responses and get to know her a little bit more than on the internet. I hope you get a chance to know her too!

Introduce yourself and what’s you mission with your Instagram?

Hi! I’m Morgan, creator of the Instagram @nycbookgirl and blog www.nycbookgirl.com.  I started this account as a way to commemorate two things I love: the books I’m reading and the city I’m living in.  My blog posts are really a tribute to where I am in my life at that moment and how I saw the book as a result: part review, part journal entry.  When I’m not reading, I work in the theater industry in NYC as the assistant to a Broadway producer.

What is your biggest inspiration to read?

I read because I love the chance to escape into another world.  I read because it’s one of the greatest opportunities I get to learn: about other places, cultures, and people.  Reading is a chance to experience something else, something other than your point of view.

What is your big motivation to start your bookstagram?

I actually didn’t really know anything about the bookstagram world until my dad sent me some photos from the wonderful @bookwormstatus, another NYC based bookstagrammer.  After following her for a few months, I realized we were reading all of the same books and visiting all of the same places.  We met up for coffee and Ashley asked me if I had ever considered blogging.  I had kept a travel blog while studying abroad in college but hadn’t had any content since.  Meeting Ashley got me thinking and a few days later, I had a handle and a concept and I just began!  And I’m so happy I did.

Coffee or tea?

Coffee! I love a good mug of earl grey but I’m a total coffee addict!

What is the one thing you want to get out of reading?

I love reading because I love getting the chance to experience why someone else thinks the way they think and why they act the way they act.  Reading is often times an exercise in empathy.

Was there any time where you couldn’t read?

I was an English and Theater double major in college so I read a lot (thousands and thousands of pages) over four years, but rarely had any time for reading for pleasure.  There was always more that I could be reading for school, so I rarely was able to relax into anything that wasn’t assigned.  When I graduated and started clueing into the dozens of new books released every Tuesday, I was overwhelmed!  There’s so much I must have missed!

What would be the one piece of advice you’d give new bookstagrammers just starting out?

Connect with the people – send messages, watch stories, comment and reply.  The people behind bookstagram are the best part of this community!  And the more friends you make, the more you’ll enjoy it.

If you’d like to be featured in this series, use the hashtag #badassbookbabes for a chance to be considered! I’ll be keeping an eye out for you all 🙂

November 2017 Wrap Up

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November seemed to go quickly, but also jam packed with news, articles, and great reads. I had a blast this November and here are some of the highlights.

Thanksgiving at my in laws

I’ve never had Thanksgiving at anyone else’s house before. I’ve always had it with my family with the same meal and the same sides to be expected. The same guests too! But this year, I got to explore what other people observe for their Thanksgiving.

If you ask my friends, I always bring up how Thanksgiving is one of those meals that is the same for everyone but different as well. We all have the turkey and stuffing and mashed potatoes. Coming from an immigrant family, many of my Thanksgiving included things like kimchi and rice and even a little lasagna.

I have this great pic from a feast like this many years ago and there, right in the middle of the table, is a pan of lasagna. I’m not sure who brought the lasagna, but it really isn’t Thanksgiving without it on the table.

So this Thanksgiving, I was thankful to have a place to go and share a meal with my other family. The food was slightly different than what I would see, but there were some subtle differences. Like my family never watches football…ever. Also, we don’t have the adults fighting over the desserts. Most of the adults passed over dessert making room for a cup of hot tea.

It was fun to hear family stories and laugh with people who welcomed me into their home. I think it was the most American Thanksgiving I’ve ever seen!

Alright, enough chit chat, let’s hit the books.

Books I read

Links from the Internet

This is probably my favorite part about the entire post! I get to share the articles and essays I found this month and LOVED! Make sure to definitely check these out when you have a chance!

I found this really great article from 1995 about what Little Women was really about. I was doing some research on an article about women and literature and I was just enamored by this detailed article about Little Women. Definitely check it out!

My favorite thing this month was reading this article about Colin Kaepernick and how GQ found him his own team while he still is banned from playing in the NFL. It must be really difficult to follow your dreams only to be thrown out from your dreams because of what you believe in. How do you manage to do both? Are they mutually exclusive? I don’t know, but this article was great to read!

This is a reminder for myself that I need to pick up I Am Not Your Perfect Mexican Daughter by Erika Sanchez because this interview really blew it up for me!

I feel like I should mention this, but I’m super sad that The Mindy Project is done. However, I found this wonderful article about how great the show was and how it really appreciated the romantic comedy genre.

Continuing my work to become a better writer, I found this wonderful essay in NY Review of Books about writing memoirs especially after a family member has died.

I’m such a nerd because Mara Wilson aka Matilda wrote this article for Elle magazine about young female actresses and how they’re sexualized at way too young an age. It also dives into Millie Bobbi Brown and the controversy she didn’t mean to cause, but did because she’s 13 and yeah, that makes sense (eye roll).

I couldn’t be more happy for my friend, Maggie, @mugandnook for opening up and sharing her personal story about being a human with a disability. Thank you so much for sharing, Maggie!

I am so happy that people are seeing Lena Dunham for what she truly is and writers like Zizi Clemmons are taking a stand against her backhanded, racist comments. Take a look at the official statement in this article.

I love me some great essays lately and this one from TheMillions.com talks about how we shouldn’t forget that a walk in the woods in a book shouldn’t replace a real walk in the woods. This was a pretty interesting read!

I love Sophie from Main St. and Maple and how candid she is about her struggles to find work in a very male-dominated career. Good luck! I know that something will find its way to you and don’t give up! Come out to the coasts where women are totally wanted to help break down those barriers!

This was one literary piece from Electric Lit about how women turn themselves into trees when approached by unwanted desire. It’s moving and poetic and makes you want to tear the years of bark growing over you.

That’s it! Thanks for reading my blubber about the Internet. Honestly, I love sharing these articles with you!

Until next time!

How do I review Sing, Unburied, Sing?

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The other night, in the silence of my apartment, I tore through the last 50 pages of Sing, Unburied, Sing by Jesmyn Ward. I sat on my couch while waiting for my dinner to cook in the oven, getting up every so often to make sure my meatballs weren’t burning. Once I finished the book, I put it down and then proceeded to not think about it.

I put off writing this review for a few days because the impact this book leaves is so intense that it only feels appropriate to give it a few days of mourning. I still don’t know where to begin with writing this review. I guess I should start with the summary.

SING, UNBURIED, SING

32920226Jojo and his toddler sister, Kayla, live with their grandparents, Mam and Pop, and the occasional presence of their drug-addicted mother, Leonie, on a farm on the Gulf Coast of Mississippi. Leonie is simultaneously tormented and comforted by visions of her dead brother, which only come to her when she’s high; Mam is dying of cancer; and quiet, steady Pop tries to run the household and teach Jojo how to be a man. When the white father of Leonie’s children is released from prison, she packs her kids and a friend into her car and sets out across the state for Parchman farm, the Mississippi State Penitentiary, on a journey rife with danger and promise.

I feel like the central theme in this novel was grief and loss. Leonie struggling with the loss of her brother. Jojo is struggling with the loss of his mother emotionally. Pop is struggling with the possible loss of his cancer-ridden wife and his friend when he was younger. Everyone is dealing with some form of loss and everyone is doing is so quietly.

The story takes place in both Jojo and Leonie’s point of view. Each chapter switches off which tale you’re going to hear. For Jojo, you hear a lot of resentment for his birth mother. He can’t stand that she’s not the mother she’s supposed to be. Instead, she’s found indulging too much on meth and forgetting she’s ever really had kids. Jojo finds himself having to grow up much sooner than he expected, impressing his grandfather with how “manly” he is in serious situations.

For Leonie, you hear a lot about her struggle with fighting against herself. She knows she’s a bad mother, but she can’t help herself. Her grief began when her brother, Given, was murdered on a hunting trip. Given was her favorite person in the world and she never quite got over him dying. Every time she does drugs, Given comes to visit her while she’s high. You can see how that can drive any person insane.

However there’s a third perspective that reveals itself slowly throughout the story, which is the ghosts of the people who have been killed in terrible ways. Leonie, Jojo, Kayla, and Mama all have these powers that allow them to know the future, read minds, and speak with the dead. It’s not supernatural, but almost like a gift bestowed upon their family ever since they came to this country. They were given a gift and sadly, it was taken for granted.

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I’ve asked numerous people what they thought and all of them felt the same. It was good, but I can’t put into words exactly how good this was. Was it the ghostly images of the African Americans who have died throughout the years? Was it the drug abuse Leonie uses to escape her own sorrows? Is it the ability to see between the veil of life and death? Was it the use of an old farm to enslave prisoners and bring back a part of this country’s history to punish them? Was it seeing a mother struggle with wanting to be one and her son taking up the responsibilities when she couldn’t?

Sometimes you find yourself with a book that is really difficult to put into words how good it is. It’s good, you know that much. But why? I can’t put my finger on it. And the adjectives other people have used to describe this book match what I feel. It’s haunting, slight disturbing, with doses of reality, sadness, foreboding, intrigue. You want to read more because you want to know more. You want to find out what is happening to this family.

However, I’m not even sure that’s the appropriate way of explaining this novel. I am really struggling with this one.

In many ways this book reminded me a lot of Beloved. The dark and densely moving story about a family who is haunted by the decisions they made in their past. How much they wanted to move themselves away from those horrors in order to live a peaceful life and how the dead can never truly rest without hearing and knowing the truth. I honestly thought this book would be about the struggle of being African American in the South, but this book was so much more.

My favorite thing about this entire experience was the writing. It was extraordinary writing. Each chapter had pearls of beautiful quotes that displayed each character’s personality and also their struggle. Each quote another example of how life is so important because death is hanging right outside the door. It was an incredibly breathtaking story that I had a hard time putting down.

I think the only flaw this book has was the pace. While Leonie and the kids are driving up to release Michael from Parchman, the pace felt slow and even. They were a dysfunctional family on the road to meet their father; whom Kayla hasn’t even met in her life. They were on the road to becoming a family again.

By the time they returned from Parchman, the story somehow picked up in pace. Suddenly, the history of their family unravels and the mystical powers they have and the ghosts that have been haunting them swirl together in the penultimate scene. Mama is on her death bed and she’s about to open the curtain between life and death so that she can die in peace. Of course you can only imagine that the door doesn’t just open in one direction.

I don’t know where to begin. I honestly just believe that you’ll need to experience it for yourself.

 

Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman

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I was in one of those moods where it felt like ages since I read something magical. There’s a lot going on in real life that feels so different and messy. It’s like one of those montage scenes in movies about the Vietnam War where you just see one depressing headline after another followed by shots of soldiers in the fields fighting for something they don’t understand. The world seems to be just holding it together and the only cure for that kind of reality is escapism.

I started reading Neverwhere as my Halloween read. I can’t read a lot of thriller or horror without having a massive anxiety attack, so I went for fantasy instead. We start off with a guy named Richard Mathew who is your typical bored working guys. He has a girlfriend and a steady job and one of those old school Ashton Kutcher faces where you can’t help but to crush on him.

One day as he’s walking with his girlfriend to dinner, he notices a girl laying on the ground bleeding out. He finds himself wanting to help her even though he has no clue who she is. He ditches dinner with his girlfriend and takes this near-death stranger back home. Little does he know what exciting events will follow.

Richard finds out the girl’s name is Door and she is the only surviving royal family member of this underground city called London Below. She is being hunted down by two goons who have other plans for her. Ever since Richard meets this girl, his entire life has changed. His girlfriend doesn’t know who he is and his job doesn’t remember him being there. Everything seems like a big joke until he realizes that he’s

I’m a huge fan of Neil Gaiman. He’s probably one of those authors that I’ll end up reading their entire body of work. Neverwhere is his first novel from what feels like millions of years ago, but I think it’s one of those timeless pieces of work that will never get old.

This is not your kid’s fantasy novel. There’s fighting and violence. There’s anger and mystery.  There’s, thankfully, no love which is great because if Gaiman forced a love scene between Door and Richard, I would have shot him that 1-star review.

I love that we get to learn about the London Below along with Richard Mayhew who is just coming to grips with it himself. I love the incorporation of this urban setting. It’s magical realism at its finest without being like Murakami weird with a strange egg form growing in the corner of your room (1Q84 reference).

I absolutely loved how he incorporated the homeless population. In this story, those who are homeless aren’t always just strung-out junkies or people suffering from mental illness. As Gaiman describes it, they’re folks that have fallen through the cracks of society. They use trades and bartering for money. They’ve built an entire world around the real world. I honestly wish I can be a part of it at least to feel like a little magic still exists.

However, it wasn’t the perfect Gaiman. I think that my favorite of his novels will always be American Gods, but this does rank pretty high to the top. I will admit that I was pretty exhausted while I was reading, so many times I tried to read I fell asleep. It made it difficult to keep track of the story and read the descriptions. I may give this another read in the future when I can fairly judge this work.

The writing was a bit too descriptive and I felt like there were definitely some redundant lines here and there. However, I can also see this being a movie in the future. I love the character descriptions and in the illustrated version you get to really envision something Neil Gaiman was considering. It was like Harry Potter, but if he didn’t find out he was a wizard until he was in his thirties. What do you do when you’ve run out of imagination and a mysterious girl lands in your lap?

You can get a copy of Neverwhere Illustrated Edition on Amazon.com

November 2017 TBR

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I’m pretty proud of my list this month. First off, it’s a manageable list of books that I personally want to read. I know that this month (like every month) will have its random reads and books that need reviewing, but they’re unseen and unpredictably arrive. Whenever I choose my TBR for the month, I think fully and heartily for myself.

This month, I’m trying to catch up with my Book of the Month Club books. I actually skipped this month because most of the books (4/5) I already own and have either already read or will read in the future. It’s a sigh of relief to know more books aren’t coming my way for a little while. I love getting and buying books, but my book stacks are starting to reflect my mounting anxiety levels. I need to catch up.

Also, it’s November. There’s only two more months before the end of the year and I want to clear my shelves for 2018!

So here’s my book choices for November 2017. What will you be reading this month?

Sing, Unburied, Sing by Jesmyn Ward

32920226Jojo and his toddler sister, Kayla, live with their grandparents, Mam and Pop, and the occasional presence of their drug-addicted mother, Leonie, on a farm on the Gulf Coast of Mississippi. Leonie is simultaneously tormented and comforted by visions of her dead brother, which only come to her when she’s high; Mam is dying of cancer; and quiet, steady Pop tries to run the household and teach Jojo how to be a man. When the white father of Leonie’s children is released from prison, she packs her kids and a friend into her car and sets out across the state for Parchman farm, the Mississippi State Penitentiary, on a journey rife with danger and promise.

Sing, Unburied, Sing grapples with the ugly truths at the heart of the American story and the power, and limitations, of the bonds of family. Rich with Ward’s distinctive, musical language, Sing, Unburied, Sing is a majestic new work and an essential contribution to American literature.

Rich People Problems by Kevin Kwan

29864343When Nicholas Young hears that his grandmother, Su Yi, is on her deathbed, he rushes to be by her bedside–but he’s not alone. It seems the entire Shang-Young clan has convened from all corners of the globe, ostensibly to care for their matriarch but truly to stake claim on the massive fortune that Su Yi controls. 

With each family member secretly fantasizing about getting the keys to Tyersall Park–a trophy estate on 64 prime acres in the heart of Singapore–the place becomes a hotbed of intrigue and Nicholas finds himself blocked from entering the premises. 

As relatives claw over heirlooms, Astrid Leong is at the center of her own storm, desperately in love with her old sweetheart Charlie Wu, but tormented by his ex-wife–a woman hell bent on destroying Astrid’s reputation and relationship. Meanwhile Kitty Pong, married to billionaire Jack Bing, finds a formidable opponent in his fashionista daughter, Colette.

WARCROSS by Marie Lu

29385546For the millions who log in every day, Warcross isn’t just a game—it’s a way of life. The obsession started ten years ago and its fan base now spans the globe, some eager to escape from reality and others hoping to make a profit. Struggling to make ends meet, teenage hacker Emika Chen works as a bounty hunter, tracking down players who bet on the game illegally. But the bounty hunting world is a competitive one, and survival has not been easy. Needing to make some quick cash, Emika takes a risk and hacks into the opening game of the international Warcross Championships—only to accidentally glitch herself into the action and become an overnight sensation.

Convinced she’s going to be arrested, Emika is shocked when instead she gets a call from the game’s creator, the elusive young billionaire Hideo Tanaka, with an irresistible offer. He needs a spy on the inside of this year’s tournament in order to uncover a security problem . . . and he wants Emika for the job. With no time to lose, Emika’s whisked off to Tokyo and thrust into a world of fame and fortune that she’s only dreamed of. But soon her investigation uncovers a sinister plot, with major consequences for the entire Warcross empire.

Sourdough by Robin Sloan

33916024Lois Clary, a software engineer at a San Francisco robotics company, codes all day and collapses at night. When her favourite sandwich shop closes up, the owners leave her with the starter for their mouthwatering sourdough bread.
Lois becomes the unlikely hero tasked to care for it, bake with it and keep this needy colony of microorganisms alive.  Soon she is baking loaves daily and taking them to the farmer’s market, where an exclusive close-knit club runs the show. 
When Lois discovers another, more secret market, aiming to fuse food and technology, a whole other world opens up. But who are these people, exactly?

Emma in the Night by Wendy Walker

33574211One night three years ago, the Tanner sisters disappeared: fifteen-year-old Cass and seventeen-year-old Emma. Three years later, Cass returns, without her sister Emma. Her story is one of kidnapping and betrayal, of a mysterious island where the two were held. But to forensic psychiatrist Dr. Abby Winter, something doesn’t add up. Looking deep within this dysfunctional family Dr. Winter uncovers a life where boundaries were violated and a narcissistic parent held sway. And where one sister’s return might just be the beginning of the crime.