This is an incredible story about how a young teenager sets out to find the truth behind her mother’s passing. What she finds is something way more than she imagined.
I loved this book. It’s just quirky and fun with a hint of seriousness in it. If you’re looking to get away from some heavy diverse reading, then this diverse contemporary romance will whisk you to better and more fun-loving days.
Since March has a ton of new releases coming out (and it’s also the start of the Spring season), I wanted to share some of my anticipated reads for the month. Many of these are hitting the bookstores on March 6th, but the month will have a ton of great reads as well. While there’s a ton of books coming out, I do want to highlight the ones that I’m super excited about. You can always find more on Goodreads, but here’s what I’m anticipating in March:
Wow. I sat down with this book over the past few days and I couldn’t put it down. Honestly, I would try and use the bathroom and hold it for an hour only succumbing to the excruciating pain of holding it for that long. I’m lucky it’s the beginning of the year and there wasn’t much going on because I think both Cinder and Scarlet has cemented my love for this series. I legit just went onto Amazon and used my Christmas money to buy the other books.
Here’s a little more about the book
Cinder, the cyborg mechanic, returns in the second thrilling installment of the bestselling Lunar Chronicles. She’s trying to break out of prison—even though if she succeeds, she’ll be the Commonwealth’s most wanted fugitive.
Halfway around the world, Scarlet Benoit’s grandmother is missing. When Scarlet encounters Wolf, a street fighter who may have information as to her grandmother’s whereabouts, she is loath to trust this stranger, but is inexplicably drawn to him, and he to her. As Scarlet and Wolf unravel one mystery, they encounter another when they meet Cinder. Now, all of them must stay one step ahead of the vicious Lunar Queen Levana, who will do anything for the handsome Prince Kai to become her husband, her king, her prisoner.
If you’re into books with a lot of adventure and action, then this is the book for you. While it does expand a little more on what will happen next in the Lunar Chronicles, I think this book just cements the predictions we all made at the end of Cinder. I won’t give those away, but let’s just say that the rumors were true.
I think the most significant part of this story is the wolves. I was impressed by how Marissa Meyer was able to take the wolves and Little Red Riding Hood and connect that back to the moon and Luna. It was a really interesting way of wrapping together two stories into one.
Similarly to Cinder, if you’re looking for the old fairy tale, you’re not going to find it. Yes it has the hooded girl and the grandmother and the wolf, but to say this is Little Red Riding Hood is an insult to both the authors. This is not that fairy tale and I’m so glad that it isn’t. It would make way more predictable.
What I loved the most about these stories (and hopefully in the other books in the series) is the strong female characters. They’re not damsels in distress and they’ve been touched by a lot of tragedy in their lives to waste away as some helpless person. They’re fighters and thinkers and stronger than their male counterparts. It makes you feel alive and wonder if you’re capable of that kind of strength.
The best part is that it’s not completely high fantasy. There’s a lot where you can relate to these characters and nothing feels forced or pushed on them by some hidden agenda with the author. They all have faults and they all have strengths and it makes the characters all feel real in this made-up world.
I think at this point in the series, I want to see what happens next. I couldn’t put this book down and I’m pretty certain I won’t be able to put down the rest. I feel like I’m right at the top of the hill and ready for my rollercoaster ride down to the end. I can’t wait to read the next books in the series!
- Paperback: 452 pages
- Publisher: SquareFish
- Rating: 5/5 stars
- Buy Scarlet on Amazon
Simone and Her Books is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com. This in no way affects my opinion of the above book.
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
- Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman
- Beasts of Extraordinary Circumstance by Ruth Emmie Lang
- Warcross by Marie Lu
- Sourdough by Robin Sloan
- Emma in the Night by Wendy Walker
- Sing, Unburied, Sing by Jesmyn Ward
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 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!
For a really long time, I just basically read whatever came my way. You give me a title, I’ll check it out. I never considered any genre to be my go-to genre and felt the bookish world to be my oyster. I wanted to read all the books.
However, you find out at one point or another that not all books are made for you. I think it’s at some point in every reader’s life they discover the genres that they enjoy the most. Sometimes it’s a gradual pull towards it. Other times, it just finds you. It’s always good to know what genres you like because then of course, you’ll never get bored.
But what if you don’t know what genre you’re interested in? How do you discover it for yourself? This I learned recently while trying to get into thrillers and mysteries.
I kind of shied away from mysteries and thrillers because I have some pretty bad anxiety when it comes to those reads. I think the last book I read was Gone Girl and that not only scared the crap out of me, but I think I remember throwing the book across the room. Thrillers have been a mystery to me, so I decided I wanted to take a deep dive into the genre.
I picked out a few books from my Book of the Month Club and I agreed to review a few mystery novels. I wanted to get a sense of the genre and see if perhaps this is for me. Sadly, it wasn’t. I didn’t find the thriller genre to be as fun and interesting as what I normally gravitate towards.
Now I know that thrillers and mysteries don’t really get me reading more, but I don’t know what I like to read.
I took a deep dive into my Goodreads account to see. I’ve been keeping a record of my books since 2011, so I knew I would find some good stuff there. There were a few patterns I can easily find and I think that this quickly decided what my favorite genres were.
It appeared that my favorite genres were Literary Fiction, YA, Science Fiction, Fantasy, and a little Romance. Of course I’ve also been reading a ton of diverse reads over the past few years as well.
It didn’t really shock me that I read these genres specifically. I guess I didn’t see this pattern before because I’m so used to reading whatever came my way. Perhaps there were more of these genres that came my way than others. It’s kind of funny when you dive into something like this and figure out that you’ve been running patterns you’re entire life.
Oddly, I felt empowered. I knew exactly what genres I loved reading, but the new challenge I came across was understanding what the basics are of these genres. No one wants to be the guy that announces their favorite genres and hasn’t read the “staple” novels. Would other genre-readers be able to identify with you or are you just a “poseur” pretending to like something you have no understanding about?
I’ve finally come to terms with the genres that I love, so now I’m on the quest to find the books that make up these genres. I’m pretty sure I’d get the proverbial shit kicked out of me for not reading the definitive works that defined the genre. I mean, I might have tried to read Lord of the Rings, but those movies came out and were so conveniently easier to watch than read.
I’m looking to expand my own universe by reading books in genres I actually like. I’m going to start with some staples and then work my way through other books. It’s so great to find something that you’re interested in. It’s like pulling from an endless library where every book is something your heart would desire.
I’ll be updating you on the progress I’m making and creating some definitive guides to the genres in the future. For now, I’m happy knowing my genre and now I get to read from it.
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
Jojo 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.
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.
- Published September 5, 2017
- Scribner books
- 285 pages
- Rating: 4/5 stars
- Purchase Sing, Unburied, Sing on Amazon
- Purchase Sing, Unburied, Sing at Barnes and Noble
After hearing that @kathareads and @literaryjo loved Emma in the Night, I had to check it out for myself. I bought the book back in September with my Book of the Month Club subscription, but it took me two months to pick it up. However, I can’t believe I didn’t pick this book up before. It was really an incredible read and I’m not a fan of thrillers!
Emma in the Night is a psychological thriller about two girls who go missing one day after an epic battle with their parents. After being missing for three years, one girl, Cass, returns to her parents home with a story to help lead them back to Emma.
The story takes place in two separate points of view. The first is from Cass, Emma’s sister, who disappeared with her that one night. Cass’s perspective is in the first person POV lending to the emotions and memories Cass has of growing up with a narcissist. The second comes from Dr. Abbey Winter. She’s a forensic psychiatrist who was assigned to the missing sisters case three years ago. She has also written papers on narcissism and knows personally what Cass may have lived through.
Abbey speaks a lot about personality disorders especially those linked to narcissism. She firmly believes that Emma and Cass’s mother was a classic textbook case. I think this is what really drew me into the book. I’m a fan of psychology and reading about the brain’s reaction to certain events and moments in someone’s life. There was definitely a lot of the “psychology” of psychological thriller here.
I don’t know much about narcissism and I’m glad that I don’t know anyone who exhibits those traits. However, I feel bad for anyone who does and the way it almost follows a family like cancer or diabetes. Mothers who suffer from narcissism then suffer those traits onto their own children.
It made me wonder about all the people in this world who aren’t cognizant of their own personality; people who walk around completely clueless that their behavior is diabolical. How their behavior imprints on their kids creating an endless loop of disorder not easily detectable.
It was like knowing there’s the facade, the person who wants to be the best looking and have the best personality and is the smartest and the quickest and all of that. But deep down, there’s this little ball of insecurity hiding behind all of those physical attributes.
It felt like I was reading two stories here and maybe that was Wendy Walker’s point here. There was the main story, which is finding Emma, but then there’s this story about a family who put up a huge front to hide the dark and sinister personalities. As the story unfolds, you read more about what happened with Emma that led to her leaving and what does happen to the girls. I honestly feel like I can’t speak about this book without giving stuff away!
All I know is that it took me three days to finish this book. Most books take me a week because I love my downtime and rather watch TV than read. But this book was so captivating that I wanted to continue reading it. I didn’t clean the house. I didn’t cook dinner. I just read this book and the book is short enough to be a great weekend read.
I’m not a thriller person, but this didn’t feel like your typical thriller. You didn’t start off with a murder, just a disappearance and the mysterious return of one of the kidnapped victims. From that point on, it was like playing a game of clue and you’re fed these breadcrumbs of info that will eventually lead you in the wrong direction. I was surprised by the end. I held my jaw shut with my hand as I finished reading the final pages. Even the wrap up included pieces of info I didn’t imagine would be mentioned. I’m pretty sure this is the first book where I liked the ending!
Alright, I won’t say anymore without giving too much away. I will say that if you’re into a thriller that isn’t too heavy on death and murderous psychopaths, I would highly recommend it. It was compelling and suspenseful without making you keep the light on at night.
It started a little over a year ago when I picked up Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi for the first time. I wasn’t looking for diverse reads then. I was just looking for a good read. I don’t even know how this book got into my hands, but I decided to go to the library and pick it up. Perhaps it was my subconscious telling me that I needed diverse books in my life. Perhaps it was the universe saying that this will change the fundamental ways I think about things.
The idea of having a family one day and then being completely separated by fate and by design shocked me. I found myself wanting to learn more about my own family and my own ancestry and see if there was ever a time when my family lineage broke apart. Was it left to some distant grandmother to recreate a family from scratch?
That’s what I got out of Homegoing and reading about the experience of another culture through the eyes of someone who’s looked into this for themselves and had the bravery to write a fictional novel about it; I honestly felt more woke than I ever did in my life. Homegoing basically changed everything that I knew about African American, about family, and about the triumph of the human spirit.
From that point on, I wanted to read more. Bring me more African American authors writing about their experience. Bring me more Asian authors writing about what life was like moving to an unknown world. Bring me more LGBTQ authors writing about coming out. I wanted to read more and understand more about the diversity around us and I felt like I found it in books.
Reading diverse novels filled a void I didn’t know I had. I wanted to read more cultures and more subcultures and more about the people that inhabit this world. It’s so easy to fall prey to the books that are easier to read and fun, but for me I wanted to push myself with knowledge. I didn’t want to be ignorant anymore and I found some understanding in fiction.
What I didn’t expect is that reading diverse novels would actually change the way I see, think, and live my life every single day. Suddenly, I found myself listening to conversations and interjecting with something that I’d read in a novel.
I would overhear conversations being African American and living below the poverty line and inserting the points brought up in The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas. I would listen to folks chatting about choosing to be gay and think about books like Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe by Benjamin Saenz Alire and how it’s not a choice.
Every conversation I heard led back to a book I read. My conversations would start with “I did read this book about…” trying to add my two cents in about a topic. I never saw myself as an expert in , but I felt that the fiction I was reading were relevant and poignant and g
I found myself looking for books only written by women and by people of color. I would search authors online to see what they were about and what they were trying to portray in their novels. I wanted the authentic experience of what it was like to fit in their shoes.
I only read stories that challenged the status quo. I wanted to read from the people who work hard to fight for their own civil liberties; stories from people who know how I feel about growing up in America and feeling different.
It had gotten to a point where I was so burnt out on diverse reads that I wanted to head back to the other side. However, it was too late for me and the side where you could read some random mystery didn’t feel as satisfying as knowing the experience of other people.
What got you was the interconnection between you and the story. When you’re reading any novel, you find ways to map what you experienced with the experiences of the book. Even if you can’t relate to being African American, or Asian, or struggling to find your gender identity, there is always something that draws you into the book. Be it love or family or human strife, the language speaks to you and gain a little more awareness.
It’s the human experience that you find there. And you find that you connect with that experience a little bit more even in the smallest iota of connection. And you wonder to yourself why other people can’t see what you see. You ask yourself why we all can’t get along because we’re all one in the same; we’re human.
I’m grateful for the books I’ve read and the people I meet. I’m happy that I read these books and seek out more books like it. It’s almost like traveling to another country; your perspective of the world changes because you’re experiencing a life outside of the one you own. There’s no turning back from this point. All I can do is move forward.
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