My Most Anticipated Reads of March 2018

My Most Anticipated Reads of March 2018

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:

Continue reading “My Most Anticipated Reads of March 2018”

Unpopular Opinion (Valentine’s Day Edition): I have read 50 Shades of Grey twice

Unpopular Opinion (Valentine’s Day Edition): I have read 50 Shades of Grey twice

Happy Valentine’s Day everyone! I’m not a big Valentine’s Day celebrator, but I know many of you love the day of Love, so I hope you have a wonderful one.

In honor of Valentine’s Day, I wanted to write a little bit about a very famous book series that is finally playing its final film in theaters right now. I’m talking about 50 Shades of Grey.

Continue reading “Unpopular Opinion (Valentine’s Day Edition): I have read 50 Shades of Grey twice”

Girls Burn Brighter by Shobha Rao

Girls Burn Brighter by Shobha Rao

When you read this story, you’re going to be taken aback. You’re going to assume this is the story about young women who are kidnapped and rapped and treated like dirt and you’ll feel this overwhelming need to protect and speak out for these women. What you won’t understand is that this life is a reflection of hardship. For some people, hardship is finding a job in a career that they dream to get. But for Savitha and Poornima, hardship is survival, of strength, of the power of the female friendship.

Here’s a little bit more about the book

34275212Poornima and Savitha have three strikes against them: they are poor, they are ambitious, and they are girls. After her mother’s death, Poornima has very little kindness in her life. She is left to care for her siblings until her father can find her a suitable match. So when Savitha enters their household, Poornima is intrigued by the joyful, independent-minded girl. Suddenly their Indian village doesn’t feel quite so claustrophobic, and Poornima begins to imagine a life beyond arranged marriage. But when a devastating act of cruelty drives Savitha away, Poornima leaves behind everything she has ever known to find her friend.

Her journey takes her into the darkest corners of India’s underworld, on a harrowing cross-continental journey, and eventually to an apartment complex in Seattle. Alternating between the girls’ perspectives as they face ruthless obstacles, Girls Burn Brighter introduces two heroines who never lose the hope that burns within.

I absolutely loved this book. From the beginning of this story, I couldn’t put down the book. It captured me the moment I started reading it and continued to enrapture me and then abandoned me right at the end! I could feel my hands ball up into fists while I read some of the scarier parts and I also felt the need to cry when everything seemed hopeless towards the end.

The story takes place in two different perspectives. First, it starts together with the main characters and their lives in Indravalli in Southern India. Poornima is a burden to her father for being born a woman and therefore he’s looking for someone to marry her off to. Savitha is poorer than Poornima so she spends most of her time making money for her family. From the beginning you can feel the prejudice for these families because of their class and their gender. Being women meant having to pay out dowries when they got married. Being women meant obeying your husband and not thinking for yourself. I found myself wondering if this was real life, if what was going on was a frequent occurrence in the lives of many Indian women.

But like I said in the beginning of this review, don’t interpret what you see as weakness.

When Poornima and Savitha meet for the first time, Savitha was working for her father as a weaver while Poornima kept her focus on being the most agreeable bride you’ve ever seen. Both of these girls come together to share a few meals and a lifelong friendship is born. Suddenly, something happens (I won’t say what) that causes these two girls to separate.

And it was the small amount of time spent with each other that fueled their passion to escape their fates. They were always recalling moments together and remembering their friendship fondly. It was those moments and recalling those memories that helped Poornima find her way towards Savitha.

From this point on, the story gets more and more frustrating as you see Poornima being sold off to her new husband and Savitha runs away. The story diverges at this point separating them from themselves as well as that childhood innocence. The book is even strategically written in parts, one dedicated to Savitha’s journey and the other to Poornima.

I interpreted all the slings and arrows Savitha and Poornima faced as hurdles in their life. They could have easily knelt down and accepted whatever life they were given, but instead they ran away. They were cunning. They did their best to learn skills and people and escape their fates. Every chapter and every event felt like watching an episode of Maguyver where they took a bobby pin and some dried toothpaste and made a bomb to escape. It was like watching Bear Grills eat bugs and drink his own pee, except for some reason people can’t leave women alone.

While Savitha is bought and sold off by various people, Poornima’s story seems to be more focused on finding Savitha. I thought it was strange that it was one friend finding the other and the other seemed to just reminisce in hopes of using her memories as comfort. I really wish there was a bigger effort from Savitha to find Poornima and perhaps there wouldn’t be this ache in my heart right at the end.

 

I wasn’t a fan of the ending, I’ll admit. I can feel myself feeling the same kind of anticipation that Poornima was feeling being so close to Savitha, but the ending came too quickly for me. It almost felt rushed and the final part (belonging to Poornima) didn’t reflect the same way the rest of the book did.

It was nebulous and maybe the intention here was to give you hope the same way these girls carried hope for themselves. All throughout the novel you’re so hopeful for these girls. You pray that they’ll be able to escape the lives that they found themselves living. You think that they’ll finally escape and finally be together again, but you never know. I think that stands as a pretty good metaphor for life. You don’t know if you’ll ever see that friend again, but you know you carry that flame and you’ll try to never let it go out.

  • Hardcover, 320 pages
  • Publisher: Flatiron Books (March 6, 2018)
  • Rating: 5/5 stars
  • Buy Girls Burn Brighter 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.

I received a copy of this book from Netgalley for free in exchange for an honest review. My opinions have not been influenced by the publisher or the author.

The Philosopher’s Flight by Tom Miller

The Philosopher’s Flight by Tom Miller

I’ve always been worried that if Hogwarts was a real place and people could get into it that I would be one of the unlucky people who wouldn’t get in. Let’s also keep in mind that I’m American and that already disqualifies me.

But what if magic was studied instead of inherited? What if you stumbled across a sigil while playing in the sandbox and you realized you have a predilection for something called “empirical philosophy?” What if you were a man and you realized that this is a very female-centric area of study? What would you do then? This is one story from one man who answered all of these questions for himself.

A little bit more about the story

Eighteen-year-old Robert Weekes is a practitioner of empirical philosophy—an arcane, female-dominated branch of science used to summon the wind, shape clouds of smoke, heal the injured, and even fly. Though he dreams of fighting in the Great War as the first male in the elite US Sigilry Corps Rescue and Evacuation Service—a team of flying medics—Robert is resigned to mixing batches of philosophical chemicals and keeping the books for the family business in rural Montana, where his mother, a former soldier and vigilante, aids the locals.

When a deadly accident puts his philosophical abilities to the test, Robert rises to the occasion and wins a scholarship to study at Radcliffe College, an all-women’s school. At Radcliffe, Robert hones his skills and strives to win the respect of his classmates, a host of formidable, unruly women. 

Robert falls hard for Danielle Hardin, a disillusioned young war hero turned political radical. However, Danielle’s activism and Robert’s recklessness attract the attention of the same fanatical anti-philosophical group that Robert’s mother fought years before. With their lives in mounting danger, Robert and Danielle band together with a team of unlikely heroes to fight for Robert’s place among the next generation of empirical philosophers—and for philosophy’s very survival against the men who would destroy it.

I honestly and truly wished I loved this book. I felt like there’s a lot of potential for it being a great series, but after only reading the first novel from both the author and the series I wasn’t all too excited. This was definitely more like Harry Potter where magic (also known as Empirical Philosophy) exists alongside the very real world. This “magic” is not inherited, but learned and anyone can basically pick it up. It requires the use of sigils and specific minerals. For example, using a particular sigil with cornmeal will help you to fly and how you write your sigil will determine how well you fly. It’s a practiced art and you don’t need a certain birthright to do it.

I will say that the story did hold my attention and there definitely was some practical use of the philosophy. But a lot of what was happening in the book felt like a direct reflection of what’s going on today. Women being the dominant gender to use Empirical Philosophy, Robert Weekes is one of only three men at his college. He’s constantly teased and talked down to because men just don’t do Empirical Philosophy. It just feels like a role reversal for what’s happening nowadays; women being overlooked because they’re women.

The bad guys in this book are called “Trenchers.” These dudes remind me of the extreme right movements in America right now. They are constantly fighting against Empirical Philosophy and trying to make it illegal. They think it’s unnatural and the women kill their babies. It’s against God and the Bible and people who study it are abominations. They’re out trying to kill philosophers so that their numbers dwindle and they disappear. It really reminds me of the news and everything that’s going on recently. There was even a march where philosophers went down to Washington DC to march for their rights to use this philosophy.

I think this really bothered me the most in this story especially since it’s fiction and really could draw from anything and it’s just a reflection of what’s going on today.

Being that this is the first fantasy novel, I feel like a lot of this story was just explaining the universe as well. There was a lot of history that coincided with the very real United States history. The wars being fought are also fought by philosophers. There was a lot of explaining the philosophy, what it does, how it works, how it can be manipulated. I feel like I was in a class listening to a lecture about Empirical Philosophy than actually seeing it in action.

When you do see it in action, it’s great. The fighting against Trenchers and even The Cup was fun to read. However, reading passage after passage of Robert learning how to fly at a certain speed, his training regiment, or reading about him carry 100-lb bags for practice all just seemed to keep the story very still. The pacing was pretty slow and even though every few chapters had headers with how much time went by, it feels like no time at all.

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I get with new fantasies there’s a lot of groundwork to cover. There’s a lot of creating how each sigil worked and how the transporters moved and how flight paths can be determined. I don’t want to discredit this novel because it’s the first and the first always shares some of that knowledge. I just wish there was more excitement or something to move the story forward.

Reading about a young country boy going to college in a big city for the first time is basically all I’m getting from this story. Aside from the fact that he can practice philosophy which is uncommon for men, it really just reads like someone’s first adventures being alone and falling in love and learning new skills that he wouldn’t have learned before. There’s definitely growth for everyone and everyone miraculously knows what they want in life, but it took a long while to get there and a lot of reading.

We learn a lot by the end that will probably set you up for the next one, but really it could have happened right in the middle of the book rather than the end. Honestly, at less than 100 pages left in the book I was worried that nothing would happen at all and that I’d have to wait for the next book. Perhaps then we’ll see a lot more action for Robert and can chalk up this first book to first-time jitters.

I’m going to be looking out for the second book in the future. I really want to like this book and that’s why I’m rating it with three stars. The book kept me interested albeit a little wobbly at times, but I did find the whole Empirical Philosophy thing to be interesting and the battle with the Trencher party compelling. I hope I’m just as compelled in the next one.

I received this book from Simon Books in exchange for an honest review. My opinions have not been influenced by the method I received this book and I was not paid to write this book review.

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.

Six Great Reading Challenges for 2018

Six Great Reading Challenges for 2018

I don’t really have any resolutions for myself this year, but many of the goals I have are book based and meant to help expand my bookish horizons. I want to read more books by authors of color. I want to read more books about muslim and middle eastern people. I want to read more non-fiction. I did some analysis of what I read last year and made these goals for myself.

However, for some people, they want to feel even more challenged or challenge themselves for the first time. Maybe it’s finally picking up a book and reading one for the year. Maybe it’s reading 100 books in a year. As book readers, we challenge ourselves daily with what we want to read next. Give me something good to read, as I like to say.

Luckily for those who aren’t sure how they’d like to approach reading this year, book challenges exist for this very cause. I’m not the type of person to create challenges for other people to follow, but I’ve put together a list of some great reading challenges I found on the Internet.

Some of them are hosted by bigger well-known companies. Others are hosted by bookstagrammers like myself who just want to spread the good word. You can pick and choose whichever you want. I know that I’ll be trying my hand at a few to help my ever-growing need to expand my thinking, so don’t feel the pressure to stick with those you choose. These are just worth trying and there’s no shame in quitting if you can’t quite do them. We all know life throws us some nasty curveballs every once in a while.

For readers who want to read a few books this year

The best bet is to go with a simple challenge; give yourself a number of books to read this year and read it. This is a great challenge for those who love to read, but can’t find the time to do it. Goodreads is a great place to start your challenge! I’ve been using Goodreads for quite some years now and it’s been great to record what I’ve read, share with others, and challenge myself to read more. If you’re just starting out, this might be the perfect place to start. You can also find me there at simoneandherbooks.

For readers who want to read even harder

One challenge that I’m setting myself to do this year is the Book Riot Read Harder Challenge. Book Riot has put together 24 prompts for you to follow throughout the year. It’s designed for you to choose two prompts per month. You don’t have to do them in order and you can double up on a few if you’d like. The challenge here is to take what you’ve been reading and take it to the next step. Try your hand on this one if you’re like me and love to expand your thinking.

For readers who own way too many unread books

I came across The Unread Shelf Project on Instagram as a way to challenge yourself to read the books on your TBR. We’re all culprits of buying way too many books and we end up spending years trying to get through the backlog. The ladies at @theunreadshelf@katereadsbooks, and @calsreads have decided to take this challenge head on. You can find more about this challenge by checking out their Instagram hashtag #theunreadshelfproject2018. As Whitney says in her first post, it’s not about shaming yourself for not reading these books. It’s about slowing down and reading what you have. I think I could probably participate in this one as well!

For readers who want to read more diversely

I know I have some goals for myself when it comes to diverse reads, but I also know that Sara-Jayne over at @bookish.harpy has decided to create a unique challenge. Her #harpiesreadtheworld will be themed prompts throughout the year. The challenge is to read books within those themes. That’s it! However, the themes SJ chose will be a little tougher than just reading more stories written by POC. I’ve already got a few books down for the three prompts and I hope I can keep up with them during this busy January!

For readers who never read Harry Potter

This is a great one! I’ve read Harry Potter twice in my life, but because of my age and the age of some of my bookish friends that option came a little late for them. So, Maggie at @mugandnook decided to create a challenge of reading Harry Potter throughout the year. She’s put together a plan for pacing out all seven books throughout the year, but if you’re like me, you might want to read them all at once. As she described it, this is for anyone who wants to read or reread Harry Potter. It’s more of a buddy read than a challenge, but you can follow along at #harreadpotter for more discussions and sharing.

For readers who love to photograph their reads

Calling all bookstagrammers! If you’re just starting out as a book influencer on Instagram, then this challenge will help you get started. The lovely ladies at @theardentbiblio will be hosting photo prompts each month. The task is easy; take photos of books based on what the prompt says and post it on that day. This is a great way to ease yourself into taking bookish photos for yourself or for others! Who knows, maybe you’ll be an influencer with that sick #instalife.

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!

Knowing (and reading) your genre

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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.

Sourdough by Robin Sloan

 

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I’ve only tried to make bread once in my life and while I did have a tasty loaf, I can’t say if it was the best bread in the world. However, I have an inkling that Lois can.

SOURDOUGH by Robin Sloan is the story about a woman named Lois Clary who arrives in San Francisco with a computer science degree. She begins to work at a small tech company building mechanical robot arms to help people do ordinary things.

As a newcomer to the city, she didn’t have many friends so she spent many of her nights at home ordering food from the local restaurant called Clement Street Soup and Sourdough. Every night, she would order the same delicious spicy soup with their famous sourdough bread. And as she ordered, she became friendlier with the two brothers who owned the restaurant.

That was until one day the boys had the move back home due to immigration reasons. Before the two boys left, they gifted Lois with their starter for sourdough bread. It’s an ancient starter that has been passed along generation to generation. The boys left the starter with Lois to keep providing that she takes care of it everyday and makes sure to feed it.

As the skeptic that she is, she goes ahead and does what the boys say, but little did she know that this starter is about to take her on an interesting journey.

San Francisco tech and sourdough go together like peanut butter and jelly. These two things are so synonymous with the city that it makes sense to put together a whole book about it. It was an easy read with an interesting story, but it wasn’t a wow for me. It was good and I liked it, but I wasn’t thinking this could be the best book he’s ever written. What I liked in reading a story about carbs also lacked in some other technical things.

The story is kind of set up like little pockets of time. Each chapter represents one story and the entire book is a culmination of all those stories. It didn’t have the same beat that your average book would have, but each story spoke along the same lines. It’s about bread.

You see Lois get the starter and try to bake her first loaf of sourdough bread. She’s never baked or cooked anything in her life, but she was somehow magically able to bake a loaf of sourdough bread. I know that bread isn’t easy and from the people I know who have tried to make it, no one has done it perfectly.

Yet, you see her bake a loaf and her reaction seemed like this was easy and doesn’t really require much. I understand if Robin Sloan was trying to use the starter as the reason for all the great baking, but I don’t know if you can bake great bread right from the get-go without considering that maybe it’s the starter?

Lois immediately catches the baking bug and start not only making bread for herself, for her friends, for her office, for everyone. One person suggests that she try and sell it and thus begins her story to really make something from the bread. Throughout this, you get little hints and clues as to what might be the cause for her success and you see the magic of the starter. It’s like reading someone’s diary on how they got started with baking bread and all the different things they did to get the bread they wanted. It was more telling than it was showing which made it kind of dull for me.

Then all of a sudden, the sourdough changes on her and about three quarters of the way into the novel, the story really picks up. I was kind of confused by why this didn’t happen much earlier in the novel to help really push the reader along. I really wanted to see what happened with the dough, but even the ending was wrapped up into a neat little bow. I just wanted a little bit more, just another taste of that delicious bread rather than being told.

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However, the book did keep me interested because I did end up finishing it. I think it had something to do with the starter, finding its origins, learning how to hone it, figuring out where all of this leads. You get to read about all these things through the email correspondences Lois has with Beoreg, the guy who gave her the starter. It almost feels magical and alive and that was more intriguing to me than listening to her figure out how to make more bread. Like well kneaded dough, these pieces were sprinkled in like bench flour to keep you from getting stuck.

My favorite part is really the descriptions of the bread. The fluffy and doughy centers where people slabbed butter on top and I wish that this story was more about that than learning how to double the bread output Lois was making everyday.

I think what really drew me to the story was the idea that Lois was going into a vocation that she was good at, but not passionate about. Then, you see her start to make bread and become obsessed with creating a beautiful loaf that pleases a lot of people. She questions her job, she questions her motivation, and then she finally figures out what she wants. I think that’s a story that a lot of people can relate to especially when you work in a field that you’re not a fan of. You just want to see Lois succeed because you want to succeed and that’s a resonance I know far too well.

Emma in the Night by Wendy Walker

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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.