October 2016 Book Wrap Up

 And like that, October is over. I’m going to miss this sweet month of warm/cold weather, good Fall vibes, and even greater reads.

September and October feel like the same months. It’s getting a little bit colder, but not enough to necessitate a heavy coat or many layers. In fact, the weather has been so erratic this month that just yesterday my boyfriend was wearing shorts outside. This morning we woke up to the chill that comes with winter. We’re still a ways away from that and I hope it doesn’t arrive for quite some time.

Anyway, onto the books. I love that I create these TBR lists or book hauls with full intention of reading them all within the month, but the truth and reality of it is that I’m a slow reader with a changing fascinating with genres. I can’t stick to what I set myself out to read!

Here’s my reads from October 2016:

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The Girls by Emma Cline (3.5/5 stars) – Northern California, during the violent end of the 1960s. At the start of summer, a lonely and thoughtful teenager, Evie Boyd, sees a group of girls in the park, and is immediately caught by their freedom, their careless dress, their dangerous aura of abandon. Soon, Evie is in thrall to Suzanne, a mesmerizing older girl, and is drawn into the circle of a soon-to-be infamous cult and the man who is its charismatic leader. Hidden in the hills, their sprawling ranch is eerie and run down, but to Evie, it is exotic, thrilling, charged—a place where she feels desperate to be accepted. As she spends more time away from her mother and the rhythms of her daily life, and as her obsession with Suzanne intensifies, Evie does not realize she is coming closer and closer to unthinkable violence, and to that moment in a girl’s life when everything can go horribly wrong.

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The Lovely Reckless by Kami Garcia (4/5 stars) – Seventeen-year-old Frankie Devereux would do anything to forget the past. Haunted by the memory of her boyfriend’s death, she lives her life by one dangerous rule: Nothing matters. At least, that’s what Frankie tells herself after a reckless mistake forces her to leave her privileged life in the Heights to move in with her dad—an undercover cop. She transfers to a public high school in the Downs, where fistfights don’t faze anyone and illegal street racing is more popular than football.

Marco Leone is the fastest street racer in the Downs. Tough, sexy, and hypnotic, he makes it impossible for Frankie to ignore him—and how he makes her feel. But the risks Marco takes for his family could have devastating consequences for them both. When Frankie discovers his secret, she has to make a choice. Will she let the pain of the past determine her future? Or will she risk what little she has left to follow her heart?

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Commonwealth by Ann Patchett (4/5 stars) – One Sunday afternoon in Southern California, Bert Cousins shows up at Franny Keating’s christening party uninvited. Before evening falls, he has kissed Franny’s mother, Beverly—thus setting in motion the dissolution of their marriages and the joining of two families.

Spanning five decades, Commonwealth explores how this chance encounter reverberates through the lives of the four parents and six children involved. Spending summers together in Virginia, the Keating and Cousins children forge a lasting bond that is based on a shared disillusionment with their parents and the strange and genuine affection that grows up between them.

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Crooked Kingdom by Leigh Bardugo (5/5 stars) – Kaz Brekker and his crew have just pulled off a heist so daring even they didn’t think they’d survive. But instead of divvying up a fat reward, they’re right back to fighting for their lives. Double-crossed and left crippled by the kidnapping of a valuable team member, the crew is low on resources, allies, and hope. As powerful forces from around the world descend on Ketterdam to root out the secrets of the dangerous drug known as jurda parem, old rivals and new enemies emerge to challenge Kaz’s cunning and test the team’s fragile loyalties. A war will be waged on the city’s dark and twisting streets―a battle for revenge and redemption that will decide the fate of magic in the Grisha world.

Book Review: Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi

The family is like the forest: if you are outside it is dense; if you are inside you see that each tree has its own position.

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Synopsis (from Goodreads.com)

Two half sisters, Effia and Esi, unknown to each other, are born into different villages in eighteenth-century Ghana. Effia is married off to an Englishman and will live in comfort in the palatial rooms of Cape Coast Castle, raising children who will be sent abroad to be educated before returning to the Gold Coast to serve as administrators of the empire. Esi, imprisoned beneath Effia in the Castle’s women’s dungeon and then shipped off on a boat bound for America, will be sold into slavery. Stretching from the wars of Ghana to slavery and the Civil War in America, from the coal mines in the American South to the Great Migration to twentieth-century Harlem, Yaa Gyasi’s novel moves through histories and geographies and captures–with outstanding economy and force– the troubled spirit of our own nation. She has written a modern masterpiece

Rating: 5/5 Stars

My thoughts

A remarkable read. I loved every single word of this book. I don’t think I’ve come across a novel like this in a really long time.

The story follows the bloodlines of two half-sisters; one who marries a white trader in Ghana while the other is shipped off to America to be sold as a slave. Both of them experience the prejudices and hardships of being a person of color within the last 100 years.

While in the middle of reading this book, a guy on the street asked me for directions to the train. Instead of just pointing out to him where to go, I asked him to follow me since we were going in the same direction. He asked where I was from and what part of Brooklyn I lived so I asked the same. “BedStuy, but I got out of there because I had enough,” he said.

“Did you always live in Brooklyn?” I asked curiously.

“No, I made my way up here from Mississippi with my mom,” he replied.

It was uncanny how I was in the middle of reading a book on families moving and striving for a better life for their young ones and then I encounter a man who’s family has done the same thing. I don’t think I would have had the same amount of curiosity for him and how he grew up if I wasn’t reading this book.

Honestly, everyone should read this book and other diverse books. Homegoing is one of those books that opens my eyes to the reality of the world. It makes me sad that some people can’t trace their ancestry back any further than a few generations. People made sacrifices in order for other people to survive. Some people are lucky enough to have their family heirlooms passed down generation after generation. Others, not so much. I wouldn’t have known that had I not given this book a shot. We read so many novels about the same characters going through the same hardships, so it’s good for readers like us to branch out and learn a little bit more about something we’re not so comfortable with.

This book made me want to call my mother and ask for more information about my family. I want to know my lineage and being an Asian American, it makes me want to connect further with my roots.

This is the problem of history. We cannot know that which we were not there to see and hear and experience for ourselves. We must rely upon the words of others. Those who were there in the olden days, they told stories to the children so that the children would know, so that the children could tell stories to their children. And so on, and so on.

I can’t say it any more clearly that people should read books like Homegoing. It will broaden your mind and make you less ignorant of the person standing next to you.

I love the Fall and my 2016 Fall TBR

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It’s mid-September and the cool breeze of autumn started to settle amongst the crevices of the city. Soon it will be so cold you need several layers to sit comfortably in your home before the landlord decides to turn on the heat.

Fall must be the designated season for reading. It must have something to do with going back to school and opening new notebooks and fresh pens and buying books for class. It might have something to do with the cool weather and cuddling in close with a good read.

I thought I would prepare myself for the cozy comforts of Fall with a few books to nourish my heart and my mind. I’ve never planned out the books I’ll be reading and I know I won’t be reading all the new books that just released because I’m always behind with what’s trendy (in my book life and my real life). So here’s a quick list of some of the books that sound interesting to me and I’d love to read this Fall:

Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi

The unforgettable New York Times best seller begins with the story of two half-sisters, separated by forces beyond their control: one sold into slavery, the other married to a British slaver. Written with tremendous sweep and power, Homegoingtraces the generations of family who follow, as their destinies lead them through two continents and three hundred years of history, each life indelibly drawn, as the legacy of slavery is fully revealed in light of the present day.

Where Am I Now? by Mara Wilson

29429875Mara Wilson has always felt a little young and a little out of place: as the only child on a film set full of adults, the first daughter in a house full of boys, the sole clinically depressed member of the cheerleading squad, a valley girl in New York and a neurotic in California, and one of the few former child actors who has never been in jail or rehab. Tackling everything from how she first learned about sex on the set of Melrose Place, to losing her mother at a young age, to getting her first kiss (or was it kisses?) on a celebrity canoe trip, to not being “cute” enough to make it in Hollywood, these essays tell the story of one young woman’s journey from accidental fame to relative (but happy) obscurity. But they also illuminate a universal struggle: learning to accept yourself, and figuring out who you are and where you belong. Exquisitely crafted, revelatory, and full of the crack comic timing that has made Mara Wilson a sought-after live storyteller and Twitter star, Where Am I Now?introduces a witty, perceptive, and refreshingly candid new literary voice.

A Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara

When four classmates from a small Massachusetts college move to New York to make their way, they’re broke, adrift, and buoyed only by their friendship and ambition. There is kind, handsome Willem, an aspiring actor; JB, a quick-witted, sometimes cruel Brooklyn-born painter seeking entry to the art world; Malcolm, a frustrated architect at a prominent firm; and withdrawn, brilliant, enigmatic Jude, who serves as their center of gravity. Over the decades, their relationships deepen and darken, tinged by addiction, success, and pride. Yet their greatest challenge, each comes to realize, is Jude himself, by midlife a terrifyingly talented litigator yet an increasingly broken man, his mind and body scarred by an unspeakable childhood, and haunted by what he fears is a degree of trauma that he’ll not only be unable to overcome—but that will define his life forever.

Another Brooklyn by Jacqueline Woodson

Running into a long-ago friend sets memories from the 1970s in motion for August, transporting her to a time and a place where friendship was everything—until it wasn’t. For August and her girls, sharing confidences as they ambled through neighborhood streets, Brooklyn was a place where they believed that they were beautiful, talented, brilliant—a part of a future that belonged to them.

But beneath the hopeful veneer, there was another Brooklyn, a dangerous place where grown men reached for innocent girls in dark hallways, where ghosts haunted the night, where mothers disappeared. A world where madness was just a sunset away and fathers found hope in religion.

32 Yolks by Eric Ripert

25937923Before he earned three Michelin stars at Le Bernardin, won the James Beard Foundation Award for Outstanding Chef, or became a regular guest judge on Bravo’s Top Chef, and even before he knew how to make a proper omelet, Eric Ripert was a young boy in the South of France who felt that his world had come to an end. The only place Eric felt at home was in the kitchen. His desire to not only cook, but to become the best would lead him into some of the most celebrated and demanding restaurants in Paris.

 

 

 

Shrill by Lindy West

From a painfully shy childhood in which she tried, unsuccessfully, to hide her big body and even bigger opinions; to her public war with stand-up comedians over rape jokes; to her struggle to convince herself, and then the world, that fat people have value; to her accidental activism and never-ending battle royale with Internet trolls, Lindy narrates her life with a blend of humor and pathos that manages to make a trip to the abortion clinic funny and wring tears out of a story about diarrhea.

Commonwealth by Ann Patchett

Spanning five decades, Commonwealth explores how this chance encounter reverberates through the lives of the four parents and six children involved. Spending summers together in Virginia, the Keating and Cousins children forge a lasting bond that is based on a shared disillusionment with their parents and the strange and genuine affection that grows up between them.

Crooked Kingdom by Leigh Bardugo

22299763Kaz Brekker and his crew have just pulled off a heist so daring even they didn’t think they’d survive. But instead of divvying up a fat reward, they’re right back to fighting for their lives. Double-crossed and left crippled by the kidnapping of a valuable team member, the crew is low on resources, allies, and hope. As powerful forces from around the world descend on Ketterdam to root out the secrets of the dangerous drug known as jurda parem, old rivals and new enemies emerge to challenge Kaz’s cunning and test the team’s fragile loyalties. A war will be waged on the city’s dark and twisting streets―a battle for revenge and redemption that will decide the fate of magic in the Grisha world.

 

Swear on this Life by Renee Carlino

When a bestselling debut novel from mysterious author J.Colby becomes the literary event of the year, Emiline reads it reluctantly. As an adjunct writing instructor at UC San Diego with her own stalled literary career and a bumpy long-term relationship, Emiline isn’t thrilled to celebrate the accomplishments of a young and gifted writer.

Yet from the very first page, Emiline is entranced by the story of Emerson and Jackson, two childhood best friends who fall in love and dream of a better life beyond the long dirt road that winds through their impoverished town in rural Ohio.

I wonder if within the three months of Fall I’ll be able to read all of these. Will I give up at some point? Will I want to move something to the next season? Will I end up reading another book from my endlessly growing pile of novels? I think it’ll be interesting to see what I end up reading even if I planned it all out ahead of time. I guess my interest in a book just comes with my mood (who would have thought?)

I do know that I will be enjoying the cool breeze and a warm cup of tea as I go through these. What does your Fall look like?