The Incendiaries by R.O. Kwon

The Incendiaries by R.O. Kwon

According to the Internet, an “incendiary” is either someone who starts fires (in a military context) or someone who stirs up conflict. Probably both of these definitions makes sense for this novel.

Before I get into anything, I’m about to tell you now that this post will have spoilers. I just can’t talk about this novel without actually spoiling it, so look away if you haven’t read the book yet!

Continue reading “The Incendiaries by R.O. Kwon”

My Favorite Genres of All Time

My Favorite Genres of All Time

I think I might have written a post like this in the past, but I’ve been thinking a lot about books and genres. It’s probably because I’m in the process of moving across the country and that means whittling my book piles down to the ones that I truly want to read.

I rummaged through all my books, made lists, and figured out that the top billings for genres that I love to read. Here’s what I got:

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General Fiction

My general fiction contains everything from literary greats to the beach read. I love fiction in general, but there’s a time and place for all of it. I like to keep a mix of books available so that I can pick and choose depending on my mood. Most times, I’ll read a fun summer read because I’m always in the mood for those. I didn’t think that my general fiction pile would be so big, but I guess that’s because it’s got some literary fiction, womens’ fiction, some romance novels, and my diverse books.

Most literary fiction I read is from an author of color. I just love the stories that they tell and they always make me think a little harder and understand a little deeper.

The sad thing about this list is that there’s not a lot of literary fiction here. Most of these books are fun reads or “womens’ fiction.” I think the reason for that is because I’ve read so many stories about the young woman moving to New York in pursuit of something. Or that couple that’s on the verge of breaking up and they’re doing what they can to stay together. As I get older, I’m noticing that my tastes are changing and I’m moving away from books by the Jonathans (Safran Foer, Franzen, etc) and more into books that let me escape a little from my life.

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Science Fiction/Fantasy

Sci-fi and Fantasy is my next biggest genre. If anything, sci-fi/fantasy is my favorite genre. The list here is small, but I also have all my bigger fantasy reads on my Kindle.

When I was growing up, I was in love with science fiction and fantasy. I even ran the sci-fi/fantasy literary magazine at my high school! However, I didn’t read a lot when I was a kid and therefore don’t have a lot of the classic sci-fi/fantasy novels under my belt. While I don’t have many of those classics in my TBR pile, I do have aspirations to read them all. Hello, I haven’t even read Hitchhiker’s Guide yet…

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Non-fiction

My non-fiction pile is strangely tall. I also included my poetry books in here as well. I think the reason for that is because I haven’t read them. I love reading non-fiction essays and memoirs, but fiction just always happens to take over when I’m reading books. I think I’ll change it this summer and at least read one non-fiction book per month. This way, I’ll get some non-fiction in my life!


Sometimes I like to throw in some thriller, some romance and some YA to mix things up. I always thought I was a YA reader, but I guess most of the YA I’m reading is also Science Fiction and Fantasy. When I think back to my reading life, I think of the Twilight series and Harry Potter and The Hunger Games being big in my life. Isn’t it funny how sometimes your favorite genres are just sitting right in front of your face?

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”

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.

Little Fires Everywhere to Celeste Ng

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I know this review is a long time coming. I’ve been mulling over this book for the past couple of weeks. I don’t know how to describe my feelings for this book, but I know they are good. I just don’t know how to explain it the best way possible. I’m going to at least try.

I don’t know where to start with this book. There were stories within stories and some of them I wanted to know more about and there were others that I could have done without. There were stories that randomly popped up and ones you followed throughout the book.

Have you ever been the new person in town? I’ve never been new and when I’m new, I’m already assimilated to the town the best that I can. However, some towns are just too small and too friendly that if you’re slightly different you may be facing some serious backlash.

In Little Fires Everywhere, you follow Mia and Pearl as they arrive in Shaker Heights, Ohio. It’s considered one of the most idyllic towns in the suburbs of Ohio and we all know that with idyllic towns there’s always something hiding under the surface.

This was my official first book by Celeste Ng. I’ve tried reading books by her in the past, but I had some trouble with them. Mostly because of the I’m really bad when it comes to death and dying and her first book was all about that.

Little Fires Everywhere feels like a combination of stories. It’s almost like watching a play where all the characters are important and all of them have a background that needs to be discussed and discovered to help with outlining the bigger theme of the book; the sacrifices mothers go through.

I’m not sure if it was Celeste Ng’s intention to make a book about being a mother, but it happens to be that way. And for some reason I’ve been reading a lot of books about mothers and what they do for their children. Perhaps it’s a sign that I should call mine?

But the story is a culmination of different stories. Themes covered from sex as a teenager, pregnancy, abortion, adoption, surrogacy, sacrifice, suffering, struggle, all the words that start with the letter S. Honestly, I thought the book could be longer since there was so much covered.

So Mia and Pearl arrive in this town and you’re curious as to where they came from. What made them move here? Why did they decide on Shaker Heights? All these questions kind of rise up while you read the book. The further you read, the more you find out.

However, I think the most important part of the book and probably the catalyst for everyone’s secrets revealed is when a young couple tries to adopt an abandoned Asian baby. Without giving too much away, the birth mother realizes too late that she didn’t want to give the baby away and the couple who wanted to adopt her was already in love with the baby. You can imagine the tension between the two families and what will happen next.

What’s interesting is that Celeste Ng takes on every major character in this book and starts to unpack their lives. It’s expertly laid out throughout the novel so that with every chapter that goes by, you learn a little bit more. Perhaps it’s more like watching a serial TV show than a play where each episode shares with you more about the people involved.

But the amazing part is how everything is sort of attached to the lives they chose, the decisions they made, and the actions that took their lives and changed who they are and why they did what they did.

It’s really hard to talk about this book without giving it away. I will say that if you’re a mom and you know the struggles and sacrifices you’ve made for yourself and for your children, then this will be a good book for you. And if you’re a person without kids, you might wonder what your mom went through in order to let you grow up in a good and loving home.

I received this copy of the book at BookCon. You can find Little Fires Everywhere on Amazon.