The Color Purple – A Reflection

The Color PurpleThe Color Purple by Alice Walker is rated 4 stars because it is a moving and beautiful story which feels authentic.

First, a Review

It’s hard to review a book which is considered a modern classic and is loved by so many. It feels like most anything that could be said about the book has already been said and either you will read it or you will not. But I will attempt to say a few things about this book that will hopefully sway those that have not red it to consider reading it.

I had avoided reading this book for quite awhile because I knew it dealt with tough subjects and I am not always in a place to deal with such things in the books I’m reading. But a friend who I trust on these sorts of things said while the book did deal with tough subjects, it wasn’t done in such a way as to be emotionally challenging to deal with. Thus, I gave it a chance (I suggested we read it for my book club), and I’m very glad I did. While horrible things happen to Celie (see trigger warning for more details), because this book is written as letters, these things are mentioned as mere facts. While they impact Celie, she takes it for granted that it’s just the way things are and doesn’t say much else about them. If you are worried about this book being emotionally draining, don’t. It’s an uplifting story.

The matter of fact way these horrible thing are discussed makes them more powerful. The sense that this is just the way things are brings to light how bad it really is without having to say that. These things are not uncommon and that makes them all the more atrocious. Even though they are common, the books shows how different women respond to them, which is also incredibly powerful. While these women see these things as the way things are, they also do not all choose to respond to them equally and this variance is a kind of power over these forces they do not fully control. This also makes it an uplifting story.

Celie’s letters are written with spelling and grammatical errors and more like spoken speech than formal letter writing. This makes it a bit harder to get into the story as one has to navigate the unique language of the book. But it is incredibly powerful in this book as it shows so much of who Celie is. In general, I am not a fan of novels written through letters, with a few exceptions, and this is one of them. Again, it works really well for this book as it shows the core of who Celie is in a straightforward way which feels more authentic to her voice than a novelization would have felt. Overall, this is a book I highly recommend and if you, like me, have reservations about this book due to its subject matter and/ or its style, I myself felt these reservations were unwarranted.

Now, a Reflection

Note, there are spoilers in this reflection. The entire reflection is a spoiler, so there are no markers indicating parts one can read and avoid spoilers.

In my book club, we discussed Celie’s and Shug’s relationship and several of the members expressed how frustrating it was when Shug left Celie. Some also expressed confusion at why Celie was so accepting of how their relationship played out. Besides the fact that Celie was the kind of person who mostly accepted things they way they were, this relationship felt incredibly authentic to me and it is something I wished I had read when I was in high school. At that time in my life, I myself was in a similar relationship and I would have benefited greatly from seeing an example of the kind of relationship I was in. My best friend and I moved beyond friendship to lovers, yet, it was complicated by the fact that neither of us was entirely sure of our sexuality. We both at various points dating men and neither of us saw it as a violation of our relationship. We weren’t polyamorous; we didn’t know what that was. We wouldn’t have tolerated one of us dating another woman. But there was this expectation that we would date men. We didn’t discuss this in detail and all I can say is that she was supportive of me dating men. For me, I didn’t really consider the possibility of us having an exclusive relationship. I didn’t really cross my mind. In retrospect, I think this is because society expects women to date men, whether we are interested in doing so or not. Women aren’t freely given a lot of agency in their sexual relationships with men and this greatly impacts women’s ability to explore their own sexuality. In my reflection on the book, Carmilla, I discussed how my relationship with this woman was invisible to most people around us, even when we were vocal about it. I believe this played a role in both of us dating men. At no point, did we sit down and say, well, obviously we have to keep dating men; there was no discussion of it at all. One of us went on a date with a man and that was that. We discussed it as friends would, not as lovers open to additional partners or lovers being cheated on. It did not occur to us that there was any other way and I felt that this is how Celie and Shug saw their relationship. In addition, Shug, needed the external validation of men’s attraction to her for her self-esteem. I can relate to this. I spent years dating men because of what I already discussed in how I didn’t think to not date them, but also because I was raised to thrive on sexual attention from males. It took me many years to recognize that while I enjoyed that attention, I did not enjoy dating or having sex with almost all men. I had to get to a place where I was confident enough in who I was as a person to be able to say that I expect relationships with women to be exclusive and that I do not need the sexual attention of men to feel complete. That’s not an easy place to get to and it’s not a place I think Shug was ready to get to anytime soon. While unfortunately I think there are some readers who dismiss their relationship as real because of how it plays out, I saw it as more real because it mirrored my experience. I think if I had read this book back then, I would have thought more carefully about my own sexuality and what I wanted with my best friend turned lover. This type of story matters and I am incredibly grateful to have read it.

Trigger warnings (contains spoilers): sexual abuse, namely incest, detailed not graphically depicted; children born of incest; physical abuse, detailed not graphically depicted; racism and racial slurs

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Ms. Marvel Volumes 1-4 – A Review

On Tuesday, I finished reading Ms. Marvel Vol. 4. Instead of reviewing that single volume here without having posted reviews of the proceeding volumes, I decided to post all the reviews here in one blog post. I tend to write short reviews of graphic novels making this a great way to review them in a blog post. This graphic novel series is incredibly important to the genre of super hero comics since it features a Muslim teenager as the inhuman super hero. This series accurately depicts her culture in various scenes and makes no apologies for her character’s decision to respect that culture. In addition, it strives to be feminist, diverse, tolerant, and modern. Even as someone who doesn’t read the super hero comic genre, I can see how vitally important this series is to that genre and I think it is worth the time to review the volumes I’ve read here.

Ms Marvel Vol 1Ms. Marvel Vol. 1: No Normal by G. Willow Wilson is rated 5 stars because it is incredibly well done and shows a perspective and culture rarely depicted in literature. Volume 1 collects single issues #1-5.

I don’t read superhero comics. I barely read graphic novels of any kind. I rarely give 5 star ratings. Yet, I just gave a 5 star rating to a superhero comic. That in and of itself speaks volumes and I’m not sure how much I can add to it, but I will try.

This volume contains the individual issues around Ms. Marvel’s backstory. Kalama’s struggle to understand who she is before she becomes a superhero is an interesting enough storyline on its own; adding the element of her also becoming a superhero gives it even more dimension. It is a fully flushed out aspect of her character and it gives her substantial depth – deeper than some novels are able to achieve.

Also, I LOVED the illustrations. The background images are incredible. Like the sticker on the fire extinguisher which reads “Die Fire Die.” I want tons of those in every issue! They are fantastic and made me laugh over and over again!

As someone who doesn’t particularly enjoy violence, even when PG-level depicted, I was happy to find little of it in this volume. One of the only other superhero graphic novels I’ve read, Strong Female Protagonist, had more violence in it than strictly made me happy, so I was thrilled that this one kept violence to a minimum.

I highly recommend this series to anyone who has yet to pick it up; not just because it is a great leap forward in terms of representation, but because it says incredibly important things (see vol. 2 in particular). This is the future of socially revelant media and I’m so glad it is becoming more of the norm.

Ms Marvel Vol 2Ms. Marvel Vol. 2: Generation Why by G. Willow Wilson is rated 5 stars because the social commentary is incredible! Volume 2 collects issues #6-11

While I LOVED Ms. Marvel vol. 1, I didn’t expect to continue to like the series. I have found that I have a hard time sticking with series in any format, mostly because they always disappoint me at some point. It’s hard to keep hitting the high mark and eventually when it consistently falls short, I lose interest. So far, Ms. Marvel is no where hitting below the high mark; in fact, this volume might have raised it a bit. The social commentary in this volume is incredible. I won’t say more, but you should definitely check it out.

There was a guest illustrator for the first two issues in this volume and that was disappointing, particularly because I was not a fan of the new illustrator’s style. Importantly, the subtlies of the background that I love disappeared and I wasn’t sure I was going to be able to stick with a series that lost that much depth. But, it went back to the same high caliber of illustrations. So, if like me, you are a bit hesitant after the first issue in this volume, just give it a minute.

This is a phenomenal series and I definitely recommend people give it a read.

Ms Marvel Vol 3 Ms. Marvel Vol. 3: Crushed by G. Willow Wilson is rated 3.5 stars because it moved much more towards the super hero good guy versus bad guy trope and that’s not my thind. Volume 3 collects issues #12-15.

There are some great moments in this volume, like when Bruno gets all annoyed by the term “friendzone” and articulates well how there’s no such thing. And it’s still refreshing to see a non-white American culture accurately portrayed. But, unfortunately, this comic is headed down the road that is expected of it – to become a regular good guy vs. bad guy fight it out comic. That sort of thing does not hold my interest. But I will stick with it through another volume. It’s still an incredibly well done comic series; it just isn’t my kind of series.

Ms Marvel Vol 4Ms. Marvel Vol. 4: Last Days by G. Willow Wilson is rated 2.5 stars because I was particularly disappointed with this volume, which had som much potential to do great things, but ended up instead moving away from its feminist roots. Volume 4 collects issues #16-19.

I was disappointed with this volume for several reasons. I’m not a fan of cliffhangers or vague story lines. The sheer number of cross-overs is getting annoying, especially since I’m not a typical comic book fan and have little knowledge of these characters. With these cross-overs, Kamala goes back to being a fan girl with little agency, which I find incredibly annoying. But the thing I was the most disappointed with was the conversation Kamala and Bruno had as they were looking at the end of the world. I simply need Kamala to have more agency and more tenacity than she does. Honestly, that conversation feeds into sexism and I came to the series to see that removed from the typical comic book genre. I’m honestly not sure I will be picking up the next volume. If you’ve read it, let me know what you thought about it so I can decide whether to read it.

Note: The reviews for volumes 1 through 4 originally posted on Goodreads.

Another Note: for some reason, when I linked to my Goodreads review of Strong Female Protagonist, that review was posted on this blog post inadvertently. I have since fixed that issue, but it may still show on some social media posts. I apologize for that oversight.

What have you thought of this series so far?

 

Sparrow Migrations – A Review

Sparrow MigrationsSparrow Migrations by Cari Noga is rated 2.5 stars, rounded up because there was decent character development and I was engaged, but the story wasn’t particularly memorable or interesting

When I read the summary for this book, I thought it was going to be a sad book and thus it spent a long time on my Kindle shelf. But this year, I’ve committed to tackle Mount TBR and have a quarter to half of the books I read be ones I already own. Plus, I enjoy listening to easy reads when I’m doing things around the house, so this one ended up being a book I finally got to. Thankfully it wasn’t an emotional story. Yes, it starts with the Miracle on the Hudson landing, but it quickly moves beyond that to look at the lives of three families who were impacted by this event. In addition, only one of those families was on the plane; the other two were on ferries which aided in the rescue. This is not a book about tragedy but rather a book about finding oneself.

The stories of each family vary quite a bit from each other, which makes their stories more interesting. It does make it a bit easier to keep their stories straight; however, in the beginning while the reader is still learning their stories, it is really difficult to keep track of all the characters. This is because the story does not follow the point of view of one character from each family, but rather nearly all family members. This constant change in perspective is frustrating and it only minimally adds to the story. There’s even a time when the point of view is from a minor character who is not one of the family members. It is simply too many perspectives, especially since all essentially told in the same voice. While I understand why the author did this, it simply did not add the depth to the story to the extent she thought it did. There were moments when these other perspectives were helpful in understanding the characters and their development; however, it would have been better to limit this to a few brief moments when the point of view was from the non-main family character. For example, Robby was the main character of his family and I would have greatly preferred to have his family’s story told from his point of view entirely, but it was useful to see his dad’s perspective at one particular point in the novel. Yet, it was less useful to see his point of view nearly as often as Robbie’s. This constant switching is particularly challenging in the beginning and I suspect some readers will bail early in the book simply because of this issue.

The best thing about this book was its character development, though it could have been better had the story stuck to one perspective per family. Mostly, the characters are developed enough that they feel like real people facing real challenges and this made it easy to finish the book. Unfortunately, the characters do not grow as much as one would expect in a book about how an event impacts one’s life. For example, Deborah does not really grow much as a person. There are some changes, but mostly those are external events that naturally cause a person’s life to change, not necessarily the person. Maybe Deborah did change internally because of these external events, but the reader doesn’t read about those internal conflicts. Again, this is because there are simply too many perspectives in this book. Unless this book was going to be 100 or 200 more pages, it’s simply not possible to develop this many characters and then have the reader inside each one of their heads to truly understand and see the full complexity of how external events are impact them. There is one family where their story is told nearly entirely through the perspective of the mom and she has the most growth of all the characters. This supports my conclusion that there were simply too many perspectives.

I was a bit disappointed that the storylines overlapped, but that was too be expected. It was a bit much that nearly each day covered in the novel was covered from the perspective of multiple families. I understand that it might have been easier to write this way, but I would have preferred to see each families timelines to progress in their own chapters instead of side by side in the same chapter about one particular day. It took me awhile to get used to this style and because of the sheer number of perspectives, it made it even harder to follow the book early on. I can see a decent number of readers bailing because it is just so much to keep track of.

There are two characters whose story did not always feel realistic: Robby and Brett. Robby is autistic and while there are moments when it appears to be an accurate depiction of an autistic person, there were moments when it was less clear. As someone who is neurotypical, I have no basis for determining whether this was an accurate portrayal, so do take my concern with a grain of salt. There were just a few times when it felt more like a neurotypical person writing about her perceived perspectives of a neurodivergent person than truly from the perspective of a neurodivergent person. This is also true with Brett. As she comes to terms with her sexuality, there are moments where her perspective feels more like it is the perspective of a person who has not seriously struggled with her sexual identity than an accurate portrayal. As a woman who has spent much of her life reflecting on and trying to understand her sexuality, her portrayal did feel inauthentic at points; however, I respect that my experience is not the only experience and there may be more truth to this portrayal than I felt there was. But ultimately, it did not feel like there was enough internal conflict to drive her changes.

This book was better than I expected, but was not as good as it could have been because of all the various points of view. If you are interested in reading this book, know that the beginning with be a bit slow going simply because of the number of perspectives. For readers who have difficulties tracking many viewpoints or simply do not like reading many viewpoints, this book is not for you. This book is best for readers who like developed characters and find many viewpoints interesting, even if it means a bit less depth for each character.

Little Gold – Review: ARC

Little Gold coverLittle Gold by Allie Rogers – 4/ 5 stars

Trigger Warnings: Suicide attempt (not graphically depicted) and sexual assault (not graphically depicted)

Little Gold is a touching, heartfelt story about a little girl called Little Gold who is struggling to navigate a family falling apart and a world which is not accepting of who she is: a tomboy and a lesbian. Her neighbor, Peggy, an older woman, with grandmother like qualities, befriends Little Gold in part to bestow upon her acceptance and information Little Gold would otherwise not have received.

This book was challenging to get into at first. It is heavily British and there are many words which I was not familiar with, though they made sense in context. It is a slow start and it was not entirely clear where the book is going. In fact, I expected the book to go into more depth about the girls who bully Little Gold for dressing like a boy, but that storyline faded away quickly. This is not exactly a coming of age story, particularly around Little Gold’s identity and sexuality. Instead, it is a coming of age story during a family crisis and a significant shift in living standards. It is a story of navigating through the dark.

It is hard for me to describe this book as it is an emotion that carries one through to the end. Somehow, Little Gold grew on me and I felt for her as she watched her family fall apart, helpless to do much of anything. Yet somehow, this is not a book which made me cry; there is always this sense that things will work out.

This book tends to be a bit vague, though the major plot points are resolved. I was a bit disappointed with how well things wrapped up in the end as it was a bit too convenient. But it was so heartwarming, the end didn’t much affect the rating.

I recommend this book to the serious reader; the kind of reader willing to push past a slow beginning to get to an amazing story. This book is not for everyone, but it is an excellent book for the right type of reader.

I received this ebook free from Netgalley and publisher Legend Times Group in exchange for an honest review.

Add to you Goodreads TBR! Little Gold

Considering reading it? Check out a free Kindle preview! Ready to buy? Purchase on Amazon or Book Depository. Please note that Diversifying Perspective is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program and Book Depository Affiliates Program, affiliate advertising programs designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to free Kindle previews through Amazon.com and BookDepository.com. This does not impact the selection of books nor the content of reviews.

The Hate U Give – Review: Library

the hate u give coverThe Hate U Give by Angie Thomas – 5/ 5 stars

This book, The Hate U Give, has forever changed me. It is an incredibly powerful story, yet it is written in straightforward language, making it accessible to anyone. I read this book faster than nearly any other book I’ve read, partly because of this straightforward language and partly because I could not stop reading it. Every time I stopped to do something else, I found my mind coming back to this storyline, trying to process and cope with what had just happened while also trying to figure out what happens next.

It’s description is accurate and lays out the general progression of what will happen next, but it did not capture the intensity of this book. I went into this book knowing that Khalil was going to die and yet, when he was killed early in the book, I found myself crying. It was not the last time I cried either. Starr lives a life no child should be asked to live, balancing race, navigating gang politics, learning now to stay safe, and recovering from tragedy and trauma. Yet, she takes much of it in stride and still lives and enjoys life. She is an amazing narrator and captures the essence of the world around her in a way that transports the reader. She is an objective narrator while also feeling the effects of the world around her. She is raw and poignant and brave. She is the perfect young adult narrator.

The description also does not capture the breadth of this book. The Hate U Give covers many issues around race and racism, but often in a subtle way, which is integrated into the story. It covers cultural differences between white and black people, but in a way in which it does not overly highlight them or shut the reader down. The Hate U Give discusses all of these in a disarming way, allowing the reader to see their own mistakes, self-reflect, and decide if and how they want to make a change. In addition, the book does not over explain concepts, sometimes not explaining them at all and allowing the context to speak for itself. Other times, Starr explains the concepts in a way in which it seems natural conversation. Thomas’s amazing writing style gives the reader the chance to learn and grow without feeling ignorant or racist, which is a true gift.

I need to point out that I am not a typical fan of YA. While I have enjoyed a few YA books, for the most part, there are two things about them that I routinely dislike: love triangles and simplistic, non-descriptive writing. This book lacked both. Yes, there is a romance, but there is no triangle, at least not for Starr. And yes, the writing is straightforward, but it is not dumbed down and even though it is told in the first person, a style I typically do not like, the narrator captures so many details, emotions, connections, understandings, well, just everything. I lived this book, and now it is my proof that both YA books and first person narratives can to better than they typically do when it comes to providing depth.

I loved that Starr’s boyfriend was the role model of healthy relationships, even though the books starts with a moment where he was not the ideal boyfriend. Yet, he is not perfect. He grows and develops and is willing to learn. He makes mistakes, but works through them, and by the end is a great example of not only what a great boyfriend is, but also a great human being. We need more characters like this in books, especially YA books.

I do not know how to do this book justice, even though I so very much want to do it justice. Some reviewers find it more challenging to review a book they do not like, but I struggle with reviewing a book I love. I do not know how to capture the essence of the book, how it conveyed to me its secrets, how it moved me to a whole different place on my journey, how it will stick with me like a memory I actually experienced, or how much I want everyone else to read it. Some books speak to the soul, but that is a deeply intimate conversation which is hard to relay to others, or at least it is for me. This book not only spoke to my soul; it changed it. I can never look at the world the same way again and I am better for it. The hype for this book is not overrated and this is definitely a must read book. It will likely be in my top five reads of the year and has already made my favorite list. I likely will read this again, something I very rarely do, and I will devour everything else Angie Thomas writes. This is an incredible novel on its own, but to then realize that it is a debut speaks volumes to the quality of Thomas’s writing. Read this book; you will not regret it.

Add to Goodreads! The Hate U Give

Considering reading it? Check out a free Kindle preview! Ready to buy? Purchase on Amazon or Book Depository. Please note that Diversifying Perspective is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program and Book Depository Affiliates Program, affiliate advertising programs designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to free Kindle previews through Amazon.com and BookDepository.com. This does not impact the selection of books nor the content of reviews.

The Hour of Daydreams – Bookish: Author Interview

AuthorPic_RiverMs. Rutledge, thank you so very much for taking the time for this interview. When I finished The Hour of Daydreams, I had questions about the context around the book which I did not quite know how to seek out an answer to, so I was delighted when you agreed to talk with me. I have since searched through your website and discovered a few other Q&As in which you talk about the folk tale this book is a retelling of, but for my readers that have not seen those interviews,

1) do you mind sharing again the name and details for that folk tale? What was it about this folk tale that inspired you to write a novel based on it?

See below.

2) In your interview on What the Log had to Say, you state that you gave the character, Tala, agency in her story. Why did you make that choice? Is it important to you for female characters to have agency?

In the folktale, a man falls in love with a star maiden. His father plots a way to entrap her. The man steals her wings and hides them. She moves into their home and becomes his bride. Through this, her side of the story is left unspoken. It’s taken for granted that she’s passive, a prize, an object. I couldn’t trust such a story as complete. My novel turns those assumptions on their head. Tala is in more control over the turn of events than the man who stole from her. To me, the maiden in the story is a main character, a powerful but vulnerable being, but not someone whose destiny is solely in the hands of the men around her. At the same time, the men in the folktale felt one-dimensional too. Manolo is much more conflicted. One could even say his love is genuine.

3) I am still fascinated by this idea that a folk tale could be based on real people. I saw the creation of the folk tale as a way for the characters to cope with a painful truth, about Tala’s background as well as her departure. In The Hour of Daydreams, the truth and the folk tale are so seamlessly interwoven, I felt the book spoke to a larger philosophical topic on the concept of reality – this question of where is the line between truth and tale. Was the book intended to speak to the concept of reality as shifting? What are your thoughts on reality and that line between truth and tale?

Truth is always changing and revealing itself. One person’s truth may be different from another’s. And even our own truths, about others, about ourselves, can fluctuate and deepen over time. The folktale reveals a snapshot of one truth. It is limited and designed to close the story, as if the one truth is all there is to tell.

I recreated the river scene in the folktale to show simultaneous truths from each character experiencing that moment in their own way. From the river scene, the novel branches off from the folktale to explore my unanswered questions about this marriage on new ground. Because of the nature of truth, learning about the characters’ past requires detective work. History is dependent on the historian. This is why both Manolo, and then Malaya, must seek out the answers about Tala for themselves.

4) Why did you choose the setting of the Philippines and use one of its folk tales? Is it important for you to share Filipino culture with an American English speaking audience? Is there anything you hope the readers gain from reading The Hour of Daydreams?

I chose to base the novel in the Philippines because that is where the folktale, The Star Maidens, comes from. However, there are many different versions of a similar folktale from other cultures. I’ve read one from Africa, where sky women come down from the sky via a rope that a man cuts in order to keep one of them grounded. And an Incan version where a sun goddess loses her golden dress so she cannot fly, and marries the man who hid it from her. These many shared tales suggest a link between cultures; there are universal themes that we are all invested in. More often than not, however, someone else’s version of a story is told. It means a lot to me that more people are seeking to learn about The Star Maidens and Filipino books/culture as a result of reading The Hour of Daydreams.

5) For me, this story was lyrical, poetic, magical, mystical, and vague. Even the setting felt a bit surreal. The truth was not laid out in a clear way and I am not certain I fully understand the truth of Tala. Was this intentional and if so, to what purpose? Why leave the truth a bit unresolved and hard to grasp?

The novel tells two parallel stories. Because of this, some people interpret the novel as saying that two things are always happening at once, both in the story, and in life; that the real world has a magical parallel. However, it was not possible for me to write two stories and make them both true. Early on, I had to decide which story I believed in order to continue the book. In other words, one of the plots is false. This was a great challenge, so to me, one of the greatest testaments to the novel’s success is the fact many readers have made far different conclusions from my own.

6) Would you say this book falls within modern Filipino literature, Filipino-American literature, or does it defy such categories? For readers of the The Hour of Daydreams who want to read more Filipino literature, Filipino-American literature, and/ or #ownvoices stories, do you have recommendations of fiction and/or nonfiction authors?

I’m proud to be an author, period. It’s a tough industry. I don’t know what category the book falls under, I myself am a Filipino American. I recently did the keynote speech for an awards ceremony honoring outstanding Filipino students in my community, and it was a privilege to learn how proud the students and their parents were to have me as a role model. While there are few nationally published authors in my city, there are even fewer of Filipino descent. I think the same can be said of most places. I’m happy I was able to write a book based on my own vision; not that of an editor or publisher who has their idea of what a book by a Filipino author should look like. I’d like to hope industry standards are changing; that publishers are responding to readers who seek authenticity in diverse stories.

Thank you so much for the questions, for reading and for connecting. I highly recommend Deceit and Other Possibilities, by Vanessa Hua;Monstress, by Lysley Tenorio; Homegoing, by Yaa Gyasi; Queen of Spades, by Michael Shum; A Cup of Water Under My Bed, by Daisy Hernandez; and Marriage of a Thousand Lies, by SJ Sindu. I’m currently reading Jose Rizal’s Noli Me Tangere, and have Viet Thanh Nguyen’s The Sympathizers and Arundhati Roy’s The Ministry of Utmost Happiness waiting on my nightstand.

7) Do you plan to write more folk tale retellings? Retellings is a particular favorite genre of mine.

More and more, I feel another folktale retelling will happen. I’m getting excited for that time to come, when I’ve wrapped up my current projects. This is a matter of years from now; if you have the same email address then I’ll be sure to get in touch!

For more author interviews, press releases, and book reviews, check out: https://www.reneerutledge.com/

July Reads and an Update – Bookish: Reads

Now that July has come to a close, I thought I would share with you what I read in July. Overall, I read 13 books, including 4 audiobooks, 3 children’s books, 3 young adult books, 3 eARCs, 3 nonfiction books, 8 diverse books, and 9 books written by women. For July, 62% of the books I read were diverse, well over my 50% goal. In addition, 70% of the books I read in July were written by women, exceeding my 50% goal. Overall, I’m very satisfied with this month of reading. (Be sure to scroll all the way to the end for an update!)

dreadnoughtThe first book I finished in July was Dreadnought, which I rated 4/ 5 stars. If you read my reflection, you’ll know that I requested the eARC of its sequel Sovereign before having read Dreadnought. It was a bit of a mad dash to read Dreadnought and Sovereign before Sovereign’s release date, but I’m so glad I took on the challenge!

tom sawyer coverI also finished The Adventures of Tom Sawyer in July and it was a 4/ 5 stars for me. It turns out that while I had read The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn as a child, I had not read Tom Sawyer. Audible channels, which are free for Audible or Prime members, had an audiobook version of Tom Sawyer narrated by Nick Offerman and I knew I had to listen to it. Offerman’s performance was great and I’m so glad I let him read me this classic. The review will not be published on this blog, but you can find it on my other social media sites, namely Facebook, Goodreads, or find the Goodreads link on Twitter. If you want to see ALL of my reviews for all the books I read, I very much recommend you follow me on Facebook, Goodreads, or both!

year of yes coverNext I started and finished Year of Yes in July and it was a 5 star read and made my favorites list, a pretty exclusive list for me. It will be reviewed on this blog at some point in the near future (see below for information on that). I borrowed the audiobook version from the library and Shonda Rhimes narrates it. Her narration is incredible and really made the book stick with me. This is a book I plan to reread and when I do, I will do so through audio again. I think it’s the only way to read this book.

the hour of daydreamsI then finished the eARC The Hour of Daydreams, a 4 star read whose review will publish next Monday. I also hope to have an author interview with Renee Rutledge about her book to post on Friday. This book was a wonderful read and I’m so grateful I was given a review copy. I hope you will check out my posts around this book next week!

the gifts of imperfection coverIt was time to switch it up with a bit of nonfiction. I read I Thought it was Just Me and it was the first Brene Brown book I did not rate 5 stars. I eventually settled on 4 stars, though I initially gave it 3 stars. But after realizing I was partly downgrading the book because it forced me to look at myself in a way I was not thrilled about, I decided to not take it out on the book. It is a good book, but I did have real criticisms about it. It was essentially her first book and I’m glad to see that her follow-up books have been excellent reads. This book will not be reviewed on this site, but you can see my review for it on Facebook, Goodreads, or find the Goodreads link on Twitter.

echo coverI came across Echo in a sale Audible was having on its children’s books and saw that it had won an Audie. I very much wanted to read it, so I borrowed the audiobook from the library and was not disappointed with the quality of the audiobook. It was great how each story within the larger novel was narrated by a difference actor. In addition, the music the book referenced was played in the audiobook, which made it a much richer experience. I am glad I choose the audiobook over the print version. This was a 4 star read for me and its review will post on this blog soon (again, see below for more detail).

monkey mind coverThen came my first bad read, Monkey Mind. I had first rated it 2 stars, but upon further reflection, one particular scene greatly bothered me and I had to downgrade it to a 1 star rating. It’s not a book I recommend for anyone. If you want to see the review of it, check out Facebook, Goodreads, or find the Goodreads link on Twitter.

sovereignThankfully, my next read, which was an eARC, was great! As you already know, Sovereign was a 4 star read for me. While it started out slow for me, by the end, I was just as hooked as I was with Dreadnought and was just as happy with the overall quality. This is a great series and I hope it continues to deliver.

the lord of the fliesEvery month, my library does a theme and displays books around that theme near the front of the library. For several months now, I have read a selection from each month. I’m not sure why I started doing this, but I really enjoy doing it. This month’s selection was The Lord of the Flies based on their lakeside theme. I think the connection to the theme was a bit of a stretch, but I knew I needed a short read and was happy to pick up this classic. Overall, I gave it a 3 star review, but I would like to read it again at some point. I was not in the headspace to read a book with such heavy symbolism and I would like to read it again when I can devote more energy to the symbolism and see if I gain anything from such a thorough reread. It may move up to a 4 star read if I do. If you are interested in the review, check out Facebook or Goodreads or find the Goodreads link on Twitter.

the other einstein coverThen I read a book I’m still on the fence about its rating. The Other Einstein was a book that drew me in because it was about Albert Einstein’s first wife, who was also a physicist. The book claims there is much controversy around whether or not Mrs. Einstein played a significant role in some of Einstein’s most famous early work. After reading the book, I did some research and there is greater consensus about the lack of her contributions than the book blurb implied. I still debate whether I should rate the book at 2 stars or 3 stars as I solidly rated it at 2.5 stars. Some days, I think the great liberties the book takes with a historical figure are serious enough to push the review to 2 stars and other days, I remember that I could not put the book down and read it in a day and end up keeping it at 3 stars. I suspect I will never feel completely comfortable with my rating on Goodreads, unless they decide to allow readers to give half stars. If you’d like to see the review, check out Facebook, Goodreads, or find the Goodreads link on Twitter.

the little queen coverI then read an eARC of an adorable children’s book entitled, The Little Queen. It was a fun, whimsical story that had sage advice for adults. The review will post on this blog in a few weeks and I hope you will check it out!

the underground railroad coverNext, I read The Underground Railroad which was a 4 star read for me as the detached narration pulled me a bit too much out of the story. But the writing was fantastic and hope to read more of Colson Whitehead in the future. This review will post on this blog in the near future (see below for further details).

the hate u give coverLastly, I read all but 15, maybe 20 pages of The Hate U Give in July. For a book which is almost 450 pages, I devoured it in record time. Whenever I put it down, my mind was constantly drawn back to the book and I found myself picking it up as soon as possible. This was a 5 star read for me and landed on my favorites list, which is a hard list to make. The review for this book will post on this blog in the near future (see below for more details).

update-1672349_640Lastly, an update:

As you can see, I have been reading more books than I can review with only doing one review a week. Thus, I have decided to move to two reviews and reflections a week, with reviews on Mondays and Wednesdays and their respective reflections on Tuesdays and Thursdays. Fridays will stay bookish days. The reviews on Monday will be ARCs or eARCs, typically reviewed around their date of release. The reviews on Wednesdays will be of older books either from my personal collection of books or from the library. Of course, since I cannot control how often I am approved for ARCs or eARCs, reviews on Monday may sometimes not be ARCs or eARCs, but since I have ARC and eARC reviews planned through the end of October, I suspect this will not be an issue anytime soon. I hope to make the change next week, but currently, the biggest impediment is my health which has not be great lately. While I keep up with reviews for the most part, the reflections can be much for challenging and demanding and thus are not always something I can tackle in poor health. I will make an announcement this weekend if I feel sufficiently ahead of the game to start posting two reviews and reflections a week. Thank you all for your support! If there wasn’t so much interest in this blog, I wouldn’t be upping my reviews and reflections. I am grateful to each and everyone of my followers!