Inferno: New Tales of Terror by Ellen Datlow ⭐️⭐️⭐️1/2
The Other People by C.J. Tudor ⭐️⭐️⭐️1/2
From the Ashes by Jesse Thistle ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
We Have Always Been Here by Samra Habib ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
Radicalized by Cory Doctorow ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
Son of a Trickster by Eden Robinson ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
Small Game Hunting at the Local Coward Gun Club by Megan Gail Coles ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
Little Women by Louisa May Alcott ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
The Raven Boys by Maggie Steivwater ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️1/2
The Fated Sky by Mary Robinette Kowal ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
Ex Libris by Anne Fadiman ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
Men Explain Things to Me by Revecca Solnit ⭐️⭐️⭐️1/2
Home by Nnedi Okorafor ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
Come Tumbling Down by Seanan McGuire ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
Her Body and Other Parties by Carmen MAria Machado ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
The Glass Hotel by Emily St. John Mandel ⭐️⭐️⭐️1/2
The Glass Universe by Dava Sobel ⭐️⭐️⭐️1/2
The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde ⭐️⭐️⭐️1/2
The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
I Crawl Through it by A.S. King ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️1/2
Female Husbands by Jen Manion ⭐️⭐️ (DNF at 46%)
This wasn’t a bad month. The ratings aren’t bad, but that makes me wonder if I’ve been too generous with my ratings. The lowest rating was 2 star, but that was a DNF. The next lowest was six 3.5 star books. Then I had eight 4 star books. That leaves two 4.5 star books and four 5 star books. That means ~6 exceptional books. All in all though the month still feels mediocre, so I might need to stop with the 3.5 star books. I’ve been using my rating scale, and most of these ratings are pretty fixed, meaning, slight changes in one area don’t usually change the rating. I still prefer that approach.
Welcome to Nightvale by Joseph Fink & Jeffrey Cranor
Carter & Lovecraft by Jonathan L. Howard
Turtles All the Way Down by John Green
Animal Farm by George Orwell
Thunderhead by Neal Shusterman
My Real Children by Jo Walton
Everybody Sees the Ants by A.S. King
The Conquest of Happiness by Bertrand Russell
Provided by NetGalley and/or publisher for a fair and honest review.
I fell behind and didn’t read all the review books I was given last month, so I need to read those first thing this month. I will say, eight days into the month, I have had a very slow start. That said, I am aiming for smaller TBRs. My goal is 15 books a month, then if I have time I will fit in others. I am planning a few readathons where I want to read other books. Although, I will reassess my progress when they arrive. If you are wondering which readathons I will be doing it is Dewy’s 24 hour readathon and the intermediate reading rush. Next Month, I may be even more conservative and go with 10 books for my TBR then leave a big gap for other readathons or booktube ideas.
My Kitchen: Book covering black mental health and/or disability
This was created for YouTube, but I’ve decided to do a blog post for it as well. Part of the reason I am doing that is because I also used this as my own reading challenge/readathon. The idea is you would pick a book to satisfy each challenge above, and I just used that as the framework for a readathon. Where instead of talking about books I had already read, I choose books too read that I thought would fit.
My goal was to read these 7 books over the course of one week. That didn’t actually happen. My initial plan ended up spanning ~2.5 weeks, and it led to me falling behind in my monthly reading plans. However, I still pushed through and finished the challenge. Below I’ll give a brief review of each book (rather than make a unique post for each.
Mirror Image: Cover recreation or homage
Lagoon was the first novel I read by Nnedi Okorafor, and I absolute loved it. This is the story of an alien visiting Earth in Legos Nigeria. The story was a unique take on the alien invasion/contact idea. What’s more, Okorafor makes use of the Nigerian culture to provide a compelling backstory outside of the main plot. Part of that was the connection of spirituality between our characters, the alien, and life itself. Sometimes, religion can be heavy handed in science fiction, but I thought it was handled well here.
Really the only flaws here was I didn’t absolutely love the characters. It wasn’t a major issue, but some of them were one dimensional. To be clear, I loved the book overall, and I highly recommend it.
Let’s Play White was one of my most anticipated books of 2020. It is a collection of horror short stories that explore race in a variety of different ways. That was the best part of this collection, but even with that new look a lot of these stories still felt unoriginal. What’s worse, most of them weren’t scary or creepy (with a couple exceptions). Most of them were just fine.
You might still consider reading this because I don’t think enough horror stories cover the topic of race. Plus, there are good stories, and those that aren’t so good aren’t terrible. I will still be keeping an eye out for more works by Burke because I’m hopeful that maybe her next work might be more consistent throughout.
I loved this book. When I first heard about this concept I was very intrigued. During the Jim Crow (1900’s) thousands (10s?) of black Americans migrated from the south to the north and west to escape segregation and racism. This is a story that does not get told. It is one of (if not the biggest?) migration of Americans in our history, yet it is ignored in our history classes.
That is probably because it reflects on the racism in this time and the harm it and segregation had on black Americans. Wilkerson follows 3 different families as she details these travels. They are meant to represent the different types of people that migrated and the experience they each had. I thought that approach worked really well. We got a diversity of views on how this migration can and did effect families, but it also gave us a few individuals to connect to directly to really relate.
The result is a compelling and fascinating read that I highly recommend to everyone.
Sadly, this was a very disappointment read. Angelou’s first two memoirs were poetic and moving, but her third memoir loses a lot of the charm. Her writing didn’t feel as poetic. What’s more, the story lacked much substance. I don’t want to dismiss her experience; she is still a single black mother trying to make a life for her and her son. However, the story focuses less on her relationship with her son than on a period of her life where she joins a traveling dance act.
It builds nicely on the last memoir where she explores her love of dancing, and the actual main story isn’t that bad. The issues I had was that it was still bland, and the ending felt abrupt. It ends with her leaving the job to return to her son. However, she never really touches on her feelings of being away. It felt like an excuse to change the story. It seems like the kind of thing that should be a more overarching theme. If it was there, clearly it didn’t stand out as a big part of the story.
There are still 3-4 more memoirs in her series, and from what I’ve read, this one is her worst. I’m hopeful for a return to her poetic style in books to come.
In the first book in Okorafor’s Binti trilogy of novellas, a Nigerian women leaves her home to explore what the galaxy has to offer. I really like this book. Okorafor is a creative science fiction writer who does a great job writing science fiction in a way that is accessible to pretty much anyone. Whats more, she’s written a character that is equal parts intelligent and curious. she makes for a fantastic and strong female protagonist. I can’t wait to read the rest of the books in the series (and her books outside it!).
Rating Break Down Writing Style: 9/10, Plot: 8/10, Characters: 8/10, Ending: 8/10, Engagement: 10/10, Enjoyment: 9/10, Comprehension: 8/10, Pacing: 8/10, Desire to Reread: 4/10, Special: 0/10, Calculated Rating: 3.91/5, Final Rating: 4/5 Note, each rating is weighted based on personal importance to calculate a final score that is rounded to the nearest half.
POSE: Black LGBTQIA+ author or character
This is a classic novel about a young black women who grew up with an abusive father then husband. As she slowly grows to learn more about herself she falls in love with anther women her husband and her are taking care of. It was a poignant narrative from a unique perspective. It’s also set in my home state of Georgia. However, I did struggle to connect with the story and stay engaged. I read this while traveling, and that may have effected how well I retained what I was reading. Overall, I enjoyed this novel.Update June 2020: I’m updating this to a 4 instead of 3.5 star.
Rating Break Down Writing Style: 8/10, Plot: 8/10, Characters: 10/10, Ending: 9/10, Engagement: 6/10, Enjoyment: 7/10, Comprehension: 7/10, Pacing: 7/10, Desire to Reread: 3/10, Special: 8/10, Final Rating: 4/5 Note, each rating is weighted based on personal importance to calculate a final score that is rounded to the nearest half.
My Kitchen: Book covering black mental health and/or disability
This book wasn’t what I was expecting. This is a memoir about a black man who grows up overweight. He eventually loses the weight, but we see how it shapes his mental state well into his adulthood (as well as the troubles associated with being a black man already). His story was profound and well told to boot. 4.5/5 stars.
Rating Break Down Writing Style: 9/10, Content: 10/10, Structure: 9/10, Summary: 8/10, Engagement: 9/10, Enjoyment: 9/10, Comprehension: 9/10, Pacing: 8/10, Desire to Reread: 5/10, Special: 7/10, Calculated Rating: 4.41/5 Final Rating: 4.5/5 Note, each rating is weighted based on personal importance to calculate a final score that is rounded to the nearest half.
The Battle Cry of Freedom by James M. McPherson ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️1/2
Men We Reaped by Jesmyn Ward ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️1/2
The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison (Blackathon Cont. Challenge) ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️1/2
The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison (Reread) ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️1/2
Beloved by Toni Morrison (Blackathon Scifi Challenge) ⭐️⭐️⭐️1/2
Bad Feminist by Roxane Gay ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
Not That Bad edited by Roxane Gay ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
The Ballad of Black Tom by Victor Lavalle ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
The Warmth of Other Suns by Isabel Wilkerson ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️1/2
An American Marriage by Tayari Jones (Blackathon Cont. Challenge) ⭐️⭐️⭐️1/2
Heavy by Kiese Laymon (Blackathon Cont. Challenge) ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️1/2
Lagoon by Nnedi Okorafor (Blackathon Scifi Challenge) ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
Binti by Nnedi Okorafor (Blackathon Scifi Challenge) ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
Lagurdia by Nnedi Okorafor (Blackathon Scifi Challenge) ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
Singin’ and Swingin’ and Gettin’ Merry Like Christmas by Maya Angelou ⭐️⭐️⭐️
March by John Lewis et al. ⭐️⭐️⭐️1/2
The Color Purple by Alice Walker ⭐️⭐️⭐️1/2
Let’s Play White by Chesya Burke ⭐️⭐️⭐️1/2
This was a great month, I enjoyed all the books I read with a few that were a little disappointing. However, there was a large fraction of 4-5 star books which prove it was an objectively good month of quality reading. If you look back on my February TBR post, you’ll see another ~5 books or so that I wanted to read, and it is disappointing that I wasn’t able to read all of them. Moving forward, I am going to try and take it a bit easier on my plans because I don’t like stressing about the books I want to read. This is meant to be fun.
Still: A Memoir of Love, Loss, and Motherhood by Emma Hansen*
Female Husbands by Jen Manion
Conjure Women by Afia Atakora
The Other People by C.J. Tudor
The Fated Sky by Mary Robinette Kowal
The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater
Her Bodies and Other Parties by Carmen Maria Machado
Binti: Home by Nnedi Okorafor
I Crawl Through It by A.S. King
Come Tumbling Down by Seanan McGuire
The Glass Universe by Dava Sobel
Ex Libris: Confessions of a Common Reader by Anne Fadiman
Men Explain Things to Me by Rebecca Solnit
Inferno by Ellen Datlow (Backlist readathon)
Little Women by Louisa May Alcott (Backlist readathon)
Wenjack by Joseph Boyden (Backlist readathon)
Provided by NetGalley and publisher for a fair and honest review.
*Provided directly by publisher,
This month, I have several e-arcs that I want to tackle before they are published. I’m also doing a reading challenge of 5 more books (to be released), but I still made this list with the intent of being more conservative. The total number of books I’m aiming to read are ~20 books, but many of them are very short. After this month, I am going to try very hard to read even less. I want to feel a bit less pressure to read so I can spend more time writing my blog posts and doing YouTube videos. I have fallen behind on my blog.
After reading this, I immediately stopped and started it over again. Toni Morrison is an author I have wanted to read for years, and the only reason I never got around to it was a fear of not being able to comprehend these complicated works of literary fiction. Luckily, I really enjoyed this book. By the end of my first read through, I will admit I felt like I missed some details. I was able to ascertain the overarching points and narrative, but I was still confused a bit by whose who but more so the structure of the novel. The book is presented at points in first person by a seemingly side character. Later, it gives another first person perspective, and a lot of the book in between is third person.
As you might imagine, that was difficult to follow and keep up with. While it may be a disappointing to my past literature teachers, I choose to review some readings aids after I finished the first time to figure out the things I was missing. After I did that, it made a lot more sense. My improved understanding coupled with a genuine desire to get as much as I could out of this novel motivated me to reread the novel. Admittedly, I listened to the audiobook, so it made it easier but also likely made it harder for me to catch all the details the first time around. Although, I think the beauty of audiobooks is that, if you have the time and enjoy the experience (which I did), rereading can be both fun and a great way of retaining more and more details about the books.
The book itself is written beautifully. I could appreciate the poetry in her Morrison’s words even if I struggled to pull all of the meaning, and rereading it helped me better ascertain the meaning. That kind of writing really lends itself to this kind of story. That is to say, a dark narrative about the pain induced by racism and how it can decay a person’s mental health. In this book, we focus on a young black girl whose desperate desire is to have the blue eyes of the white girls she sees being so admired. This is brought on by racism but also hatred and bullying by other minorities for her perceived status and family “ugliness”.
In my video review, I discuss how this racism is still alive today. Despite being set in the great depression, the novel feels all too modern in its content. It is a hard novel to read both mentally and emotionally. Nevertheless, I highly recommend you check it out. There is a reason this novel is so well regarded. It touches on major societal issues in a way that hits you to your core. I highly recommend to everyone.
In the end, I gave the book 4 stars the first time and 4.5./5 stars the second time.
Rating Break Down Writing Style: 9/10 Plot: 8/10 Characters: 10/10 Ending: 10/10 Engagement: 8/10 Enjoyment: 9/10 Comprehension: 8/10 Pacing: 9/10 Desire to Reread: 3/10 Special: 10/10 Calculated Rating: 4.255/5 Final Rating: 4.5/5 (3.5-4/5 originally) Note, each rating is weighted based on personal importance to calculate a final score that is rounded to the nearest half.
Provided by NetGalley and publisher for a fair and honest review.
This was a great month, but I was worried. I started off slow while I traveled. Then I got the flu for a week. January AYearAthon really saved me (getting me back in the pattern of reading). I think I had a pretty good spread of books. If you saw my 2020 ongoing post, you’ll know I am trying a new rating scheme, and I think it is helping me rate books more concisely. I really like thinking about each piece of it as I think about the score it deserves. Now, I did DNF two books this month, Underland and The God of Small things. I am still counting them because I was over 70% through them; it was enough. This is another sign of a good start to the year because I can really struggle to DNF a book I am not enjoying or getting into. On top of that, I hit 500 likes on my blog, so exciting! I also started Josh’s Bookish Voyage, my new Booktube channel. I talk all about that in my 2020 reading log as well.
The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison (Blackathon Cont. Challenge)
Beloved by Toni Morrison (Blackathon Scifi Challenge)
Bad Feminist by Roxane Gay
Not that Bad edited by Roxane Gay
The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms by N.K. Jemisin
Joplin’s Ghost by Tananarive Due
Parable of the Sower by Octavia Butler
The Ballad of Black Tom by Victor Lavalle
The Warmth of Other Suns by Isabel Wilkerson
An American Marriage by Tayari Jones (Blackathon Cont. Challenge)
Heavy by Kiese Laymon (Blackathon Cont. Challenge)
Lagoon by Nnedi Okorafor (Blackathon Scifi Challenge)
Binti by Nnedi Okorafor (Blackathon Scifi Challenge)
Lagurdia by Nnedi Okorafor (Blackathon Scifi Challenge)
Singin’ and Swingin’ and Gettin’ Merry Like Christmas by Maya Angelou
March by John Lewis et al.
Harriet Tubman: The Life and the Life Stories by Jean Humez
The Color Purple by Alice Walker
You can hear all my thoughts in my video above, but these are the books I am reading this month. I didn’t mention The Color Purple in the video because I ordered it and forgot to mention it. I have made a very ambitious goal this month, especially since it is a short month. Of course, it is Black History Month. I talk all about that in my video and how I am participating in #Blackathon2020. Check out the link to learn more. In doing that, there are some challenges I will be completing. I am identifying as team science fiction; I’ve marked the books I am reading for that in red above. However, I am reading enough books to satisfy some of the contemporary team (Cont.) which I’ve marked in blue. I will be one short sadly.
I’m aiming for 3 audiobooks a week which I think is my normal speed. On top of that, I will be completing the Blackathon book-tag and Instagram challenge where I am going to plug seven books. I’ve decided to treat that like a week long “readathon” where I will try to read these all over the course of one week. I will be doing it the week before the actual Instagram challenge due to personal things.
That comes out to 9 audiobooks (3 weeks) plus 7 for the “Readathon” week. That comes to 16 audiobooks (the exact number of audiobooks I have above). My physical reading assumes I can finish each book with reading on the bus plus a bit of personal time. If I don’t complete a book, that is really where it is most likely to happen. However, I only have two real books with two comics to enjoy. If you want to hear more about my thoughts for each book, check out my YouTube video above!