Library Danger Zone!

I am next in line for SIX of my NINE holds at the library. I like to refer to this as the Library Danger Zone. It’s my nightmare that I get all the books I’ve been waiting for all at the same time! While I do get to keep them checked out for 21 days, and consider myself a fast reader… There’s no way I can read 2 books at the same time!


I am really really excited for some of these books. I hope that I have enough time to read and savor each one fully – I have been waiting for some of these titles for a MONTH, and for Missoula over 2 MONTHS!

sept-holds2The one redeeming factor is that I’ve already read a third of The Vacationers – my library loan ended before I finished, and the ebook was taken away from me.

This is one benefit of borrowing ebooks – you can’t keep them past their due date. It keeps me motivated to keep on reading – especially when I’ve been waiting for months to get a book, there is no way it is going to languish on my end table! And then be taken away before I’m done with it!! Oh hell no.

I will keep you updated if Library Book-pocalypse happens…. I really hope it doesn’t, and that I get a few days head start on each before they start rolling in. Keep your fingers crossed for me!


The Sixth Extinction: An Unnatural History

I really enjoy science nonfiction – if it’s about a disease, animals, a weather event, anthropology, etc, etc… I will read it! I was never very good at math and science in school, although I did take a “Biology for nonmajors” class and loved it. Thankfully, it has provided enough of a foundation for me to comfortably read the science nonfiction that I love.

sixthextinctionMy most recent science read was The Sixth Extinction by Elizabeth Kolbert. This book was pretty prevalent in the news when it came out – since some folks can’t even wrap their minds around humans and our direct relationship with climate change, so I’m not surprised that a detailed investigation into a MASS EXTINCTION EVENT caused by humans freaked those (probably same) people out.

Each chapter addresses a different extinct or endangered species, and Kolbert uses that as a lens into the history of extinction as a concept (and by nature dives into theory of evolution, speciation, etc. The history of the history of science! It was fascinating), conservation, research…She covers rhinos, amphibians, great auks, Neanderthals, dinosaurs in Central America, the Northern Atlantic, Africa… I really liked the structure, I learned about so many different things! Each chapter focusing on a different species kept my interest going, and prevent the pacing from getting bogged down.

I can see why this won the Pulitzer Prize. It was informative, fun to read, and really well done. By the end, my only fatigue was with the human race. Everything is our fault, so many awful things are caused by our actions… it was demoralizing by the end. But still a good read! I’m sure this went straight to the top of required reading lists for AP Bio classes everywhere. As well it should!

China Rich Girlfriend aka Crazy Rich Asians part 2

crazyrichasiansI love Kevin Kwan’s world of crazy rich Asians! Here is what I had to say about his first book, earlier this year:

This book is like sneaking into the 5 star resort down the road from your cheap hotel, just to spend 1 afternoon on a fancy lounge chair drinking expensive cocktails, pretending like you belong. It’s the most comfortable chair and the best tasting cocktail, but there’s no way you would want to have that every day of your life…. wait a sec, or would I?! You get my drift, Crazy Rich Asians is an escape from the everyday, it’s the perfect vacation read – fun, light, engaging….

Or maybe, save this book for when your regular life is overwhelming, your job is boring, no vacations on the horizon, the weather sucks, you’re broke… because Kevin Kwan does a great job of bringing you into this exclusive world and making you forget about your own problems in favor of the crazy drama of these crazy rich Asians.

I would say that I am still just as in love with the second book as I was with the first. Nick and Rachel are engaged, yet estranged from Nick’s crazy rich family in Singapore. Despite planning an intimate California beach wedding, Nick’s mother Eleanor manages to crash the party and turn Nick and Rachel’s world upside down – Eleanor has found Rachel’s long lost birth father in China. Everyone does a double take, and before you know it, Nick and Rachel are in Shanghai, meeting Rachel’s father’schinarichgirlfriend other family, including his bad boy son Carlton, his celebrity girlfriend Colette, and a host of other outrageous characters. Between the spur of the moment jaunts to Paris for shopping, to private auctions for ancient art (the winning bid is 200 million for some scrolls from the 14th century), fashion shows at family mansions… it’s nuts!! Meanwhile, there is lingering drama with Nick’s cousin Astrid, who we met in the first book. Before, her husband had a bad attitude because he wasn’t rich… now he’s a tech billionaire and a monster. Such a roller coaster. But one I love riding.

I feel like there is just enough crossover of characters and story lines from the first book to make readers comfortable, and the new material (Shanghai, Carlton and Colette, focusing on Rachel more than Nick) is great – I’m intrigued to see what happens next. But, to be honest, I am glad I’ll have a break before  #3 comes out (IF it happens…). Reading these in a span of 6 months was a little overwhelming. I like thinking about some future vacation where I can relax and read whatever Kevin Kwan publishes next!! Even if it isn’t another book in this series, I’ll probably pick up whatever he does. I’ll be looking forward to both the book and vacation.

Ask the Internet and you shall receive! POC Reading List

After my disappointment over Sue Monk Kidd being a white lady, I did a quick google search for “historical fiction written by poc” and I am so thrilled to have found an awesome list by Marilyn at Me, You, and Books.

Here is her list of historical fiction, memoirs, and mysteries by people of color, mostly women of color. WOW. I am SO GLAD that google brought me to her blog. I am blown away by her knowledge, breadth of reading, writing style… I pretty much want to read each one of her recommendations, and start a fan club for the lady herself….,  here are just a few books from the list that caught my eye and are going straight onto my “to read next” list:

The Moor’s Account, by Laila Lalami.   A fine retelling of the story of Cabez de Vaca and three other survivors who explored the southwestern United States in the 1500s, as told by a Moroccan author from the perspective of Estaban/Mustafa, a slave.

Evening is the Whole Day, by Preeta Samrasan.  An intricate novel about a family of Indian descent in post-colonial Malaysia; a family, like their country, full of secrets, anger and long-held resentments.

The Palace Walk, by Naguib Mahfouz. A novel about a family in Cairo at the time of World War I by the first Arab writer to win the Noble Prize in Literature.

Black Star Nairobi, by Mukoma Wa Ngugi.  A detective story set against the backdrop of violence in Kenya that raises political and moral questions about “doing good.”

A Far Horizon, by Meira Chand. An historical novel set in Calcutta in 1756 about events in the British colony leading up to its conquest and destruction by a native ruler.

Ancestor Stones, by Aminatta Forna.   The interwoven stories of four wives of the same man in West Africa whose lives span the twentieth century.

I left the links active to Marilyn’s magnificent reviews – I just went down the rabbit hole of her blog, I am LOVING every post, and have some overlap of books with her… I’m a little obsessed to say the least.

For me, reading is about exploring the world both past and present, and trying to soak in as much as I can. I don’t need to steep myself in the world I already know and experience. I want to push the boundaries of my perspective and experience by purposefully seeking out perspectives that are different, that challenge me, that shake up my world, that even contradict what I know. I hope you guys do, too.

The Invention of Wings

Here is a short publisher’s summary:

Inspired by the true story of early-nineteenth-century abolitionist and suffragist Sarah Grimké, Kidd paints a moving portrait of two women inextricably linked by the horrors of slavery. Sarah, daughter of a wealthy South Carolina plantation owner, exhibits an independent spirit and strong belief in the equality of all. Thwarted from her dreams of becoming a lawyer, she struggles throughout life to find an outlet for her convictions. Handful, a slave in the Grimké household, displays a sharp intellect and brave, rebellious disposition. She maintains a compliant exterior, while planning for a brighter future. Told in first person, the chapters alternate between the two main characters’ perspectives, as we follow their unlikely friendship (characterized by both respect and resentment) from childhood to middle age. While their pain and struggle cannot be equated, both women strive to be set free—Sarah from the bonds of patriarchy and Southern bigotry, and Handful from the inhuman bonds of slavery.

I thought this was a good read, though it lagged about 3/4 of the way in. I found myself rushing through Sarah’s chapters to get to Handful’s story, which I found much more compelling over the course of the entire book. Sarah, on the other hand, had more of an interesting story as a child/teenager. Once she left her family and Handful behind, her story lost some of its spark. Sarah and Handful’s relationship is what brings the reader into the story – once the two girls separate, it is easy to compare the characters, and Sarah just does not even come close to the life and passion Handful brings to each page.

I liked the historical aspects – the Grimke family was very real, and Sarah and her sister Angelina were remarkable women for their time. Handful (a fictional character) has a very compelling storyline with one of my favorite Americans, Denmark Vesey, a free carpenter who tried to organize a slave rebellion. Vesey was a truly remarkable man, and I highly encourage all to read more into his story! I also liked when Sarah’s story began intersecting with abolitionists and early feminists, and the description of Quaker life.

My favorite parts were Handful’s chapters. Her story, and her mother’s story, was so emotional and well thought out. I feel like Kidd really honored the African influence slave culture – there is a lot of discussion into Handful’s family, starting with her great grandma who was brought from Africa to the colonies, and exploring the generational trauma of slavery on each member of her family down to her.

To be honest, I was surprised Sue Monk Kidd was white! I was disappointed, actually, but since I found out after reading and enjoying the book, I won’t let it color my write up. But just so you all know, Sue Monk Kidd is a white lady. Finding this out makes me want to search out historical fiction set in the antebellum South written by people of color.

I gave this 3 stars on goodreads – I did find myself bored with Sarah’s story in the latter half of the book, but overall I really enjoyed it.