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Obsidian Blue

Government drone by day and book lover and geek girl by night!

Currently reading

Void Moon
Michael Connelly
Exhalation: Stories
Ted Chiang
Progress: 139/368 pages
The Victim
Max Manning
The Waste Lands (The Dark Tower #3)
Stephen King
Progress: 100 %
A Keeper
Graham Norton
The Yellow House
Sarah Broom
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Reading progress update: I've read 100%.

The Waste Lands (The Dark Tower #3) - Stephen King

The sun goes down on our ka-tet for now. 

Reading progress update: I've read 77%.

The Waste Lands (The Dark Tower #3) - Stephen King

I have no idea why I am so freaked out! I have read this book before. The ka-tet is broken up and Eddie and Susannah are on Blaine the Mono and Roland is tracking Jake with Oy. 

Reading progress update: I've read 65%.

The Waste Lands (The Dark Tower #3) - Stephen King

Our ka-tet is whole. Oh Oy. 


Image result for oy the dark tower


Credit goes to https://darktower.fandom.com/wiki/Billy-Bumbler

Reading progress update: I've read 46%.

The Waste Lands (The Dark Tower #3) - Stephen King

You won’t let me drop this time?

No, Roland said. Not this time. Not ever again.

Reading progress update: I've read 10%.

The Waste Lands (The Dark Tower #3) - Stephen King

Roland no longer last of the gunslingers. 

Reading progress update: I've read 139 out of 368 pages.

Exhalation: Stories - Ted Chiang

Right now in the midst of "The Lifecycle of Software Objects." Chiang still has some wonderful I sentences in this book though.


"I hope you are not saddened by that awareness. I hope that your expedition was more than a search for other universes to use as reservoirs. I hope that you are motivated by a desire for knowledge, a yearning to see what can arise from a universe's exhalation.

Because even if a universe's life span is calculable, the variety of life that is generated within it is not. The buildings we have erected, the art and music and verse we have composed, the very lives we've led: none of them could have been predicted, because none of them was inevitable. Our universe might have slid into equilibrium emitting nothing more than a quiet hiss. That fact that it spawned such plenitude is a miracle, one that is matched only by your universe giving rise to you." 


Image result for the universe gif

Five Stars, but Still Some Issues Which is Why It's Not a Favorite

The Rest of the Story - Sarah Dessen

Wow. What a great book by Dessen. I do enjoy her Young Adult books though the last couple I have read have been misses with me. This one is expertly written, but some things as the time line shifting back and forth and the mess with Saylor's father prevented me from giving it five stars. I really enjoyed this one and hope that we see more from characters that she introduced to us in this one.

"The Rest of the Story" follows 17 year old Emma Saylor. Emma is excited that her father has remarried to Tracy. Her father and stepmother are off to do a Greek sailing trip for their honeymoon. The plan is Emma will stay with her best friend and her family for the summer. However, Emma's friend has a family emergency that sends them to Ohio and Emma no longer has a place to stay. Emma's grandmother suggest that Emma goes and stays with her mother's family in North Lake. Emma doesn't really remember her mother's family and though has some reservations about it, suggest it to her father so that he doesn't cancel his honeymoon. Going to North Lake has Emma finding out more about her mother and her childhood. She also meets and becomes closer to her cousins and to a teenage boy named Roo who she originally met when they were small.


Emma does find that North Lake is broken into two different worlds. The world of the rich and yacht boys and the townies who live there year round who want glimpses of that other world. She finds out that her father was a yacht boy and her mother was not and wonders if that is what led to things splitting apart the way they did. 

I really loved Emma. She's a thoughtful teen who due to her mother's past (she was a drug and alcoholic addict) doesn't drink or do anything that can cause her father to stress about her. She has some lovely memories of her mother and misses her, but realizes how terrible it had to be that her father was forced to be a single father from when she was a small girl. Though Emma lost her mother 5 years before the story is set, we quickly find out that her family is rich and she hasn't worked before. Meeting her mother's mother and staying at the family hotel has Emma wanting to do more than just and relax. Her learning to clean rooms along with her pregnant cousin cracked me up at times. It also reminded me how much I loathed being a maid back in the day. 

Emma and Roo's friendship was great to witness. They get each other almost immediately and everything in this story-line was sweet. 

The other characters like Bailey, Jack, etc. were very well developed. I also loved how Emma's best friends back at Lakeview were still checking on her and how close the group of three girls were to each other.

The biggest annoyance I had with this book though was with Emma's father. You can say that him being married to a drug and alcoholic addict who died could make him cautious. But the way he acted anytime Emma didn't want to do something and forcing her to do things she hated (like sailing) and being dismissive at times towards his new wife did not feel me with warm fuzzies. I don't think Dessen meant to write him this way, but I had a lot of problems with him talking over her and telling her that she was going to do something just because he wanted to. I think he was set up to show a contrast between how he handled things and how Roo was with Emma. Still though I would have brained the guy. And I hated how Dessen "resolved" things. I wish that Emma had pushed more with him and her grandmother. The guy needed to go see a therapist or something. Got to wonder how things will go down if Emma moves away. 

The writing was good, but I had some issues with how sometimes Dessen would jump back and forth in her writing. I would be reading and thinking it was taking place in Emma's present, and then we would jump back to a few weeks ago and somehow be back in the present or future. It drove me up the wall. A few times I went, wait how many weeks has it been?

The flow was good though even with the timeline stuff. 


The setting of her books being moved to North Lake makes me wonder if she will focus on this location in future books. It was nice to move away from Lakeview and see a different world.

The ending was pitch perfect and I loved how Emma found out more about her mother and came to peace with that. Her finding out more about that side of her family and realizing that she wasn't alone like she originally thought was great too. 

My Next 20 Classics!-Obsidian Blue

I mistakenly titled my list yesterday 25, and I went back and edited that to 20. Even though I don't have reviews for all of the following books, I have read them. I kept the last half geared towards children's books that I grew up reading and loving. I just need to go back and post reviews one day. Sigh. My never ending list of things to do for books grows. 


1. The Color Purple by Alice Walker. My anthropology professor gave me this book to read in undergrad. It blew my mind. She also called Stephen Speilberg a coward for not showing the lesbian aspects from the book. I was all, wait what? And yeah he kind of sucks for cutting. I now want a new "The Color Purple" movie with all of this included. 


2. Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe. I also read this in another anthropology course that I had taken. This book hits you with everything. It’s set among the Igbo people of Nigeria and shows the effect that colonialism had on the people. I need to read the other books in this trilogy one day. 


3.  The Autobiography of Malcolm X by Malcolm X. This autobiography shows readers how a boy born Malcolm Little would one day become Malcolm X and one of the leaders of the Nation of Islam who would then go off and form his own branch called Muslim Mosque, Inc. During the Civil Rights Movement in the U.S. in the 1960s Malcolm X rose to prominence in the African American community along with Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Malcolm X was initially anti-white and believed that there was no way in the world for African Americans and whites to be able to co-exist. However, after a trip to Mecca he started to change his stance once he realized that many Muslims came in different colors and eventually converted to Sunni. 


4. Coffee Will Make You Black by April Sinclair. I did not grow up in the 1960s in Chicago like the main character Stevie did. However, I did grow up with a close knit family that had some of the same discussions that Stevie's family did about race. I remember hearing about the paper bag test when I was growing up. And I totally eavesdropped all of the time and heard people discussing "good hair". I can also speak to the double-edged sword of being too light or too dark in the black community. Being too light was not great since you were accused of trying to look white, and being too dark was not great since you were told you were too black. The same issue would emerge if you talked correctly since you were told you were trying to sound "white" or putting on airs.


5. Before You Suffocate Your Own Fool Self by Danielle Evans. This book has a collection of 8 short stories. These are the following: "Virgins," "Snakes," "Harvest," "Someone Ought to Tell Her There's Nowhere to Go," "The King of a Vast Empire," "Jellyfish," "Wherever You Go, There You Are," and "Robert E. Lee is Dead." 


If I have to pick my favorite short story I think I am going to have to go with "Robert E. Lee is Dead." "Robert E. Lee is Dead" is about a teenager named Crystal dealing with being smart and black in the south. Crystal, due to her being friends with one of the more popular girls at her school named Geena finds herself for the first time ever not looking in at what the cool kids so. Due to Geena, Crystal who becomes known as 'CeeCee' ends up straddling two worlds. Being in the honors/gifted classes as well as being popular. When an opportunity emerges for Crystal there is a temporary estrangement from Geena who Crystal starts to realize is on a different path in her life than she is. (5/5 stars).


6. Stories of Your Life and Others by Ted Chiang. A great collection of short stories, one of which was turned into a movie, Arrival. "Story of Your Life" (5 stars)-This is the story that Arrival was based on. I really enjoyed more in depth information that we got in the book. And I finally understood a few things that had me wondering from the movie. This set-up makes better sense than the movie version. Only because there's a minor issue with us seeing Amy Adams character teaching others the new alien language, though the book shows that maybe only two characters can read and understand the language. And the story leaves you with a question about divine will and what you would do if you knew you could alter something, and what if you did alter something but things stayed the same, because if something is supposed to happen, won't it still happen? This is definitely a story that will have you thinking about fate, the meaning of life, and just a ton of other thoughts meant for 3 a.m. when you can't sleep.


7. Dune by Frank Herbert. I first read Dune back in high school. I was in my junior year of high school and it was the last week of school before Summer vacation. I don't know about any other people here but the last week of school in my small town meant that we had nothing to do but watch really bad movies or just read quietly to ourselves before the next period. So during my science teacher's class I got bored and started to examine the bookshelves he had in class. He had books just jam cracked in his shelves. I remember reaching out and wondering what this book at the time was and saw the title Dune. My science teacher at the time saw me studying the book and reading the book jacket and came over and told me "That there will open your mind". I of course being 16 rolled my eyes back at him. He told me to enjoy and read it while in class that week but he was going to start packing up the books on Thursday. I remember shrugging and saying okay and I started to read...and my mind was opened.

I fell head long into a book that was pretty much like Star Wars but with even more machinations going on. Things that the movie depicted that never made sense to me were now fully explained. I understood the Bene Gesserits. Felt for young Paul Atreides and wondered at the strength of Lady Jessica and Chani. For all else I can say about this book I say that is is truly a study of a strong group of women at its core.


8. Old Man's War by John Scalzi. Have you ever just read a book that was so good that you pinch yourself a few times to make sure it's real? That was the feeling I had the entire time I was reading Old Man's War. There were some minor quibbles I had while reading the book but they were not enough for me rate this book below five stars.We begin with one of the best opening lines in a book I have read in some time.

"I did two things on my seventy-fifth birthday. I visited my wife's grave. Then I joined the army."

9. Watchmen by Alan Moore. I like to pretend the movie didn't happen. This graphic novel is a Hugo Award winning extravaganza though. So many messages it is showing and still say it has one of the best endings ever.


10. The Diaries of Adam and Eve by Mark Twain. I know that Twain is known for other works, but I honestly dislike most of his other writings except for this one. 

"Wheresoever she was, there was Eden”


11. From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler by E.L. Konigsburg. Seriously you guys! Two kids who go and live in a museum! I was so in love with this book and so happy when my mom brought it home for me. I spent the whole day reading and re-reading about Claudia and Jamie. 


12. Island of the Blue Dolphin by Scott O'Dell. I am still mad my mom took this book from me one day when she thought I was done with it and donated it to our church. I used to have to hide my favorite books after that because though my mom loved to read. She didn't get that you donated your most loved. This book follows Karana who lives on the Island of the Blue Dolphin alone and manages to survive.


13. Julie of the Wolves by Jean Craighead George. I remember getting this book around winter time and insisting that my brother and cousin help me build an igloo in the backyard. I wanted to be just like Julie and have wolves all around me. Of course living in Central PA there were not a lot of wolves around, but I pretended. Our igloo didn't melt until late that Spring. I remember my father thinking it was hilarious we managed to get it built. I also recall this book was the first one I had read that showed a depiction of rape. I was so confused about it and then managed to put two and two together. Such a gripping book and I wish that I had read the sequel to this one.


14. Encyclopedia Brown, Boy Detective by Donald J. Sobol. I was so obsessed with this series! My mom and dad ended up buying me a ton of books in this series. I couldn't help but loving the mysteries and kept guessing wrong and having to read in the back how Encyclopedia had solved things.


15. Superfudge by Judy Blume. Seriously this series cracked me up and made me feel really bad for Peter dealing with the mess from his younger brother. You should start with Tales from a Fourth Grade Nothing first though. 


16. Are You There God? It's Me Margaret by Judy Blume. Come on people, you know what scene I want to talk about right? My friends and I all did that whole bust thing and it didn't work.


17. Iggie's House by Judy Blume. Reading about how Winnie went to go out and know the new neighbors, the Garbers, who moved into her best friend's Iggie's former home. 


18. Beezus and Ramona by Beverly Clearly. I loved these books and spent many a rainy day inside reading about Ramona. I think my favorite though is Ramona and her Mother.


19. The Berenstain Bears New Baby by Stan Berenstain and Jan Berenstain. I loved these books so much and still resist the urge to buy them and bring them home to read. Also I totally read these books before mailing off to my nephew the other week :-)


20. So I grew up in the 80s and my first foray with Nancy Drew was the Nancy Drew Files Series. At one point I had all of these books. Secrets Can Kill is the first book in the series by Carolyn Keene.


Reading progress update: I've read 20%.

The Rest of the Story - Sarah Dessen

Some references to prior people in the Lakeview books as I call them. I really like Emma otherwise known as Saylor. She has a great relationship with her father and is happy that he has re-married. Emma had plans to spend time with her best friend and her family while her father was off on his honeymoon. Her plans change though when her best friend has a family emergency having her in Ohio for the summer. Emma's grandmother suggests her dead mother's family. And now we have Emma back in her mother's hometown and learning more about her. 

Obsidian Blue's Booklikes-OPOLY Tracking Post

5/20/29 Roll 1:



9. And, let's be honest, just not being at work is a vacation in and of itself, and is an opportunity to see some of local amenities, or read & relax! Read a book that includes a visit to a museum, a concert, a library, or a park, or that the authors name begins with one of the letters in R-E-L-A-X.

Finished "A Great Deliverance" by Elizabeth George today and that makes this my roll day so I get three rolls I will take. This book is 432 pages which is $5.00.


 5/25/19 Roll 2:


16. For some reason, I associate mountain/forest locations with mystery/suspense books. I think it's all of that deep shade! Read a book that is a mystery or suspense, or which has a title that contains all of the letters in the word C-A-B-I-N.

Finished "The Perfect Wife" on 5/25, page count is 432 pages which is $5.00 in the bank. 


5/25/19 Roll 3:


25. I look forward to the summer blockbuster movie releases every year! Read a book that has been adapted for a film.

Finished "Emma" on 5/27, page count is 514 pages which is $5.00 in the bank. 


5/25/19 Roll 4:


33. The summer after I graduated from high school, A group of my friends and I took a European Tour, and London was one of our favorite stops. Read a book set in the UK, or that was written by an author whose first or last name begins with any letter in the word L-O-N-D-O-N.

Finished "The Little Shop of Found Things" on 5/28, page count is 336 pages which is $3.00 in the bank. 


5/29/19 Roll 5:

I also just picked up $5.00 due to passing "Go" again. 


2. Who? Read a mystery or detective story or a book with the word "who" in the title.

Finished “The Breakdown” on 5/31, page count is 328 which is $3.00 in the bank. 


6/1/19 Roll 6:



The jail square:

If you are just visiting: read enough pages to donate $3.00 to the bail fund.

Read The Rumor by Lesley Kara which is 336 pages. 


6/3/2019 Roll 7: 


15. My husband, Mr. MR, is a big fan of the mountain vacation. Read a book with a tree (or trees) on the cover, or that is set in a mountain community.

Finished "The Book of Lost Things" on 6/6, page count is 471 pages (I was looking at the wrong version), which is $5.00 in the bank. 


6/7/2019 Roll 8:



22. My mom grew up going to Minnesota, Land of a Thousand Lakes, for her summer vacations. Read a book with a word that refers to women's roles, such as wife, daughter, mother, mistress or title, such as "Mrs., Miss or Duchess, in the title, or a book that has a strong female lead character.

Finished "The Silent Wife" on 6/8, page count is 337 pages which is $3.00 in the bank. 


6/7/2019 Roll 9:


29. Scottie dog: Post a list or poll of 4 books, and ask your fellow players/followers to "fetch" you a book. 

Finished "Well-Schooled in Murder" on 6/11, page count is 434 pages which is $5.00 in the bank. 


6/7/2019 Roll 10: 



31. BL square. Read something published in 2019.

Finished "It's Not You It's Him" on 6/12, page count is 355, which is $3.00 in the bank. 


6/13/19 Roll 11:



Got past "Go" add $5.00 in the bank. 


6. The summer vacation is fun, but if leaving town is just too expensive, the stay-cation can be fun, too. Read a book set in your home town, state, or country or that you checked out of your local library or that has been on your (physical) bookshelves since last summer.

Finished "Aru Shah and the Song of Death" on 6/17, page count is 381 pages, which is $3.00 in the bank. 


6/13/19 Roll 12:


10. There's nothing like a trip to the beach to start the summer off, and, for readers, half the fun is picking the beach read! Read a book that appears on any beach reads list or a book whose author's first or last name begins with any letter in B-E-A-C-H.

Finished "The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie" on 6/18, page count is 386 pages, which is $3.00 in the bank. 


6/18/19 Roll 13:


13. It's important to get all of your proper accoutrements together for a day at the beach. Read a book with sunglasses, swimsuit or other beachy items on the cover, or that has a cover that is more than 50% yellow.

Read “Dark of the Moon” on 6/21 which is 396 pages, which is $3.00 in the bank. 


6/22/19 Roll 14:

22. My mom grew up going to Minnesota, Land of a Thousand Lakes, for her summer vacations. Read a book with a word that refers to women's roles, such as wife, daughter, mother, mistress or title, such as "Mrs., Miss or Duchess, in the title, or a book that has a strong female lead character.

Read "Queenie" on 6/23 which is 336 pages, which is $3.00 in the bank. 


6/25/19 Roll 15: 


30. Romance novels have the prettiest covers, featuring beautiful people, and places, and, often delicious food. Read a book with fruit or pastries on the cover, or that was written by an author whose first or last name begins with any letter in L-O-V-E.


Updated Bank as of 6/24/19: $79.00

My Next 20 Classics!-Obsidian Blue

Well if everyone else is going to add on, here I go. Keeping with Moonlight's extra criteria of making sure that these are books we read, here are 20 books that I think are going to be classics someday or could be already. I also picked books that I did not see on the list so far. Forgive me if they are there and I just overlooked them. 


1. Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn. Seriously this book blew my mind. Also I will forever loathe the fact that a bunch of authors put out books with the word "girl" and tried to mimic Flynn. Stop it.


2. The Penelopiad by Margaret Atwood. We get Atwood telling us about Penelope, the wife of Odysseus. You get a new perspective on these characters and how messed up the The Odyssey was when you focus on the women in the story.


3. Breath, Eyes, Memory by Edwidge Danticat. I honestly don't know that much about Haiti as a country or a culture. Reading this book let me glimpse upon the inner workings of a family that had only women left to usher in the new generation. The character of Sophie will break your heart again and again throughout this book. Told in the first person in four parts, we follow Sophie from the age of 12 until she I think based on the timeline of the story is 20 possibly 21.


4. I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou. Maya Angelou was not just a poet and writer. She was an artist with words. Just the way that she write things evokes memories of a place and time I have never been to in my life.


5. For colored girls who have considered suicide/when the rainbow is enuf by Ntozake Shange. I have to say that I loved this play. It was a bit weird to read the stage directions along with the poetry that was being said by these characters, but it was quite easy to read and follow. For colored girls is considered a choreopoem (i.e. there are monologues that also include dance and music) with seven women in different colors speaking to the audience. The seven women are the lady in red, lady in orange, lady in yellow, lady in green, lady in blue, lady in brown, and lady in purple. Some of the poems really spoke to me a lot and the play tackles so many different subjects such as rape, abortion, domestic violence. 


6. The Golden Compass by Phillip Pullman. So I have to say that I found this book to be from top to bottom absolutely wonderful. Potential readers should realize going in that this is a steampunk science fiction book taking a look at John Milton's Paradise Lost, Inferno, and also C.S. Lewis's The Chronicle of Narnia series. I read both Paradise Lost and Inferno in high school.


7. Night by Elie Wiesel


Never shall I forget that night, the first night in camp, which has turned my life into one long night, seven times cursed and seven times sealed....Never shall I forget those moments which murdered my God and my soul and turned my dreams to dust. Never shall I forget these things, even if I am condemned to live as long as God Himself. Never.


8. A Wind in the Door by Madeline L'Engle. So this series is one of the books that I love reading again and again. Reading as a kid is definitely different than one reads a child. To me when I was a child, it seemed highly plausible that one could travel within one's brother and heal them. As an adult, it took a little more getting use to.


9. Joyland by Stephen King. Man when Stephen King is "on" he is "on". I loved everything about this book. I am not going to lie, you have to get past the first few chapters because things kind of drag. When the main character goes back to his time before returning to college and his experiences at Joyland (amusement park in North Carolina) the book really starts to hum at that point. I see this in King's top ten works someday and yes will go down as a horror classic. 


10. A Streetcar Named Desire by Tennessee Williams. I think in school I may have possibly read one of the first scenes from this play and that was it. Reading the entire play in one sitting was fantastic. Tennessee Williams doesn't just focus on the characters, he focuses on the music being played in the scenes, how the music changes based on what characters are saying, how they should look, how set pieces should look, etc. This was like getting a behind the scene notes on how a play is written. 


11. The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison. This book has left me thinking over certain themes for days. I think the best thing I can say about any book is that I can't stop thinking about it. "The Bluest Eye" was so hard to read in parts that I honestly was surprised when I got to the ending because even though it was hard to read, I wanted it to keep going and going. I wanted to read my happy ending damn it, and sadly there was no happy ending at all, just reality. 


12. Anne of the Island by L.M. Montgomery. When I first started reading the Anne of Green Gables series I was a pre-teen. I had never left my hometown at that point, and knew that Canada lay north. I imagined that Canada was just the Niagara Falls because that's all I ever saw about it on television. To read a story about an orphaned girl that comes to live with a brother and sister and slowly worms her way into the hearts of them and her neighbors living on Prince Edward Island in the 1900s. Book #3 in the series is still my favorite.


13. Dawn by Octavia Butler. This book focuses on race, consent, rape, and so many other things it can make your head spin. I know heard this is going to be turned into a tv series by Amazon.


14. The Good Earth by Pearl S. Buck. I cared about this family that started off so poor, but the father (Wang Lung) who keeps his faith in the land (or Good Earth) is able to become a wealthy landowner over time. This of course leaves to a rift with him and his faithful wife (O-lan). 


15. Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates. This is a collection of essays that Coates wrote to his son about his experiences growing up black in America and his thoughts of a lot of the police violence that surrounds being a black teen in America. And he describes how scared many black parents are when raising their children and doing what they can to ensure that they "get" how things are in this world. He segues back and forth into many pivotal points during the U.S.'s history (Civil War, Civil Rights, 9/11). This will make you uncomfortable. This will make you think. This will make you realize that in a hundred thousand different ways in America we do our best to tell everyone the American dream is for you, but than we hard pause and say it's not for you (if you are black, if you are Muslim, if you are Asian, if you are Hispanic) if you don't fit what the America true ideal is which is to be white and Christian.


16. Dear Ijeawele, or A Feminist Manifesto in Fifteen Suggestions by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie


First Suggestion: Be a full person.
Second Suggestion: Do it together.
Third Suggestion: Teach her that the idea of "gender roles" is absolute nonsense.
Fourth Suggestion: Beware the danger of what I call Feminism Lite.
Fifth Suggestion: Teach Chizalum to read. 
Sixth Suggestion: Teach her to question language.
Seventh Suggestion: Never speak of marriage as an achievement.
Eighth Suggestion: Teach her to reject likability. 
Ninth Suggestion: Give Chizalum a sense of identity.
Tenth Suggestion: Be deliberate about how you engage with her and her appearance.
Eleventh Suggestion: Teach her to question our culture's selective use of biology as "reasons" for social norms. 
Twelfth Suggestion: Talk to her about sex, and start early.
Thirteenth Suggestion: Romance will happen, so be on board.
Fourteenth Suggestion: In teaching her about oppression, be careful not to turn the oppressed into saints.
Fifteenth Suggestion: Teach her about difference.


17. The Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold. I read this book back in 2003. I remember buying the hardcover from a random book shop in D.C. (can't recall the name of the store) and started to read this book while on a bus heading back from the Pentagon metro stop. Within an hour I was in tears and just read it until I finished it sometime before dawn. This book grabbed me back when I was 23 and it still grabbed me more than a decade and a half later at 38. Sebold wrote this book in response to being raped and she takes all of that pain and anger and wrote something that I believe will eventually be considered a classic. That said there are some nits here and there in the book that don't work, she has the main character at one point inhabit someone's body and I don't even want to discuss it anymore cause it was weird and off-putting. The only really false step I got while reading this.


18. If Beale Street Could Talk by James Baldwin. If Beale Street Could Talk is sublime. For those who saw the movie, not everything in the novel stays the same, there are some scenes that I assume were cut for time. I thought that the way this ended was pretty perfect though.


19. We Should All be Feminists by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie. I loved how Adichie breaks down stereotypes between what is expected of boys and girls and then what is expected between men and women. She provides insights into what she has seen and experienced as a woman that makes no bones about being a feminist. She gets a bit into race, but does not deep dive on that. This is a very good essay if you want to just dip your toe into Adiche's writing.


20. Kristy's Great Idea by Ann M. Martin. The book that launched a series that had me reading it until I got in my mid-teens. All of my friends loved these books and we could not wait until the super adventure books came out as well. I see these books being read and re-read by a new generation when I am a little old lady sitting on my front porch.



Needed More Development

Redesigning Happiness - Nita Brooks

Please note that I received this book for free via NetGalley. This did not impact my rating or review.


So this book definitely needed a lot more development with the core characters and better writing in general. Yvonne and her "feelings" for the father of her son, Richard, was not believable. Heck her being in a relationship with Nathan didn't feel believable. I also had a hard time believing that Yvonne was supposedly a sought after designer with tv offers. We get one scene where she meets a client and the rest of the book is her obsessing about two men, talking about the two men with her mother and sister, and then worrying about her son. This book was boring and there was zero chemistry between any of the characters. 


Brooks doesn't do a good job of setting up this second chance romance at all. I tend to like some second chance romances more than others and the ones that I like the most is when we don't have a heroine already dating someone else. Or in this case engaged to someone else. Because that usually means that the guy that the the heroine is with is somehow going to have to come out of nowhere and be so reprehensible that you the reader just want her with the other dude. Even if he's problematic as heck. FYI, Richard was not that great, he was just rich. 

Brooks didn't do a good job with Richard at all. The whole backstory to his and Yvonne's "relationship" also made laugh. We have a quick scene showing how they met and all it showed was Yvonne was pressed from the beginning. That was it. I didn't get any connections between the two. Heck, Brooks doesn't even show their last scene together before she moved on and had their son. We just hear about it, repeatedly. Also we know Richard is from money, but once again it's not developed. He has enough money to develop a show? And of course readers know he is doing this to get back with Yvonne, but oh boy this was so dumb to me.


The writing was so-so. We had to hear about Yvonne's issues with her real father wanting nothing to do with her and why and from that take why she's so focused on making sure that her son gets to know his father even though it may destroy her relationship. I maybe laughed at one point when Richard after just meeting his son tells him he can call him dad. I mean....woosa. This book had so much that made me want to yell that I had to move on from things in order to finish this. I cannot with the Nathan story-line. That's all I am saying about that. 


The flow was awful. There's a lot of talking happening and not much else. Brooks throws out some ridiculous stuff with Richard's ex and I maybe Kanye laughed.


The book takes place in Atlanta, and I didn't get any sense of the city or once again that Yvonne was some new hot designer in the city. 

The ending left things as a HFN instead of a HEA. We know that Richard has drama and the book seems to be setting up a sequel following Yvonne's sister. I will be skipping that. 

Somehow Worse Than the First Davenport Novel

Dark Of The Moon  - John Sandford

I still say that John Sandford was trolling his readers with the first book in his series. He took all of the complaints of the Lucas Davenport series and just went to level 10 with everything. Lucas was a man that no man can say no to, Virgil rolls into town and gets a woman interested in him in like 5 minutes. Lucas does things out of bounds, well Virgil just goes and works around local law enforcement until he needs them as well and oh in one case several people get shot up and I don't even know what was happening at this point. This first book was a waste of time. 


"Dark of the Moon" follows Virgil Flowers who was introduced in the Lucas Davenport series. We know that Virgil has been married three times and this book pretty much delves into how stupid Virgil is when it comes to women. Poor guy, he's unable to just be a professional without noting how hot or not hot some woman is. Blech.


Anyway, "Dark of the Moon" has Virgil called in on a case involving a man and woman who were murdered in the home in the town of Bluestem. Virgil is called in due to the way that the dead man was posed. On his way to the town, he stops when he sees a local rich man's house on fire. Virgil is quickly involved in both cases and wonders if something ties them together. This being a Sandford book of course something ties them together. Something stupid, but something does. We also have Virgil get involved with someone and lord that whole thing just made me tired. I already updated you all on how they watched her brother (the local sheriff) have sex and I just want to put that mess out of my mind. This book almost broke me. Almost. 


Virgil is not worth me talking about besides his whole thing when he's trying to write the case as a mystery novelist made me laugh and laugh. He's a terrible writer. His reasoning skills are up there with Lucas. They just seem to come to conclusions about things and they are always right. 


The other characters were barely developed. It was hard to keep everyone straight because the two cases tie back to something else and to the rich guy who was also a secret sex addict. Let's just say something happened way back when tied back to something and somehow the word moon got thrown in. 


The writing was early Sandford and the flow was awful. The book felt endless after a while.


The ending made me sigh because per early Sandford, we find out about a character (something unsavory) but Sandford via his character just let's it go. I was bored and annoyed the entire time while reading this. 


Problematic Protagonist with Heart

Queenie - Candice Carty-Williams

So here's the thing. Some people are not going to like this book. They are going to be upset by how Queenie conducts herself and how messy (she was super messy) her life was and how it's not a good look for a black character. I would argue that is wrong. I don't mind messy books or characters. Those books feel more real to me. I like the underlying message this book had about mental health and how our pasts don't have to dictate our future. I also would love to see a follow-up to Queenie. The ending sets things in a good place, but we know that there is still more work for her to do. 


"Queenie" follows 25 year old Queenie who is struggling with her life right now. Queenie has a sort of dead end job at a newspaper. Her long-time boyfriend of three years Tom wants a break. And Queenie's Jamaican family is not sympathetic to her heartbreak. Her friends are to a point, but everyone wants her to move on and get going. Instead Queenie flounders (badly) and finds herself in some raw/brutal situations with men all because she keeps thinking that sex is going to lead to love. Queenie doesn't know who she is without Tom and is going through the motions until they get back together. "Queenie" explores Jamaican heritage, mental health issues, sexual explicit situations, and black lives matters. 


I saw myself in this character a lot. It brought back the stupid things I did in my 20s all for trying to be with someone who wasn't worth the effort I was going through. Like Queenie, I dated (or used to date) white men and with that comes it's own sort of challenges, mainly racism. Because as I have already said here, sometimes certain people are a big R or a little r when it comes to racism.


With Queenie and her ex Tom you see that Tom's family was a big old letter R and he was a little r. He thought he was a hip liberal ally and he was when his family wasn't being terrible to his long-time girlfriend. And I thought that Queenie was right on for calling out Tom for the BS that was going on, and I hated that she was berating herself for actually saying something about it. I also cringed at times though because Queenie didn't slow down at times to think through what she was saying or actions she was going to take in different situations in this book. I thought it was smart that Cart-Williams showed instances of Tom and Queenie's relationship juxtaposed against what Queenie was up to in the present day. She definitely was looking at things with rose-colored glasses.  


I also liked that we slowly got information on Queenie and why she was partially estranged from her mother and why she avoided black men. My heart hurt for her and I got it, and sighed. I also get why that piece offended some readers. 


The development of the secondary characters like Darcy, Cassandra, and my girl Kyazike was great. I also loved her grandparents, her aunt, and her cousin Diana. Everyone felt so real to me while I was reading. We also get a variety of men that Queenie gets involved with and I seriously disliked and in one case loathed them. In all of these "relationships" Queenie is just trying to take any scrap of love she can, it ends up being very hard to read because Queenie just can't get anything together.  


I thought that the writing was engaging. It's very raw and open. I felt myself cringing at times due to the situations that Queenie gets into. I wanted to yell stop, you are worth more than this, but she just kept doing things over and over again. I seriously wanted to tell her that Tom wasn't worth anything at all and the other men she gets involved with were terrible too. The flow was great and though I wanted to stop a few times, I was glad I continued.

The setting of a London where there are different ways of lives for those who are "British" and other was eye-opening. Queenie talks about black lives matter and wanting to do more stories or attempt to do stories on that, but she honestly is so scared of her own blackness I wanted to pat her on the head and tell her to go sit down. She sees things at a superficial level I thought at times, however, I realized that Queenie just wants anyone to see that being separate/different from white is hard and that it comes with its own challenges. I think that Tom shutting her up about his family's racism is what makes her latch onto the movement so much because she felt unworthy to be in their presence after what they said and did to her. 


The ending leaves things in a new place for Queenie. A healthier and stronger place. 



Reading progress update: I've read 27%.

Queenie - Candice Carty-Williams

Feeling this book so hard. 


The title character Queenie is dealing with the break up with her boyfriend Tom. We find out that Queenie and Tom had a kind of dubious start to their relationship and that their relationship came to after another fight cleaning about Tom’s family many racist comments about her and him acting like she’s a drama queen. Now Queenie is a drift  without Tom in her life and doesn’t know what to do while they take a break. 


Taking place in London and a London I’ve never thought of with Queenie giving insight into  her family being first/second generation immigrants from Jamaica. 


Having trouble editing from my phone but this is my next space which I already landed on before. 


22. My mom grew up going to Minnesota, Land of a Thousand Lakes, for her summer vacations. Read a book with a word that refers to women's roles, such as wife, daughter, mother, mistress or title, such as "Mrs., Miss or Duchess, in the title, or a book that has a strong female lead character.