Friday, June 26, 2020

A Few Things I've Read in Quarantine

I know I just finished saying I think my voice doesn't hold a lot of value right now, but I've been repeatedly urged to chat about books lately, and I think it's only fair that my book blog talk about books for a minute or two. Imagine that!

Admittedly - there aren't as many to talk about as usual. My mind has been too muddled to get whisked away by a book, and the quarantine distractions (read: Animal Crossing) are too appealing. I have finally gotten some traction, though, so I thought I'd do a roundup of some of the things I managed to read since we hunkered down in March.

Quarantine Reads | Reading & Writing Rych,

The Two Lives of Lydia Bird by Josie Silver (4 Stars)
Sigh, thinking about this one brings up all sorts of feelings. It was so good, in the very same way that One Day In December was. The main character, Lydia, loses her fiance in an accident on her birthday of all days. We then follow her through the next decade of her life while she balances moving on with an alternate reality - one she visits by taking a sleeping pill prescribed to her by her therapist. Watching her make the choice between living her old life and her new one while she searches for closure and identity is heartbreaking and redeeming at the same time. There's a lot of real life and raw emotion woven into her story, and I was totally swept up in her journey. Read it!

Of Curses and Kisses by Sandhya Menon (3 Stars)
I was really excited for this book - it's a modern day Beauty and the Beast retelling with a hint of Harry Potter and those are two of my favorite stories. There were for sure some familiar comforts and even a bit of longing and redemption, but overall it didn't really measure up for me. I'm not sure if it was the writing or the characters, maybe both, but it was just...meh. Not bad, but didn't wow me the way I'd hoped it would.

The Distance Between Us by Kasie West (4 Stars)
Phew, I love a good Kasie West. This book had the usual young adult longing turned love that I have an insatiable thirst for! Teens Caymen and Xander meet when she sells him a creepy doll from her mom's doll shop while he's on and errand for his Grandma. The two slowly get to know each other as Caymen is also getting to know her own past and evolving place in the world, and it's adorable and sweet and I miss the characters already!

Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng (4 Stars)
I have yet to watch the show for this (waiting on the right time to finally get Hulu) but I'm dying to because this book was so deliciously full of conflict and contrast! Set in the Stepford-like suburb of Shaker Heights, we follow the Richardson family's entanglement with the nomadic mother-daughter duo of Mia and Pearl. Friendships and connections form while secrets are threaded through each one of them, culminating in the book-opening scene of the Richardson home being burnt to the ground. With subtle themes of privilege and racial divide, this is a great book for our time.

Things I've read during the stay at home orders 2020.Summer of Salt by Katrina Leno (4 Stars)
Yesss, this one. This is just one of those beautifully atmospheric books, woven simultaneously with hints of magical elements and social hurdles in perfect balance. It for sure depends on how much you like the odd or magical, because there *is* a girl who turns into a bird in this book. Yep. BUT, if you can instead focus on the extremities of teenage emotion made manifest into physical reactions, you'll find yourself wishing you could stay in their bed and breakfast, waiting patiently on their sweet little island for a rare magical bird to come and dazzle you. Perfect Summer book!

Becoming by Michelle Obama (5 Stars)
This was just...beautiful. It was amazing and informative to have such an inside look at what becoming (ha) and being a presidential family is like, but it was the beautiful, flowing writing that had me just, addicted to this book. Michelle is a masterful writer. This book had none of the non-fiction dryness, and I found myself just wanted to spend time wrapped up in her words. It was gorgeously done, and encouraged love and diversity every step of the way. One of my favorite books this year, hands down.

Open Book by Jessica Simpson (3.5 Stars)
I didn't have this one on my radar until I saw so many people reading it, and I never had any particular attachment to Jessica Simpson, but I liked it more than I expected to. Her story had a lot of interesting elements that you just wouldn't see as an outside viewer, and as an early-2000's Britney enthusiast, I even found myself rooting for Jessica and thinking "Darn you, Britney and Christina!" My favorite thing about reading this book right after finishing Becoming was the extreme contrast in memoir figures. The first was about a Black woman growing up in Chicago, becoming a lawyer, and ending up in the White House. The other was about a blonde southern baptist struggling to climb into the limelight and though still having struggles of her own, doing so with a heavy dose of privilege. Most interesting, though, were the things they had in common. Adjusting to being women in the spotlight, answering a call to serve their country in their own ways, and they even both had a chapter about traveling to Nairobi. Maybe it's silly to recommend this as a one-two read with Becoming, but I felt that this one held extra value for me reading them this way. Try it? :)

Have you read any of these? What did you think of them?

Oh, by the way, the creative people behind The Reading Rush held a quick quarantine read-athon in April called the Stay at Home Reading Rush. The middle three books in this list were my TBR. In short, I failed it, haha. I made it through the first book during the timeframe, but it took me a while to finish the other two. Quarantine problems. I'll do better for the real-deal in July, which we're getting close to! I just ordered my journal this morning, yay! Join me this year?

Full transparency: I feel a little unsettled about Influencers in general right now, and while I don't consider myself to be one, I do utilize the same affiliate programs that many of them do to in order to attempt to support my blog. It's minuscule, but I may make a teeny-tiny commission if you click through or purchase a book through the links in this post. Thank you so much if you do. xx

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