#DiversityDecBingo TBR

As I’d mentioned earlier this week, I’m participating  in #DiversityDecBingo, which starts tomorrow! I’d like to thank the awesome bookstagrammers/bloggers that are hosting this, because it such a great way to promote reading diversely. I’m being atypically realistic and not attempting to complete all the squares in the bingo card, mostly because I’m travelling for the next couple of weeks and won’t have a lot of time to read. Also, my TBR is out of control as it is, and I just requested a bunch of ARCs because I’m a masochist like that, so I need to reign it all in.

After a ton of hemming and hawing, my sister intervened and picked this column for me.  (I can’t decide anything to save my life.)

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TBR:

Chronic pain sufferers                    Non-Western setting                         PoC/Interracial M/M

farffromyou                    writteninthestars                      songofachilles.jpg

Pansexual MC                                                 Asexual/Aromantic MC

outongoodbx                                      we-awaken

The best part about these are that they’re all either ebooks I own or digital copies from the library, which means I can probably try and knock them out while I’m travelling. Five books in two weeks, I think I can handle it.

I’m also super excited to see what everyone else is reading, because I’d love to read more books in all of these categories. Meanwhile, if you have any suggestions for any of the categories on the bingo card, I’d love to hear about them!

-J

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

November 28th, 2016:It’s Monday, What Are You Reading?

bookdate

It’s Monday, What Are You Reading? is a weekly meme currently hosted by The Book Date. It’s a place to meet up and share what you have been, are and about to be reading over the week, and add to that ever-growing TBR stack.

You guys, I did it. I finished A Little Life, literally thirty seconds before I starting writing this post. Oh. My. God. I’m dead. I’m numb from the pain. I’m epicly hungover. I don’t even know, I don’t even know.

I also managed to read and review Lucky Boy, devoured The Weight of Feathers, and finished This Bridge Called My Back. So, basically, all I have are a (figurative) mountain of library books that I must read and return. These I’m saving for my trip in a few days- I’ll be travelling a bunch and using my kindle as a primary source of reading material is a pragmatic choice. 

In the next few days, these are a couple of books I’d like to finish:

Ooh also, I’m participating in #DiversityDecBingo which is being hosted by a bunch of bloggers/bookstagrammers that I interact with on twitter. If you choose to participate, you can follow the hashtag on twitter where there are a bunch of recs from various people. Join me!

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Got to dash to a thing now, more later. Drop me a line and let me know what you’re reading!

-J

 

 

ARC Review: Lucky Boy by Shanthi Sekaran

wp-1479113487650.jpgLucky Boy by Shanthi Sekaran

Pub. date: January 10th, 2017
Publisher: G.P. Putnam’s Sons
Format: E-galley
ISBN: 9781101982242
Source: Netgalley

 

Thanks so much to G. P. Putnam’s Sons and Netgalley for providing me this ARC in exchange for an honest review. 

 

Eighteen-year old Solimar Valdez undertakes an arduous journey to cross the US/Mexican border, during which she meets and falls in love with a young man. Weeks later, separated from due to a series of events, she arrives in Berkeley, California at her cousin’s house, impregnated and in love, both of which were not part of her plan. However, her cousin gets her a job, and teaches her to keep a low profile so as not to have her legality questioned, and she does just that. She gives birth to a lovely baby boy Ignacio, who becomes Soli’s most precious possession, one she guards with her life. Until one day, the unluckiest set of circumstances result in Soli taken to a detention center, separated from Ignacio. 

Kavya Reddy has a stable job, a stable marriage, and a complicated relationship with her mother. She’s looking for more in the fulfillment and happiness department, and is unexpectedly overwhelmed with a desire to become a mother. It becomes her sole focus. She and Rishi struggle with trying to get pregnant, and their marriage goes through the hoops of trying and failing IVF and such. The couple look into adoption, and this is where their lives collide with Soli’s- they end up fostering Ignacio. Kavya takes on the role of mother willingly, although it doesn’t come without its tribulations, and falls in love with this child that is not her own. 

There’s several beautiful things about this book. The writing, for starters, is gorgeous. It’ll capture you from the first few pages, the author using it to weave such an emotional story. Sekaran has also done such an excellent job of portraying two strong women, women who in their own rights care so deeply for this child, and will stop at nothing to try and keep him with them. A comparison of their determination and experiences is futile. This is not a story that has a clear winner at the end; but it portrays so many emotions vividly that it leaves you raw and aching.

The book also tackles the reality of the circumstances of undocumented people and immigrants. The sections of the book tackling the legal and judicial systems, the horrific realities of people thrown into detention centers and the terrible choices they are given, made me feel angry and helpless, all at the same time. As someone that has grown up with a lot of chatter of the American dream, the true nature of what that looks like left me disillusioned. Especially in the current political climate, it was very hard not to experience real fear and anxiety when reading Soli’s story. 

I can’t say that I wanted the book to end differently. I devoured this book in a couple of days, but I was unable to pick sides. Not that picking sides makes any damn difference in the world, because the entire situation is beyond fucked up and there’s no alternatives for a satisfactory of comforting conclusion. My guts were wrenched, and my heart was torn. I can’t recommend this enough. 

November 21st, 2016:It’s Monday, What Are You Reading?

bookdate

It’s Monday, What Are You Reading? is a weekly meme currently hosted by The Book Date. It’s a place to meet up and share what you have been, are and about to be reading over the week, and add to that ever-growing TBR stack.

Mentally and physically, I’m in the same space as last week. Reading has been a comfort, especially in the wee hours of the morning where I’m battling insomnia. I finished reading The Girl From Everywhere by Heidi Heilig and oh my god it was such a fun read, I flew through that one. I can’t wait for the sequel and more Nix adventures. I’m still plugging away at This Bridge Called My Back: Writings by Radical Women of Color; the essays reflect a wide variety of experiences and evoke several feelings. I also finished reading Playing In The Dark: Whiteness and the Literary Imagination by Toni Morrison, and goddamn we don’t deserve a gem like her. It is a critique of White literature exploiting the existence of black people and other people of color by making them incarnations of their own feelings. This is hardcore literary criticism. 

This week I’m reading: 

Naz and I have been planning to read A Little Life since forever, and we finally started this past weekend. Unlike the last time I tried to read this book, I have been flying through the pages, and the writing is exquisite. Jude is my favorite by far, and I just want to wrap myself around him and protect him from this world. I’ve read about a chapter of Lucky Boy so far, and I’d like to finish it in the next couple of days to post a review sometime this week. I’m still heavy in my nonfiction zone, so I’ll have no trouble reading some chunks of the other two books as well.

I’m travelling (again) in a couple of weeks, but this time to visit some very close friends, so I’m really looking forward to this trip. I’ve been promised visits to bookstores, so you’ll definitely be hearing about that when it happens. Meanwhile, I hope everyone is engaging in self-care as well as taking actionable steps, and finding the time to squeeze in a book or three.

-J

 

 

Exciting News!

sjbc

Hello, hello!

(Apologies if you’ve seen this on twitter already)

The Social Justice Book Club, started by Kerry back in April, is a bimonthly book club focused on reading and discussing books that fall under the giant umbrella of social justice. As with all other things, the club sprung from a twitter conversation, and is especially so relevant given the garbage fire that is 2016. The club has discussed three books so far, and Kerry has been amazing with book selections, coming up with a reading schedule, and incorporating suggestions of book club members who are notoriously terrible with sticking to any of the schedules (shameface). I did read all three books though, and I can’t thank Kerry enough for bringing these to my attention via said book club.

That being said, I’m very excited to let you guys know that I will be co-hosting the Social Justice Book Club along with Kerry, starting January 2017. A tiny part of me agreed for purely selfish reasons- I’d like to engage more with the discussion part of the book club and sticking with the schedule, and having the responsibility of co-hosting will definitely help with that. Also, Kerry is an awesome person, and I wanted to help her in any way I could to keep this book club going.

That being said, our next round begins in January 2017, and we will be reading Hope In The Dark by Rebecca Solnit. Given this past week, we felt this would be especially relevant. Plus, for the next FOURTEEN HOURSHaymarket Books is offering completely free, no strings attached downloads of the ebook. So feel free to download a free copy, or buy a print version, or borrow from the library to read with us starting January 1st- whatever floats your boat.

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Meanwhile, you can check out all of Kerry’s posts here in case you’re interested in joining the club. You can also follow her on Twitter, Instagram, and Litsy (@kerry). We’ll have a space to sign up on our respective blogs when we announce our next selection. Got recommendations for the club to consider? We’ve got a form right here.

Kerry and I are working together to give all of you a meaningful book club experience, and we will announce sign-ups and future books closer to the end of 2016. Thanks once again for joining us!

 

 

 

 

November 14th, 2016: It’s Monday, What Are You Reading?

bookdate

It’s Monday, What Are You Reading? is a weekly meme currently hosted by The Book Date. It’s a place to meet up and share what you have been, are and about to be reading over the week, and add to that ever-growing TBR stack.

Continue reading “November 14th, 2016: It’s Monday, What Are You Reading?”

Finding Focus: From Intention to Action

When I started this blog a few months ago, I didn’t start it with a specific intention. I had recently discovered the bookternet, and wanted to join the bandwagon. Since then, I’ve sporadically written posts and reviews and such, because the only thing I’ve ever been clear about this blog is that reading is my priority and I’m not about to start shaving off reading time in favor of writing, or doing my laundry, or anything.

Curating all of my social media to be all about books- following bloggers and authors, posting pictures of my reading, general book squeeing- was quite the eye-opener. I learned a lot about the intersections of publishing and social justice, #ownvoices, the push for diversity, problematic representation, etc. I’d never been mindful of any of this prior to this year, but it became something I couldn’t unsee. 2016 has been my best reading year by a long shot, but along with it has come a certain mindfulness about how we talk about books and the ginormous influence on readers, I had several “holy shit that’s so effing true!” realizations about all of it. I made friends with wonderful people like Naz and Bina, as well as the #DiverseBookBloggers, who were all dedicating their time to actively promoting diverse books and authors of colour. By this time I was all aboard with the gravity of representation in publishing, having revelatory conversations with book friends and learning so much. The blog still remained as it was- without intention.

I’ve had some time to think about this in the last couple of months, and the lack of intention was starting to really bother me. I was fixated on having a theme of some sort on the blog that was different, not for stats (I still haven’t figured what most of them mean or how I’m supposed to use that data to gain followers), but just to be able t0 contribute in a way that was unlike whatever already existed in what felt like an oversaturated book blogging community. In that time, I was becoming more vocal on twitter about the importance of diversity, and had also been burned pretty badly by some books that I’d read or bought which were just products of the power of patriarchy and white privilege. The more I paid attention, I was stunned by the mediocre bar set for privileged folks to publish their books. I was also outraged by the harassment marginalized authors and bloggers were receiving for daring to speak about problematic content. I was seething, and disillusioned, and filled with an urge to take action.

All of that introspection brought me to this- this was never supposed to be about me. Instead of worrying about how this blog can stand out, I’m going to stop centering myself, and focus on the cause- on boosting marginalized voices and experiences. Clearly, publishing has a long way to go, so why not add my voice to the cause? I’ve realized that at this point we need every person we can get to talk about own voices and diverse books, and the only reason I ever felt we had plenty of people talking about it was me living in my tiny privileged bubble of like-minded book people. It’s high time I acknowledge that privilege, and use it to do something. It doesn’t mean I’ll completely stop reading white/cishet/able authors, but they don’t need me to promote their books for them. Marginalized authors could use every person reading their books to talk about them, and that is what I am going to do.

Long story short- you’ll be looking exclusively at own voices and diverse content on here, starting now. It’s going to get loud here, and I hope you’ll stay with me for the ride.