Luster

Author: Raven Leilani

Published: August 4th, 2020

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Where I picked up my book: Local Indie

My Rating: 5 stars

My Thoughts:

This was truly an intoxicating debut novel. I’m still thinking about it weeks after finishing it. Here are some thoughts I had:

  1. I LOVE characters that don’t have it all together and by definition, this main character (Edie) is far from having anything together.
  2. Leilani is beyond a talented writer. She creates sentences that often had me pause to think about the actual sentence structure. It is truly a work of art.
  3. This is not a light read. It’s definitely dark and gritty and at times, fell into the ‘this is a slightly uncomfortable situation for me’ pile, but nonetheless-I soaked in every word.
  4. I’m realllllll glad I’m not in my early 20’s and dating anymore (no offense to those of you that are, but oooof)
  5. NYC is almost a character in her own right. I LOVEEEEE when that happens in a book. Especially as someone who has only been to NYC a couple of times.
  6. Luster covers a lot of topics (being Black in America, being poor, being young and trying to navigate life, being an artist, growing up in an emotionally abusive home, alcoholism, self-harm…the list goes on) BUT there was not one second that I felt overwhelmed by how much was being confronted in these pages. I keep coming back to this-I think it was because Leilani’s magical writing made it happen with ease.
  7. There is a lot to unpack in this novel and I hope to get the chance to discuss it with someone asap! Sorry for the rambling mess-but that’d what this book has left me at.
  8. Go ahead and grab this book. You won’t be disappointed. Have I mentioned the writing?!?!

Bookishfolk…read instead.

The House in the Cerulean Sea

Author: TJ Klune

Published: March 17, 2020

Publisher: Tor Books

Where I picked up my book: Library and then immediately purchased from a local indie

Key Words: magical, queer, chosen family

My Rating: 5 glorious stars (more if I could)

My Thoughts:

I’m not even sure that I can explain how much I loved this book! For real-it was EVERYTHING that I needed in a book and it was a perfect read to delve into during Covid times when everything feels unnerving and slightly out of control. THIS book felt like the answer! It felt like a mix between The Umbrella Academy and Miss Peregrin’s Home for Peculiar Children and The Little Prince but like, 100x’s better than all of those combined.

Things I loved:

  1. Literally everything.

Things I didn’t love:

  1. Literally nothing.

There you have it! If you’re looking for a glorious book to read right now-this one is it! The House in the Cerulean Sea found me at the perfect time and there is nothing better than that feeling. It’s a whimsical and heartwarming story that will stay with me forever. I’m definitely looking forward to seeing what else Klune has to offer us next!

bookishfolk…read instead.

Trascendent Kingdom

Author: Yaa Gyasi

Published: September 1, 2020

Publisher: Knopf

Where I picked up my book: Purchased from my local Indie (Old Firehouse Books)

Key Words: family relations, spirituality, race, drug use

My Rating: 4 stars

My Thoughts:

  1. I LOVED this book! I am often turned off from any books with a religious bend to them, and this book certainly has that. BUT, I soaked in every word. So if religion is a trigger for you, you might want to give this one a go anyways-I don’t think you’ll be disappointed!

2. There were so many themes in this book and honestly, I went into it a bit blind-and I think that made the reading even more beautiful. Gyasi takes on religion, immigration, mental health, addiction, family dynamics with an ease and grace that I’m not sure I’ve ever read before.

3. Another thought I had about this book was the way that Gyasi wrote about science and religion. You don’t see that often in books, or in real-life if I’m being honest, and I think there is something to this. We spend a lot of time putting up a divide between these two topics, but maybe if we move closer to the center, maybe some real change would happen in this world.

4. Overall, I really loved this book. I was lucky to see Gyasi and Roxane Gay virtually speak on September 1st through Strand and it made me love this book (and Gyasi) even more, if that’s possible!

5. Highly suggest this one!

bookishfolk…read instead.

The Vanishing Half

Author: Brit Bennett

Published: June 2, 2020 

Publisher: Riverhead Books

Where I picked up my book: Purchased from my local Indie (Old Firehouse Books)

Key Words: family relations, race issues, identity, LGBTQ+

My Rating: 5 stars (I’d give it more if I could)

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My Thoughts:

I literally could not love this book more if I tried. I opened it up, thought about it every second I was not reading it and still, weeks later, I’m thinking about it on a daily basis. It was one of those books for me for sure.

Here are some of my thoughts:

  1. Bennett is a genius at weaving together a multi-generational narrative with different locations, POV, time periods and thoughts in a flawless way. When I say flawless, I truly mean flawless.
  2. Although this took Bennett years to write and it was written before the death of George Floyd (but certainly not before the death of many, many Black people at the hands of white people and police) this book seems absolutely current to what is happening at this moment in history.
  3. The cultural nuances in terms of race, age, colorism, motherhood, the Black community, matriarchal families, and gender identity was something that I can’t even imagine writing all in one book, but Bennett did it spectacularly.
  4. This is a book that looks at systemic and internalized racism, brings it to the forefront and allows the reader to sit in it for a minute. In sitting, I learned so much.
  5. The character development was out of this world-I know these characters now as humans.
  6. There is queer representation!!!
  7.  I will, for sure, read this book again and I’m typically not a double dipper with my books…or french fries for that matter 😉

P.S. Brit Bennett also wrote The Mothers and although I didn’t love that as much as The Vanishing Half, it’s definitely a fantastic book and one you should also pick up 🙂

There you have it folks! Find me over on Instagram and let’s chat books! I also create greeting cards and other paper goods (with a lot of bookish themes too) over at PAGEFIFTYFIVE. You can find me there too! And lastly, I own a shop called Makerfolk where we sell items from handmade makers around our city, our state and throughout the US. That’s me in a nutshell 🙂

Bookishfolk…read instead.

Late Migrations

Author: Margaret Renkl

Published: July 9, 2019

Publisher: Milkweed Editions

Where I picked up my book: Purchased from my local Indie (Old Firehouse Books)

Key Words: life cycles, love and loss, nature writing

My Rating: 5 stars

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My Thoughts:

I truly loved this book. It’s beautifully written (I’m not sure I’ve ever read such a beautiful book) and made me deeply think with nearly every sentence I read. Late Migrations asked me to reflect on those, oftentimes overlooked, connections that happen in life-if you’re paying attention. Renkl beautifully intertwines love and loss, parenthood, grief, the natural world, family, care-taking and the ebb and flow of life. It’s not only braided in a beautiful and poignant way, but I was sucked in from sentence one and only released once I finished the last sentence. It’s one of those books.

I highly suggest this book and reading it outside if you can-it’s true magic. And just look at that cover!!

As always, find me on Instagram and let’s talk books!

bookishfolk…read instead.