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.

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.

Godshot

Author: Chelsea Bieker

Published: March 31, 2020

Publisher: Catapult

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

Key Words: cults, coming of age, mother/daughter, religious trauma

My Rating: 4 stars

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My Thoughts:

First, give me any books about cults and I’m in, 100%. Add that the cult revolves around some bizarre religion-yes please! So I knew this book was going to be right up my alley. I immediately ordered it from my local indie and it didn’t disappoint. Second, books about disastrous mother/daughter relationships are also my jam…so another check on my list! Immediately upon porch delivery (thanks Old Firehouse Books for being so quick), I dug in and barely popped out until it was over. Here are some of my thoughts:

1. The atmosphere in this book was VIVID. Parched and dry land surrounds this town and I could almost taste the dust as I read. That is some magical writing right there.

2. If I could live in a world full of women somehow, I would. Also, cult-y Christian men are the worst (only my personal opinion folks). Screw the patriarchy!

3. Flawed characters is the name of the game and Bieker’s writing of them is amazing. I didn’t even know where to put my brain when it came to some of these characters (in the best sense that is). Do I feel bad for them, sad for them, mad at them, all of the above at all different times?! Most of the characters, yes, that is exactly how I felt about them. And then some I just despised. It was the definition of flawed characters and I’m always sold on that.

4. Humans are resilient and we really see this through the lens of Lacey.

5. There are some funny bits in this book and you’ll appreciate them so much and find yourself laughing and then almost feeling guilty for laughing. It’s all part of the experience of Godshot.

Ultimately, Godshot is about a young woman coming into her own and suddenly realizing the world she grew up in isn’t actually what she thought it was. ( I have a VERY similar story. No, I didn’t exactly grow up in a cult per say, but I did grow up in a fundamentalist Christian household and church and some of this book hit veryyyyyyy close to home. I walked the walk until I opened my eyes as a young teenager, looked around, asked questions, got curious and saw what was actually happening. I can remember it like it was yesterday and oh boy, thank goodness I opened those eyes!

If you enjoyed The Handmaid’s Tale, The Water Cure or The Girls-I think you’ll want to add Godshot to your must-read list! This is a debut novel and I’m real excited to see what else Bieker has to offer us!

As always, find me on Instagram, shop my paper goods at PAGEFIFTYFIVE and let’s be friends!

Bookishfolk…read instead.

Wow, No Thank You

Author: Samantha Irby

Published: March 31, 2020

Publisher: Vintage

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

Key Words: Non Fiction, Essays, Humor

My Rating: 5 stars

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My Thoughts:

I’m not sure I’ve EVER laughed so hard at a book. I literally laughed so much that at some points, I got cheek cramps and my wife stared at me from across the room (as she was probably reading some non-fiction book about presidents and economics or something equally out of my realm of thinking and definitely NOT hilarious).

This was also one of the most relatable books that I’ve ever read (which is probably another reason I found it so funny). Is it because both Irby and I were born with snark in our bones? Maybe. Is it because we are both 40ish and life is bitch-slapping us in the face now? Quite possibly. Is it because I all of a sudden wake up with neck cramps, knee pain and feel nervous to eat certain foods for fear my stomach will rebel (but it’s perfectly fine if all I’m doing is staying home for the night-which is basically always. Even when Covid isn’t happening)? Yep, I bet. Is it because we both count our pennies and feel like maybe we are the WORST accounting/math people on the Earth? Very likely. But for whatever reason, I felt like I was reading a much more entertaining and well-written version of my own life. The good, the bad and the ugly.

This is a laugh-out-loud, knock you in the gut, nearly pee your pants kind of book that will have you laughing yourself into tears. I highly suggest you grab this collection of essays if you’re in the mood for a laugh. With all the fear and craziness going on in the world right now…this might just be the thing you need!

As always, come chat books with me on Instagram (@booksihfolk), check out my greeting card shop online-PAGEFIFTYFIVE and happy reading!

bookishfolk…read instead.

A Woman is No Man

Author: Etaf Rum

Published: 2019

Publisher: Harper Collins

Where I picked up my book: Purchased from an Indie

Key Words: family dynamics, patriarchy and women’s rights, arranged marriage

My Rating: 4

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My Thoughts:

I thoroughly enjoyed this book and am so happy to have finally read it. Some described it as a bit simplistic, and some even thought it should have gone into the YA category, and although I don’t agree with those critiques, I understand what they are saying. It IS a more simply written book. It CAN seem redundant at times. It DOES take a complex situation and makes it more understandable for readers that have not experienced this situation…but I think a lot of that was intentional. It wasn’t meant to be the next great novel full of of hidden nuance, complex narratives and indecipherable language. Instead, it was meant to open up the reader’s eyes and allow them a peek into the lives of women (and families) living in a patriarchal society where arranged marriages are common and not airing dirty laundry is a daily practice. For woman who live this reality, days are simple and redundant, but there are mysteries and things to discover between what is actually being said. Look there and I think you’ll love this book!

As always, come find me on Instagram and let’s talk books! You can also find my greeting cards and other paper goods over on PAGEFIFTYFIVE.

Bookishfolk…read instead.