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.

Going Dutch

Author: James Gregor

Published: August 20, 2019

Publisher: Simon and Schuster   

Where I picked up my book:  Publisher (#partner) THANK YOU

Key Words: LGBTQ, romance, foodie, relationships

My Rating: 2

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My Thoughts: I enjoyed parts of this book, but with some major caveats. Let me first talk about the things I didn’t necessarily love:

  • One the main characters, Anne, was portrayed as being a single, desperate, slightly pathetic, vulnerable, but highly intelligent woman who is willing to put up with a lot of bullshit from a man (including essentially, paying for friendship and love) AND THEN she was described as overweight. And that blew all hope for me. I am OVER the whole fat people troupe where an overweight woman can’t find true love hence, they should go for what they can get. Usually a jerk who has ulterior motives. Nope, I’m not into it in any fiction (or in real life for that matter) but especially when a man is writing.
  • I didn’t love any of the characters in this book, but Richard was the worst. He is a cheater, takes advantage of a woman and just gave me all the ugggh feelings. It was virtually impossible for me to sympathize with a narcissistic, self-righteous, selfish man who takes advantage of women who are lonely and vulnerable.
  • What were the plot points? Man is bi, man takes advantage of a woman, man tries to have his cake and eat it too and fails, man breaks it off with partner, man goes back to “pathetic” woman, woman takes him back? And they eat out a lot in NYC. I found that slightly weird.
  • Lastly, and maybe the part I liked the least, was that being bi seemed to be treated as a negative and that is a stereotype which needs to be eradicated once and for all in the gay community and in our community at large.
  • There was a sense of entitlement in this book mixed with slightly pretentious vibes. I don’t know if those are attributes the author possesses in real life (I hope not), but I couldn’t help but feel them throughout this book.

What I did like:

  • The NYC vibes were everything! I visited New York a while back and I think Gregor did an amazing job writing the city as a secondary character.
  • The dating scene felt more true to life than how a lot of books portray dating. My personal life was nothing like this, but I have so many friends that would see themselves in this book for sure.
  • Writing was smooth and it felt intimate. It was a really well-written book and with tweaks to characters and plot, I think I would have loved it!
  • Queer vibes-I’m always here for the queer vibes.

So as you can see, I didn’t love this book. I struggled with not only the main characters (especially with how Anne was portrayed), but with the actual plot of the story as well. It just didn’t do much for me and it’s unfortunate, because I think it had a lot of potential. As a queer woman, I was also really bothered with how bisexuality was treated as a negative. There is also a sense of entitlement in this book and although it’s hard to pinpoint specifics, it just reeked on entitlement and a ‘higher than thou’ attitude that turned me right off. Ooof…that was hard to say, but how I feel.

I think if there were some changes made to this book it would have been a book I enjoyed, but as it stands…I was disappointed. I won’t necessarily shy away from other books Gregor puts out into the world but maybe I’ll be a little weary.

There you have it! Come find me on Instagram or find my paper goods here!

Hope you’re staying safe inside 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.

November Wallpaper

November’s wallpaper is out in the wild! We had our first major accumulation here in our city and it got me all pumped for hot chocolate, cheesy holiday movies, gift giving, playing with the dog outside (it’s her absolute favorite tine of the year), heating blankets…and then I had to walk outside in it and it was freezing and wet and I had different thoughts 😉 BUT I still love the first snow so it inspired me to create this wallpaper! Enjoy it and spread the word to all your friends!

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Come chat books with my on Instagram (@bookishfolk)!

bookishfolk..read instead.