April 2021. Last time I posted one of these posts it was 2018, that does not escape me. It is cliche but life happened and got in the way of me working on the blog like I wanted to. And then I didn’t feel like reading much during the pandemic so not a lot to write about. Then, finally, a couple of months ago I started reading and joining book clubs (virtually) and the urge to get back to blogging came back with that. So, I am here again, finishing up posts that I started back in 2018 and working on new ones. As we know that life can be complicated and full of twists and turns, all I can promise is that as long as I am having fun with the blog I’ll continue with it. So, let’s remember how it was that I rated books:
- Perspective Rating: Does this book show me different perspectives? This score is all about diverse points of view!
- Emotional Rating: Does this book tug at my heartstrings? Does it make me sad, angry, inspired, emotional in any way? Of course, emotions could go from me loving the book to completely hating it so this rating can be complex depending on the book.
- Bites Rating: This is all about annotation and language? Did I have to stop and savor certain lines or passages? Was it confusing? Simple? Complex? The more I highlight and have trouble picking one bite for the review/post the better the score.
- Overall Rating: Average of the above three ratings.
Let’s get started!
The first book I read this month was Such A Fun Age by Kiley Reid. I was supposed to read this last year but never got around to it. This book was very different from my normal reads, a contemporary book with a 20-some year old who works as a babysitter and doesn’t quite have a plan on what to do with her life (as many of her friends and family members are quick to tell her). There is a lot of social commentary on racial bias, the white hero complex, career expectations, and self judgement about pursuing a fulfilling career vs a profitable one.
- Favorite Bite:
But there was something about the actual work, the practice of caring for a small unstructured person, that left Emira feeling smart and in control. There was the gratifying reflex of being good at your job, and even better was the delightful good fortune of having a job you wanted to be good at.Such a Fun Age by Kiley Reid
- Perspective Rating: 8/10 This book did have a different perspective from my own from Emira’s point of view as well as the point of view of a nanny of color taking care of white children. It’s a difficult topic to breach and at times it did feel like we got more from the white savior’s point of view than from Emira’s. Especially the ending where things were wrapped up a bit too fast and focused more on Mrs Chamberlain than Emira.
- Emotional Rating: 7/10 A lot of this book definitely made me feel angry. Angry at the way people treat nannies and caretakers. Nannies and caretakers tend to be mostly women of color and they don’t get healthcare or other benefits a lot of the time, mostly because it’s a system that is set up by each family. It left me with a lot of unanswered questions, which was probably the point but I also lacked some more depth at the end.
- Bites Rating: 4/10 I highlighted exactly nothing of this book. It was easy to read, nothing complicated, but also nothing stood out for me.
- Overall Rating: 6.33/10 It was a good book, I wanted to know more about the story but a lot of it was filled with microaggressions towards the main character. A lot of the time I found myself frustrated with all of the characters and rolling my eyes at the decisions they were making. The only character who was enjoyable in this book was Briar, the toddler. That being said, it did open my eyes to the world of nannies and the struggles that they face so that was definitely valuable for me.
The second book I read in April was a manga: Himouto! Umaru-chan Vol.1 by Sankaku Head. I got this book at Barnes and Noble where they had set up a blind date with a manga, which seemed like an exciting prospect. I am so glad that this was a fast read because I did not like it XD The book centers a brother and sister, the brother works a full time job while the sister (Umaru-chan) goes to high school, is practically perfect, beautiful girl, but then we find out that she basically makes zero effort, she’s just naturally gifted. She also just complains and emotionally manipulates her brother to get all the things she wants. I mostly felt bad for him and the way he enabled her all the time.
- Favorite Bite:
My sixteen-year-old sister is throwing a temper tantrum over a manga… this is…not good!!! She’s my responsibility…! Umaru’s been living in my apartment for a year now… and she just gets lazier and more spoiled by the day!! At this rate she’ll never be able to make it in the real world!!Himouto! Umaru-chan Vol.1 by Sankaku Head
- Perspective Rating: 3/10 It gets points for being set in Japan so you do get some cultural references. Other than that I can’t think of much else to give it points regarding perspective.
- Emotional Rating: 3/10 If frustration counts then yeah I was very frustrated. The main character was so uninspiring. And I think this is supposed to be a comedic book, but I guess I do not like this type of comedy. Sigh…
- Bites Rating: 2/10 Okay so it’s a manga so it might be a bit more difficult to find good lines and such. I also don’t read many manga so it’s hard to know how to annotate them. I mostly just read them straight through so perhaps an unfair rating here. Still, I was not impressed.
- Overall Rating: 2.66 Yeah… not the best. Needless to say, I will not continue with the series. I did hear there was an anime series but can’t say that I’m inspired to watch it either.
Throughout the month I also read Beloved by Toni Morrison. What a change of pace! This is actually a book I read when I was in high school. Needless to say I have a different life perspective now and I think I got way more out of it. I’m working on a post just for Beloved so I’ll update this post once that is up. The book is about Sethe, a woman who escapes slavery while pregnant. She is able to get to her children who were sent ahead of her to safety and now live with her mother in law. Then, merely 28 days after she arrives with them, she sees that some white men have found her and want to take her back, which leads her to killing one of her children. The book switches perspectives between the characters and from the present time, years after she killed her child, to the time she was still enslaved, as well as her journey as she escaped. A very complex, beautiful, and heartbreaking book.
- Favorite Bite:
Their skirts flew like wings and their skin turned pewter in the cold and dying light.Beloved by Toni Morrison
- Perspective Rating: 10/10 This is a very unique perspective. Toni Morrison describes in the introduction that this book was inspired by a real event where a Sethe killed her child in order to keep her from slavery. She’s also able to immerse the reader in the memories of the characters. We get to go into Paul D, Denver, Sethe, and Beloved’s minds and memories, some of which are fuzzy and sometimes overwhelming.
- Emotional Rating: 9/10 I was overwhelmed a lot of times with this book. It’s a very heavy book that doesn’t let one take a breath easily. One should take this book slooooooow. I read it at night before bed, just 20 pgs or so each time and that worked for me.
- Bites Rating: 10/10 I mean this book is just beautifully written. Some sentences I just needed to stop and think about the passage or re-read the sentence in order to let the words sink in. Sometimes sentences would have deeper meanings and would reference things from the past in obscure ways so it definitely made the reader work (I enjoy that in books!).
- Overall Rating: 9.66 Beloved is really a great book, the first in the Beloved Trilogy. I have also read the second book in the trilogy, Jazz and I enjoyed that one a tad more (perhaps it was because it’s a bit less violent and more psychological). I would like to re-read Jazz and then finish up the trilogy with Paradise (eventually).
The next three books I read during Dewey’s 24-hr Readathon, you can check out that post here. Either way, the ratings I gave there were only for Goodreads so let’s see how they stack up in terms of the Bites of Books ratings.
- Favorite Bite:
I was a curious boy, but the schools were not concerned with curiosity. They were concerned with compliance. I loved a few of my teachers. But I cannot say that I truly believed any of them.Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates
- Perspective Rating: 10/10 Black voices have often been silenced and listening to a black man tell his life story and point of view via audiobook was incredibly powerful. I highly recommend you listen to this audiobook because it really adds to the experience.
- Emotional Rating: 10/10 This book is a perfect balance of hard truths being put on the table while inviting for some hope and light at the end of the tunnel. Society has racist roots, there’s no way around it, we still live in a society that treats black people a less than. What we can do now is listen to black people, believe them, support them in every way we can.
- Bites Rating: 10/10 I listened to this book so I couldn’t annotate it. However, I found myself listening hard, really taking in his words and pausing and thinking about a couple of passages. The book also sounds at times like spoken word, there’s a rhythm to his words that is really quite beautiful.
I also read The Duke and I by Julia Quinn. I don’t normally read romance but I watched the Netflix show Bridgerton and I got curious. NOTE: There should be trigger warnings for the show and the book for sexual assault. The book is about a 20-something lady, Daphne, who is in search of a husband but isn’t having a lot of good prospects. Meanwhile she meets a Duke, Simon, who is set on never wanting to marry. They come up with a plot to seem interested in each other in order to bring better prospects for Daphne and keep the mothers and young ladies away from Simon.
- Favorite Bite:
There were always whispers. And whispers, if left unchecked, could quickly grow into roars.The Duke and I by Julia Quinn
- Perspective Rating: 2/10 I mean…. Regency romance… nothing new or unexpected for here for me.
- Emotional Rating: 4/10 I will give this book that it was fun to read, minus the sexual assault, which is near the end of the book, everything after that was just …..sigh…..
- Bites Rating: 4/10 The writing was easy to read, nothing too impressive or complicated. I did not annotate the book at all and there are no passages that stand out to me.
- Overall Rating: 3.33/10 Yeah overall this book wasn’t amazing but it was entertaining. It’s junk food if you will. I didn’t suffer reading it, it was just not out of this world. I will continue reading the series since I bought them impulsively so I guess you’ll see updates about that eventually.
The last book I finished this month was The Rain God by Arturo Islas. This book was really wonderful and heartbreaking in so many ways. It is not often that I find books detailing what it is to be part of a Mexican family living in the US. Although my family’s situation is different, I did identify with a lot of the issues described in the book. It follows the Angel family, from the grandmother, Mama Chona, to her grandson Miguel Chico and their life (and death) experiences.
- Favorite Bite:
As his hands reached for the pain in his chest, El Compa heard only the buzzing of a lone cicada sending out its love signal in the distance toward the poor people’s cemetery.The Rain God by Arturo Islas
- Perspective Rating: 10/10 It is rare that I see so much of myself, my family, my culture in a book. Unfortunately books with this point of view are not often popular or given a lot of publicity.
- Emotional Rating: 10/10 This book hit me emotionally in so many ways! Not all of it was comfortable and not all of it was nice and happy feelings. In fact, most of it was uncomfortable and challenged a lot of customs and beliefs that permeate the Mexican culture.
- Bites Rating: 10/10 I lucked out because this book was already heavily annotated when I purchased it from a thrift store. And I say that I lucked out because I found myself agreeing and disagreeing with a lot of the annotations the previous owner had made. Both in understanding of the text as well as in what was annotated. There were even some parts of the book that I read out loud to my family and that is something I can safely say I’ve never done before.
- Overall Rating: 10/10 This book might be one of my favorites of the year.
Have you read any of the books that I mentioned here? What was your favorite book you read this month?
And that was April! I read 6 books in a month! I am on a roll right now with my reading and I’m looking forward to what will come next in May. Stay tuned for a TBR and other May plans 🙂