I finished “An Offer From A Gentleman” a couple of days ago and well, Benedict wasn’t much of a “gentleman” now was he?
I was surprised that this book was a bit of a Cinderella retelling. Sophie is a young woman who is forced to stay as a servant (without pay) for her stepmother and stepsisters after her father passes away.
She’s an illegitimate child and so she doesn’t have much power to claim anything for herself or the credibility to seek a job on her own. It is a hard time for women to be individuals, standing on their own accomplishments means very little to the rest of the world. Therefore, when the opportunity arises to attend a masquerade ball at the Bridgerton house she takes it, knowing that it might be the only thing in her life that will ever be meaningful, fulfilling one of her wildest dreams. In that fateful night she meets Benedict Bridgerton who has almost given up on finding a suitable wife at all the balls he is forced to attend. However, since she is wearing a mask and never tells him her name, she is able to disappear, leaving him wondering who she is and where he could find her.
That’s kind of where the similarities with Cinderella end. Sophie is back to being a servant and Benedict doesn’t actually find her right away. He also doesn’t realize it’s her when he does! He thinks that it is simply another servant who he is very physically attracted to and he doesn’t even think for a minute that marriage is something that is an option between them. I’m willing to accept that in the context of this world, servants are seen as people of a lower social standing and so forth and so it is understandable that he does not consider marriage. However, he has very little respect for her as a person, he’s very condescending even when he knows that she’s a very smart woman and that was very disappointing.
Nevertheless, the one reason I thoroughly enjoyed this book is because we got to see more of the other members of the Bridgerton family. We get to see more of Violet and Eloise and the way they interact with people from other families. I absolutely love the unconditional support that Violet gives her children, as well as the love between all the siblings.
While Benedict was disappointing in the way he treated Sophie, this book was pretty fun and I’d recommend it to anyone who wants to learn more about the lives of the Bridgerton family.
Well, July is over… where has the time gone?! I wanted to write a bit about the month since it was a pretty intense roller coaster.
I haven’t talked much about my life outside of this blog so here’s a bit of an introduction to what my life is right now. My name is Paulina, I am 32 years old, and I work as a scientist for a biotech company. I just bought a house with my parents so I live with them and my sister, who is currently in college. Since March 2020, due to the pandemic, my work is fully remote, so I am pretty much home all the time, which is great for reading! I also have a cat named Seiko who is my reading buddy and loves the fact that I’m sitting around reading and chilling when I’m not at my desk working.
So this month there were a lot of changes at work and also a lot of deadlines. I am so grateful that my coworkers are such a great team to work with, even when facing a big deadline full of complex work. Because of all this I definitely had to be good about setting boundaries and setting time aside for basics like exercise, reading, good food, hydrating, etc. I can’t say I was completely successful everyday since I did have trouble sleeping some nights since my anxiety would bubble up some days.
My anxiety isn’t all about work of course, as a new homeowner (wow still feels weird saying that!) I am figuring out what it means to maintain a house, from the plumbing to the landscaping, it’s a lot! Of course, I get to do that with my family and, while we tend to agree on most of these decisions, it’s still a whole other part of my life that’s new to me so it brings me quite a bit of uncertainty at times.
Social interactions in person are very few right now. We are in a pandemic and, while my family is all vaccinated, we are still taking all precautions possible. This is not just for our own well-being, but we also recognize that there are people out there who can’t get vaccinated due to health reasons or because they are children who can’t get vaccinated yet. I also think of all the people in other countries where they don’t have enough vaccines, or where their governments haven’t been good about managing the distribution of the vaccines. I strongly believe that we can’t get past this era of pandemics if we don’t think of the rest of the world. (Add that to my mental stress!)
But not all is bad and anxiety inducing! I have been having a great time diving back into books and connecting with people online. There are now three book clubs that I participate in, and one long buddy read, that have definitely kept me happily reading. One is with friends I know in real life but live far away in Mexico and Canada and it has been great to chat with them every Sunday about books I never would have picked myself! We tend to pick books that are very interesting but could be either a hit or miss, which is great for this group. Another is with people I did not know previous to joining but we are all alumni who received the Questbridge scholarship. These are such great discussions of just excellent books and I’ve definitely made some new friends in this group. The third is much bigger with the Feminist Book Club subscription box and we get to join Q&As with authors of really diverse books as well as have zoom chats with other members of the club. While I don’t personally know all the members, it’s so great to meet with people online and chat about important topics like gender, social issues, activism, and life in general.
So, while July was stressful and busy, I had great ups to balance the stress. I managed to read 5 books:
Rich People Problems by Kevin Kwan: I finally finished the Crazy Rich Asians trilogy! I had a lot of fun with it and I look forward to reading more romance, it’s a genre that I need to explore more for sure.
Reinas Malditas by Cristina Morato: This was not a great book but it was so much fun discussing it with my friends. I learned a lot from our conversations but not enough from the actual book to make me love it. Too bad!
The Viscount Who Loved Me by Julia Quinn: Another romance book! These have really surprised me because I feel like they are more about the men than the women, which is quite interesting. I am overall enjoying the Bridgerton series and I look forward to reading the other books.
Fierce FairyTales by Nikita Gill: Poetry is not normally in my bookshelves so it was great to read these poems inspired by fairy tales! I am now following Gill on Instagram and want to read more poetry this year!
All in all, a busy, productive, stressful, fun month! August is looking to continue to be busy at work and also fun with the book clubs. How did your July go? Are you excited for August and the peak of summer?
Okay these books are like candy! The second installment in the Bridgerton series dives into Anthony’s journey as he decides that he will marry in the season of 1814. As with the first installment, this man has particular conditions when he finally decides he will get married. In the first one Simon did not want to have children and in this one Anthony does not want to fall in love. I am becoming more convinced that these books are not, at their core, about the women or the romance, they are about the men, their fears, how they attempt to overcome their illogical “rules” for marriage, and in the end grow up (do they? kinda!)
Anthony has a fear of death and has this idea that if he is going to die AND he is in love with his wife, he will suffer every day until he dies. And so, he looks for a wife who is pretty and with whom he can have conversations, and that’s it. He comes to the conclusion that he will marry Edwina Sheffield, a beautiful woman on her first season, who doesn’t have a lot of money and has the pressure of marrying well in order to provide for her mother and older sister. Her older sister is Katharine Sheffield, she’s not as pretty but she is very independent and always puts a strong front even though she is very self-conscious of her position and looks. Edwina loves her older sister so much that she tells the ton that she will only marry someone who Katharine approves of, which means that now Katharine is showered with attention from all of Edwina’s suitors.
Enter Anthony who is certain that Edwina will be his wife and, well, because of his position and his looks he sees zero chances of this not happening. However, he will have to win Katharine’s approval if he wishes to marry Edwina. Their interactions are funny, but also made me cringe at times. (Gosh Anthony, can you be more entitled?) It seemed like this plot was more driven by fate than the character’s decisions. I suppose that because it is set in regency times that is just the social contract that they are bound to. However, I did enjoy that Edwina wanted to marry a scholar, someone who loves books and learning and that that was something that was appreciated by her family.
All in all, a book to escape and forget about ALL.THE.THINGS. I did want more about the rest of the Bridgerton family, especially Eloise so I hope there’s more about them in the following books.
Have you read these books? What do you think these books are truly about?
So in June I read 6 books, among them a memoir, an essay collection, YA, and even some comics! What will July have in store for me?
So I took a look at my Goodreads reading challenge, which I had already increased from 12 to 30 back in March, and now that my reading pace has picked up I will increase it to 50 since I’m already at 25 books!
I’m not forcing myself to finish books before the end of the month or waiting until the next month to start others that were not listed in my previous TBR. Reading as the mood strikes, following the flow of my reading has been really working for me. The only ones that I do have a set schedule for are the ones that I’m buddy reading or with the two (and a half) book clubs I’m in.
Let’s take a look at what I’m currently reading:
The Stand by Stephen King: Yep, still reading this! hahaha It will be in these posts for the foreseeable future. As I previously mentioned, this book is about a flu pandemic, people are dying left and right and something supernatural is starting to happen now. There is the theme of dreaming now in the novel, which is super interesting, I’m on page 345.
Reinas Malditas by Cristina Morató: We are still reading about the various queens in this sort of gossipy style that Morató has (which I’m not a fan of…) So far the stories of each empress/queen have varied in writing quality so it’s a hit or miss. Right now I’m on page 306, reading about Eugénie de Montijo who is super interesting. I think that this one is my favorite story so far (even if it’s still TMZ-style).
Rich People Problems by Kevin Kwan: This is the third installment of the Crazy Rich Asians trilogy and I just started it a few days ago but I’m so into it! Now this is full of gossip, satire, and so so fun! I expect to be done with this one pretty soon.
The Sandman Omnibus Vol 1 by Neil Gaiman: I juuuust started this last week and, while it is a comic collection, it is giant! I am on page 149 and I love the art style. I will share some of my favorite pages in my review once I finish it.
Then there are the books I’m planning on starting this month and reading in between the book club books:
The Viscount Who Loved Me by Julia Quinn: Continuing my journey through the Bridgerton series I’ll be reading Anthony’s story next!
Todos Los Cuentos by Gabriel Garcia Marquez: The complete short story collection that was selected as the book to read from my Want To Read list cleanup post last month. I’m excited about diving into these short stories! I might or might not finish these within the month, we’ll see how it goes.
Fierce FairyTales by Nikita Gill: This was the pick of the month for the Feminist Book Club, it hasn’t arrived yet so it’s not pictured above. This is the half a book club I mentioned above since, while I do try to get to the book of the month each time I’m not pushing myself to finish it before the Q&A with the author as much since I normally can’t make the live chats. I’m excited about this book because it is a combination of poetry and prose about fairy tales. I love fairy tales and fairy tale re-tellings so I’m looking forward to reading this book.
A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini: This is the book club pick for QB Alumns for the month of July. I’ve previously read The Kite Runner and I really loved that book so I hope that this one is also as great! This book focuses on a story told over two generations about characters in Afghanistan. There’s friendship, heartbreak, and rich history throughout this book so it’s bound to be a great read for the book club.
Children of Virtue and Vengeance by Tomi Adeyemi: The second installment in the Legacy of Orïsha series has been on my bookshelves unread for far too long! In the first book, Children of Blood and Bone, we follow Zelie as she goes on a quest to return magic to people who have had their magic taken away. I really enjoyed the first book so I’m hoping that the second book lives up to my expectations.
Just Mercy by Bryan Stevenson: I wanted to add a non-fiction book to July and Just Mercy was just calling my name. This book is a memoir about Stevenson’s journey as he works on one of his first cases as a lawyer where Walter McMillan is sentenced to die for a crime he did not commit. It promises to be a very compelling and emotional read, especially following The New Jim Crow, which I read in June. There is also a movie that came out in 2019 so I will probably watch that after I read the book.
Overall, July promises to be a fun month full of great reading. Hopefully I’ll be able to read outside a bit (not the Sandman Omnibus of course XD) and catch some sun this summer. Maybe I’ll even venture a trip to the park or the beach just for reading, as long as it’s not too hot here in SoCal. What are you reading in July? Have you read any of the books in my reading plans? If so, what did you think?
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 🙂