Wednesday, January 19, 2022

Halfway Through January And What I've Read

Hello All! Welcome to a new year of reading! January has started off oddly for me in that school was online so I didn't have to work a lot of hours at the school and then my lung partially detached (see this post for more details) so I've had a ton of time to read. I wasn't expecting any of that.

Always, in December

I thought this book was okay but I didn't like how one of the main characters wasn't completely open with the other one. This wasn't a typical rom-com which I appreciated, but I would have liked a little more honesty between the two main characters.

Rock Paper Scissors

I thought this one was actually pretty good. I loved reading about the different anniversary gifts and trying to figure out what was going on. As with many thrillers of this genre, none of the characters are reliable. I liked this book better than many of the thrillers I've read lately, so that's saying something.

Uncomfortable Conversations With a Black Man

I read Uncomfortable Conversations With A Black Boy back in July 2021. I liked how this book was more in-depth and "adult." I also really appreciated the chapter on the Black family. I've read quite a few anti-racism books and there's still so much for me to learn. I also think this would be a good book for someone who is just dipping their toes into anti-racism reading as Acho provides a lot of practical ways for white people to take action.

 Boy Erased: A Memoir of Identity, Faith, and Family

I read this book because my friend Emily read it. While it wasn't quite as in depth as I was hoping it would be (it more covers a year (and a bit)) in the author's life), this book was still really powerful. I think I would have enjoyed it more if I knew how short the time was that the book covered. I wanted to know more about what happened after. But I appreciate how vulnerable and real Conley was and how open he was about how he couldn't vilify his faith or his family.

The Matchmaker's List

There were some things I enjoyed about this book (the focus on the best friend relationship) there were some things which really rubbed me the wrong way. I think it is so harmful to pretend to be gay and the repercussions of that were somewhat glossed over. I also just didn't really like Raina as a main character -- she didn't appeal to me at all. I don't know -- something about this book just fell flat for me :(

A Torch Against the Night (An Ember in the Ashes, #2)

This second book in the series was just as violent as the first one, maybe more so, but also just as engaging. Sometimes a second book falls flat but this book had me wanting to read the next book in the series right away. I raced through this book in two days (before I was on bed rest) so that tells you something about how engaging it is. If you haven't started this series yet, what are you waiting for???

Unbound: My Story of Liberation and the Birth of the Me Too Movement

This is the story of the woman  behind the "Me too" movement. I was a little confused because at first I had in my head that this was one of the woman behind the "Black Lives Matter" movement because I also have an autobiography from one of those women on my TBR. What I appreciated about this book is how Burke worries about how her work might be co-opted by white women. I really wonder how many times we white people take over the work that BIPOC people have been doing for years. This is a powerful memoir that I think everyone should read.

The Lions of Fifth Avenue 

A book set in a library -- count me in!!! The most interesting thing about this book, and I think I'd read about this before, is that the superintendent of New York Public Libraries used to live in apartments inside the library. How cool a living space would that be?!?!?!? This book in written in two timelines (1913 and "the present" set in 1993) and I found the timeline set in 1913 much more interesting. I enjoyed learning a little more about how women were fighting for roles outside of the "traditional" ones. Without giving too much away, I didn't love how the story set in 1913 ended for Harry. I thought he deserved a better resolution. Maybe that didn't sit well with me because Sam is around Harry's age so I was picturing him as I read Harry's story.

When We Left Cuba

I read Next Year In Havana a few summers ago and really enjoyed it so I was looking forward to picking up this book. Sadly, I felt like this one dragged a bit. I really thought it would be more about Cuba and less about Beatriz trying to make a place for herself. I think, if I'd had different expectations about what the book was about, I would have enjoyed it more. So rather than thinking of this as a book about Beatriz trying to get revenge on Castro, think about this as a book about Beatriz trying to find a place for herself, in this new world, without compromising her core beliefs. I would have enjoyed this novel a lot more if I'd thought about it that way.

A Holly Jolly Diwali

While there were aspects of this novel I really enjoyed -- the descriptions of India and the celebration of Diwali there, the friendship between Niki and Diya -- there were parts of it which really bugged me. I'm not a "love at first sight" kind of person so that bothered me, as did Niki's personality. However, having the flashbacks to her past helped me understand her a little better. This is the third Sonya Lalli novel I've read and I think it might be my last one. They're okay but they just don't grab me.

So those are the books I read up until mid-January. I suspect that my next few weeks of reading will be much less prolific as I (hopefully) won't be on bed rest and will actually need to put in full days of work. How has your 2022 year of reading been thus far?


  1. Seems like a great collection for the holidays!

  2. I've read one by Sonya Lalli and liked it, but I have A Holly Jolly Diwali and haven't read it yet. I also have The Lions of Fifth Avenue to read. I did read Always in December and the dishonesty bothered me too.

  3. I've read 6 of the same books as you, not shocking haha. I liked how you described Always, in December, and I didn't like it in the end. I've only read Holly Jolly Diwali and think I liked it a little more than you but didn't love it. I'm sure I'll try another from her but yea, I don't LOVE them (sadly kind of how I feel about Nora these days, sigh. Sidebar about her-I get REALLY annoyed at how she has characters have these really prolific conversations-they are so unrealistic but she ALWAYS has her characters have these conversations, I've gotten to where this drives me BONKERS).

  4. So many great titles. I appreciate your commentary on these posts.

  5. Oo Lions of Fifth Avenue sounds cool!!

  6. I am 7 books into 2022 so far! Trying to focus less on watching TV in lockdown and more on getting some movement into my day and reading. I'm glad you like reading so much though so that you had an activity you enjoyed while on bed rest!

  7. I agree with "Boy Erased". He escaped out of gay conversion therapy... and then what?! The book just drops you into a black hole of despair for the rest of his life. I agree I would have liked to see how he eventually emerged from that darkness, although (to my memory) he does give an epilogue that reminds us he will never actually be ok (which is so sad... but realistic).

  8. I am intrigued that the librarians used to live in the library! That sounds like a neat historical fiction novel.

  9. I appreciate your reviews. Loved Next Year in Havana but haven't read any of the sequels. Have had Rock, Paper... on my radar. Still hoping to get to it. And Lions sounds good, too. Pinned those titles for consideration.


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