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Fantasy, Fiction, Young Adult

We Chit Chat: Children of Blood and Bone

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“gods are nothing without fools to believe in them.” 

Taynement: Whew. It’s been a month and some, I think? But I finally got through Children of Blood and Bone. The struggle was real.

Leggy: lol, why do you think you had such a hard time with it? The genre or the book itself?

Taynement: I’ve been asking myself that question. It’s easy to say the genre because it’s all mystical and YA, things i’m not necessarily a fan of but I’ve read other books in that vein that I liked. I really liked it at first but at some point, I just got to a place where I just didn’t care what happened to anyone.

Leggy: I actually agree with you that it lags somewhere in the middle. I think it starts off fast and action packed but the middle brought in the YA love ridiculousness and it just lost its grit. I think it picked up towards the end though. I really wanted to read this book really bad because the premise intrigued me.

Taynement: When I think of this book, I think there was a lot going on. It was part Harry Potter, part Hunger Games. Zellie was basically Harry – Captain “I’m so fierce and I can save everybody”.

Leggy: All the annoying qualities of Harry without the “funness” of Ron to cut through it and make it more palatable. Every time she barged into trouble and made a split second stupid decision I just couldn’t deal.

Taynement: The love part was inevitable. It’s YA.

Leggy: I was annoyed by it though. Like they knew each other all of 5 seconds and were in love.

Taynement: I have to say I like how she led up to it. I liked how the intimacy was formed from his first reaction to her to when they could feel each other’s magic.

Leggy: Blehhhh. This is someone whose father killed your mother and a whole lot of people, someone who himself has chased you through multiple kingdoms and you just decide to trust him just like that because he makes your loins stir? There was nothing I enjoyed about the romance in this book.

Taynement: Now Amari’s I wasn’t so sure about because I honestly thought there was some romantic undertones on how she felt about Binta. And it was cliche to have them fall in love with each other’s siblings

Leggy: All the romance in this book was cliche to me

Taynement: Fair enough. Were you bothered by the no translations?

Leggy: No I wasn’t at all. It didn’t affect my understanding of the book. It’s magic incantations. I don’t care what they literally mean.

Taynement: I really feel bad because I really wanted to like this book. That being said,  expect a lot of Nigerians to like it because of the traditions, the language and being able to recognize the geography.

Leggy: Actually, this is one of the reasons this book fell flat for me. I couldn’t use my imagination because these are real places and her setting descriptions didn’t make any sense with the pictures I had in my mind about the real places. Snow in Ibadan? Also, there is so much to explore in Yoruba god mythology that I think she squandered the chance. I feel like she tried hard to use Nigerian settings and culture and put it into a stereotypical American fantasy trope which is probably why Americans will enjoy it more.

Taynement: Speaking of familiarity, I was a little peeved at some names. Not a big deal but why is a guy who lives in Warri called Kwame? What is Tzain and Zellie? Also, what happened to Amari’s mom? We just never heard from her again? I even did a search to make sure I wasn’t mistaken. And did we get an explanation to Inan’s secret?

Leggy: Nope, we never understood why that happened to him in the first place.

Taynement: I came in fully expecting an experience but was left empty.

Leggy: What did you like about this book?

Taynement: The acknowledgements when she said she wrote this to depict the injustices against minorities specifically black people in the US and how they are treated. I liked the metaphor and it made me understand what she was trying to achieve with this book. I really liked the message.

Leggy: I don’t think there was anything that I specifically liked. I’m really grateful to have a fantasy book with black characters, that’s something you rarely see in this genre and this is one of my favorite genres as everybody knows. I think the sequels will be better so I might check them out when they come out. Also, we have to mention that this was the author’s first book, so congratulations to her! Would you recommend this book to anyone?

Taynement: Yeah. I’m curious to see people’s different takes on it and what they liked about it. So, though it wasn’t for me personally, it’s also not a terrible book that I would tell people to stay away from. I gave this book 2 stars on Goodreads.

Leggy: I also gave it 2 stars on Goodreads but I would still definitely recommend this book to other people. I know a lot of people who have personally enjoyed this book and like you said, even though it wasn’t for me, it might be for someone else. Also, the cover of this book is gorgeous so if you want to splurge a little, buy the physical copy.

Have you read this book? What did you think of it?

“As it fades, I see the truth – in plain sight, yet hidden all along. We are all children of blood and bone. All instruments of vengeance and virtue. This truth holds me close, rocking me like a child in a mother’s arms. It binds me in its love as death swallows me in its grasp.” 

Leggy & Taynement

Fiction

My Favorite Unexpected [Not Quite] Self-Help Books

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I went through the loss of a loved one in 2015 and it put me in a really dark place I was desperate to get out of. The quest for this had me reading a few “self-help” books, trying to find solace and answers. None of them quite hit the mark and I assumed it was just me. This led me to actually coming to the conclusion that self-help books are actually a load of crap (for me, at least or I just may not have come across the right one).

I was thinking back to books that really had an impact on me and realized that they were not necessarily filed under the “self-help” category. Reminds me of that saying that the things you need usually come in unexpected packages, eh? Here are a few books that I found encouraging:

 

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The Alchemist by Paulo Coehlo: This is probably a cliche one as I assume almost everyone has read this book. And honestly, if you haven’t, you should. Following the journey of a shepherd named Santiago, Coehlo masterfully weaves in a story of the ambition, love and frustration while really dropping nuggets on how to have a hand in fulfilling your destiny. Santiago encounters a whole number of obstacles that mirror the downs of life but also shows how he is able to pick himself up using tools he picks up and also in the form of human beings along the way.

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Year of Yes by Shonda Rhimes: A memoir of sorts by TV writer, Shonda Rhimes. Shonda chronicles the pre, during and post of a year in which she decides to say yes to anything she is asked to do in order to overcome her crippling fear and anxiety that was overtaking her life and basically making life decisions for her. Rhimes covers a wide array of topics like weight, being a working mom, realizing she was not cut out for marriage and walking away from an engagement, being a single mom on purpose etc.

I’ve read a number of reviews where people did not like this book and actually thought she was bragging, being obnoxious and repetitive. Maybe it was the timing of when I read it but I absolutely was here for this book and it gave me so much fire in my ass. I audiobooked it, so I got to hear her live commencement speech recording , which I absolutely loved. I thought it was a good wake up call for anyone needing some nudging in their life.

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The Shack by WM. Paul Young: I read this book a very long time ago at the recommendation of a friend after a discussion on faith and spirituality. The book centers around a father who loses one of his 5 children and is trying to navigate through his grief. He receives a mysterious letter in the mail asking him to meet someone named “Papa” (His wife calls God, Papa) at a shack.

He gets to the shack and spends the weekend with 3 occupants who are supposed to represent the Holy Trinity. God the Father is an African-American woman, Jesus is Middle Eastern and the Holy Spirit is an Asian woman. They go through different encounters and he asks so many questions and between the three they dispel the man made notions of what it is to be a believer.

I was hesitant at first because I thought it was a religious book but it wasn’t at all. I really like the fact that God was represented as a loving one and not the rule maker and punisher as often portrayed. It was adamant in showing how religion was very different from a relationship with God. The book has since been adapted into a movie starring Octavia Spencer.

What books have you read that have been inspiring to you in your life? Do you have any actual self-help books that you’d recommend? I’d love to hear them in the comment section.

Taynement

 

Fiction

Book Review : Every Note Played by Lisa Genova

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“Everything begins and ends. Every day and night, every concerto, every relationship, every life. Everything ends eventually.” 

The author, Lisa Genova is a neuroscientist and it shows (She is also the author of “Still Alice”, a book about Alzheimer’s and probably better known for its movie adaptation that won Julianne Moore her first Oscar). Her description of the disease and every step of its horrifying effects on the body is very fully described to the last detail. She dispels the myth that ALS patients live long a la Stephen Hawkings. It is a fast moving disease and most people die within 15 months of being diagnosed.

The disease itself is such a monster to contend with that there was no need to embellish anything in the book. As there is no cure for ALS, it was basically the non-human focal point in the story and served for a constant, slow creeping sense of doom and ending we all know is coming. The book takes us on such an intimate journey with ALS and the lives it affects.

Richard is a famous and talented pianist who develops ALS or Lou Gehrig disease. A disease that affects the motor neutrons in the body. He has sacrificed every other aspect of his life to become the amazing pianist that he is. He’s been a terrible husband, a neglectful father and now all his chickens have come home to roost. When his precious fingers become paralyzed he is forced to take account of his life and what’s left of it.

He eventually moves back in with his ex wife Karina who offers to care for him which is an offer that she can’t believe she’s making and he’s accepting. She offers to care for a man who cheated on her and was barely there for his family and the few times he was there, he practiced the piano 10 hours a day instead.

Genova does not present us with a sympathetic main character. She does not pull any punches on exactly who he is. He is an arrogant, self centered man who cheated on his wife, is part of the reason she never pursued her own pianist career and was a shitty father also. But there is something still deeply sad about seeing this once proud man stuck in a wheel chair with his whole life falling apart. 

My problem with this book was how it was sold. The summary made me believe that the book was about a couple dissecting the demise of their marriage, so I went in thinking it was a book about a crumbled marriage and instead it was about an illness, as mentioned above.

I kept thinking the two main characters would at least talk about their marriage and what led to its end but what we were given were individual thoughts on their marriage with no actual dialogue that could have led to some kind of closure or understanding from both sides. As Richard’s ability to speak starts eroding I kept waiting for them to have a conversation and actually talk to each other while they still could but I never got that satisfaction. 

“His neurons are dying, and the muscles they feed are literally starving for input. Every twitch is a muscle stammering, gasping, begging to be saved. They can’t be saved.”

I ended up giving this book 3 stars because the expectations I had based on the publisher’s blurb were not met. Even though I found myself ugly crying in public while reading the final 20 pages of this book, I still really enjoyed this book and would absolutely recommend. Read this book because it is heart wrenching and important. Then read the author’s plea at the end of the book for more donations towards ALS research. It’s hard to read this book and not go rushing off to donate, I know I did.

Leggy

Fiction

Book Review – Sing, Unburied, Sing by Jesmyn Ward

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“Sometimes the world don’t give you what you need, no matter how hard you look. Sometimes it withholds” 

Somehow, subconsciously, I think I might have adopted Leggy’s reading goal of reading more [female] African-American authors because here I am with another one. This book was on all the “best” lists last year and even though it didn’t seem like a book I would be interested in, I had it on my TBR read because…FOMO. I shall not be left out. So to my library waiting list I went and I finally got to read it.

The quote above encapsulates the general vibe for the characters in the book. Life can be unfair no matter how much you will otherwise. Told from the perspective of 13 year old Jojo, we see a glimpse of his life living on a farm with: his little sister, Kayla who trusts no one but him and practically clings to him all the time, his protective grandpa who he is close to, his dying grandma, his mom, Leonie – a drug addicted young lady with not a single maternal bone in her body and finally his Caucasian father, Michael who rotates in and out of jail.

Leonie decides to take her kids on a road trip to go pick up Michael who is being released from yet another stint in jail. That journey is how Ward gives us background on our characters as we hear about their lives before the present day interspersed with a mystical character that we are first introduced to via stories told to Jojo by his grandpa.

Guys, I tried but this book just didn’t do it for me. Hint #1 was how long it took me to read it. Once a book takes me forever to get through, then it’s not a good sign. I don’t think I expected as much fantasy and mystical elements as this book had. I am usually not a fan of that, so this lost the book points from me. This could be a me problem but for the life of me, I could not figure out what time period this book was set in. At first, I thought it was way back in the slavery days till something would allude to more modern times and I just gave up trying to figure it out.

I could understand what the book was going for – a haunting, harrowing tale but somehow, I just couldn’t be bothered. The stories were enough for your heart to go out to various characters involved but somehow, I was not invested. The story line did not interest me or make me want to know what happened next. I also wasn’t a fan of the sequencing, which is much harder to follow when you are already uninterested. I am not quite sure how I finished this book, to be honest.

Overall, I see quite a lot of high praise for the book but unfortunately, I am not one of them. This is not a criticism of the writer’s skill because, I do think she is a good writer, I just think the story was just not for me.

This book received 2 stars from me on Goodreads.

Taynement

Chick-Lit, romance

Book Review – The Wedding Date by Jasmine Guillory

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I’m so glad I got stuck in that elevator with you.” she said.“Me, too.”

What better way to spend a Sunday morning than to read about a black woman falling in love? Well, I went to one of my favorite independent bookstores and spent a friend’s coins to support 3 black writers! Anyway, one of the books I bought was The Wedding Date  by Jasmine Guillory and then I proceeded to read it one blissful Sunday morning in one seating.

This is a romance novel that isn’t masquerading as anything else but what it is. Boy meets girl  (in a very ridiculous way), boy and girl proceed to have weird ass conversations that would never happen in real life, boy asks girl to be his fake girlfriend! And here, ladies and gentlemen, are where rom-coms are born. So basically, this book contains all the best  tropes that I used to love in romance novels and still ADORE in romantic comedies (I LOVEEEEE romantic comedies! Also, is it just me or do they not make romantic comedies anymore?)

So, Alexa and Drew meet in an elevator when the hotel they’re in loses power so they’re literally stuck there with each other. Drew laments about the wedding he has to attend that weekend and about how he would love a date and has a stroke of genius and asks Alexa to come as his fake girlfriend. Drew is a pediatric surgeon in LA while Alexa lives in San Francisco and is the Mayor’s Chief of Staff. After the wedding, they continue to fly back and forth to each other’s cities and start falling in love.

This book, like its cover, is extremely cute. Like, “wow, I’m really going to die alone” cute. It reads like a rom com, they can’t get enough of each other and the reader already knows that the two characters are fooling each other with this undefined fun relationship stunt they’re pulling and you can’t wait for them to realize that they should absolutely be exclusively together.

Since the lead characters are an interracial couple (black woman/white man),  there is some mention of race and race relations in the book but nothing heavy handed or preachy. Like I mentioned earlier, it is just a romance novel that doesn’t pretend to be anything else. This will not fix racism but it feels good to sit back on a Sunday and read a book about a black woman falling in love because we don’t get a lot of that in main stream literary spaces.

Do you know how long I’ve read Julie Garwood, Nora Roberts, Debbie Macomber? The mainstream romance space is extremely white and it feels good to finally have a romance novel with a black woman at center stage. This is a fun palette cleanser/easy read for when you’re tired of heavy handed literary books. It was fun and fast paced and I would definitely recommend.

I gave this book 3 stars on goodreads.

 

Leggy.

Uncategorized

The Fraudulent Reader

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In one of our earlier posts, I wrote about my reading habits. This post is like an extension of that- a sequel, if you will (heh). I like to think of myself as a reader, but every time I say/think that, I feel a pang of guilt followed by “am I really?”. I see other people who I consider “real readers” and I don’t think I am anywhere close to being called one. I mean, people are reading 100+ books a year and I am noooowhere close to that.

See, I truly enjoy reading. I enjoy a compelling story line, I love being transported into a fictional world with fictional characters. Sometimes, in a world I can see myself living in and sometimes, in a world that would be a fantasy in my mind. I love a good handle on words especially in the form of quotes I find myself deeply relating to. I always have to have a book on hand at all times. In spite of this, I find my reading “impostor syndrome” kick in, in certain scenarios.

For one, when people get this dream like tone when talking about pages of books, loving the feel and the smell. I don’t have any of these feelings. I don’t even buy books or have a desire to own them. Wouldn’t a true reader have authors they stan for and want to support by buying their books? People have books they say they reread because they love how it makes them feel. I don’t think I can recall any book I have reread more than once except maybe The Diary of Anne Frank (really love this book)  and I have no inclination to, as there are so many new books out there that I’d love to sink my teeth into.

I’ve seen people say how they take notes and highlight lines from books they read. I often wonder what they do with those notes especially since they read a lot there must be LOTS of notes to go back to. As you may have guessed, I don’t do this either. In more recent times, I have read more books I liked than books I loved. This could be seen as more of my fault based on my book choices but I try to read books that make year end lists and critically acclaimed and yea, not a lot fall in my love lists.

I remember traveling by road with some friends back in college and hearing sniffles from the back seat. I turned around to see my friend in tears. At the time, she was reading Terry McMillan’s “A Day Late and a Dollar Short”. I’ve never been moved to tears by a book. I am always taken aback when people mention a book has made them cry. Like, my brain can comprehend it for a movie or TV show but for books I think it’s different and it makes me wonder if I am missing that reader instinct yet again.

Overall, just like life itself there probably isn’t one way to be as a reader. We are all entitled to enjoy things the way we see fit so maybe I am just being dramatic about it all. I promise I do love reading! I just wonder a bit when I encounter other people with different reader characteristics than I do.

Taynement

*Leggy sidebar*

[I literally laughed out loud when I saw this post. Girl please, you’re always in the middle of a book or reading about books. You send me so many articles about books you think I would like. When you travel, you queue up audio books to listen to on your trip.

I never reread books, in fact, the only books I reread are the Harry Potter books. Reading is not a number games – it’s not the number of books you read but how consistent you are in doing the reading and I hope our blog is a safe place that people come to be whatever kind of reader that they are and enjoy whatever type of book that they enjoy. Wow, that got preachy really fast]

What do you guys think? What are some things you consider a “fraudulent” reader characteristic that you have?

Image from alamy.com

 

Uncategorized

Books+Food = Cookbooks I Love

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I love cookbooks. I buy them because they are pretty. I also love food. But more often than not, I rarely cook anything from them because – lazy. Most cookbook recipes require a number of specific ingredients that it just becomes a hassle. Again, lazy. But the cookbooks mentioned in this post are the exception. These are actually cookbooks that I have cooked from, multiple times. So much so that, I have incorporated most of the recipes as regular staples in the Leggy household:

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Cravings by Chrissy Teigen – I remember when this book came out and it collectively got panned by food critics. It was pegged as nothing special and just another celebrity cookbook which I guess is true, it IS just another celebrity cookbook but this book is accessible. Accessible in that the ingredients are easy to find. I think the industry needs to wonder why cookbooks don’t sell that much anymore. They are expensive and we can basically just look up any recipe online these days. And that’s what makes this book different. The ingredients can be found in most local grocery stores

FAVORITE RECIPE: The Spicy Clam Pasta. It has become a signature dish at most of my dinner parties. I also love the Whole Fish recipe. It tastes fresh and herb-y and oh so delicious. This might not be “The Joy of Cooking” (the Holy Grail of Cookbooks) but it is still pretty good, standard wise. Also, the personal anecdotes that accompany each recipe will make you laugh. The book is very Teigen and I love it.

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Cooking in Everyday English by Todd English – This was the first cookbook I bought when I moved into my current apartment with dreams of cooking every week and not eating out at all. Umm…yeah. That lasted about a month but within that month I cooked a lot from this book. I loved it and I think it was recommended to me by someone on Twitter a long time ago. I didn’t know anything about Todd English when I bought this book and frankly, I still don’t but like I said, I love this book. I love it because it’s as basic as you can get and a pretty good entry level/gateway into the cookbook world. I mean, he provides the most elementary information on cooking and assumes that you know absolutely nothing! There is even a chapter on SALT!

FAVORITE RECIPE: The Tequila-Braised Short Ribs. Absolutely delicious! Just typing that is making me want to make that recipe this week regardless of the fact that I have a refrigerator filled with leftovers!

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MOMOFUKU by David Chang – When I was in college, I went to New York for spring break and ate at one of David Chang’s restaurant and have not looked back since then. I low key became obsessed with eating at all his restaurants, I’m going to Las Vegas at the end of the month and I’m trying to convince my friends to eat dinner at his restaurant there. Of all the cookbooks I own, this is probably the most high brow one. The ingredients are hard to find, I mean, he uses all the fat!!

I bought this book in college and I remember the first recipe I ever made from this book was the steamed buns (I looked up this creation on Instagram because I know I posted it on there in 2012 when I made it and wow, the struggle!), mine wasn’t as fluffy as the real one but dang, it was still good but I was in college and broke so my experiment with this book was put on pause till I graduated. I never recommend this cookbook to anyone though, it’s a little bit more complicated. I just like things that are a pain in the ass sometimes.

FAVORITE RECIPE: The Kimchi Stew. Besides being delicious,  it is the easiest thing to make from this book. Honorable mention to the Banh Mi, and of course, Ramen.

Do you buy cookbooks? What are some of your favorites? Let me know in the comment section!! I think it’s time I add to my collection!

Leggy