Quick Review: Hand to Mouth: Living in Bootstrap America by Linda Tirado

This is a memoir about what it is like to be working poor in America that addresses many of the myths about being poor. Tirado has a blunt style that is sometimes funny, sometimes touching and that I found grating in places. This is a very real perspective on poverty from someone who has lived it, and I think it’s a perspective that is often missing from our economic discourse. It was an interesting read and a quick one. The audiobook was read by the author. So, if you’re looking for a little perspective on class in America, you may want to give it a try.

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What I’m Reading: Bellamy and the Brute by Alicia Michaels

I picked this out from a bookbub email blast last month. It appears to be a retelling of Beauty and Beast!

Review: Ahsoka by E.K. Johnston

I’ve seen the Star Wars movies but I have never read or watched or played any of the other things set in the Star Wars universe. So, aside from the fact that I was stepping into this world not knowing exactly where I was, I was pretty excited to start it.

Ahsoka is set just after the end of episode 3, while the rebellion is at its beginning. Ahsoka Tano is the former padawan of Anakin Skywalker and a general from the Clone Wars. As a Jedi, she was supposed to die following Order 66, but she escaped. Now, she’s hiding out in the Outer Rim and trying to decide who she is now that there are no jedi. She finds herself on a moon that is occupied by the Empire. Of course, the Empire wants the moon for nefarious purposes. Will Ahsoka help? Will she make things worse? Will she connect with the Rebellion?

I really enjoyed reading this novel. It’s geared towards the 12-18 reader, so it wasn’t as dark or as violent as I would have expected an empire novel to be. But, I liked the characters and the story. I liked Ahsoka’s development as she worked through her feelings on how to exist in a post-Jedi world.

So, if you want an easy read that’s an introduction to the rest of the Star Wars universe, or if you have a child who is super excited about Star Wars after seeing the new movies, Grab this novel!

Review: This is Just My Face: Try Not to Stare by Gabourey Sidibe

THIS BOOK IS SO GOOD!

This is Just my Face is Gabourey Sidibe’s memoir and it was delightful. She is funny, snarky, thoughtful and insightful. She talks about her family and her childhood. She also talks about getting the role of Precious. I plowed through this memoir; it was like sitting down and having coffee with a friend. I’m not really a celebrity memoir person, but a friend recommended it to me and I’m so happy that I did.

So, 10/10, would totally recommend.

My Top 5

This year has been something, hasn’t it? I have done so little fun reading (hence the lack of posting) but I did read enough to do a Top 5!

5. The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood

I’m pretty sure that I read this in high school but I couldn’t remember how it ended, so I decided to re-read it. I also snap chatted my rage; the narrative inspired a lot of it.

Atwood gets the paranoia and tension right. She also nails the guilt, I think, of feeling like you didn’t do enough in hindsight to stop bad things from happening.

4. Wool by Hugh Howey

This is a claustrophobic dystopian tale. In a future in which all that is left of humanity lives in an underground bunker, exile is a death sentence and is used as punishment. Exiled folks are put into a suit and given steel wool to clean the outside censors so that those still inside can see a constant live image of the bleak landscape. Many death row inmates swear that they will not clean the censors when they leave and yet, they all do. This tale surprised me with its mystery, the humanity of its characters and ultimately with the horror of how the world came to be like this. It was great, even when it hit a little too close to home.

3. Born a Crime: Stories from a South African Childhood by Trevor Noah

I have a huge crush on Trevor Noah, so you know that I had to read this. Well, listen to it. Noah’s stories are heartwarming and heartbreaking and I loved listening to this audio book (read by the author.) I didn’t know a lot about Noah, outside of what I’ve gleaned from seeing some of his stand up and watching him on the Daily Show so I didn’t know where the story was going and was pleasantly, sobbingly, surprised by the end. If you are at all interested in reading a personal narrative from Apartheid South Africa and the following transition away from apartheid, this isn’t a bad place to start.

2. Whipping Girl: A Transsexual woman on sexism and the scapegoating of femininity by Julia Serano

This collections of essays is sharp and insightful. Serano is a trans woman and a biologist and she brings both of these things to a discussion of femininity and how it is viewed by society. She builds on that and focuses is on how views of femininity shape and have an effect on the public’s opinion of trans women. As a biologist, she addresses many common misconceptions of transness. This collection was great and I am so glad I read it.

1. Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates

I got this book from the library as an audiobook but then I thought I wanted to actually read it and not have it read to me, so I got it as an ebook. Then, it won the National Book Award and when I didn’t finish it during my loan period from the library, I got put on a stupidly long waiting list. Boring story short, I finally just bought it and two years later I have finished it. I’m glad this book had and still has a long wait list at my library. It is one of the most important things I have read in a long time. I am a numbers person, so I find statistics and well done analyses compelling, but this book really filled in the gaps on race in America that you can’t get from statistics. I know Coates has gotten a lot of shit lately but I’m glad his work is out there. If you’ve not read it, I really recommend it.

So, here’s to the end of this year and it a Happy New Year full of many books and book reviews!

Review: Knit One, Kill Two by Maggie Sefton

I listened to this book while commuting to work with my car pool buddy. In it, Kelly Flynn returns to her hometown in Colorado following the murder of her aunt. This is the mystery that is solved in the novel. Who killed Aunt Helen? Why? Along the way, she meets her aunt’s knitting friends, who teach her to knit, and she uncovers secrets from her aunt’s past that may be the key to solving the murder.

This was a fun book. I particularly enjoyed that knitting was portrayed realistically and there weren’t any unrealistic buy-ins (like a single mother who supports herself and her child in a city where you knows no one by selling custom hand knits.) Kelly was believable. The yarn shop owner was believable. The other customers were believable. Since a lack of believability drives me crazy, these were all positives for me.

There were some moments where I wanted to know less about what people were feeling, but I’m also impatient and I wanted to know if I guessed the villain.

I would recommend this.